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Desert_Monast-SM-682400381Three years ago, today, Jessica said this.

Across this year my life has changed beyond all recognition, but what has remained constant and grown are the good things, and the bad ones have been burned away, not without some pain, but decisively. Amongst the good things is this place and your companionship. So thank you, all of you.

But since then we’ve found she was just getting warmed up. Across that time she has had a number of jobs, a divorce, an engagement, a serious illness and has moved to Scotland – oh, and kept writing here when she could. Jess and I continue dearest friends, but some days, I wake up wondering what she got up to while I slept. But through all that she remains the same fine, helpful, Christian girl, who mostly desires to be useful, that I met almost 4 years ago, and fell in love with on the road to Walsingham. And Walsingham has continued to provide breakpoints in our friendship, and indeed on Jess’ journey.

When Jess came down with that cancer I mentioned above, it fell on Chalcedon to take over this blog, which he did in an exemplary manner, not only providing continuity of operation, in a very difficult time (on several fronts) but maintaining Jessica’s mission, as well. A very good man, who has worked supremely well for us, and the blog, and his faith. I outlined the history last year, no need to repeat, it is here. I quoted post No. 2 last year to illustrate it.

Polemicists will be polemicists, but the enquirer should not log off the Internet, which has a wealth of resources of interest to those whose minds are open. Like many in the CofE my own catechesis did not exist. I never got round to an Alpha course, and sermons apart, my religious education took place via books and the Web. Sites such as those of Tom Wright, BJ Stockman and Fr. Hunwicke and Fr. Longenecker have been invaluable- and you can always avoid the com-boxes.

There’s an Anglican irenic quality there – an Anglican bishop, an Evangelical Protestant, a high Church (now convert) Anglican and a Catholic convert from Anglicanism. My debt is repaid in part by trying to take an attitude free from confessional bias in what I write. That brings some scorn (rightly from their point of view) from those in all denominations who insist dogma and doctrine matter; I don’t disagree entirely, and I understand where they are coming from. Doctrine and dogma-free Christianity is no Christianity at all. But the Church Fathers hammered all this out a long time ago, and perhaps we’d be wise to settle, as they did, on the Nicene Creed as our benchmark for orthodox belief?

Our Lord Jesus Christ (OLJC) told the Apostles that men would know His followers by their love for each other, and He counselled them to be united; knowing us as He does, He can’t have been all that surprised that we’ve fallen away from those ideals. Perhaps if we were better at them there would be less for the polemicists to reproach us with? Great crimes have been committed in the name of Christianity, that is true, as it is of any great cause entrusted to fallen mankind. It is in our fallen nature to pervert whatever good things we have from God. In our folly we use the consequences of our own sinful state to reject the opportunity to reach out for God’s love; and in our pride erect a superstructure of Pharisaism on OLJC’s words, before proceeding to live in it rather than the love of Christ.

It is foolish to think we can prove or disprove the existence of God. If He exists He is Infinite, we are not; He is the Creator, we the created; if we think we have grasped the fullness of the Infinite then, by that mark, we have not grasped God. OLJC reveals what we need to know, and unless we read the Old Testament through the lessons of the New, we shall go astray. God is love. He came to redeem the world not in the expected form of a Messiah who would bring fire and sword to the heathen, but in the form of a slave, a suffering servant. OLJC redeems us through love and through suffering, not through smiting His enemies. A thought to bear in mind when blogging on religion.

The mission undertaken then, it the one pursued to this day. AATW has become a reasonably large and influential blog (although many are bigger) but on that day, she could have had no idea of what the future would hold. She was willing to share her vision with us. Blogs come and blogs go and sometimes return, but few manage to make it to four years.

And now we’ve made it to that anniversary, with the same mission, and with Jessica herself back in fine voice and full of fire. What the future will bring, we can’t know, but I think, she has rejuvenated the mission that she set for us all.

Perhaps Geoffrey said it best for us all, here.

Here, thanks to you all, I have found a home where I can have my own views challenged, my own knowledge increased, and where there is much food for spiritual nourishment. For all that, I am grateful. I have also found, as I always will, those who want to argue for the sectarian narrowness with which II was brought up, and, rescued from it myself by the Grace of God, I shall ever take my sword and strike it down; a combative Yorkshireman I was born, and I daresay I shall go to meet my Maker as one. I am glad He is all-knowing, because to know all is to understand all. At that last I can only hope that He won’t be altogether displeased with what I’ve done with the talents he gave me.

I also note that today is Pentecost, which is consonant with the mission of this blog. In the Revised Common Lectionary, the Gospel for today is Acts 2:1-21, and seems appropriate to our mission today

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.

16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;

17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come:

21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Last year, I ended with a quote from St. Isaac the Syrian, that Jess used on day one. I still think it summarizes the Chatelaine, and the mission of All along the Watchtower better than anything else I could say.

In love did God bring the world into existence; in love is God going to bring it to that wondrous transformed state, and in love will the world be swallowed up in the great mystery of the One who has performed all these things; in love will the whole course of the governance of creation be finally comprised.