September 2011 Ministers Community Newsletter

 August has been dominated by pictures of the riots which many of us have seen and momentous changes in the Middle East as regime after regime has toppled.  But here on Moreton Hall we are probably more concerned about getting everybody ready to go back to school.  There is the annual round of buying school uniforms, shoes, bags and equipment and with it both the joy of seeing our children grow and the sadness of knowing that one day they will leave us.   

Also, for those who cannot have children, or whose children have left home and have not maintained any sort of contact, the sadness is somewhat greater. Then here is the larger worry that even when relationships with our children are good, what sort of world are we sending them into? As much of the inner city, violence is due to peer pressure.  People who would not otherwise commit crimes, let alone burn down other people’s houses, get caught up in the maelstrom of other people’s criminality.  Perhaps the answer lies in our own hands.  Back to school is not just something for our youngsters.  It’s back to school for all of us. 

  Perhaps we need to learn, or relearn, the lessons that have been forgotten, lessons concerning respect, law and order, honesty, integrity, and above all the ability, both in terms of character and purpose, to say no.  No to things that we know are wrong.  No to the things and people which stop us from doing that which is right.  No to people who say, “… go on, you must do this”. 

It is not for nothing that Jesus is known as the great moral teacher.  But He is no ordinary teacher, in that He comes in search of His class even when they have played truant and run away.  He seeks out those who want to learn, those who want to live better lives, and gives His life to them.  He shares His life and not only shows them a better way to live, but gives them rules to live by and, above all, the power to do it. 

There was a time when this country was thoroughly Christian.  Christianity was at the forefront of all our thoughts and our actions.  It made sense of our daily living, it helped us to live law abiding lives and, above all, it gave purpose and direction to our political leaders who stopped being power-seeking bellyachers and became people concerned to set the right moral example as well as taking decisions which were for the good of all, not just for them and their party.  

 Because of the Christian legacy in this country, we still know deep down that this is the right way for us to live and we are saddened when we don’t hear those words from our religious leaders which we need to keep us on the right track. 

The Christian message is, of course, a difficult one.  On the one hand there is unconditional love and forgiveness which is useful to know, but on the other hand there is repentance, which is to do with knowing that you have done something wrong, taking personal responsibility for it, and doing something about it.  This aspect of the Christian message is something that we have lost sight of in recent years.   Society only works when each individual member takes responsibility for their lives and their actions and no longer expects a free ride at the expense of others.  It is about doing the best for all.  In a society where everyone does the best for all, no one is left out and forgotten.  But in a society where the only person that matters is me, the cracks begin to appear and eventually things like riots will happen. 

It is a hard thing to admit you are wrong.  It is a harder thing to put it right and to live a new life.  All of us are being spoken to by God now, to stop living just for our own convenience but to live for others.  Mothers and fathers are taking hard decisions to find enough money to pay for new school uniforms and equipment so their children will have a good start to this academic year. Maybe we all need to start taking stock about how we are living and think about making sacrifices for others so that everyone gets a better life.   

This is exactly the approach that Jesus took and this is why at Christ Church, Moreton Hall we remind everybody through our public services and through Alpha.  Why don’t you return to school, start that new life that you need and if we can get this going across the whole nation, who knows what might happen.  Certainly we should see an end to criminal riots and the breakdown of law and order. With every good wish, 

Yours sincerely, 

Revd. Canon Jonathan Ford.

Minister Christ Church Moreton Hall