On Sunday we are baptising four young children which is a great privilege. This morning we are baptising Scarlett-Rose Stephanie Sharon Blease, and Dontay Justin John Patrick Williams. This afternoon we are baptising Aaliyah Kiara da Silva and Noah Andrzej Willis Ustrzycki.
We are thrilled to have their families and friends joining us. Please pray for these children, their parents and god-parents over the coming weeks.
The Signature events are proving very popular indeed. The trip to The Pink Garlic has been closed because we have reached our maximum number of 25.
The next Signature event will be the last for this year. We are going to the Quantock Restaurant at Somerset College on Wednesday, 3rd December at 6.45pm. We are so well looked after there and it should be an excellent evening. The sign up form is at the back of church. The menu looks delicious! Do come.
If forgiveness (see last week) is one of the hallmarks of good neighbourliness, hospitality is the other. How do we show people the love of God? We welcome them into our homes and (probably) feed them. God welcomes us into his household and he spreads before us a heavenly banquet.
Many people are hospitable and give feasts, but that is not necessarily reflective of God’s hospitality. For instance, Dives (the rich man) gave feasts every day (Luke 16:19), and in today’s reading Jesus was dining “at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees” (Luke 14:1). However, Jesus castigated him for inviting only his friends and honoured guests (v.12).
God’s hospitality is given to the unloved and the unlovely, to the poor and outcast (v.13). Jesus said elsewhere: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).
Now this kind of hospitality or outreach may not seem very attractive. We tend to feel the Church needs the rich and the talented, so that we become strong and effective in reaching out. But God has always chosen the despised in this world. As Paul wrote, “Not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth, but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:26-27).
Hospitality is sharing what we have with others, it may be board and lodging, a cup of coffee, time to chat, or a word of guidance. But one way or another it takes the other person seriously and pours out loving kindness in their direction. We can all do it; we are all called to do it. We are not meant to keep God’s love for those who already have it; it is “for its non-members” (Archbishop Temple).
Give me a generous heart, O Lord, and a care for the lost and lonely in this world. Amen.
On Saturday 25th, we were pleased to see the tower open. The bell team are working so hard to raise the money to replace the bells. Our tower is “a significant ring” as we have 12 bells + three small bells that are used chime the carillon. The PCC heard that with money in the bank and pledges the total is now £128,000. The money is still coming in for Annie’s ride. It has reached a splendid total of £16,536. Last week we heard that David and Jan Payne had won the beautiful painting that had been raffled for the ride. Well done to you both!
One of the most priceless gifts we can give to a friend, or even an enemy, is forgiveness. The word ‘forgiveness’ has ’give’ at the heart of it. Indeed the ‘for(e)’ part of it means ‘before’. In other words the word means ‘giving beforehand’. The offender cannot give anything to us until we have first given forgiveness to him. This act cannot be earned, it arises from our mercy and generosity of spirit. They say ‘sorry’ and we say ‘I forgive you’.
This is the way to bring reconciliation. There was a film many years ago that included the catch phrase “Love is not having to say you’re sorry.” I think this is an error. To brush things under the carpet is not to deal with them satisfactorily. The offence has to be acknowledged and the forgiveness clearly given.
Forgiveness should be our heart’s disposition even before any repentance has been expressed by the other person. Remember how Jesus said as he was being nailed on the Cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34); well, that was forgiving before they asked.
But to forgive before the other person acknowledges their guilt and repents cannot restore relationship, although of course it will do us good by keeping our heart soft and pliable. Reconciliation can only take place when both parties desire it. Even then forgiveness is costly. We have to absorb the pain, offence or whatever has been done against us. Again, we follow our Master when we do this, for he absorbed the cost of our rejection and rebellion and it cost him his life!
He also forgives us again and again. His hope in us is undiminished. That is why he told Peter (and of course it applies equally to us) that we are to forgive each time it is genuinely sought. ‘Seventy times seven’ (v.22) can only mean times without number. Do we love our neighbour?
Lord, you have forgiven me so often, time without number. Help me to have that same attitude in my relationships. Amen.