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July / August 2018
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Parish News
Sermon preached by Canon Peter Johnson
Lest We Forget July and August1918
Summer Afternoon
From Country Calendar
Meetings and Events

THE FOLLOWING IS THE SERMON PREACHED BY CANON PETER JOHNSON AT THE 10.00am SERVICE ON 17th JULY

Text: (2 Corinthians 5:7). We walk by faith, not by sight
.
This year’s gospel readings are taken from that of St Mark. At the outset of Jesus’s ministry, Mark gives us his proclamation that “the kingdom of God” is at hand, has drawn near. But what is “the kingdom of God?”

Today’s reading does not tell us that. Rather, the words of the Lord are that “the Kingdom of God is like...” It is told in comparison, which is what the word parable actually denotes in Greek. We are possibly more used to the idea of “parable” being used to describe a longer story, such as that of the Good Samaritan. But really, things are the other way round: the term parable came to apply to long stories because they too tell us, in story form, what for instance kindness or judgment are like. But primarily, parables are pithy comparisons, often even riddles, and go back to material that can be found in such places as the book of Proverbs.

So, the Kingdom of God is like seed that grows quietly in the ground and then sprouts and can be harvested. Or it is like the smallest seed which becomes a great shrub with room for birds to nest. It springs up, it fulfils its purpose.

Our Old Testament reading from the prophet Ezekiel shows us one source from which the imagery is drawn. There are several places in the Old Testament where the ideal Israel is depicted as a fruitful vineyard or, as here, healthy trees offering shelter. But Ezekiel goes further, saying that God can reverse the ordering of the trees, drying up the green tree and masking the dry tree flourish, so that all the trees may know that he is the Lord. The idea is that although these phenomena of the natural world are before our eyes, yet underlying all this is the ultimate sovereignty of God

“The Kingdom of God is like...,” not is. Think how many occasions there have been in Christian history when a particular political state of affairs has been identified as the realisation of the kingdom of God. It probably started with Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea in the 4th century who hailed the rule of Constantine the Great as such an achievement. Then there was what some scholars call the caesaropapalism of the Byzantine emperors, as you can see illustrated in many mosaics such as those at Ravenna. There were the extremes of papal power in the Christian west in the later Middle Ages, claiming for instance the right to depose and oversee kings. Spain and Italy under certain regimes in the last century might be similar examples.

Nor should we forget Protestant attempts at creating “godly societies,” a pure body of saints, in Calvin’s Geneva or during the English civil war and the Commonwealth.

Altogether it is quite a catalogue, and one can perhaps understand why so many believe that religion is such a negative influence. All we can say to that is that if religion disappeared, other beliefs would rush into the empty room like the devils in yet another parable. For after all mankind is not strictly rational.
But in any case, all attempts at identifying some ideal society with the kingdom of God are doomed to failure. For a start, a strict dividing line between “in” and “out” is impossible. We are not like that, and who would decide?: only people who put themselves in the place of God like jihadis. Then there is the tendency of all power to corrupt. Those who claim power over others tend to use ever more devious means to cling to that power, no longer having reference to the teachings of the gospel and having little sense of loving God and loving neighbour. This is illustrated vividly in the inquisition scene in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov

That may all seem rather retrospective and historical, but not so I suggest. Today, we are in similar circumstances, but we now have the corruption of pseudodemocracy. Strident language, vastly exacerbated through the facilities afforded by social media, removes kindness and respect and the ability for civilised interchange of ideas and, above all, mutual understanding. Examples of extremism are all around us,
and we cannot delude ourselves with the idea that “it cannot happen here” because of the stability of our long established evolving institutions. In Church and State we need some silence and perhaps, if it were possible, to slow down the 24/7 world—we can at least dream!

For the Kingdom of God grows in silence and promises fruitfulness and welcome. We often hear of “kingdom values”, a term which sometimes gets translated into a blueprint for a particular economic model. But the Kingdom of God refers to God’s kingdom, to which we are called to respond, so it is not going to be something achievable in empirical history, but rather something which directs our steps, individually and socially, as we respond to God’s outreach to us in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Think of what S. Paul says to us in today’s epistle. We walk by faith, not by sight. The love of Christ urges us on. And, very important this: we once knew Christ “according to the flesh,” in human terms, but now we cannot. Those who were with Jesus have passed on, and the disciples and all who come after have to interpret and reapply his teachings under, as we believe, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in new circumstances most of which would have been inconceivable not only in first century Palestine but in many other centuries and places. We cannot go back, there is no golden age; we have to take things forward.

But, S. Paul adds, if anyone is in Christ that is a new creation. In no sense does creation simply mean the Creator lighting a fuse or pressing a button billions of years ago and then going away. Rather, creation is an ongoing process in which God’s sustaining power remains at work. Humankind is called to cooperate, bringing our human capacity, which can be good or bad, as we know only too well. But we more than any other creatures we know of have the capacity to understand the world in all its intricacy as well as to articulate worship and praise.

That is the claim on us that the kingdom of God makes and what it is like. That is what we look for as we walk by faith not by sight. That is why we pray that God’s kingdom may come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We must work for justice and peace and the alleviation of poverty and take difficult decisions, but never delude ourselves that a state of perfection is achievable in the here and now. So we pray for our troubled Church, for our troubled country, our troubled world. But in the words of the Collect for Peace in the Book of Common Prayer office for Morning Prayer, God is the lover of peace and the author of concord, and his service is perfect freedom. There is a similar thought in the collect we used earlier this morning. So let us give thanks for what is good and true, and seek in faith to know how the realm of goodness and truth may be enlarged, for that at least in one way is what the kingdom of God is like, his claim on us. And we renew our response to that claim as we celebrate this Eucharist, walking by faith not by sight.

