Amma Sue - March 2014

posted 2 Apr 2014, 10:24 by Richard Jones   [ updated 2 Apr 2014, 10:24 ]

Dear Friends,

In St. Benedict’s Rule he lays down the stipulation that each Lent all the monks must be given a spiritual book and are required to read it through without missing out any chapters or passages. For someone like me who, given half a chance, would spend most days with their nose in a book, this sounds more like heaven than any Lenten discipline! While for others this sounds like hell. I’m sure that both these points of view were as much in evidence in Benedict’s monastery as they are in most local churches today. What was perhaps as important, or even more important, about Benedict’s stipulation for Lenten reading was the fact that the whole community undertook this task together. Which didn’t of course mean that a bland uniformity was imposed as each monk was given the book that would most benefit him as an individual. Nevertheless, even in this diversity it encouraged a sense of unity and community and brought home the lesson that the monks, and indeed all Christians, are not islands unto themselves put part of a larger community, a larger family – the Family of God, the Body of Christ, the Church.

This is something that we can all so easily forget especially as our most usual experience of Christian community is in our local parish Church. There are enormous strengths in this and the Church of England rightly celebrates the fact that as a consequence the Church has a presence in every part of the country from the north to south and east to west. The problem is this so often leads us to forget that each parish is not the Church – but is simply a small part of it and that we are as much committed to and responsible for the Church nationally and internationally.  Put simply that means we are at one and the same time the Anglican Communion, the Church of England, the Diocese of Blackburn, the United Benefice of Balderstone, Mellor and Samlesbury – and St. Leonard’s, St. Mary’s and St. Leonard the Less!

As we rightly celebrate our individuality all too often we can fall into a sort of ‘them and us’ mentality; seeing the Church of England or more usually, the Diocese as some sort of bad ‘big brother’ out to ‘get us’ and grab all our hard earned collection! Nothing could be further from the truth – for we are the Diocese of Blackburn! As members of this part of the Family of God it is as much part of our Christian discipleship to support and think of all the other parishes throughout the diocese and to remember that what happens there is just as important as what happens here – and vice versa. Indeed as I have been known to point out from time to time, I am here as your Parish Priest because another parish somewhere in the Church of England paid their parish share which through their Diocese went to the Church of England and ultimately paid for me to receive my theological education! And there are countless other examples that highlight how we are all links in the chain leading not only the Diocese of Blackburn but to the whole of the Church of England, and ultimately to the whole Church of God. “We are the Family of God, in the one Spirit we were all baptised into the one Body…”

So, as we celebrate and give thanks to God for who we are locally let us always bear in mind the bigger picture – we are both the Church of God in this place and in this Diocese, and the Body of Christ throughout the whole world. 

With many blessings,

Amma Sue