Letter from St Mark's House

St Mark's House

April - May 2019

 

Dear friends

We were just leaving Le Bec-Hellouin, regarded as one of the "most beautiful villages of France", when our tyre went flat. Without ado our guest rolled up his sleeves, got down on the ground to resolve a problem with the locking nuts and changed the tyre. Bishop John Taylor was the speaker at the retreat a number of us had just attended. Over the years the memory of the retreat has faded, but the lesson he demonstrated in servant leadership is as vivid today as then.

In 1998 he wrote in ‘Our National Life’, “We urgently need to rediscover the importance of developing a more Christian life-style in the life of our Nation. There is a real danger of social breakup as more and more emphasis is placed on the individual and the goal of personal self-fulfillment. In my judgement the two areas of life most at risk are the integrity of the family and the place of authority.” Sadly the intervening years have proved his judgment all too true.

As Easter approaches we are reminded of Jesus’ servant leadership, washing the disciples’ feet and setting the example for his followers as he went to the Cross. It was there that he endured the fury of evil and the horror of darkness – to free us from the powers that enslave us. But the mocking multi-lingual placard on the Cross, proclaiming him ‘King’, proved true. He conquered sin and death. His resurrection vindicates His claims and his completed work. It has been truly said, “God is at His most God-like at the cross.” He reigns from the Cross and rules as a servant – the Servant King.

Such a reign and rule is diametrically opposed to all human philosophy and practice, but is God’s way of working. It is the basis for Paul’s appeal in his letter to friends in Philippi where the church’s unity was threatened by personal disputes. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2.2-4). Jesus modelled leadership and provided a new way of leading—not for one part of life (the religious rather than the secular, the private rather than the public) but in contrast with the way rulers usually exercise rule over their subjects.

As one professor of moral theology avers, “That the way of love, even when tortured and killed, shall not be kept dead … such a claim would re-order not merely one’s private life, but the whole of life, and the whole of history, and the whole of politics.”  To that the voice of the martyrs bears eloquent witness.

Praying for that ‘Easter-shaped’ re-ordering at the heart of ‘Our National Life’.

Nick and Harriet