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The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great Crosby

Saint Faith’s Prayer for Mission

Faithful God, in baptism you have adopted us as your children,
made us members of the body of Christ and chosen us as inheritors of your kingdom:
bless our plans for mission and outreach; guide us to seek and do your will;
empower us by your Spirit to share our faith in witness and to serve,
and send us out as disciples of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.


July 2006

From the Ministry Team         

Speaking the truth as we know it

It was lovely to meet up again with Bishop Michael Marshall recently when he came to take part in the Gala Concert and preach a stunning sermon the following Sunday morning. In talking to him afterwards I realised that I had forgotten that he was involved in helping Archbishop George Carey by playing a leading role in the Church of England’s Decade of Evangelism. A key figure in the Anglican Catholic movement playing a lead role in evangelism? Whatever next!

It is easy to think that evangelism is about peddling simplistic religious certainties and getting people to make some sort of embarrassing act of public commitment. Nothing could be further from the truth. An evangelist is simply someone who announces good news – the faith as they know it.

But we have a bit of a problem at the catholic end of the Church of England in talking about our faith – especially if we are middle class. It is almost as if talking about faith was some sort of terrible faux pas, some grave social misdemeanour – most terribly embarrassing! So instead we opt for trying to be nice to people, and offering them a warm welcome if they appear in church, but shrink at the possibility of actually talking about God. What on earth do we think people come to church for?

We desperately need some evangelists at St Faith’s - people who are able to share the good news as they know it, people who can give a convincing account of how their faith makes a difference to their lives. There can be no beating about the bush with this one. Unless we start engaging people with the faith as we know it there will not be a church in a few years time. The maths are simple. Like many other churches, we are not replacing ourselves as a church. We are not passing on the faith successfully to following generations.

How many of the grown up children of people at St Faith’s are regular and committed church members? I would hazard a guess that it is not so many. So what is going wrong? Good liturgy, fun social events, pantomimes, concerts and recitals, wonderful music from the choir, and all the other round of great things that we offer at St Faith’s are not enough. We need some practice in becoming fluent in the language of faith. We can no longer rely on implicit religion, faith today needs to be explicit if the church is to thrive.

Recently I conducted some baptisms at St Faith’s. It was the first time I had visited a baptism family in the two years since I left parish ministry in Kirkby. It was a shock to realise again just how big the gap is between the churched and unchurched. It was as if I was speaking a completely different language. And as a result I felt tongue-tied. I just didn’t have the means to engage with these young parents in talking about what faith means to me in words that they could understand. So what did I do? I chickened out. I took the easy option. I said some nice things about the baby, talked about the details of the baptism service, and might even have managed some religious platitudes about what baptism means. But I failed spectacularly in finding the words to communicate what the Christian faith means to me, and therefore why it might be important for them to show up a bit more than on the day of the baptism.

If that is true for me after theological training and over twenty years in the ordained ministry, then I guess that some of you will also share my sense of inadequacy at this daunting task which is so vital for the future of our church.

We have just begun the process of putting together a five year plan for St Faith’s, and as Father Neil pointed out last month, evangelism came bottom of our list of activities when we looked at the life of St Faith’s at our PCC away-day. I want to make a plea that in that process of planning we don’t duck this issue of talking about faith – evangelism – because I think it represents our greatest challenge. I think we need some help with it. I think we need someone to encourage us, to help us to develop the skills of bringing alive our catholic heritage for other people; someone who can give us the confidence to begin to shape some words which make sense of that precious gift of faith as it becomes incarnate in your life and mine.

Yes, your life and mine. This isn’t something just for clergy. It is the vocation of every Christian to speak the truth of faith as they know it. Simply coming to church and getting our dose of religion without going out and sharing some of it is no longer an option in a post-Christian society – not if we really value the church and its life and want it to have a future.

Fr Mark

Holy Days in July
(from the Church of England’s “Common Worship” calendar)

3rd    S. Thomas the Apostle
6th    S. Thomas More, Scholar, and S. John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester,     Reformation Martyrs, 1535
11th    S.Benedict of Nursia, Abbot of Monte Cassino, (patron of Europe)  Father of Western Monasticism, c.550
14     S. Swithun, Bishop of Winchester, c.862
20th    S. Margaret of Antioch, Martyr, 4th century
22nd     S. Mary Magdalene
23rd     S. Brigid of Sweden (patron of Europe)
25th    S. James the Apostle
26th    S. Anne, mother of the B.V.M.
31st     S. Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus, 1556

Healing Services
Fr. Neil

July 2003 saw the reintroduction of the Healing Ministry at St. Faith’s and regular Thursday Healing Services, alternating with St. Mary’s, now take place monthly. So this month celebrates our third anniversary of this important part of the life of our United Benefice.

