Rector's Letter - May 2016

Dear Friends,

Peter's Marland School was a Special Boarding School for teenage boys with difficulties. It was right next door to one of "my" Devon churches, and the boys would attend church regularly (closely chaperoned!). Every September a new intake of boys would come to church; for most of whom this was a completely new experience. They found it startling, confusing, and quite frankly, hilarious! A man with "a funny collar, wearing a black dress" tells everyone to stand up and start singing hymns (and those Devon farmers did belt it out!). The boys' reactions were a good insight in what Christian worship can look like to the uninitiated!

Worship is about giving God the "worth", the love and respect He deserves. But, does God demand our worship? Does He need us to keep telling Him how great He is? Do we need to "butter Him up" to keep in His good books? Not at all! Worship is about reminding ourselves and getting a truer perspective on life. Sometimes, because we are so busy and preoccupied, God can seem no more than a vague idea, distant and invisible, or not even there at all. Worship helps us see that we are not the centre of the universe. The bigger picture is that we are actually very small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. And yet, however insignificant we may feel, we are very important in God's eyes. Each of us is unique and loved, just as we are. Like any good parent, God is delighted when we turn to Him. Knowing ourselves to be so loved, we can just relax and enjoy the gift of life and be thankful as we recognise how blessed we are in so many ways. Our worship should be a natural part of our celebration of life.

That brings me to the subject of singing. I am quite well known for my singing, but not in a good way. I was so tuneless I was banned from singing at school, and have been the cause of much musical distress since. But I do enjoy singing, and it is very good for your health, increasing lung capacity and releasing "feel-good" endorphins. It is also a great community building activity when people sing together. You may have seen the work of Gareth Malone on TV. Certainly our church choirs are thoroughly enjoyed by their members. Why not come along and have a trial in a choir? You will be made most welcome.

At a recent funeral, the deceased person specifically asked us to sing "lustily, with gusto!" That is something we should be encouraged to do, and have the confidence to sing heartily, whatever our ability, especially in our church worship. I believe that we were made to sing, to praise, and it is a pity if we feel we can't fully join in this life-affirming and enjoyable activity. It makes a big difference!

With my love, prayers and best wishes,
Yours, in Christ, John.

Verse for the Month

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. For the Lord is a great God.”
Psalm 95:1

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