Preaching at the Service of Evensong at which Fr Tom Bates was Licensed as a Cleric within the Abergavenny Team the Bishop of of Monmouth, our Episcopal Visitor took 1 John 2:24-25 as his text.
Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he has promised us, eternal life.
Bishop Richard said:
In a shifting world it would seem hard to find rock solid certainties. Images are manipulated. False news created and it seems you can tweet what ever you want!
What can you believe, and who can you trust? The first letter of John reflects on the nature of truth and how it relates to our Christian faith. His views are non negotiable. Jesus reveals the nature of God who is truth. If you make out that Jesus is not the son of God you can have no part in him. To say that Jesus is just a good man, a prophet or teacher, and you call yourself a Christian then you are lying. St John does not mince his words!
But he is not launching personal attacks. His motives are not about propaganda or scoring points. He is just seeking clarity in a world where there is a lot of fudge. As Christians we are not called to defend a religion or a set of ideas. Rather we are, through our spirituality and our faith community, asked to disclose the God who has revealed himself to us.
So St John says let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. In other words what has grabbed your heart and mind in your authentic encounter with God, let that abide in you . Let it grow and flourish and be the centre of your truth. This makes sense. When we meet people and if we ever talk about our faith it cannot be based on ideas but our personal journey. I can read a book about Christianity; it may impress me. But what would change me is meeting a person who has experienced the transforming love of God in their lives, who have a story to tell. That’s real, that authentic and will resonate with my spirit.
One writer said that we are caught up in Gods story, his creative working out of his love affair with humanity. Our story is our own, but also it is his. Each of us as Christians share a common narrative. An encounter with Jesus Christ who is changing our lives. Let what you heard, tasted from the beginning, abide in you
Father Tom it is good to welcome you and Paul to the parish of Abergavenny. As a priest you have a story to tell that is both yours and God’s. Your work in this area will be yours and mine as we both proclaim, not through arrogance or personal credit, the good news of Jesus Christ, the love story of God. Your task is to disclose the growing life of God in your soul. Do not be distracted from this task. It is why your are a priest. Your acts of sacramental service, your care for others, your prayers and teaching come from the core of your relationship with God, nothing else will be true to your calling.
And you are blessed in coming into a community, with Canon Mark and the members of the Holywell Community and the ministry team you have a place where you can flourish as you serve the area.
May God bless you in your ministry and may your story in God be an inspiration to others.