Sunday 11 July Trinity 6
Sea Sunday and Godparent Sunday
Parish Eucharist by Alex Norris
‘Repent for the end of the world is nigh’
I am sure many here will have the image (in black and white) of the guy
wearing a sandwich board with those immortal words painted on both
sides, stood on a busy New York Street or some such similar place back
in the 1930s.
Living in London, we must have at one time, or another seen something
similar, maybe a person stood at Oxford Circus or some such similar
place telling you to repent for your sins, and to follow Jesus.
I always remember a guy at Oxford Circus, probably around 2005/6 who
had a very powerful sound system and his strapline (In a heavy
Liverpudlian accent, which I am not even going to attempt!)
‘Don't be a sinner, be a winner’
He was an interesting fellow, called Phil Howard and I subsequently read
he was served an ASBO by Westminster Council for public nuisance. I
also remember at the time something along the lines that he was a
former Kit Kat salesman from Liverpool, you really couldn’t make it up.
1Here was a man who had felt the call, and decided to act on it in the
most practical way he could think of, whether on Oxford Street or at an
Arsenal match, cursing fans, or outside Wembley Arena telling gig-goers
that "Jesus was the original Manic Street Preacher". He was not afraid to
blast his message at anyone who would listen, whatever the
consequences. In my research of him, some of the quotes from street
vendors and the like were virtually unprintable, let alone quotable in a
What he did undoubtedly annoyed many, inspired some and drove
others to derision, but to him, he felt he was following the call of Jesus,
and I suspect he took to heart Jesus’ advice for unwelcoming audiences,
which Phil was more than used to, ‘If any place will not welcome you and
they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your
feet as a testimony against them’. These verses are just prior to this
morning’s reading from Mark’s Gospel.
Today’s Gospel reading starts at a rather strange place, ‘King Herod
heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known’. What was the ‘It’ that
was being referred to here? In order to really understand this reading, we
need to know this.
In the preceding verses Jesus has instructed his apostles, sending them
out in pairs to go out and teach, to cast out demons, asking for people to
repent and also curing the sick by anointing them with oil, and it was this
call that our Sandwich Board man was observing in his own way.
Even though the name of Jesus was becoming known (Jesus was
crucified sometime after John the Baptist was executed) Herod was
convinced that John the Baptist had been raised from the dead, having
had him killed at the behest of Herodias’ Daughter, when asking what
she wanted, saying, ‘The head of John the Baptist’. This famous, yet
gruesome story, called Salome (the daughters name) is featured in the
arts through opera, poetry, plays, music and film and sculpture, to name
In short, according to Mark's Gospel, Herodias bore a grudge against
John for stating that Herod's marriage to her was unlawful, and this was
ultimately the cause of his death.
Throughout the New Testament we read of brave people being
persecuted for preaching the Gospel. John the Baptiser was known
because of all that he did, and for standing by his principles, his being
outspoken about Herod’s marriage was the last straw.
I thought I would check how many of the apostles were martyred, just to
get a gauge on the risks they ran for their calling, and as you would
expect there is a lot of debate around this. Some say that only one
apostle actually died of old age. Feel free to Google it, it’s not a cheery
read I’m afraid.
So, whether in ancient Palestine or on Oxford Circus, people have heard
the call to preach the Good News of the Gospel and respond in the way
that they think is best all over the world, and many have paid the ultimate
price for it, poor old Phil was assaulted many times for what he was
saying, but in comparison to what many of the apostles faced this was
nothing, and I am sure he would say the same.
This Sunday is also known as Sea Sunday and Godparent Sunday (in
the Church of England) and in reflecting on this in the light of our Gospel
reading today it further highlights the theme of going out and teaching.
Godparents are charged to pray for their God Children and help them
take their place in the church, it's quite an evangelical role they take on
for the church, helping bring the child up in the faith.
Whilst on this Sea Sunday we give thanks for those on the sea and the
all work that they do, the risks that they take, and also remembering the
sacrifice that their families also make, with loved ones away months at a
time, exposed to significant danger. This is supported by various
organisations across the globe who work to teach the Good News to
those whose work involves the sea, a massive, worldwide undertaking.
So, as we remember all those who preach and teach the faith, especially
on this Sea Sunday and Godparents Sunday, let us remember those
who have gone before us in the faith preaching the Good News. May we
all respond to this call, in our own lives, and bear witness to the love of
Christ for all. Amen.
Choral Evensong by Alex Norris
So, there is the story of the man who fell overboard in the middle of the
ocean, miles from the coast, and was splashing around in the water.
Seeing the commotion, a ferry comes along and tries offers help to the
drowning man, and he says, he does not need any help as God will save
him. A little later a Coastguard Helicopter spots him and comes down
and offers help and again he says, he does not need any help as God
will save him. A little later, as the man is really getting into trouble a
lifeboat sails by and he says that he does not need any help as God
would save him, and alas shortly afterwards he drowns and dies.
He then finds himself at the pearly gates and says to God, why didn’t
you save me? And God said, well I sent you a ferry, a helicopter and a
lifeboat and you turned them all down!
Today is Sea Sunday, and our second lesson from Romans reminds us
of the large amount of travel Paul did spreading the Gospel. A lot of his
travel was at sea, which was very perilous then, as it is today, and as our little joke reminds us.
Paul travelled 10,000 miles by foot, let alone his numerous travels
around the Mediterranean by boat, and during this time he spread the
faith to thousands of people, as he said in our reading earlier, ‘Yea I
have strived to preach the Gospel’.
Today, this Sea Sunday, various organisations work to support and share the Gospel with those at Sea, not forgetting the family members who are left on shore worrying about their loved ones whilst they work for weeks on end away from home. But what message are they disseminating? In short, the Good News of the Kingdom; a world of equality, and justice and fairness for all, with God. As we say in the Lord’s Prayer, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as in heaven’.
