Monthly Archives: March 2018

Holy Monday 26th March 2018

Holy Week and Easter at St Augustine’s, Grove Park

Monday 26th March at 8pm Compline

Tuesday 27th March at 8pm Compline

Wednesday 28th March  10am Eucharist     8pm Stations of the Cross

Maundy Thursday 29th March  at 8pm Mass of the Last Supper followed by vigil
Including Prayers at 10pm and Compline at 11pm

Good Friday 30th March
10am Procession of Witness
Noon Church open for prayer
12.45 Stations of the Cross
2pm The Good Friday Liturgy
7pm Music for Good Friday

Holy Saturday 31st March
11am Children’s workshop
This will include various activities, including our usual Egg Rolling, and lunch will be provided by the Mothers Union.
Please note: Children must attend with an adult.

8pm Lighting of the New Easter Fire

Easter Day 1st April at 10am
Easter Morning Family Eucharist


Holy week is important not only because of the events we remember
in the final days of Jesus’s life
but also because it is a reminder that life is not all about me.
It is very easy in this day and age for us to become self-obsessed
and wrapped up in our own wants, desires, troubles, needs, and rights.
Life can very easily become about what makes me happy.
Holy week reminds us that we are here to live our lives in service to God and others;
and, ironically, in becoming less obsessed about ourselves
we find our own lives do actually become happier and more contented.
Jesus lived in service to God and others, and calls us to follow him on that journey.

The reflection at Compline will be added to the blog later

Palm Sunday 25th March 2018

John 20:21    As the Father sent me, even so I am sending you.

We are called to be an Easter people.
Easter is not only about the events
surrounding the latter part of Jesus’ life –
it’s about you and me.
What Jesus achieved for us in his life, death, and resurrection
he now seeks to achieve within us.
We are called not only to believe in the Jesus but follow him;
to not only rejoice in his life as it unfolded in the Gospel story,
but to open ourselves and allow his life, death and resurrection
to unfold in us, and serve and minister through us.
Easter calls us to a fuller, richer, meaningful life;
it calls us to continue on our journey
to become the person God calls us to be.
Are we ready to respond to the Easter call?

This marks the end of this year’s Lenten reflections,
and we now enter into the sacred time of Holy Week.
There will be additions on this blog during the week
which will include reflections and sermons from the worship.
Today is Palm Sunday and I end with a poem by Malcolm Guite,
which reflects on the holy city Jesus enters as being our heart.

Palm Sunday by Malcolm Guite

Now to the gate of my Jerusalem,
The seething holy city of my heart,
The saviour comes. But will I welcome him?
Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start;
They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing,
And think the battle won. Too soon they’ll find
The challenge, the reversal he is bringing
Changes their tune. I know what lies behind
The surface flourish that so quickly fades;
Self-interest, and fearful guardedness,
The hardness of heart, its barricades,
And at the core, the dreadful emptiness
Of a perverted temple. Jesus come
Break my resistance and make me your home.

Saturday 24th March 2018

The Lord is Risen. Alleluia. Alleluia.
He is Risen Indeed. Alleluia. Alleluia.

These are the words that begin our worship on Easter morning.
They are a cry of exultation; a cry of celebration;
a cry of renewed hope; a cry of faith.
We live in a world of doubt, a world committed to reason;
a world that often likes to mock traditional spiritual beliefs,
as if they were mere fairy tales for children.
I prefer to live in a world that that is humble enough to know
that there are still happenings and events beyond our understanding,
and life still has the ability to surprise and delight us.
May this coming Easter renew our faith in the surprise
and the delight that God brings to our world,
and to all hearts that remain open.

Joseph of Arimathea’s Easter by W. H. Vanstone

“He’s gone” says Joseph, and, with Pilate’s leave
Eases the nails and lowers him from the tree,
Wraps him in reverent and tender thoughts
And lays him in the cave called memory.

That cave is deeply hewn in Joseph’s heart;
All that’s within will always be his own;
In memories cave the treasure of his past
Is safe for ever, walled and sealed with stone.

“He’s safe” says Joseph “safe in this cool place
And no one can take my Lord away.
In years to come I’ll see his dear face
As clearly as I’ve seen it on this day.”

“He’s gone!” cry’s Joseph at the empty tomb:
But Mary says “He’s left a word for you:
He cannot rest content to be your past,
So he has risen to be your future too.”

