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St John 

the Evangelist


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Late have I sought thee, O beauty so ancient and so new

In recounting the story of his life, the writer here describes an experience not unknown to many who have spent their lives seeking after God. It's actually St. Augustine, in his 'Confessions', speaking of how it was only 'lately' that he had come to see something which had been there all along, and to see it now afresh. 'Late have I sought thee', he admits: only recently has he come to seek 'God' in a new and different way. No longer does he seek God as he had done, in the things of this world, all of which have let him down and led him to grief. Now, later in life, he wakes anew and afresh to a 'beauty' which had been there 'within him', in him and for him, all along: although it's taken him the journey of a lifetime to see it aright.

Many of us may have been on a similar journey. An early confidence, perhaps, that we have got life all sown up, or understand the things that really matter to us. Then a period of confusion, or of lostness, or bad experience, which leaves us thinking that our old view of the world has gone for ever.... and then a fresh understanding that perhaps we weren't so far wrong in the first place, but needed to come at things anew, and with a different perspective. A 'beauty, so ancient and so new', perhaps begins to dawn on us afresh.

The first Sunday of the month (November 5) contains within it the morning celebration of All Saints, a traditional celebration of Christian hope, in all three parishes, and then the afternoon commemoration of All Souls, at the Annual Memorial Service held at Cradley to remember all who have died, and particularly those known to us. The second Sunday of the month (12 November) is Remembrance Sunday, when in our churches we commemorate all who have died in war, and pledge ourselves again to work for peace. These two commemorative days call to mind events which have to do with crisis and bereavement, both for individuals and for societies as a whole: times which lead to crises of faith and a re-examination of the values by which we live. Both World Wars in the twentieth century are often said to have seen an increase in prayer and in church-going among the general public whilst they lasted: yet both are cited as reasons why our society subsequently lost faith in God and in the church, because, as I've heard more than one war veteran say, 'the fighting didn't stop on a Sunday.'

Perhaps the experience of finding again that 'beauty so ancient and so new' belongs not only to individuals but also to communities and societies. Perhaps this and every commemorative November can be a step on the road to healing, to recovery, and to renewal..

Your Rector,

Robert Ward


Storridge Parochial Church Council, 2013