Pastoral letter from Richard Steven, The Rectory, Herstmonceux Tel 01323 833124

e mail:

Dear Church Members and Friends,

The 'SATOR ROTAS' word square. This has been found from early centuries to modern times all over the world, from Europe to Africa. In 1868 a copy was found on a Roman wall plaster in Cirencester. A partial copy was unearthed in Pompeii in 1925,and in 1936 a complete one was discovered in the same city in a building near the amphitheater. Remember that Pompeii was destroyed by Vesuvius AD 79.

SATOR or 'sower' is an early name for Jesus. The letters add up to a double PATERNOSTER or ‘Our Father’ in English with an extra A and O, that is Alpha and Omega, first and last letter of the Greek alphabet.

The central letter in each side is a T which in ancient times was written as a cross. The cross is flanked on all sides by the A and O representing the Alpha and Omega In the centre comes the repeated word TENET which means 'he holds'

Alpha and Omega were the first and last letters of the alphabet, to say Alpha and Omega would be like us saying 'A to Z'. For the early Christians enduring persecutions and other difficulties, the message was that Jesus Christ is the source of all things and the end of all things. We know this— we need not fear for the future is his.

Regarding ‘he holds’, this one, who has been through suffering and death for us, will himself hold and sustain us. The significance of this Sator square is in its embodiment of the faith that he who is the Alpha and Omega of all things has also been revealed as 'Our Father'.

The Cross.  It would seem that Christians adopted the cross as a symbol from an early date. We do not know what the future holds; but we do know who holds the future. Our future belongs to him, that is why we are able to live today with confidence and not with fear. We do not have confidence because we know exactly what tomorrow will look like, we have confidence because we know what Christ is like and he has conquered death and sin for us, and so as we face today and whatever is happening eventually at least all will turn out well as we follow Him.

 We are now reaching the end of the Church’s year. With the beginning of Advent, we begin again the cycle of the birth of Jesus, his ministry, his death, Passion and resurrection.

The ending of a year is a good time to assess where we have been, what has been achieved, and perhaps most importantly, where we are going with our journey of faith. If, when we look at our spiritual lives, we feel that we have made no real progress, perhaps it is time to embark on more regular Bible study. Perhaps joining a house group would give you the support you need for growth? Perhaps you would like to put your faith into some kind of action, or community projects, or reaching out in some form of missionary work.

 New beginnings are always scary or exciting, offering us the challenge of new spiritual adventures and development. May the faith of our forebears carved in stone encourage us to go on with confidence into the unknown with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the King of Kings this Advent and beyond.

The Sator Rotas Word Square