Letter for July/August

The Reverend Rebecca is currently on sabbatical and so the July/August letter is from Michael Hayes.

Dear All,

We are now ‘ton up’ churches! On Rebecca’s last Sunday before her sabbatical leave, the three churches received a certificate from the Taunton Food Bank; it was our ‘one ton certificate’, and in fact we have apparently given nearly one and a half tons of food to the bank over the past few years. I was amazed by that.

The food bank, Street Pastors and the CAP debt counselling service are just some instances of how churches and others are together bringing practical and substantial help across the area.

This is something to feel good about, and we should be more vocal, more proud of what the church is doing; let’s ‘talk up’ the church and put in a few good words for what it does at local and national level. Alongside these practical good works has been the ‘Your Kingdom Come’ prayer time between Ascension and Pentecost when a heartening number came into church to pray for the light of Christ to shine brightly over our needy world.

What we say in everyday conversation has great power, and it can build up or cast down. We can choose to speak well of the church and maybe thus change the way it’s perceived, and we can encourage and affirm other people or wound their hearts and bring them right down. In the Bible, the letter of James says, ‘Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry’.

The recent political turmoil has brought harsh words from some about their colleagues, in great contrast to the heroism and generosity shown in the face of terrorist attacks. How easy we find it to be rude and hurtful in speech! Christians particularly are to be different – James again says, ‘If anyone considers themselves to be religious and yet doesn’t keep a tight rein on their tongue, they deceive themselves and their religion is worthless’. Strong stuff.

The Archdeacon of Taunton reminded us in Rebecca’s absence to seek togetherness as a community of peace – how might all of us do that? As well as sharing each other’s burdens, we can use our words for good and not harm, by talking up the church and by speaking well of people both to their face and when they’re not there. When we catch ourselves about to make a comment, maybe first we ask ourselves is it loving (or hurtful) and is it truthful (or exaggerated) and is it necessary (or does it just give me a buzz)?

We like to talk (I do!), so let our talk be sweet and not sour, and let’s seize opportunities to talk up the church where it’s doing well, and talk up one another.

Michael Hayes

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