Recognising contributions to society
One of the big events coming up in Chichester is the ceremony in which Tim Peake will be granted the Freedom of the City.
This doesn't mean he can park his car anywhere without risking a ticket (though that would be a nice touch).
So, what does it mean?
By giving him the Freedom of the City the elected leaders will be saying that he's made a distinctive contribution on behalf of the place where he grew up and went to school.
They will be saying, on behalf of all of us, “Tim, we are proud of you.”
There are good reasons to say this to Tim Peake.
He has displayed remarkable determination and discipline.
He has contributed to the sum of human knowledge about our planet and the mystery of this universe.
He has encouraged others by his own example.
He has shown the human qualities of valuing family life, resisting the cruder aspects of celebrity status.
It will be a great celebration for him and his family, I hope, and for Chichester and Sussex.
Alongside this, there are regular citizenship ceremonies. At these events, we welcome into the wider society of our nation those who have chosen to make their home here.
There are many ways in which they might enrich our lives: through trade, in the service industries on which tourism depends, in professional life, in agriculture and farming, and in
the social routine of daily life as friends and neighbours.
Citizenship is also a major theme in Christian thinking.
The welcome of people from every part of the world into the universal kingdom of God in heaven, is something that the Church on earth is called to embody.
Like the civic welcome ceremonies on earth, so the Christian welcome also wants to say some things about what makes a good citizen.
I suspect we are saying very similar things about respect for human dignity, honesty, justice and the common good.
Tim Peake may not have found the kingdom of heaven in outer space, but he might come nearer to it in the presentation of what makes a city free and just and tolerant here on earth.
This week marks the beginning of Lent, and 40 days in which to reflect on the build-up to the events of Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter. Chichester Diocese has produced a Lent Course which churches and small groups can use to grow deeper in faith. It uses art and scripture to reflect on aspects of prayer. The National Church of England has also produced resources for Lent under the banner of #LiveLent. You can sign up for daily emails and texts with encouraging messages here: www.churchofengland.org/lent
Contributing to the Common Good:
One aspect of the Diocese of Chichester's Strategy is our contribution to the common good. By 2020 the Diocese have asked every Church of England parish to think about their community engagement. On the basis of this we want churches to prayerfully engage with one new project to bless their local community. Given the scale of needs in many places this must be done with our ecumenical partners and other people of good will, irrespective of their faith. We will provide central resources to help people put these aspirations into reality. There is a growing library of resources and ideas online at: www.chichester.anglican.org/strategy-common-good/
Hymn Writing Competition for Armistice Day - Hymn of Peace:
A national competition has been launched to find a new Hymn to mark 100 years since Armistice Day and the end of the First World War. Jubilate is launching the competition to find a new Hymn of Peace for the churches to sing at Remembrance services and throughout this centenary year. The competition is open to all UK hymn writers, published or unpublished, and the winning hymn will also be recorded and released as a single. It will be sung by the celebrated baritone, Jonathan Veira, produced by Mark Edwards and feature members of the All Souls Orchestra, conducted by the acclaimed Noël Tredinnick. The winning hymn will be sung in both York Minster and St Paul’s Cathedral at their centenary services. The submission deadline is Sunday 8 April 2018. Further details including guidelines and conditions for entry are available at www.jubilate.co.uk/hymnsofpeace