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The United Benefice of Withington, Sevenhampton with Charlton Abbots, Hawling, Whittington, Dowdeswell and Andoversford, Shipton and Cold Salperton

This month's letter from the clergy

Who is your Master?

Dear friends,

I am a big fan of the Marvel Superhero films, they are great escapist entertainment. I recently saw the latest film, The Avengers: Infinity War, but there was a slightly surreal moment at one point when Doctor Strange asks Peter Quill “What master do you serve?”, back comes the reply, “‘What master do I serve?’ What am I supposed to say? Jesus?”. I really hadn’t expected to hear a reference to Jesus in a Marvel film! It was almost certainly intended as a joke, especially as Peter Quill is quite a maverick. Some Christians have objected to this as mockery. I didn’t take it that way. I am not sure how well it works as a joke either, but I do think it is a good question. And anything that makes people stop and think about Jesus is good in my book.

We are also used to thinking of Jesus as our Saviour, but perhaps we don’t think often enough about the truth that for Christians he is our Master and we live to serve him. But then as Bob Dylan pointed out years ago “You gotta serve somebody”. Jesus, himself, challenged people saying, “You cannot serve both God and Money”. Of course, there are other many other possible ‘Masters’ we can serve - career, looks, status. But those Masters can be hard taskmasters, taking far more than they give.

But Jesus is the Master who loves us and cares for us. As one of the Collects in Morning Prayer puts it, ‘his service is perfect freedom’. What that means is that when we serve Jesus as our Master, we actually are free to become the people we are meant to be. I and millions of people have found that to be true and ironically in real life so has Chris Pratt - the actor who plays Peter Quill. He has been a committed Christian for some time and has happily talked about his faith. He has found that serving Jesus is the best way.

I once saw a picture of Jesus surrounded by Superheroes and he says to them, “Now let me tell you how I saved the world”. Jesus did not use super-powers, he died on a Roman cross to save us all. There is a Master I shall happily serve.