Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of S. Bernard of Clairvaux and, at the end of the month, we keep the Feast of S. Aidan. These figures in Christian history have been influential on my own understanding of living one’s faith, and I was pleased when they were both included among a number of entries I was invited to contribute to Dr Ken Booth’s marvellous resource, For All The Saints. However, at the point when I made a personal commitment of faith I was unaware of them! As is natural for those raised in Christian families my knowledge of God was, for many years, second-hand. That is to say, it was received rather than experienced personally. I did not doubt the information and belief-structure that was shared with me, and I accepted the reality of God, but I had no awareness of actually meeting this God in whom we live and move and have our being.
The turning-point came in a moment of self-surrender. I can still remember exactly where I was, as I’m sure is true for many who have had similar moments. I soon learned, as a result of this act of consciously inviting God into my life, that such commitment alters one’s life in radical and unexpected ways. It was, I now see, the first of many conversions—although that is a word I did not attach to it for some years as it seemed to hold uncomfortable connotations.
Curiously, even though I had willingly opened my spirit to the influence of God’s Spirit, it was a long time before I could pray with honesty and conviction, “Loving God, I put myself at your disposal…” I had yet to learn to trust! I was suspicious that my surrender might require a kind of self-renunciation, subordinating my personality. I was to discover that the opposite is true—that God comes into one’s life to enrich and enhance the person we have been created to be, and does not violate our freedom or in any way impair or diminish our being. Rather, God works through our decisions and choices—even when they are the wrong ones, as our wilfulness often means we take back what we have surrendered.
All this brings me to one particular observation: it is that as God accepts us as we are, the person we are changes. We can never be the same again. God accepts us as we are, but that very acceptance has a changing effect on our lives.
Thanks be to God.
Canon Craufurd Murray
- Congratulations to one of our choir members, Courtney Carter, on achieving a DipABRSM. Also on her successes at the Nelson singing competitions, including winning the award for the most promising female vocal, based on performance and passion.
- Sales Table & Marmalade: Sundays in the hall. Please put your empty jam jars, (Rose’s brand preferred) in the box in the lounge. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
- Book Swap: Sundays in the hall and weekdays in the lounge.
- You are invited to a cup of tea or coffee after the evening service each Sunday.
- Vestry meets on Tuesday, beginning with Mass at 7:00 pm.
- Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Jill Woodside.
- The Oxfords: Free lunchtime recital Thursday 1:00 pm at Christ’s College.
- Lunch at Regatta on Avon: next Sunday at 12:15 pm. Details Ann & Dudley Jinman (347 8290).
- Bible Study Group meets next on 29 August, 7:15 pm in the school staff room. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
- Anglican Living AGM: 31 August 4:30 pm, Community Room, 276 Hereford St. Speaker Darral Campbell, Alzheimers Canterbury: Living Well with Dementia.
- CBS Music presents the Christchurch Choral Festival 3 September, 7:00 pm at S. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral. Entry free.
- Needlework Group meets monthly. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
- Inasmuch basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts of groceries and other household items.
Pastoral Care Team
West: Claire Preston 342 4650 Central: Michael Goodson 355 5374
North: Brenda Withell 383 2422 South: Jill Woodside 338 9590
East: Stella & Alistair Kinniburgh 021 0240 3247