July 2019

After a somewhat arduous time with the series of unfortunate events occurring within the Pilgrims Way Churches, St Mary’s in Boxley was blessed with a school visit to the church so Reception Year children from St John’s could wander around, ask a lot (and I do mean a lot) of questions and witness a marriage involving somewhere in the region of 25 bridesmaids, assorted best men and a veritable deluge of witnesses.


During their visit one rather canny child asked about the theft of lead from the roof, wanting to know why bad people steal.  My answer was, to be far, quite  simplistic.  I told the child a d their friends that even those who do bad things are not necessarily bad people.  Sometimes circumstances lead them down a path they really do not wish to wander along, and as christians our role is not to condemn but to welcome and forgive without judgement.  For some that may seem a bit liberal or idealised, but Jesus was nothing if not an advocate of changing the way we think.  All of which, co-incidentally, got me to thinking about how humans are almost ‘hard-wired’ into making assumptions, which is a dangerous game to play.  As Lemony Snicket tells us “assumptions are dangerous things to make, and like all dangerous things to make — bombs, for instance, or strawberry shortcake — if you make even the tiniest mistake you can find yourself in terrible trouble.”


Of course assumptions come from our thought processes and behaviours, and are often guided by implicit mental maps drawn from our intuition, habits and the principles by which we live.  These are drawn predominantly from past experiences which we apply to new situations, thus reducing our need to constantly analyse everything.  The difficulty is we often find our views subconsciously influenced by the socio-economic state in which we live.  Sometimes this leads us to irrational feelings or atypical outbursts, and, let’s be honest, no-one is completely immune to this.  I’ve lost count of the times someone has been adamant something is wrong, and I’ve been left bemused because, for the life of me, I cannot see the issue.  The reverse is also true of course, and then I find myself exasperated anyone could be so blind that they could not see the problem. 


I suppose the question lies in whether we are prepared, or even able, to see a different side, or put ourselves in another position.  Then again, given we all have different experiences to draw upon in our lives, that can be incredibly hard to do.  Some might argue that in some cases it would be impossible, because each of us will hold some things dear to our hearts, and the lines we will not cross will differ widely.  That’s why life as a christian is so difficult because the model we seek to emulate is Jesus Christ, and so we will always fall short.  Whilst we can strive to overcome our individual prejudices, fears and shortcomings, we will never fully succeed.  All we can do is try our best, accepting we can only change ourselves and no-one else, and recognise that any expectations we may have upon others are almost certainly going to lead us to disappointment. 


I offer my prayers that this July we all can realise our unique nature, accept each other for who we are, and try to be more accepting of ours and others faults…

Rev Paul