And when I think of this justice that we preach, and the sea, I cannot
help but remember the many migrants who sale across the very sea that
St Paul sailed around, with many sadly not making it, being at the mercy
of unscrupulous people smugglers, who are really the only winners in
this terrible business. The figures are terrible this year to date 827
people have died trying to get to a better, fairer world, a world that they
think they can find in other countries, that’s nearly five people a day,
We are all striving for fairness and justice and as the terrible plight of
these migrants shows us, and so are they; our faith demands we work
tirelessly for the new kingdom of justice and equality. How we solve the
tragedy that is unfolding in the Mediterranean I suspect can only be
achieved by international cooperation, to stop these perilous journeys
being made in the first place, and I believe moves are already being
made to try and resolve this crisis, and punish the people smugglers
Paul nearly drowned himself, and was lucky to escape from his
incarceration on the sinking boat he was being transported in. We still
have his letters to the various churches he wrote to, and a record of the
example of the extraordinary amount of missional work he did to spread
the faith of Christ. As our freedoms start to be reinstated as the
lockdown ends, and international travel begins again, when making your
plans, remember in your prayers those risking their lives at sea, and
those who work tirelessly to preach the Good News around the Globe.
“Give me 100 preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but
God: such alone will shake the gates of hell.” Amen.
Sunday 13th June 2021 Trinity 2 by Alex Norris
So, I have a confession to make....
A completely irrational love that I have…
I love garden centres. When I go away, I love to visit them, go to the
coffee shop, look at all the plants and tools and potions and treatments,
the fountains, and pumps and pond equipment, then of course the
tat...all the stuff that you buy that really has no use whatsoever. Of
course, then there are the vintage sweets, fudge, ice cream, you name
it. Just wonderful.
However, there is one small problem. I don’t have a garden. I live in a
third floor flat, I don’t even have window boxes, let alone the luxury of a
balcony. Now I know that I am among many green fingered people here,
and I am sure many of you also have a love of Garden Centres. Having
recently visited such a place it got me thinking about our readings today.
Today’s readings are all related to growing, cultivation, or the new
creation. Be it the planting of the seeds and how they grow, of trees
bearing fruit, or the old world passing away and the dawn of a new
creation, there is one common theme here; the Kingdom of God.
There is the here and now, and then the ‘what is to come’. Today’s
Gospel reading talks about how tiny seeds, which can be seen as
representing the present, relatively small work, when cultivated, can
grow to their full potential; the Kingdom of God.
Agricultural themes were very popular with Christ, as they created
images that were really accessible to the listener, as people were far
more connected to agriculture than we are today, as there is a whole
supply chain that separates what we buy from where it comes from. It
might be convenient for us all, but it does remove our understanding of
where things come from, which creates its own problems. That is for
You will hear the Kingdom of God talked about a lot in church. The
Lord’s prayer, ‘They Kingdom Come, on earth as in heaven’.
What is this Kingdom? What does it mean?
The Kingdom is the world that we are all striving for, a world of justice,
and equality, fairness, where there is no more suffering. We pray in
every service that this Kingdom may exist on earth as it does in heaven.
Next week is the fourth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, the largest
domestic fire tragedy since the second world war. We are four years into
the public inquiry which is painstakingly going through every detail of that
fateful night and what led up to it. One word that I have read many times
by those who were affected by it is ‘Justice’, there is the Justice4Grenfell
group, then also the question, ‘where was God in this that He would
allow children to die in such a horrific way?’ These are huge questions.
The government and country need to come to terms with why this fire
happened, what the cause was, why the cladding was used, what
started the fire in the first place, whether the handling of the fire could
have been done better, and of course, this is all done in slow motion, in
a meeting room, not on the night, under immense panic and pressure. I
would ask that you remember all the firemen, and those involved in this
tragedy in your prayers, whatever the outcome, those 72 people cannot
be brought back.
In the Kingdom that we all pray for, there would be justice and equality
for all. Grenfell is a tragic reminder of the world that we currently live in.
But this new Kingdom IS the Kingdom that we all, as Christians, need to
strive for. This is not just through the miracle of prayer, but also in other
Many people ask what the Church of England actually does to help
‘further the Kingdom’, so here are a few takeaways:
We have 16000 churches, which provide 8000 foodbanks, 5000 lunch
clubs, 4000 parent-toddler groups, 2700 community cafes, 2400 night
shelters and 2300 breakfast or holiday clubs, which together create a
value of our churches to society of £12.4 billion pounds.
These figures do not mention the thousands who pray for people on a
daily basis, our religious orders, the investments that the Church
manages which enables them to drive an agenda on the boards of some
of the world's biggest boards. Only two weeks ago the church managed
to get two members on the board of Exxon, the oil company, who are
sympathetic to environmental concerns. There are other examples I
could cite, but in short having the means to influence the voting on the
boards of multinationals such as Exxon or Google is another tangible
way in which the church is able to make genuine change in society, and
drive the change to further the Kingdom of God.
But it all starts here! With you and me, here today, with our prayer,
celebration of the eucharist, the teaching of the scriptures, of Christ, and
all he stood for. Love.
And to carry on the gardening analogy, just as we have our wonderful
Garden Centres to help us nurture and grow our flowers and plants, so
we have our church, with Holy scripture and its teaching to help us grow
our faith, and further the Kingdom.
So much has been done, but there is so much more to be done. So
whenever you hear the Kingdom being mentioned, and wonder what it
means and when it is coming, think of those lines from the Lord’s prayer,
‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’.
Sunday 6 June Trinity 1 by Paula Hollingsworth
Chaplain, St Paul’s Cathedral
Teach me, my God and King,in all things thee to see,
and what I do in anything
to do it as for thee.
