News & Events
Our News and Events page is updated once a month with articles from our monthly parish magazine, "Viewpoint".
The articles below are copied from the May 2018 edition.
The complete magazines for March, April and May 2018 may be viewed by clicking on the links here:
(NB you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader on your PC to open these files)
...from our Vicar, Rev. Jonathan Foster:
Animal, Vegetable or Mineral? …or…?
Some readers may remember the BBC radio programme ‘Twenty Questions’, in which contestants had to identify something using only twenty questions to which the answer could only be ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. The only prior information given was whether this mystery ‘something’ was ‘animal, vegetable or mineral’.
We all have important questions to ask about life. Some of the most important are to do with our own identity as human beings – who or what are we? Are the three categories of twenty questions enough to help us find an answer?
Are we ‘animal’? Yes, certainly: ‘homo sapiens’, mammals, related to the apes. As animals we are born, eat and drink, grow, reproduce and eventually die.
Are we ‘vegetable’? We are not plants but we eat a lot of plants and plant matter and, when we die, our bodies return to dust, ashes, earth, the home of plants.
‘Mineral’? There are small amounts of calcium, magnesium and other minerals within our bodies.
Is that all we are? Are we only physical? Is there anything else to us?
Many would want to say, ‘Yes’. It is not difficult to recognise the power of our minds: thinking, learning, creating, imagining, discovering, communicating. As Descartes put it, ‘I think, therefore I am.’
Is it, however, just ‘all in the mind’, as Ludovic Kennedy put it?
Many people recognise a spiritual dimension to their lives. This may be in the form of a spiritual awareness, encounter or experience; a longing for and/or a discovery of something more to life. Anthropologists have discovered that for millennia human beings have created places and forms of prayer and worship: one described our race as ‘incurably religious.’ Even today there is a recognition in some official organisations, including care homes, of a need to cater for people’s ‘spiritual needs’.
Easter, which we have celebrated in April, and Ascension and Pentecost (Whitsun), which we celebrate in May, remind us clearly of an eternal, spiritual dimension to life (and it is interesting that in this country and many others our years are marked by major religious/spiritual festivals and seasons). At Easter, we remember how Jesus came back from physical death with a new and powerful life and presence, convincing those who had seen him die that he really had risen from death.
At Ascension, Jesus left his disciples sight, right in front of them, and at Pentecost these same people experienced being filled by the Holy Spirit (the power of God that they had seen in Jesus) and being given the courage, strength and ability to go out and tell the crowds in Jerusalem about Jesus’ resurrection. They were so convincing that three thousand people were converted that day, and since then their message has survived some 2000 years, reaching all continents and being accepted by around 30% of the world’s population today.
In our own country many people speak of their own spirituality or ‘faith journey’; many speak of praying, some have had clearly spiritual experiences. The question is, are all spiritual paths the same? Do they all lead in the same direction, have the same outcomes in terms of individual behaviour and community norms and values? Living in or even visiting a country with a different faith background from that of our own or speaking with someone of a different faith may help us answer this.
The Christian belief in God as ‘Father’, life-giver, final authority; ‘Son’, living among us, sharing our life, showing us how to live; and ‘Holy Spirit, guiding, inspiring and empowering us, can make a big difference to the way we see and treat others and ourselves.
So, who or what are we? Animal? Vegetable? Mineral? Mind? Spirit? If we are also spiritual then who are we following? Do we know the quality of life that Jesus died and rose again to win for us, and are we living that life to the full? That will impact every part of who we are.
With very best wishes in this Easter season as we approach Ascension and Pentecost.
NEWS AND EVENTS
Next meeting: Saturday 12th May at 10am in the Hall, when Paul Lory will be recounting the story of his life.