Vicar's letter

Clergy letter

Dear Friends,

The World Cup has begun and the nation has gone football crazy.  As I write, England have just beaten Panama 6-1 and in doing so have secured a place in the last sixteen of the tournament.  Unlike previous years, expectations of our national team were not too high before the tournament began, but two victories mean that people are beginning to hope. Talk is returning again to 1966.  Images of a jubilant Bobby Moore held aloft on his team mates’ shoulders, World Cup in hand, have appeared again only with a difference; Bobby Moore’s face has been replaced by Harry Kane’s.  Can they do it?  Can they really win the World Cup? 

Well, we will have to wait and see.  But there is much in England’s performances that - I am told - is very positive.  Apparently, they are truly ‘playing as a team;’ they are doing very well in their ‘set pieces’ and thus scoring ‘team goals’, says our family football pundit, Nick.  I somewhat take his word for it but I can also see what he means.  Having played as an unsuccessful Hockey goalkeeper when at school, I am reminded that when you do not play as a team, things can go very wrong indeed.  So often I would find myself face down in the mud, ball in the back of my goal, unable to move due to the bulky kit and with my rather terrifying PE teacher shouting that if we were playing as a team, the ball should not have reached me in the first place.  How true and it made me feel better about the opposition winning 9-0. 

Maybe then, there are lessons for the Church to learn from England’s new and improved teamwork.  There is no doubt that the Church worldwide could do much more when it comes to working together, whilst respecting the diversity that we find in different denominations and indeed in the Church of England itself.  If we take Jesus Christ as our starting point, as our God-given source of unity, then we realise that we are already on the same ‘team’ and are called to work together as much as we can.  A powerful symbol of this is taking place on June 29th when the choir of Hereford Cathedral travel to Rome to perform at a Papal Mass on the hugely important Feast of St Peter and Paul.  In doing this, they become the first Anglican choir to be invited by the Pope to sing at this service.  This then is hugely significant and demonstrates a commitment by both churches to celebrating common ground whilst respecting each church’s diversity.  As the Bishop of Hereford has said:

"The inclusion of our young singers in the performance is particularly fitting as we look to the youth of both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, to work together in developing future closer ties."

Teamwork then is not just found in sports.  It can and should also be a hallmark of the worldwide mission of the Church.  If we can truly ‘work together’ then our goal of telling the world about God’s mission of love and reconciliation through Jesus Christ, will only be the stronger for it. 

With every blessing,