For 20 years I was a parish priest leading and preaching at most of the services in 3 village churches most Sundays of the year. I would breathe a sigh of relief when I got to this Sunday – the first Sunday after Trinity
Not just because Trinity Sunday was behind me – a minefield of a Sunday to preach a sermon
But because we are now approaching a whole raft of Sundays after Trinity.
All the seasons of the year where we need a special order of service, special extra rubrics and words to remember – the Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent and Easter seasons of the year – these are all behind us for a few months. Other than the occasional Saints days, we don’t have the great highs and lows in our liturgy over the weeks ahead
But do be reassured, the Church does have a particular name for this season – we call it Ordinary Time
But to me this also begs the question – what does it mean to follow Christ in ordinary time?
That seems a particular pertinent question to ask this year
We have been through the trauma of lockdown, the catastrophe of the virus – and through things may be delayed briefly by the latest variants – in the UK we are approaching life that is normal again – albeit a new normal. For many, the scars and the grief for will not go away – the new normal will be learning to live with the losses and griefs this last year have brought.
You here at St Giles’, have had a heightened few weeks as you have prepared for then made the goodbyes to Katherine your rector. You have given her a great send off – now she has moved and you are adjusting to a new ordinary
The Church’s occasional offices and special services help people to mark and adjust to the highs and lows of life – marriage a new child, a significant step of faith… funerals and local national times of change, times of loss and grief.
But most of our lives are lived in ordinary time, doing routine tasks, ordinary day following ordinary day
In our epistle, Paul reminds us that day by day, while our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed (2 Corinthians 4:16) – not because of us, not because of anything that we are doing, but because of God’s grace. Day by day, ordinary day by ordinary day – though we may think nothing is happening, God is at work deep within us
And Paul speaks of the eternal weight of glory beyond all measure (2 Corinthians 4:17) – that both awaits us and yet is a part of us now – eternal life lived in the full radiance of God’s love – and the reminder that we need to look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, what cannot be seen is eternal.
I wonder if you recognised the words that I used as my opening prayer:
Teach me, my God and King,
in all things thee to see,
and what I do in anything
to do it as for thee.
Back in the days when we used to sing hymns – and we will have those days again soon – you may well have sung these words taken from a poem by George Herbert.
If anyone has the right to reflect on the ordinary, it is George Herbert
He is was born in 1593 into an aristocratic family, a member of Parliament and a close friend of the likes of John Donne and Francis Bacon, he attracted the notice of King James I and a dazzling political life at court beckoned – but he chose to take holy orders and to become the vicar of the quiet and rural village of Bemerton near Salisbury and to spend much of his quiet days writing poetry – his poetry has a strong sense of the metaphysical, or other worldly, dimension of ordinary material things and mundane tasks
He speaks about an early telescope – you might could look at the glass lens, or you could look through it to see the worlds beyond
A man that looks on glass,
on it may stay his eye;
or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
and then the heaven espy.
That sense of the world beyond, the eternal glory, which we may not see with our physical eyes, but can be seen or grasped spiritually can transform our mundane, our ordinary days
As Herbert continues
The servant with this clause that is, with the understanding of the unseen glory around us
Makes drudgery divine
Who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
makes that and the action fine.
George Herbert lived at a time when there was a great interest in alchemy – the idea that somewhere there existed a philosopher’s stone which could turn everything into gold
What a picture that gives, Herbert tells us, of the Christian hope:
This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for less be told.
That which God doth touch and hold, includes you and me. Outwardly our world may often appear to be ordinary and routine, but we are also part of another world, we are part of God’s kingdom, which is both now and not yet, around us but unseen – the gold of the glory of Christ, the King of heaven – urging us, transforming our inner beings, inspiring us with hope.
So let us be mindful to look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, what cannot be seen is eternal….the weight of glory beyond all measure.
Sunday 30th May Trinity Sunday by Alex Norris
John 3: 1-17
So, there we are, we have made it into Ordinary Time, having been
together, in one way or another through Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter
and finally, last weekend Pentecost. During this time, we have heard the
foretelling of the coming of Christ, then his Birth, moving into his trials in
the desert and passion, death and resurrection, with his leaving us as he
ascended to the Father, and finally the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Along with all of the drama of our church's year, we have also waved
goodbye to our beloved Rector Katharine as she moves on to the next
chapter of her life, with all that this will hold for her. In a matter of a few
weeks, Jesus has left us, and then so has our Rector, but we have
received the Holy Spirit, the breath of God.
It's been a rather busy time for us, with a lot of comings and goings! And
through all of this we have experienced God as Father, Son and Holy
Spirit; God the Father who created us, God the Son who redeemed us,
and God the Holy Spirit who sustains us. Creator. Redeemer. Sustainer.
On this Trinity Sunday, we again remember the threeness and oneness
The concept of the Trinity was formalised in the council of Nicea in the
year 325. It was in response to a lot of misunderstanding around the
relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There were
numerous heresy’s flying around, and those caught adopting such
heresy met a rather sticky, if not extremely toasty end.
This understanding of God as being three entities and one at the same
time has been an educational nightmare for centuries, and various
analogies have been used to try and explain it.
If you have ever seen the classic film ‘Nuns on the Run’ where some
bank robbers end up in a nunnery escaping the police, one of the bank
robbers, played by Eric Idle, in order to keep his cover has to go and
lead an RE class on the Trinity, and to help him his partner in crime
explained to him as follows:
You've got the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. But the three are
one, like a shamrock, my old priest used to say. "Three leaves, but one
leaf." Now, the Father sent down the Son, who was love, and then when
he went away, he sent down the Holy Spirit, who came down in the form
You told me already - a ghost.
