Sunday, 13 October 2013
"Thanks be to God", "let us give thanks to the Lord our God" - the language of thanksgiving permeates the Church's worship, as it does the prayer life of many Christians. When we say grace, for example, we give thanks for our food. Today's gospel reading picks up the theme of thanksgiving - the Samiritan leper cured by Jesus gives thanks for his healing.
Saying thank-you is an essential part of our lives as Christians, and we should make deliberate efforts to include thanksgiving in our daily prayer. This is not because God needs our thanks, or relies on it, or gets upset if we don't say 'thank you', as though God were like one of those people who only does good things for others to get thanks, audibly huffing if no thanks is forthcoming. Rather we need to thank God, because as we get into the habit of doing so, we are transformed.
As we become people who regularly give thanks we train ourselves, with the help of God's grace, to see the world in a new way. We learn to see the world for what it really is, a gift of God, given out of love. And to recognise the world as this is to recognise ourselves as loved by God, and so to be open to receive more fully from him.
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Today the Church in this country celebrates Mary under the title of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Many people in our congregations have a strong attachment to the shrine at Walsingham in Norfolk. In particular, every year a group of young people from our churches go on the Walsingham Youth Pilgrimage.
To find out more about the shrine, see the website here. You might like to consider joining the Society of Our Lady of Walsingham here.
O Mary, recall the solemn moment when Jesus, your divine son, dying on the cross, confided us to your maternal care. You are our mother, we desire ever to remain your devout children. let us therefore feel the effects of your powerful intercession with Jesus Christ. make your name again glorious in the shrine once renowned throughout England by your visits, favours, and many miracles.
Pray, O holy mother of God, for the conversion of England, restoration of the sick, consolation for the afflicted, repentance of sinners, peace to the departed.
O blessed Mary, mother of God, our Lady of Walsingham, intercede for us.
Sunday, 22 September 2013
Today's gospel presents us with a stark choice: you cannot serve both God or wealth.
The problem with wealth is that it gets hold of us and takes control of our lives, not just individually, but as communities, as a society. This is particularly obvious in a capitalist society of the sort that we inhabit. Our whole way of life is dominated by making money for people - relatively few people, it should be said, although that is not the only problem with the situation we find ourselves in. Everything else comes second to making money. Education, family, leisure, the worship of God and the fellowship of his Church - all of these things have to slot into whatever gaps are left after work and the pursuit of profit have had their share of our lives.
More than that, we are taught from childhood onwards to want wealth, to desire it. But the thing is, no matter how much we have, we're taught, we're formed, to want more and more and more. Nothing is ever enough: wealth ceases to be a means to an end, becomes an end in itself. Money, created by human beings, ends up ruling human beings. Our livelihoods, our food and shelter, our sense of who we are and our worth is entirely at the mercy of something we ourselves have made.
But look at what has happened here - we, who were created to have our desires fulfilled by the endless love of God (today's collect echoes Saint Augustine, "our hearts are restless until they find rest in you"), endlessly desire wealth which can never fulfil us. We, who have been given dominion by God over creation, are controlled by something of our own making.
Wealth acts as a false god. It has a dynamic of its own, which takes hold of us and which prevents us from living with God, whose service, as Morning Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer puts it, is perfect freedom. Wealth entraps us, enslaving us to its dominating worship at the expense of the liberating service of the God and Father of Jesus Christ.
This cannot be acceptable. We were created for something better than this and have, through Jesus Christ, already been set free from the sin of which this idolatry of wealth is a particularly glaring form. As Christians we have promised at our baptism to serve God rather than wealth. We need to learn how to do this on a day-by-day basis. This is a slow and painful process, as we - under God's grace - gradually lose the old way of seeing the world, focused on the accumulation of wealth, and learn instead to see the world in the light of the gospel.
Bit by bit we can refocus our desires and our attitudes, away from the wealth-orientated views of our newspapers and television screen - the views that blame the poor for their own plight whilst praising wealth, that reduce the infinite worth of human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, to a bank balance - towards the vision of the gospel, for which the world is a free gift of a loving God, who wills that "everyone be saved.. and come to knowledge of the truth", and in whose Kingdom the hungry are fed and the poor lifted up. Through receiving the sacraments, prayer, the study of scripture, learning about our faith, and Christian fellowship, we can learn to see the world anew, to desire anew.
And who knows, maybe then we might show those around us that there is something better on offer than the world we presently inhabit.
|Trevor reading a poem|
Down at St Matthias vicarage we enjoyed listening to Trevor Potter, a member of our congregation, reading some poems on Friday night. Trevor read some of his own work, as well as various pieces by other writers.
We are very fortunate that Trevor made his talents available to our church community. If you would like to read some of his poems for yourself, he has a blog here.
Thursday, 19 September 2013
One of the lovely things about St Matthias is the number of local community groups that use our halls.
Recently, Gifty and Vicky have started up Rainbow Kids Club, an after-school club for primary age children, at St Matthias hall.
If you are interested in making use of this club, email them!
Sunday, 15 September 2013
"Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?"
In today's gospel we are given the images of a shepherd seeking out a solitary lost sheep and of a woman searching the house for a lost coin.
Given by Jesus in response to criticism of his mixing with 'sinners', these images present him as valuing every person to such an extent that he will seek them out when they are lost.
Every single person on this planet is of incomparable worth because they are valued by God. As Christians, we have to believe that about others - we cannot sign up for any way of thinking about, or acting towards, people which sees them as dispensable, in the cause of 'the Economy', 'the greater good', 'the Nation' or whatever.
But we also have to believe it about ourselves, which can sometimes be difficult. We are loved by God, we are valuable, we are worthwhile. Whatever others, the world around us, or we ourselves might try to say about us, nothing can change that. And nothing we do, nothing we are, can separate us from the love of God in Christ. Jesus, who seeks out the lost sheep, is always there to welcome us home - a reality we celebrate in the sacrament of confession.
Monday, 9 September 2013
Bishop Peter will be visiting St Matthias for the 11am Mass on the Feast of the Epiphany, Sunday 5th January 2014. He will celebrate the sacrament of confirmation. Candidates from both St Matthias and St John will be confirmed.
Confirmation is one of the sacraments of the Church, the great signs of God's love that give us God's grace to live as Christians. Confirmation strengthens us by the gift of the Holy Spirit to lead adult Christian lives. In our tradition, it is usually given to older children or adults.
If you have not been confirmed and would like to be, or are interested in finding out more, please contact Father Simon. We will be be running confirmation classes in the next few months.