The August Pastoral Letter from the Rector
The Gospel is the announcement that Jesus is Lord
The Gospel is not a set of techniques for making people Christians. The Gospel is not a set of systematic theological reflections. The Gospel is the announcement that Jesus is Lord - Lord of the world, Lord of the universe, Lord of the earth, of the downs, the seas, the waterfalls, of trees and animals, Jesus is Lord of all that is known. Sharing the gospel means bringing that greatest of all truths to bear on every aspect of our lives and on every aspect of our world. That means that the gospel of Jesus Christ is political, it is involved in social action, it is concerned about green issues, about justice. There was a popular slogan some years ago that went: ‘If Jesus is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all.’ This means that there is no area of life, including no area of our human lives, that doesn’t have to come under spotlight of the sovereignty of the crucified and risen Jesus, no area of life is exempt from the summons to allegiance to Jesus - who is Saviour and Lord.
Christianity is not a private system of pious prayers which don’t really have to impinge upon our public lives. Christianity is not about hiding behind a pew for an hour on a Sunday morning. Paul as he proclaimed the gospel was confronting the claims of Caesar to be God, he was proclaiming that there was another King and Lord, namely Jesus. This is not simply a matter of telling individual politicians and those who hold temporal power that they need Jesus in their lives, though of course this is important, but it is a matter of telling them, in the name of Jesus, that there is a different way of living, of being human, a way which is characterised by self giving love, by justice, by honesty and by breaking down the barriers that seem to reinforce the divisions which keep human beings separated and often as not at odds with each other. Of course it is no good us saying all this if as a church we don’t live it out ourselves. This is not as some would say, bringing politics into religion, it is bringing everything under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This is the gospel message and it leaves us no choice.
TS Eliot asked, some 50 years ago, ‘is our society founded on anything other than compound interest?’ Today we live in a society where debt is regarded with something of a glitzy image. Mastercard tells us that - you’ve got the whole world in your hands and Visa ‘makes the world go round’. Of course both these statements are lies and yet millions of us seem to believe them, and live by them, and while it may generate millions for a small minority, the problem of debt is at a global epidemic - but you must have the latest this that and the other.
And what of the equivalent of the goddess Aphrodite - goddess of erotic love - this was something Paul faced on every street of every place he visited - just as he would if he visited every street of the western world today. Aphrodite’s power holds millions in its grip, with its empty promise of bliss. Unfortunately this is something which the church has got a bad press over in the past - seeming to say that sexuality is not one of God’s given gifts to humankind and that it must be ignored, repressed or denied. The gospel however wants us to think about our sexuality and how we use this God given gift in the light of death and rebirth, which is not giving allegiance to the lust of selfish desire but rather to give of one self in genuine self-giving love.
After money and sex what about power. Even after some 2000 years of Christian History almost everybody assumes that power means more or less force. Paul’s proclamation of Jesus shows a different sort of power, a more powerful sort of power that is made in perfect weakness.
Once we grasp the nature of the gospel we see that it places the authorities of this world where they belong, that is as being accountable to the one who is Lord of all. If the gospel about Jesus is true and Jesus is Lord of the world then as a church we have to tackle these issues.
When we are truly announcing the Lordship of Jesus we must make it clear that the one true God has dealt, in the person of Jesus Christ with sin, death, guilt and shame, and that he now summons men and women everywhere to abandon their idols of power, wealth and sex and discover a new life in him. The gospel is not just about an alternative way of being religious; it is not a certain way of self fulfilment, a certain style of religious experience. It is not a take it or leave it sort of thing, which suggests that people could try this thing on for size and only buy if the mood takes them. The gospel is the royal announcement. No one would have proclaimed Tiberius Caesar as emperor and then said, ‘accept it if it suits you!’ The gospel does offer a new way of life, which will ultimately be the way of self fulfilment. But first it offers the cross of Jesus, the cross which the risen Lord offers to his followers. The gospel is then, the announcement about Jesus, whatever experiences result from ones allegiance to Jesus are just that - a bunch of new experiences. The only experience guaranteed by Jesus’ summons is that of carrying the cross. Are you ready to accept the gospel, are you ready to proclaim that Gospel, will you accept that cross which Jesus offers?
Will you come and join us, the church, as those who seek to follow in these holy steps?
Your friend and Rector.
It just leaves me to say if you are having a break of any sort over the summer do have a relaxing time and please remember to go into church if you are around and welcome visitors who may come to Uckfield as they vistit the area. Every blessing. Fr. Martin
From the Vicar’s Desk
July has been a busy month in the parish!
Firstly can I say a huge thank you to everyone who helped with my 25th anniversary of priesting celebrations on 25th June and a big thank from both Gill and I, for our wonderful gifts on the night.