An important aspect of that service is that we pray for many people who can’t make it to church but nevertheless value our prayers.

To this end, there will be some cards available at each service, post-card shaped, which you may take to send or give to those for whom we have been praying. Please feel free to take a card, or a few, and to fill in the relevant details before passing on to the person we have been praying for.

This is, I hope, a way of strengthening our commitment to the Healing Ministry of the Church and also letting people know they have been remembered in prayer. That means a lot to people.

So please do take a card and send it with our love and prayers.

Figuring it out
Chris Price

The Church of England over the next 15 years

Last month’s analysis of the findings and predictions of the official figures published by Christian Research looked at such things as the C. of E. Electoral Roll and the relative decline of attendance figures in the mainstream Christian denominations in the U.K. This second analysis begins with a look at the traditional concept of ‘family’. The continuing and startling decline of the standard family unit of a married couple, with or without children, from 90% in 1980 to a predicted 35% in 2020, is highlighted. The report believes that the church needs to do more to welcome the growing numbers of lone parents (‘invariably mothers’), divorcees, gay people and cohabiting couples likely to come to churches, or to risk disenfranchising what may soon be a majority of potential members. ‘People don’t want a friendly church: they want friends,’ is how one commentator put it. The survey asks how churches can best give unconditional and loving support to these groups. It would be good to think that this is something that we already achieve pretty well at St Faith’s.
The report moves on to Sunday Church Attendance. In 1980 11% of the population of Great Britain went to church weekly. By 2005 this was down to under 7% and, if present trends continue, will be down to under 4% by 2020. The numbers exclude those who attend once a month or so (about 10%), and Christmas attendances (about 20%), and notes that if visits for the Occasional Offices (christenings, marriages and funerals) are counted in, then perhaps as many as 50% of the UK population will see the inside of a church in the course of an average year. Naturally the researchers ask how the local church can best adapt to these challenging figures. It speaks of the need to convince clergy that change is essential for survival (and the need to equip them to ‘lead change’) and commends ‘innovation in experimental services’. Our New Worship monthly experiments would clearly fit this pattern and already can be seen as a small step to ‘temper an otherwise rapid decline in numbers.’ This section of the report concludes with the implication that in its opinion the church nationally cannot continue to support 43 independent Dioceses each replicating many functions, and makes the sensible comment that local change needs to be matched by a radical rethink at the top.

Next under the microscope comes An Ageing Church. It’s no surprise to learn that the average age of those attending church is rising. During the 1990s half a million young people under 15 left church, and this trend is continuing steadily, as we have noticed. Seemingly most make up their minds to leave while attending Sunday School (not ours, surely!) but actually leave when a year or two into Secondary School. The graphs show that, using actual and predicted figures between 1980 and 2020, total numbers of churchgoers over 65 are actually rising, those between 45 and 64 falling only slightly, while those between 20 and 44 have more than halved and for under 20s the decline is more than twice that decline. The C. of E.’s decline averages out at 2.5% per year and – most significant of all – ‘half the Church of England parishes had no work at all among young people in 2005.’

The rate of decline seems to be increasing: from 273,000 children in Sunday Schools in1980 it is likely to total fewer than 55,000 by 2020. The survey speaks of the need for more Youth Workers, for making Sunday School more lively and relevant, and realising the full potential of Church Schools. Recognising the fact that many more middle-aged people now have to work on Sundays, it reflects on how best to make worship available at times and in places to suit these people. The possibility of After Schools Clubs to look after children until parents get back from work is seen as one way to grow the ‘fringe’ of people connected, however loosely, with the church.

Finally, the researchers note that although in 1980 those aged 65+ made up just 20% of churchgoers, with current trends this will rise to as much as 46% by 2020. They see this as having serious implications for church life, but also as ‘representing a mission opportunity to others of like age in their neighbourhood.’ It commends coffee mornings and luncheon clubs and wonders how the church can make better use of grandparents - and even whether it should hold Grandparents’ classes!

