Articles

A time for everything

Submitted by Dean on Wed, 17/06/2020 - 13:06

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8  Everything Has Its Time

3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up; 
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 
5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

I have been pondering these words of 'The Teacher' as the author is described in some sources over the past few days. These are very familiar and popular words from Scripture and I think they are very relevant to the time we are living through at the moment. The phrase; 'there is a time for ...' seems to sum up the pandemic changes to our lives.

In the present climate there are things we cannot do such as embracing or spending time with loved ones out with our households but what this piece reminds us is that there will be a time again when we will be able to do those things which we cannot do today. In the coming future as lockdown phases change we will be able to embrace our friends and loved ones and spend time with them.

This, has also, and will continue to be a time of hardship and pain for many. Weeping is something I suspect we have all done at some point and for those who are bereaved, anxious or fearful it may be something that it all too familiar to them. These are difficult times but we are promised that there will be other times ahead when things will be different. This promise can give us hope. Hope for better times, hope for an end to the pandemic and a hope that the future will be better than we may think it will be at the moment. 

As we lives our lives we experience many changes both good and bad but one thing that does not happen is that we 'stand still'. Life is about change and every day is different but of one thing we can be assured is, that the love of God is always around us. Even if we doubt it or are angry with God (and sometimes we need to shout out our anger towards God) that love is always there as a comfort and a an encouragement.

If anything these words from Ecclesiastes tell us is that whatever happens things will change and hopefully for the better. 

Sermon for Trinity I by the Rev'd William Mounsey

Submitted by Dean on Sat, 13/06/2020 - 10:09

A sermon for The First Sunday after Trinity 2020

Romans 5:1-8

In his novel “Time Regained” Marcel Proust describes the search for the heart of any experience. Most of us go though life with little insight into the essence of our life because we spend little time below the surface of our day to day existence. Although our lives are necessarily mundane much of the time, occasionally we are caught unawares and our understanding is illuminated for a moment by a glimpse of something deep and mysterious.

This is true not only for religious people who practice their faith but for those who describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious’.

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You are suffering, St Paul tells the Christians in Rome. Don’t be cast down. Suffering leads to endurance; endurance to character; character to hope. This is Paul’s strategy, not only for survival, but for mission in a time of persecution.

Our days are different. We are not being persecuted but for many the coronavirus has brought suffering - illness, bereavement, loneliness, poverty. For the churches it has brought the loss of meeting in the fellowship of the liturgy.

However, innumerable people have demonstrated endurance, character and hope and there is real evidence that woven through all of this many are seeking some kind of ‘spirituality’. They know that much of what we have taken for granted in wealthy countries sits on very shaky foundations. They want to ‘get deeper’ rather than ‘getting more’. They have learned that the love they experience with families, friends and local communities must have wider application for wider relationships in the nation and the world. In other words, they reach towards the very convictions the Christian faith offers.

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Skills learned and applied by Christians during the coronavirus pandemic have provided new ways for seekers to engage with the church. Online services are open to those who would be fearful, embarrassed or uncomfortable entering a church building. Comments left on social media pages and via church websites provide evidence that countless “spiritual but not religious” people are encountering the church in ways which are accessible and appropriate.

When the worst is over and church buildings are open once again we must continue to value and welcome all spiritual longing.

The Reverend William Mounsey, Associate Priest, St Vincent’s Chapel.

Who teaches us the most?

Submitted by Dean on Tue, 09/06/2020 - 16:38

In my daily reading of the Rule of St.Benedict I was struck recently by the 'Eighth Step of Humility'. St.Benedict says:

"The eighth step of humility is that we do only what is endorsed by the common rule of the monastery and the example set by the prioress or abbot."            

'Life with St.Benedict   Richard Frost'

Frost in his commentary goes on to remind the reader that learning from others is an integral part of who we are as human beings. I was struck how true his words are. It is in deed from others that we learn so much about life and ourselves. Good examples of lives well lived and thoughtfully lived can inspire us to try and live similar lives and in doing so we will probably inspire others too. It is never the person who dictates to us how to behave or how to be that is the one that influences us the most. It is the one who lives their life with integrity and care for others that does that. 

Who have been the influences on your life?

Who taught you the most about your faith?

We will all have these special people, who probably never knew how much they had influenced us and helped us in shaping our lives and living our faith. When you recall them, give thanks to God for them.

 

Trinity Sunday Sermon by the Rector

Submitted by Dean on Sat, 06/06/2020 - 10:21

Trinity Sunday 2020

What is the Holy Trinity?

I suppose the first response could be; ‘Well that’s a very good question? Can you give me a few thousand years to get back to you with a definitive answer?’  Which is basically, what the Church has been doing since the resurrection of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit at that first Pentecost.

The second response could be much simpler; ‘The Trinity is an expression of love.’ What I mean by that, is that if we believe that God is ultimately love, then the three ways in which God identifies himself to us are expressions of that love which is God.

God the Father or Mother or Parent or Creator, which ever title you favour is one expression of love. It is an expression that includes a creative power that can shape and form creation and each one of us in God’s own being. God the Creator is a loving parent who forms us and cares so deeply about us that we will never be able to fully comprehend the depth of his love. The closest we could, perhaps, come to understanding is that God the Father’s love is like that of our parents or those who nurtured us and loved us beyond measure, even when we disappointed them or drove them mad.

