Serving God, Serving our Community

Have you had two birthdays?

Dear parishioners and friends,

When Angela and I worked in France and our 3 daughters were born in Provence, we were intrigued by a French tradition. As well as sending birthday cards, they also often sent greetings on the feast day of the “saint” you might be named after.  It was rather like having two birthdays a year.

In my own life too, I really do feel like I have had two birthdays.  My birth certificate and passport say I was born in October 1950.  However, I did also have a second “birthday”, when on 9thJune 1971, I became a committed Christian.  At that time I was a humanist and an atheist, having rejected on intellectual grounds the Christian faith in which I had been nurtured.

Studying geology and literature led to serious questions about the reliability of the Bible. In the swinging 60s many had abandoned traditional ethics.  However, rock musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar intrigued me by their energy, vitality and their winsome Jesus.  Christian students on my course and with whom I ran cross country befriended me and invited me to thoughtful lectures by Christian academics in many subjects. I read several books that addressed the questions I had about the Bible, science and faith and more.  We also went to discussions, debates and concerts.  Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson’s Royal Albert Hall concert was unforgettable.  Wow!

Now spiritually “thirsty” I read the New Testament eagerly with fresh eyes. After a few weeks I knew I had to do something, although it was near our final exams. I invited a Christian friend round.  We talked and we prayed.  I invited Jesus Christ to be my Saviour and my Friend. In St John’s Gospel chapter 3, Jesus explains to Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader, that nobody can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.

It has changed my life.   And it sounds to me like a second birthday too!    Why not take another look?   It’s about a relationship not a religion…

Rev Fred Olney