October Letter by Colin Such

Posted 10/4/2018 4:50:13 PM

1st October is the day that some of us return from our pilgrimage in Sicily (I say 1st october but we don’t actually land until 12.20am on Tuesday morning!)
No doubt I shall save my memories of Sicily for future sermons, much to the delight of many!

I am, as you know, looking forward greatly to our visit. I love Italy to begin with but Sicily has its own culture and almost its own language. Situated where it is, Sicily has been inhabited and/or ruled through the ages by the Sicani, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Carthaginians, the vandals, Byzantines, the Arabs, the Normans, the Germans, the French and the Spanish until finally in 1861 Sicily became part of the newly created united Italy. All of these have in some way left their mark in the culture, architecture and the cuisine of the island.

For me, one of the great joys will be to explore how this great mix of cultures has created and shaped the wonderful places that we are going to visit and the lives of the people who live there today.

Of, course, we don’t have to go to Sicily to explore such an evolution as our own country has been created by a mix of Angles, Saxons, Romans, Vikings, Normans and, of course, through the royal family, the Dutch and the Germans.
All of these have shaped and changed our culture, cuisine, language and traditions.

The same is true of the church; over the centuries different cultures and traditions have influenced and shaped the world wide church, within the Church of England itself different traditions have informed and shaped it ranging from High Church liturgy to evangelical preaching and they continue to change it today.

Even at a local level our parish and our worship have been shaped through the generations throught the experiences and gifts of those who have lived and worshipped here.

This can be seen in both of our church buildings in the reorderings that have taken place over the years, and the hymns that we sing today are very different from the hymns that were sung when both of our churches were built (and totally unrecognisable from the music used in the parish church in 1220 when it was first built).

The parish too has changed; from the scattered farms and cottages that were here pre 1800 to the new housing springing up on every conceivable patch of land.

All of this shows that the world is an exiting place, ever growing and changing; enriched by new influences through the generations with the best of different traditions and cultures informing and adding to our rich heritage. We have only to walk down any high street and see the different types of restaurant or fast food outlet to see this when so much of what we now take for granted was inconceivable 100 years ago.

The question for us then is not whether we will change (that is inevitable) but in which way shall we do so? To answer we must ask ourselves what is it that we hold dear and what is it that defines who we are; as the people of Rushall/Walsall and as Christians; what then do we keep and will enrich us even more?