Then we had Fr. Mitch's ordination in Chichester and 'Hymns and Pimms' to welcome him.
And the Uckfield Festival Big day out and the following weekend 'Sunday Funday organised by the churches of Uckfield, and in between all that we hosted the Deanery Confirmation service!
Joseph came to Holy Cross
Joseph and his amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat came to Holy Cross Uckfield on Tuesday 8th July.
Sung inits original version for schools, written by Tim Rice and Andrew LloydWebber. Children from key stage 2 at Holy Cross School Uckfield werejoined by members of Holy Cross Church Choir and Uckfield ChoralSociety to bring together a performance that the audience were invitedto join in. This timeless classic was enjoyed by over 200 people.Anthony Roberts, the organist and Musical director of Holy Cross hadbeen working with the children in school over the past term and would
love to hear from any children in the Uckfield area over the age of 7years who enjoy singing and would like to join a junior choir. (In thefirst place could you please make contact with the Rector, Canon MartinOnions 01825 370507)
New Archdeacon of Horsham Announced
Canon Fiona Windsor, currently Bishop’s Adviser on women’s ministry in the Diocese of Ely, where she is also a parish priest, is to be the next Archdeacon of Horsham.
Archdeacons work with deaneries in the Diocese in tandem with the bishops as well as assisting in the day to day running of church through its boards and committees.
Fiona was ordained in 2000 and appointed Team Vicar of Papworth in 2004 following her curacy in the Guildford Diocese. She was appointed Team Rector in 2008. In 2012 Fiona was appointed Bishop’s Adviser to Women’s Ministry and installed as an Honorary Canon of Ely Cathedral.
Fiona said today: "I am hugely excited about joining the Diocese of Chichester. I especially look forward to serving the parishes and deaneries of the archdeaconry of Horsham."
The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said: " I am delighted that Fiona has accepted our invitation and look forward to welcoming her to the Diocese and to working with her as a member of the senior staff team. It is a particular joy that she has immense experience in work with women in ministry across a range of deaneries and parishes - something which I hope she will continue to enjoy here in this Diocese as one of our archdeacons.
Fiona’s Husband, Robin, is a senior manager in local government, and they have two grown up children, Rebecca and Adam and one grandson Noah. In her spare time Fiona enjoys cooking and entertaining, painting, music and the arts.
Canon Fiona succeeds The Venerable Roger Combes who retired this month after serving in the role for 11 years.
Church of England to have women bishops 14 July 2014
The General Synod of the Church of England on the 14th July gave its final approval for women to become bishops in the Church of England. The vote in the General Synod on the measure was carried by the required two-thirds majority in the three constituent parts of the Synod: the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity. This means the first woman bishop could potentially be appointed by the end of the year, with a consecration in the Spring of 2015.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:
"Today is the completion of what was begun over 20 years with the ordination of women as priests. I am delighted with today's result. Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing.
The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds. Very few institutions achieve this, but if we manage this we will be living our more fully the call of Jesus Christ to love one another. As delighted as I am for the outcome of this vote I am also mindful of those within the Church for whom the result will be difficult and a cause of sorrow.My aim, and I believe the aim of the whole church, should be to be able to offer a place of welcome and growth for all. Today is a time of blessing and gift from God and thus of generosity. It is not winner take all, but in love a time for the family to move on together."
The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, said:
"This is a momentous day. Generations of women have served the Lord faithfully in the Church of England for centuries. It is a moment of joy today: the office of Bishop is open to them.
To those who ask "what took you so long?" my answer is that every decision has a cost and there will be those within our body who will be hurting as a result of this decision. Our answer to the hurting should not be "get over it" but rather "we will not let go until you have blessed us."
We move slowly because we move together. But in moving together we achieve not only what is just but also model what is right. As the African Proverb says: "Whoever walks fast, travels alone. Whoever walks far, walks in the company of others."
A statement from the Bishop of Chichester
Across the whole of society, today's decision (14th July - Women Bishops) will be received as an overwhelming affirmation of women, and their dignity, of their ordained ministry and the gifts that God has given the Church through them.
But the vote also embraces commitment to Conservative Evangelicals and traditionalist Anglo-Catholics who are troubled in their theological conscience by this development as having a legitimate and assured place within the Church Of England. The legislative package that has been agreed is reinforced by the House of Bishops' Declaration that contains the 5 principles outlining how our future life should be shaped as a Church committed to the worship of God, the work of evangelism, and our commitment to the common good in society.
My prayer and hope is that the Holy Spirit will inspire us with the wisdom, gentleness and humility needed for this task God has entrusted to us.
With thanks for our partnership in the gospel.+Martin