Talking Point – October 2022

ON 18 OCTOBER each year, the Church remembers St Luke, writer of the third Gospel. St Paul names Luke as a physician, so he is known as the patron saint of medics and surgeons.
We have all thought quite a bit about those working in the medical profession over the years of the Covid pandemic. In the early days we stood on our doorsteps to clap NHS workers, in a symbolic show of appreciation for them. Hospital staff whom I know continue to be exhausted as the pressures on our healthcare system continue to rise. The lull between crisis points in the NHS seems to have vanished, and we have got used to people’s stories of waiting too long for ambulances, or having surgery cancelled.
And of course the pressures on our health system are not the only ones we face. We are all noticing the pressure on our finances as inflation reduces our spending power, and the price of energy, food and other commodities continues to rise. Higher prices and lower incomes mean that we all struggle. Politicians struggle to find a way out of this.
Alongside the cost of living crisis, we are subject to world political pressures involving Russia and China, and this summer we have witnessed another implication of climate change as we faced soaring temperatures. So we are not short of significant challenges to our very way of life!
So what does the Church of Jesus Christ have to say about these challenges? All too often we are silent. A recent gathering of the bishops of the worldwide Anglican family in Canterbury tried to discuss many of them, particularly the need for reconciliation in the world, the environmental crisis, the scientific and ethical revolution we face and how faiths can work together to confront them. Yet it was one two-hour debate on human sexuality that captured the media headlines. The other (and in my view more important) issues were hardly noticed.
Our churches, locally as well as nationally and internationally, need to step up our message to a world in pain about the issues of our time. Our faith has much to say about how we treat one another with dignity, how we support the poorest and most vulnerable in society, and how we approach all aspects of life with an ethical and moral code. Yet we often find ourselves speaking only to ourselves.
People in our nation are hungry for values that challenge how they live their lives. We have good news to offer, not just about a personal faith in Jesus but also how that affects how we live every moment of our lives. Might we churches in Caversham find a way of speaking more publicly about how our faith can confront the issues we are facing?
Mike is the Rector, Caversham Thameside and Mapledurham Parish