Sunday, 24 November 2013

Christ the King

There were good reasons to look forward to this weekend: it is the great feast of Christ the King today, and locally we had the privilege of baptising baby Olivia Kosisochukwu Ejim into membership of the Church at St Matthias this morning.

For me, another thing hotly anticipated was the 50th anniversary Dr Who, The Day of the Doctor, broadcast yesterday (and on i-player here until 1st December). In the run-up to this there had been all sorts of press speculation about the contents, numerous programmes about Dr Who on the telly, and a definite buzz on social media. Dr Who has become popular, which is both pleasing and odd for someone like me who liked it as a child, at a time when this was deeply unfashionable.

Why is this peculiar sci-fi drama suddenly so trendy? Why were people without an ounce of the geek about them glued to their TV screens yesterday evening? One reason, I think, is that the new version of Doctor Who presents us with companions to the Doctor who are very much like us, ordinary people, who you can imagine meeting on any bus or tube train. Unlike the cardboard characters from the old version, these companions have depth, they have families, relationships, loves, and hates. And these things matter, and continue to matter after the companions meet the Doctor. These ordinary people get taken into absolutely extraordinary situations: exploring time and space, meeting species, planets, cultures, and realities beyond our wildest imaginings. This appeals to us: it speaks to an urge to explore, to cross boundaries, to live live fully and richly, to - as I said - be extraordinary, whilst still remaining the ordinary people we are.

Now, at the risk of sounding like the worst sort of preacher in the entire world ever - the sort of person who talks about something which has nothing whatsoever to do with the Christian faith, and then throws in the casual line "Jesus is a bit like..." ("Jesus is a bit like football", "Jesus is a bit like spaghetti bolognese") - the Christian Church is in the business of making the ordinary extraordinary. Today's feast celebrates Christ the Universal King, the king of everything, Lord of all that exists. This man from Nazareth, killed by the Roman Empire, possesses an empire of which Caesar could only ever dream - an empire extending over everything that is, everything that has been, and everything that ever will be. Yet it is not an empire built on conquest and oppression, but one built out of love, the love of God victorious on the Cross.

Christ, the ordinary man who is also God, does not simply reign over us. He invites us to reign with him. We, children of God by God's grace, come to share in Christ's reign, not only for this life, but eternally. To share, that is, in absolutely everything that matters. And if that is not a case of the ordinary being made extraordinary, I don't know what is. It is certainly what we claimed for our new Christian today through baptism.

In one of my favourite Dr Who episodes, a character with the fabulous name of Elton Pope says this,

When you're a kid, they tell you it's all grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid, and that's it. No, the truth is the world is so much stranger than that, so much darker, and so much madder. And so much better!

To which the only Christian response is 'Amen'.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Remembrance Sunday 10th November

Remember Me
(The voice of the dead)

Remember me

Duty called and I went to war

Though I'd never fired a gun before

I paid the price for your new day

As all my dreams were blown away

Remember me

We all stood true as whistles blew
And faced the shell and stench of Hell

Now battle's done, there is no sound
Our bones decay beneath the ground

We cannot see, or smell, or hear

There is no death, or hope or fear

Remember me

Once we, like you, would laugh and talk

And run and walk and do the things that you all do

But now we lie in rows so neat

Beneath the soil, beneath your feet

Remember me

In mud and gore and the blood of war

We fought and fell and move no more

Remember me, I am not dead

I'm just a voice within your head

Harry Riley

Saturday, 2 November 2013

All Souls Day

Today is All Souls Day. Mass will be celebrated for all the departed at both of our churches at 12 noon.

Welcome, Lord, into your calm and peaceful kingdom those who, out of this present life, have departed to be with you; grant them rest and a place with the spirits of the just; and give them the life that knows not age, the reward that passes not away.

Friday, 1 November 2013

All Saints Day

Happy feast day! Today the Church celebrates our fellowship with the saints in glory.  As Christians we don't simply 'remember' the saints, looking to them as past examples of Christian life, from whom we can learn. This is important, of course, but it's by no means the whole story. Rather, we believe that the souls of the saints continue to pray for us, and exist in fellowship with us. They are our heavenly family, our friends, who encourage us onwards in our journey through life.