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. 

Monday, 30 June 2014

Feast of Dedication Weekend for St John the Evangelist

The weekend for many starts on a Friday and for us here at St John and St Matthias we gathered to celebrate the marriage of one of our priests Fr Simon to Dovey It was a wonderful service at St Matthias and there was some champagne and nibbles for everyone at the back of Church. Congratulations to Michelle who caught Doveys bouquet! Fr Simon and Dovey are on honeymoon and we wish them all the best

Congratulations to Ethan Gibbs who was baptised at St John on Saturday, please pray for Ethan who has to have a major operation at Great Ormand Street children's hospital next week. This was followed by a songs of praise and parish party with food from many different cultures reflecting our diverse congregation. 

Sunday at the Feast of Dedication Mass at St John's it was wonderful to welcome Judy's daughter who was on a flying visit from South Africa and I think it was the first time she had been at St John's in all the years that her mother has made this church her home. In the afternoon Sunday and Francoise were married at St John and partied the evening away at St Matthias church hall.

St John was first opened for worship on June 29th 1896 and we give thanks to God for the many years in which this church has stood as a sign of God's presence in this community, "How awesome is this place, This is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven"

Please pray for Michael, Mark, Victoria, Violet, Angel, Emmanuelle, Patience, Ryan, Tianna , Imani, Simdi, Jenny and Francoise who will be confirmed on Friday evening by our bishop Peter.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Corpus Christi

Today we give thanks for the gift of the Eucharist, Christ's Body and Blood, given to us truly and substantially under the signs of bread and wine. Belief that the Blessed Sacrament is transformed, in a unique way, by God's creative power, into the Body and Blood of Christ has sometimes been lacking in the Church of England. But it is central to the mainstream of Christian tradition, and we affirm it today.

The Eucharist, and our belief about it, can sometimes cause difficulty for people, echoing the passage from John 6 we heard as our gospel reading. Whilst it is important to understand the doctrine, and for the Church to find ways of explaining and defending it in terms understandable in the modern world, today is not really the feast of a doctrine. It is the feast of a person, Jesus Christ, who gives himself to us out of love.

And the appropriate response to Christ's love in the Eucharist is to offer love in return. Love for Jesus at the altar, in our reception of Holy Communion and our devotions, and love for Jesus present in our brothers and sisters, present in every human being, present especially in the poor and oppressed. I'm reminded of the powerful words of Bishop Frank Weston:

And my last point is this. I recall you in the last place to the Christ of the Blessed Sacrament. I beg you, brethren, not to yield one inch to those who would for any reason or specious excuse deprive you of your Tabernacles. I beg you, do not yield, but remember when you struggle, or, as Father Frere told us to-day, when you fight for the Church—do remember that the Church is the body of Christ, and you fight in the presence of Christ. Do not forget that. I want you to make your stand for the Tabernacle, not for your own sakes but for the sake of truth first, and in the second place for the sake of reunion hereafter. But for the truth, because the one great thing that England needs to learn is that Christ is found in and amid matter—Spirit through matter—God in flesh, God in the Sacrament. But I say to you, and I say it to you with all the earnestness that I have, that if you are prepared to fight for the right of adoring Jesus in his Blessed Sacrament, then you have got to come out from before your Tabernacle and walk, with Christ mystically present in you, out into the streets of this country, and find the same Jesus in the people of your cities and your villages. You cannot claim to worship Jesus in the Tabernacle, if you do not pity Jesus in the slum.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Trinity Sunday

Are you eating your 5 portions of Veg per day?

At a time when the nations health is worse than it was at the end of the WW11 after 6 years of war: rationing and shortages, the issue of a balanced diet is firmly on the nations mind – or at least should be.

The body cannot live long without proper sustenance – fasting can be useful but starving yourself is useless. Starvation may not be realistic alternative in our society of excess however there is mounting evidence that many of us have an unbalanced diet – yes we literally starve our bodies of one or another essential vitamin or mineral that can have disastrous effects on the health of our whole body.

While everyone, well almost everyone, in the country has gone football mad we do not at this moment know who will win the world cup. There is endless debate and not a little money on the answer – will it be the team with the best striker or the team with a 4 :4: 3 formation. Can a team with a poor mid-field really do better than a team with an inadequate defence. The answer I assume is that the winners will be a team that plays as a team rather than a group of individuals – a team that finds the balance between all the combinations of skill, tactics and determination on the field.

And speaking of the field it is on the battle field that we see most strikingly the disastrous effects upon an army when one small detail is forgotten about.
In the History of warfare the lack of sanitation or cleanness caused more causalities that the arrows, or bullets of an opposing army
In WW1 deficient head cover was one of the biggest causes of the terrible losses experienced on the front line –
In the Gulf – we heard about the wrong boots being issued and the wrong kind of gun – both deficiencies affecting the chances of winning and indeed living in the theatre of war

Why am I talking about balance and deficiency this morning?
The answer is because this morning is Trinity Sunday.

