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Clergy Comments

Rev Martin Williams


I’ve long enjoyed the writings of Michael Green. Yes, my bookshelves contain copies of ‘Evangelism through the Local Church’, ‘World on the Run’, ‘Why bother with Jesus?’ and more besides. But that prolific author isn’t actually the one I’ve got in mind. Another Michael Green wrote a series of books first on ‘The Art of Coarse Sport’ and then a whole range of individual sports. It was his view that a coarse sportsman could be defined somewhat as follows, “someone whose incompetence extends to many more fields than one.” That definition could have been written for me. On the only occasion when I was selected to play for a cricket team I batted at number eleven, was dismissed for a golden duck, and was certainly not allowed to bowl in the next innings. As for cycling, well my very first tour found me spreading myself, my gleaming machine and my luggage across the tarmac as I came a cropper at the Meathop Roundabout. So it’s good to see that our new priest in charge is ready to admit to being something of a kindred spirit. If Lucie both knits and does needle-felting (I don’t even pretend to know what the latter is), and manages to do both badly, well that’s good enough for me.

Well I’ll never be Chris Froome, but I’m heartened by the thought that though I fully expect to live and die without ever pulling on the maillot jaune there are certain things – and not just cycling - which are worth doing just for their own sake. In her first letter to us, Lucy makes repeated reference to meeting people. It’s something she values and something the Bible encourages us to do. The author of Hebrews is very clear about it, “Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have the habit of doing” we read, “rather, let us encourage each other…” Time spent in the company of God’s people can be a real growth point for us.

As I sit here in late January with the wind howling outside and the chimneys of Rampside smoking around me, I can’t help but be reminded of how, as a child, I lived in a farmhouse where much of the heating came from an open coal fire. My parents really knew how to build a fire! At this time of the year there would be a cosy fug in the living room, which could easily put me to sleep, and the first person to come down in the morning would still be able to find a glowing ember from which to start the process all over again. But even when the blaze was at its fiercest, if one of those coals fell out onto the hearth it would soon become dull, grey and lifeless isolated from all the others. Each one needed all the others.

Meeting together for Bible Study is good; meeting together for prayer and praise is good; meeting together to discuss topics of contemporary interest and concern is good – especially if that meeting helps to shape the kingdom response we make to those issues in the days that follow. But whatever it is that brings us together, the very fact of meeting can be a real encouragement as the fellowship we share helps us to keep burning brightly. Here in Rampside the coffee mornings held each Tuesday in the Village Hall rarely attract fewer than a hundred people, but despite the name I’ve been heard to say that I think the least important thing about those occasions is the coffee (delicious though it is). The very fact of being together adds an extra richness to the week for those who attend, and perhaps most particularly for those who live alone. The same principle applies to our Christian gatherings, and an extra dimension is added by the fact that we meet in the presence of Christ who is the head and as we grow up into him we come to realise in more and more ways that each part of Christ’s body needs all of the others. Foot and hand, ear and eye – and all the other parts besides – are at our best when we are together in the one from whom our unity flows.

February 14th is probably best known as St. Valentine’s Day. This year it also happens to be Ash Wednesday, and with the beginning of Lent comes a good opportunity for meeting together. Elsewhere in this issue of Benefice News you’ll find details of a Lent Course which is to be held on the following five Monday evenings. This year’s course has the added advantage of being home grown here in Cumbria. It’s designed to feed in to the Moving Mountains mission which reaches a climax next month. I’d commend it to you.

And perhaps our most wonderful opportunity to meet together will come on February 25th when we gather for the licensing of our new priest in charge. I’m sure you’d join with me in saying to Lucie and to her family, “you are most heartily welcome.”


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