Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Are you in the long grass?

The probation service are gradually getting the churchyard grass cut back to the usual neatness. We hope that the problems we have experienced are now resolved and normal service is resumed. I am very great full for those in the community who stepped in and cut grass around church and in the new part of the churchyard.  
It always amazes me how quickly cultivated nature returns to being wild when cultivation stops. The same is true of humanity. We have seen several examples recently of nation states descent into chaos. In such cases, for example Syria, humanities capacity for atrocities flourishes and evil's cold heart rises. It will take years to resolve Syria. The deep wounds created, years to heal.
You cannot compare this country with Syria but we are become increasing uncultivated and the wild grass and weeds are taking over. 
One worrying trend has been the privatisation of security and the legal system.     It cannot be right that we have privatised jails, prisoner transport etc. the probation service has been tasked with self funding. To do this they will need to deploy those doing community service to those organisations who will pay more for their services. The danger of course is that instead of the community service being used to do jobs that probably would not get done, they will replace paid jobs. This is morally wrong. 
The armed services are increasingly being deployed in civic duties. First on fire tenders, then they were going to be used to drive fuel tankers, they are going to be used for security at Olympics. These are all dangerous precedents
The problem is that as soon as you mix profit and security, profit affects security and decisions about security are unholy influenced by profit.
At an individual level, we need to think carefully about we watch and read. The success of 80 shades of grey reveals a widespread apatite for what I call "social porn". This is not healthy. We should be focusing on healthy relationships not looking for a buzz from reading about or watching it! 
Oh it is only a bit of harmless fun I hear u say but it's not. The problem with all this social porn is it makes an increasing wide range of sexual practice acceptable. Just because the fruit is ripe doesn't mean you should pluck it. Some fruit, however ripe or tasty should remain unplucked.
The problem is as we "normalise" sexual practices we make faithfulness and contentment in our relationships harder to fulfil. This makes adultery and breakdown of relationship more likely.
It is easy to blame society for all the problems but under the cloak of a tolerant society perhaps we have become too tolerant. It is all too easy to look outside ourselves but it is with ourselves we must start. We need to deal with those parts of our lives that have become uncultivated or have always been wild. So this month let's all reexamine our own lives find the long grass the weeds and start to cultivate. We should not do this alone but invite God to lead us in this restoration work.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ah! Vicar! Did you know the lights have gone out on the church tower.

First I would like to thank the whole community for a very successful celebration of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. It was good to see everyone working together for a common aim not just in Wadworth but in all communities. It was as if people were seeking something to celebrate given the increasing uncertainties people face in life.
There is no doubt that the constant flow of bad news, whether it is financial or the war in Afghanistan, the lack of trust in success governments have all taken their toll on peoples lives. The Church is not immune from what is going on in our communities and like everyone else we have also seen large increases in Gas and Electricity charges, plus we have to comply with an increasing number of regulations, all of which cost money.
A common myth is that the church receives money from the government. Nothing could be further from the truth, in fact recent changes in the law reduce the monies we can claim in Gift Aid and also increase the number of items on which we have to pay VAT 
While the amount of money given by the congregation has steadily increased year on year, our costs have increased by more, and for the last couple of years we have needed to use our reserves. However, this year, our costs have far outweighed money we have received, and as a result we have needed to take several actions to reduce the money we spend. 
The most visible of these cost cutting measures is to turn off the external lighting of both churches. No one likes a cold church but we are trying to find the best balance between comfort and cost. Both these measures reduce our carbon foot print which is also good for the environment.
Many of you have given to the restoration fund at church and I want to re-assure you that this money is untouched and ring-fenced, so it cannot be used for the day to day running of the church. The wonderful efforts that have taken place to raise money for restoration, may of course re-directed monies from peoples pockets, that would have been given for the day to day running of the church.
I would therefore ask that even if you do not come to church, but value the presence of the church in your community, you would consider some financial support. This can be done by Standing Order, envelopes or online so please speak to the Vicar or Jonathan Redden if you would like to do this.
God has been generous with us in sending his only son Jesus to die for us. God loves a cheerful giver, and I pray that through the generosity of this community we may continue to do God’s work for many generations to come.