Hurstbourne Tarrant Parish
"From the Vicar" July 2017
A lot has happened in the last month. Two terrorist attacks in London and a previous one in Manchester, the fire at the Grenfell Tower block in London and in-between all that we had a General Election as well. The loss of life is terrible and we hold all those who have lost their lives, their families and friends in our prayers. We should also not forget those who have been injured both physically and mentally from these events. They will live with this for the rest of their lives and we need to keep them in our prayers too.
A difficult question I have been asked many times is why does God allow evil things such as the terrorist attacks to take place and I have to tell you that honestly I do not know the answer to that question, well at least not fully. But let me tell you where I come from on this question and hope it may help you inform your own thoughts on this.
The Bible does give us some important truths about evil which may help. Firstly, the Bible tells us that evil does not come from God, but Satan is where evil comes from. In Genesis, we are told the story of Adam and Eve and it was Satan who caused them to turn away from God, to eat the apple from the tree of life. Both evil and Satan are real.
Secondly, Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer and from Ascension to Pentecost we prayed it each day as part of ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. Thy Kingdom come is what we pray for each time we pray the Lord’s Prayer and God’s Kingdom, when it is fully on earth, will mean that God will have banished Satan and evil for ever. Evil will have been thrown, “into everlasting fire, pre-pared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41)
Finally, at least for this article, the Bible tells us that God is always there for us. So if bad things happen to us we know that God, through Jesus Christ, is always there for us and can be our strength in times of trouble and when evil strikes.
I believe it is better to face life’s problems with God at my side rather than without him.
In such times as we are living in now we need to keep in our prayers all those affected by the terrorist acts and by the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire. Where we can we should help physically, even if all we can do is respond to the appeals to help those affected.
As I write the Grenfell tower fundraising page (www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ Grenfell) has nearly raised the £400,000 target it set. The Bible tells us that, “faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (James 2:17) So yes please pray, but also look to see if you can help as well.
God bless you all
Every Wednesday starting on 12th July at 9.30 am a service of Holy Communion will be held in St Peter’s Church Hurstbourne Tarrant followed by refreshments. Please do come along and join us.
DID YOU KNOW - Why do we use wafers instead of bread at the Eucharist?
The practice at Anglican Services for many years has been to use Communion Bread in the form of small round wafers. This is not the case in all Anglican churches. Indeed there is wide variation in practice between the Christian churches, Eastern Orthodox Churches use leavened bread; Catholic Churches unleavened. Among Continental Protestants, Lutherans generally use unleavened bread, and Calvinists leavened.
In Cranmer's first Anglican Prayer Book of 1549, which changed as little from Roman Catholic use as possible, the use of unleavened bread was required. By the time of the second Prayer Book of 1552, Cranmer had come further under the influence of the more Protestant reformers, and stipulated that to 'prevent superstition' the bread 'should be such as is usual to be eaten; but the best and purest Wheat Bread as may conveniently be gotten’. This continued to be the general practice of the Church of England until the influence of the nineteenth-century Oxford movement led to a revival of interest in the Catholic heritage of Anglicanism.
The practice among the Eastern Orthodox churches is that the loaf used at the Eucharist is cut (not broken) by the Priest, before consecration, into pieces some of which are arranged in the form of a cross, while others signify the Virgin Mary and the disciples present at the Crucifixion. This is part of the Eastern view of the Eucharist as a re-enactment of the life, death and resurrection of Christ. In the West, the practice from about the ninth century was to use separate small round wafers of unleavened bread. The bread was unleavened to signify both the link with Jewish Passover bread, and also the sinlessness of Christ - leaven being traditionally (and, to some, surprisingly) viewed as a symbol of sin.
The divergence in practice between East and West was one of the irritants which led to the split between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The reason for the difference is not clear it has been suggested that it may depend on whether the Eucharist is taken to be a celebration or thanksgiving (Jewish Kiddash) - leavened bread, or as the Passover sacrifice (Seder) - unleavened.
Passover bread is unleavened in commemoration of the original Exodus from Egypt, when the bread had to be made and eaten in haste, without time for it to rise.
The marking on the wafers of a cross is very ancient - Greek Eucharistic loaves are also marked with a cross and originally this may have been to make large bread easier to break. Since the twelfth century in the West, the cross has often been in the form of a crucifix. The great practical advantage of the use of wafers is that they are easier to handle and less likely to make crumbs. Any unused consecrated bread and wine should be consumed immediately after the service by the celebrant, and this should include any pieces that have fallen on the floor.
In the Methodist Church, ordinary wheat bread is normally used. In this, Methodists are faithfully and correctly following the custom of the Church of England at the time of John Wesley. However, as mentioned above, in communicating large numbers of people, the use of 'ordinary' bread does have some practical disadvantages as I found out at a Lammas service a few years ago.