Seven Churches in South Oxfordshire

From the Rector: Tuesday 10th October 2023

Wholly War

Dear friends,

At the other end of the village two neighbours hate each other. One has grown a high hedge, and lives comfortably. He manages his resources and businesses well, and turns a good profit from his farm and small enterprises. The other neighbour has little money and his house is too small for his very large family, which he rules with a rod of iron. He doesn’t really have a steady job. Both men have relations overseas who send them money, and sometimes equipment. Every now and then the neighbours trade insults, and their children throw things over the hedge. The rest of the village doesn’t really know what to do about them. It seems they’ve always hated each other, but when you ask them about it, they don’t want to talk to anyone, although they are more than happy to shout. Neither will move away, claiming the other has stolen part of their own property.

As the middle east feeds again upon its addiction to violence and the (sane) world holds its head in despair let us not even begin to think that we understand, nor that we can ever do so. Even if you are steeped in the history of the Holocaust, and have studied at Yad Vashem (the Holocaust museum) in Jerusalem, even if you have walked among the shattered tanks atop the Golan Heights on the border with Syria, even if you have seen the dreadful conditions in the refugee cities of Lebanon, or stood appalled at the absence of utilities on the West Bank, even if you have touched the separation wall at Bethlehem, do not assume that you can slip easily into the shoes of either Israeli or Arab. I do not say this lightly. We naturally want to help. But what is under appreciated is that the help we offer is not really welcome; Palestinians suspect the (non Arab) West of secretly favouring the Israelis, as we did overtly in 1947; Israelis suspect that any support we give comes with long strings, at the end of which is a white flag for them to wave. The best help that we can offer is do to with peace brokering, and preventing contagion into the wider region; in the parable above, the relations around the globe hold many keys, as do the immediate neighbours. And there is history, religion, politics, economics, tribalism and multi-ethnic complexity. Do not think that this is something simple, or easily understood. Pray for an end to the violence, for the voices of peace to be unmuted, and for God’s mercy to be shown. Pray also for the Christians in Israel/Palestine – from both Jewish and Arab backgrounds. They are persecuted minority.

Worship Services for Sunday 15th October

9.30am Informal Worship at St John’s Stoke Row with Mr Peter Ferguson

11am Family Baptism Service at St Peter and Paul, Checkendon with Revd Romey Poston and Canon Kevin Davies

Midweek zoom service: Wednesday Evensong at 5.00pm  410 935 129

Church Councils Ahead!

Your church council works to support your church – to keep the building and churchyard in good order, and to raise funds to support the ministry team, and especially to set the vision and direction for each church in its work. Each council meets several times a year, and the autumn meetings are shortly upon us.

Checkendon PCC is meeting a week today on October 17th, in church at 8pm. Stoke Row PCC is meeting the following evening, in St John’s church, at 7.30pm. If you’d be interested in joining your PCC, do have a word with me, or a churchwarden, in the first instance.

May the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus be with you all

Revd Canon Kevin Davies


One Comment

  1. thank you for this piece about the Middle East. The nation of Israel is a few days older than I am and I did not understand the violence until I actually went to the Holy Land in 2014 and saw for myself and spoke to local Christians. I also read a great deal about the subject before I went. I think it would be a good idea for all Christians to do likewise rather than pontificate on one side or the other. It is such a complex situation and needs much prayer.

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