Tuesday, 28 May 2013


Picnic lunch in the grounds of Walsingham Abbey
Yesterday I went with friends on the National Pilgrimage to Walsingham. It was an exhausting, but wonderful day, involving being up at the crack of dawn, a coach journey across East Anglia, Mass in the grounds of Walsingham Abbey, a fabulous picnic lunch, a sermon from the Archbishop of York, a procession and Benediction.

In his sermon the Archbishop reflected on the words of Mary's song, the Magnificat:

The words of Mary's Magnificat shake us abruptly from our complacent confidence. They turn the World topsy turvy.

Walsingham is the national shrine of Mary. Our parishes attend their annual youth pilgrimage. Why not have a look at the Shrine's website? And if you find yourself in Norfolk, why not visit?!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Reflection for the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity

Today we celebrate our faith in the one God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

People can be quite sceptical of Christian belief in the Holy Trinity. Aren't we claiming to know too much about God? Aren't we doing away with mystery and offering a roadmap to God, a description of the divine?

On the contrary, our Christian faith frankly admits that God is a mystery. The creator of everything that exists has to be beyond our ability to understand. What the doctrine of the Holy Trinity teaches us is that the utterly mysterious God, who lies behind and beyond everything, is - if you like - eternally able to invite us to share in his mystery.

This is the God who, as Father, reaches out to us, by sending his Son in flesh like ours and by, as our second reading puts it, sending his Spirit, pouring love into our hearts. This is the God who reaches out to draw us in, to embrace us. This is the God, in other words, who is love.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Far from Ordinary!

The season of Easter ended yesterday with our celebration of Pentecost.

Today we re-enter the season known as Ordinary Time: green vestments are usually worn at Mass, and our hymns and readings lack any particular 'seasonal feel'. Our Paschal Candle has moved out of the sanctuary, and is now by the font. It will be used at baptisms and funerals throughout the year until next Easter. At St Matthias yesterday we extinguished our candle at the end of Mass, blowing it out after singing 'Happy Birthday Dear Church'!

Writing from South Africa, our reader Angharad has this to say:

In the Church kalender we are now back in 'Ordinary time'. This does not mean 'unimportant time' or 'less-holy-time'! Ordinary Time is called 'ordinary' simply because the weeks are numbered. The Latin word 'ordinalis', which refers to numbers in a series, stems from the Latin word 'ordo', from which we get the English word order. SO... Ordinary Time indicates the ordered life of the Church.

It's fitting that this longest section of Ordinary Time begins with our holding onto the challenge and excitement of Pentecost of being challenged to live lives inspired by the Holy Spirit - in the everyday! That's why there's nothing "ordinary" about Ordinary Time.
 Now that Easter is over, we say the prayer known as the Angelus again. Perhaps you would like to make this part of your prayer life during this season.


Today is the Christian Festival of Pentecost. At the heart of this feast day is the remembering of the events that are recorded in the Acts of the Apostles when the Holy Spirit descended upon a small group of followers of Jesus Christ and fired them with an unquenchable faith in God and their ability, by God’s Grace, to change the course of history for the world.

As we face the challenges in our lives, these can be personal or as a church we can think of the need to raise £10K to build a kitchen in the back of St John’s church to enhance our time together on a Sunday and increase the use of the church by the community in the week, or at St Matthias the need raise £15K to replace our boiler that will be shut down in June, we can draw comfort from the fact that with the Holy Spirit as our companion all things are possible. When faced with seemingly insurmountable odds it is hard to know where to start.

If we were planning a movement that would shape the world for all time would we have started with a baby in a stable, with God on a cross, with a small group of men and women in a small room? But this is exactly what God choose for us and we give thanks for the church that is the greatest gift left by Jesus and continuously renewed by the Holy Spirit.
As we gather together we can draw inspiration from another great leader of the 20th century 

Martin Luther King Jr who wrote:
“ Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Ascension Day

Today we continue our Easter celebrations by remembering Jesus' ascension into heaven. The hymn we sing at evening prayer captures the feel of this feast day:

Eternal Monarch, King most high,
Whose blood hath brought redemption nigh,
By Whom the death of Death was wrought,
And conquering grace’s battle fought.

Ascending to the throne of might,
And seated at the Father’s right,
All power in Heav’n is Jesu’s own,
That here His manhood had not known.

That so, in nature’s triple frame,
Each heav’nly and each earthly name,
And things in hell’s abyss abhorred,
May bend the knee and own Him Lord.

Yea, angels tremble when they see
How changed is our humanity;
That flesh hath purged what flesh had stained,
And God, the Flesh of God, hath reigned.

Be Thou our joy and strong defense,
Who art our future recompense;
So shall the light that springs from Thee
Be ours through all eternity.

O risen Christ, ascended Lord,
All praise to Thee let earth accord,
Who art, while endless ages run,
With Father and with Spirit One.

Crucially, today is about the glorification of Jesus' humanity. At the ascension, Jesus doesn't stop being human, but rather takes our human nature to the throne of God. A human being is enthroned in heaven, and worshipped by angels. "God, the Flesh of God, hath reigned."

Through our baptism we share in the risen humanity of Jesus. And every human being who has ever lived, or will, live has something in common with the ascended Jesus simply in virtue of their humanity. Today let's recommit ourselves to recognising the dignity of every human being, to building a world which respects that dignity, to living as Christians as a sign of hope to those around us, and to giving thanks for what God has done for us through Jesus, risen from the dead and ascended into heaven.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Help us raise money for a new boiler!

We are pleased that lots of people from all over the world read our blog regularly, and see this as a growing and important part of our ministry in these parishes.

There is now the option to donate to our work by clicking on the 'donate' button on the right-hand side, beneath the Twitter feed.

Please consider doing this. At the moment, donations will go towards the cost of a new boiler for St Matthias Church. Our gas safety certificate will not be renewed this summer, so we need to find £15,000 to pay for a new boiler. This will heat both our church and our community halls, which are used daily by groups ranging from refugee organisations to local Brownies.

We will be on a hard fundraising drive in the parish over the next few months, and have numerous events planned, which you'll be hearing more about! However, we need to raise a lot of money for a small parish, so we'd appreciate it if our friends from further afield could help. Anything you feel able to give would be very welcome.

Thank you in advance.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

There's Something About Mary

Happy May Day! The month of May is traditionally a time for celebrating Our Lady.

And there's a lot to celebrate. Sadly people have sometimes misunderstood devotion to Mary, which is a deeply traditional and ancient part of Christian practice, thinking that it somehow 'distracts' from a focus on Jesus. On the contrary, devotion to Mary points to Jesus, reminding us that, though her, God genuinely became a human being, taking our flesh in Jesus. This man is truly God; and so this woman is truly God's Mother.

Mary, who we ask to pray for us, reminds us of the communal nature of Christianity. It is not all about 'me and God' - we are (as our politicians are fond of saying) all in it together. We support each other by our prayers, and Mary - the first to accept Christ - is a particularly potent sign of the praying Church.

Mary, taken up into glory, reminds us of our destiny. Human beings are not created for death. We are called to share one day in the Easter life which Mary shares already with her Son.

Mary, who co-operated with God's work of redemption, reminds us that we are called to do likewise. God does not treat us as puppets. He longs for a free, loving, response from us.

In these, and many other ways, Mary points to important truths about our redemption in Christ. The orthodox Christian vision of the world is one for which the created, material world is good, and has been glorified by the Incarnation. It is one in which God respects our humanity, working with it and alongside it, rather than over and against it. Those times in Christian history where there has been opposition to honouring Mary have also been times where one or more of these truths has been questioned.