HRH The Prince Philip – RIP

Photo by AP

Gracious God, giver of all life,
in whom our earthly course finds its fulfilment:
we give you thanks for the life of Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,
for his service to this nation, the Commonwealth, and humanity,
in war and in peace,
in the pursuit of knowledge,
and in his example of reverence for your creation.

We give thanks for the encouragement he offered to the young,
and for his faithful support for Elizabeth our Queen.

We pray that, as you receive him into your presence,
his family and all who mourn may know your comfort
in the assurance that death is swallowed up in victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and in eternity.

Amen.

Gender and Liturgy in Conversation – 12th-17th April 2021

Responding to the Sacred:

Gender & Liturgy in Conversation

A free online conference with a new panel discussion released each day on Facebook and Youtube, 12-16 April, culminating in a plenary session and act of worship on Saturday 17 April.

Taking in a wide range of perspectives our speakers will discuss issues in the field of gender and liturgy, in the context of liturgical reform beginning within the Scottish Episcopal Church.

For more information visit the facebook page Gender and Liturgy Conference or download the Final Programme and in case of queries email genandlit@gmail.com

The speakers include:

  • Merete Thommassen (University of Oslo),
  • Bill Paterson (MindfulnessFife),
  • Bishop Ian Paton (SEC),
  • Leon van Ommen (SEC, University of Aberdeen),
  • Bridget Nichols (Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Dublin),
  • David Jasper (SEC, University of Glasgow),
  • Lisa Isherwood (University of Winchester),
  • Beverly Clack (Oxford Brookes University).

Programme for the week

(all talks will be premiered via the facebook pageGender and Liturgy Conference)

MONDAY 12TH APRIL 7PM – Contextualising with Bridget Nichols and Merete Thomassen

Bridget Nichols will give an overview of gender and liturgy in the Anglican Communion to provide a context for discussion. Merete Thomassen will respond drawing on her experience of liturgical revision in the Lutheran Church in Norway.

TUESDAY 13TH APRIL 7PM – Made in God’s Image with Beverley Clack and Harriet Harris

Beverley will talk about questions raised in relation to the (gendered) nature of God and humankind, and Harriet will respond.

WEDNESDAY 14TH APRIL 7PM – Responding to the Masculine with Bill Paterson and Léon Van Ommen

Bill Paterson will talk about the changing nature of masculinity and his work with men’s groups. Léon Van Ommen will respond in terms of how this might be integrated into the discussion of liturgical change.

THURSDAY 15TH APRIL 7PM – Embodiment with Lisa Isherwood and Marion Chatterley

Lisa Isherwood will talk about body and feminist theology from her experience of teaching and academic leadership over many years, and Marion will respond.

FRIDAY 16TH APRIL – Gathering Feedback

Send the team your thoughts and questions, and email us for the link to the Zoom plenary: genandlit@gmail.com 

SATURDAY 17TH APRIL from 10AM – Zoom Conference Plenary, chaired by Trevor Hart

Our speaker and conference attendees will have a chance to discuss issues and themes brought up over the week, with opportunity for live q and a from our audience.

SATURDAY 17TH APRIL 2PM – Concluding Act of Worship: Modelling Ideas

Charities Shop to Re-open Again

Opening

The Charity Shop is scheduled to re-open on Thursday 29th April – Alleluia! This does of course assume that the Roadmap set out by the Scottish Government does not change between now and then and that non-essential shops are permitted to open from Monday 26th April.

The shop will then be open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 1pm.

The Shop

Great efforts continue to be made to make the shop safe for customers and staff so we would ask that everybody follows the ‘rules’ carefully. As you will be aware, the shop is small and although it was been reorganised over last summer, the number of customers who can be in the shop at any one time is still strictly limited. Staff will be on hand at the door to guide you and answer any questions that you may have.

Donations of Items

It would be appreciated that if you have been saving donations of items for the shop that you drop them off during opening times only and in fairly small quantities as we don’t want to be swamped and have limited storage space.

