Articles

Good Friday worship

Submitted by Dean on Fri, 02/04/2021 - 11:03

Good Friday Friday 2nd April 2021

                    Place a Cross before you.

The Kyries        

Lord have mercy.

Christ have mercy.

Lord have mercy.

The Collect

Loving God, look graciously, we pray, on this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and given into the hands of sinners and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen

 

The Passion Gospel                  John 18:1 – 19:42   

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ 5They answered, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus replied, ‘I am he.’ Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he’, they stepped back and fell to the ground. 7Again he asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ 8Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.’ 9This was to fulfil the word that he had spoken, ‘I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.’ … 12 The soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. 13First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people. … 19 Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. 20Jesus answered, ‘I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.’ 22When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, ‘Is that how you answer the high priest?’ 23Jesus answered, ‘If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?’ 24Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. … 28 Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. 29So Pilate went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this man?’ 30They answered, ‘If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.’ 31Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.’ The Jews replied, ‘We are not permitted to put anyone to death.’ 32(This was to fulfil what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.) 33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ 34Jesus answered, ‘Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?’ 35Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?’ 36Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.’ 37Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ 38Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth? ’After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, ‘I find no case against him. 39But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ 40They shouted in reply, ‘Not this man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a bandit. 19Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. 3They kept coming up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and striking him on the face. 4Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.’ 5So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ 6When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.’ 7The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’  8 Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. 9He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. 10Pilate therefore said to him, ‘Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?’ 11Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’ 12From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, ‘If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.’ 13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. 14Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, ‘Here is your King!’ 15They cried out, ‘Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!’ Pilate asked them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but the emperor.’ 16Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus; 17and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. 18There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.’ 20Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. 21Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The King of the Jews”, but, “This man said, I am King of the Jews.” ’ 22Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’ Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ 27Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. 28 After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ 29A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.

30When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, … the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. .. 36These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘None of his bones shall be broken.’ 38 After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. 39Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 40They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 41Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Hold the Cross in your hands

Behold the wood of the cross,

on which our Saviour died.

We glory in your cross, O Lord,

and praise you for your mighty resurrection;

for by virtue of your cross

joy has come into our world.

Intercessions at the Foot of the Cross.  Let us pray:

For all victims of violence and for those who commit violence against others. For all who live in war torn countries and for those who seek, and those who are sent to restore peace and justice. For all who are mocked and insulted and for those who seek to belittle their neighbour, that the ways of gentleness and servant-hood may reign.

Holy God, holy and immortal, have mercy on us.

For the mission of God in the world and for a church that seeks to be true to the ways of Christ; that love, tolerance and acceptance of difference will be seen as strength and not weakness. For all Christians, everywhere, that they may be inspired to be the servants of  God’s people and stewards of God’s creation.

Holy God, holy and immortal, have mercy on us.

For those who are weak and in pain, especially for those living with incurable disease, those affected by the Covid19 Virus and those hurt by the violence of others. For those who are physically and mentally exhausted and those weak and sick from hunger and famine. For those who care for others and those who seek to help relieve the pains of life.

Holy God, holy and immortal, have mercy on us.

For the dying, for all in the last hours of their lives this day, that none may die alone or without hope. For those who mourn and those bereft of hope and joy, that they may find comfort and relief. For those who care for the dying and the bereaved that they may be supported and encouraged in all they do. For all who have died, that they may come to share in the risen and eternal life of Christ.

Holy God, holy and immortal,  have mercy on us.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Seven Last Words from the Cross

Jesus said: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Silence)

Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise.” (Silence)

Jesus said: “Woman, behold your son. Son behold your mother.” (Silence)

Jesus said: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Silence)

Jesus said: “I thirst.” (Silence)

Jesus said: “It is finished.” (Silence)

When I survey the wondrous Cross,

On which the Prince of glory died.

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

 

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast

Save in the death of Christ my God;

All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them to his blood.

 

See from his head, his hands, his feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down;

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

 

His dying crimson like a robe,

Spreads o’er his body on the Tree;

Then I am dead to all the globe,

And all the globe is dead to me.

 

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were an offering far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

The Agnus Dei 

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world: have mercy upon us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world: have mercy upon us.

Lamb of God you take away the sins of the world: grant us your peace.

