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Rector's View - January 2010

Dear friends,

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is observed nationally from 18th to 25th January each year. However, locally, within our own Churches Together in Wickhambrook and District, which includes all seven parishes of the Bansfield Benefice, this is being observed with a United Service on Sunday 31st January, as we normally worship together on each fifth Sunday. The service will be held at Wickhambrook United Reformed Church at 3.30pm. Everyone is very welcome.

The week of prayer is one of the main ways in which the Christian Churches show their commitment to ecumenism - the seeking of worldwide Christian unity. For Christians this unity is both explained and demanded by our knowledge of God and of His will and purposes. God, our all-loving Father, created heaven and earth and made each and every person in his image. He loves each individual as precious and unique in His sight. Archbishop William Temple said that the unity of the Church is something much more than the unity of church structures - it is the love of God in Christ which unites human hearts - it is a unity of the Spirit.

However good and heart-warming our friendship and fellowship is with members of other churches, and it certainly is locally, it is humbled by disunity. Disunity amongst Christians is a scandal and a source of great pain. A broken and divided church bears poor witness to a broken and divided world. May that pain awaken in us a determination to work with our Lord to achieve the peace and unity of His kingdom. There is a need to repent of the sins which divide Christians - arrogance, exclusivity, pride, stubbornness, a failure to acknowledge and welcome the insights of others, and the lack of any sense of urgency to pull down boundaries and to unite God's people. As fellow travellers, we must give ourselves permission to learn from fellow Christians, who may see things and do things slightly differently from ourselves. We can nourish each other from our own traditions, if only we are prepared to recognise what each other have to offer.

On a number of occasions in the Gospels, Jesus stresses the all-important oneness of his disciples. Nonetheless it has only been for the greater part of a century that we have taken steps to move away from a model of competition between churches to a model of complementary co-operation.

Let us give thanks for all the advances which have been made over the last few decades and let us commend the future to God. Let us give thanks for the good relationships which exist between the churches in these villages and pray that they may become ever deeper and stronger.

May we be open and generous to the insights and gifts of others and, especially, may we be open and responsive to the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus prayed that we may become one, so that the world may believe.

With every blessing for a happy new year,

Stephen

Rev'd Stephen Abbott

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Last Modified Wednesday 25 May 2011