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Brought to our knees.

Byline: FRANCIS WOOD

VISITING various churches while on holiday, I've been impressed by the beauty of the kneelers provided in the pews.

Colourful leaf designs, birds, castles, saints, all worked thread by thread by loving fingers.

They are often in such superb condition that I wonder if anyone ever dares to kneel on them.

Come to think of it, is kneeling going out of fashion in our churches? There was a time in the Church of England when we were invited to pray, meekly kneeling upon our knees.

We used to smile at the shampoo position of the Methodists who bent over to the pew in front.

We looked askance at the swaying rhythm of those who waved their arms in praise.

In those days, they said you could tell a vicar who said his prayers because the knees of his trousers wore out before his backside.

But now, standing, sitting and swaying, anything goes.

Did kneeling die out when those heavy old church pews were replaced with basket chairs? It's hard to kneel behind a basket chair because it slides about on a polished floor.

Or could it be (and this is the serious bit) that we are simply reflecting today's society? Authority is not a popular word! And to kneel before authority, the throne of God, goes against the grain.

If this is so, then sadly we may have lost something rather important. Showing our respect for God by bending the knee may be the first lesson in learning to show our respect one person towards another. Yes, think about it.

ONCE THERE WAS A WAR SUNDAY marks 100 years after the beginning of the First World War.

Sooner or later, someone is bound to ask: "Was it all worth it?" That question is as old as war itself and the Bible gives us no advice on behaviour between nations at war.

It was St Thomas Aquinas who propounded a Just War theory.

Since then, each generation, including our own, has fought its war(s), using Aquinas' theory to justify its actions. And not always convincingly.

There are two main principles. First, the cause for going to war must be just and there must be a reasonable chance of winning.

I wrestle with the latter phrase, "a chance of winning." When a war is over, everything should turn out well.

But it only works if those who are vanquished lay down their arms. In today's wars, the losers often continue to fight when all the good people have declared peace.

In Afghanistan today, guerrilla activity continues and there seems little chance of ever winning the war in Iraq. Problems arise when both sides don't follow the same rules of war.

MEMORIAL THIS Sunday, at 4pm, to mark the centenary of First World War, there is to be a County Service of Commemoration at Hexham Abbey, with the Lord Lieutenant the Duchess of Northumberland in attendance. The service will be led by Bishop Frank and other faith leaders and will include a dramatic presentation by the Northumberland Theatre Company.

THE NAME'S THE SAME REMEMBER when the name of St James' Park was changed to the Sports Direct Arena? We were told that the football club would benefit to the tune of ten million pounds a year. Is there a message here for the church? Should the church start looking for sponsorship? Could Westminster Abbey benefit by changing its name to the Nat West Abbey? Get in touch to let me know if you can think of any more at franciswood@waitrose.com
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 1, 2014
Words:593
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