A letter from the Vicarage – Rev’d Andy Stand

So it will soon be autumn and the schools will be going back for a new school year though at the time of writing, Summer is still definitely flexing her muscles and we are bathed in glorious sunshine and pleasant warm temperatures; the kind of thing that might cause you to hanker after those days away on holiday  – or help you to look forward to your late Summer break!

I wonder how you have spent your Summer so far.

At the vicarage, there has been a large amount of movie watching – not a large number of films, you understand, just a large amount of watching 3 or 4 films over and over again – yes that averages out at less than a film per week of the holidays!

One of the other things that happens quite regularly at the vicarage, which won’t surprise you when you consider that there are two preachers living under the same roof, is the declaration, that such-and-such would make a great sermon illustration.

Two films spring to mind. The first is Mary Poppins, a choice no doubt influenced by the Whittington School play, performed in the final weeks before the start of the holiday. (In passing, can I congratulate Mrs Williams and all those who were involved in the production: it was superb! If you missed it; you missed a real treat). I don’t think that I have ever seen the film or the play before, but it is a call to us all to examine our priorities and our relationships and to try and retain something of our childhood innocence. What was it that Jesus said? “‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The second film is Finding Nemo. A film which features a clown fish, called Nemo, who becomes separated from his father, Marlin, and the movie tells the story of his Marlin’s quest to find his son again. It is a journey that pushes the otherwise very cautious and overprotective Dad, well beyond his comfort zones.

At one point, reminiscent of a bible story, many of you will know, the Dad and his travelling companion: another fish called Dory, who has a very short term memory, get caught inside the mouth of a whale! Dory, claims to be able to speak “whale”, and tries to communicate with their captor. Marlin doesn’t believe Dory has any such ability and fears that she is only making the situation worse.

Unbeknownst, to the two fish, the whale is actually carrying them towards, Sydney, where Nemo, has ended up in a fish tank in a dentist’s surgery! All the while, scared of the unknown, the Dad is in danger of missing out on the opportunity to be reunited with his son. As they get closer to their destination, Dory decides that the whale has instructed them to move further into his throat. Marlin resists that notion, not trusting the whale’s motives to be anything other than to eat them; and still not trusting his companion to be able to distinguish between good sense and madness.

Eventually, Dory, tells Marlin, that he must let go. “But how do we know it is going to be alright?”, asks the risk averse fish. Dory responds simply, “We don’t, but we need to do it anyway!”

As autumns rolls round, is their anything in this new academic year, which is giving us pause for thought, “How do we know it will be alright?” and do we just need to get on and do it anyway?

Every blessing,

Revd. Andy Stand

p.s. I wonder whether you can think of any movies you know of that you’d recommend as good sermon illustrations!

St. Philip & St. James Parish Church Whittington, Worcs. WR5 2RQ