The Lay Reader's Letter (written by Gordon Gray) extends the tradition of the Vicar's Letter which has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002
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Lay Reader's Letter

March 2017

I was too young to be aware of the Cuban Missile Crisis so, perhaps for the first time in my life, it feels that world events are beginning to look scary. What a turbulent year 2017 has been already, we have a new president in the United States making and implementing radical decisions and picking fights with all and sundry whilst, here, steps are being taken to extricate this country from the European Union. Everything seems to be leading us away from stability and security; the lives with which we have become so familiar.

What is going on and how can we tell? We are told that we live in a post-truth world, that fake-news is rife. What, for goodness sake, is fake-news? Maybe it's another name for propaganda; maybe it's a new phenomenon, to distract us from truths the powerful would rather we didn't know about or think about. The media don't tell us - they seem to have their own agenda. It used to be that the fourth estate - the press and media - would report on events and expose crime and corruption among the powerful. Now the media shape opinions and tell governments what they should be doing; they have become all powerful.

For us ordinary folk, the people who are going to become the beneficiaries or victims of our new political world, things seem so distant; after all, what influence do any of us have?

What can we do? Is there anything we can do? Well, I suspect the answer to that question is "on our own, probably nothing," but we can work together as a community for the good of everyone.

One of the great strengths of the community here in our villages is the mutual support its people provide for one another. When I look at events like our Carnival, organisations like, for example, the Wednesday Club, St Mary's Parish Lunch, Salvation Army lunches, the work of our Parish Councils, the Good Neighbour Scheme, donations to the Foodbank, people who visit the sick and housebound there is so much going on here to provide mutual support. The people involved in those organisations may not know it but they are following an ancient truth known as the Golden Rule - the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated oneself.

Jesus said, "Love your neighbour as yourself," but the maxim was already 2000 years old in his day. People throughout history from Ancient Egypt, China, India, the Near East, Greece Persia and Rome have all lived by this maxim.

The Golden Rule is an eternal truth; it is found in the writing of every religious tradition. In a world of lies, half-truths, alternative facts, fake-news we can rely on such an eternal truth and try to live our lives in accordance with its message. Do to others, do for others, for your neighbours, what you would like for yourself.

Do! Do, it's an active verb - not something to be hidden behind the walls of our homes, our places of worship. Make the eff ort, get involved in making this an even better community in which to live. The world we have known may seem to be crumbling around us but if we all pull together, if we love one another, we can protect our own little bit of paradise.

Gordon - Reader at St Mary's Eaton Bray with Edlesborough

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About the Vicar's Letter

The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.

The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the area for these.