Friday, 29 August 2008

The beheading of St John the Baptist, our heavenly Patron

For us at St John’s this is a special day as we celebrate the martyrdom of our heavenly patron. Why celebrate a beheading? We do not celebrate a beheading; we deplore all barbaric and cruel acts. What we celebrate is the fortitude of our patron that paid such a high price in order to fulfil his witness to what is true, pure and decent. Recall that John was arrested because he publicly condemned the sinful relationship of Herod. He could have kept quiet on this one and continued in his spiritual sphere of preparing the way for the anointed one and the preaching and baptising for repentance; that would have been enough. But that would have no integrity.
This wrong reasoning is the same as the one taking hold of parts of the Church today, the hermeneutic of discontinuity. Making a break with what is sacred and held in honour by the saints in order to accommodate the spirit of this passing age, not only accommodate but canonise. Our call, following the example of John the Baptist, is to witness to what is sacred. St John witnessed by word and example and this witness was even sealed with his own blood. This is what we celebrate today his steadfastness and faithfulness till the very end and this is what inspires us.

Yesterday was a very productive day. Booklet for Holy Cross Day finished, Carol printed the Parish Magazine, Janice is working hard on the Walsingham Day, Fr Mark was busy with nursing home communions and other pastoral visit, finishing his day with a long staff meeting, correspondence answered, planning done and sermons written. Pastoral work that starts from prayer, is soaked in prayer and ends in prayer is part of the response that Anglo-Catholics can and are giving to the present crisis. But we also need to find time for reading and reflecting. We can not give what we do not have! Here is the start of any new Oxford Movement.

People glimpse and sense what is going on and it is refreshing to witness people coming to enquire about baptism, discipleship and fresh ways of how to wash the feet of each other.

On this day I ask John the Baptist to keep his hand upon us and bless this joyful parish as like him it continues to witness to the one the thong of whose sandals we are not worthy to stoop down and untie.

God our Father,
You called John the Baptist
to be the herald of Your Son's birth and death.
As he gave his life in witness to truth and justice,
so may we strive to profess our faith in Your gospel.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
and the Holy Spirit,one God,
for ever and ever.

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