On Saturday I was able to participate in the Bradwell pilgrimage 2011. Each year Christians, mainly from Essex and east London gather in large numbers at St Thomas's Church Bradwell-on-Sea on the first Saturday in July. After a brief service we walk 'on pilgrimage' to the little St Peter's Chapel near to the beach, remembering that this was where St Cedd first brought Christianity to our part of England. We then have a service there and various activities. This year I was glad to have the opportunity to lead the service near to the beach and to introduce our two speakers.
As it is the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Version of the Bible in 2011, we were focussing on the Bible and invited Bishop Stephen Cottrell, new Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford since the autumn, and Bishop Thomas McMahon, about to retire as Roman Catholic Bishop of Brentwood after 31 years, to each share a Bible passage that had really meant something to them. Bishop Thomas spoke of the power of the resurrection story and the words 'He is risen'. Bishop Stephen 'cheated' by mentioning several passages, but began with a reference to the young people's custom of using the word 'well' instead of 'very'. Something isn't very good or very important or very trendy - it is well good or well important or well trendy. Bishop Stephen commented that Essex people used this form of expression before it became popular. However, God got in first, said Bishop Stephen, referring to the story of Jesus' baptism - and God's saying: this is my beloved Son, with whom I am WELL pleased. So God comes from Basildon, Essex.
And that's the point- he does. God comes from your place and mine, and so he understands where we come from, and can be with us in what we are doing.