St Peter & St Paul's Newsletter - July and August 2022 – Summer Spirals

Letter from Revd Helen Burnett.
Summer Spirals.

I confess to loving a labyrinth – the sort you walk slowly and prayerfully not the sort you get stuck in with a minotaur!

And a spiral labyrinth is the image conjured for a certain approach to doing theology; funnily enough referred to as the ‘Doing Theology Spiral’. I find this model a useful reminder of how to keep a balance between reflection and action. The months of July and August traditionally are seen as times of fun and relaxation, the weather may be on our side and for some there will be time off work. Whatever the summer brings for you and wherever you find yourself you will still be walking your Christian journey, taking your faith with you and maybe giving it a bit of regen by having a change of pace and routine. Sadly the never-ending news cycle and moral issues raised by what we see will not disappear even if we do for a while step back.

There is so much going on in the world at home and abroad and I know this is challenging and troubling many of you so, as people of faith I offer you this thread that might help you find your way out of the labyrinthine Kafkaesque experience of being human in the UK in 2022 and provide a way of avoiding a downward spiral. Use these prompts as a means to walk slowly in, and think prayerfully about our world this summer:

What do I know of this issue? What have I experienced of this?
Who are affected most by this and how? How has the issue arisen?
We start from our own experience in order to be able to move on from there, sharing our own understanding and knowledge of a particular issue. This gives us a foundation on which to build and plenty of opportunities to discuss concerns and learn from other people’s experience.

Why is this happening? Who gains from this situation? Who loses out? Why does this situation continue?
Human beings are not creatures who live independently of other members of the human community and the natural world. We need to understand the role we play in the structures which order human society, the links between our lives and the lives of the poor with whom we wish to be in solidarity. Thorough analysis needs to form the basis of our work, so that we will be able to identify instances where we may be participating in the oppression unconsciously facing marginalized peoples and the ways in which we can most effectively challenge that oppression.

Theological (Faith) Reflection:
What particular insight/view does our faith, church teaching, scriptures etc give us on this issue?
This is a very grand title for trying to discern what our faith has to say about the realities we face. Our work is concerned with putting faith into action, in participating in building God’s Kingdom. We need to listen to the word of God, reflect on scripture, particularly through the eyes of the poor and marginalized. It is wise to remember that God’s place is in everything we are trying to achieve and not just in a particular place on the agenda.

What needs to be done to resolve this situation? What can I/we/my parish do? How will your action change those involved? How can you tell if it is successful?

I hope this helps but most important of all is to remember that prayer and reflection happen in the strangest of places and sometimes don’t happen at all, and that’s ok, but if you feel completely lost in the labyrinth than come and find someone at church and talk it through – do not struggle on alone – we are called to bear things together.

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