Last Saturday’s Vide Grenier was remarkably successful. It raised 3082 euros – a record. The biggest earner was the boutique, which raised over a thousand euros. There were also thirty volunteers, which meant that there was excellent esprit de corps. The weather, which was warm and dry, also helped. Congratulations and thanks to all who participated.
I’m sending this email from the Archdeaconry of France Synod, which is being held in Lyon this year. Our lay representatives, Keith Paterson and Derek Robinson, are also attending, with Janet Grant, representing St Hugh’s Vence. We’ll try to report back next week.
Copies of the Spring edition of the Quarterly will be available on Sunday.
Some job applications invite applicants to describe their leadership style. Pope Francis established his in the first weeks of his pontificate. He rejected some of the more exotic garments worn by his predecessor. The day after his election he went and paid his own hotel bill. He remained in the accommodation occupied by the Cardinals before the papal election, rejecting the grand papal apartments, which were only to be used for official purposes. During his first Holy Week as pope, he washed the feet of young offenders, including women and Muslims. This humility is modelled on that of Jesus when he washed the disciples’ feet.
The first reading on Sunday – Peter’s vision at Joppa – similarly uses outward signs to communicate a message. The early Christian communities had to work out how to accept non-Jews, Gentiles. The Acts of the Apostles story communicates this by showing how a repeated vision persuaded St Peter to accept Gentiles and their customs.
He is presented with foods which he as an Orthodox Jew could not eat. Repeatedly, though, the divine command to eat comes to him. It can be no accident that this command comes three times (we are meant to remember the way in which he had denied knowing Jesus three times during the night before Jesus’s death; this time he tries to squirm out of accepting God’s will but ultimately he surrenders).
The lesson is that if St. Peter can see the inevitability of accepting those who do not keep the food rules of Judaism, then others should do as well. This was not necessarily a message that people at the time were that keen to receive – hence the need for a set piece like this vision, designed to confer authority on the point that it makes.
Similar issues have recurred throughout Christian history. In our time, the message that St Peter receives from God in the vision and which he gives to others is that no one should be excluded – in other words, the gospel message is one of inclusion.