Welcome

We look forward to welcoming everybody in the coming weeks, meanwhile keep safe.

A Most Holy Week

What a lovely experience of worship, both in our churches and on Zoom. A splendid mix of styles and moods as we made our way slowly and prayerfully through Holy Week. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed is so many ways.

Sermon for Easter 2021

Alleluia Christ is Risen, He is Risen indeed Alleluia!!

Image by the French Impressionist James Tissot – original in the Brooklyn Museum

It’s not easy to convey a sense of wonder, let alone resurrection wonder, to one another. It’s the very nature of wonder to catch us off guard, to circumvent expectations and assumptions. Wonder can’t be packaged, and it can’t be worked up. It requires some sense of being there and some sense of engagement.

Eugene Peterson “Living the Resurrection

I think we might agree that today we are here to celebrate the Resurrection; but what exactly do we mean by that? Now this is neither the time nor the place to see how many angels I can stack up on the head of a pin, so we don’t want a highfaluting theological explanation, what we want is something more tangible, more experiential and more down to earth.

There is a point in the Easter Vigil when after recalling the history of the people of Israel, we suddenly switch the lights on and announce – Alleluia Christ is Risen and the congregation responds – He is Risen indeed Alleluia!! If this ritual gives the impression that the Resurrection is a sudden change from despair to joy, then maybe we need to think again.

That’s not how it was for Mary in the Garden, for the disciples on the road to Emmaus or those gathered in the upper room or indeed those who fished all night and caught nothing. These four instances are captured in our Eucharistic prayer today:

In the first light of Easter
glory broke from the tomb
and changed the women’s sorrow into joy.

From the Garden the mystery dawned
that he whom they had loved and lost
is with us now in every place for ever.

Making himself known in the breaking of the bread,
speaking peace to the fearful disciples,
welcoming weary fishers on the shore,
he renewed the promise of his presence

SEC Eucharistic Prayer for Easter to Pentecost

In all of these cases “the mystery dawned”, a slow realisation as to what had happened. Jesus, the man who had been with them for a while had been put to death on a cross and they had seen that happen. So of course encountering Him again took some time to sink in.

For the disciples on the road to Emmaus and those in the upper room, it was remembering what He had said when he was with them through experiencing His present actions that restored their faith in Him. For the fishermen, they had worked all night and caught nothing, but still they were given hope by a ‘stranger’ on the shore and experienced a bumper catch. For Mary, it was the love that spoke her name that she experienced whilst talking to the one she took to be the gardener. As Paul says to the Corinthians: “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

Now Christian faith isn’t a pair of rose-tinted spectacles through which to look at the Cross. The Cross is still a terrible instrument of torture and horror, one of the cruelest ways ever devised by human beings to kill each other. Christian faith doesn’t gloss over all of that. No Christian faith looks through the cross, and sees in that awfulness the mystery of love, the mystery of unconditional forgiveness, the mystery of hope and the very mystery of God.
In our Lenten Study on “Lament and the Psalms”, we saw that Lament takes us from crying out in Anguish and Despair, through remembering what God has done for us in the past and asking God for help until eventually it becomes possible to respond to God again in Trust and Praise. This process has much in common with Holy Week and in particular the Triduum. Like the Resurrection is also takes some time for “the mystery to dawn”.

The Resurrection of Jesus was the creation of the new bodily practical, down to earth world, not some sort of etherial existence in the clouds, the new way of being human, the new way of being a person in this world. The Risen Jesus didn’t enter paradise. He IS paradise. Heaven isn’t a place up there beyond the sky.

Sorry if it comes as a disappointment, but missions to the moon, to Mars or to the very edge of the solar system or beyond aren’t going to bump into heaven on the way, no matter how far they go. Heaven is the Risen Christ, the Body of Christ, living by love, pure love, which sets no conditions, no boundaries, the beginnings of risen humankind, the ultimate future of humanity.

