Hello everyone! Today it is lovely and bright and sunny, even though the wind is very cold. I enjoyed a walk down to the chapel, as May, the lady I usually take to the chapel, was not so well today. I always walk if I can, as I enjoy the exercise.
My brother Selwyn had sent an email to say he hoped to pop in and join our service this morning en route back home. He had driven an abbot from Salzburg up to Ampleforth to arrive before 10am. I thought he was ambitious attempting to arrive in time for our service at 10.30am, so I was not surprised to see him arrive part way through the service. I was glad to see him and invited him for lunch but he intended to drive back to Burton on Trent as soon as possible. I was amazed to hear that he had taken the abbot last night to Birmingham for a concert of the NEO Orchestra, arriving home at 11pm for some cheese and wine, before going to bed and rising again at 6am. At 7am they set off to Ampleforth where they arrived at 9.30am; all was going well until that point, when he realised there was a red light on warning that he was running out of petrol! He then drove to Helmsley only to find that there was no petrol available, as there had been a break in the previous evening! He had to then travel a further 6 miles before he was able to fill up; fortunately the car kept going with many prayers of praise to God by my brother! I invited him for a coffee and small snack, before he continued on his way. I don’t know how he does it! He is a retired GP of nearly 69, who is at the moment doing 4 days a week locum work! I hope I can be that fit when I reach that age. It was lovely to see him however briefly and I hope he had a good journey home.
Today is the start of the ‘Week of Prayer for Christian Unity’ so the assistant vicar, Rev Tim Hurren from St Peter’s Anglican Church came to lead our service, whilst our minister led their service. He spoke well on what the Church is about, not just buildings or social care, but about sharing the love of God and Christ with a needy world. His vision of what unity really meant was unity in diversity of worship rather than uniformity. I agree that we are all different and we prefer to worship with different emphases, but we are united in our faith in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We all want to share the love which Jesus revealed to us from his Father through the ever present person of the Spirit. Our world so much needs to know the all accepting, forgiving love of God through Jesus Christ. I never cease to be amazed at the wonderful, merciful love of our Father, whose arms are outstretched to enfold us. The children’s hymn, ‘One more step along the world I go,’ Tim pointed out, was just as relevant for all of us whatever our age, wherever we are on our faith journey.
The one reading that Tim had chosen was one of my favourite passages from the Bible, Ephesians 3 v1-21, which I was privileged to read. The words are so uplifting about the wonderful grace of God revealed to us Gentiles so that we could ‘have a part with the Jews in God’s blessings’. We now as Gentiles are ‘members of the same body and share in the promise that God made through Christ Jesus’. Paul regarded himself as the least of the apostles, because he had persecuted Christians before meeting Jesus on the Damascus road; but he felt that God had given him ‘the privilege of taking to the Gentiles the Good News about the infinite riches of Christ’. I love the way Paul explained how God achieved his eternal purpose through Christ Jesus, which had made it possible for us through our faith in him to have the boldness to go into God’s presence with all confidence. Paul described how Jesus had made it possible for us all come together as God’s people and to understand the height, depth, length and breadth of God’s love for us. We no longer need to be anxious and worried as we come to know God’s love for each one of us. I shall close with the closing words of Ephesians chapter 3, which express more clearly than I can what God’s power in our lives can do:
‘To him who by means of his power working in us is able to do so much more than we can ever ask for, of even think of: to God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, for ever and ever Amen.