Monthly Archives: March 2015

Holy Tuesday

This evening our Holy Week devotions will be Stations of the Cross.
These are reflections on Jesus journey to the cross and to his resurrection.
They begin with Jesus being condemned by Pilate and then follow his journey,
drawing on the Gospels and Tradition.

This evenings stations will use parts of the reflections we have shared during Lent.
They are as follows:

Station 1 Jesus is condemned to death
Desmond Tutu described Nelson Mandela
as a man who was not broken
but refined by his 27 years of imprisonment in South Africa.
Perhaps without that suffering, he suggests,
he would have been less able to be as compassionate and magnanimous
as he turned out to be.
Jesus was not broken by his journey to the cross, but completed.

Station 2 Jesus receives his cross
When does ordinary action become a means to serving God?
When our action becomes our prayer.
Brother Lawrence says that we should do everything for the love of God,
and that our greatest times of busyness
should be no different from our times of prayer.
One flows into the other.
Even receiving life’s crosses can become an act of prayer.

Station 3 Jesus falls for the first time
The journey to Easter is a journey of letting go.
Letting go of the sins that weigh us down and the guilt that goes with them;
Letting go of resentment, anger and negative thoughts towards others.
Letting go of our burdens and anxieties, and simply trusting God with them.
Letting go of desires and ambitions, and visions of how we would like life to be.
Letting go of our attachment to possessions, to material goods,
to relationships, to health, to life even.
Letting go of everything:
And standing before God naked, as God sees us and knows us.

For it is when we have let go that we create space to receive.
Space to receive the grace, the love, the joy; the life that God longs to give to us.

Station 4 Jesus meets his mother
There is a particular African tribe where, when a woman becomes pregnant,
she goes with other women to a remote place outside the village to meditate.
During her meditation, it is said,
that she listens to the song of the soul of her unborn child.
Once she has listened to and memorised the song of her child’s soul
she shares it with the other women and they sing it with her.
They then all go back to the village and teach that song to the community.
The song is sung at the child’s birth and all the rites of passage into adulthood
Later in times of difficulty and hardship; when things are painful and tough,
the community will gather around them and sing them the song of their soul,
to remind them who they truly are; to remind them of their true beauty and worth.

Station 5 Simon of Cyrene helps to carry his cross
In New York recently, during the cold snap, someone had given out
woollen socks and gloves to the homeless people that they passed.
I saw a photo of some homeless people showing off their new clothing,
with big smiles on their faces.
I’m sure the smiles where not just for the socks and gloves,
but for the fact that someone noticed them.
They mattered to someone that day.

Station 6 Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Henri Nouwen:
“To give someone a blessing is the most significant affirmation we can offer.
To give a blessing is to say “yes” to a person’s belovedness.
The blessings we give each other are expressions of God’s blessings
that rest on us from all eternity.”

Station 7 Jesus falls for the second time
Thomas Keating:
“God is totally on our side. Everything works together for our good.
If we can believe this we can save ourselves an enormous amount of trouble.”
Hope is not merely wishful thinking,
it is knowing that in whatever happens God is with us.

Station 8 Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem
Steven Carter
“To enter into the presence of another human being
is to enter into the presence of God in a new and different way.
We should encounter others with a sense of gratitude and delight,
for here is a new and fresh expression of God’s creation.”

Station 9 Jesus falls for the third time
After his baptism Jesus was driven not only into the wilderness of Palestine,
but more significantly into the wilderness of his own mind, and heart.
There he faced his inner demons of doubt and uncertainty.
“If you are the Son of God show us what you can do; how you can make a difference.
Turn stones into bread, do something special,
Some saviour you are who doesn’t even trust your own powers.”

And, like Jesus, we find ourselves at times driven into our own inner wilderness.
We feel isolated and alone; we too are filled with doubts and uncertainties;
Our inner demons also taunt us: “Where is your God now?”
Yes, the wilderness is a tough place to be.
All we can do is what Jesus did: hold on firmly to what has sustained us so far;
and place our trust in God’s strength and not in our own strength alone.

