CANON PATRICK’S 80th LETTER

Dear friends,
This coming week is Christian Unity week, a time to give thanks for our fellow Christians of
all churches and denominations in all their glorious variety. In one of my previous parishes,
just after my arrival, I preached a sermon on Christian Unity. After the service one of my
churchwardens approached me. He looked horrified. “If we all join together, Vicar bach,” he
asked anxiously, “where will we go when we fall out?” In that particular village (where
‘falling out’ was not uncommon), having both a church and a chapel had become a vital
safety valve. Many church members had once been in the chapel, and many of the chapel
members had started off in the church. However, I was still regularly invited to preach in the
chapel, and later ran a joint Sunday School for both church and chapel children.

I’ve never found it difficult to feel at home with Christians of all shapes and sizes. I do have a
problem with people who use their religion as a stick to beat others with – but then Jesus
himself had not got much time for such folk either. My particular heroes are two twelfth
century Armenian theologians, St Nerses Shnorhali and St Nerses Lambronatsi. They looked
at all the things which divided Catholic, Orthodox and Armenian Christians, and decided that
none of them were truly important. What mattered was not how you celebrated
Communion, or what sort of vestments you wore to do it, or the dates of festivals or the
minute details of theological definitions. The one thing that should unite all Christians was
the love of Jesus Christ. For most of us, I would imagine, that appears obvious – but church
politics intervened, and sadly the two Nerses’ vision of a diverse Christian family united by
love was forgotten amidst the misery of religious wars and ruthless persecution.

When I wrote the first of these letters, I never expected that I would go on to produce 80 of
them (plus 17 in Welsh). As I’m ‘on holiday’ from January 19 th to February 1 st , you’ll be
spared a fortnight’s worth of my maunderings. As well as our 9am Sunday services, there
will now be a Welsh service on the 2 nd & 4 th Sundays of each month at 11am. Thank you to
Delyth, Kristie, Mike, Andrew and Ainsley, who will be looking after things in my absence.

SERVICES (all on Zoom): Sunday 17 January (EPIPHANY 2) 9am ZOOM EUCHARIST (p. 53); 5pm
ZOOM EVENSONG; Wednesday 20 January 10.30am ZOOM EUCHARIST (p.53); Sunday 24 January
(CONVERSION OF ST PAUL/TROEDIGAETH SANT PAUL transferred) 9am ZOOM EUCHARIST (p.232);
11yb CYMUN ZOOM (t.232); Wednesday 27 January (St GREGORY of NAREK’S DAY) 10.30am
ZOOM EUCHARIST (p.285); Sunday 31 January (EPIPHANY 4) 9am ZOOM EUCHARIST (p.58); 6pm
BISHOP’S VISITATION ZOOM SERVICE (for clergy, readers, LMAC wardens and Diocesan Conference
representatives – Delyth will have the details). Canon Patrick

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