From The Rev’d Gareth Miller – March 2019

Brian Wood

The Rev’d Gareth Miller

Dear friends

I don’t think I’d ever read a spy story or detective novel till the other week. Oh, I think some years ago I sat down with a John le Carré, but didn’t get much beyond page 30 (no doubt my fault rather than his).

But for my birthday a friend gave me London Rules by Mick Herron. I took it on my recent holiday and gobbled it up almost at one sitting. But then I was out of reading matter! Fortunately I went to a restaurant in Seville where they had a book exchange, and I swopped my book for Raven Black by Ann Cleeves (not of). That was also unputdownable, leaving me to spending the rest of my time away with back numbers of The Church Times!

Later today I have to prepare a sermon on St Mark’s Gospel, which I have been invited to deliver in another parish. I well remember my excitement when I first went up to Durham University and began to delve into the biblical texts in their original languages. We looked at Mark, the earliest and shortest Gospel, first. What was just as fascinating as the language was the way in which the texts had been put together, and comparing and contrasting them really was like unravelling a detective story or murder mystery. (My favourite birthday card this year was a picture of Jesus teaching the disciples and saying, “Now listen carefully, you guys. I don’t want to end up with four different versions of this!”)

But for me it was perhaps the beginning of curiosity, that really important skill that we all do well to acquire – searching for connections, looking for deeper meanings, immersing oneself in the subject, just as a detective does. It’s essential for relationships, and it’s absolutely essential for faith.

Last month we buried a very dear parishioner. Her family shared some of her sayings at her funeral. One of them was this: ‘If you don’t like someone, it means you need to get to know them better.’ I was brought up short by that, and find it both challenging and salutary.

If you don’t like God, or are not quite sure about him, it may be an idea to try to get to know him better. Mark’s Gospel, or one of the others, is a very good place to start. But faith is only nurtured in community. A book I’ve been reading is called ‘The World is a Wedding.’ The author says this:

‘The Christian tradition is not something to be understood from the outside. The knowledge of God can only grow in us if we are willing to enter into and participate in that community of love and knowledge, of faith and experience, which is called the Church…….not in slavish submission, but in respect and diffidence before the accumulated experience of the centuries, a willingness to let our eyes be opened to new and disturbing realities.’

Holy Week and Easter give us a chance to do just that.

 

Gareth