Holy Wednesday 28th March 2018

When I say Morning Prayer each day I always use the Book of Common Prayer  because I like the beautiful language of the old Prayer Book.
I am always struck by one line of the morning Collect.
The Collect is:
O God who art the author of peace and lover concord,
in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life,
whose service is perfect freedom:
Defend us they humble servants in all assaults of our enemies;
that we, surely trusting in thy defence,
may not fear the power of any adversaries;
through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The part that strikes me each day is the line: whose service is perfect freedom.
We don’t generally associate freedom and service together;
freedom tends to be thought of as doing what I want (the freedom to choose),
while service we associate with what I ought to do, or am expected to do.
Can the two really go together? The Collect tells us they can.
They are joined by us embracing and surrendering to what is ours to do;
by living what is before us rather than merely constantly wishing things were different,
and doing things begrudgingly.
They are joined together by seeing each moment of each day
as an opportunity to recognise and serve God in whatever comes along.
By surrendering to and embracing each moment we will begin to discover
the perfect freedom that the Collect reminds us of.
It is freedom from me wanting my own way,
and that freedom is the road to joy and contentment.
This week we remember Jesus embracing and surrendering to each moment.
Can we begin to learn to do the same?

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Holy Tuesday Compline Reflection

“Love is blind”, we say when someone falls in love

with someone we view as a not so very nice person.

“Love is blind”, we say when someone will not hear a word said against

a person who treats them abysmally.

“Love is blind” is a phrase we normally use in a negative way,

it tends to describe the naivety, if not downright stupidity, of the person we say it about.

 

Yet is such love blind at all?

Or is it the rest of us who are blinded by our assumptions?

Are we so caught up by the negative traits we see in a particular person,

that we consider them unlovable?

Maybe it is we who are blind and not the person who loves them.

 

Perhaps they see clearly something we cannot see, or refuse to see.

Perhaps what they see, hidden from our eyes,

is something so lovely that any faults the person may have become irrelevant.

Maybe love is not blind at all, but the very quality of life that opens our eyes to see.

 

Is that the love of God, I wonder?

God sees, deep within us, that wonderful soul

that we have not even glimpsed ourselves yet.

And when God looks at that soul he, or she, can do nothing else but love us.

Our faults, gigantic or minute, are nothing in comparison

to the wonder that God has fallen in love with.

 

We may not see it in ourselves; we may spend a lifetime trying to work out

why God should love or care about us so much;

but it would seem that for some reason God does.

Maybe it is time we just accepted it

and be thankful that true love is so beautifully blind.

 

It is that true love that led Jesus to take the journey that ended on the cross.

As we begin to take that journey with him this week,

may our hearts be open to that love,

may we become blind to the judgements that separate us from others,

and may  we learn to see as God sees and recognise the hidden beauty in all.

Holy Tuesday 27th March 2018

Two thoughts to carry into Holy Week, both by Persian poets from the 13th and 14th Century. The first by Rumi and the second by Hafiz.

Your Task by Rumi

Your task is not to seek love
But merely to seek and find
All the barriers within yourself
That you have built against it.

My Brilliant Image by Hafiz

I wish I could show you,
When you are lonely or in darkness,
The Astonishing Light,
Of your own being.

The reflection from this evenings Compline will appear later.

 

Compline Reflection Holy Monday

And so we begin our journey into Holy Week.

This is the most significant week of the Christian year.

This week takes us to the very heart of human life –

in all its wonder and all its horror.

Everything we will ever encounter in life is part of this week:    

Joy and pain; love and betrayal; faith and doubt; hope and despair;     

it is all there. Life in a nutshell.

 

And at the heart of this holy mystery; at the very heart of Jesus’ holy journey;

is that most incredible truth that God is at the centre of it all.

That every experience of life is a path to God; and a means of experiencing God.

Both the joy and the pain; love and betrayal; hope and despair; faith and doubt;

are all pathways that will lead us to God if we will allow them to.

There is no experience in life that God is not intimately a part of.

 

During the great pilgrimages of the Middle Ages

a woman travelled by foot for weeks to visit one the great Christian shrines

and offer her prayers to God,

When she finally arrived she was exhausted and foot weary,

so, before entering the shrine she sat for a while under a tree facing the holy place.

She took off her shoes to ease her aching feet and allow the cool air to soothe them.

After a while a pious monk came out of the shrine

and walked over to where the woman was sitting and asked her to move:

“Because” he said

“it is not right to sit with ones dirty feet pointing at the dwelling place of God.”

 

The woman looked at the monk and smiled. “My brother monk” she said

 “if you can kindly point out to me somewhere that God does not dwell,

I shall gladly point my feet in that direction”     The monk left her in peace.

 

There is no place that God does not dwell;

from the deepest joy to the greatest pain.

God will use it all to bring us home; to make us whole.

Jesus shows us this week, that the way to be open to God in all this, is to embrace it.

In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus made his choice. He said “yes”.

He surrendered to what is, and as painful as that was, he found it led to God; to life.

 

It is one thing to say “yes” to God in joy, love, faith, hope, wonder;

but can we really say “yes”  to God in pain, doubt, betrayal, despair?

This week says we can.

And it tells us that our “yes” can transform those moments into holy moments.

If we cannot say “yes” to our sorrow; neither can we truly say “yes” to our Joy.

They are part of each other.

 

Point out to me where God does not dwell, said the pilgrim

“and I shall gladly point my feet in that direction”.

God dwells at the heart of life. Jesus said “yes” and found God there.   

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.”