Faith News

A message from St George parish church

The Rector writes……

Go First and be Reconciled
Mrs Beamish stands in church, expression calm and holy
and when the organ plays she mumbles hymns extremely slowly.
A pillar of St Botolph’s for forty years or more,
she does the flowers at Easter and the brass-work on the door.
But recently St Botolph’s has gained a brand new Vicar,
his name is Ken, he’s single, and he wants the hymns sung quicker.
He’s introduced a custom, which Mrs Beamish hates,
so she rounds upon the person next to her and very clearly states:
“Don’t you dare shake hands with me, or offer signs of peace,
you lay a finger on me and I’ll send for the police.
Don’t whisper ‘Peace be with you’, this is the C of E,
so bend the knee, say Thou and Thee, and keep your hands off me.” 
In the song, written by Richard Stilgoe, Mrs Beamish, a fictitious but recognisable figure in many Church of England churches up and down the land, does not take part in or even reflect upon the part of the liturgy we call ‘The Peace’.  For Christians, Jesus Christ offers a code which his followers are called to live out, and often struggle to live out.  In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provides a model for the Kingdom of God here on earth: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God’.  
During his teaching, Jesus also says, ‘When you offer your gift at the altar, go first and be reconciled to your brothers and sisters’.  Sharing the Peace, which is the act of shaking hands and saying, ‘Peace be with you’, is an act of reconciliation that happens in the service just before we offer our gifts at the altar.  In sharing the Peace we are forgiving and receiving forgiveness from our brothers and sisters and in sharing the Peace we are praying for each other as Christ sends us out into our communities.  In a nation and in a world stalked by conflict and division there is a role to be played by each one of us in the challenge of reconciliation, in the healing and bringing together that which has fractured and broken apart, especially in times such as these.  So thank you to Mrs Beamish for reminding us that reconciliation is at the heart of the teachings of Jesus and all those who follow him, calling us to be generous and welcoming in all that we do.
(You can read the Sermon on the Mount in St Matthew’s Gospel chapters 5-7)