Friday 23rd March 2018

1 Peter 5:10  God who has called you will renew, and strengthen you

Renewal plays a big part in the Easter mysteries and worship.
In yesterday’s reflection I wrote of the renewal of baptismal promises, this is also the time of year when clergy renew their ordination vows
at the Chrism Mass on Maundy Thursday in the Cathedral.
At this act of worship Oils are blessed and distributed to parishes
and are used as a symbol of blessing, healing and renewal.
Before receiving the oils ordination vows are renewed,
and clergy commit themselves to the service of God and their parish
for the year that lies ahead.
It is the time of year for Christians throughout our world
to renew our commitment to Christ
and our commitment to respond to God’s call in our lives,
whatever form that call may take.
May God bless us in that renewal and inspire our response to that call.

Thursday 22nd March 2018

Mark 1:8  He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit

The other major part of the Holy Saturday worship
is the renewal of our baptismal promises and holy sprinkling.
This is repeated again on Easter morning.
The Easter Candle is processed to the font
and dipped 3 times into the water
to bless it and infuse it with the Living Christ.
We then renew our commitment to Christ
and are sprinkled and blessed with the waters of life.
At the beginning of our Lenten journey, on Ash Wednesday,
we are anointed with ash, reminding us of our need of God;
now we are sprinkled with life giving water
reminding us of God’s Holy Presence with us.
This season of renewal ends with just that.

From the Holy Saturday Liturgy

As the Easter Candle is dipped three times into the font the priest says:
Bless, O God, these waters of baptism
Unite us in your Son’s death and resurrection
And bring us to the fullness of your glory.

As we celebrate the Risen Christ,
we remember with joy the gift of baptism,
a sign of his risen life among us.
Let us renew the promises we made in baptism
and renew our commitment to Christ.
Therefore I ask these questions:

We then renew our baptismal vows
Do you turn to Christ? All: I turn to Christ
Do you repent of your sins? All: I repent of my sins.
Do you renounce evil? All: I renounce evil.

And now I ask you to renew your profession of faith:
Do you believe and trust in God the Father, Creator of us all?
All: I believe and trust in him.
Do you believe and trust in his Son, Jesus Christ,
who died and lives for us?
All: I believe and trust in Him.
Do you believe and trust in his Holy Spirit,
who gives life to the people of God?
All: I believe and trust in him.
May God keep us faithful to our baptism,
and open to his guiding presence. Amen.

May God keep us faithful to our baptism
and open to his guiding presence. Amen

We are then sprinkled with the waters of baptism

Wednesday 21st March 2018

1 John 5:4  This is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.

The singing of the Exsultet, the Easter Proclamation,
follows immediately after the procession of light.
For me it is one of the highlights of Easter.
The proclamation calls us to rejoice and sing with the angels,
to sound the trumpet of salvation, for, it tells us,
“Christ has conquered, glory fills you”.
It reminds us that: “This is the night truly blessed,
when heaven is wedded to earth and all creation reconciled.”
In contrast to Maundy Thursday
when we sat in vigil anticipating our Lord’s arrest and suffering,
we now keep vigil anticipating his glorious resurrection;
for as the proclamation tells us:
“The morning star has risen, never again to set.”

The words to the Exsultet sung on Holy Saturday evening:

Rejoice heavenly powers, sing choirs of angels
Exult all creation around God’s throne.
Jesus Christ is risen, sound the trumpet of salvation.
Rejoice O earth in shining splendour,
radiant in the brightness of your king.
Christ has conquered, Glory fills you.
Darkness vanishes for ever.
Rejoice O Mother Church, Exult in glory
The risen saviour shines upon you.
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God’s people.

The Lord be with you And also with you
Lift up your hearts We lift them to the Lord
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
It is right to give Him thanks and Praise

It is indeed right with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise you the unseen God, the Father Almighty,
and your only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who has ransomed us by his death and paid the price for Adam’s sin.
For this is the Passover of the true Lamb of God
By whose blood the homes of all the faithful are hallowed and protected.
This is the night when of old you saved our fathers,
delivering the people of Israel from slavery,
and leading them dry shod through the sea.
This is the night when Jesus Christ vanquished hell
and rose triumphant from the grave.
This is the night all who believe in Him are freed from sin
and restored to grace and holiness.
Most blessed of all nights,
when wickedness is put to flight and sin is washed away,
lost innocence regained, and mourning turned to joy.
Night truly blessed, when heaven is wedded to earth
and all creation is reconciled to God.
Therefore, Heavenly Father, in the joy of this night,
accept our sacrifice of praise, your churches solemn offering;
and grant that this Easter Candle may make our darkness light;
for Christ the morning star has risen, never again to set,
and is alive and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday 20th March 2018

Genesis 1:3   And God said: “Let there be light”

Our worship on Holy Saturday evening begins
with the lighting and blessing of the New Easter Fire.
A fire is lit outside the church and from it the new Easter Candle is lit,
it is then processed into a darkened church
and from this candle we all light a candle and follow in behind.
It symbolises Christ rising from the grave on this holy night,
bringing new light and hope to our world.
As we process into church the priest stops 3 times,
raises the candle, and sings:
“Christ our Light” to which all respond: “Thanks be to God.”
It is in contrast to the worship on Good Friday,
when the cross is raised 3 times in procession.
On Good Friday we sat with Christ as he died on the cross,
now we gather to anticipate his resurrection
and the miracle of this glorious night.

