Clergy Letter

From a clergy desk:

Welcome September: the beginning of Autumn Term, bringing new patterns of working and schooling that will take time to become ‘ordinary.’

As some of you might know, the Church is in its own second period of ‘Ordinary Time’ as I write which began on Pentecost Monday and will end on Advent Sunday. The first, shorter six-week period runs from the Baptism of Christ after Epiphany to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

To be ‘ordinary’ tends to have mildly boring or unexceptional undertones - nothing special…. But there is nothing ‘ordinary’ or unexceptional about these liturgical times. Both offer opportunities to live with ourselves at our best - and not so best, with both leading into penitential seasons where we can reflect, take stock and seek to grow. So Ordinary Time is where we can deepen our sense of faithful discipleship through prayer, Scripture reading and Bible study - following the teachings and ways of Jesus so we can share in and become part of his risen way of life today.

Jesus shows us what it means to be an ordinary human being who eats, sleeps, and lives in community with other ordinary folk, - but he shows us the ‘extraordinary’ quality that comes when an action in time is infused with God’s loving holy spirit. And it is that ‘extraordinariness’ that we seek to live out as Christians today - doing every day, ordinary things with extraordinary, Spirit-infused goodness that bears fruit richly.

The word ‘ordinary’ comes from the Latin word ‘ordo’ meaning ‘order’. Something ordinary is something ordered. Church ‘Ordinary Time’ is not just the outer measuring of weeks between ‘big’ events in the Christian calendar, but is also an inner measuring - the savouring and appreciating of small, ordinary things and the carrying out of ordinary tasks with big extraordinary Christ-like intention.

That is when God can break through in the most surprising of ways and bring goodness, healing, and sustenance to bear in the most extraordinary ways. For example, having fun with small-change money boxes and in the bringing and buying of soaps and smellies can bring the most joy-filled experience to folks’ lives who will receive first-time, life-saving sanitation from such a deed. Or a wonderful afternoon of fun, fellowship and a fine tea, bringing much needed funds to a church who seeks nothing less than to be God’s place of sanctuary and spiritual nourishment in its community….

A wise Bishop once said, ‘we don’t want to play endlessly in the shallow end of faith…. it is by wading into the deep-end that we encounter miracles.’

These St John’s-style miracles - extraordinary fundraisers that collectively raised over £1,100 for good during the ‘ordinary months’ of July and August - are nothing less than the rich fruit of us ordinary folk trying their best to hear God’s call on their heart and to follow Jesus’ example the best they can to glorify that call.

Thank you St John’s community for turning the ordinary into the extraordinary - and for striving to live out the ultimate extra-ordinary transforming life of Jesus.

Rest assured, in a world of brokenness and darkness, extraordinary loving-action will always bring a healing light to bear somewhere - in some way.

May God’s blessings rest on all our ordinary days to come.


One Solitary Life ~ [and one ‘Ordinary’ Life]

He was born in an obscure village
the child of a peasant woman;
he grew up in another obscure village
where he worked in a carpenter shop
until he was thirty when public opinion turned against him.

He never wrote a book,
he never held an office,
he never went to college,
he never visited a big city;
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
from the place where he was born.
He did none of the things
usually associated with greatness;
He had no credentials but himself

He was only thirty three.

His friends ran away;
One of them denied him.
He was turned over to his enemies
and went through the mockery of a trial;
he was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing ~
the only property he had on earth.

When he was dead
he was laid in a borrowed grave
through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen centuries have come and gone
and today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
and the leader of mankind's progress.
All the armies that have ever marched;
all the navies that have ever sailed;
all the parliaments that have ever sat;  all the kings that ever reigned put together
have not affected the life of mankind on earth
as powerfully as that one solitary -extra-ordinary - life.

Dr James Allan Francis © 1926.

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