Saturday, 26 July 2014

Service of praise and thanksgiving for the 52nd year of Jamaican independence

"Jamaica land of beauty
We promise faithfully
To serve thee with our talents 
And bring our gifts to thee. "
Words by A.L.Hendricks

In her address to the Jamaican diaspora Her Excellency Aloun Ndombet-Assamba  , high commissioner spoke of the contribution of Jamaicans over one hundred years to this island and a joint struggle against evil and tyranny in 1914 and 1944. 

Children of the staff & friends of the Jamaican High commission give the National Pledge. Jordan and Abigail take their place! 

A dancer of praise choreographed by jackie Guy MBE. 

Bishop Delroy Powell of The New Testament Assembly England exhorts us to live with Vision, Faith , Courage and Hope. To put the violence of this world away and beat our swords into pruning hooks. 

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Saying happy retirement to Diane at Elmstead house

Staff, residents and their families gather to give thanks for 12 years of dedicated service from the manager of Elmstead house-a place of love, faith, care and joy. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

5th Sunday of Trinity

Last week we had the parable of the Sower as our gospel reading and this morning another parable is taken from the world of agriculture – the wheat and the tears.

Both parables are about us, the Kingdom of God, the church and both share a number of themes, generosity, growth and Harvest. This mornings parable touches on the question as to why there is evil in the world, in the kingdom of God yes in the church itself? and what should we do about it?

It has not been an easy week has it.
There has been a renewal of violence between Israel and Palestine and a distinct desire for the violence to continue as neither side in this age long argument over land and God’s name refuse to find a peaceful solution to their situation.
Then following hard on the heals of the latest in a long line of child abuse cases we start to hear of rumours of documents siting Politicians, Doctors, teachers and voluntary workers whose evil deeds were allowed to go un challenged for decades.
Then on Thursday the terrible news that a commercial airliner was shot out of the sky killing 298 passengers.

This week we were able to draw small comfort in the fact that the Synod of the Church of England has at last after decades of arguing agreed that God does call both men and women into the work of his kingdom, as deacons priests and bishops to lend a hand in the task of sowing the seed and growing the church.

What do we do when we see that evil flourishes in God’s beautiful and generous creation?

Verse 30 “Let both of them grow together until the harvest;” - leave it to me says Jesus and wait for the time that has been set for the harvest.

This is hard. It is hard to wait . it is hard to leave it to God to sort out . It is not right or fair it offends our sense of justice and a Loving God.

But the instruction in the parable to the workers who see evil flourish along side the good is not an injunction to do nothing.

There are some parts of the Church of England who now think that the word evil should be abandoned from the baptism liturgy. I am not sure why when it is clear to everyone, and especially those outside the church, what evil looks like and feels like. So pretending it does not exist ,wishing it does not exist is not what we are called to do in this parable. There is no doubt in the minds of the Master of the parable as to how the weeds have got in and amongst the wheat “An enemy has done this.”. nor it is the case that only the master sees the situation for what it is, the farm workers, the slaves, clearly identify the reality and growth of evil in direct contradiction to their own work and effort.

Verse 30 “Let both of them grow together until the harvest;” - leave it to me says Jesus and wait for the time that has been set for the harvest.

It's hard to wait.  And it's hard to understand - especially when
we see such terrible things happening; but when it comes to
dealing with those around us both in the church and out of it. The parable tells us what we are to do in the face of this evil – to plant and not to pluck, and wait for the harvest time in which the Master will give the command for both wheat and tear to be taken up.

We are to resist evil of course  - in ourselves and in others -
through his power.

We are called to recognize evil and to name it - and to pray to
God that he will take care of it, much as the farmer told his
servants in the parable that  he would take of it.

Importantly we are told to do good instead of evil
   - to bless instead of curse
   - to praise instead of criticize
    - to forgive instead of resent
   - to tell truth instead of lies.
- to help instead of walk away
   - to love instead of hate

It seems that there is a plan, that God does have a system,
but still - when you look at it with only the dim light of human
wisdom, or the closed eyes of human doubt and human pride,
there is almost no explaining why God allows the devil to cast
his evil seed in his garden..

Verse 30 “Let both of them grow together until the harvest;” - leave it to me says Jesus and wait for the time that has been set for the harvest.

This does not mean that we do nothing.
So what do we do?
Maybe instead of trying to weed out the evil in the world we should dedicate our lives to full-heartedly nourishing the good.

