The Vicar's Monthly Magazine Articles

Rev'd Charles - November 2018

posted 9 Dec 2018, 01:26 by Richard Jones

View From the Vicarage

 “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana 1863 -1952)

  Wise words and certainly needed in our world today because it’s reckoned that since the end of the Second World War there has never been a day in which there has not been a conflict somewhere in the world. That is why this year, the celebration of Remembrance is especially poignant because with the ending of the First World War there was the hope that this would indeed be ‘the War to End all Wars’.

  But why do wars begin? After all, you would have thought that the human race would have realised that conflict inevitably leads to misery with the weakest and the most vulnerable invariably the casualties. Surely it stands to reason that “ jaw - jaw is always better than  war - war” (Churchill). Yet tragically there are those who appear only interested in pursuing their own ambitions no matter what the devastating consequences may be for others. No wonder then that we choose to remember the courage and sacrifice of both men and women who at great cost to themselves refused to allow injustice to triumph and aggression to succeed.

  However, despite the safeguards of the United Nations and NATO, conflicts continue because at the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. As Jesus himself said, “from the inside, from a person’s heart , come the evil ideas that lead him to do immoral things, to rob, kill and do all sorts of evil things; deceit, jealousy, slander, pride, and foolishness” ( Mark 7:14 – 23). Or as the Apostle James put it, “What cause wars, why do you fight and argue with each other? Isn’t it because you are full of selfish desires? You want something you don’t have and you will do anything to get it. You will even kill! But you still cannot get what you want, and you won’t get it by fighting and arguing” (James 4: 1 – 10).

  Because deep down all of us need something which only God can give, a new beginning, a new birth (John 3 :1-21) if you like, a new heart so that we begin to love God with all our heart and love our neighbour as ourselves (Matthew 22 : 34 -40). As Charles Colson, President Nixon’s Special Counsel wrote, having been released from prison for his part in the Watergate Scandal (1972), “Governments cannot change what is in the hearts of people. The alienation which afflicts mankind, which divides us in so many places, is not the weakness of institutions, but the sickness of human hearts. The only answer that can change people’s hearts is the power of God through Jesus Christ”.

  On the night before she died, executed by a German firing squad for assisting Belgian and British soldiers to slip through German lines and regain their fighting units, Edith Cavell (1865 – 1915) the British nurse said, “They have all been very kind to me here. But this I would say, standing as I do in view of God and eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.”

  So we thank God for the sacrifice made by so many in order that we, 100 years later, can live in a free society. And we also thank God that by faith in the death of Christ for us we can be transformed from being God’s enemies (Romans 5:6 -11) into His friends. For as Jesus himself said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. This is my command. Love one another” (John 15: 12 -17).


Rev'd Charles - October 2018

posted 30 Oct 2018, 01:55 by Richard Jones

View From the Vicarage

Do You Weed?

Excuse me?  Do you weed? Well that’s what a parishioner of ours thought he heard when having just moved into his new home a neighbour unexpectedly called. But when he replied yes, he did quite like gardening, she asked again, slightly exasperated with a lisp, no do you READ?! Oh yes he replied. Good she said, next Sunday in church, 1st Lesson! Well that certainly makes a change to the bouquet of flowers, freshly baked cake, helpful practical advice or simply an invitation to come round for a cup of coffee which we might normally hope to receive, but in fact it is a very good question. ‘Do you read – the Bible?’

You see, although it may be the world’s best seller it remains unread by the vast majority of people on this planet. But given the demands on our time and the attractiveness of other forms of communication why should we make the time to do this?

The answer the Bible gives is that it is God’s uniquely inspired Word (2 Timothy 3:10 -17). It is a practical love letter from our Creator. It is God communicating with us verbally and pointing us to Christ personally so that by responding to Him in faith and love we can be saved.

No wonder then that Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) could say “it is the best gift God has given to men” for “no one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates  in every word” (Albert Einstein 1879 -1955). Indeed when we read the Gospels we read what happened when divinity entered history (John 20:30 -31, Luke 1: 1 -4). Therefore “we owe to the Scriptures the same reverence which we owe to God “(John Calvin 1509 -64)) because for Jesus what the Scriptures said, God himself said (John 12:50, 2 Peter 1:16 -21).

So why is the Bible so important? Well the Bible is from God, about God and by God. It was written so that the love of God may be revealed, received and reproduced in us. In fact it is the Word of God that equips the people of God to do the work of God, so it is indispensable if we are to grow in grace and love for God.

