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Sunday 6th September

A somewhat remote greeting from me this week, as I am in the middle of a period of leave. A special thank you to Rev'd Peter Osborne for being with us today as our presiding minister at Communion, and our preacher. I am so glad Peter is present to share with you about his work at Anglican Action, a really remarkable ministry with luminous grace-filled God-moments among the hard work and occasional set backs.

Today is Father's Day, and our children have a brilliant activity to share (it's all in the planning stages as I write this but I believe it will fall into place); thanks to Jess and Ewa for their leadership of our younger believers. It is such an incredible privilege and responsibility to share our faith with children, and good Sunday School lessons stay with us for life.

We continue to hear from James' epistle today, full of great challenges that are directly relevant to the Christian life. "The apparel oft proclaims the man," wrote the Bard, and James knows only too well that outward finery influences us, especially our extension of hospitality, and, my goodness it shouldn't! We are guilty of distrusting ragamuffins and keeping them at arms' length, while we privilege well-presented people, whatever their character. I have heard the muttering in church porches about someone's torn jeans, and it is unworthy of our calling as Christians.

It is also, of course, human nature (psychology calls it our schema), and we see it played out all the time. A few years ago the Archbishop of Canterbury was visiting Auckland, and a ticketed Eucharistic service was held in the Cathedral (tickets were free, but you couldn't get in without one). I was leading a team of stewards, and after all the beautifully dressed people had been seated in their allocated space (there was definitely a ranking of importance) we were able to fill the few scattered empty seats from among those who had come without a ticket (and who had been told to take a folding chair outside where they could hear the courtyard speakers). It gave me great pleasure to show one of Auckland's rough sleepers to a vacant seat right in the middle of section of dignitaries and Very Important People, but unloving were the looks cast at me by those around him, as he stowed his plastic shopping bags of possessions under the chair. We will have to strive our whole lifetimes not to make the distinctions James warns us about, but it is worth the striving.

Ellen