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Article by The Reader, Arthur Brignall in October’s Diary September 25, 2018

Posted by nicholastufton in The Diary Monthly letter.
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To bring order, relevance and impetus to our worship week by week, we have been provided with a pattern of Festivals and Holy Days.

First there are the Principal Feasts in which we recall the main events in the earthly life of Jesus. Then there are the Festivals in which we celebrate the lives and work of Jesus’s immediate family and the Apostles and Martyrs chosen by Jesus for his Ministry. Thirdly we are invited to honour people down through time who have inspired us with their insights, their faith and their holiness in the service of Christ.

In the month of October there are no Principal Feasts and there are only two Festivals, for Luke the Evangelist and for Simon and Jude, Apostles. But in this month there are a remarkable number of individuals whose Holy Days occur at this time. Among them are:

Francis of Assisi (1226),  William Tyndale (1536),  Elizabeth Fry (1845,)  Edith Cavell (1915), Edward the Confessor (1066),                                                           Teresa of Avila (1582), Alfred the Great (899), Martin Luther (1546.

As you see, they lived at different times over more than half of the 2,000 years of the Christian story. Each of them was an inspiration to the people of their time and we can gain much from a study of their lives as we seek to develop our own beliefs and faith in 2018.

One of those who inspires me particularly is Alfred the Great, King of the Wessex Saxons when the Vikings had succeeded in overcoming most of the country. Alfred nearly succumbed to them as well but he held his nerve, won a decisive battle and established himself as the defender of all the Anglo Saxons against the Pagan Vikings. By the middle of the 10th Century the whole of England was ruled as one for the first time. This enabled him to adopt a new legal code and to reform the monetary and fiscal systems of that time. Alfred was described by his biographer as a truthteller, a proud, resourceful and pious man, generous to the faith of the Church and anxious to rule his people justly.

I acknowledge that Alfred ruled in a very different situation than is the case today. In the seemingly chaotic times we are living through in our country at present, I suggest that if only some of the principles applied by Alfred in his rule could be put back in place, it is possible we could regain the moral purpose which we now seem to have lost.

If in our prayers and in our worship we seek to honour such individuals on their Holy Day, who knows what influence their lives and their example might have on each of us?


Sonia’s article in the September Diary September 1, 2018

Posted by nicholastufton in The Diary Monthly letter.
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Wisdom and Tears

None of us looks forward to life’s difficulties, though we know they must surely come. Some arrive with a bang. No warning at all. A devastating shift in your life. Bereavement, loss of job or hopes or home. Others, as if with a whimper. Long-drawn-out stressful events. Maybe illness, a grindingly hard or boring job, perhaps family or financial worries. All these take their toll and can prompt tears. We would all ideally like to avoid these experiences, yet they are not without merit even though it is hard, if not impossible, to appreciate that at the time. Trials help build depth of character, resilience and, hopefully, wisdom. Wisdom to be better equipped with good judgement regarding how to react when the next one of life’s blows hits. Wisdom to put things into perspective and perhaps to help others do the same with their life’s rough patches.

Ancient peoples had the idea that human beings are made of wisdom and tears. Early Christians developed that concept with wisdom being the image of God in which we are made, and tears our failure fully to reflect the divine. Wisdom, in part, is the knowledge of good and evil. To an extent it is inherent. Young children have a highly-developed sense of what is ‘fair’ (as do dogs, as experiments have shown). However, we are corrupted by selfishness, greed and a lust for power. Societies all struggle with attempting to maintain a just balance for their citizens and it requires great wisdom from our leaders to get this right. Unfortunately…

The Bible has a lot to say about tears and wisdom. The wisdom of God, who invites all to know her, is perceived as feminine; I suspect not merely because the words in Hebrew and Greek happen to be of the feminine gender. King Solomon, when invited by God to ask for whatever he wanted, prayed for sound judgement and wisdom to rule his people Israel.

Many Proverbs regarding wisdom are along the lines of, ‘The fear [respect] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but fools despise knowledge and instruction.’

I’ll finish with part of Psalm 126:

May those who sow in tears, reap with shouts of joy.

Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing,

shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.

Many blessings, Sonia (07747 844265)