June 2016

August 1, 2016

Thoughts From The Cottage

Dear Friends

‘Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country’

These words from President Kennedy in his 1961 inaugural address were actually a quote from his old headmaster and they are deeply profound. Furthermore they are even more apposite and relevant today. We have become a very individualistic society more concerned with our own well-being than that of others.

In the EU Referendum debate all we hear about is the cost to us of being in the EU and how little we get out of membership of it. We hear nothing about what we can contribute to the peace, well-being and security of Europe by being part of the EU. The question we are being asked to decide on is whether we will be better off, not just financially but in the widest sense, remaining in the EU or leaving it. The question we should be asked to decide on is whether the EU is better with us inside or outside it.

The same thing happens in national and local elections. We vote for the party which we believe will be best for us rather than which will contribute most to the wellbeing of society. I am a member of a number of clubs and societies. In most cases I have joined them for what I can get out of them rather than for what I can contribute through them to others who share the same interest and society as a whole.

This is reflected throughout society, except in faith groups and particularly the church. Archbishop William Temple famously said that ‘the church is the only institution that exists entirely for the benefit of those who are not its members’. In the church it is not about what the church can do for us, it is about what we can do for others. Of course there are benefits that we receive as members of the church, friends who pray for us and care for us, help and encouragement to live our lives as God intends, regular opportunities to meet with God in a special way and thus allowing him to minister to us.

The philanthropic Christians of past generations, and particularly the Victorian industrialists, used their influence and wealth to build public buildings and generally improve society. The majority of charities were begun by, and many are still run by Christians, living out their faith in a way that benefits vast numbers of people. On a local, national and global scale an immense amount of good is done by Christians who see their faith leading into social action. Without their input the world would be a poorer place and further from God’s kingdom than it is now.

Here in Rubery we, and St Chad’s Church, provide a place where people find a welcome, can make new friends and get support in difficult times. This happens both within the buildings and outside, wherever church folk are during the week. The Elders have identified a growing need in this area and are looking at ways of developing this work for the benefit of those who use our premises and the wider community and to fulfil the prayer we pray each week ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’. It will be a major item on the agenda of the Church Life meeting on 7th June. Please come along and help us develop this initiative.