It is interesting to look at Saint Faith’s statistics in the light of these findings. Our mission survey found that 66% of our people were aged 60+ and 43% were 70+ (and more than 60% were female) – well up with the national ageing trends if not in advance of them. It is perhaps comforting to note that our Saturday recitals (glorified coffee mornings!) attract a significant audience in the retirement age bracket, and that we play a major part in running the successful and much-appreciated Christ Church Luncheon Club. And a glance at the age of the ‘core workers’ in our congregation undoubtedly reveals that grandparents play a very large part in keeping the life and mission of St Faith’s (and St Mary’s) on the road. Perhaps our church’s grandparents should be taking classes, not attending them…

Next time: the final analysis – the topics are rural church attendance, relative sizes of congregations, ‘What makes Churches grow’, Church Buildings and, as you might predict, the mandatory SWOT Analysis (you must have come across this – it stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and invariably involves the use of flip charts and brainstorming sessions…) Goodbye for now from the Old Folks’ Corner of our ageing but still much-loved church.

Information Release

Due to the nature of the quality of driving in England, the Department of Transport has now devised a new scheme in order to identify poor drivers and give good drivers the opportunity to recognise them whilst driving. For this reason, as from the middle  of  May  2006  a  scheme  for  identifying  those  drivers  who  are found to be driving badly has been put in place. This includes:

 - overtaking in dangerous places;
 - hovering within one inch of the car in front;
 - stopping sharply;
 - speeding in residential areas;
 - pulling out without indication;
 - cutting in front of cyclists;
 - performing U-turns inappropriately in busy high streets;
 - under taking on motorways;
 - taking up more than one lane in multi-lane roads.

These drivers have been issued with flags, white with a red cross, signifying their inability to  drive  properly.   These  flags  must  be clipped to a door  f the car  and be visible to all other drivers and pedestrians.

Those drivers  who  have shown  particularly poor driving skills   have to display a flag on each side of the car  to indicate their greater lack of skill  and general lower intelligence to the general public.

(internet circulation)

May 20th, 2006, saw a special event in St Faith’s. A Gala Concert was held in aid of the Walsingham Appeal, with celebrity soloists and in the presence of the Archbishop of York. As the photo above shows, a cheque for £2,000 was handed over as a result of the concert. In the article below, Fr Neil writes about Walsingham and the concert, reprinting (unsolicited!) some words from this writer dating from the first St Faith’s Pilgrimage to Walsingham in 2000. On the church wesbite, Denis Griffiths’ photographs show some highlights from the pre-concert reception in the Library at Merchant Taylors’ School, and during and after the concert itself.

Why Walsingham? Why Not? 

Fr. Neil

Archbishop William Temple once said, ‘The Church is the only organisation that exists for the benefit of those who are not (yet) its members.’

That belief certainly underpins the parochial system of the Church of England where, at S. Mary’s and S. Faith’s for example, the congregation forms only some 1.87% of the total number of people the Vicar could potentially minister to at any one time. Indeed a great deal of the working week for any incumbent is spent (or should be spent) dealing with those who don’t come to church on a regular basis but nonetheless require the ministry of the church for whatever reason. They (non church-goers) don’t necessarily have access to the automatic support of a church family as many of us do. Very often when someone at S. Faith’s has been bereaved, or been seriously ill, the first thing they do is to thank the members of the ‘church family’ who have looked after them. Many people bear their sufferings, loneliness and anxiety on their own, without that inbuilt support network which the church family, at its very best, offers.

It is perhaps with something of that sentiment in mind that the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham meets not only the needs of regular paid-up Christians but many more people beyond. People of very deep faith, wavering faith, or no faith at all, find at Walsingham a peace and tranquility which is rarely found in their own homes or workplaces, and dare I say, even in their own churches! No wonder then that in 2003 Walsingham was voted the nations most favourite spiritual place.

We live in a society obsessed with paper-work and figures – and the church is no different. Forms come to us regularly asking attendances for this or that in an attempt to see where the church is (or isn’t) moving. We can so easily fall into the trap of thinking that growth simply means more numbers on a piece of paper or more people in church. Rarely do we talk of the importance of spiritual growth; it is difficult to quantify. But it is important. If we are not growing spiritually we are not moving in our relationship with God or living a faith which is dynamic and life-changing. A faith which is stuck in a rut is not a faith to commend to others!

Walsingham provides ‘safe space’ or ‘sanctuary’ where talk about God or and/or prayer is a most natural way of conversation (when did you last talk about prayer to someone in church or in your own family?). Walsingham provides a setting where no prayer is too trivial or unheard.

