Community

St. Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

As I write this letter people are making their way to polling stations to vote in the referendum about Britain’s membership of the European Union.

‘Gateway’ is not the place to take sides on this matter – and people, largely, will have made up their minds some time ago. One thing, however, does interest me greatly. There has been much talk, and a huge amount written down in newspapers and social media about the EU – the European Union.

Perhaps I’ve been asleep but, until fairly recently, we almost invariably spoke about the European Community. What, I wonder, has changed? Has the idea of a European Community become unfashionable – or unacceptable? And, if it has, why?

Where there is a real sense of community life things almost invariably thrive. That can be true not only in international affairs and trading but in every gathering it is possible to think about: family, school, workplace, village, town, church, sports club, office to mention but a few.

In a community, people think not only of themselves but also of those with whom, to quote the Acts of the Apostles, they live and move and have their being. Whilst a community is made up of individuals who have some, but not necessarily all, things in common there is usually an acknowledgement that it is better (and often more effective) to be together than apart.

This is particularly true of the Christian church.

Despite there being several matters over which all Christians find it difficult to agree, it remains Christ’s wish that we should eventually all be one in him.

More locally, in Alnwick, we are incredibly blessed to be able to work together across the denominations of our town in all sorts of positive and helpful ways – recognising our common fellowship as a community of Christians.

Within a large church like St. Michael’s, where we have four effectively distinct congregations on a Sunday, we must be constantly working towards a visible unity which would allow us to flourish as one family united in our common fellowship in Christ.

If you are in any doubt about our need for each other then read, and read again, the 12th chapter of 1 Corinthians. Recognising our interdependence of each other – our need to be a visible unity – not only for our own good but for the good of Christ is critical to what we do, if we want to do it effectively.

Coming together socially is proving to be a splendid way forward in this respect. Our recent lunch in honour of the Queen’s 90th birthday was an excellent example of this and soon (15th July) we will be enjoying a Northumbrian Evening together. Please don’t think of these occasion as just ‘for those that like that sort of thing’! Come along and be ‘built up in Christ’ through a strengthening of community spirit in St. Michael’s.

It is said that those who pray together stay together. We are called to do more than that. We are called to flourish and grow, to enjoy each other’s company and learn more and more of what strong community is all about.

With every blessing,

Paul.

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