A tale of two parishes
The Rectory - May 2004
This is the first time that I have tried to write the same article for two different journals, so I hope it works! No doubt I will soon hear if it does not come up to scratch!
Can I first of all thank everyone who has been involved in the process leading up to the wonderful service of licensing and installation at St Mary’s on Palm Sunday.
That includes a lot of people. Many were involved in the practical arrangements for the evening and many from both parishes showed their support by attending the service, and I can assure you that it meant a very great deal to me to sense that support.
The key thing now is to get down to work on the task that has been given to me, and that is going to involve many more people. At this stage I can only invite you all to enter into this period of consultation and exploration - regardless of what you may be feeling about the process at this moment - with an open mind, trusting that we shall be guided and supported by the Holy Spirit as we seek to discern God’s will for our ministry and mission in the future. I would be very surprised if I did not encounter some very strong feelings along the way, but I would also be surprised (and disappointed) if I did not uncover a very deep well of imaginative and constructive thinking which will ensure that the mission of the Church in Nottingham City Centre is enormously strengthened.
The two parishes have distinctive but clearly complementary roles. By finding the right way to structure our future together we can make a significant impact on the city, along with other city centre churches of all traditions, and it could be a very exciting and energising time that we are going into. Can I invite everyone to make this a focus for prayer both individually and together in our corporate worship?
Many at St Peter’s will know that I have been making comments in recent sermons about The Passion of the Christ. I have now been to see it. I was glad that I did not go alone. I left an angry man. I would probably have walked out had I been alone. I cannot pick an argument with Mel Gibson - it is his right to make a film in whatever style he wishes, if he so wishes. My anger is directed towards those in the Church who seem to think this is a tool for evangelism. The film is violent from beginning to end, at times unspeakably so. It is full of fiction. It is probably anti-semitic, in that the key Roman characters are all treated sympathetically whilst not one of the key Jewish figures is portrayed with an ounce of humanity. The character of Jesus does not come across as strong or loving except momentarily. It is vapid. But all of this is incidental, poor directing. The real issue is what image of Christian Faith it portrays. There is absolutely nothing of love, joy, peace anywhere. It is unremittingly depressing. Humanity is unremittingly depressing. So far as I could see there is no salvation. The Resurrection of Jesus is briefly shown in what can only be described as a piece of farce, and apart from a few strange, disconnected and unexplored flashbacks, Jesus’ ministry and preaching is completely ignored. If this is the great opportunity for evangelism that some are suggesting, then we belong to a very dysfunctional community. Go and see it by all means, but please don’t think it is ‘as it was’ - or if it is as it was then we’d better get ready for an even more radical shake-up than any of us were expecting.