Rector's Letter - February 2003
My Dear Friends,
Over recent weeks I have exchanged a series of letters with Bishop Jim Thompson. Bishop Jim is not only the recently retired Bishop of Bath & Wells, but is also of course widely known to many through his contributions to Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. I am delighted to say that he has agreed to be our speaker at the annual Astbury Men's Service, which this year will take place at 8pm on Tuesday July 15th.
I was aware that Bishop Jim had just published a compilation of some of his best radio talks in a new book. Seeing that he was being kind enough to come as our speaker, I thought the least I could do would be to advertise his book through our Church website.
To get the details of Bishop Jim's new book I went to the internet book shop Amazon and typed the name "Jim Thompson" into their search facility. The answer came back "There are 3 books published by your named author: The Killer Inside Me, Transgressors and Bad Boy". To say I was intrigued would be an understatement! Is there a side to Bishop Jim's personality that has escaped us all?
As it happens, the Jim Thompson listed by Amazon is a crime writer specialising in 1950s American noir novels. Nevertheless, it made me think that when it came to the subject of sin, I expect my Bishops to be experts! Holy people are meant to be experts in such matters. Read the lives of the Christian saints and you won't discover stories of perfect character, but rather of men and women battling to rise above their failings and live lives of sacrifice and devotion. No man is more aware of sin than the one seeking to be holy.
The truth is, when it comes to sin, we should all be experts! We are all "transgressors" and "bad boys", wrestling against inner temptations to violence, gossip, cheating, pride and just too many failures to list.
Very soon we will enter the season of Lent. The Christian will be called to admit the truth, and not brush failings beneath the nearest carpet. We deal with such sin by confession and amendment of life. I hope you are not tempted to that greater sin of imagining that you are above such base failings. For I must reveal to you your Rector is no angel, our Bishops are no angels, and neither are you!
PS Bishop Jim's latest book is entitled Good Morning and is published by SPCK. Internet users, please be aware that if you use http://www.amazon.co.uk/ to buy books online, using the link on the Astbury Church website www.astburychurch.org.uk will lead to a donation of 5% of the value of any purchase you make.
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