It’s in the holy mystery of the Eucharist that we share in the embodied life of the Risen Christ and it’s because we belong to this new world, that we can conquer death, that we’re able to live not just for ourselves but for others in love. The love that Christ showed us, in everything he taught and every thing he did. And it’s because of love that we celebrate the Cross at Easter.

We have all lived through a difficult year. We have faced considerable disruption to our lives and challenge to the way that we interact with each other. In fact we weren’t able to meet up at all last Easter. However, no matter what happens, Resurrection gives us the ability to be present – to live, not just forever, but for now – to “have life and have it abundantly”.

Leo Tolstoy wrote: “that he became a Christian because he saw that the men and women round about him who believed in the faith, received from it a power that enabled them to face life and death with peace and joy

So let’s all engage with the Wonder of the Resurrection, through our experience of Christ, in Faith, Hope and Love.

Alleluia Christ is Risen, He is Risen indeed Alleluia!! Amen.

Will no-one stay awake

They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’ He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.’

Mark 14:32-42

A shaft of sunlight

Today we see a glimpse of the light that is to come and then …

Open to me the gates of righteousness,

that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD.

This is the Lord’s doing;

it is marvelous in our eyes.

The LORD is God, and he has given us light.

Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar.

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;

you are my God, I will extol you.

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 118:19, 23, 26-28

Looking forward together in Christ

On 11th March it was the 10th anniversary of the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami which caused much devastation in small fishing communities up and down Japan’s Pacific coast. By the time I visited some of these communities in November 2011, quite a bit of progress had been made in rebuilding facilities and infrastructure, though there was still much to do in restoring people’s homes and livelihoods.

Given the scale of the damage and disruption to people’s lives, I wondered how hope had emerged from all the chaos and despair. In discussion with several Japanese people, what emerged was that a crucial factor was the timing. The Tsunami hit just before the arrival of the ‘sakura-zensen” the ‘cherry blossom front’.

In Japan the arrival of the cherry blossom (sakura) is greeted with great reverence, with people camping out for several days so as to be in the best place when it happens. There are parties (hanami parties) with groups of family or friends picnicking under trees laden with blossom. There’s a virtual wave as the sakura-zensen which sweeps north from the southern island of Kyushu in early March up through the main archipelago to Hokkaido in the north by some time in May. Daily reports of the location of the sakura-zensen are broadcast on the news, so that people can track it’s progress and be ready for it when it arrives.

The meaning and significance of cherry blossom in Japan runs deep, making the country’s national flower a cultural icon revered not just for its beauty, but for its enduring symbolism. Cherry blossom symbolises for them, life, death and renewal, and the delicate balance between the fragility and impermanence of our existence and new life and hope. Sakura are have been revered for many centuries in Japanese folk religions, as a symbol of rebirth, believed to represent the mountain deities that transformed into the gods of rice paddies and guaranteed the year’s harvest.

Sakura have therefore always signalled the beginning of spring, a time of renewal and optimism. So with the blooming in 2011 coming shortly after the tsunami, it engendered this spirit of optimism and renewal bringing with it new hope and new dreams. When cherry blossoms are in full bloom, the future is bursting with possibilities. When the Japanese gather under the cherry blossom trees each year, they’re also commemorating the loss of loved ones and reflecting on their own lives with a sense of wonder whilst also laying aside the disappointments of the past to focus on a promising new start.

Given all that has happened over the last year, as we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, let us likewise look forward with hope and optimism, laying aside our own disappointments and looking forward to all the new possibilities together in Christ.

Blessings
James

A Service of Prayer for The Annunciation

Thursday (25th) is the Feast of the Annunciation, commemorating the appearance of Gabriel to Mary, nine months before the Birth of Jesus.

To mark this occasion, Simon will be leading

A Service of Prayer for The Annunciation

on Zoom at 7pm

The service will be a little over half and hour and will include some singing, prayer, scripture and a homily and will be our last on-line service before churches are allowed to open again (although we will still have some services on-line from time to time, especially in Holy Week).

The Zoom details are the same as for all our on-line services, if you can’t find them in your emails, please get in touch.