Gerrard Hughes was a Roman Catholic priest who died not long ago. He was a great story-teller and used stories to illustrate the strengths and the failings of institutional Christianity.
He once described people’s experience of God as like going with your parents to visit a very important uncle.
However, the visits were not cheerful. There was a dark, terrifying place in the basement, and you got the clear impression that if you did not behave properly at all times, that was where you would end up.
This story neatly identifies the level at which communication can work.
Unintended messages, proclaiming a stern, punishing God who will not put up with wickedness, can powerfully obscure the reality of God.
Pope Francis has called for a Year of Mercy in which God is, as it were, invited and allowed to speak. God speaks to us about the reality of love, forgiveness, justice, peace and compassion, which are the true qualities of God’s nature.
Christians are asked to turn with open minds and hearts to look again at the Bible, where these qualities are described and seen most clearly in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In this Year of Mercy, churches everywhere are opening their doors.
Come on in to discover for yourself the mercy of God – so badly needed in our conflicted and suffering world.
Sleepout to bring others in
On 30th January, Worthing Churches Homeless Projects are holding their annual sponsored sleepout in Broadwater. It is always an enjoyable, thought-provoking and sometimes challenging event. The idea is to spend one night outside with a sleeping bag to raise enough money to bring someone else into the warm. The event gives a glimpse of what it might be like to rough sleep even if only for one night, knowing you can return home the next day. If you’re interested in taking part, please call 01903 286480 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marking Holocaust Memorial Day
Chichester Cathedral in co-operation with the University of Chichester, will mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2016 through a performance of the staged oratorio Last Train to Tomorrow (composed by Carl Davis, written by Hiawyn Oram) directed by Professor Pamela Howard. This is an opportune reminder of the suffering that persisted after 1945 and the need for continued thought and action. This evening will be ticketed, with the performance beginning promptly at 7.15pm on Wednesday 27th January. Tickets are free, with a retiring collection (in support of ‘Save the Children’), and are available on a first come, first served basis from www.chichestertickets.co.uk (telephone: 01243 813595).
Business and Belief
Are you interested in both the world of business and Christian faith? Ashburnham Place in Battle, East Sussex are hosting a one-day conference which ‘offers an opportunity to connect, encourage and resource people of faith in East Sussex who work within the business sector.’ Entry is free, with an optional dinner of £10. You can find out more and book online at www.ashburnham.org.uk