Rector’s News August 2020

 

Let me start by asking a question. Is there anybody you consider to be a hero? It doesn’t need to be someone famous, although it might be.  I think, although I am slightly guessing, heroes are afforded their status based on two criteria: what they do, or achieve and just as importantly how they achieve it. Sadly, I suspect that in today’s culture, many are more interested in what we might think of as ‘mere achievement’ rather than the character of the person themself.

A hero for me is St Lawrence, whom the Church remembers on the 8th August and to whom the chapel at Threshers, in Crediton, is dedicated.  St Lawrence (or Laurence) was one of the seven deacons of Rome who served in that city and was martyred on a gridiron on the 10th August in the year 258.

I think it’s fair to say that Lawrence quickly became a hero to the early church and he is the patron saint of many churches around the world.  When we speak of St Lawrence, I often think of Salisbury Cathedral (in which I was ordained as both deacon and priest) because there is a chapel dedicated to him there. The ancient European Cathedrals of Genoa and Prague are dedicated to St. Lawrence. as is our chapel here in Crediton… so we are in good company!

His martyrdom got in the way because he understood what the gospel is all about. He knew that you cannot serve two masters, you either serve God, by following in the footsteps of Jesus, or you serve yourself. He understood that God cares for the poor, the weak and the marginalised. He understood that the more prosperous members of society, of which he was a member, have an ethical responsibility to use their assets judiciously. He understood a basic Christian truth:

That assets should be used to help people, rather than people being used to build assets.

Lawrence had an eye for the common good. He understood that people are the treasure of the church. It’s a lesson we all need to keep re-learning. Loving service, hospitality to all, irrespective of worldly rank, status or achievement should be our central, Christian, concern. Everyone deserves the best. No one should be treated differently; that’s why its so crucial to the practice of our faith that we all share one common meal, the Eucharist. Its the one meal where everyone gets to feast on the same amount from a common set of vessels.

It is my hope that we might be inspired by Lawrence’s story. The story of this humble deacon must encourage us to embrace the dangerous and dirty pursuit of holiness. Like Lawrence we need to look to the common good whilst regarding the poor, weak, rejected, the different and the marginalised as the treasures of the Church.

And, if we are serious about a deacon shaped ministry we need to make sure we are active in the community… serving the community and its needs.  Theologically speaking, I like to think of it as diaconal because it seeks to serve.  

And so I hope, very much, that St. Lawrence can be both a catalyst and an inspiration for our corporate ongoing diaconal ministry in this place.

St. Lawrence, I hope, will be for us, not simply a name, but one of our heroes of the faith, a saint whose spirituality and influence lives on and informs our mission and ministry in, but more crucially for this community and especially its most vulnerable members.

Your friend and Rector

PS Do look up St Lawrence and the details of his life… the internet isn’t a bad place to start.

Matthew Tregenza