From Rev Iain Baxter, All Saints Chiang Mai
Many churches have a sign reading “All are Welcome!” proudly displayed outside their building. At All Saints our sign contains the same phrase, but is it true? It is easy to welcome people like ourselves. Perhaps that is why we have plenty of married couples, single people, and gay men, but not many families with small children.
We are not a typical congregation. Although our age demographic is fairly typical for a western church, last week we had vastly more men than women in the congregation. Meanwhile, the Church as a whole is largely composed of women, but firmly controlled by men, and sexual and other minorities, if welcomed at all, are expected to shut up and take a seat at the back. As a worldwide church, we have a long way to go to reach God’s kingdom of justice and peace!
This week’s gospel reading is the story of Jesus healing a centurion’s servant. It is a story with hidden depths. Jesus highly commends the faith of an outsider, a non-Jew and occupying enemy soldier, saying “not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And there may be even more to this story – come this Sunday to find out!
Meanwhile, most of you will have heard about the fire at Pitakkiat Wittaya School in Chiang Rai. What can we do to help? We can have an offering next week if we find the correct contact details, but can we do more? There are many other dormitories throughout Thailand where basic safety measures are missing. Simple, cheap, smoke detectors may have prevented this tragedy. Can we begin a program to supply them and train in fire safety? We can discuss this following the service on Sunday.
Another cause for our concern is the legal appeal for the two Burmese workers convicted of murder in Koh Tao, which has just been launched. They would appreciate greetings cards, notebooks, pens, pencils or easy to read English story books to ease their incarceration in prison.
Their current prison address is:
Wai Phyo 590018, Zaw Lin 590082
Bangkwang Central Prison,
117 Nonthaburi Road,
Finally, on a much happier note, the singing group “Lannacapella” is now meeting at All Saints every Thursday at 3 p.m. Any one interested in joining the group is warmly invited to come along! They especially need men!
This week’s readings are 1 Kings 8:22-23, 41-43, Galatians 1:1-12, and Luke 7:1-10, and we will be singing the hymns Praise with joy the world’s Creator, a new version of Stand up stand up for Jesus, Break Thou the Bread of Life, and The world needs love.
The readings can be found via this link!
What are the names of the incarcerated Burmese workers? Does the liturgy at All Saints use inclusive language?
The names of the workers are Wai Phyo 59001 and Zaw Lin 590082. (The numbers after their names are their prison numbers)
At All Saints, we try to be as inclusive as we can in use of language, for example, we don’t use “he” when referring to a person who may be male or female. Similarly, when talking about God we will try to say “God does this…” rather than “He does this…” We do refer to God as Father, as well as Creator, the Eternal, and so forth, but I try to emphasise that God is neither male or female. We are a mixed congregation so we have a compromise between some traditional language and some inclusive concepts.
Hope this helps.
Rev. Iain Baxter