That is why October 28 is designated as Bible Sunday and three of the Bible passages for that day include Psalm 19: 7 - 14, 2 Timothy 3: 14 - 4: 5 and John 5: 36 – 47. And what can help us in our daily Bible reading is making use of Bible reading notes such as Premier ‘Voice of Hope’ freely available to individuals and churches (01892 611180), United Christian Broadcasters ‘Word for Today’ (0845 60 40 401) or ‘Day by Day with God’  for women(Bible Reading Fellowship).

How richer our lives could be if we reached for our Bibles with the same regularity that we reach for our phones. For as Billy Graham (1928 -2018) once put it “unless the soul is fed and exercised daily it becomes weak and shrivelled. It remains discontented, confused, restless.” Or as Jesus Himself said, “If you obey and remain faithful to my teaching you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31).


Rev'd Charles - September 2018

posted 14 Oct 2018, 02:30 by Richard Jones

View From the Vicarage

Looking for a Hero?

That was the title of a hit single some years ago by Bonnie Tyler and heroes come in all shapes and sizes. For some it may be parents, for others a teacher, or a film star, a politician or even a football player. Whoever it is, there is usually something special about that person which arouses our interest or encourages our respect.

And in the church’s calendar there are a number of heroes remembered each month and one, on September 15th is Cyprian. So what is distinctive or special about him?

Cyprian was born around the year 200 in North Africa. Of his earlier life, before he became a Christian, very little is known except that he was an orator, a barrister and a notable figure, both politically and socially. However, around 245/6 he was converted to Christ, ordained a priest and in 248 became Bishop of Carthage (the original fast track appointment!)

But only a year later a fierce persecution broke out under the Emperor Decius (c.200 – 251) and Cyprian was forced into hiding. Criticised by some for appearing to run away he nevertheless continued to support those who were being persecuted with his letters and his prayers. Sadly, in the preceding years of peace and tolerance the Christian community had grown slack and lost its distinctive Christian witness.  The church had become indistinguishable from the world around it, and because of that, there were those who were tempted to compromise their faith when persecution came, because they were afraid of what others might do or say.

When the persecution diminished Cyprian returned and found that many were being welcomed back into the church without a proper repentance and change of life style. They simply repeated the words they were expected to say but showed little remorse for their actions or confidence in their Christian beliefs (Matthew 15: 6 -9, 7:21). For Cyprian this was unacceptable and brought shame on the Church of Christ.

In 257 a second persecution broke out instigated by the Emperors Valerian (c.193 -260) and Gallienus (c. 218 -268). This time Cyprian was banished and then in 258 an edict ordered the execution of all bishops, priest and deacons. Cyprian made no attempt to escape. He was arrested and taken to Carthage and there he was beheaded.

So what lessons could we learn from this particular ‘hero’? Well for Cyprian controversy and leadership were often intertwined but what lay behind his actions was a passionate desire to promote the cause of Christ, seen in his faithfulness to the Scriptures, respect for church order and a willingness, if need be, to suffer and even die for Christ. His was no ‘soft christianity’ nor one which blew hot or cold depending on the opinions of others (Ephesians 4:14). Instead, out of love for others, already seen in his practical help during a time of famine, he believed that what people most needed to hear was that real forgiveness is always available when we come in genuine repentance to Christ.  But with that forgiveness comes the call to follow in the footsteps of Christ (Matthew 16:24 -25, 24: 1 -14) the crucified Saviour – a call which in turn might well lead to trials and temptations because said Jesus ‘if they persecuted me they will persecute you’ (John 15:20) but ‘whoever endures to the end will be saved’ (Matthew 10:5 -22).

So, is Cyprian a Christian worth remembering? For his courage and his conviction the answer must surely be ‘yes’, which is why the Collect for All Saints Day is a prayer we could make our own.

‘God of holiness, your glory is proclaimed in every age: as we rejoice in the faith of your saints, inspire us to follow their example with boldness and with joy: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Rev'd Charles - July/August 2018

posted 3 Sep 2018, 07:48 by Richard Jones

View From the Vicarage 

“What would be worse than being born blind?” 

 That’s the question Helen Keller (the American writer, 1880 – 1968, who became deaf and blind at 19 months) was once asked.  She replied “To have sight but no vision”. And she’s not alone, for in the Book of Proverbs we read ‘A people without vision will perish’ (Proverbs 29:18 AV). Surely that is why as part of the Blackburn Diocese Healthy Church self- assessment tool, there is a section entitled ‘Clear vision that gives direction to the church’s ministry and mission’. 

