News for Sunday 17th July: The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

News from St Mary the Virgin, Kenton on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th July 2022: The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This week, we are passing on an e-mail which was sent by The Bishop of Willesden on Friday of last week, as it is particularly pertinent. Apologies to those who may have already seen it.

I do so believe
It could be agreed that one of the conditions plaguing our society is the distinctive deficit of trust that exists between individuals and with institutions. This crisis of trust does not require deep analysis and detailed evidence to be recognised by most of us. This condition is not merely an expression of increased cynicism and pathological levels of suspicion. It could be argued that it emerges out of our individual and collective experience of relationships at both interpersonal and institutional levels that are simply not working for our advantage.
Mistrust and distrust are framing many of our interactions as exemplified by recent developments in British political life, leading to the demise of our latest Prime Minister. Our own beloved institution, the Church of England, is sadly not immune from this ubiquitous condition, with many of our siblings in the faith often feeling that the church does not quite work for their advantage.
The CofE’s Racial Justice Commission tasked to address and redress a legacy of racism within our church could be understood as an attempt to name the fact that trust has been eroded between particular constituencies and our church. The systems, processes, policies, and practices we have set have not worked for a host of people on the basis of their ethnicity.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and the Past Cases Review are other significant fault lines in our shared life that have resulted in the erosion of trust for many in our capacity to foster safe spaces to enable the emergence of life giving and life affirming relationships, especially- for too many of the vulnerable people under our care.
Earlier this month, our own diocese published the Lessons Learned review into the sad and untimely death of Fr Alan Griffin. In her response to the review, Bishop Sarah expressed her sorrow for Fr Alan’s death, and lamented the homophobia that plagues our church.
Unlike many of you, I did not know Fr Alan. However, both the Coroner’s report and the Lessons Learned report have been a sobering and challenging reading. These events have undoubtedly crystalised the fears of many of our LGBT siblings in faith and in ministry, reminding them that our institution does not quite work for their advantage. As a consequence, the fragile trust that may have existed between us is found further eroded, leading to further fracture and fragmentation of Christ’s Body.
The question arises: “Why should trust matter?”.
Trust is a central claim and tenet of our faith; one that we declare whenever we gather in worship. We do so in our songs, we do so in our prayers, we do so in our liturgy, and in our teaching and preaching. Like in biblical narratives, the language of trust is often expressed through the terminology of faith or belief. To the question: “Do you believe?”, often asked by Jesus, the implication is not merely “do you acknowledge the existence?”, “but do you trust?”.
The call to faith is a call to trust, to take refuge, to invest our hope in God. It is, at its core, a call into life affirming relationship. And this relationship, scripture reminds us, is forged in love enfleshed in Jesus the Christ. This love is, in essence, redistributive and regenerative. It mobilises those willing to yield to it and releases them in the task of propagating it indiscriminately and, in the process, fostering communities of life.
Trust is a precious commodity. In fact, it is the essential currency we, as Christians, deal in. Without trust, there is no life affirming relationship. Without trust, there is no scope for the emergency of the beloved community. Without trust, there is no future for the Church.
As we contemplate the erosion of trust and try to negotiate the fault lines and fractures we inhabit, may we heed the call to faith, not merely as doctrinal statements, but an enfleshed, embodied expression of our commitment to love the world into wholeness. May we become alive to the cries of our sisters and brothers who are dying to live.

Lusa Nsenga-Ngoy
Bishop of Willesden

Bishop Lusa has also sent out an invitation to a Creation Care Training Event taking place in September. As a Parochial Church Council, we have not (as yet) found someone who is willing to take on the role as our Parish Creation Care Co-ordinator, so this may be opportunity for someone (or some people) to step forward into this role and find out more. Details attached.

The first Mass of Sunday is on Saturday 16th July at 6.00pm. Parish Mass is on Sunday 17th July at 10.30am.

“Put your trust in The Lord, and he will sustain you.”

David Griffiths