The television series Strictly Come Dancing seems to grow in popularity every year,
with features in the papers and on the internet, interviews and voting forecasts,
and of course Saturday nights in front of the telly. One of the striking things about
it is how good-natured it is. Despite the rude comments from one of the judges, clearly
playing a role for the cameras, there is a lot of goodwill from all concerned. Obviously
the contestants want to win, and are prepared to work very hard to do it, but the
competitive element never dominates. The contestants talk about what good friends
they have all become. They seem genuinely pleased when one of them does well, and
genuinely heartbroken when one of them is knocked out of the competition. They and
their professional partners, the commentators and even the judges form a little “Strictly”
community for the duration of the series. They are bound together by a common aim,
to do their best, and, with luck and hard work, produce something beautiful.
Today's Gospel reading from St. Matthew is about the formation of a new community.
These verses come at the end of a long chapter in which Jesus chooses the twelve
apostles and sends them out on a mission. Their particular role is to preach the
good news of Jesus Christ to the Jewish people, twelve of them for the twelve tribes
of Israel. Their message is that the kingdom of heaven has come near in the person
Jesus explains that their mission will not be wholly successful. Jesus is talking
to the disciples, but Matthew is also talking to the early Church, about opposition,
about court appearances and even death sentences, about deep divisions within families.
The Gospel message is implausible to Jewish ears, it is hard to accept and it causes
trouble. It disturbs the settled Jewish communities, setting people against one another
as they respond in different ways. But right at the end of the chapter, we find that
some people are responding to the message. They accept the disciples as "prophets",
those who speak the word of the Lord and tell the truth about God and his people.
They invite them in and give them water to refresh them after their journey. These
first disciples stand in the tradition of the prophets of old, who not only proclaimed
the word of the Lord, but urged the people to lives of justice and generosity. So
in this new community the thirsty are given water to drink resulting in practical
However, the main danger for the followers of the new faith was opposition from outside.
They knew that the Christian message was divisive. It challenged cherished beliefs.
It broke families apart and the divisions were heightend by persecution. For us the
situation is different.
If a friend or family member decides to be baptised, confirmed and go to church,
a caring community would be pleased they had found something to believe in and enthuse
them, even if they didn't choose this path themselves. For us the danger is within
the Christian community itself. It is easy for church people to forget that they
are members of a prophetic community gathered in the presence of Christ. It is is
easy for charity to be forgotten, with backs turned on those with whom we disagree
rather than cups of water held out to them.
The community of the followers of Jesus is a precious thing. In that community we
find new brothers and sisters. In it we enjoy the presence of God. Strengthened by
it, we are able to create other communities in which God's children can be loved
and cared for. At its best, it works for justice for the weakest in society. All
these things help us to know that we truly belong in the kingdom of heaven.
we thank you for those moments in our lives
that have been milestones on our journey of faith,
moments when we have been especially conscious of your presence,
when our faith has grown,
when truth has dawned on us in an unmistakable way.
We thank you for such times and pray that you will help us
to recognise that our journey is not ended
but only just begun.
Teach us that, however many answers we may have,
there is always more to see, more to learn,
and more to understand,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Canon Dave Sat.
Canon Dave’s Weekly Message
As many of you will have already heard, Stan Liddicot passed away peacefully last
Sunday morning. At the amazing age of 98, Stan saw many changes during his long life.
His wealth of experience has been an inspiration to all of us. A well respected,
dearly loved and hard working man, the Chatsworth Community have so much to be grateful
for. Please hold Stan's family in your prayers at this time.
A short funeral service with a limited number of family members will come together
this week for a service at Chesterfield Crematorium which I will conduct. At a later
date when we can all gather together in St. Peter's church, a service of Thanksgiving
for his life will take place.
As lockdown eases we are still waiting for advice from the Bishop of how to proceed
with the opening of our churches. Hopefully not too long.