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Monthly Letter

The Vicarage

I have been working my way through the Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien in recent weeks. At risk of appearing uncultured, I have to confess to finding it really hard work. If you aren’t familiar with it, the Silmarillion is the mythic narrative of the universe, EÓ“, in which all the countries associated with the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings are found. It is the back-filling of the world of the more well-known tales of Middle Earth.

From a Christian point of view, on one level I want to put a huge gulf between the creation myth of Tolkien’s world and the biblical narrative - one is the imagination of a man who died 45 years ago, and the other has a much more ancient and divine genesis. But on the other hand, Tolkien’s world has many similarities to our own: he also deals with the presence and origin of evil within the world he created, he deals with how the different communities and species of inhabitant of Middle Earth came to be, he deals with a fundamental direction of travel for all of Middle Earth’s history, and the beginning of everything by some divine act of word (in Tolkien’s case, a song).

In October, at Sunday services, we will be grappling with some of the founding narratives within the Bible. And just as Tolkien’s Silmarillion sets the mythic scene for the characters we enjoy in his other works and therefore enriches them, explains them and sets them within their place in the unfolding story of Middle Earth; so our Genesis stories will function for us.

We will read about the birth of God’s world and about the direction in which it is traveling. We will read about how things came to be as they are and about the character of the God who directs it. We will read of our place in this story, and we shall see how the story of Jesus fits into and transforms the whole narrative of the world itself.

The Christian story is one which enriches our lives and gives us a place in this world. It gives us a sense of direction and meaning. It connects us to Jesus as we find our place in the flow of God’s divine love, which permeates the whole cosmos and is demonstrated at its central point in the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God, for each one of us, bringing light to a world in darkness.

The Christian Story is a truly Big Story, filled with wonder, pain and love. It encompasses us, enriches us, locates us, but also saves us and gives us a future. I’m excited about the chance to think about it again over the next few weeks and I invite everyone to come and explore with us.