Clergy Blog - February 2018

From the preaching team

John YoungApparently ordinary lives, when we dig just a little, often prove fascinating. Which is why I love The Porch's regular column which focuses on various members of our congregation. They offer tantalizing pieces of information and invite us to guess their identity. I often get it wrong!! I'm particularly interested in the different ways in which people come to faith and hope you'll enjoy reading about the actor David Suchet and leading scientist Francis Collins............

A famous actor

David Suchet, a fine stage actor, is best known for portraying Agatha Christie‘s fictional detective Hercule Poirot on television. His brother, John, is also well known - as a newscaster and musicologist.

Their father was Jewish, but their upbringing was not religious. In 1986, while staying in a hotel, David picked up a Bible and read Paul‘s letter to the Romans. Chapter 8 made an immense impact upon him, and he underwent a conversion experience to Christianity which continues to sustain his life. That great New Testament chapter ends with a ringing affirmation of God‘s love, when the apostle says: 'I am convinced that neither death nor life … nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord‘.

An eminent scientist

Until recently Francis Collins held the highly prestigious post of Head of the Human Genome Project. This involved working at the cutting edge of the study of DNA, the 'code of life‘. He is a leading scientist with an international reputation.

Francis was brought up in a home where faith in God was not important, and he carried this easy indifference to religious questions into his adult life.

When practising as a young doctor it was his patients who challenged him to think hard about questions of life and death. He was impressed by the resilience and fortitude of believers as death approached. Then one of his patients challenged him directly to think hard about life, God and meaning.

So Francis started to read Christian books and this prompted him to question his atheistic creed. In particular he confronted the question: where does our sense of right and wrong come from? In his fine book The Language of God (Pocket Books 2007) he describes his journey from atheism to Christian faith.

So here is the central question … : In this modern era of cosmology, evolution and the human genome, is there still the possibility of a richly satisfying harmony between the scientific and spiritual worldviews? I answer with a resounding yes! In my view, there is no conflict in being a rigorous scientist and a person who believes in a God who takes a personal interest in each one of us.‘

In the summer of AD 2000 Francis stood in the White House with US President Bill Clinton. They broadcast to the world an astounding fact - the script carrying all the instructions needed for building a human being had been decoded.

The President declared: "Today we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, and the wonder of God‘s most divine and sacred gift."

Francis Collins followed with these words: "It‘s a happy day for the world. It is humbling for me, and awe-inspiring, to realize that we have caught the first glimpse of our own instruction book, previously known only to God."

May you know God's many blessings throughout 2018.

(Revd Canon) John Young, retired vicar living in Dringhouses