The Revd.

Matthew J Hughes

01689 856931

Associate Rector   

The Revd.
Stephen Broadie
 07722 428553

March Leader: 

On the 2nd of February this year the nation marked the passing of someone who had become something of a national hero. Captain Sir Thomas Moore, known popularly as ‘Captain Tom’, experienced an incredible final year of his life. From raising over £32 million for NHS charities by walking round his garden, to being knighted by the Queen, to seeing flypasts by the RAF and the British Army on his 100th birthday in April last year, his was a story that captured the nation’s imagination. Speaking to various news channels in the week after his death, his daughter Lucy noted: “He leaves us with a really strong, powerful message – tomorrow is a good day. Those words represent his whole life to me.”*

As a war veteran, who had survived a gruelling campaign in Burma during WWII, Captain Tom’s ability to look forward to the future with hope and courage was an inspiration to many during the Coronavirus pandemic.

This forward-looking perspective is mirrored in some ways by the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians chapter 3. ‘Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.’ Paul’s words come in the context of a heated argument against other religious leaders who insisted on comparing each other’s ‘religious credentials’. On the one hand, Paul was able to demonstrate that his ‘religious credentials’ were as impressive as anyone else’s. On the other hand, he was insistent that his past did not matter any more, now that a ‘righteousness of God’ had been made available to everyone simply through faith in Christ. What is known as the ‘Christ-event’ had changed everything, for Paul and for everyone else. Paul was happy to leave his past behind him, and instead focus on the future that God was calling him on to.

Both Captain Tom and St Paul were able to find inspiration by looking forward, rather than looking backwards. Their stories come as a challenge to us, at a time when it is so tempting to look back. We only have to look at photos from 2019 to be aware of a time when things were so different, and we were able to do and experience so many activities that are no longer available to us. However, it does seem that Captain Tom and St Paul decided at a certain point that looking backwards was not going to help them. As St Paul said, ‘I strain towards what is ahead’.

An article in the Church Times recently noted the large number of churches that were currently shut for worship, but were nevertheless open as food distribution centres. By the time this magazine goes to press, it is to be hoped that a ‘Community Larder’ will have begun at St Nicholas church. The current plan is for this facility to be open every Tuesday morning at 11.30am, distributing unused food from local supermarkets to the local community, in conjunction with a charity called ‘Fare Share’. If all goes well, it will hopefully be up and running by March. On the one hand, we can look backwards at all that churches used to be able to do, and at a time when there were far less restrictions. On the other hand, we could look forwards and try to sense, with St Paul, what it is that God is ‘calling us’ on to. Community Larders and Food Banks may be just one area of new ministry that God is calling churches into at this time. Just as Captain Tom was able to move on from the traumas of his wartime experiences, and St Paul was able to move on from his religious past, may we find courage as individuals, and as churches, to continue to move forward at this time. As the Message translation of the Bible puts it: ‘I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.’

Stephen Broadie