Silence

Closing Prayer

Merciful God, you have restored us to life by the triumphant death and resurrection of Christ. Continue this healing work within us.  Grant that by faith in him who suffered on the Cross we may triumph in the power of his victory and never cease to give you dedicated service.  We ask this through Jesus Christ, our crucified Lord. Amen

Palm Sunday 28th March 2021

Submitted by Dean on Sat, 27/03/2021 - 11:37

PALM SUNDAY 2021

On Palm Sunday we usually do not preach a sermon but allow the Palm and Passion Gospels to preach for us. This year things are a bit different but none-the-less the words of the Gospel still speak clearly to us.

In the Palm Gospel, we hear of the joy of the crowd as Jesus entered Jerusalem. They saw him riding on a donkey and believe him to be the King who would save them from Roman oppression. In Jewish pageantry the King always rode at the back of any procession in the place of honour, not on a horse but on a donkey. By entering the Holy City on that beast of burden Jesus is proclaiming himself as the promised Messiah, the anointed one. The people read the symbolism and are overjoyed, here at last is hope for a better future.

How quickly this all changes in the following days as the Passion Gospel relates to us. The jubilant, hopeful cries of the crowd turn to jeers and a desire for blood is expressed. No more ‘Hosanna!’ the cry is now ‘Crucify him’. Jesus the gentle Messiah has let them down, or so they think. He hasn’t over powered the authorities by force, life is unchanged and their disappointment is vented as anger and hate.

Yet the Gospel tells us of the salvation won for our sakes by Jesus Christ in his death on the Cross. How in his blood he made a once and for all time atonement for the sins of all humanity and has ensured that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God.

The Passion Gospel (verses from St.Mark’s Account )

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, 14and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, “The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’ So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.’ They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, ‘Surely, not I?’ He said to them, ‘It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’ (Later) They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’ He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.’ Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.’ So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, ‘Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?’ But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ Jesus said, ‘I am; and “you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power”, and “coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?’ All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, ‘Prophesy!’ The guards also took him over and beat him. As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ He answered him, ‘You say so.’ Then the chief priests accused him of many things. 4Pilate asked him again, ‘Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.’ But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed. Now at the Passover festival Pilate used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ For he realised that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate spoke to them again, ‘Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?’ They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’ 14Pilate asked them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him!’ So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified. Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace and they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him. They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ 2And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, Lema Sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling for Elijah.’ And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’ There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem. When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.

 

Earth Hour 2021

Submitted by Dean on Tue, 23/03/2021 - 14:50

Earth Hour Saturday 27th March 8.30-9.30pm

2021 presents an unmissable opportunity. In 2021, world leaders will come together during key global conferences and forums (most importantly in Glasgow in November at the COP26) to set the environmental agenda for the next decade and beyond. Crucial political decisions will be made on climate action, nature, and sustainable development –- decisions that will directly affect the fate of humanity and our planet for years to come.

This Saturday evening switch off your lights, light a candle, say the prayer below and with millions around the world give the Earth a chance to breathe; as we all save an hour’s worth of resources. Pray also for COP26 that its outcomes will benefit Creation.

Creator God, this earth is beautiful and fragile. Forgive our confusion and inaction as we confront the challenges of climate change. In the light of your truth, seen so clearly in the life and teachings of Jesus, help us to re-examine ourselves and our lifestyle choices and see clearly the implications of how we live, on all that sustains life on earth. May we follow your lead in caring for every aspect of this precious world, which you made and love. Inspire us now to work together, as your people, to change priorities in the way we live so that we build a fair and safe world for all your creation and for future generations. We ask this through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen

Thoughts for Passion Sunday Lent V 21st March 2021 by the Rev'd Canon Dean Fostekew

Submitted by Dean on Sat, 20/03/2021 - 10:14

Lent V 2021 Passion Sunday Year B

“Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks ...” John 12:20

Today’s Gospel, contains something that is worth focusing on - that is the call to evangelism. The Disciples are asked by the Greeks to show them Jesus and they ask Philip for an introduction.The Greeks have been intrigued by what they had heard of Jesus and were also hungry for his good news. These Greeks had obviously heard of Jesus and his radical preaching and felt that it had something to say to them. They also acknowledged that they needed help accessing an audience with Jesus and that’s why they turned to Philip. Philip became the bridge between the Greeks and Jesus, between those seeking the ‘good news’ and the Good News himself. They need Philip to act as their evangelist and to bring Jesus to them.

This is something that remains true today. The ‘Good News’ of Christ is available to all God’s people but quite often a guide is needed to lead them to what they need to hear. Many also need an interpreter to help them understand what they hear as well. That’s where we followers of Jesus come in.