No, a dove.
The dove was a ghost?
No, the ghost was a dove.
Let me try and summarize this: God is his son. And his son is God. But
his son moonlights as a Holy Ghost, a Holy Spirit, and a dove. And they
all send each other, even though they're all one and the same thing.
You've got it. You really could be a nun!
I suggest you watch it to see how well he does in the class.
So there you have it, a Shamrock, there is also the Jaffa Cake analogy,
chocolate, sponge and orange, together one jaffa cake, but three
separate things at the same time. These analogies go some way to
explain the mystery of threeness and oneness, but there is a more
important point that I want to draw from this, apart from the fact that
today we remember and celebrate the Holy Trinity, even if we are not
100% certain on exactly how it works.
Some of us here today, in our church community, may be feeling a little
more alone and uncertain as we head off into the uncharted waters of
our Interregnum. None of us like uncertainty, so please remember this:
3Whatever the situation, wherever you are, you are not; we are not alone.
Through the threeness of God that we hear mentioned every week in
church, God is always with us. God has not left us, God will not abandon
us. As we journey on together over these next few months we must
In some ways the Trinity is rather complicated, and for some just a
theological and academic pursuit that tests the old grey cells, but on
another level, an important level, God does three things for us: He
creates, redeems and sustains us. One God, three expressions. If we
can grasp this understanding of God, then this will remove some of the
mystery around our Trinitarian beliefs, which we express in the Nicene
Creed, which as the name suggests came out of the Council of Nicea
(as mentioned earlier) and which we say in one form or another every
Sunday. As a final point I would like to say it is such a privilege to
journey with all of you through this next phase of the long distinguished
history of St Giles, which we are fortunate enough to be sharing together
at this time, and I know, with the support of God we will have nothing that
we should feel anxious about.
As the X-Files slogan says, and admittedly being used in a completely
different context: ‘We are not alone!’. Amen.
Sunday 16 May Easter 7
John 17: 6 – 19
Avoid passing trends. This advice is freely available on line – unless you think going on line is a passing trend that you prefer not to bother with. This is about naming the baby and my search revealed not just any old naming but how to pick the perfect name for your baby.
Perfect name, perfect baby, perfect family, perfect life if you avoid passing trends.
Other tips include: Remember that classic names don't have to be boring – a child with a boring name is not necessarily destined to grow up to bore for Britain.
Or, take a look at your family tree is another suggestion– it’s not clear why. Are these names to avoid or perpetuate?
In the first lockdown between us we generated a weekly newsletter and one week when Richard of Chichester was commemorated in the calendar I invited a former bridegroom to write about his name. He wrote thoughtfully. Growing up he had never liked being called Richard and as an adult he still dislikes his name. I don’t’ know what he would rather have been called, but his not liking his name was not what I had in mind. He was supposed to love being called Richard in all its fullness. It is assumed that we like our names – otherwise surely we would have done something about them.
Leslie Griffiths’s had a favourite story about his time in Haiti and going to one of the islands on a Sunday for a baptism. He was met by a crowd of people he was to baptise, and as he started baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit he was told that as the minister he also was to choose the candidates’ names. He says it got a bit tricky towards the end when he was running out of ideas for Christian names.
We have probably all gone through a phase when we would have preferred to be called something else – something exotic, some passing trend, to signal to ourselves and others that we are interesting people, to add sparkle to our lives. Although, as we are told, classic names don’t have to be boring. Hello to our unboring John, Martin, Thomas, Daniel, Mark and Oliver – and others. Women and their names of course having been lost in history.
As for those surnames – Milton, Frobisher, Stagg, Foe, Catesby and Cromwell. Surnames are part of us too, they tell the world who we are.
These words are from a naming ceremony:
Yours is a beautiful name full of history, and a name for you to keep or let go. May you grow up to be proud of it, with humility; a strong and tender bearer of your past; and may you always be open to others with different names and faces and colours and faiths; ready to share and teach, yet also to learn, let go, and grow.
Jesus looked up to heaven and prayed, ‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world.’ So wrote one of the people who had a hand in writing John’s gospel – perhaps she or he were members of a school or group. Today’s gospel is from these distinctive chapters we call the final discourse that we have been reading on these Sundays after Easter. A different people, a different message. The Johannine church would have been markedly different from those founded by Paul and his companions with an emphasis on the mystical and indeed the mysterious side of the Christian faith.
Mystical and mysterious, I have made your name known – your name God, God who is revealed as verb: I am who I am. Back in the beginning, Moses – whose name probably means pulled out of the water – is attempting to persuade God he is not up to the task that God has in mind for him. Exodus 3: 13 – 14: ‘If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is his name? what shall I say to them? God said to Moses, I am who I am. The way the truth and the life. That’s me, says God. I am.
Use names with great care, names are precious. Through Moses God instructs the people, ‘You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.’
Names were very important in ancient beliefs. Paul is not pleased with the Athenians; he is deeply distressed to see their city full of idols. He gets into an argument with the Jews and devout persons and they become interested in this proclaimer of foreign divinities and his new teaching. He is invited to speak to the Areopagus, ‘Athenians I see how extremely religious you are, he has noticed an altar to an unknown god. Such altars were an insurance policy against offending gods by not knowing their names.
Jesus looked up to heaven and prayed I have made your name known.
Our God is a named God. Our God is a known God. Jesus has revealed God’s name and in doing so something about the nature and character of God. In interceding for us he has opened for us a divine space into which we may also enter. This is not a location above the clouds – forget artists’ impressions of the upward trajectory of Ascension Day with two disappearing feet. This is an inner spiritual place in which those who believe gain increasing knowledge of God and comes finally to God’s holiness.
