Deal or No Deal
My late father-in-law loved the TV game show “Deal or No Deal,” hosted by Noel Edmonds, which ran from 2005 until 2016. In the game the player claims a notional box which “contains” a sum of money. One by one, other boxes are opened or eliminated. From time to time, the player is offered a sum of money to quit with the words, “Deal or No Deal?” In theory, the player could hang on and on, rejecting other boxes and deals alike, to open, discover the contents and keep the money. They only win if that original box happens to contain more money than the other boxes or is greater than the value of each offer of a deal. It is a nerve-wracking game for player and viewer alike.
The goings-on in Parliament in recent weeks have been equally nerve-wracking to player and viewer alike. So much has been at stake, the gap between opposing positions widening, it seemed, by the day. In fact, it has got so dramatic, that even the Speaker has been drawn into the tussle.
Now as I have said before, I have always tried to be as objective as possible in both my preaching and in these pages. I am here to provide spiritual counsel to all in my care, regardless of their political views. That said, when twenty-five diocesan bishops of the Church of England issue an open letter deeply regretting the proroguing of Parliament, it was not difficult to reflect that if I had occupied such a role, I would have been no.26! Even bearing in mind journalistic provocation, having heard a BBC correspondent directly asking the Prime Minister if he had lied to the Queen, I simply note that I have never heard the like before, in our time or in our modern history. There comes a time when you must come off the fence and declare your hand.
In a democracy we all have our say. One vote among millions seems a blunt instrument, but we should never forget those who cannot vote at all – or vote with the heart for fear of reprisal. That is why Parliament, and all its apparatus, however bureaucratic and procedure-driven it may seem to be, is such a precious institution. Like the EEC, it is not perfect, but the consequences of its absence are unimaginable.
But having had our say, whatever our view might be, we must express ourselves with one prime purpose, that is to find a way forward, and to do so together. The root of the word “parliament” means “talking”. In PCC we discuss the business of the parish. The way forward is sometimes unclear, and we don’t always agree. Some of us even have varying theological as well as practical viewpoints. But what, I hope, we would never do is shout down those with whom we differ or use procedure to get our own way. The result comes either by consensus or by formal vote. After that we all have a collective responsibility to respect the decision.
When something really matters, we should not be surprised that feelings run high. The alternative would be apathy. As a Christian, I am called to reach out, to understand the other’s point of view and, where needed, bring about reconciliation.
As one who would have preferred to remain, I must try to see that for a “leaver” this may be about their freedom and identity. In return, I hope they would understand that leaving is a huge change for which I did not ask. Just so long as we all turn our backs on the xenophobia that I fear has sometimes surfaced in the more extreme aspects of the debate.
Our country has not been so sharply divided in living memory, and while, for most, life carries on as normal, we should be concerned about the long-term consequences of that. We can pray, we can talk, we can understand, and we can pray again.
Deal or no deal, let us hope that the box we collectively open on or after 31 October will have greater value than the ones we have rejected.
Congratulations to Ruth Cook on her 10th Anniversary as a Reader on 5 October. Meanwhile, 7 October sees Robin’s 10th anniversary as Vicar of St Andrew’s. How time flies! To mark the occasion there will be refreshments after the Parish Eucharist on Sunday 6 October. Please sign the list in the Narthex if you will be present so that we have an idea of numbers.
Deanery Vocations Fair
In these times it is becoming clear that God is calling many people into a wide variety of ministries. More than that, the Church is naming many of them, offering specific training and formally commissioning them when they are ready to begin. The advent of our Lay Pastoral Assistants a few years ago is an example of this. We nurtured two Readers, and now provide a training ground for two ordinands and a curate.
If you feel that God is calling you into something new, even if you do not know what that is, you may be interested in the Deanery Vocations Fair being held on Saturday 12 October from 10.00am until 3.30pm at St James’ church here in Taunton. Do go along and see if something catches your eye. Our own Ruth Cook is one of the organisers and will be happy to answer any questions about the day. She is also happy – as indeed all who are part of our Ministry Team – to discuss with anyone their desire to serve in a specific way and point them in the right direction.
Table Top Sale
On the way to the Vocations Fair, you may wish to drop in on our annual Table Top Sale on the same day in the Hall, from 10.00am until 12 noon. See Ali Perry if you would like to book a table and run your own stall.
All Souls Day
Our usual service commemorating the Faithful Departed will be held on Sunday 3 November at 6.00pm, preceded from 5.00pm with a simple sandwich and cake tea. As always, families who have received funeral ministry from St Andrew’s over the last three years will be invited. Watch out for the list in the Narthex if you are able to contribute to the tea.
Working party – volunteers required!
David Budd is organising a team to prepare and paint the exterior south, Parish Office and main entrance doors of the Church (the same blue as before). The work needs to be done before winter arrives. Offers of help to David B. Thank you.
WANTED: raffle and mystery prizes
Fundraising events always need raffle prizes! If you have any suitable items you could donate to help us, any time, we’d appreciate it.
They can be dropped into the Parish Office.