A View From The Vicarage, July 2018
“To give or not to give that is the question” (with apologies to Shakespeare) .
I’m sure that all of you are familiar with John Donne’s famous line: “No man is an island Entire of itself”. But what exactly does it mean and does it have any residual relevance to us living in 21st Century Britain.
It seems to me that even an island, however remote it may be is not and never has been insulated from the rest of the world. After all even the most remote and isolated islands such as Tristan da Cunha are affected and impacted by tides and currents which may originate many hundreds of miles away. Air patterns and movements in the atmosphere affect meteorological conditions on the ground in the most remote and isolated communities. As modern oceanographic exploration has shown even the most remote parts of the seas and oceans, are impacted by humanity’s recent obsession with plastic.
Surely what John Donne wants us all to remember is that even if we desire to live lives entirely separate from the rest of humanity we do not and cannot because decisions that you and I make have a profound impact upon the lives and livelihoods of others in the same way that theirs do on us.
As Christians we are regularly reminded that as St. Paul described it we are part of “The Body of Christ.” Being an integral part of something far beyond our own lives here in the beautiful part of the globe. Each week, we’re encouraged to pray for other members of the Anglican branch of that Christian family calling us to celebrate and give thanks for our brothers and sisters in Christ who live, love and worship in places distant and remote from us.
As I write this today we’re praying for the Church in Barbados and the Turks and Caicos Islands; maybe some of the islands John Donne had in mind when he wrote.
Being a precious and treasured member of the Body of Christ is a wonderful illustration of God’s immense generosity to us and the whole of humanity.
Over the next few months, you’ll be hearing more about the Parish Giving Scheme. This is an initiative that many parishes are using extremely successfully to enable others of our bothers and sisters in Christ to think carefully about their own individual response to God’s generosity to them.
Sunday by Sunday we celebrate the Eucharist somewhere in these five parishes. The word Eucharist means thanksgiving. We give thanks to God in those lovely words from the General Thanksgiving in the Book of Common Prayer: “for all thy goodness and loving kindness to us”. “ We bless thee for our creation, preservation and all the blessings of this life; but above all, for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ.”
That surely is the context in which we should think about giving back to God the best that we can offer.
Please think and above all “pray mightily” that Parish Giving may be one of the tools that God will give us to enable us to respond gratefully and generously to him for all of his blessings to us and to all for as John Donne reminds us none of us is an island entire of itself.
With my love and prayers as always.