We come to this knowledge by naming God and by ourselves being known by name. This is the starting point. Now we are known only in part; then we will know fully, even as we have been known.
Known unto God by name.
Sunday 9 May Easter 6 by Alex Norris
Today’s Gospel reading really spells out Jesus' expectations of all of us;
to love him, and follow his commandments, and in this we hear the well
known commandment to love one another as he has loved us. The final
verse from this reading particularly resonates with me, ‘You did not
choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit,
fruit that will last’. This was the text written around the commemorative
plate that was given to me upon my ordination to the priesthood, here on
this very spot, last September.
These words really shift the emphasis of the meaning of this text, from
our choosing to follow Jesus and following his example, to Jesus
For me this reading focuses on vocation, and what that means. I would
venture that everyone here today has some kind of vocation; Vocations
are not just a calling to the Priesthood, they are a calling for all kinds of
roles within the church, be it our musicians, churchwardens, PCC
members, readers, intercessors; the list is endless.
Many of us experience that sense that God is calling us to his church. I
had this sense for many years and it took twenty-five years for me to
properly listen to it and do something about it.
You did not choose me, but I chose you….
Something I find very appealing about this reading is the simplicity of
what Jesus says to us all, with the heart of this message being love.
Loving one another, as he loved us; No one has greater love than this, to
lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
LOVE. That one powerful, simple, evocative word. Used the world over.
There are endless examples of people who have lived their lives
according to these rules. Loving one another, laying down one’s life for
their friend. Only a couple of weeks ago a young man drowned after
diving into the Thames to save someone who had fallen in. He sadly lost
his life, and not for a friend, but someone they did not even know, a total
stranger. What greater example of love is this?
However, sadly there are numerous examples within the history of the
church of horrific behaviour, towards others, those who do not fit in with
the beliefs and understanding of doctrine of the ‘mother church’.
Issues around sexuality, identity, even nuances concerning Holy
Communion and what happens when the bread and wine are blessed
among many others, have caused people with differing views to be
subjected to the most horrific treatment. Not exactly very loving.
When we look to follow the life and example of Jesus and his
commandments (which he neatly summarises for us) in loving one
another; this is at the heart of what it is to be a Christian. It’s that simple
Or is it?
This is, of course easy to say, some people cannot stand their
neighbours (!) and asking us to love them, might be a bridge too far; but
of course, the interpretation of the word ‘Neighbour’ is slightly different
from those who live in the flat or house next to yours.
If we look at Luke Chapter 10, where Jesus appointed 72 others and
sent them off into the towns, from this account the term ‘your neighbour’
is basically anyone who crosses your path. So, actually now, this loving
thy neighbour idea is becoming even more difficult! I am sure we all
know people who try our patience, people we do not have time for,
people who annoy or upset us, I am sure we would (well I hope!) not
wish harm on any of them; but loving them, is a whole new ball game.
So, what do we do? We are only human, and our patience and tolerance
of others only goes so far. In short, we need God’s help, we cannot do
this on our own. There is also one other aspect to all of this. If we are to
make a go of this important commandment, we need the ability to
I have preached before about those who have forgiven people who have
committed the most heinous of crimes against them, such as murdering
their family members, and their testimony on the effect that forgiving
them has personally had; setting them free, enabling them to get on with
their lives. I still think on the testimony of those I read when researching
it, and it still moves me. These are obviously extreme examples; but I am
sure we all have our own challenges and situations where forgiveness
has been, or yet still might be the solution.
One thing that has come out of the last year or so has been the effect
the pandemic has had on community, neighbours who used not to ever
talk, starting to talk with each other, help out those that have needed it,
truly Christian behaviour. If anything, it has shown that communities
across the land are capable of loving their neighbours, and it should be a
good model for us all. But will it continue post pandemic? Only time will
tell, but I would hope so.
All in all, the question I leave for all of us (myself included) is, what is God
calling us to do? Maybe you have thought that God is calling you to the
Priesthood or another role in the church? If you think he is, reflect o it,
pray on it; come and talk with us and we can explain more about how the
process works, and how to discern what God’s will is in your life. It’s a
joyous thing to do.
Along with our calling to the church, there God’s calling on all of us to
love our neighbour, and as part of this maybe God is calling you to
forgive a particular person, and with his help, you might be able to do
just that and it could have a really positive effect on your own life, let
alone the person you forgive.
Whatever our calling is, as our Gospel reading has laid out for us this
morning, know that God loves us all, and as he loves us, he wants us to
love him. If we can all commit to this, then we will all be the better for it,
and able to live out our lives s as Jesus intended. Amen
Sunday 25 April Easter 4 by Katharine Rumens
John 10: 11 – 18
I expect she could feel me looking at her. I didn’t want to be there – perhaps she didn’t either.
It was 48 hours before we were to be priested and we had been sent off on retreat. I wanted to be Heathrow meeting family and friends. After all, we had waited a long time for this. All those, meetings, discussions, debates, demonstrations, vigils, phone calls, and all that letters writing.
But there we were, stuck on retreat with a woman who was telling us how to be shepherds. Then she became aware that I was looking at her, ‘shepherds or shepherdesses,’ she quickly added. It’s obvious when you think about it – women when they are ordained priest become shepherdesses complete with poke bonnets, crinolines and pretty ribbons on their crooks. Oh yes, we were about to tip toe into the Church of England with the feminine flutter of the women’s chorus in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.
It’s not just a male/female thing – the image of the shepherd, or even shepherdess, our free use of the word ‘pastoral’ as in pastoral care all take us back to models of leadership and being together that are not always that helpful.
It says in the ordination service, ‘Priests are called to be servants and shepherds among the people to whom they are sent.’ It’s easy for us shepherding types to get carried away by a sense of our own superiority, especially when we know sheep are not given to depth of thought and easily take flight.