Station 10 Jesus is stripped of his garments
A monk, while on a journey found a precious stone lying by the banks of a river.
He knew straight away that the stone was valuable,
and would save his monastery from financial ruin.
Another traveller saw the monk pick up the stone and demanded to see it.
“Why should you be the one to have the stone”, he said to the monk,
“I have as much right to it as you.”
The monk, without hesitation gave him the precious stone. The man left.
A few miles later on the man returned with the stone, and gave it back to the monk.
“Please” he said, “give me something even more precious than the stone;
give me that which enabled you to give it to me.”

Station 11 Jesus is nailed to the cross
Pema Chodron:
“The way I regard those who hurt or annoy me today,
will affect how I experience the world in the future.
In any encounter we have a choice:
We can strengthen our resentment, or, our understanding and empathy;
we can widen the gap between ourselves and others or we can lessen it.”

Station 12   Jesus dies on the cross
When Jesus saw that an enormous act of love and self-sacrifice was needed,
to break the power of sin, hatred, and selfishness;
he took responsibility, received his cross and made that long journey to Calvary.
This is the moment that God took responsibility for the world he made and loves,
and opened the gate of glory.

Station 13 Jesus is handed to his Mother
What is it to have compassion for another?
It is to see the other person as God sees them;
for God sees only through the eyes of love.
God has no blinkers,
God just sees the person and loves them for who they are.
May we learn to see each other has God sees us; through the eyes of love.

Station 14 Jesus is laid in the tomb
We can over think our journey into God;
sometimes what we have to do is simply let go of the thinking
and allow God’s presence to draw us into itself.
That is what prayer is about. It is not about us seeking God and reeling God in.
It is, in fact, the other way around.
In prayer we have to allow God to seek us and reel us in.
It is not so much about us bringing God into our situation,
but of becoming aware that God is already there
and allowing that holy presence to draw us to our centre, to carry us home.

Station 15 Jesus rises from the dead
Thomas Merton:
“Be content, be content!
We are the Body of Christ!
We have found Him because He has sought us;
God has come to take up his abode in us.
There is nothing further to do except to turn to Him completely,
where He is already present.
Be quiet and see that He is God.”


Holy Monday

If anyone should come after me, he must take up his cross daily and follow me.
So says Jesus in Luke 9.
What does it mean to daily take up our cross and follow him?
Many people have taken up this challenge and literally followed Jesus to martyrdom.
70 years ago Dietrich Bonhoeffer bravely walked the way of his own cross,
as he was hanged in a German concentration camp for his defiance against Hitler
and for his work in helping Jews escape from Nazi Germany.
35 years ago this year Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador
was murdered while Celebrating Mass just one day after preaching a sermon
condemning his governments repression and violation of human rights.
Like Bonhoeffer, and many others, he paid the price for championing the cause
of those who were poor, oppressed or treated unjustly.

Most of us will not be in a position of having to make such a sacrifice,
but we too are called to take up our cross and follow Christ.
We may not be called to put our lives at risk,
but we are called to carry our cross willingly, prayerfully, and on behalf of others.
We rarely have to choose our cross, it is usually given us by life’s circumstances;
but we do have to choose what we do with it.

Some are given the cross of illness, pain or disability.
Some bear the cross of grief, prejudice, or feelings of helplessness.
Others bear the cross of caring for those who are suffering,
while others bear the cross of loneliness, poverty or injustice.
We rarely choose the cross we are given, but we can choose what we do with it.
We can rage at life and God or we can carry it with dignity;
making our cross an offering of prayer to God
on behalf of others who suffer in the same way.

Jesus did not want his cross:
”Father, take this cup away from me” he prayed in Gethsemane
But once he knew the cross could not be taken away,
he offered it to God to bring healing to our world.
“Not my will, but thy will be done” he prayed.

May we, too, be willing to take up the crosses in our lives,
offer them to God prayerfully,
that God may use them to as a means of healing for our world.
No suffering is ever pointless if we are willing to make it an offering,
and allow God to use it.

Palm Sunday

The Lenten reflections have come to an end, but there will be reflections and sermons posted throughout Holy Week, up to Easter Day.

The following is the calendar for Holy Week and Easter at St Augustine’s, Grove Park.
Also the Vicars letter for Holy Week.