For that reason I am so pleased that the concert we held recently for the Walsingham Appeal was such a great success. The presence of the Archbishop of York certainly gave the event a high profile. I said to the Archbishop at the reception how grateful we were that he could find time in his busy diary to be with us. He said in reply: ‘But I had to come. The work of Walsingham is so very important’. And he meant it! The support for the Walsingham Appeal from so many different traditions of church backgrounds demonstrates clearly that the power of a place like Walsingham very much transcends human boundaries of churchmanship! A lesson for us all to learn.

Walsingham, for me at any rate, is wonderfully summed up in the article written by Chris Price back in 2000 when St. Faith’s made its first parish pilgrimage. And it’s not just me who thinks that! Chris Price’s article can be found on the Walsingham Website under the heading “why pilgrimage?”

Chris says this:

“48 hours of rich and varied experiences. Worship in forms familiar and strange. Fellowship in the refectory queue and around the bars of the welcoming village hostelries. A fascinating mixture of prayerful devotion and shared laughter, not all of it always entirely reverent. The mysteries of the rosary... for many a focus of prayer, for others, even by the end, about forty Hail Marys too many. The intense and wondrous silence of the Holy House, bedecked with blue and gold and a myriad of burning lights, the most moving of backgrounds to a parish at worship and in intercessory prayer. A singularly moving and spectacular Procession of Our Lady around the dark grounds, by candle-light and to the enthusiastic accompaniment of a hymn with more verses (and certainly more Ave Marias) than you could shake a stick at, and punctuated by dubious descants and just a little departure from devotion in places.

“A visit to the Roman Catholic Shrine (the Slipper Chapel down the road), and moving words in their official handbook commending a visit to ‘our’ Shrine and ‘our’ Parish Church and asking for prayers for the Anglican Diocese and its priests and people - how far and wonderfully we have come in recent years! Conversations in corridors, coffee brewed in little rooms, bonding between people who may scarcely have spoken to one another before. No sense (at least not for long) of anything alien or frightening ... and no pressure to accept anything you weren’t happy about, nor to feel left out if you chose to snooze or stroll rather than join in things.

“Parish Mass in the Parish Church in the village, packed with pilgrims and locals - a building gloriously light and airy, with acres of clear grass, after the intense and sometimes stifling weight of the shrine church. Strolling back after coffee at the back of that church through sunny, still streets lined with flint-set, pantiled-roofed cottages.

“Drinks outside the Bull in God’s providential lunchtime sunshine. The transporting experience of going down into the well in the shrine in a new baptism for the blessing of pure, cold water in the mouth, on the forehead and splashing over the hands.

“And, on the road home abiding memories of

Peace and a deep silence of prayer made simple and appealing.
Fellowship made stronger and laughter more ready than ever (where even the old jokes     sounded new)
A place to which to bring doubts and scepticism, but where, even where those reservations remained, it did not matter.
A place where it seemed overwhelmingly and satisfyingly normal to be a Christian and an Anglican and to live a life founded in the sacraments and prayer; a place     where to believe and to practise the faith was simple and natural.
A place where the unlikely became possible, the flamboyant and even the absurd were at home with the beauty of the holiness and where we could all be ourselves for a spell.
A lovely place and a lovely time, together for a time out of time with our fellow Christians and, without a shadow of doubt, with our God.”

We beseech thee, O Lord,
pour thy grace into our hearts;
that, as we have known the incarnation
of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel,
so by his cross and passion
we may be brought unto the glory of his resurrection;
through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord,
who liveth and reigneth with thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. AMEN.

A Plea for Peace

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
For most of us, when asked our mind,
Admit we still more pleasure find
In hymns of ancient days.

The simple lyrics, for a start,
Of many a modern song
Are far too trite to touch the heart,
Enshrine no poetry or art,
And go on much too long.

O for a rest from jollity
And syncopated praise!
What happened to tranquility?
The silence of eternity
Is hard to find these days.

Send thy deep hush, subduing all
Those happy claps, that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call.
Triumphalism is not all,
For sometimes we feel down.

Drop thy still dews of quietness
Till all our strummings cease.
Take from our souls the strain and stress
Of always having to be blessed:
Give us a bit of peace.

