Message from our Rector Christoph Lindner…

… preached at the Good Friday service at St Mary’s on 29 March 2024.


In Christ all the fullness of God was pleased
to dwell, and through him God was pleased
to reconcile to himself all things,
whether on earth or in heaven,
by making peace through the blood of his cross.
Colossians 1.19-20

Words written by St Paul. But, often, that reconciliation, that peace is not our experience.

When we look at a conflict like the current war in Gaza we are tempted to say, “Why can’t they just be rational, sit down and work it out?”

In a sobering article, Yuval Noah Harari writes that neither of the two sides are acting irrationally. Harari is a bestselling Israeli author and he describes the “founding events” that determine the instinctive responses of Israelis and of Palestinians: For Palestinians the founding event is the 1948 Nakba, which means disaster in Arabic, when 750,000 Palestinians were driven out of their ancestral homes, followed by many other atrocities since. For Israelis, the founding event is the Holocaust in which six million Jews were killed, followed in 1948 by the attempt of Palestinians and Arabs to annihilate the new state of Israel. For both sides, their deep-seated fears are perfectly rational.

But is that all we can say?

How can we overcome deeply entrenched hostilities?

We need a cause that is greater than our divisions. 

Throughout history, demagogues and dictators have understood this. They promise a perfect plan, a solution to all problems, if people will only pledge allegiance to them. And sooner or later, every single one has been unmasked as a sham, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.

Listen again to St Paul’s words:

Through Jesus God was pleased to reconcile TO HIMSELF all things.

Lasting reconciliation is found when our allegiance to Jesus trumps all others.

Rowan Williams compares our membership of Jesus’ church with jury service. If you’ve ever been called up for jury service you know that you were summoned. You didn’t volunteer. And you didn’t know any of the other jury members, you didn’t know whether you had anything in common, except this: you were all summoned.

The church is the community of those who have been summoned by Jesus and have responded to his call. We do not choose the person who walks beside us, who sits on our left and on our right. Jesus does. Our unity is not found in a common language, ethnicity, social class, political agenda, churchmanship, worship style, preferences, dislikes, hobbies. Our unity is found only in Jesus.

When our tribe, our family of origin, our nation, our personal or political agenda is more important than Jesus’ call to follow him, deep and lasting reconciliation will fail. 

What is our deepest allegiance in life, that trumps all others? When our honest answer is “Jesus” then we can walk together in all our difference.

Who am I? I am a follower of Jesus, redeemed and loved by him. And I recognise in you another Jesus follower – a brother, a sister.

In your order of service you should have found a photo. I took it in 2013 when Edda and I visited the Holy Land, in a street in Bethlehem, looking towards the security fence separating Israel and the West Bank. You can see Jerusalem in the distance. And there in the ravine of houses stood – a cross. A sign of hope. Jesus overcomes the deepest divisions.

In Christ all the fullness of God was pleased
to dwell, and through him God was pleased
to reconcile to himself all things,
whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross. 

As followers of Jesus we can already begin to live this future hope in the here and now. And often that will be costly. There will be resistance. Because our allegiance to Jesus challenges all other competing agendas, all human attempts to exercise destructive power over others.

Last Sunday was the anniversary of the death of Oscar Romero. He was the archbishop of El Salvador and on that day he was assassinated while celebrating mass. During the civil war in his country he called Christians on both sides brothers and sisters. He summoned them to put their allegiance to Jesus first.

He said, “There is only one Church, a Church that adores the living God and knows how to give relative value to the goods of this earth.”

On March the 23rd 1980, he delivered a sermon in which he called on Salvadoran soldiers, as Christians, to obey God’s higher order and to stop carrying out the government’s repression. He was shot on the next day.

Today, he is one of the ten modern martyrs depicted in statues above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey in London.

Our allegiance to Jesus will sow seeds of reconciliation that will never be lost. 

A different life is possible. A life of reconciliation and peace. Jesus gave his life for that future. 

He gave his life for you. 

He gave his life for me. 

He gave his life for the world.

He is summoning us afresh today. 

How will we respond?

Win Pete Greig’s book “How to hear God”

Over the last weeks we have been exploring how we can hear God and make wise decisions. One of the resources we have been drawing on is Pete Greig’s new book “How to hear God: A simple guide for normal people”.

You can win a copy by answering four questions (one for each talk). All correct answers will be entered into a prize draw.

The deadline to submit your answer is this coming Friday (1 September) and the winner will be announced this coming Sunday in our services. 


All the talks in the series are available in this playlist on our YouTube channel…

An Introduction to Matthew’s Gospel

This year we will focus on Matthew’s Gospel in many of our Sunday readings.

Here is an excellent introduction to the first part of the book.

Download the poster that the video is based on…

(Once you can see the poster on your screen, right-click and choose “Save image as…” or a similar command)



Bible Sunday: The Story in Four Minutes

This coming Sunday (23 October) is Bible Sunday. Watch a video that summarises the big story in four minutes. Written and narrated by Dai Woolridge. Find out more…

A Bible Story for All Ages

This is an interactive retelling of Matthew 20. It’s especially suitable for primary school-aged children.

Psalm 31 prayed from bomb shelters and bunkers

Watch Ukrainians praying Psalm 31 from bunkers and bomb shelters in this video (courtesy of

We pray for SHALOM

Our mission partner BRF has an excellent article on how we respond to the war in Ukraine as followers of Jesus.

You can read it here…

Find more resources for prayer here…

BRF at 100: The Bible is changing lives!

(Above: Kate Bottley speak to Richard Fisher, BRF’s chief executive)
Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF) is one of our five mission partners and they started 100 years ago!
Last Sunday’s “Songs of Praise” was all about BRF and how they encourage young and old to live a life of faith. Catch up in BBC iPlayer by clicking here…