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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.

No change in Church lockdown. Latest news from the College of Bishops

Submitted by Dean on Thu, 28/05/2020 - 15:34

NO CHANGE TO COLLEGE OF BISHOPS’ GUIDANCE AT PHASE 1 OF EASING LOCKDOWN

Following the announcement by the First Minister that Phase 1 of the Scottish Government’s route map will take effect tomorrow [Friday 29 May], the College of Bishops has confirmed that the minor easing of lockdown restrictions permitted under Phase 1 does not result in any change to existing guidance previously issued by the College of Bishops for the Scottish Episcopal Church. Church buildings therefore remain closed for the time being and the guidance issued on 23 and 26 March 2020 remains in place.

The Advisory Group established to provide guidance for SEC churches has had its first meeting and is working to address the respective phases of the Government’s route map. Initially, therefore, it is concentrating on guidance for Phase 2 which will be issued as soon as it is available.

When, in due course, the reopening of churches becomes permissible, as the College of Bishops has previously indicated, no church will be required to reopen against its will. The vestry of each church will be responsible for assessing, in the light of guidance produced, whether it wishes to reopen and is in a position to put in place the measures which will be necessary for any such reopening. It will then need to approach the Bishop for consent to reopen. Guidance will indicate the appropriate process to follow but, in substance, the intention is that both the vestry and Bishop will need to be content before any reopening can occur.

General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church         Scottish Charity No SC015962

Sing Out!

Submitted by Dean on Wed, 27/05/2020 - 14:39

Sing Out!

There is a well known phrase associated with St.Augustine of Hippo a 5th century theologian which goes:

“He who sings, prays twice.”

or in the original Latin; Qui bene contat bis orat’ which actually translates as; ‘He who sings WELL prays twice’. Either of these phrases are good, although the correct translation is probably more accurate about singing wellTo be truthful, though, St.Augustine did not actually say either of them! He did write that:

“..singing belongs to one who loves..”

or more accurately:

“For he who sings praise, does not only praise but also praises joyfully; he who sings praise, not only sings but also loves Him whom he is singing about, to or for.”

Basically, what St.Augustine is saying is that singing is an act of love. Not only do we sing to God out of love, we sing to each other as a love gift too, regardless of how our voice actually sounds!

Think of the times when you may have sung to someone you love and care about; lullabies to a baby, nursery rhymes to an infant, the lyrics of ‘your song’ to your partner or as I did as my aunt was dying the words of her favourite hymn. No matter how good or bad our voices may be we have been given them to sing out with. I suspect that we humans have been making singing noises since we first evolved the ability to speak.

Just look at how a small child learns to talk, they not only repeat words they sing them and by singing them they memorise them, while playing with them at the same time. We adults sometimes forget to have fun with our voices and singing can be a good reminder to us to enjoy our vocal abilities – whatever sound we make is God given and as such acceptable to God.

In this time of lockdown, singing to yourself or for another or even with another on a video call or the telephone can be a great comfort and good fun. As you sing your favourite hymns sing them with love; love for God and for each other and as we do so we will pray twice, whether or not St.Augustine said it originally.