Breathe though the beats of praise guitar
Thy coolness and Thy balm.
Let drum be dumb, bring back the lyre,
Enough of earthquake, wind and fire:
Let’s hear it for some calm.

From the Lancaster Priory magazine, courtesy of Canon Peter Cavanagh.
Published originally in Laudate, the magazine of the Guild of Church Musicians.


A selection of the more bizarre stories from our PC-conscious modern world, with thanks to the excellent ‘The Week’ periodical.

Would Yew Believe It?

A council that spent £5,000 planting a row of yew trees last year is digging them up again in case children are poisoned by their leaves. Bristol County Council planted 100 yews to create a border between a café and a children’s play area. However, a risk assessment later concluded that the trees should be pulled up because, if eaten in sufficient quantity, the leaves can cause vomiting. A council spokesman admitted that this was extremely unlikely to happen as the leaves tasted ‘foul’, but said, predictably, that it was better to be safe than sorry. However did those of us brought up in the country survive all those venerable yew trees in our churchyards? Should they now all be pulled up too?

Getting To The Bottom Of Things

A National Health Service Trust in Dundee has issued a four-page leaflet containing helpful tips for going to the lavatory. The leaflet, which bears the unforgettable title of ‘Good Defecation Dynamics’, comes with explanatory pictures and contains advice such as: ‘When you sit on the toilet make sure your feet are well-supported’; ‘Do not slump down but keep the normal curve in your back’; and finally, ‘Don’t forget to breathe’. It’s good to be able to reflect, when in the smallest room, that our taxes are being so well spent.

Railway Letters

Railway bosses may have to withdraw a fleet of 29 trains because the letters on their information screens are a whole 3 mm too small. Government advisers (who of course have nothing better to do) say that the South West Trains carriages must be scrapped because their in-carriage LED screens don’t comply with disability regulations. Thousands of commuters on the Waterloo to Reading line will simply have to cram on to shorter trains…

One For The Road

And finally, drunks and criminals are being offered free taxi rides home from police stations, lest they get injured making their own way home. Surrey police alone have spent £9,000 on taxis in the past twelve months, rather than face compensation claims.

Funny You Should Say That

We are pleased to note that there has been a change of mind by the Housing Department regarding the name for the new housing complex for the elderly. ‘St Peter’s Close’ did seem somewhat inappropriate.

The 150-Club Draw: June 2006 winners

    1  Rita Woodley     £150
    2  John Weston     £100
    3  Joan Tudhope     £75
    4  Harry Roberts     £50

‘Risen, Ascended, Glorified’

Sermon preached by Fr. Gerwyn Capon at the 6.30am Solemn Mass on Ascension Day.

The great cornerstone events in the life of Jesus have inspired painters and various artists to create many wonderful images that help us draw near to the mystery of our faith: the Incarnation, Mary with the Infant Jesus, the scene around the Crib, the Cross, the Risen Christ bearing his wounds to the first believers. Whether we are looking at Giotto or Caravaggio, a fresco by Fra Angelico or Michaelangelo, the Church’s iconography has been pretty camp at the best of times but when we come to the Ascension, pictures suddenly begin to lose the plot, I feel. Take for instance the frescoes, if that is not too generous a term, around the little altar in one of the side chapels at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, dedicated to the Ascension of Our Lord - it is Blackpool gone to the Wash - lurid blue swirls and puffy white clouds and an image of the soles of Jesus’ feet disappearing into the highest heaven, rocketing like superman into space. The artist has tried to inject some kind of 3-D perspective on the figure of Jesus with the result that it looks as if Our Lord and Saviour has been subjected before take off, to a quick bit of emergency liposuction. Perhaps that’s the way of it, how else are we going to have the confidence to hang around the celestial city in the company of all those heavenly bodies without spending eternity in abject paranoia?

In Rome recently I managed to see, in the Vatican Museums, one of the most thought- provoking depictions of the Ascension, completed by the artist Raphael; Christ is taken up into heaven, heaved up by accompanying angels, his right arm held tightly by God the Father at the wrist. It is a scene almost of rescue - Jesus has accomplished his mission and is now  taken back  into the safety  of heaven,  rather like  a man  being hauled  back into 12
a boat from the sea. You get the impression that Jesus is welcomed back into the embrace of heaven, having been so coldly and dangerously treated whilst he had existed in the realm of humankind. An interesting perspective but not one, I fear, that I warm to. What we celebrate at the Ascension is much more profound I think and does not involve Jesus escaping from us back to safety where he can remain unmolested but rather, it is we who are carried into the safety of heaven with him.

