Friday, 31 May 2013

The Visitation

Today is the feast of the Visitation of our Lady, when we recall the story in Luke's gospel where Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth. Mary is greeted by Elizabeth as full of grace, and the child in Mary's womb (John the Baptist) leaps for joy. Mary sings her song, the Magnificat, which we use every day at evening prayer:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.
There is a danger of spiritualising away Mary's words in the Magnificat, of thinking that all this talk of the lowly and the hungry is really about people who are inwardly humble, or who hunger for God (rather than for food*). No: the clear message of the prophets in the Old Testament is that our God is on the side of the poor and powerless, and this message finds an echo in Mary's song. In these times of economic crisis, it is a message we should take on board!

*Of course, it's a good thing to hunger for God - it's just that this isn't what this passage of scripture is talking about!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Funeral of the late Jean Thorpe RIP

Many of us gathered to say our goodbye's to our sister in faith Jean Thorpe. Jean has been a faithful member of the congregation of St Matthias for decades and we honoured her faithfulness and generosity that along with many others contributed to the very church building in which we gathered to celebrate the Mass.
A big thank you to Frances who organised the refreshments and ensured that Jeans wishes were fulfilled.
Rest Eternal Grant unto her and let light perpetual shine upon her.

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.