Here is 'The Messenger' downloable for free: September Magazine.
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
St George’s and All Saints’ are now one; one parish, with one PCC and one shared mission, to bring the people in our parish closer to Jesus Christ. The famous image of “two becoming one” is an image that had has been used already in a wedding service at St George’s Church this year. It is an image used to describe a healthy, Christian marriage as a marriage of two separate people becoming ‘of one flesh’, two people, sharing their hopes and desires and learning to put the other before themselves. In fact, in a wedding service I would always make a point that may be useful for us today. Two becoming one does not mean that everything will always be easy. Two becoming one does not mean a permanent honeymoon. Sooner or later, things will inevitably go wrong because we are all human beings. Instead, becoming one flesh means that, when things go wrong, we endeavour to make it right.
We all want this marriage between our two churches to be fruitful and to see people coming to know Christ through it, and that will mean learning to live with each others’ strengths and weaknesses. When things are going well and when things are difficult. This is a promise we’ve made to each other, a commitment, a vow which we have joined each other together in making, just as in marriage two separate people, with all their weaknesses and strengths, become one flesh. Whatever we once were, is now changed, we are a new entity, two Churches married together. Now that may sound a little scary as there are a lot of people involved and a lot of weaknesses in two people never mind two churches but, as in marriage, we do not enter this oneness alone, we enter it with God. In John 17, Christ is talking about sending the disciples out into the world and the spread of the Church when he says “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Isn’t that an amazing idea? And one so easily forgotten in the divided Church of our day. The Church should be like Christ and God the Father. We ought to be united, as one flesh. And while that may seem impossible, especially when we look at the division of the global Church, it is a mission in which we are joined by Christ. Being one, universal and apostolic Church is a way in which we are meant to reflect God out, into the world, into Chorley. It may be difficult, as any marriage is at times, but we do this as a part of the mission of Christ.
In fact, St Paul had to mediate a difficult division in his time, because the early Jewish Christians were acting like they were somehow more worthy than the gentile Christians. To St Paul, this defeats the whole point because Christ has, in the words of St Paul in Ephesians 2, “made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility”. Indeed, to St Paul, “Christ is our peace,” the one in which we can find that same unity, and we’re told that “[he] came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
We are all equal before God and we are now, more than ever, joined together in love and the peace of Christ to be a light into Chorley; and we do all of this in imitating Christ, through the Holy Spirit of unity. So let us always keep that one mission in our hearts, during the joyful moments in this happy marriage, but also in the times of hardship. We are united as Christ is united to his Father. We were two parishes that have now become one parish. Our new identity is one of togetherness, a steadfast unity, a marriage that will last; but only if we all work at it, if we all have the peace of Christ in our hearts, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
So why don’t you go way from today and think of one thing you could do to support this merger - this new, happy marriage - one way in which you can go the extra mile in this partnership to show the peace of Christ. All of you, from both Churches, could think of how you can support one another because, now, we are one together, joined in the image of Christ’s relationship with the Father. Amen.