St Mary’s Church Coddenham

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From the Rectory – And Did Those Feet ………….

by | Apr 11, 2024 | Coddenham Church

St Marys Coddenham

And did those feet, in ancient times, walk upon England’s mountains green.
So begins William Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’.

Last week, our feet walked, not on mountains, they are in short supply around here, but through the streets of Cambridge as Mary and I headed to an exhibition of work by William Blake and some of his European contemporaries. Blake worked in a time of revolutionary change. France became a Republic, abolishing the monarchy and executing the king on the way. England’s American colonies had successfully fought for their independence. Many looked for similar change here, with much of the material displayed reflecting themes of liberation; the people freed from the tyranny of traditional hierarchies in Church and State.

It was, perhaps, timely to be viewing this work so close to Easter. Jesus’ death coincided with the Feast of Passover, the commemoration of the moment when God’s people were led out of slavery in Egypt to start their journey to the Promised Land. In Jesus’ day, many Jews were looking for another liberation to restore their freedom in their own land. This longing would lead to violent revolution and the destruction of the Temple. When the Roman governor, Pilate, asked Jesus if he was a king, Jesus replied My kingdom is not of this world, otherwise my followers would fight (1).  Standing before Blake’s work, I reflected that every revolution, however well intentioned, however apparently successful, eventually opens the door to another tyranny. In Paris, Revolution turned to Terror; American history is chequered to say the least and, to this day, Jerusalem remains a city of conflict not peace. All this, said Satan as he surveyed the kingdoms of the earth, All this I will give you, if you only bow down and worship me.(2)

Jesus chose a different road. Having prayed If there is a way, take this cup of suffering from me he then added Not my will Father, but yours (3). Following his resurrection, Jesus appeared not in the Temple, nor before the Sanhedrin. Instead he appeared at his graveside, in the upper room, on the road; wherever he found his friends and followers. He neither offered nor encouraged compulsion. Instead he prayed, blessed, fed and washed feet – then encouraged his friends to find freedom in doing the same.
We, too, live in troubled times but if the longed for peace seems out of reach, perhaps we are looking in the wrong place. The revolution Jesus ushered in began, continued and ended, not on the battlefield, but in the hearts of his followers. There it remains; to be found in loving service of the one whose service is perfect freedom (4).

Which road are your footsteps on?

Rev’d Philip Payne 14 April 24                The Notice Sheet for 14th April can be found here
1 John 18:36
2 Matthew 4:9
3 Matthew 26:39
4 Collect for Peace, Morning Prayer, Book of Common Prayer


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