 “A healthy church has a clear sense of purpose and direction based on seeking to find out what God wants. The church prioritises mission, is committed to growth and focuses on doing a few things well. A healthy church is willing to self - reflect; change and adapt according to context; is committed to working towards fulfilling its vision”. So every church is encouraged by the diocese to ask themselves these 10 questions: 

  1   Do we have a strong desire and commitment for the growth of our church that informs the church’s ministry and mission?

  2   Have we used The Five Marks of Mission (to proclaim the good news of the kingdom; to teach, baptize and nurture new believers; to respond to human need by loving service; to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation; to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth) to reflect on our values and purpose for our church?

  3   Have we involved our people in discerning what God wants our church to do and become – by holding prayer events and giving people the opportunity to join in an open discussion sessions ?

  4  Is the church vision communicated and is it understood and owned by members of the church?

  5   Is our church intentional in setting priority goals for growth that move us towards our vision?

  6   Have we ensured that we can resource our priority goals – if necessary by stopping activities that are not directly supporting our vision?

  7  Are these goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Resourced, Timed)?

  8   Are we prepared to welcome and embrace change if change is required to make our vision a reality?

  9   Do we review progress at every PCC meeting?

10   Do we repeat he whole process at least every three years?

 Well, there’s no denying that this is a challenging task and yet whenever a Christian community is prepared to review, reflect and respond to God growth can come. After all, if there is one thing biology teaches us it is that the survival of any organism depends on its ability to change at least as quickly as the environment in which it lives. Indeed ‘It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent – but the ones most responsive to change’ (Charles Darwin 1809 – 1882). 

 That’s why the famous prayer of the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892 – 1971) is something we could all say:

 “God give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed. Give us the courage to change what should be changed. Give us the wisdom to distinguish one from the other” Or in the words of the Diocesan Prayer Vision 2026 ‘Heavenly Father give us the eyes to see Your vision and so follow in the footsteps of your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.’ 


Rev'd Charles - June 2018

posted 12 Jul 2018, 01:33 by Richard Jones

View From the Vicarage 

Empowered to Serve 

 Sunday June 10th at 11am at St Leonard the Less, Samlesbury will undoubtedly be a very special day for everyone who is present. That’s because  this is the day when we will be welcoming the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Rev Philip North who will be presiding at a Service of Confirmation, and we hope as many as possible from our three churches will be there to support the candidates and to welcome him. But what is confirmation and how did it begin? 

 Well, like many things it has a long and complex history! In the Bible children and adults were welcomed into the faith either through circumcision in the Old Testament (Genesis 17) or baptism in the New (Acts 8:26 – 40, 16: 11 – 34). Then, around 200 AD the practice arose of always following baptism with either the laying on of hands or anointing with oil, called ‘confirming’. 

 However, in the early Middle Ages, dioceses began to grow so that the bishop could not baptise and ‘confirm’ everybody, with the result that in time most of the baptising was done by his priests, who anointed the baptised with oil he had annually consecrated, as “confirmation”. 

 Then during the 8th and 9th centuries, the Bishops of the Western Church began to travel round their diocese, laying hands on children of “years of discretion” (that is of about 11 years or upwards) and praying that they might be strengthened ( Con – firmed) with the Holy Spirit. 

 At the Reformation in the 16th century however, the reformers abolished the ceremony of “confirming” by anointing with oil, but retained the baptism of infants and the Medieval rite of “confirmation” as a strengthening with prayer for the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12 : 1 -11, Romans 12 : 4 -8). Now, the intention was to encourage those being confirmed to take on them selves the vows which had previously been made for them in baptism by their parents and godparents when they were infants. So what is its relevance for us today? 

 Well, for some it gives the opportunity perhaps for the very first time to publicly profess their personal faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10: 9 – 13) which then enables them to share in the Communion Service which is the privilege of all who belong to Christ (1 Corinthians 11 : 23 – 28). For others, it provides an opportunity for learning more about their faith strengthened by the prayers of the Bishop. Whoever we are it is an important reminder of Jesus final words to his disciples when he said “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go then to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples, baptize them in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always even until the end of the world” (Matthew 27:16 – 20). 

