Diocese of Canterbury

Saint Martin of Tours Guston Parish Church


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News from Guston

Between 11 and 19 May, Christians were invited to take part in nine days of prayer - a novena. This included Christians from all denominations the world over and covered the period between Ascension and Pentecost. The practice of the novena goes back to early Christianity when prayers were said for nine days after someone had died.


Canterbury Diocese produced a booklet containing pocket prayers to be read daily during the novena, with illustrations by Ian Pentney. Passages of scripture were followed by a prayer linked to the theme of the passage. It is often difficult to pray and find the words we need to express ourselves, so the booklet provided some good starting points.


At the same time as the novena was taking place, we were encouraged to find five new people we could bring to church. In contrast to the thought provoking content of the booklet, the idea that we could all find five non church goers that we could persuade to attend church seems shallow, naive and superficial. Many of us will already number amongst our friends and colleagues people who attend church. Those who do not attend church are unlikely to suddenly change their minds and habits. Becoming a Christian usually takes a lifetime, as it is something that needs constant effort. One does not become a Christian by simply ticking a box, it is something we aspire to all our lives - a work in progress. For people who were not brought up to be a Christian and have seen no need for Christ to be part of their lives, it takes time, effort and patience on the part of a friend or colleague to help them discover the rewards that being a Christian can bring. Becoming a Christian is not merely about going to church. As Pope Francis has said: 'Christianity isn't about what we do within the four walls of a church, but how we treat those around us, especially those in greatest need. The best way we can live the Gospel is by loving one another, and everyone, as our brother or sister.'


As if to emphasize the fact that this is not a matter of any particular religious denominations' thinking, it is interesting to note that the Catholic commentator, Clifford Longley, has written that, in his view, it is now the bold and fearless Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who is the most vigorous public champion of the poor and exponent of Catholic Social Teaching.


The state of the world shows that what Pope Francis said is a very difficult thing to achieve. Filling churches with people will not necessarily make those people Christians. Being a Christian can take a lifetime, both for ourselves and for those we are trying to 'convert'. Better surely to gently encourage, rather than push, those around us who might be open to the challenge of becoming a Christian.


Every Tuesday at 8am, Morning Prayer


Services for July:


Sunday 1 July 6pm Sung Evensong

Sunday 8 July 10-11am Sunday School

Sunday 15 July 6pm Holy Communion (BCP)

Sunday 29 July 6pm Compline


Services for August:


Sunday 5 August 6pm Sung Evensong

Sunday 12 August No Sunday School

Sunday 19 August 6pm Holy Communion (BCP)