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  • Emily Bainbridge

Pastoral Letter - 24th July

Dear Friends,

"Being married to Jeffrey is bad enough, being married to Jesus would be awful!" Thus begins the celebrated monologue "Love Among the Lentils," written by Alan Bennett, initially featuring Dame Maggie Smith and most recently, Lesley Manville in the remake. It's a brilliant concept: an actor, appearing in a sequence of scenes, confiding in the audience, imparting the unfolding story of their lives. So much is conveyed in this context,  because we are admitted into the secret thoughts, the most private realisations, of the speakers. They talk to us from the place which is most truthful, aching, hurt, authentic within themselves, inviting us to respond with understanding, sympathy, support, compassion. And it made me wonder how God would speak to us, were He to be called upon to appear in such an episode of "Talking Heads."  How would He speak? What would He say? What would He convey? What would He confide, were He to address us Himself? I recognise the incredible presumption in my seeking to put words into His mouth, but I wonder if He would say something like this................? "It's not really working is it ? It's all going wrong. So many of the relationships between you are wrong; so many of your motives in life are wrong; a lot of the energy in the Church seems to be channelled in the wrong direction; there's not much real love around; everyone seems more interested in getting their own way rather than helping others, criticising others rather than working together. Perhaps we ought to just call it a day. I don't know why it's all gone so wrong. All I know is that this isn't what I intended at all when I gave life to the Universe, when I created the world, when I breathed my Spirit into flesh and blood and made you live. I had such passion then, such vision, such excitement. I wanted to create. That seemed the only logical overspill of what I was feeling deep within. My first longing was to share, not keep within me, the wonder of being alive I knew within myself. I wanted to give birth to the process of giving birth itself. And as I, this relationship of love you know as that between Father, Son and Spirit, I wanted you to share in this process of becoming more real, more fulfilled, more whole and more wholly alive: through exploring all the possibilities living in relationship with others can bring. Love. I really wanted you to grasp that one, enter into its life force, allow it to become real within you: love. It's eluded many alas, and those who have opened themselves to it, those who have pined and longed and wanted it with all that's real and pain and longing within them, they have been the ones most deeply wounded by others who couldn't reciprocate, but only abuse. The same goes for trust: how many of those I have loved have trusted others and yet still their trust has been returned with hatred and exploitation. And what has wounded me the most has been when you have become so unaware of how intimately, intricately, intensely I am bound up in and involved in the Creation that is mine. Of course I love you. Of course I wanted to choose for you: the path of light not darkness, the way of life not destruction. I don't want any of you to be lost, you are all precious to me. But how can my love be genuine, be strong, mature and wise if I don't let you have the freedom I have "To love or not to love" that's the real question. I don't want anything less from you who are real enough, experienced enough, deep enough to see the truth of things. But not all of you have really seen or understood, heard or began to believe have you? Many have gone through the motions of believing in me, but when it came to it, there was not much reality in it, no depth, no real awareness in it at all. And how that saddens me now because such as they have only entered the shadowlands of life. I am accused of being silent, I know, and my silence is pain for you, and yes, it is pain for me too. But you silenced me: my voice of reason, truth, liberation, life; my message of generosity, forgiveness and love, love, love, was silenced by you. By nails and a cross, injustice and a horse whip, with murderous cries and cruel spittle. You chose to silence your Christ and the echo of that silence can still be heard, even now, down these long, lonely, lost years. But my Spirit is alive wherever life goes on. And I long for humanity to once again be strong. Perhaps it can be, perhaps all is not lost, perhaps even now you can choose me. There's so much I want to do with you, share with you, create with you, enjoy through you, achieve through you. All it would take is for you to believe that it can be so. I want you to imagine a world where everyone knew that they were as one with one another, that what one felt, all felt. Feel the tenderness, the sense of belonging, the lack of loneliness that could bring. Imagine the lack of fighting and jealousy and pain you would feel if you were all in this unifying state of harmony with all around you. And