After all when confronted with darkness we can denounce it and we can curse it but the darkness will remain. It is by lighting one small candle that the darkness will be diminished.

Evil fades in the presence of goodness.
When we feel affirmed enough in our good points, our bad points will go into remission.

We need to remind ourselves that we live in a very imperfect world and our frustrations and powerlessness generally stem from our inflated expectations. Perfection is not part of human nature – imperfections are.

We can be assured that with all our imperfections God still finds us lovable, and if God finds us, in our weakness, in our imperfection, lovable then should we not accept one another and ourselves in the same way?

And in accepting one another, both weed and wheat, we can place the future in the hands of God by faith declaring, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.”

Friday, 18 July 2014

Bishop Peter to retire

Yesterday Bishop Peter sent a letter to his clergy announcing his intention to retire at the end of this year.

We give thanks for the ministry of our pastor, a wonderful bishop who has been a great friend to these parishes, and pray for him as he prepares to retire, and as he continues to exercise his ministry with us in the meantime.

God, eternal shepherd, you tend your Church in many ways and rule us with love. You have chosen your servant Peter to be a shepherd of your flock. Give him a spirit of courage and right judgment, a spirit of knowledge and love. By governing with fidelity those entrusted to his care, may he build your Church as a sign of salvation for the world. Amen.

Monday, 14 July 2014

4th Sunday of Trinity - the parable of the Sower

The parable of the sower is probably one of the better-remembered stories of the New Testament.

The image of a farmer sowing the seed is one of generosity. In to days world of technology that strives to reduce waste, is obsessed with profit margins and the eradication of human error there is something in the example of a man throwing sowing seed that is almost careless in its approach. The parable is one about sowing, not one that focuses on harvest. We are to sow seed of hope and love in our community. Reflecting on how we do this there are many examples of our generosity  Generously – Christmas Cheer ;Christmas lunch on Jesus: Passion and Plenty : numerous Coffee Mornings and Lunches; Summer Fete’s, Quiz nights– these act all bring the community together. The Harvest is of course not to be ignored  - but the hundred-fold harvest is not for the farmer alone and nor does Jesus go into detail as to how it is made possible! We strive to find ways of sowing Gods seed of hope and love in this community we are called to live in NOT for our glory or benefit but so that others may have life (eternal life, fulfilled life from God)

As I listen to the words of this much loved parable I think about our life together as a church and how in particular the quality of our welcome.
In October we will be studying, as a parish – all of us! – the “Everybody Welcome” course devised by Bob Jackson. I hope that as many of us as possible will be able to set aside 4 times when we can come together an reflect on our life together and the quality of our welcome.
Do people find it hard work to become part of our life, is it easier for them to walk on and find something else to do with their time?
Do people find us too busy and choked with our own concerns and business to actually stop and listen, to really offer friendship and compassion
Do people find that we are shallow and superficial, that our lofty claims to be loved by God and forgiven by God are exactly that rather than find a community where the call of Jesus Christ, were the values of the gospel and run through all that we do and say?

As I ask you to think about this I also ask you to ask yourself why would you do this? Why should we take out 4 evenings or will be it be afternoons or even a Saturday morning to share together, to listen to one another, to reflect on our life together – is it just so we can be a bigger and better congregation and church?
is it just so we can tick a box when the Archdeacon visits us later this week on his triennial visitation?

To create – NO
to allow God to create and make us a truly welcoming community where his word of love and forgiveness, his life of joy and fulfillment can flourish. It requires us to be generous with our time and offer some of it to God so that God can take it, bless it and multiply that gift for the sake of the this world that he created and loves.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

St. John's summers fete

A glorious day for us all. Great to see so many helping out and wonderful to have Paula our children's entertainer join us and make the afternoon such fun for the children.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Quiz and Pizza night at St Matthias - Friday 18th July

Why not have some fun and help raise money for St Matthias' funds next Friday?

Our 'pub quiz', run by Cheryl, is always a good event. Admission is £7, and this includes the cost of a pizza meal. Bring your own drinks.

The quiz is at 7pm on Friday 18th July.

Tickets are available from Fr Simon.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

St Thomas the doubter

A blessed feast day to you all.
Today is my 25th anniversary as a priest! As I have often said doubt is not the opposite of faith, certainty is. We live by faith and if our faith is not one inspired with questions and yes doubts then of what value is it to us and the world we are called to share our faith with?
We have just finished the memorial garden at St Mathhias so that those who wish can have a place for Rememberance and prayer for the faithful departed.