Rector's Letter - Celebrating One City, One World
The Rectory - June 2005
Well, June has arrived. Half way through the year before most of us have blinked! And as well as my reaching a supposedly significant birthday, there are many things happening around us this month which I hope and pray many of you will participate in and will help to build a sense of community both between the people of our churches, but also between Nottingham and a much wider constituency of people literally around the world.
But first and most importantly, as I write Stephen Morris is in the City Hospital having had the kidney transplant for which he has been waiting a long time. This is a hugely important operation for him, which carries with it a great deal of hope for his future health and also a number of anxieties as his body adapts to the new organ. At exactly the same time Jean, Stephen's wife, has suffered the loss of her father which has been very sad for her and her family, so between them they are in need of a great deal of support and prayer. I know that they have been very grateful for the love and care that has been offered so far, and I am sure we will all continue to do what we can in the weeks ahead.
And again, virtually at the same time, Chrissie Little has welcomed into her life Shannon, aged 5, and they are in the process of getting to know each other and of learning to live together. Shannon has met many of those who are in and out of the Parish Office and has stamped her mark on them already! Again, this is a time of thanksgiving for Chrissie and we join with her in celebrating Shannon's arrival, but also will want to offer them both the love and support that they need as they settle down to life together in the Park.
These personal events are the stuff of life, and - remembering again the words that opened my Annual Report to St Peter's - this is the context within which the 'macro-events' of the month ahead are taking place. When we celebrate 'One City, One World' we aim to rejoice in the diversity of our community and communities. It easy to do that - or indeed to do the opposite - based on a set of theories about society and how it should be; but actually what diversity is really about is the richness of lots of individual people with all their joys and their woes, their challenges, their successes and their failures, living alongside one another, recognising one another as fellow human beings loved by God and, at least where faith is the motivation, living out their faith by supporting one another regardless of race, culture, personal lifestyle, or religion. We are not about theories, we are for people.
As we prepare to welcome the delegates to the Anglican Consultative Council and to surround that conference with our Petertide Festival 'Celebrating One City, One World', I hope and pray that the interface that will happen between peoples of different culture and belief will be a strength to us all.
At the ACC, where people from every continent will be meeting to debate the life of our Anglican Communion, there is bound to be a magnifying glass focussed on the day when the American and Canadian churches will be presenting the case for why they have taken the particular stance they have in the debate on homosexuality. Much of that focus for those not actually participating in the conference will be provided through the uninvited commentary of the media. There will also be people around the edges of the conference (also uninvited, and who may well turn up at the public events we are organising) who will not necessarily be very objective nor even very generous to their opponents in what they have to say. Let us just remember (especially as we are also approaching the G8 summit in Scotland) that firstly, when we shout about matters of sexuality, we are dealing with the innermost feelings and sensitivities of people, of human beings - not theories or principles, although they come into it. We easily cause untold pain to people by the way we speak.
When we welcome bands like Black Umfolosi from Zimbabwe, or singers like Soname from Tibet and Ben Okafor from Nigeria we are celebrating the life of other peoples, and thanking God for the richness of the diversity of the world in which we live.
A couple of weeks ago, standing in our garden, Fran noticed a flock of birds in one of the trees, unusual looking and making a sound we hadn't heard before. It was a flock of waxwings. They should not have been in Nottingham nor even in the country in May. But they were beautiful, and exciting to see and hear. That is the sort of moment that unexpectedly prompts a song of thanksgiving for the extraordinary breadth and depth of God's creation. I hope that the services we shall host on 19th and 26th June, and the events we are hosting throughout the month will be a similar moment of recognition for us all.
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