Thursday, 30 August 2012

Reflections on Willesden

Our Assumptiontide celebrations at St Matthias were fabulous.

Readers of this blog will already have seen a picture from after our Solemn Mass on the evening of 15th August. This was followed by a party in the vicarage garden. I was responsible for taking the remains of this to the bottle bank the following morning, and can testify on that basis to the fulsomeness of the celebration!

All this jollity aside, our observance actually started a few days earlier with a walking pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Willesden.

A group of pilgrims set out by foot from St Matthias, crossed over the Edgware Road, walked round the Welsh Harp reservoir, through a nature reserve, and down through the streets of urban Neasden (including the North Circular Road) to St Mary's Church, where we had Mass and lunch.

At the time I was struck by one feature of my experience. Our pilgrimage led us from the quiet beauty of the nature reserve, lush and green in the height of mid-August, into the grimy bustle of a congested London high road. Precisely in order to make our pilgrimage, our holy journey, we had to leave peace, quiet, and nature - those things popularly associated with religious sensibility - and step out into the noisy concrete chaos of a 21st century city.

And there you have, in a metaphorical nutshell, a central claim of Christianity. God's Kingdom is not to be found in escaping from the realities of life. Rather, it is in the here-and-now - the world in which millions of people live and work, laugh and cry - that the Kingdom is growing. Here God is at work transfiguring the ordinary things of life. Here he is at work in us, wherever justice is done, wherever love is lived out. Religion, proper religion, does not involve escape from the world into some inner realm of peace. It involves transformation of the world, in all its dirty, confused, reality.

It was, of course, no bad thing to be reminded of this on a pilgrimage focused on Our Lady. She, as the guarantor of the Incarnation, is intimately associated in Christian thought with our belief that we are saved through the material world, rather than saved from the material world. In her Magnificat we hear echoed God's concern for the world we inhabit. In her Assumption we have a foretaste of that world as transformed.

That, then, is what I took away from Willesden. I'll end with some words from Fr Ken Leech:

The Assumption rejects the dualism of body and soul which still affects the Christian world: it is the whole person which is raised, just as it is the whole material creation which is to be transformed and share the freedom of the children of God (Rom.8).

Mary is thus the forerunner of the cosmic assumption of which Paul writes; she is the microcosm of the new and glorified creation. The dogma is part an assertion of the materialistic base of the Christian hope.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Trinity 12 Reflection Sunday 26th August 2012

Thoughts for Trinity 12
Ephesians 6 verse 13
Therefore take up the whole armour ofGod, 

What is thearmour of God that Paul is referring to?

If I amtruthful this is an image that sits uncomfortably with me at the beginning ofthe 3rd Christian Millennium that is already proving to be filledwith as much violence and warfare as the first two.  Swords and shields carried by those who claimto know all truth and claim to know the only way to salvation have caused somuch pain in the life of the world and within the church in its first twomillennium.

But thenagain I look around and see a world that is need of protection, millions inAfrica need protection from the evil of oppression, corruption violence, war,famine and displacement.

I Listenthose nearer home, to some of you sitting in church this morning, telling me ofyour struggles and battles, and I have been asked to pray for jobs, homes, afinancial blessing, faith in times of doubt, comfort in times of loss, peacewhen families are divided.

So maybe wedo need to clothe ourselves with the whole armour of God.

During the height of battleagainst the Apartheid  government inSouth Africa, Ted Koppel interviewed Bishop Desmond Tutu and asked if thesituation in South Africa was hopeless. “Of course it is hopeless from a humanpoint of view,” he said. But then he smiled and continued on. “But we believein the resurrection, and so we are prisoners of hope.”
That is what we become when weput on the full armor of God, prisoners of hope. In the life, death, andresurrection of Jesus we have been taken captive by a hope that will liberateus from all hopelessness. In putting on God’s armour, we become clothed with ahope that transcends fear, that transcends death, and allows us to be free inthe midst of pain, suffering and uncertainty. In dressing ourselves in thegarments of God, we find a protection that goes beyond the imagination offearful social policy, living with increased security measures and the like.
To put on God’s armor is torecognize that God has turned upside down our notions of power. For in God’skingdom, it is the weak who are strong, the lowly who are exalted. When we puton God’s armour we discover that our strength comes not in the sword but in theWord of God which fills and transforms us, renews us, and sustains us. When weput on the full armour of God, our hearts and are souls and our minds are freedfrom the power of evil and terror that fills our world today.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Thoughts on Trinity 11

Our Gospel reading for Sunday was the third in a series of four readings from John's Gospel on Jesus as the bread of life. We thought about how the reality of the real presence of God in the Eucharist is conected to the Incartantion - that God chose to be human to be the Emmanuel (God with us). The physcial reception and consumption of the body and blood of Christ is a deeply intimate act is which we are invited to touch and taste God and be nourished in order that we too might be Emmanuel to the world.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Feast of Assumption of the B.V.M

It was a wonderful evening with friends from across the deanery. Fr. William and Fr Steven, formerly on the staff, were with us as well as Fr Bob from St Olave Mitcham who preached.

Im getting so excited

Of course its Rome's big assumption today......but that is not why I am really getting excited.
A special visitor is coming to church tonight - No not Jesus he is always with us! - it is Fr William!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

thoughts on Trinity 10

This Sunday we were challenged to live out our faith by showing compassion to those around us and praying for wisdom in our choices. Jesus is the bread of life and bread is a symbol of our compassion, this week world leaders met to address the needs of the hungry in the world, and wisdom, see the Hebrew scriptures Proverbs.