Calendar for Holy Week

25th                 Holy Monday         8pm Silent Prayer and Reflection
26th                 Holy Tuesday        8pm Stations of the Cross
27th                Holy Wednesday     10am Eucharist 8pm Compline and Reflection

28th           Maundy Thursday
8pm Mass of the Last Supper and Vigil

Vigil includes prayers at 10pm and Compline at 11pm

29th         Good Friday
10am Procession of Witness
Noon Church open for Silent Prayer
12.45 Stations of the Cross
2pm Liturgy of the Cross
7pm   Music for Good Friday

30th         Holy Saturday
11am Children’s Workshop & Egg Rolling
8pm Lighting of the New Easter Fire

31st         Easter Sunday     10am Family Eucharist

Holy Week Letter

Dear friends,
This week we enter into the sacred time of Holy Week. It is the most significant week of the year for Christians as it takes us on a journey through the final days, hours, and events of our Lord’s life, and once again brings us face to face with all its pain and all its joy; with all its ugliness and all its beauty. It is a week of extremes and is something of a rollercoaster of a journey. The danger for us is that we will tend to lean towards one of those extremes at the expense of the other. Those who are going through a difficult time often get wrapped up in the pain and the anguish of Good Friday that they lose sight of the joy and hope of Easter Sunday. But many others choose to opt out of the painful bits all together and just jump in at the end as if the rest of the week never happened. It’s a bit like watching that classic film: “It’s a Wonderful Life” but after the first 10 minutes fast forwarding to the last 10 minutes for the happy ending. The end of the film has no impact if you have not journeyed through all that built up to it. Easter is like that. Without journeying through the other Major liturgies of Holy Week the impact of Easter is limiting. So I would encourage you to join in as much as you can of this incredible week, and allow the redemptive act of Christ to imprint itself on your life afresh.

The week begins reflectively with Silent Prayer and Reflection on Monday at 8pm. On Tuesday at 8pm there will be Stations of the Cross; these are meditations on the journey of Jesus to the cross, beginning with his trial before Pilate. Most of the Stations are Biblical events, though some are from tradition. For these meditations we process around the church stopping at each station for a short reflection.

On Wednesday there will be the usual Eucharist at 10am and at 8pm there will be Compline and a Reflection

On Maundy Thursday we move into the major liturgies of Holy Week. At 8pm in the evening we celebrate the Mass of the last Supper. This service includes the washing of hands (which we do in remembrance of Jesus washing his disciples feet); and remembering the Last Supper Jesus celebrated with his disciples. The service ends with the stripping of the altar and sanctuary as the mood of week begins to change and Jesus arrest and trial approaches. Following the Eucharist vigil is kept in the Lay Chapel until Midnight, remembering the time Jesus spent in the Garden of Gethsemane, and his betrayal and arrest. You can come and go as you for any part of this vigil. The silence will be broken by prayers at 10pm; Compline at 11pm; and ends with a reading of scripture at Midnight.

Good Friday is probably the most significant and sacred day of the Christian year. The day begins at 10am with the Procession of Witness beginning at St Augustine’s and ending with prayers at Lee Green shopping centre. For this we join with the other Lee Churches.
At Noon the church is open for prayer and 12.45pm we once again have Stations on the Cross.
In the evening at 7pm there is Music for Good Friday of which there is more information elsewhere.

But the most significant act of worship of the day is the Good Friday Liturgy at 2pm. This is the act of worship we should aim to be at above all others as we sit with Christ during the final hour of his life on the cross. The Liturgy begins in silence as the priest lays prostrate before the altar. It is an act of surrender. The priest lies prostrate on behalf of everyone, surrendering to the love that brought God’s Son to the cross. Something extraordinary has been done for us. A unique gift of love has been given to us, and all we can do is surrender to it. The picture created by the prostration of the priest is one that reminds us of Christ surrendering himself to his call and purpose; and also of the only response that we ourselves can make: surrendering ourselves in return to that love; one act of surrender responding to another act of surrender. The moment ends with the singing of the words:
Ours were the grief’s he bore, ours were the pains he carried.
Ours were the sins he took on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

The service also includes the reading of the passion; the solemn prayers on behalf of all God’s creation; and the procession and veneration of the cross. All are invited to venerate the cross by either standing or kneeling before it; and by kissing or touching the feet of Christ for those who wish to. Again this is a moment of surrender to the wonderful gift of love we have been given. The worship concludes by the receiving the bread of Holy Communion which was consecrated on Thursday evening. The liturgy ends as it begins in silence.