LEST WE FORGET, JULY AND AUGUST 1918 Jim Tucker

One hundred years ago, the Great War was nearing its conclusion. However, it may not have seemed so at the time, and fierce fighting continued on a number of fronts. On 23 August 1918 Edward George Rogers
was killed in action on the Western Front. Edward was in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, and is commemorated on the Braywood memorial, and on the Vis-en-Artois memorial in the Pas de Calais.

Kenneth Arthur McIntosh fought with the 14th Hussars in an entirely different theatre of war, in Persia, modern-day Iran. He died on 31 August at the age of 34, leaving a widow in Warwickshire and parents in Holyport, where he had grown up. Kenneth also has no known grave. We remember him on the triptych in
St Michael’s, and on the Bray village memorial. His official commemoration is on the Tehran Memorial in Iran.

A SUMMER’S AFTERNOON

Far off the rook, tired by the mid-day beam,
Caws lazily this summer afternoon;
The butterflies, with wandering up and down
O’er flower-bright marsh and meadow, wearied seem;
With vacant gaze, lost in a waking dream,
We, listless, on the busy insects pore,
In rapid dance uncertain, darting o’er
The smoothpspread surface of the tepid stream;
The air is slothful, and will scarce convey
Soft sounds of idle waters to the ear;
In brightly-dim obscurity appear
The distant hills which skirt the landscape gay;
While restless fancy owns the unnerving sway
In visions often changed, but nothing clear.

Thomas Doubleday (1790 - 1870)

FROM COUNTRY CALENDAR

Modern transport facilities have made possible to the villager so many new interests that village cricket has lost much of its one-time popularity.  In fact, each year sees an increasing number of villages without a team, and local cricket survives only where there is a district league, or in the village which possesses a cricketing enthusiast who is both able and willing to take the running of a team to play friendlies entirely on his own shoulders.  Of the two types I prefer the latter, for the former often brings into the game the worst side of organised competition, bad feeling amongst the players.

The other day I was privileged to spend a gloriously lazy, pleasant, and interesting afternoon watching a friendly match between two village teams.  There was no doubt that much of the pleasure of both players and spectators was derived from the setting of the scene.  On one side of the ground ran a placid chalk trout stream with here and there a willow or a poplar along its banks.  On the opposite boundary were tall elm trees, through which one obtained glimpses of cosy thatched cottages, a half-timbered farmhouse, and the grey stone tower of a church.  And over all shone an August sun, a sun which had finished an early harvest, and thus set free the farming members of the team, who usually have to say good-bye to cricket from July until mid-September.

Rural wages being higher in comparison with food prices than they have ever been in my memory, every player boasted white flannel trousers, but here and there a bright-coloured shirt surmounted them, and one case the pleasing effect of immaculate trousers and white shirt on fifteen stone of Wiltshire brawn was enhanced by bright green braces.  These were worn by “Our Ernie,” who works for the wheelwright.  He is blessed with bright, unruly red hair and a cheerful, adventurous disposition, both, to my mind, great assets to his side;  for the one adds to the gaiety of the scene, and the other to the gaiety of the cricket.  They would be badly off without “Our Ernie.”

I sat beneath the shade of an elm and talked with the vicar while the visitors batted.  In his youth he was a fine cricketer;  and I think that even now at sixty-nine he is too much of a purist to appreciate “Our Ernie’s” vicious hooks to square leg at their proper worth.  But to him cricket of any kind is better than no cricket at all, and as long as he lives there will be cricket in his village.

The match was timed to start at three, and at twenty-five minutes past that hour it started.  By tea-time, half -past four, the visitors had made fifty-seven, and by the time they were all out for one hundred and twenty-five there was only an hour’s play remaining.  Obviously it was impossible for the home side to win in the time, so in approved style the opening bats proceeded to poke in order to save the game.  There were two reasons for this procedure.  One was the legacy of some two seasons ago when the team had played league cricket, in which an inglorious draw was reckoned to be better than a glorious defeat;  and the other was the effect of modern communication which has enabled cricketers to read and hear detailed information concerning the latest cricketing methods.

Accordingly, they poked for half an hour for fifteen runs in such tedious fashion that there was an audible murmur of relief when the local builder’s foreman edged an easy catch into first slip’s hands.

From A.G. Street’s Country Calendar.

MEETINGS AND EVENTS FOR JULY/AUGUST

WOMEN’S INSTITUTES

Holyport

Thursday, 12th July and Thursday, 9th August

Moneyrow Green
Monday, 23rd July

Music at Bray
Sunday, 29th July at 3.00 p.m.

JAZZ IN THE VICARAGE GARDEN

This popular annual fixture sees the return of the Davies Quartet for an hour of popular jazz from
Louisana, and tea and cakes, in the beautiful setting of the riverside Vicarage garden.
(Tickets £10 on the gate).

It is anticipated there may be a seating problem - please feel free to bring your own chairs.

Maidenhead Heritage Centre
18 Park Street, Maidenhead.

MOBILE LIBRARY
Monday, 9th and 30th July and 20th August
Holyport Lodge 11.00 a.m. - 12.15 p.m.
Wednesday, 11th July, 1st and 22nd August
Hanover Mead and Jesus Hospital 11.00 - 11.30 a.m.
Thursday, 5th and 26th July and 16th August
Brayfield Road 2.40 - 3.00 p.m.
Walker Road 3.10 - 3.40 p.m.