News from St Mary the Virgin, Kenton on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th January 2022: The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
This week, as we enter the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, we pray for understanding, harmony and peace. If we think back two thousand years, the disciples were one group of committed individuals following The One Lord, Jesus Christ. In Saint Paul's Letter to the Corinthians, he writes: “There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them.” Whether someone perceives themselves as Baptist or Methodist, Orthodox, Catholic or Anglican, High Church or Low Church … we are all Christians: followers of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was born in a stable in Bethlehem and died for us on The Cross at Calvary. Unfortunately, we are often guilty of being far too parochial – just focused on OUR Church and the way WE do things. The Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity reminds us (far too infrequently) that when we strip away all the periphery, what matters … what REALLY matters … at the heart of our faith is Jesus. What has taken place over the last two thousand years is division and disagreement; sometimes blamed on theology or a result of the question of authority or supremacy. We may look disdainfully upon countries where there is fighting and division – and there may be very pertinent reasons for it. But being a Christian, we are committed to follow in the footsteps of Christ. Not to seek the differences in how we worship, but to look for the common ground. As Saint Paul would say: It is the same God who is working in all of us. So during this Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, we pray for understanding, harmony and peace in our own church, in the Harrow Deanery, in the Willesden Area and in the Diocese of London. And we pray for peace amongst our fellow Christians in Kenton and throughout the World, as this is what Jesus would have wanted. One Church, One Baptism, One Faith.
We are all different people, but it is the same God who is working in all of us. We have a God-given duty of care to one another – and many of those who have featured in the ACAT Prayer Cases of the Month that have been brought to our attention in recent years, are trying to live that duty of care to those who are persecuted and marginalised. Take this month's Prayer Case of the Month as an example: Chang Weiping, a human rights lawyer who is currently detained by the Chinese authorities for defending people who have faced discrimination and represented others who are not permitted to express their faith by freedom of religion or belief. It is not surprising that several countries, including the United Kingdom, are protesting about the Chinese Human Rights violations through a diplomatic boycott at the forthcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing. Perhaps our prayers for reconciliation should be extending beyond our desire for Christian Unity at this time, to praying for the minds of these oppressors to be turned to a peaceful restoration of respect and understanding amongst all peoples.
The First Mass of Sunday is on Saturday 15th January at 6.00pm. The Parish Mass for The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time is at 10.30am on Sunday 16th January.