[Our September Article has been written by Ann Collier]
This month sees the start of the new academic year for schools and most colleges and universities. For some, not only will it be a new year, but also a new location. We pray for all who are facing these new challenges that God’s peace and strength may abide with them. We particularly pray for our own Church of England school here in Wentworth at the start of a new school year, for all the staff and the pupils.
As regards the church’s year, our attention is also drawn towards new things at this time. The reading for Trinity XII, the first Sunday of September, speaks of God’s New Covenant with his people (2 Corinthians ch.3 v.4) “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive”, (1 Corinthians, ch.15 v.22) and at the sound of those words the music of Handel’s Messiah thunders in our ears giving them the dramatic emphasis they deserve (some things, one can argue, are definitely better expressed in music!) This reminder of God’s wonderful and enduring promise to us is very reassuring as summer wanes, autumn approaches and winter looms ahead. It is also good to contemplate God’s New Covenant wit his people prior to Advent, which heralds the coming of Christ through who the New Covenant was enacted.
In 2 Corinthians, Chapter 3, Paul emphasises that God “has qualified us to be ministers of a New Covenant, not in a written code but in the spirit, for the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life”. How well that sums it up! Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to try to lay down rules of “do’s and don’ts” that cover absolutely every eventuality so as to be just and fair? Moses tried and failed in that the negative and the rules written minutiae are never adequate [hence the fact that we in England regard our case law a superior to Napoleonic law in that every situation can thereby be evaluated upon its own particular merits as circumstances can vary and only case law can adequately accommodate this}. That is why we need the Holy Spirit to help us to interpret what is right in the light of our Lord’s two great Commandments, which, if you notice, both involve love. It is no good thinking you can necessarily turn to the Bible to get a definitive answer to a particular problem. You can turn to the Bible, as in the case of the quotation above from 2 Corinthians, ch3 to get guidance through the Holy Spirit. This is where the Christian religion is difficult, because individual Christians will interpret problems and situations differently depending upon many, many factor, eg the culture and beliefs of the day and age, a person’s breadth of experience and understanding, Christian maturity, etc. The Holy Spirit may speak to us to try to enlighten our thinking but if we have been so heavily indoctrinated by our culture, by the age we live in, etc, we, being but frail human beings, may fail to hear the true voice of God speaking to us in our hearts, so things can go wrong even with the best of intentions (look at the Crusades for example which arguably still affect attitudes between people today}.
If we try to keep Christ’s two Commandments of love in our hearts we shall not go far wrong. We must do the very best we can in this imperfect world and God will, I am quite sure, understand our poor weak efforts and will try to encourage us, through the Holy Spirit, towards better endeavours and greater understanding and wisdom.
“To do one’s best” is perhaps a good motto for the start of the school year and for the start of our understanding of the New Covenant, as illustrated in Corinthians and indeed expounded further in St Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings to closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews ch.112 vs.1-3)
Yours in Christ’s love