Thought for the Day by Nigel Greenwood (St Chad’s)
“PEOPLE & PLACES IN HEADINGLEY & HYDE PARK”
Many years ago (probably the 1960’s) there was a television programme which brought together people and places of interest across the North of England, establishing a clear link between these two aspects of our society – for people and places form the heart of any community setting. Looking back on all the people and places which have special significance in our lives is so much more than nostalgia or memories, for they become part of who we are. Whilst the well-known hymn ‘We love the place O God’ may refer to our churches, it surely has much wider meaning as part of our stories.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of people and places is the ways in which they interact – how we are influenced by places and how we can influence not just the places where we live, work, study, relax or worship, but also the wider communities or environment with which we are involved – local, regional, national or global. It is also important to recognise that influences can be for better or worse – but as Christians we have a wider responsibility in all things to work for the common good – the basis of any community. As the Headingley and Hyde Park Team develops, growing together in faith, we have a real opportunity to extend our engagement with our wider community – following the great commandment to love our neighbours, as we seek to love and serve the Lord.
Perhaps these days we use the term ‘community’ rather loosely – but it surely represents so much more than a geographical area or even a group of people with shared interests. Yes, a sense of place may draw people together but what defines it can be their richness and diversity. Living with differences is always interesting and ultimately rewarding, for it has the great potential to bring out the best of our shared humanity.
The prophetic report from the 1980’s “Faith in the City” noted the importance of people being actively involved in making decisions which affect their locality – the need to do things with people rather than to them, and of course the faith communities are vital to this process. We are reminded in words from the great hymn by A.C.Ainger written in 1894 how “All we can do is nothing worth unless God blesses the deed”.
So, we see God shaping our communities of Headingley and Hyde Park not only through the folk who live here today but across the years, bringing the vibrant and harmonious legacy which we inherit … but also the responsibility to cherish, sustain and develop it for future generations. We have a shared calling to ensure that these places which we love and the communities within them can continue to flourish in the years ahead.
Most of us have a special place – perhaps with memories, associations, or somewhere we feel safe, where we can be still in the presence of the Lord – but wherever we are, our prayer will surely be ‘Holy Spirit, come and fill this place’ …..