Updated 21st September 2021
Pastoral Letter from The Revd Jan Moore
How are you all doing? I’m sitting to write this letter in the shade of my garden, enjoying what might be the tail end of a little Indian Summer at the beginning of September. Yet it’s so frustrating for everyone who needed it in the school holidays.
But there we are - we can’t control the weather. So, we spare a thought for the farmers whose livelihood constantly grapples with its increasingly erratic behaviours.
At least our schools and colleges have returned to a routine, and we pray that near normal life in the education sector can be sustained through the winter.
In the October edition of Parish Linkthere is a Recruitment Advertisement aimed at increasing the team who visit Stratton Primary School on Thursday mornings to deliver a programme called 'Open the Book'. Please look out for the Ad on page 11 of the magazine which gives further details, and pass them on, or come and join us yourself.
The Initiative called 'Open the Book' (OTB) of Bible Stories has now celebrated 20 years in schools. In more recent times it has been able to support a published list of Christian Values, which are part of the curriculum in Christian Foundation Schools, and to inform the curriculum in non-Christian foundation Schools. We would, no doubt, all recognise the list of Christian Values as Values of Goodness (Godliness) which Jesus taught and lived. These values form a framework for our adult lives too.
Values such as: Friendship, Respect, Responsibility, Forgiveness, Truth, Perseverance, Compassion, Hope, Humility, Justice, Love, Peace, Service, Thankfulness, Trust & Wisdom.
In due course there will be a celebration/thanksgiving for the amazing Service, Hope, Friendship, Perseverance, Love and Wisdom shown by Gill Keen who has led OTB for 18 years in Stratton, but who is now retiring from the Leadership, although continuing to be on the team. At that celebration we will also give thanks for others who are also now taking a well-earned retirement: namely Chris Keen, Muriel Paine and Ann Roper and we will be remembering the loss of Geoff Roffe. This group of witnesses have enriched the lives of countless numbers of children. Thank you to them all.
What is notable about the Christian Values is that they emanate from Bible Stories which reminds us that The Bible has clearly given us the values in the first place! We didn’t just dream up these values in the 21st century as a bunch of good ideas for wise living! We have inherited them from 2000 years of Christian history. So, when we mourn the demise of a wholesome society, as we often do, I am reminded that the lack of attention to these values in a greedy and fearful world is, in fact, a lack of attention to the way of Jesus: an ignorance or rejection of what it means to be Christlike.
Jesus triggered a New Testament to fulfil the Old Testament. Jesus was God’s human, yet divine, clone sent into the world by God 2021 years ago. Jesus was in the world to reunite us with our creator; to call us back to godliness; to continue to be our umbilical link with God for all time.
At a large Christian gathering which I attended about 40 years ago, an Archdeacon said: “If the Christian Church fails to be the Mission Church which keeps Christ alive and kicking, it may well meet its own demise, in order to allow God to give rise to a more effective new thing!”What a waste it would be if the Christian story, experienced by the Church, were to come to an end. What a waste of 2000 years of witness, growth in understanding, scholarship, effort, energy, skills, sacrifice and love.
Thank God, then, that 'Open the Book' looks forward with intense Hope in the youngest generation, by seeking to show them where Society, at its best, takes its Value System from.
And as schools go back to the work of forming young hearts and minds, we pray that those same young hearts and minds will one day teach their children how to live by Christian Values and know where they come from. But more than that, let us hope that, as adults, we are constantly open to re-learning from our children, about some of these Values which we may have forgotten.
It is Harvest Time for farmers whilst Christian Mission & Ministry seeks to continue support for God’s work of nourishing souls in readiness for many Harvests to come. We all grapple with erratic behaviours!! But God directs and saves all things, through Jesus Christ. God bless everyone.