|from …The Revd Professor William Clocksin on the gift of the Holy Spirit
In these weeks after Easter we reflect upon how the disciples encountered the Risen Christ. The Gospels tell how the disciples were disappointed and confused because they were hoping Jesus would have been the one to redeem Israel. They had expected a Messiah who would ride to their rescue on clouds of glory to crush their enemies. They seem to be disappointed that Jesus was not the redemptive conqueror they were hoping for: The Messiah who would bring down the oppressive Roman rule in an impressive show of God’s might and vengeance. They were hoping to be redeemed by violence, but the violence part of it just didn’t seem to happen.
The idea of redemptive violence is very powerful in the human psyche. This is where we get the ancient Babylonian teaching of “an eye for an eye”. This is where we get vendetta: An endless cycle of violence as each side tries to get even for the insult made against it. This is why we hold grudges, sometimes using religion to identify with a cause against rivals. And somehow, the longer a grudge is held, the more important it becomes to defend it. Compromise and forgiveness seem to be signs of weakness. “We’ll never forget”, they say. Grudges and vendettas can and do last for generations and generations, and they blight everything they touch.
But, the life of Jesus, together with the Resurrection, shows a different way. Jesus discredited the ancient teaching of an eye for an eye. Jesus showed us the way by speaking out for the oppressed, commanding us to love one another, and showing that the weak, powerless, outcasts, and victims of bigotry and prejudice, are still included within God’s loving integrity. That is the way to bring about a redeeming kingdom of love, and that is a hard thing for people to learn. In the Gospels the disciples didn’t recognise the Risen Christ on repeated occasions in those weeks after the Resurrection. Finally, at the Pentecost, God’s message of redemption and salvation for all – and not just for an elite few – was made as clear as could be within the mysterious grace of the Holy Spirit filling and empowering us all.
With all this in mind, this month we hold especially in our prayers those who need to be rescued. Refugees from war and violence, victims of grudge and vendetta, those who are trying to cope with the pain of a broken heart or a wounded mind, those being trafficked and abused by organised crime, those being oppressed by harsh rulers. These things are happening now, and we ask that God’s will is done. God’s will must be done. And pray that through the gift of the Holy Spirit we may never fail to recognise the Risen Lord alive in each other.
The churches of St Etheldreda and St Luke in Hatfield are steeped in English history, but they are not museums, they are meeting places for thriving Christian communities. The congregations range from babes in arms to grandparents and we aim to cater for all needs.
If you like a quiet traditional service, then why not come to the 8am service at St Eth’s? The 9.30am at St Eth’s is also traditional, but is accompanied by magnificent and innovative hymns and musical pieces as directed by our Director of Music. We also have an ’all age’ service on the third Sunday of the month where we are joined for the whole service by the children of our Sunday School.
Those that get up later on a Sunday might prefer to attend the 11.30am service at St Luke’s, a smaller, but very welcoming and friendly congregation.
Sunday school meets in our church hall at 9.20am in term time offering a small Christian lesson for the children, followed by a creative activity. The class then join the main congregation at St Eth’s for Holy Communion.
We are a friendly all inclusive Parish and also offer a range of study classes and social events, but most importantly a very warm Christian welcome to all.
Why not sign up to our monthly magazine, Refocused, and keep in touch with what we are doing? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A virtual tour of St Etheldreda’s Church
Travel up inside our clock tower (see above photo) through the bell ringers chamber, past our carrillon above the bell ringers, and enjoy a panoramic view from the top of the tower. From the highest point in Hatfield you will see for miles: east, west, south and north. Look out for the numbers 1,2,3,4,5 in the bottom right hand side of the screen which allow you to step up to and through the various levels of the tower, side swipe at any level for 360 degree views. You can join the tour here.