 That is why the Confirmation Prayer can be our prayer that we can also say:

“O Lord and heavenly Father, you are calling us to give you a lifetime of service and to receive your strength through confirmation. Open our hearts to receive all that you want to give, so that in lives made strong by your Holy Spirit we may serve you gladly and bravely all our days; in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen” 


Rev'd Charles - May 2018

posted 29 May 2018, 23:48 by Richard Jones

View From the Vicarage 

Aim for nothing – and you’ll be sure to hit it! 

 So runs an old adage.  And if that’s true then it may explain why so many businesses and organisations have a strategy for growth because they know that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. And spring provides an opportunity to take a fresh look at all that we are doing before planning for the future. 

 Now back in the 1990’s the Church of England and, in particular, the Diocese of London began to realize that something also had to be done if church congregations were to develop and survive. This was the inspiration and motivation for MAP – Mission Action Planning – a way of helping churches discover a vision for their church and then discern how that vision could be translated into reality. 

 In 2016 the Archdeacon of Blackburn’s book ‘How to do Mission Action Planning’ was reissued, having been revised and expanded from the original version of 2009. In support of this the Blackburn Diocese produced a ‘Healthy Church Self-Assessment Tool’ which encourages churches to assess their health against 6 qualities that research has shown are fundamental to church health and growth. The first category is one of the most challenging: 

“Inspiring worship and dynamic prayer that connects and engages” 

 ‘A healthy church offers worship that inspires, encourages and builds people up in the Christian faith. The worship has depth, richness and connects with people helping them encounter God. A healthy church has a deep- rooted active commitment to prayer that is demonstrated in every area of its life.’ 

 The book then encourages every church to consider the following questions: 

 Does our regular worship draw people of all ages into the presence of God?

Do we review the pattern and delivery of our worship on a regular basis to keep it fresh and transformational?

Is our liturgy accessible and easy to follow? Does it draw in and engage those who may have never worshipped in a church before?

Does our music style and choice engage with people of all ages?

Is our worship child-friendly with appropriate safeguarding in place?

Is there a clear teaching programme based on Scripture?

Does prayer play a central part in the life of the church?

Is the vision of the church and its mission priorities a focus for the prayer life of our church?

Do we challenge and equip people to make regular time for personal prayer and Bible reading?

Do our sermons teach about and explore the questions that people in our church are commonly asking? 

 ‘The health assessment will indicate areas of church life that are strong and healthy and should be celebrated and also identify areas that need development’. 

 But why is this so important? Well the Diocesan Vision Statement 2026 has as its aim ‘Healthy Churches Transforming Communities’. Therefore, worship that is inspiring and prayer that connects and engages will better enable us to Make Disciples of Jesus Christ, be Witnesses to Jesus Christ and Grow Leaders for Jesus Christ. So as we look ahead in to the future can we pray the words of the Diocesan Prayer: 

 ‘Heavenly father, we embrace Your call for us to make disciples, to be witnesses and to grow leaders.

Give us the eyes to see Your vision, ears to hear the prompting of Your Spirit and courage to follow in the footsteps of your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.’ 


Rev'd Charles - April 2018

posted 8 May 2018, 07:36 by Richard Jones

‘Fools for Christ?’ 

 April 1st is here again and with it All Fools Day but what lies behind this unusual event? Well its origins may lie in several pagan festivals. For instance there was the Roman end of winter orgy ‘Hilaria’, and the Celtic celebration when the god Lud cured the curse of demons by spraying them with a brew of crushed insects in water! There is also the story of Persephone. In this Greek myth she was snatched away by Pluto, the god of the underworld, from her mother the corn spirit Ceres who followed the trail of Persephone’s indignant shrieks across the land to no avail – the original ‘fool’s errand’! 

 Or there again, All Fools may simply be the day commemorating Christ being mocked and tormented before his crucifixion (Luke 23:32 – 43, Matthew 27: 32 -43). Whatever the background, at noon the foolery must cease! 

 But in the New Testament we meet two other sorts of ‘fool’. There is the fool whose foolishness is seen not simply in the rejection of wisdom but particularly in the rejection of the source of all wisdom, God Himself (Psalm 14:1, Romans 1:18 -32). In fact, it was the failure of Jesus’ disciples to understand that the death and resurrection of Christ had been foretold by the prophets which led the risen Jesus to say, ’How foolish you are’ (Luke 24:25), because as he had said to the religious leaders, “You are wrong because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22). 

