Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Church Matters

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Church Matters

Article excerpt

Byline: By Francis Wood

It's harvest time

my favourite Harvest Festival story concerns an enormous cabbage. It was as big as an albatross and proudly borne into church by an eight-year old boy. Down the aisle it came, the leaves flapping behind the other children with their tomatoes, apples and oranges in cling film wrapping. As I bent down to take the vast vegetable and to lay it on the altar steps, the lad whispered in my ear: "Me mam says it's rotten inside but it's good enough for the church's harvest." Which rather affected my singing during the next hymn, "No gift have we to offer for all thy love imparts, but that which thou desirest, our humble thankful hearts."

Ten years ago I told that story at a service in the Lake District. Imagine my surprise when, five years after that I was in another Lakeland church and during the service heard the same story! This time it was told by the local rector. Afterwards I stopped him at the door and commented: "Thank you for the sermon, rector. I loved the tale of the cabbage." "Yes," he said. "I have to admit it wasn't one of my own. I heard a visiting preacher use it a few years ago in one of our local churches and I pinched it." "Good to know that it's still doing the rounds," I said, "for I was that preacher." (Collapse of stout rector).

ALL CHANGE

TOMORROW many churches will keep Church Army Sunday. That is the valiant society of Anglican evangelists, founded by Wilson Carlile in 1882. They are using this Sunday to launch a campaign calling for the Church to listen more to those outside. What the country needs, says the Church Army, is a mission-shaped Church. I have puzzled all this week to decide what is the shape of a mission?

Is it triangular? Based on the shape of the Holy Trinity. Or it is square? The old idea for something a bit out of date. I hope it's not spiky shaped. My feeling is that the Church Army would like the Church of today to be adaptable, changing its shape to fit the circumstances of the day. …

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