Thursday, 17 April 2014

Maundy Thursday

The morning Chrism Mass at the cathedral 

The clergy of the diocese gathered outside st Paul's to be blessed by the bishop and sent out to show the love of christ to the city

In the evening we celebrate the Mass of the last supper with foot washing and keep vigil at the altar of repose - here is St Matthias 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Holy Week Women

It is Holy Week, and with the Church throughout the world, our parishes are reflecting on the events leading up to Jesus' death. In a series of sermons at Mass on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we will think about some of the women from gospel and other traditional accounts of Jesus' last earthly days:

Monday 7:30pm, St Matthias - Mary of Bethany
Tuesday 10am, St Matthias - Veronica
Wednesday 11am, St John - our Lady

Please try to get along if you can. Even if you can't, perhaps you could make finding out more about these characters part of your observance of Holy Week.

A different sort of Palm Sunday procession

Today on Palm Sunday many gathered in churches around the world and processed with palms to remember Jesus' entry in to Jerusalem. I didn't. I decided to walk to the junction of Commercial Road and Butchers Row, round the corner from where I live, to see the London Marathon runners go by. As daft as this might sound it really made me think about Jesus' coming into Jerusalem. 
There was something about shouting and cheering as the runners came past, being part of a crowd that had a life of it's own. Looking out at first for the elite runners, looking together for the helicopters and motorbikes that would herald their coming. We did not shout hosanna, but 'woo hooo' and 'go [insert name on t-shirt here]'. It was all good fun as the elite athletes of all abilities came past. But then came Mo. 

When the Men's Elite runners came up West India Dock road a huge ripple spread down the lines of spectators. The leading runners bounced past with a flutter of cheers, then came the rest of the leading pack, the flutter growing. Then as Olympic hero Mo Farah got nearer the flutter grew to a roar of 'Go Mo, Go Mo!'

While Mo and tiredly grinned and made his way towards the 21 mile mark, many gathered at that corner wandered away. I walked back home to see Mo finish on the telly, with a pot of tea. Seeing this proud Londoner come in 8th in his first ever Marathon with a time of 2 hours and 8 minutes was great. True he had hoped to be faster, but wow. In the interview moments after he crossed the line he was his typically chirpy self and although a bit disappointed stated that he could not have run his first marathon anywhere else and he'd be back!

Then came the commentary. 'Mo fails to win first marathon.' 'Mo fails to break British record.' 'Mo should stick to the track.' So quickly the euphoria  of the crowd faded as voice after voice came over the t.v. pointing out every error the athlete had made. 'He should have gone with the front back.' 'He messed up his drink stops.' 'He should have done an easier marathon first.'

An this is when my mind pulled me back to Palm Sunday. As Jesus entered Jerusalem the crowds yelled 'hosanna' and threw their coats down for his ass to walk on. I wonder how long it took for those cheering into Jerusalem to start critiquing Jesus. 'A donkey? A king should come on a horse.' 'Why's he come to Jerusalem? Shouldn't he have tried regaining in Galilee first.' 'He should stick with preaching in backwaters - he's not ready for the big time.'

We know that the same voices that shouted 'Hosanna' as Jesus came by, were among those that yelled 'Crucify' just five days later. Two crowds, two very different atmospheres. Voices excited and engaged by this unassuming king entering the city on a donkey are turned in five days to become angry and have dehumanised a man enough to call for his death.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Palm Sunday

‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heavens!’

Holy Week began today with the bittersweet Palm Sunday liturgy, which combines a celebration of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem with the reading of the Passion gospel.

Our observance of Holy Week takes place at both churches. Service times can be found via the 'What's On' tags at the top of the page.

Friday, 11 April 2014

A Friday evening in West Hendon

Demonstrating down the A5 against the treatment of unsecure tenants, some denied a tenancy agreement for 10 years.

Marchers gather outside the hall at St Matthias:

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Passion and plenty

Handing out free coffee and hot cross buns outside Colindale station this morning:

Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Fifth Sunday in Lent

...or 'Passion Sunday' as it used to be known. From this point onwards, the Church's thoughts are directed increasingly towards the betrayal, arrest, passion, and death of Jesus. Our worship takes on a more sombre tone, and our statues and crosses are veiled. It is almost as though we are in mourning, awaiting the joy of Easter.

Example of veiling, via the internet!
And yet we're given the story of the raising of Lazarus, as our gospel reading. Why?

Lazarus being raised, from a stone tomb on the third day of Jesus' absence points forward to Jesus' resurrection. It is the occasion for the famous words "I am the Resurrection and the Life". We recall Jesus' death in the light of his resurrection. We are not simply commemorating a sad event, the torture and execution of a prisoner, a notable example of human sin. We certainly are doing that, but we are also celebrating a victory - the victory of the crucified God over death.

Yet it is a tragic victory, hard won through pain and suffering. And it is significant that today's gospel contains the shortest verse in the English Bible - 'Jesus wept'. In Jesus, God has suffered as a human being. He knows, and understands, our hurt and pain, our loss and our desperation. No matter where we are in life, we can bring it to him. As we journey through the next two weeks to Calvary and beyond, let's not lose sight of that.