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Rector's View - August 2010

Dear friends,

When I was an undergraduate at London University, the Chaplaincy Centre was a place where Christians from many different traditions could sit and talk over a cup of coffee. All sorts of activities were arranged, including speakers. On one such occasion the speaker had been invited at the suggestion of an eager, but earnest, student who was new to the Christian faith. The speaker duly arrived and was introduced by the student in these words: "This is the man who converted me." The red-faced speaker quickly explained, "Well, actually it was God who converted you."

On the last day of August the Church celebrates the life and ministry of St. Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne and missionary, who died on that day in the year 651. Of St. Aidan’s early life and experiences little is known, with any degree of certainty. It is clear, however, that even in that age before mass communications, Aidan’s reputation for holiness must have gone before him. It was while he was a monk at Iona that Oswald, King of the newly converted Northumbrians, requested that he be made the first bishop of Lindisfarne, Holy Island.

Aidan’s mission and preaching covered large areas of northern England. He founded churches and monasteries and a college for training the clergy. Amongst his students was Chad, who was to become the first bishop of Lichfield. Aidan knew, despite all the praise and recognition he received, that the conversion of people’s hearts and minds was God’s work, not his.

By his actions Aidan showed that he neither sought nor loved the things of this world. The presents given to him by King Oswald, his successor Oswin, and by other nobles, he gave away to the poor. He rarely would go to eat at the King’s table, and when he did he would hurry away afterwards to get back to his people. Aidan worked tirelessly for the welfare of children and of slaves, personally paying for many of them to be set free. God’s purposes are worked out through nations, communities and individuals; through the Church, nationally and locally, and through individual Christians. But they are only instruments, and must not draw attention to themselves. When a nation or a person, or even a church, becomes too prominent, it may obscure God’s activity – when that happens, it is failing in its purpose.

St. Aidan shows us an example of humble, loving service – putting God at the centre of our concerns. It is God’s light which should shine through all that we say, and do, and are.

I fervently pray every day that the churches of this Benefice will grow in terms of active support and attendance. This they must do if they are going to have any future. It cannot be achieved by one individual; these churches will only survive if the villages in which they are set want them to. May our church communities grow in faith, love and service. Only when people can see the quality of our Christian lives: our faith, our love, our humility and earthiness, and our concern for others; our trust, confidence and joy; our fellowship and fun; only then will they in any numbers see God in us, and through us. If they see new meaning and purpose in their own lives and feel valued and loved, then they are much more likely to join us.

You can now read the latest news around the Benefice and in the wider Church on the Benefice blogspot. Please go to the following: http://bansfieldbenefice.blogspot.com/. This can also be accessed from the Benefice Website home page.

Stephen

Rev'd Stephen Abbott

News Letter Archive.

Last Modified Wednesday 25 May 2011