St Mary's Melton Update - october 2019
At a golf match I played in recently, the captain of the opposition team told a couple of amusing stories during his speech at the end. One of them set a spark so I thought I would share it with you. Any resemblance in this story to people past and present is of course purely coincidental.
Kevin and Mark were twins. When they left school, Kevin went to theological college and Mark went to London to find his fortune. Kevin became the rector in a busy town church in the middle of England and Mark became a London taxi driver.
They both lived a long and healthy life and died on the same day. They both made their way up to Heaven and were met at the pearly gates by St Peter. “Welcome to heaven”, he said to them. “Come on in and I will show you to your new celestial home.” They strolled through the gates and were amazed by everything they saw.
After a few minutes St Peter stopped outside a nice, sparkling, white villa overlooking a beautiful cloud. St Peter turned to Mark and said, “This is your home for the rest of eternity, I hope you will be truly happy here”. With a beaming smile across his face Mark took possession of his new villa.
Kevin saw the villa and thought to himself, “How wonderful! If Mark is getting a villa like that for being a taxi driver, then as a rector doing the work of God, I must be getting a mansion, perhaps even with a swimming pool.”
Kevin walked on with St Peter for several minutes until they reached a 10-storey block of flats. St Peter said, “There you are Kevin, your apartment is on the 8th floor.”
Kevin was flabbergasted and replied, “I don’t understand St Peter. I worked all my life in the service of God and my brother was only a taxi driver. Surely, I deserve a better place in Heaven than him.”
To this St Peter said, “Kevin, we know you tried really hard to bring God’s word to your congregation, but every time you gave a sermon half of them dozed off! Now Mark on the other hand brought many more people to God. Every time somebody got in his taxi, they never fell asleep and they spent the whole journey praying!”
Make of this story what you will. On one level it lampoons some of the more tedious sermons we have heard in our lives and makes us remember some of the car journeys we have had with dodgy drivers. On another level it might say that it is fear that brings us to God and perhaps the fire and brimstone type of sermon is what is needed.
For my own part, having given it some thought, it says that we can gain comfort from all sorts of places. The Church is not necessarily a building, but it is more about the people in it.
Over the past month we have seen a couple of weddings, a few funerals and several baptisms at St Mary’s. The people who attended these might tell you that they are not really into the Church. However, in all cases they have attended because they think it is right to celebrate together as a group.
At Saturday Morning in September we had over a hundred visitors to our activities and everyone who stayed for the short service at the end stayed awake throughout! So obviously the Rector in my story cannot have been our Kevin! What is more, I and all the helpers had many opportunities to share time with the visitors, many of these have been coming for a long time now and parents and kids will come and chat about the high and low points of their lives.
Following the Saturday Morning activities, the church was open as usual for visitors. In fact, we stayed open longer than normal because of the Ride & Stride event that was going on throughout the Diocese.
Our very own Archdeacon, Richard, was one such rider who was visiting as many churches as he could on his bike. Well done to him.
We had more than 70 visitors to the church in the afternoon, most of them coming to admire the windows and architecture. More importantly many of them wanted to have a little chat about where they came from and what they were doing. It is my firm belief that people want and need kind conversation, particularly in this time of political mayhem.
The last couple to come in had seen something on a gravestone outside that they didn’t understand, so came in to ask about it. A bit of a challenge as my Latin is not that good but I think we worked out what it was to their satisfaction. Part of the conversation with this couple went down the route of “We are not religious, but we like coming into churches because they are calm, quiet places that give us a time to pause and think.”
If you are out there feeling fraught and tense, then perhaps you should pop into a church near you and take time to pause and think. It might help, what have you got to lose!
Anyway, I am sure you want to hear the other story told at the end of the golf match. It was about someone picking buttercups. No better not, I would definitely blush if I told you the rest of it. Still we won the match by a small margin.
Have a good month till next month and try to think kind thoughts about those who have upset you in any way. We are all in the same family. The Family of God.