peace, ah, peace. Peace perhaps only I can imagine.... Imagine that if you felt dislike, bitterness, resentment or judgement for another that it would be you who would be diminished by so doing. You who would fall out of the world of light and plummet into the darkness of your heart's own making. Imagine being able to walk up to someone who at the moment you feel to be abhorrent, repulsive, weak, inadequate or someone that you are just indifferent to and imagine yourself feeling love for that person and that love being the very thing which, when they sensed it, transforms their lives, heals them and makes them whole. Imagine that darkness or tightness or fear or inadequacy or sense of guilt or failure or of being cheated you've experienced for years: imagine that simply disappearing and a lightness coming into you that makes you float on air.... Imagine all the things that have gone wrong in your life, all the things that have disappointed, wounded, frustrated your dreams and imagine, just imagine that person you could have known real love with, had they lived, had you seen them again, had they not changed, had you not behaved as you did, if it hadn't gone so terribly wrong, or if you had even met them at all.........imagine yourself coming face to face with them and knowing that this was only the beginning. There's so much I want you to aspire to, hope for, long for and yes, imagine. Not just to escape from the realities of today but to show you that these things, and so many many more, are possible, can happen, have been won for you. If only I could prove to you that this is so. But I don't want to make these things happen for you with a wiggle of a magic wand. I want you to want them, want them to come true and not just for you but for other people too. I want to use you now to change things for good. Don't just wait until I do close down the whole show. More things are possible for good the longer things stay as they are. There are more people to be born, more temptations to be overcome, more experiences to have, more creating to be done. Don't wait until it's all over and you're let off the hook from choosing right from wrong, light or darkness, being creative or destructive, in your living, in your loving, in your relationships with each other. I could stop it all now. I could just call it a day. I could make all new possibilities cease to be, and still, indeed, I may. That's my affair. What's yours is this: to choose, whether to work with me or against me; for me, or for the one who is other than me; to face up to the responsibilities of what being a believer in me involves and try to help build the sort of world I once looked upon and saw that it was good, or you could give up the fight, think that there is nothing you can do to make a difference and make things good. I have made my choice. I chose to share my life with you. I chose to come and live with you. I even chose to die for you. And even now I give you the freedom to do as you please. It's up to you. What do you want? What are you prepared to offer? How committed are you prepared to be? I offer you everything, all that is, and wait for you to tell me how you want to spend the rest of your life. I wait with eagerness and with love, as I waited once to see whether you would let me live or die. I know that I would die for you again if only I could assure you of how real is my love. It's up to you. I'm waiting. I'm listening. It's time for you to choose. How will you spend the rest of your life? Answer me, respond. I want, I need to know." Jeff Hopkin Williams, July 2020.


Please join us this Sunday, 26th July for our Zoom Service. The theme we shall be considering is the Peace of God, which He projects into our lives and into the life of our world. Our Collect is: Lord of all power and might, The author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your name, Increase in us true religion, Nourish us with all goodness And of your great mercy, keep us in the same. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and for ever. AMEN. Our readings are: 1 Kings Chapter 19 verses 11-13 & Luke Chapter 8 verses 22-25.


Fr Piotr Ashwin Siejkowski.

As you may have heard me announce last Sunday, my dear colleague Fr Piotr will be leaving us at the end of October. While I hugely regret this, I am also grateful that he has been with us for seven years, four years longer than his original License permitted and we were expecting him to stay! During that time, we have all been stirred by his spirituality, impressed by his theological knowledge, enthused by his evangelism and inspired by his intellect. Piotr will be taking up the role of Chaplain at Brunel University, a job he will be eminently suited to and we wish him well. Between now and then Piotr will be taking as full a part as ever in the life of our parish and we will make the most of the time he has left with us! Please remember Piotr, his wife Sarah and their children Anna and Thomas in your prayers as he prepares for his new role. Thank you. Jeff H.W.


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