When it comes to our faith many of us display a deficient or imbalanced understanding of God. For many of us there is an essential element missing in our faith that leaves us poorer when we should be rejoicing in the great riches that are offered to us when we place our faith in God.

Put simply many Christians do not experience the reality of the Trinity : God as father Son and Holy Spirit instead they latch onto just one person of the Trinity- resulting in an imbalanced and deficient relationship with God.

To day we rejoice in the Father Son and Holy Spirit
Today we give thanks for the Holy Trinity. 

Let us pray
Great praise and everlasting glory be to God
Father Son and Holy Spirit
Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier
Lover, Beloved and love between
Giver of Life, bearer of pain, Maker of love
Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end
Great praise from the whole universe
In all times and places
Holy Holy holy, Great God of power and love
Who was and who is and who is to come    AMEN

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Easter VII

"All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers."
Acts 1:14

In this time between Ascension Day and Pentecost, we join in spirit with those first Christians and pray that God may renew us in the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit isn't some kind of magic power. Far too much modern Christianity is obsessed with ideas around strange abilities and miracles attributed to the Spirit. In actual fact, if we look at the New Testament, these aspects of the Spirit's work are downplayed. Instead the Holy Spirit is the life of God himself, given to us as a gift, to enable us to live out our mission as the Church. That is both deeper, and more amazing, than the alternatives.

The gift of the Holy Spirit enables the Church to be the Church. In these days leading up to Pentecost, let's pray that the Church may be more clearly the things we believe it to be:

  • One - that Christians may be united, and so be a better sign to the world of the work of the Spirit of Pentecost, who made one voice out of many languages.
  • Holy - that the fullness of our lives may be attractive.
  • Catholic - that we may be loyal to the faith, formed under the guidance of the Spirit, that we share with Christians throughout the world and throughout the ages.
  • Apostolic - that we may be committed to mission in word and deed, in communion with our bishops, the successors of the apostles.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Easter 4

The story of the Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde is one of my favourite childhood stories. The decision of the selfish Giant to forbid the children to play in his garden plunges his garden into a permanent winter whose grip is finally broken when through a small gap in the wall children once again enter and play and bring Spring to the permanent winter. There is one tree that remains frozen as the small boy standing beneath cannot reach up to climb into its branches and so it is the Selfish Giant who reaches down and tenderly lifts the boy into the tree. So the Selfish Giant comes to realise that “Children are the most beautiful flowers of all”. At the end of the story the Giant, now old and weak, looks out on the winter landscape of his garden and sees one tree in the far end covered in lovely white blossoms. Its branches golden and silver fruit hung down and underneath it stood the little boy he loved but had not seen for many years.
The Giant hurries down into the garden with joy but as he gets near the child he cries out “Who hath dared to wound thee?” for on the palms of the child’s hands were the print of two nails and the prints of two nails on his feet. “Tell me that I may take my big sword and slay him”. “Nay” answered the child “but these are the wounds of Love”. The child smiled on the Giant and said to him “You let me play once in your garden, today you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise”. And so when the children ran in that afternoon they found the Giant lying dead under the tree, all covered with white blossoms.

“I am the gate for the sheep.” Says Jesus

In the Story of the Selfish Giant it is he that prevents the children from playing in the garden,  it was his reaction of anger and jealousy when he saw the children playing in his garden, that led him to build the high wall so as to keep them out. It was when he reached out to help a small boy climb a tree that broke the spell of winter in his garden and the hardness of his own heart.

To think of the Church as a garden is not as strange as it may seem. The Bible starts in a garden created by God and into which is placed humanity. The images used by Jesus speaking about the Kingdom of God point to a place where people can grow, be transformed and yes even have fun. Can this not also be true of the Church?

We are gates to the church by the way in which we make welcome the stranger or the visitor. In the book of Acts we are given a glimpse or snapshot of the early church. People met in each others homes and when they were together they broke bread and recalled the life of the Risen Jesus. We read that they “enjoyed the favour of all the people, and the Lord added to their number daily”  Acts 2.47 The link between growth and “favour” Literally being open and friendly; being welcoming and supportive is obvious. Therefore if it was the case then it is still the case today.

The road to such openness and welcome still stretched before us as we negotiate the perilous landscape of our day, the competing demands for us to either allow or forbid. This journey of course carries the memories of so many who have come to us, come to the church, and found not a beautiful garden where they can flourish but a high wall of selfish resentment blocking their way.