March Editorial & Parish Magazine

Here is 'The Messenger' downloable for free: March Magazine.


Dear brothers and sisters,

In the film ‘The Hobbit’ the great wizard, Gandalf, says something which has always stuck with me, and which I have occasionally used in sermons: ‘Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.’ Such a sentiment, seems to me, to go against the grain of a world focussed on the celebrity and the superhero but goes very much with the grain of the Scriptures. Whilst there are in the bible some people who seem a bit like superheroes, thanks to God working through them, like Moses, Joshua, and David, more often than not if you spend anytime meditating on God’s written word you’ll find the people God celebrates the most are just ‘ordinary’ people who are merely being faithful in the little things. Think of Ruth who spends her life taking care of her mother-in-law and ends up the centre of a whole book of the bible, oh and also as one of Jesus’ ancestors! Think of Zechariah, just an ordinary priest going about his ordinary work, and it is him, and not some amazing hero, who is picked to be John the Baptist’s dad. Think too of St Joseph, he barely gets mentioned in the bible, his role in life is simply to be a good dad to Jesus, a good husband to Mary, and presumably a half-decent carpenter in order to provide for them. So as we continue our journey through Lent I’d like to encourage you to turn away from the world’s definition of success, a world where we’re told to dream big, achieve amazing personal success, and make a big impact. Instead, focus on being ordinary, focus on being faithful in the little things, focus on loving God and living for Him. How can we do that? By focussing on loving our neighbour.

Jesus tells us (Matthew 33:37-40) that the ordinary Christian life is defined, not by how many followers you have on social media, neither by your bank balance, neither by your job title, nor by the car or house you own, but by loving your neighbour. There are so many ways to do this I’m not sure where to start, but I think it probably begins by thinking about those around you (perhaps in the houses either side or you, those in the office at work, or in the pews you sit in on Sunday) and asking God to show you how to care for them. Mother Teresa used to say: ‘Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.’ As you pray for your neighbours, work colleagues, family members and fellow Christians, don’t focus on doing something heroic, or impressive, instead focus on doing small acts with great love. Making a cup of tea, offering a hand, giving a lift, calling a lonely person, helping someone under pressure, all these show neighbour-love and point to the love of Jesus. In our world where people often don’t know the names of those they live next to, offering hospitality to folk can make an enormous impact. A barbecue, an invitation to lunch, or taking someone to the supermarket, will cause people to sit up and take notice. Perhaps you’re not able to cook, or you now find it too difficult, however, we can all make a pot of tea, or warm up a microwave meal… again it is not trying to do something amazing, it doesn’t need to be a five course homemade banquet, just an offer to share what you have (Matthew 11:19). Think too of those in hospital, the widower who is on their own, or even the orphan who has no one else. Similarly, how can you care for the vulnerable or speak up for those who do not have a voice (whether those with less education, less confidence, or less ability). What’s liberating about all of this is that you don’t need to have some amazing gifts or lots of money, you just have to be willing to try, to offer, to invite… all of us can do these things, all of us.

So as we continue our journey through Lent, remember it is the small acts of kindness that keeps darkness at bay, it is small acts done with a lot of love, that Jesus asks of us. So after you’ve prayed, put on your apron, pop on the kettle, make the phone call, or go and knock on your neighbour’s door… who knows where it might lead.

God bless,

Fr Mike