Frensham Village Churches

Letter from the Vicarage - November 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

During evening prayer recently, we read what seemed a very strange verse, in the Apocrypha (or Deuterocanonical Books). The Apocrypha (in Greek means ‘hidden’) is not found in all Bibles that you can buy because it is not generally recognised as being part of the Bible although the Anglican Communion accepts the Apocrypha for instruction in ‘life and manners’, but not for the establishment of doctrine. (It is also accepted by the Roman Catholic, Greek and Russian Orthodox churches.) It actually lies between the Old and New Testaments and contains some fascinating stories, wonderful prayers and wisdom writings – do read it!  But I digress – back to the strange verse…

It is this: from the Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus (better known): Chapter 7, verse 33: “Give graciously to the living; do not withhold kindness even from the dead…”

I don’t have any problem with the first part at all, but ‘do not withhold kindness even from the dead…’???

And then I thought about the pensiveness of the month of November with regard to the services we conduct both within and beyond the churches.

•             The 1st November is ‘All Saints’ Day’ when we celebrate the faithful work of the many Saints throughout history, including the modern ones, whose example helps us to live more spiritually as well as consciously and practically. This year we are doing a special Choral evensong at St Mary’s Church on Sunday 4th November at 6pm which will be very uplifting. 

•             The 2nd November (7.30pm at St Mary’s Church) is when we commemorate the ‘Faithful departed’, known as ‘All Souls’ Day’, and we invite all those whose loved ones have died in the last few years (or longer) to come to a special service to spend musically reflective and prayerfully supported time in God’s love.

•             The 11th November is both Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday this year, and we will be holding this day with deep reverence, remembering those who gave their lives for us in both the First World War and the Second. As this year commemorates 100 years marking the end of the First World War – it will be very poignant indeed…

•             The 25th November is when we celebrate Christ the King, who gave his life for us so that the living eternal God might be revealed and known and connected with, so that we might have Life in all its fullness of love, learning and developing – even beyond death...

And perhaps here we get to the point of the ‘strange’ verse. It comes from a passage giving wisdom and advice about relationships. True relationships are not one way. True relationships remain connected and are therefore eternal. We were created by God to learn that we are always and eternally connected to God and each other. We lost our connection with God through selfishness, arrogance, violence and greed. We can lose our connection with each other like this too. Jesus Christ reconnected us all to God and Eternal Life by his life, death and resurrection. He also enabled reconciliation and healing between humans by his ministry and mission. True relationship was restored, at least from God’s angle...

When we remember Jesus Christ and those who have gone before, we are realising and cherishing the kindness of their sacrifice, whatever that may be – giving birth, giving time and effort, nurturing, teaching, helping, giving selflessly, even dying that we might live and live freely….

By firstly speaking of Jesus Christ, and these wonderful people who have given their lives for us (whether in peacetime or war) and then learning from their acts of kindness and sacrifice, we grow up to be less selfish and less harmful. We then do not withhold our kindness from future generations. And by not denying or withholding Jesus Christ’s ultimate kind act of sacrifice, we can know with confidence that when we now pray for those who have died, they are praying for us too…

Please come to the services in November and reconnect…receiving the message of ‘not withholding kindness even from the dead’ is important…

With love and prayers,

Jane