Sunday, September 30, Trinity XVIII, Sung Eucharist at 11 am. On their final Sunday with us, we warmly thank Bishop Michael Marshall and Fr Soon-Han Choi who have replaced Fr Peter while he has been on holiday. We wish them bon voyage and hope to see them again next year. Sunday’s service booklet can be read here Trinity XVIII.
Wednesday, October 3, Eucharist at 10.30 am.
Friday, October 5, Apéritif on the Beach at 6 pm, Nice – Plage du Centenaire, Handiplage. Bring drinks, snacks, and something to sit on.
Sunday, October 7: Trinity XIX: Harvest Festival and Blessing of the Animals at the Sung Eucharist at 11 am. Collection of food for Fourneau Economique. Refreshments in the church garden afterwards. BBQ in the Presbytery Garden, 12.30. Please book ahead of time: contact Jill Pirdas, firstname.lastname@example.org; 06 84 39 69 30. Donations of 15 euros.
Saturday, October 13: Church Sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please donate good quality articles, women and men’s winter clothing, books and DVDs, bric a brac, cakes etc. They can be brought to the church hall on Sunday mornings before 11.00 a.m. or on Friday afternoons as from 5.00 p.m. For more information: Jill Pirdas, email@example.com; tel 06 84 39 69 30.
Sunday, October 14: Concert at 4 pm, given by Matthieu Peyregne.
“For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” (Mark 9.50, Sunday’s Gospel)
In the UK and the US consumption of salt – how much to have each day – is an issue. Major food shops (like M & S in Britain) will advertise that they are reducing salt in all their ready meals. Actually, the issue isn’t quite that simple. Certainly, there is an over-consumption of salt in many people’s diets but salt is also essential. We need about a teaspoon a day, otherwise we run an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, if we have too much, our blood pressure goes up, with roughly similar results. We need to get it right. Good cooks will tell you much the same: if salt is absent, a dish may be tasteless; too much, and you can’t taste anything else.
Imagery to do with salt, crops up in ordinary speech – ‘he’s the salt of the earth’, meaning someone is genuine and dependable – and in the New Testament, Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, ‘You are the salt of the earth’ of those who are faithful disciples.
But salt had a more destructive connotation in ancient times. Generals would salt the fields of the enemy after conquest (Abimelech sowed his own capital of Shechem with salt after quelling a revolt, Judges 9.45). This was a practice continued by the Romans.
On the other hand, a Roman soldier who performed well was ‘worth his salt’. Today we still use ‘salary’ (derived from the same root) to denote what someone is worth for their work.
Jesus used it as an image for the level of his followers’ commitment: were they insipid or serious? We may do this in our own context: some contemporary religion is over salted, risking religious seizure and other instances are so insipid that no one bothers with them.
So, at one end of the spectrum you have US televangelists. They are full of instruction and direction. They will literally apply one dictum of the Old Testament – women are to obey their husbands – and happily ignore others, like not eating shellfish, shedding innocent blood, sowing discord in a family, telling lies, or eating pork.
But there is the opposite danger of the insipid, the less salty. The teaching offered has lost its flavour. Sometimes I have felt this acutely as a preacher, let alone in conversation with parishioners after services.
I remember when I had been ordained priest only a couple of years and had just begun as a school chaplain. It was the time of the Falklands war. The Argentinians had invaded a remote British colony in the South Atlantic and Margaret Thatcher dispatched a task force that successfully recaptured them. This probably helped her win the next general election. The human cost was considerable, not least in the sinking of an Argentinian warship, the Belgrano.
The then Archbishop of Canterbury, preaching at a service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, asked that the dead of both sides be prayed for. This infuriated Mrs Thatcher and her supporters but it was not insipid religion.
Preaching later that year at a Remembrance Day service I believed that I should also remind my school congregation of the ‘peacemaking’ aspect of Jesus’ teaching and that ultimately Christian teaching sees making war as a last resort (permissible in self-defence – which arguably the Falklands campaign was) but nevertheless flawed, sinful and to be regretted).