 However, there is yet another sort of ‘fool’ in the Bible and this is the ‘fool’ whose life has been transformed by Jesus.  Saint Paul, one of the ancient world’s greatest thinkers, could later speak of himself as a Fool for Christ (1 Corinthians 4:10) once he had encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). For it was this life changing experience which then impelled him (2 Corinthians 5:14) to preach Christ crucified and to live for Christ (1Corinthians 1). 

 So who might be a fool today? Well we are all conscious of times when we have acted foolishly. We have said or done things we later regret, we have allowed ourselves to be fooled by others, or we know we have acted unwisely. None of us are perfect! 

 But if it’s true that Jesus Christ is ‘the power and wisdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:24) then surely the wisest thing would be to listen to what he has to say. And what God requires and desires is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbour as you love yourself.” Or as another translation puts it, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. Love others as well as you love yourself” (Matthew 22 - The Message). 

 For after all, said Jesus, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and yet don’t do what I tell you? Anyone who hears my words and does not obey them is like a man who built his house without laying a foundation; when the flood hit that house it fell at once – and what a terrible crash that was!” (Luke 6) So, if you want to build your life on sure foundations listen to Christ even if others may think you are a Fool for Christ! 


Rev'd Charles - March 2018

posted 13 Apr 2018, 04:49 by Richard Jones

View From the Vicarage 

Back from the Dead! 

 A few years ago, BBC2’s ‘Horizon’ programme reported on what has been called the archaeological discovery of the century. In the early 1990’s high in the Alps, two climbers stumbled across a mummified body inside a glacier. At first it was assumed that the death must have been recent. Only later did it emerge that this body had been entombed for more than 5,000 years. 

 As the body was examined, it became clear that he was aged between 35 and 40 years. He was roughly 5’ 2” tall and weighed around 7 stone. It appeared that he had first been wounded by an arrow, and then overcome by the extreme weather, and in a state of total exhaustion, he had sought shelter in a gully. Putting down his axe and backpack, he had laid his head on the rock. Soon his clothes froze to the rough ground and he was no longer aware that he was freezing to death. 

 Not surprisingly, that discovery aroused an astonishing level of interest…but what would arouse even more interest is if the body of Jesus Christ could be found. You see the eye witness testimony of those who saw Jesus crucified and then placed in a tomb (Mathew 27:57-66, Luke 23:50-54) was that three days later the tomb was empty, and the body was gone (Luke 24:1-3, John 20:1-10). But then hundreds of people reported seeing him alive again (John 20:11-21:25, 1 Corinthians 15:1-8) The fact is that Jesus’ body has never been found and that is why there is no special place to visit where he is buried.  So unlike the prophet Muhammad (571- 632) whose body rests within the walls of the mosque in Medina, or Lenin (1870-1924) whose embalmed corpse lies in a crystal casket in a mausoleum in Red Square Moscow, or Winston Churchill (1874 -1965) who is buried at St. Martin’s Church Bladon or Elvis Presley (1935 -1977) who lies at Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee, Jesus is not so much dead and buried, but alive and living in the hearts and lives of all who acknowledge him to be Saviour and Lord (1 John 4:13-15). That is why although Christianity is rooted in real historical events it is not stuck in the past. It is a living faith because Jesus is alive (Luke 24:5). 

 But what difference should this make to Christians today? Well, in place of fear in the face of death there can be confidence because of the victory of Christ (1 Corinthians15:57). And in place of concern for self there should be compassion for others that they too might come to know the love of Christ (Matthew 28:19-20). For Christ “died for all, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but only for him who died and was raised to life for their sake” (2 Corinthians 5:15).  So although the ice man is indeed a unique archaeological discovery, the greatest discovery we can make is that “Christ has Died, Christ is Risen Christ will Come Again!” Therefore let us live as those who have been redeemed by the cross, restored by the resurrection and renewed by the Holy Spirit for Jesus said “I AM the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11).


Rev'd Charles - February 2018

posted 1 Mar 2018, 06:05 by Richard Jones

View From the Vicarage 

 “All you need is love!” 

 Ah, those were the days when we were young and the Beatles were all the rage! For then love (or what we thought was love) was very much in the air. And yet of course as February 14th approaches something of that still survives,  for on St Valentine’s Day the discerning romantic will be able to offer his beloved heart shaped cushions, hot house freesias, jokey boxer shorts or gift wrapped champagne, together of course with the obligatory Valentine card! But.. 

