Monthly letter from our minister
Each month our minister Simon, or his assistant Hannah, writes the introductory letter to our Church News magazine. The latest letter is reproduced here.
Previous letters can be viewed by following the links below.
In the closing trial scene in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the King of Hearts gives some advice to the White Rabbit as he gives evidence:
“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
Sound advice of course, which many of us preachers often struggle to heed! Yet what about the writers of our four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? How did they decide the beginning of their narrative and what shaped the story that each told about Jesus? Take a look at each Gospel and you will see that each decided to have a very different opening - have you ever wondered why?
During Advent, we are having a sermon series at South St called “Beginnings”, which will look in turn at each Gospel opening and ask what particular themes the writer is emphasising to us through it. The writers of these wonderful books effectively created a new genre of literature and chose to give them a pagan title - ‘good news’ or ‘Gospel’ - which until then had been used to describe the announcement of a victory or new emperor.
These Gospels are not simply biographies of Jesus but have been carefully edited and arranged to give a clear and profound message to us. How they begin is a good indication of the particular aspect of the good news in Jesus that the writer wants to communicate. This should not worry us because just as no one church can fully capture Christ, no one Gospel can fully reveal Jesus to us.
There is considerable overlap in the four Gospels in our New Testament and each can be said to announce the good news that God has been revealed to us in Jesus who through his example, teaching, death and resurrection brings to us new life from God. They are all stories with a clear purpose - to so move us and inspire us that we too come to believe that this Jesus is truly the fullest revelation of God and the hope of the world.
Yet each does this slightly differently, offering to us rich mines of understanding, meaning and purpose. In urgent, lively storytelling, Mark recounts the actions of the ordinary people’s saviour, whilst Luke with great literary beauty reveals the God of loving hospitality. Matthew’s clear emphasis on teaching becomes a guide for the life of the church, whilst John gives us a theological work of profound depth.
As this Advent we study these Gospel beginnings, I hope we will sense more of the scope of God’s grace, the wonder of his being and the breadth of the life that is ours in Jesus Christ, who is God among us and with us.
Revd Simon Taylor
November 2018 Simon
October 2018 Simon
May 2018 Simon
April 2018 Simon
March 2018 Hannah
February 2018 Simon