We might update our views on shepherds – like those on the telly: energetic young women and men in wax jackets and wellington boots on quad bikes, although in many societies, shepherds are seen as a rough and ready lot of hard drinkers. However, they present, shepherding is necessary for the wellbeing of the flock.
And we shepherd one another in our concern and compassion as we travel to new places together.
A theologian blames stained glass windows as being responsible for more bad theology than, as he puts it, all the lousy preachers who ever were. He is not a fan of the pastel Jesus in long robe, with a cuddly, co-operative sheep on his shoulders.
At least those red pigment scratched figures 3rd and 4th century funerary slabs found in the Roman catacombs show large characterful sheep on the shoulders of burly shepherds. No long robe and no cuddles here, just scratched figures that try to convey the simplicity, the love and the power of the faith.
A common prayer in the early Church was that the deceased should be led to heaven ‘borne on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd.’ And even today Psalm 23 with its familiar words ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ is the most popular psalm at funerals. As unlikely as it might seem, shepherds still speak to us.
I read the real shepherd is a tough and resourceful character, who can live very simply when necessary. She cannot be afraid of going out in all weathers - in order that the flock, those in her care – as it were – can sleep at night.
And who are the hirelings? Our theologian identifies them as the pushy, the greedy, the ambitious. Someone on the make – who will fleet at the first fight.
He says, as always, the words and the word pictures of Jesus are not meant to make us religious, but simply to make us happy in our work and at peace with ourselves and with God. Building up the kind of community where everyone, not just the churchwardens and PCC, but everyone has a voice and a place in the process of being the Body of Christ.
It is in concern for the welfare of the whole flock – stray sheep and all. In self-emptying love, that is how we lay down our lives.
I know my own and my own know me, ‘Says the greatest shepherd of them all.’
It’s a good Sunday for our East window, not only because as the spring turns into summer and the sun gets higher, in the early morning light floods into the church bathing us in colour.
It’s a good Sunday because in the past days we have commemorated in the church calendar the lives of George – not a shepherd, Alphage – an episcopal shepherd and Anselm – another episcopal shepherd. The crook belongs to Lancelot Andrewes – episcopal shepherd, who we commemorate in September. All depicted in the bottom row of the window.
In the ordinal we read that, ‘Bishops are ordained to be shepherds of Christ’s flock and guardians of the faith of the apostles. They are to gather God’s people and celebrate with them the sacraments of the new covenant.’ Pushy hirelings need not apply.
The PCC learnt more about Alphage Archbishop of Canterbury when the Corporation was developing St Alphage Gardens. Captured by the Danes, rather than impoverish his people by paying a ransom, he chose execution and was killed nastily and brutally in Greenwich. We thought his chosen martyrdom needed to be named as a timely reminder for the pushy, the greedy and the ambitious of the City. Rather than impoverish his people by allowing the ransom to be paid, he chose death. A shepherd of Christ’s flock.
Anselm was Archbishop of Canterbury when a stone church was first built on this site in 1099. We are told he really wanted to stay in Bec, France – possibly as a hermit. A reluctant shepherd of his people, yet it is noted that reluctance was common practice in the medieval church as open willingness indicated the hireling’s ambition, greed and pushiness.
Risen Christ, faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep: teach us to hear your voice. People of St Giles’ you will not scatter over the next months. Prayerfully together you will discern God’s purpose for you as you choose your next Rector, the one who will come among you as your shepherd or even – in a crinoline as shepherdess.
Sunday 18 April Easter 3 by Alex Norris
Luke 24: 36 – 48
‘The Broiled FIsh’
Today is the third Sunday of Easter, and our celebration of the
Resurrection continues, and in our Gospel reading just now we hear
more about the reaction of those closest to Jesus and his resurrection,
and the events immediately after this momentous event.
I once heard a story from a Vicar about an undertaker he had met. He
had met this person, I assume in relation to a funeral, and after the initial
niceties the undertaker said, would you like to see my Death Certificate?
Taken aback, the vicar said, go on then. And lo and behold this person
produced his very own, bona fide Death Certificate. How did you get one
of these? said the vicar, and the undertaker then explained what had
In short, he had a very rare condition, something like catalepsy which
means your vital statistics drop to such low levels that you appear to be
Something like this had happened here with the undertaker; and when
he came round, he was in the morgue, and upon waking up; the poor
morgue assistant nearly keeled over from shock, and had to be sat down
and made a cup of tea, if not something stronger.
Why do I cite this story? First, this is not a case of resurrection, the
undertaker had not died, but to all those around him it appeared as if he
had. But second, if you do come back from the dead, it is terrifying for
those around you (and probably yourself as well!) Disbelief and a whole
host of other emotions must flood around your system, like that poor
mortician. I want to explore resurrection and its impact on others, in the
light of our reading this morning.
When Christ stood among the disciples, his friends, people he knew very
well. Luke said, ‘They were startled and terrified, and thought that they
were seeing a ghost’. Does anyone blame them?! I would. Just think
how that poor mortician needed looking after. How can we further prove
this to not be the case that he was a Ghost?
We have already had Thomas indulged and satisfied, but seemingly the
doubt continues. I always think Thomas gets a lot more flack for doubt
than he deserves in the Gospel accounts.
It's quite clear there was a lot of doubt, and fright among all of the
disciples. Then comes the clincher…
And he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a
piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.
Our reading from Luke this morning continues to reiterate Jesus’
resurrection; not as some metaphorical, allegorical expression, but as a
truly physical event.
A friend of mine was preaching this text a few years ago, and the
weekend before the other priest in the church had preached that the
resurrection was only allegorical, and not a physical occurrence.