Holy Saturday is a beautiful day of anticipation. We have gone through the painful events of Good Friday and we begin to look forward to the joy of Easter. In the morning at 11am we have a workshop and egg rolling for the children at which decorated hard boiled eggs are rolled down a slope to see who can get the furthest – it gets quite competitive! The egg rolling symbolises the stone rolling away from the tomb as we begin to look forward to the resurrection of Christ.

In the evening at 8pm is probably my favourite part of the week as we light the New Easter Fire; process into a darkened church; with the newly lit Easter candle; listen to the beautiful Easter proclamation being sung; hear readings of God’s saving acts and renew our baptismal vows at the font. The service ends with the sharing of the Peace and an eager anticipation of the wonder that is still to come.

The week is completed, of course, with the glorious celebration of the Risen Christ at our Easter Family Eucharist. Easter morning is a full on celebration of joy, wonder and hope. But I hope you will get the full impact of that joy by joining in as much as you can in the other worship of this very significant and Holy week.

May God bless you and your families in the sacred mystery of love that we share together at this Holy time.

Best wishes


Saturday 28th March          


Ephesians 4:32  
Be kind to one another, and tender of heart.
And forgive one another, as God in Christ as forgiven you.

How can we love our enemy? There is only one way – to understand them.
We have to understand why they are that way, how they have come to be like that,
and why they do not see things the way we do.
Understanding brings us the power to forgive.    
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Forgiving can be hard work,
but refusing to forgive can stop our lives being less than they can be.

Today’s reflection is by Jane Upcott

Composer Philip Miller wrote a Cantata for Voice, Tape and Testimony called REWIND about South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings which began in 1996.

The backdrop to the hearings was 50 years of apartheid. The songs which mixed operatic and traditional South African styles, were built around actual testimonies. Recorded audio samples from the hearings were woven into the music. As one who stood on the stage in the chorus supporting the soloists in the London performance in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2011, I can say I found it a moving experience. Veiled in semi-darkness we stood behind a small orchestra, in front of us a curtain on to which were projected images, words, phrases, taken from the hearings. As we sang, people’s personal stories emerged, poignant details were conveyed with dignity and respect, ordinary minutiae of loved ones’ lives, never to be forgotten in the painfully slow-moving climax of the events they were recalling. “And as the words and images settle on to the everyday world, the spaces between the victim and the transgressor, those who deliver testimony, and those who listen, merge.” (Southbank Centre).

Archbishop Desmond Tutu who saw the work said it was “a wonderful vehicle for telling our history and a contribution to nation building.”

Tomorrow is the beginning of Holy Week. The tradition in this church is to gradually retell the events leading up to those of Good Friday in short acts of worship each day of the coming week. The story will be retold in readings, in music, in prayer. It will be done with dignity and respect and at times it will feel almost too much to bear and we will want it to stop. We will carry on because on his cross of crucifixion Christ said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). We are drawn to that cross and we remember his words “in the hope that we might be for the world the forgiveness made ours through the cross of Christ” (Stanley Hauerwas); in the hope that as we are called to be like mirrors reflecting the brightness of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18), we may also reflect his forgiveness.

Forgiving can be hard work, but refusing to forgive can stop our lives being less than they can be.

Thursday 26th March


Matthew 5:43
You have heard it said: Love your neighbour, hate your enemy.
But I say to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
In this way you will be children of your Father in heaven.

Desmond Tutu described Nelson Mandela
as a man who was not broken
but refined by his 27 years of imprisonment in South Africa.
Perhaps without that suffering, he suggests,
he would have been less able to be as compassionate and magnanimous
as he turned out to be.