What we see in Raphael’s picture then, is a rescue, our rescue, our very being taken up into the life of God. In Raphael’s picture, it is possible to see the tension of the sinews and muscles of the arm stretched out holding Jesus - God using all his strength as it were, because it is not just Jesus who is being lifted up, it is the weight of all humanity that is being brought up into his presence, and into his love. God is welcoming humanity back into the society of the eternal things, so we are again united with what God envisaged and intended from the beginning. This is the deepest mystery of the Ascension and the firmest hope we have - as God came down as the Word, so the Word now takes us back into the life of the Father.

About this mystery, all that Leo the Great could say of the Ascension, preaching to his students, was this:  And so our Redeemer’s visible presence has passed into the sacraments. Our faith is nobler and stronger because sight has been replaced by a faith that is accepted by believing hearts, enlightened through the spirit of God.

Many theologians have written of the Ascension that it is a crowning moment for Jesus; he is lifted up, as St John records. This “taking up” of Christ has significance for the church in that through it, the life of faith is explained, sustained and completed.

Life is explained because through The Ascension we see that the life we receive by faith, now has a destiny - to be with God. We are not just a load of chemicals and protoplasm - we are now joined with God through Christ and inseparable from his love - we are given meaning, ultimate meaning. So life is explained. Through the Ascension, life is sustained - Jesus has left his Spirit here - the spirit that is the engine of the Christian life, the spirit that kindles in us the life of faith and holiness of living. The spirit keeps us trusting and hopeful.

And if the Ascension explains life and sustains life, it also completes life. Jesus says, as St John records, “when I shall be lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all people to myself” - for in Jesus we find all that we need, the complete life that brings all our broken pieces into one, for it is through the risen life of Christ that all are made alive.

So whatever your picture is of the Ascension, let it call us to risk being lifted by Christ, to allow him to do this for us. We are more important to God than we dare sometimes to think, for as that early church Father Ireneus has said the glory of God is the living man, and the life of man is the vision of God. We are made for the life of heaven.

“Alleluia, alleluia – Risen, Ascended, Glorified”

A Summer Reflection 
Fr Dennis

In a summer of the early 1970s, when staying in Hemel Hempstead with Leslie and Jean Crossley, the three of us drove into Central London for Sunday Mass at the lovely and architecturally unusual church of St Vedast, Foster Lane. A quartet of professional musicians accompanied the mass and, after the service, we joined the regular congregation for a glass of wine.

The celebrant and preacher was the newly-appointed Rector, Father Gonville ffrench-Beytagh, (yes, really! Ed.) who, only a few years earlier, had come to Britain in exile from South Africa, following his brave and outspoken criticism of the evil regime of apartheid.
Gonville ffrench-Beytagh was born in Shanghai, educated in England, and spent his early life in New Zealand as a tramp and casual labourer. He then went to South Africa and was ordained priest, but fell foul of the authorities and was tried for subversion. He was convicted but later released on appeal. He is perhaps best known for his book ‘Encountering Darkness’, which he wrote about his experience of being imprisoned by the South African authorities for working against apartheid. His other books are ‘Encountering Light’, ‘Facing Depression’ and ‘A Glimpse of Glory’.

The following extract from ‘Encountering Light’ is one which I have long valued:

‘Think of yourself for a moment. There is no one on this earth who is like you. This may be just as well, but it is true. You may have an identical twin who was removed at birth for all you know, but there is not, and cannot ever have been, nor will there ever be, a person who is exactly like you. Even if someone has exactly the same genes and chromosomes, the environment in which he (or she) grew up will have been different and so he will have become a different person. It is not possible for someone else to have the same loves and hates and lusts and fears and anxieties and hopes and desires as you yourself have.

You are unique, you are yourself and there has never been, or can be, someone who is just like you, or who fills your place in the world. And if religion is, as it claims to be, a personal relationship with God, your relationship with God will be something unique to yourself and him. You can listen to preachers preaching, you can read about religion - and probably ought to do so because we can learn from each other's experience - but in the last resort your religion and your prayer is something of your own self.

Finally, at the end of your life, you will stand before the judgement seat by yourself. You are responsible for yourself. Many people have contributed towards your goodness and  badness. Many of them may well be blamed and have some responsibility for what is in you, but in the last resort, you are you and no one can take your place.’

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