From the desk of Revd. Mike Blanch Associate Vicar St.Margaret’s, Isfield
“Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” (Henry 11 on Archbishop Thomas Becket)
During September our Lectionary has brought us the Book of James, an often under-rated book. This Epistle has been thought to be authored by none other than Jesus’ half brother James, the leader of the Jerusalem church in the turbulent times after Our Lord’s resurrection. Possibly too, it is one of the earliest works in the New Testament, predating the gospels. And certainly, it is a work full of challenge and of sage advice.
So I turn to this writing by an early leader of the church in turbulent times, when thinking about our own leader, Archbishop Justin, currently the centre of acclaim and criticism alike, for taking to the stage of the TUC, and for co-authoring a paper by the Commission on Social Justice. The Archbishop called for a redistribution of wealth in the UK, saying. “Our economic model is broken. Britain stands at a watershed moment where we need to make fundamental choices about the sort of economy we need. We are failing those who will grow up into a world where the gap between the richest and poorest parts of the country is significant and destabilising.” He went further and attacked Amazon over its evasion of tax and the government over the failure of its Universal Credit programme, echoing criticism by the National Audit Office. The reaction to Archbishop Justin has provoked a level of hostility in the press unseen since the attacks on Archbishop Robert Runcie for his 1985 report “Faith in the Cities”. These attacks are not necessarily because of what Justin Welby has said, but because it was he who had said it. The church, many say, should not be seen to be openly political
But that’s the problem with leadership, it is never an easy path. James 3 v3, “ Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways.”
So was Archbishop Justin stumbling, or was he wise to take this essentially Christian Socialist position? How should we judge him? Back to James. James speaks of two kinds of wisdom, and how Christians can discern between them (James 3,13-17)” Who is wise and understanding among you? if you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” Was Archbishop Justin motivated by selfish political ambition or was he sincere in what he said? You must make up your own minds.
But I would remind people that the role of top leadership is difficult. We may or may not agree with our leaders, but Christians should reflect on why they have taken a position. James himself, took a strong position against the Roman occupation forces, and was martyred for it around 65AD.
The days are getting shorter as the equinox approaches on about 21st September when the day time will equal night time the world over. Then, the northern hemisphere days will be shorter than the nights and the southern hemisphere will experience the opposite, until the spring equinox next year on or about 21st March.
These landmarks in time will be recognised and reacted to by organisms the world over. Deciduous trees start losing their leaves, summer visiting birds will leave Britain and winter visiting birds arrive. Britain probably hosts more wintering bird species than summer ones.
There are many species that use British coasts as a winter larder, birds such as curlew, grey plover, golden plover, knot, dunlin, sanderling, redshank, greenshank, ruff. Meanwhile, in the woods and fields redwings and fieldfares arrive along with wintering chaffinches, bramblings, blackbirds and song thrushes, the latter four, largely from Scandinavia, augment our resident populations. Many of these birds will have been moulting after about the summer solstice which is the longest summer day on or about 21st June. Moulting usually takes several weeks and results in a strong bright plumage ready for tough autumn and winter weather and migration flights. Some birds, such as the waders mentioned above, have a winter plumage that is a different colour compared with their summer plumage. Most waders become grey during winter and flock together on muddy foreshores to hunt marine invertebrates such as shellfish, crustaceans and lugworms.
There are flowers that bloom in the autumn also such as the tiny white spiral flower stems of autumn ladies tresses, which is a type of orchid, and the purple or white flowering wild cyclamen whose flowers appear before the leaves do. Ivy too flowers in the autumn and provides some late nectar and pollen for honeybees, butterflies and bumblebees.
As the nights get colder, some animals prepare to go to sleep for the winter such as all the reptiles; snakes, lizards and tortoises also amphibians; frogs toads and newts and some insects such as tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies
Change of dates for the Open Door Services November and December 2018
The November Open Door Service will be held on Sunday 4th to avoid clashing with the Remembrance Sunday Service
The December Open Door Service will be held on Sunday 16th to avoid clashing with the Festival of Christmas Trees and to coincide with Christingle.
A totally amazing six thousand, three hundred and ninety-nine visitors came to The Church of the Holy Cross to see Tenth year of the Festival of Christmas Trees, and it is doubtful whether anyone left disappointed, because there were an incredible ninety-eight decorated positions to be seen and admired. The Church welcomed visitors from as far afield as Yorkshire and Hampshire and a considerable number from across the country boundary with Kent. This Festival retains the traditional methods of tree decorating, but the Sponsors are very much encouraged to be creative and innovative, and this year they certainly excelled. One very special display was titled “Santa’s Workshop” which had been several months in development while another display was a tree that had been decorated to represent a full length dress. Photographs of the Trees featured in this year’s Festival can be viewed in the Church’s website Photo Gallery, which can be accessed via the main Menu Bar at the top of this page, or see the link below. The ninety-eight displays had been sponsored by a cross section of Uckfield’s community – schools, businesses, voluntary organisations and associations, community support groups as well as individuals and families. During Friday afternoon visitors were entertained by Margaret Watson,harpist,and John Pontefract a singer and guitarist. Children could have their face painted by Pretty Fantastic Faces on both the Friday and Saturday afternoons.