We are the people who are called to lead others to Christ - to the ‘good news’ and to explain to others what it means to us. We often do this quite naturally when we talk with others about our faith or our church-going. When we do so we are actually being evangelists for Christ - did you ever realise that? Evangelism sounds as though it is something difficult or complicated when in fact it is really very simple. It is as simple as talking about your faith in Jesus or inviting someone to join you at church. There is, however, a question we all need to ask ourselves; ‘How often have I invited someone to come along to church with me and to hear what the Gospel has to say to them?’

A few years ago while on holiday in Gran Canaria I attended the Sunday service in the Anglican Chaplaincy. At the service the priest preached a short homily in which he emphasised the value of reading the Scriptures on a regular basis, and most especially of reading the Gospels - the true good news of Christ. He told a story of how a young man, a confirmed atheist, came to faith after reading St.Mark’s Gospel account. He had given the young man a copy of the Gospel when he had sought him out for guidance and he had also invited him to come back at anytime, to talk again.

Have you ever read the Gospels all the way through? Have you seen how they fit together and how they differ? If you haven’t why not use these last few weeks of Lent to do so. Start with Mark then read Matthew then Luke and end with John. You will no doubt find new things within them, be comforted and encouraged by familiar words and I hope intrigued to read more and find out more about your faith.

For the more Scripture we read the more enthusiasm we can have for sharing the ‘Good News’. The more enthusiasm we have, the more excitement we develop the greater the desire to share that excitement with another is and when you share your insights with another, that’s when you are truly being an evangelist. Who knows it might just be your words that help someone else come to faith?

A refection for Lent IV Mothering Sunday 14th March 2021 by the Rev'd Russell Duncan

Submitted by Dean on Fri, 12/03/2021 - 20:47

I wonder whether, like me, you ever get confused between “Mother’s Day” and “Mothering Sunday”? I often have to remind myself as to the difference between them and their respective significances. As you may recall “Mother’s Day” is a celebration honouring the mother, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

On the other hand “Mothering Sunday” is a day honouring mothers and mother churches celebrated annually during Lent. On Mothering Sunday, ChrisCans have historically visited their mother church – the church in which they received the sacrament of baptism. It coincides with “Laetare Sunday”, (otherwise called “Refreshment Sunday”) being a day of respite from fasting halfway through the season of Lent. We are encouraged to rejoice that day. Symbolically the altar frontals and vestments are rose coloured rather than penitenial purple.

I doubt that many of us here will actually have been baptised at the Church of the Good Shepherd. I was baptised many years ago at the parish church where my grandmother was a member, where my parents were married and where my mother remains. I pass it every time I go home. There is something special about that family connection even if some family are no longer with us. Looking back, it clearly had an important part in my life. Can you recall where you were baptised? What connections are still there?

In choosing an image to illustrate Mothering Sunday I was reminded of a “Matryoshka doll”. You may recall these comprise a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside another. You may still have one. They are often seen as a symbol or traditional representation of the mother carrying a child with her. It can also be seen as a representation of a chain of mothers carrying on the family legacy through the child in their womb. They illustrate the unity of body, soul, mind, heart and spirit.

In his 2021 Lenten book “Thy will be done”, Stephen Cherry, Dean of King’s College, Cambridge makes reference to the concept of “motherly father”. It is not one which I have really come across before. Not only does it challenge how we think of God but it offers us a fresh insight into our understanding too. One of the images he refers to is the well-known fifteenth century icon by Andrei Rublev based upon the hospitality of Abraham. He comments that “for many who meditate on it they will be struck by the feminine nature of the forms and the androgyny”. What do you think?

He then goes on to comment that “part of the power of that icon is that it communicates something integrating and healthy and complete about our understanding of God’s nature and relationship with us. However there are many people for whom that health and fullness is no longer conveyed by the word “father” alone. Whatever we say, however, when we use the word “father” here we are implying “mother” and referring to the loving kindness of God. What do you think?

The story of Moses in the basket made of bullrushes symbolises so much of motherhood, tenderness, compassion, love and much more. As does the prayer which I wish to conclude with:-

Loving God,
We give you thanks for all who care for us, Who have encouraged us and helped us grow, Who have forgiven us,
And cared for us when we are unwell,
Who have supported us when times were hard, Who have challenged us
Who have told us about you.
Thank you, Amen.