17th May 2013
We are a very lively parish in the liberal catholic tradition but made up of people of many different styles. We aim to be a place of spiritual, intellectual and emotional refreshment.
We seek to give people the chance to learn and grow in their faith through challenging sermons and a variety of education courses.
We are an inclusive church that will give a warm welcome to everyone. We are a Christian family made up of all sorts and that's the way we like it. I hope you will get the chance to visit us soon and find out for yourself.
The crucifixion, resurrection and why it is relevant to the plight of the Syrian people
He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account. Is 53:3
So Prophesied Isaiah hundreds of years before Jesus was born. Christians see the enigmatic person described here as embodied in Jesus Christ. But why does that matter to the world? How does it, for instance, make an iota of difference to the problems of, say, Syria?
Christian theologians over the centuries have not been particularly good at explaining why the crucifixion and resurrection matter to the world with all its problems. Here's just one way of looking at it.
In suffering without fighting back Jesus, the innocent victim, sets up a new way of goodness tackling wrong. History of course records others before and since who have willingly suffered in order to achieve the greater good. For Christians, though, what Jesus does is unique: because he is not merely a good human being but also divine. God in Jesus absorbs the pain of the world without seeking to retaliate. And, out of that willing acceptance of the pain of the world, comes the triumph of new, transformed life in the resurrection of Jesus. New life, new hope that wrongful suffering need not be the end of the human condition.
It is out of this refusal to accept the power of violence and wrong-doing that there can be transformation into new life - not only for Christ in the resurrection but also for all of us who seek to model our lives on his. We need to follow that model in our own lives and in our society and the wider world. We rob wrong-doing of its power over us if we don't respond to violence with violence.
The press have just been marking the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war. The historian Charles Tripp is reported as in the Guardian of 19th March as saying 'The use of violence, whatever its motive, has its own baleful logic. The deeper and more prolonged its use, the more distinctive and disturbing the consequences will be.' What is true of Iraq is true, too, of individual lives. The more we let anger or violence take root in our individual lives, the more it determines our reactions,and the greater the consequences will be.
This is not to say it is never right to fight back. Not to say - to take an obvious example - that someone subjected to domestic violence should not defend themselves. But it is to say that it is right to take a different and just way of redressing wrong, which entails in that case the state punishes for domestic violence, not the victim (nor his/her friends or family) exacting revenge.
It all starts with individuals, with how each of us in our own lives choose to react to aggression, confrontation or violence. The way that Jesus took was to defuse violence, to break the cycle of violence and we can do likewise.
That won't solve the Syrian crisis overnight. On the political level such an approach is much harder. How to engineer change without violence, justice without revenge there? I don't know, but 2 things to bear in mind. First, the events of Good Friday and Easter show even when non-violence is rejected, even when people refuse it, it can lead to triumph. Secondly, look at the practical example of Iraq. Did military intervention there bring peace with justice? Tripp is right when he says that the use of violence has its own baleful logic that we see in the recent history of Iraq. Perhaps our politicians are beginning to realise that in the reticence to provide military support in Syria despite the scale of the humanitarian disaster.
The way of reconciliation, the rejection of anger and revenge worked in South Africa in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Not completely because we are talking of imperfect human beings. But it made a start for that country. It is the way of Jesus and it is the only way that will stand a chance of working.
The Revd. Ailsa Newby,
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Sunday 19 May
10.00am: Parish Eucharist
Wednesday 22 May
12.30pm: Lunchtime Communion
Trip to Jerusalem
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