Can we learn to accept all that we experience in life
is a vital part of our journey to wholeness?
There was once a man who had a pristine lawn that he was very proud of.
He had sown it himself from seed and carefully and lovingly overseen its growth.
He fed it, tended it, and mowed it carefully and with precision
and delighted in neighbours complimenting him on its perfection.
You can imagine his consternation then
when one morning he awoke to discover his lawn covered in dandelions.
Over the coming weeks and months he tried everything to rid his lawn of them,
only to find that they spread even more.
Eventually, out of sheer desperation he wrote to the department of agriculture
to see if they had any suggestions to the predicament that he was in.
A few weeks later he received a response, which simply said:
“Dear sir, in regards to the dandelions on your lawn,
we suggest that your learn to love them.”

Sometimes circumstances in our lives are not how we have planned them,
and are not as we would want them to be.
We cannot always change the way things are,
all we can change is our attitude towards them.
By learning to accept and embrace life as it is, we open the door to discovering
that God uses all our circumstances to reveal His Presence and Blessings to us.

Friday 27th March


Isaiah 40:29
He gives energy to the weary, and strength to the powerless.
Even the strong may grow tired, and the young grow weary;
but those who hope in the Lord have their strength renewed.

“When you have done a good job, rest. This is the way to heaven.”
– Lau Tsu

“Sleep is one of God’s angels, you can surrender yourself to it with confidence.”
– Nikos Kasantzakis

Cultivating restfulness is an important part of life,
do we pay it enough attention?
There are many reports and articles around
telling us the importance of rest and recreation,
and also the importance to our health of a good nights sleep.
Poor sleep patterns are detrimental to health and to our energy levels;
poor sleep patterns are also themselves often a tell-tale sign
that that we are stressed, overworked, unhappy or anxious.
How often do we lie in bed going over and over in our heads the day’s woes?
How we end our day is important.
There is no point working late into the evening
and then wondering why we can’t sleep;
we need a cut-off point, and we need a routine or ritual
to wind down and prepare ourselves for sleep.
The evening prayers of Compline are a wonderful way to end a day’s labour,
and to shift down a gear to a more restful time in the day.
For monks and nuns it is the final Office of the day before retiring to bed,
and I believe it is good routine for all of us to get into.
I like to finish the day’s work with the prayers of Compline,
because for me it does mark a change in the day between work and rest.
Once it becomes part of our routine of letting the day go,
and allowing that important shift to take place in our consciousness.
Compline means “to make the day complete”
and I believe it does that by placing the day into God’s hands
and allowing God to prepare us for a good nights rest.
There is a form of Compline you can use at home at the end of this reflection.

How we end the day matters.
If we do not want to use Compline we should create a different ritual
that enables us to move out of work mode into rest,
rather than just leaving it all to chance.
It really does make a difference.

A shortened form of Compline that can be said alone at home

May the Lord grant to us a quiet night and a perfect end. Amen

Thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us and we are called by thy name
Leave us not, O Lord, our God.
Have mercy upon us, O God, and hearken unto our prayer.

O God, you are my God, for you I long
My soul thirsts for you, like a dry weary land without water.
Your steadfast love is better than life
I will bless you as long as I live.
I will lift up my hands and call upon your name,
My mouth shall praise you with joyful lips.
I think of you as I lay upon my bed
I meditate upon you in the watches of the night.
For you have been my help,
In the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you
And your right hand upholds me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

Have mercy upon us, O God, and hearken unto our prayer.

Before the ending of the day; creator of the world, we pray.
That thou with wonted love wouldst keep;
thy watch around us while we sleep.
O let no evil dreams be near; nor phantoms of the night appear.
Our ghostly enemy restrain; lest ought of sin our bodies stain.
Almighty Father, hear our cry; through Jesus Christ our Lord most high,
Who with the Holy Ghost and Thee; doth live and reign eternally. Amen.

Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit:
For thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, thou God of truth:
Keep me, O Lord, as the apple of an eye:
Hide me under the shadow of thy wings.