He said to me, what am I meant to do with this reading, Jesus eats, that
is not an allegory, that is absolute physical corroboration of the
I am going to directly contradict last week’s sermon…..What shall I do…..’contradict’, I said!
Christ’s eating of the broiled fished shows us, the reader, and those
present, the truth of the resurrection. This was not a situation like the
one of our undertaker friend earlier, and just a medical anomaly, or some
poetical account of Christ’s death and legacy, this is the awesome and
terrifying power of God. Here, laid bare before us.
The resurrection is at the heart of the church's teaching, and the truth of
the Gospels, it’s what gives us all hope, the victory over death, the
forgiveness of our sins, that ultimate sacrifice that God made of his only
son for all of us. Even the ‘home team’ had their doubts, and needed
some proof, and they got it. We can read of it, as we have this morning,
but we do not have that luxury of proof, today in front of us.
We have faith. Faith is what equips us to deal with this. Faith is what
holds it all together. Jesus knows that those who had not seen him would
Just as Christ had supper with his friends before he died on the Maundy
Thursday, he again eats with his friends after the death and resurrection
he foretold, as a means to make everything clear to them, to remove any
doubt, and probably also calm their nerves, which after the events of the
last few days would have probably been frazzled.
Shortly we will be celebrating Holy Communion, and remembering this
sacrifice, the Last Supper, the body and blood of Christ, here, now,
together, using those ancient words that Christ himself used all those
years ago, before he endured the most horrific suffering. This is our
opportunity, to again remind ourselves of what went on through Holy
Week, culminating with the might of Christ’s resurrection.
With our faith, and all that the Holy Scriptures tell us, we are given all
that we need to understand these cataclysmic events, which we
remember every year through Holy Week and Easter.
As we journey on celebrating Easter together, let us continue to
remember the Resurrection, not as some ambiguous event, or anomaly,
that can be explained away, but for what it actually is, in all its awe and
beauty, and all that it brings for each and every one of us as we live our
lives in the faith of Christ.
Sunday 10 April Easter 2 by Katharine Rumens
John 20: 19 – 31
It’s one of those Sundays – when preachers have to rewrite their sermon. All those gently nurtured thoughts and insights that we have been collecting over the past days – the brooding in the bath; the pondering over the washing up; rehearsing the internal monologue on the way to the shops. All abandoned. All change. Prince Philip died in his sleep on Friday morning and his death dominates the news. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
Whatever else is going on, the story today’s gospel of Thomas hasn’t changed and won’t change. ‘Unless’. ‘Unless I see’. ‘Unless I put my finger, unless I put my hand’. I will not believe. The story of the Royal Family and thereby of the nation has changed. They will have to learn to take their new place in the world. Across continents – those who loved, those who knew, those who met and those who felt they knew the Prince – mourn his death.
The story of Thomas, the same yesterday, and today and for ever
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Blessed Thomas (Becket) pray for us. So weep the chorus at the end of the play.
I was only ever once knowingly in the same space as Prince Philip. It was at an anniversary service commemorating the restoration of All Hallows by the Tower after bomb damage during the second world war. I, being local clergy, and having arrived early was sitting at the front on the left. He being royal, and also having arrived early, was at the front on the right. He sat there acquainting himself with the gift aid envelope in his pew. I don’t think he’d ever seen one of those before. Probably the gift aid envelopes at Sandringham and Balmoral – are tactfully removed from the pews where the royal family sit.
Privilege protects the rich and powerful from some everyday realities – like needing to carry money or picking up a biro and writing your post code. However, privilege doesn’t prevent church attendance, or faithful living, or belief in God.
He sought the good of others: our bishop spoke about Prince Philip’s dedication, ‘Dedication’ is a word rooted in classical and biblical language: in this context, to be ‘dedicated’ is to be absolutely removed from other uses, being completely available to God. Whilst it was the Princess who gave the historic message at the Coronation, the commitment to dedication was also made by Prince Philip.
"He consistently put the interests of others ahead of his own and, in so doing, provided an outstanding example of Christian service.’
As we prayed in today’s Collect: “open the doors of our hearts, that we may seek the good of others.”
The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell called the Duke of Edinburgh "a remarkable man who lived a life of service dedicated to his country, to his wife, Queen Elizabeth II and his family." "His faith in Jesus Christ was an important part of his life and one which shaped who he was."
That person, as the press has reminded us, could tell it like it was, be direct, be open, could speak with robust candour, someone who was very much his own man. You don’t have to be shy and retiring to be a Christian.
Prince Philip was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church, and later upon his marriage received into the Church of England. His was an Ecumenical journey.
The creation of the conference centre, St George’s House Windsor with Rev Robert Woods is described as his “late-life religious awakening. St George’s House – somewhere where clergy and people of influence and responsibility come together to explore contemporary issues. It is said it provided the long-needed dimension for which Philip had been searching in his spiritual life.”
May he rest in peace at the end of his earthly journey.
We don’t really get confused about the story of Thomas, we tend to need to hear the story only once for it to stick, perhaps because his so called failure of discipleship is a bit too much like us for comfort. This man with his conditional acceptance……Unless
The author of John tells us that when Jesus first visited the disciples, Thomas was not there, but he does not tell us why. It is left for us to surmise, or offer what CS Lewis called a supposal.
A theologian supposes Thomas had a broken heart, and not an inability to believe. Jesus died leaving Thomas alive but left behind. This is how it feels when someone we love deeply dies and we are left (behind) bereft.
When a heart is broken in pieces there is nothing from within to reach out, so God has to reach in and draw us to herself.
Thomas is the only person in the New Testament, other than Jesus himself, to call Jesus God. ‘my Lord and my God’ (the Greek is ho kyrios mou kai ho theos mou) —the literal translation: the Lord of me and the God of me is spoken only by Thomas.
