Standing up against fear

JUST days after the French priest Father Jacques Hamel was murdered in his church in Rouen, I stood in the pulpit at St Leonard’s and declared we were going to carry out an act of defiance.

What were we going to do? Simply, we were going to celebrate Holy Communion, just as 86-year-old Father Jacques was doing when his attackers struck.

Why? Because Holy Communion is at the core of what we do and we will continue to do it. Despite those who would wish us to do otherwise, we will continue to celebrate Communion in a way that it is open to all.

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The invitation is to all to come to the communion rail – either to receive the bread and the wine, or to receive a prayer of blessing. God’s invitation is for all to come and celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection.

Just as Jesus Christ opened his arms in love on the cross, so we are called to be open and welcoming to all.

Sometimes, the act of carrying on doing what we have always done – in the face of terror – can be a radical, defiant act. Love often is.

As women and men called to follow Christ, we are called to a ministry of love, a ministry of welcome and hospitality. We are called to reject fear, and to stand against those who would seek to bring fear into our midst.

Of course, we must be alert. Of course, we must not take unnecessary risks – we have a duty of care to all who enter our doors.

But we must also continue to proclaim the gospel of peace and love that is the core of our faith in Jesus Christ. And to be open and welcoming to all.
 

Peter Crumpler
Curate, St Leonard's Church, Sandridge, Herts

This article first appeared in the September 2016 edition of the St Leonard's parish magazine.