Welcome to St Alphege Church

 

Whether you are old or young, living here or passing through, you will always find a warm welcome in our inclusive and family friendly church.  We invite you to please come and worship God with us or use our church as a place for thought & reflection.

 

We are an Anglican church, one of five in the Whitstable Team Ministry. Our church family is made up of all ages and we are always happy to see new faces. We come together to enjoy worship and fellowship and want to share God's love with all.  St Alphege church is the focal  point of the High Street,  you can step inside on any weekday morning for a quiet time of prayer and peace, or just for a coffee and a chat.  Within our website you can find out all the information you need about our regular services, our community based clubs and organisations, Marriages, Funerals & Baptisms.

Remembrance Service Sermon

from the Reverend Rachel Webbley

 

What tribe are you in?  Who is in your tribe and what identifying markers do you use?  Does your ‘tribe’ allow friendship with people from other tribes?

 

There is an ancient curse:  ‘May you live in interesting times’.  Once more we seem to be in ‘interesting times’.  The Brexit referendum highlighted a huge split within our country, which would have been unthinkable when we faced the common enemy of fascism in the last war.  The American election this week has been the most divisive and controversial ever, and may bring the ‘special relationship’ with our historical allies into question.  And the fallout from both of these distract from the greatest threat to world peace and global security today: climate change.

 

How do we respond?  It is tempting to become increasingly ‘tribal’.  Social media amplifies our human tendency to withdraw from those who are ‘different’, and surround ourselves with like-minded people.  Each of us can look at our facebook profile or address book and see that.  When we close off from those that think differently to us we are in danger of succumbing to ‘groupthink’.  Mockery of a different ‘tribe’ can be dehumanizing as it signals a loss of respect for others’ reality and experience, however desperate we are for humour to sustain our hope.  Groupthink can lead to ordinary people ignoring truth, and becoming easily manipulated by those in power. Gradually, increasingly extreme ‘solutions’ to perceived social problems are excused as ‘necessary’.  At its worst, as in Nazi Germany, and today in Iraq and elsewhere, political atrocity can become sanctioned by religion.

 

A group or ‘tribe’ develop their own jargon.  The jargon is made up of ‘thought-terminating cliches’.  ‘Thought-provoking complexities are bypassed and ultimate truth is expressed in a single phrase or even a word.’ Or meme or gif sequence.  Jean Vanier writes ‘A lesson of the Holocaust is that evil comes from thoughtlessness, a turning away from the obvious and a refusal to think about it.’  It is so much easier to do this when we stay closed off within our tribes, with others who are ‘like us’.

 

Jesus came to break down barriers, and often shocked even his closest friends with who he chose to speak with and eat with.  People who are different provide a helpful critique to our ideas, and we are wiser for it.  Values that can stand up to challenge are more resilient and secure than those that are idolized and never questioned.  The Christian value to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ endures, and challenges tribalism by encouraging empathy.

 

It is hard to reach across tribal boundaries and share stories, but it is vital for peace.  ‘If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.’  It can take an effort even to meet with those who have different views from us, let alone risk a true conversation.  Friends, I believe that this is the primary task ahead of us now and a small price to pay as we consider the ultimate sacrifice of those who fought for our freedom.  Recognise and respect each others’ humanity.  Wonder why people hold the views they do, and see if you can relate to it in any way.  Pray for each other’s pain and concerns.  Don’t be afraid to think about your values.  Question our leaders, each other, and yourselves.  Don’t give up on the possibility of peace and hope in our world today.  After all, this is what those whom we remember today died for in their generation.

 

Amen.

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St Alphege Church, High Street, Whitstable, Kent  CT5 1AY   Contact the Reverend Rachel Webbley on 01227 273329    vicar@stalphege.org.uk

 

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