The following is the liturgy we use for the Lighting of the New Easter Fire
and the Easter Candle before processing into church.
You may want to use it for reflection in preparation for the service:

Brothers and sisters in Christ; on this most holy night
on which our Lord Jesus passed over from death to life;
we meet in vigil and prayer.
As we await the Risen Christ
we recall God’s saving love in history,
and how, in the fullness of time,
he sent his Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Let us pray that through this Easter celebration
God’s love may grow and deepen within us.

The new Easter fire proclaims for us the rising of Christ
Bringing light into darkness. Let us pray.

Father we share in the light of your glory
through your Son, the Light of the world.
Make this new fire Holy +
(The fire is blessed)
and inflame us with new hope
for our lives, and our world. Amen.
(at this point the priest uses their finger to scribe over the date
and lettering that is marked on the Easter Candle
as the following words are spoken)

Christ yesterday (2) and today (0)
the beginning (1) and the end (8)
Alpha (A) and Omega (O)
All time belongs to him and all ages
To him be glory and power
Through every age for ever. Amen.

(Here five pins are pushed into the Candle
to remember the five wounds Jesus received)

By his holy (1) and glorious wounds (2)
May Christ our Lord (3) guard us (4)
And keep us (5). Amen.

(The Candle is lit from the fire)

May the Light of Christ rising in glory
heal the darkness and inflame our hearts.

(The candle is then processed into Church)

Monday 19th March 2018

Psalm 46:10   Be still and know that I am God

Holy Saturday is the day we remember that Jesus laid in his tomb.
It is a time of quiet reflection
after the emotional liturgies of Good Friday.
We are led into it by the music the choir sings on Good Friday evening.
The day itself is a slow build up to the evening worship:
The church is decorated with flowers, altars are prepared,
all that was stripped from the church at the end of Maundy Thursday
is now put back in place ready for the great Feast of Easter.
In our worship on the evening of Holy Saturday
there is a growing anticipation of the resurrection
that will be celebrated on Easter Sunday.
In the evening we light the Easter fire, process with the Easter candle,
Listen to the beautiful Exsultet, and bless the baptismal water.
The coming days reflections will be on each of these rituals.

An haunting poem by New Zealand poet Elizabeth Smither:

Mission Impossible

He had been in paradise
surrounded by a whole flotilla of angels
each reflecting like mirrors
the warmth of the Father;
we’ll talk of this later. Well done,
my Son. Stand back, to the angels
their hot wings pressing like a feather
mattress. Rest tonight and tomorrow
in the room next to mine.
Tomorrow when you’re feeling recovered
I have a proposition to put to you –
It involves going back. A spasm crossed
the wounds, a few drops of blood fell
on the floor. No, not that, my son
but to show there’s no misunderstanding between us
remember the last dark words and the sky.
The angels gagged me then by my orders in case
I intervened. Just to see a few friends
Walk around a bit like happier times
be in their rooms without locks. Console them
show yourself to the ones who seemed sorry.
The angels will take care of the stone.

Sunday 18th March 2018 Passion Sunday

Galatians 6:14  I boast only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ

Central to the Good Friday worship is the Veneration of the Cross.
The Cross bearing Jesus is carried slowly up the centre of the church.
Three times the priest stops, raises the cross, and says:
“Behold the wood of the cross on which our saviour dies”.
To which all respond: “Come let us worship.”
After the procession all are invited to come forward
and to offer veneration to the cross and to Christ.
Some simply come forward and bow, others will kiss the feet of Christ,
and others will simply touch the cross
to connect with the love that Jesus perfected in this selfless act.
It is a very moving part of the day that recognises and honours
everything that our Lord has done for us and given to us.
It is also symbolic of our commitment to make known God’s love
in our own lives and ministries as Christians.

Whenever I venerate the cross on Good Friday
I think of the words we hear each week at the Eucharist:
This is my body, given for you.
In receiving Holy Communion we receive that body within ourselves,
at this ritual on Good Friday we give ourselves
in surrender and service to that body.

This is my Body by Daniel O’Leary

This is my body.
Those words seem to reverberate around the earth
with transforming power.
They were first whispered by our creator
when the world was brought to birth;
again when the word became human.
It is God become atom, become galaxies,
become universes, become earth,
become flesh, become everything.

