Wednesday, 27 February 2013

2nd Sunday of Lent

This Sundays readings help us in our exploration of the theme discipleship.
At the heart of our discipleship is prayer and it is because of pray that we are called to suffer with the pain and loss of those around us. For pray is our daily conversation with God and it is in this time with God that we become more God-like and so see and feel as God does for his creation.

‘God-like’ means that we our lives become increasingly focused on the needs of the other so that when those around us weep we weep and when those around us laugh we are able to laugh with them. It is prayer that transforms our lives so that we are able to bear our own suffering and that of others. St Paul speaks of this in our second reading from the Philippians this morning:
He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for,
my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved

In the week ahead this lent  we are given the the example of Abraham, who is able to talk with God and admit to his deepest needs, so that we can turn and ask of ourselves whether we are as open with God in our lives.

It is to the words of St Paul that we can turn when we feel unfit or unsure of Gods ability to transform our weakness into his glory. For he writes “Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.”

It is to the example of Jesus unafraid of Herod and his threats, determined even in the face of death that we place our hope and trust. It is to Jesus who weeps over Jerusalem that we must open our heart and know that he has the power to save.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Ash Wednesday

"Come back to me", we read of God saying in the book of Joel. And turning back to God is what today is all about.

We have all turned away from God through sin. We receive ashes at today's Mass as a sign of our turning back to God. God calls us to be his People once again, to re-live the new life we received at our baptism, and so be ready to celebrate the passing over of Jesus from death to life at the end of Holy Week.

Throughout Lent, which begins today, we try to co-operate with God's grace, to be renewed. In this way we will be ready to participate in the great events of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil.

There are a number of ways in which we can keep Lent well. One thing which we should all consider - and we in the Church of England are sometimes not very good at this - is making our confession. Celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) gives us a chance to examine ourselves, to confess our sins, and - most importantly - to encounter God's forgiving grace and receive strength to live the Christian life more fully. If you would like to make your confession, please talk to any priest.

More generally, there are three ways in which Christians have traditionally observed Lent:

  • Fasting - A lot of people give something up for Lent. In doing this, we develop self-control and, with God's help, set ourselves free from dependency.
  • Prayer - Lent is a good time to think about our prayer lives, to develop the habit of saying morning and evening prayers, and to try new ways of praying - for example, praying the rosary or praying with the Bible.
  • Almsgiving - In being generous to others, whether with our money or our time, we share in the love which God has for all people.

We will also be running a Lent course at St Matthias'. This starts next Thursday evening. Alternatively, you might like to join our brothers and sisters at St John's on Wednesday mornings.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Service of songs for our late brother Adeniyi Adebanjo

Tonight over 200 of us gathered at St. John's to remember before God our brother Adeniyi and to pray for his family and comfort one another in our loss and grief.
May he rest in peace and rise in glory and may we all know the love and peace of God in our hearts at this time.

O God, Who brought us to birth,
and in whose arms we die
In our grief and shock
contain and comfort us;
embrace us with your love,
give us hope in our confusion
and grace to let go into new life
through Jesus Christ. AMEN

Please join us tomorrow for his Funeral Mass at 1.00pm

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Alleluia! Song of Sweetness!

Today is the Sunday before Lent. As we prepare in that season to celebrate Easter, we don't use the Easter word 'Alleluia', so this was the last Sunday we'll be singing it for a while. In some churches they 'bury' the word 'Alleluia' on Tuesday!

In the old hymn books there was a hymn that captured the spirit of this Sunday well:

Alleluia, song of sweetness,
voice of joy that cannot die;
alleluia is the anthem
ever raised by choirs on high;
in the house of God abiding
thus they sing eternally.

Alleluia thou resoundest,
true Jerusalem and free;
alleluia, joyful mother,
all thy children sing with thee;
but by Babylon's sad waters
mourning exiles now are we.

Alleluia cannot always
be our song while here below;
alleluia our transgressions
make us for awhile forgo;
fort the solemn time is coming
when our tears for sin must flow.

Therefore in our hymns we pray thee,
grant us, blessed Trinity,
at the last to keep thine Easter,
in our home beyond the sky,
there to thee for ever singing
alleluia joyfully.

Lent begins on Wednesday. How will you be observing it? There are some suggestions here.

And what better way to begin Lent than by coming to Mass and receiving ashes? There is a said Mass at St John's at 11am and a sung Mass at St Matthias at 7:30pm.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Thought for Candlemas

In our Gospel for Candlemas we meet a cast of characters we can recognise and relate to.

Mary the new mother

Joseph the father and husband

Simeon the strange but wise old man

Anna the effervescent and welcoming old woman

All brought into our focus by a 40 day old baby who is also our God and King. Each of these characters is given hope and new life in their encounter with the Christ-child. Simeon defies all he knows about the great and mighty messiah and recognises him in the babe in arms Anna bounces with joy and shares the hope of the new belonging for all encompassed by this babe, held in his mother's arms.

There is a glorious interlinking between these people in the snapshot of the temple. The give and receive from each other regardless of prescribed societal and religious norms. And herein lies a joy and a lesson for us as 'church'. We need each other. We are less than the Church without each other. Young and Old, Male and Female, gay and straight, able and less able bodied, healthy and sick, happy and miserable black, white and all the colours in between. Only together are we Church, are we the Body of Christ.