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?

Congratulations to Darryl Reeves!

Congratulations to Darryl Reeves who was confirmed at Holy Trinity Penn last Sunday. (Photo: Darryl with Nnamdi and Christoph)
Interested in confirmation? Contact our church office (

Dinah Roe-Kendall: Simeon and Anna with the Christ Child

At our service on 30 January Ian Jennings spoke about Luke 2.22-40 and the impact that Dinah Roe Kendall’s painting made on him. Here is the painting! You can watch his talk below (start at 23 min 20 seconds for the reading and 26min 25sec for the talk).

Your harvest gifts – thank you!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our harvest gifts last Sunday! Here is Nnamdi Maduka delivering your food gifts to Hillingdon Foodbank in New Denham.

You have given £200 to our mission partner SHOC/Trinity supporting homeless people in our area.

We have also received a total of £250 in vouchers for supermarkets, which will support local people and families through direct gifts and through Give & Share.

A Postscript to VE Day: Bonhoeffer’s Creed

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed for his resistance to Hitler on 9 April 1945 in Flossenbürg Concentration Camp, only four weeks before VE Day. He wrote this creed days before his execution by the Gestapo:

I believe that God can and will generate good out of everything, even out of the worst evil. For that, he needs people who allow that everything that happens fits into a pattern for good.

I believe that God will give us in each state of emergency as much power of resistance as we need. But he will not give in advance, so that we do not rely on ourselves but on him alone. Through such faith all anxiety concerning the future should be overcome.

I believe that even our mistakes and failings are not in vain, and that it is not more difficult for God to cope with these as with our assumed good deeds.

I believe that God is not a timeless fate, but that he waits for and responds to honest prayers and responsible action. Amen.

(Flossenbürg Concentration Camp today: Walking into the light)

Trust in the Lord in 2020 – mini poster

Please click here to view or download the poster in high resolution.

(Then, to download it to your computer, right-click and select “Save image as…” or similar)