Our three churches: St. Mary’s, Standon, All Saints, Little Munden and St. Catherine’s, Sacombe are all part of the St. Alban’s Diocese within the Church of England. We are united in name and the desire to welcome every person, young and older, into our wonderful community minded church families. Our hope is to help everyone discover who Jesus is, and then to grow in understanding and faith. We have beautiful church buildings, a fantastic Benefice Choir, various styles of worship, partnerships with two excellent Church of England Schools, and a clear Bible based ministry.
One thing that I hear quite often stated is that all roads lead to God. It doesn’t matter which religion you believe in as long as you are sincere and tolerant. God, who is loving, will accept you. This idea comes from eastern religions in the main and is often illustrated by the blind men and the elephant. One feels the trunk and says it is a snake. Another felt the tusk and said it was a spear. Another felt the tail and said it was a rope. And so on. But actually, it is all an elephant. So, it is with religion.
However, sadly, I cannot go along with the idea. Firstly, there is such a thing as objective truth. We accept this for science, but not, for some reason, for religion. Secondly, in our elephant, the different parts do not directly contradict each other. But they do in religion; for example Christianity and Islam disagree directly about Jesus. Christians say he died and rose again; Muslims say he didn’t. And thirdly, sincere belief can still be evil. Look at Isis for example. No-one can say they aren’t sincere.
Another argument I hear very often is due to experience. We all know of people of different religions (and of no religion) who are lovely people. Surely God would not be so horrible as to reject those who may be mistaken? This is a very emotional and often personal argument. All I can say as a Christian is that God is just and will punish no-one undeservedly; yet at the same time truth is extremely important.
So how do we know what is true? Again, as a Christian I can only quote the one I follow. He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” That is to say, if we wish to understand about these religious matters, he is the one to go to. To return to our blind men and the elephant, who is the one who can see if it is really an elephant or not? Only the one who opens the eyes of the blind.
John Chitham, Rector
A happy New Year to you all!
New Year is traditionally a time for change. There is an old joke: how many vicars does it take to change a light bulb? To which the response is: CHANGE??? Nonetheless the church does change every now and again. Walk into any of our churches and you will see modern upgrades of kitchens and toilets, heating and doors, or plans to do something similar. Change is sometimes painfully slow but that is what happens in family life, as long as everyone is consulted so that we all stay together.
And so, after such consultation, there is a relatively small change in our benefice service pattern that begins from January. The service pattern was already working quite well but it needed a little tweaking. The most immediate, noticeable change is that our mid- morning services will all start at 10.30. This is easier to remember and less confusing than having different times. The second change on time is that the monthly choral evensong will be at 6.30, not 6.00. This is to make sure that there is no clash with the afternoon service, The Centre, which is at 4.30. The full list of our services can be found here.
Why make these changes? In essence it is to have a simpler pattern which can be remembered by those who go to church regularly, and also understood easily by those who come less frequently or are newcomers. The second reason is to ensure we have a spread of services in the Benefice. People find it easier to worship God in different ways; we are not all the same. So, the early morning service and the evensong are very traditional, the 10.30 services are in modern language but still using traditional hymns, and the afternoon service is very contemporary. Our main goal is to help everyone come to God, whatever their background. You are very welcome to try it out!
John Chitham, Rector