Sermon for Lent 5 Passion Sunday

A couple of weeks ago Roger Bannister died.
In 1954, he was the first athlete in the world to run a mile in under 4 minutes.
At the time, it was said that would never be done,
that the human body simply did not have the capacity to run that distance that quickly.
It was thought that it would never be done, but Roger Bannister did it,
and not only that, just 46 days later, the Australian John Landy, did it again.
Within 3 years 300 other athletes ran a mile in under 4 minutes.
But Roger Bannister was the first.

It’s remarkable isn’t it, that something not thought possible was achieved once,
and after that, was repeated again and again.
But according to the scientist Rupert Sheldrake, experiences like this are not unusual.
He calls it by an academic term: Morphic Resonance,
which to simple folk like me, apparently means
that once something has been achieved in one place
it will be achieved again and again elsewhere.

He speaks about experiments with rats in a London laboratory
where they are taught to do a certain trick.
Once the rats in that London laboratory have mastered that trick,
other rats in other parts of the world are also capable of doing the same thing.
There is a link across time and space between species.

It also works with things like crystals.
When a new chemical is made for the first time it is usually hard to crystalise it,
But once they are crystalised once, they crystalise quicker throughout the world.
They are somehow connected and respond to what goes on elsewhere.
All very fascinating, but not being a scientist or being a person who thinks scientifically,
it is not something that would normally hold my attention for very long;
except that I think it has a profound thing to teach us about the spiritual life
and our commitment to it.

Let’s face it, sometimes we wonder
if our spiritual practice has any bearing upon our world at all.
What difference does it make in the great scheme of things
if I come to church every week or not?
What difference does it actually make to our world if I pray?
What significance is there really to one small, unseen, act of kindness?

Well according to the scientist Rupert Sheldrake, who also happens to be a Christian,
those acts make a significant difference to our world.
Because of what he calls “Morphic Resonance” the way you and I live our lives
has a greater impact on the rest of the human race that we would ever imagine.

Because we worship, because we pray,
other people around our world will be drawn to this spiritual practice,
even though they have no idea who we are or what we do.
And likewise we have been influenced and taught
by the practice of others who we have never even heard of.
We are part of each other, we are intimately connected to each other,
we influence each other, support each other and encourage each other
in the most incredible ways.

The simple things that you and I do matter and have a purpose.
Often we feel that we are of no real significance in this vast world and universe,
but in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

Because we smile at someone the world is changed.
Because of one gentle word, one small act of kindness,
one small unselfish sacrifice; one moment when we refuse to judge or criticise;
because we stop to offer a moments reflection and prayer…
the world is influenced, people we have never met are empowered,
and God’s kingdom breaks through.

Of course modern practitioners give fancy names to it like morphic resonance,
but the ancients have always known about this.
Francis of Assisi
knew the power of doing small, unknown, seemingly insignificant things.
Another of the old saints spoke of going into a chapel
and seeing an elderly peasant woman offering a few prayers at the altar.
He had a vision of the whole world revolving around that woman’s simple prayers.
She, of course, had no idea of their impact.

We do not have to achieve great feats like Roger Bannister
to open new possibilities for human kind.
We simply have to do what is ours to do….
lovingly, kindly, gently, faithfully and prayerfully.
Living our lives, simply in the service of Christ
will charge our world with the wonder of God’s love.

What you and I think, say and do on a daily basis matters,
and is significant not only for us, but for our world.

Saturday 17th March 2018

Psalm 61:1 Hear our cry, O God, listen to our prayer

The Good Friday liturgy also includes the Solemn Prayers.
On this Holy Day, when Christ flooded the world with love,
we pray that this beautiful outpouring may flow to all parts of our world
and to all aspects of creation.
We stand at the foot of the cross on behalf of all God’s creation
and pray that such love may be known and experienced by all.
We pray for the world wide church, and people of all faiths;
for all world leaders and governments
and those who work for peace and justice;
for the natural world, the environment and our responsibility towards it;
for all who suffer sickness, are oppressed, deprived, or bereaved;
and for the grace to love a holy life in response to God’s love.
The Solemn Prayers are offered in words, silence and music.

The following is one of my favourite poems
that I always read on Good Friday.
It never fails to move me.

The Coming by R.S Thomas

And God held in his hand
a small globe. Look, he said.
The son looked. Far off,
as through water, he saw
a scorched land of fierce
colour. The light burned
there; crusted buildings
cast their shadows: a bright
serpent, a river
uncoiled itself, radiant
with slime.

On a bare
hill a bare tree saddened
the sky. Many people
held out their arms
to it, as though waiting
for a vanished April
to return to its crossed
boughs. The son watched
them. Let me go there, he said.