Who was St Valentine? 

 Well, it appears that he was a Christian beheaded at a pagan festival of love in the 3rd century but it wasn’t in fact until the 5th century that he became officially the patron saint of lovers. Gradually, as he grew in popularity so love tokens began to be exchanged so that by the 17th century according to Samuel Pepys  (1633-1703) women received generous gifts of jewellery, perfume and gloves. However, towards the end of the 18th century such presents were gradually replaced by cards which the arrival of the Penny Post in 1840 ensured would grow in popularity, as they have done right up to the present day. But.. 

What is his relevance for us today? 

 Well, we live in a world, as Delia Smith once said, “where the word ‘love’ can be about as meaningful as coca cola. We throw the words to the winds like a bunch of confetti which glitters for a moment then falls to the ground without significance. Love is in pop songs, TV commercials, written on ‘T’ shirts – love promotes, sells, packages. But you don’t need to be a psychologist to detect that when a person keeps going on about something it’s usually because they have a problem, and maybe the modern obsession with the word love is a cry for help. And if the world is crying out for love, what it’s really crying out for is God, because God is love”.  And nowhere is God’s love more clearly seen than in the person of Christ. 

“For this is what love is,” writes St John, “it is not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the means by which our sins are forgiven (1 John 4:10). For in contrast to our own selective use of the word, Jesus loved the moral outcast (John 8:1-11), the medical outcast (Mark 1:40-45), the social outcast (Mark5:1-20), the physical outcast (John 9:1-41), the legal outcast (Luke 23:39-43) – and he loves you and me. For his love was not confined to his family, friends or compatriots, but extended even to those who hated him, and plotted against him, and who eventually had him scourged and nailed to a tree (Luke 23:33-34). 

No wonder, then, that no less a person than the Emperor Napoleon 1 (1769- 1821) could say that whereas “Alexander, Charlemagne, Caesar and I have founded great empires and rested them upon force, Jesus Christ has founded his on love, and at this hour millions will die for him.” And when Jesus was asked which is the great commandment in the law he replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22 : 34-40).


Rev'd Charles - January 2018

posted 2 Feb 2018, 01:20 by Richard Jones   [ updated 2 Feb 2018, 01:20 ]

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 For some that’s a greeting, for others a political organisation but for many of us respect is something which seems to be sadly lacking in today’s society. In years gone by we would certainly have respected the elderly, the police, doctors, teachers and even politicians! But now in the world of twitter and emails many appear to think they can voice any opinion without considering the effect this may have on others and sometimes that opinion shows a distinct lack of respect. 

 Unfortunately, this attitude is not new. Back in the first century Paul reminded the Christians in Rome that they should obey the governing authorities and give respect and honour to those in authority (Romans 13:1 – 7). This applied not only to secular leaders but also to spiritual leaders in the church. The Letter to the Hebrews encourages Christians to “follow the example of the faith of your spiritual leaders who watch over your souls and who speak God’s message” (Hebrews 13:7, 17). 

 Paul himself later wrote to the Christians in Greece “pay proper respect, and honour those who work among you, who guide and instruct you in the Christian life. Show them great respect and whole hearted love because of the work they do. Live peaceably with one another.”

 (1 Thessalonians 5:12 -13) Indeed the two greatest commandments are these said Jesus “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbour as you love yourself” (Matthew 22: 37 - 39). So writes James “do not complain or grumble about each other” for if “you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue you are fooling yourself and your religion is worthless” (James 5:9, 1:26). 

 Of course it is right that we should expect the highest standards from those with authority and responsibility and that includes Christian ministers (1Timothy 3:1 -13, 2 Timothy 2:24 -26, 4:1 -5). But even if our leaders occasionally fail we should still respect the office they represent. And even more than this we should respect them as people because we have all been made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26 -27). 

 So as this new year begins perhaps our New Year’s Resolution could be one word ‘Respect’ - respect for creation and the environment, respect for organisations and institutions, respect for property and buildings but most of all respect for one another because we have all been created in God’s image.

And God cares so much for his creation that he came in Jesus to save us and redeem us (Matthew 1:18 -25). 

 Therefore writes Paul “get rid of your old self which made you live as you used to and put on the new self which is created in God’s likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy” (Ephesians 4: 17 -32) So may we be of real help and encouragement to each other in the year ahead as we treat one another in a way that we ourselves would like to be treated – and what a difference that could make to our country and our community in 2018. 


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