God the Son, is somewhat easier to get our heads around because it relates to the person of Jesus Christ. St.John called Jesus the ‘Word’ and at the beginning of his Gospel account implies that Jesus the word, was a pre-existing being, part of God who has been with God for eternity:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:1-5

The Son then came to live among us so that God could show us how much we loved us by the fact that God himself was prepared to die for us. God the Father did not just see his Son die. God himself experienced death and died on the Cross to prove the depth of his love and the extent to which he would go to prove his love for his creation. The Son, Jesus, is the human face of God and as such, a part of the Trinity we can better comprehend because we see God in his humanity in the same ways that we see our own humanity and the humanity in those around us.

The Holy Spirit, which has also been pre-existent with the Word and the Creator is the agent of God who can move freely and unhindered as it does God’s bidding. The beginning of Genesis tells us this:

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God (the Spirit) swept over the face of the waters. 3Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” Genesis 1:1-5

The Holy Spirit, did not suddenly appear from nowhere at Pentecost but has been active in the Creation and in the lives of humanity from the dawn of creation. The Holy Spirit is the agent of change and the bearer of God’s blessing and grace, which can be poured over us as God wishes and God uses the Spirit to offer us his love time and time again.

So there you have it, or not. The Trinity as I have come to experience and understand it over the years is one being that expresses itself in three very different ways. As the Creator and loving parent; as our loving human brother and as a power for change and good which is fuelled by love. The Trinity, is I believe best expressed as love. A love that would and could do anything for all of us and all of creation to try and ensure that all we do is inspired and driven by love.

There are many examples at this present time that are, I think, good expressions of what the Trinity is all about. If the Trinity is ultimately about love and the way in which love binds the three persons of the Godhead together and unites them with us the Creation; then the way in which many of our fellow human beings have been going beyond their duties is a good example of that binding love. In God we are all one, we are all God’s creation and loved equally by God. If it is love that binds the Trinity then it is that love which inspires many of us to put others before ourselves because of the ways in which we are united with them. Love is the key to understanding the Trinity and the driving force for the creation in its love and care for each other.

Confused? Well, you are in good company for as I said at the start Christians have been discussing and disagreeing about who and what the Holy Trinity is for centuries and we have not stopped yet. But then that is one of the joys of theology because there is always more to discover and learn about God, for God is the one being we can never fully come to know, simply because we are not God. Enjoy the confusion and the arguments and somewhere within it all you will get a glimpse of what and who God really is, even if only for a fleeting moment.

Pentecost sermon by Caroline Longley (Lay Reader)

Submitted by Dean on Sat, 30/05/2020 - 13:11

Reflection for Sunday 31st May 2020
The Readings for this Sunday are John 20 19-23 and Acts 2 1-21

Gracious God, open our hearts and minds to receive your love and to hear your words to us today. Amen.

Recently I have been enjoying spotting young fledglings in my parent’s garden. Sparrows, Starling and Blackbird have so far made an appearance. Each look well fed and sometimes they are fatter than the harassed parents. The starling was still sporting the yellow gape “the feed me here marking”. They are also identifiable by that look of uncertainty at the world they inhabit. Whilst the adults come and go from the bird feeder with confidence, the youngsters land clumsily on the ground and then look up at it quizzically. Or they perch – slightly wobbly - in the nearby crab apple tree and wait for the food to come to them.

Making my first supermarket trip after quite a few weeks in self-isolation I felt somewhat similar to one of these fledglings. Slightly wobbly, and uncertain at this different world that I now had to face. Quizzically trying to work out the protocol for socially distanced queuing.

This seems in stark contrast to Peter’s confident emergence in our reading from Acts. As he moves from the fear of the upper room, and that time of waiting into a confident, Spirit filled speech to the waiting crowd.

The commonality though, is in the movement, the changing of circumstances and this something that we can perhaps identify with. After a long period of waiting, of sticking, as it were, to the safety of our nests, some of us now see the first signs of being able to cautiously poke our heads out. Although please remember those who must continue to shield themselves.

And quite rightly, we will need to move with caution. Quite rightly it will be a while before we can meet together again, and when we do, aspects of the way that we do church together will have to be different. And that will be a wrench. I suspect we may all be peering about quizzically for a while and trying to make sense of this new and different world. As our Primus +Mark has said, we closed the doors of the church out of love, out of a desire to keep everyone safe. And that must continue to be our overriding concern.

We often identify God with the safety of the unchangeable, with traditions that we know and love, with the stability of our buildings, the music and hymns that connect us with previous generations of worshippers. We think of the God who was and is and is to come, whose good character is certain. God who is perfect and who therefore does not have need or reason to change.

And yet at Pentecost we see a different facet of God. We see God in motion, God in the symbols of fire and wind. God who runs like a flame over a field of dry grass, or who dances like a candle flame. God who, like the wind, sets our whole world in motion. God whose touch moves the disciples from hiding away to proclaiming the good news. The God of change.

The earliest descriptions we have of Christian baptism specify that the water used should be running water – a stream or river. The living water as a symbol for God – again we have running movement, ripple and change and travel.

So we celebrate today, the birthday of the church and more personally, perhaps, the memory, or knowledge of our own baptism. The moment when we changed into one of God’s own, gradually or suddenly, however and whenever we consider that to have happened. And in the external changes that we continue to face, we can know that we

have a God who, is not only ‘back there’ in the familiar ways of doing church but who actually, is OK with change, is sometimes the agent of change, and who will fly and run and dance along with us as we go.