Letter from St Mark's House

St Mark's House

December 2017/January 2018


Dear friends

Words are fascinating and fun. Especially when enjoying ‘Balderdash’, our family game at Christmas, where players have to fib or fabricate the meaning of real but unheard of words. The English language is rapidly growing and changing with new words added constantly. The Oxford Dictionary and others now select the word of the year. For 2016 it was ‘post-truth’ which could become 'one of the defining words of our time'. It goes well with ‘alternative facts ‘.The ultimate ‘Word of the Year’ for 2017, according to Collins, is ‘fake news’ – 'false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting'. The children’s word for this year is ‘Trump’ (we wonder why?) and they have improvised over 100 variations: Trumplestiltskin and Trumpyness are our favourites!

Considering the rich variety of the English language, historian Ian Mortimer writes that 'the only writer in the English language more influential than Shakespeare' was Willian Tyndale. In the Reformation’s 500th anniversary year, we remember the revolutionary impact of Tyndale’s Bible translation. He had vowed that he would teach 'a ploughboy to know the Bible as well as any bishop' and, with unforgettable words and phrases, he did so in a way that today is still direct and living. Up to 80% of the Authorised Version drew upon Tyndale and provided many striking proverbial phrases: 'Fight the good fight', 'The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak', 'Salt of the earth'. While words change, it is good to remember the Word which does not change and which communicates God’s love: 'The worde was made flesshe and dwelt amonge vs and we sawe the glory of it as the glory of the only begotten sonne of ye father which worde was full of grace and verite [truth]'. (John 1.5,14)

In an age of ‘post-truth’, the New Testament bears witness to truth that lasts for ever. The Christian faith proclaims what the philosopher Francis Schaeffer called ‘true truth’ of which we can be sure and on which we can rely in a sceptical world. In an age where ‘fake news’ seeks to mislead we have good news announced 2000years ago to a group of shepherds on a hillside: 'Be not afrayed. For beholde I bringe you tydinges of greate ioye … for vnto you is borne this daye in the cite of David a saveoure which is Christ ye lorde.' (Luke 2.10,11) Although the language has changed it still brings good news to people who need a Saviour to rescue us from our follies, failures and fears. This Christmas we hear again the message of the angels and can go into the New Year knowing that 'the lyght shyneth in the darcknes' and leads those who walk by it into the paths of peace.

Happy Christmas and New Year

Nick and Harriet