Religion Magazine

An Arab Woman, a Roman Catholic Saint and a Yorkshire Pastor

By Richardl @richardlittleda

All in one service

In connection with my other thoughts and studies on spiritual journeys, I am preaching through a series of journeys in the Bible on Sunday mornings. We have already looked at Abram, Moses, Elijah and others. Today we shall look at Ruth. In her we see a stunning example of loyalty, and a stark warning from Orpah about how much easier it is to start a journey than finish it.

Reflecting on loyalty, I shall tell the children the legend of St Christopher – who learnt to serve Christ by serving others. There is a rich seam of imaginative truth in these old legends, and we should not avoid them just because they wear the troubadour’s clothing. Of course they are legends – where the historical truth ( if there is any) is buried beneath layers of narrative accretion – but they have an intrinsic value if told the right way, I think. I can remember telling the story of Papa Panov one year in December – and seeing a grown man in tears as the truth of it snuck round behind his defenses dressed up as legend.

Towards the end of the service, we shall sing a Baptist  anthem. You may not think they have such things – but this one comes close. With its emphasis on belonging and watching over one another, it drills down deep into the essence of Baptist ecclesiology. In 1772 John Fawcett was ready to move from his little church in Wainsgate, Yorkshire, to a bigger, and better paying, church in London. When he went out to climb onto the cart bearing all his belongings for the journey South, he was met by his congregation. To a man, they were weeping with sorrow at his departure. The cart was unloaded, the call abandoned, and he stayed on in Wainsgate.

The hymn he wrote includes these lines:

We share our mutual woes

Our mutual burdens bear

And often for each other flows

The sympathizing tear


You can hear the hymn here.

An Arab woman, a Roman Catholic Saint and a Yorkshire Pastor

Image: wikimedia commons

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