You may wish to end with se of the following prayers:
Our Father……

Be present, O merciful God,
and protect us through the silent hours of this night.
So that we who are fatigued by the changes and chances of this fleeting world
may repose upon thy eternal changelessness;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Visit, I beseech, thee O Lord,
this dwelling, and the dwellings of all my loved ones;
Drive far from them all the snares of the enemy
May thy holy angels dwell within them to preserve us in peace
And may thy blessing be upon us evermore. Amen.

All whom I love, I place in your keeping
All whom I pray for, I place in your keeping
Be with us by day, be with us by night
And as this day closes the eyelids with sleep
Grant that we may rise to the gift of a new day.

God, our Father, the day is over
and the shadows of the night fall softly around us.
We thank you for the blessings of this day,
for the people that we have met,
and for all that as helped us along the way.
For the special moments of joy
that have made our hearts glad;
and for the opportunities we have been given
to share your love with others.
In our saviours name. Amen.

Lighten our darkness we beseech thee, O Lord;
And by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers this night;
For the love of thy only Son, our saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

I place our hands in yours, Lord;   I place our hands in yours.
I place our dreams in yours, Lord;   I place our dreams in yours.
I place our lives in yours, Lord;   I place our lives in yours.
I place our souls in yours, Lord;   I place our souls in yours.

May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

Wednesday 25th March              


Matthew 25
“Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you;
or thirsty and give you a drink?”
“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren,
you did it for me”.

When does ordinary action become a means to serving God?
When our action becomes our prayer.
Brother Lawrence says that we should do everything for the love of God,
and that our greatest times of busyness
should be no different from our times of prayer.
One flows into the other.

Today, see everything you do as a prayer,
and notice the difference that it makes.
A couple on holiday in Mexico spent most evenings around sunset,
walking along a deserted beach.
Deserted, that is, except for one old man they saw every evening walking very slowly,
stopping every few paces, bending down, picking something up,
and then throwing it into the sea.
One evening they got close enough to see what he was picking up and throwing:
It was starfish that had got washed up onto the beach with the high tide,
and he was throwing them back in one at a time, before they died.
There were hundreds and hundreds of them; it was the same thing all along that coast.
The couple asked him why he did it. “To get them back in the water” was his response.
“But there are so many” they said, “right along the coast – what difference will it make?”.
Picking up another one and throwing it in, he said:
“It made a difference for that one that one!”
The couple stopped and helped him save a few more.

“Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you;
or thirsty and give you a drink?” We read in today’s scripture verse
“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my brethren,
you did it for me”.

In our service to God it is the little things that matter.
Very few of us are called to do great heroic things for God,
we are all called to do the little things.
We serve God not by doing different things or religious things,
but by doing the ordinary, simple everyday things prayerfully, and lovingly.
Each task we do today will be the most important we will ever do.
Each small act of service makes a difference.

Tuesday 24th March


1 John 4:7
Let us love one another; for love is of God,
and they who love are born of God and knows God.

What is it to have compassion for another?
It is to see the other person as God sees them;
for God sees only through the eyes of love.
God has no blinkers,
God just sees the person and loves them for who they are.

May we learn to see each other has God sees us; through the eyes of love.
There was once a wealthy widow
who allowed a hermit to live in the chapel at the end of her garden.
For years she protected his privacy and provided for him.
Then one day she wondered if all this praying was making the hermit more holy;
and she resolved to test the hermit to make sure she wasn’t wasting her money.

She employed a very beautiful woman to visit the hermit and try to seduce him;
This, she thought, would be a good test of his holiness.
The beautiful young woman used all the means possible to seduce the hermit;
but the hermit was not to be seduced
and he sent her away in tears, calling her a servant of the devil.

The rich widow, seeing his response, immediately threw him out of the chapel.
The hermit was stunned: “What did I do wrong?” He cried. “I spurned all her advances. “
The widow replied:
“A holy man might be forgiven for being seduced by such beauty,
but the fact that you treated her so badly and showed her no compassion,
was proof that all your prayers are not making you any more holy.”

We can keep all the rules perfectly and be devout in all our spiritual devotion;
but if we do not grow in compassion, and our heart is not opened, it is all for nothing.

If I speak in the tongues of angels, but have not love,
I am but a noisy gong or a clashing cymbal.
-1 Corinthians 13