Having established how unique and inspired Thomas is in his encounter with the risen Christ, in the light of Jesus’ earlier visit to the disciples who had to be convinced that he was not a ghost, we should change the tone of Jesus’ words to Thomas so that his criticisms lose their negative connotations.
When he makes his second visit to the disciples, when Thomas was present, after his shalom he turns to Thomas and gently says to him (in effect): ‘It’s alright Thomas, I am here now: as you can see, I am alive.’ And as he had already done with the other disciples, he told Thomas he could reach out and touch him. In fact, the text does not say whether Thomas does or not: his only possible response was to fall on his knees and worship.
Thomas was a man of considerable courage whose broken heart was the result of sorrow beyond endurance.
His story is good news for people who have lost their faith, or never had faith, or experience a late-life religious awakening; maybe they are suffering from grief, broken relationships, or simply the vicissitudes of everyday life. Like us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Blessed Thomas pray for us.
21 March Passion Sunday by Katharine Rumens
I got cold feet on the way to Jerusalem. Try taking your shoes off and walking the canvas labyrinth. You too might find that the marble floor gives you cold feet. Previously, we’ve had it in the body of the church, and it could only be put down when services and events allowed – like in the first part of Holy Week. The old wooden floor creaked as you walked, but your feet stayed warm.
Cold feet for Passion Sunday. Loss of courage or confidence. An onset of uncertainty or fear – perhaps making us too fearful to continue. Turn back Jesus, you don’t have to set in motion the chain of events that will lead to your arrest, that kangaroo court and your execution. Turn your back on Jerusalem, flee while you still have the chance.
On the way to Jerusalem: in the Middle Ages, undertaking a pilgrimage to one, if not more, of the holy sites throughout Christendom was a goal that every person, regardless of social standing, sought to fulfil. It was your great adventure of a lifetime. Risk and danger at every bend of the way. Many pilgrims died on the journey. Many were attacked, robbed, cheated. Amazingly, many achieved their dream. In fact, there are surviving accounts of women from England who made multiple trips to Rome, Santiago de Compostela, and even Jerusalem during their lifetime.
For us right now it is a risk-free journey on a labyrinth. The pavement labyrinth at Chartres between 1215 and 1221 – of which ours is a smaller version- was one of the earliest. It is thought the building of the cathedral was profoundly influenced by the then recent loss of Jerusalem to Muslim forces in 1187. It was no longer possible for European Christians to travel to Jerusalem, and as a result, many began looking for alternative ways of making the journey. The labyrinth was the solution. Keep on the pavement and get home safely.
And the other connection with Jerusalem? Jerusalem had been remodelled by the Romans who divided the city into quadrants. Our labyrinth design is an example of an idealized Jerusalem. So, while Christians had lost the right to visit Jerusalem – or never had the money to go, they could still make pilgrimage to this holy city using the labyrinths in the various cathedrals and churches.
Matthew Mark and Luke – all have decisive points in Jesus’ ministry when he turns his face to Jerusalem.
‘See we are going up to Jerusalem and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes. We are going up to Jerusalem. See we are going up to Jerusalem.’
Spiritually and literally Jerusalem took you to another level being nearly 800 m above sea level.
Passion Sunday, we are positioning ourselves for Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem next week on Palm Sunday.
In the verse that comes before today’s gospel: John 12: 19 we read that the religious authorities have failed to rein in Jesus. Are they getting cold feet? You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.’ There’s nothing we can do.’
The world, that is everyone - is flocking to catch sight of Jesus, hear what he has to say, follow him around.
The wider world – Greek and Jew- at on their way to Jesus. Some Greeks came to Philip – on behalf of the Greeks Philip goes and finds the Andrew- a man with a Greek name that was common among the Jews. Gentiles are asking for Jesus and the world is united in their search. This is a sudden dramatic twist in John’s account of Jesus in which he reveals the universality of his mission.
Twists and turns in John’s the story. Surprising encounters are every turn. Like Jesus – a Jewish man - asking the Samaritan woman for water. Or the overturning of the moneychangers’ tables.
‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ It is some Greeks who articulate that familiar, ancient aching longing for some hope, for some sign beyond the passing show of things.
Was the coming of these Greeks and the asking of their question a sign? It is suggested that Jesus has been waiting for this encounter – it is the turning point that will set his death in motion. The crowd is behind him, fascinated, hanging on his every word, the question is asked, Jesus tells the people he will die – be lifted up high as Moses lifted the snake in the wilderness. After Jesus has said this, ‘he departed and hid from them.’
To be lifted up – elevated, promoted, sound glorious. The curious, the seekers after truth, will no longer have to weave their way through the crowd and get access to the man via one of his henchmen. He will be carried on the shoulders of the crowd, be seated on the platform, put on a pedestal, stand in the pulpit. Here is visibility, fame and glory, but Jesus refused the way of domination. Lifted up above all creation: for him it will be the terrible uplifting of the cross and a slow death.
Our many deaths: our lives are an amazing mixture of living and dying: a continual process of movement, change, losses and gains. Of twists and turns in the story that is our story.
The twists and turns of living through this past year of the pandemic: the anxiety, the fear, illness, death. Getting vaccinated and being looked after by a kind neighbour. The strengthening of friendships, learning our resourcefulness and creativity. Job losses and trying to make ends meet. Otherwise overlooked joys and delights. Our pattern, journey, of living and dying, of death and resurrection, is given meaning by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
And that probably is the best answer to the census question I had to answer, ‘What is the main activity of your organization?’
Sunday 28 February Lent 2 by Katharine Rumens
Genesis 17: 1 – 7 and Mark 8: 31 – end
Let me introduce you to a friend of God, Abram, who for 99 years had apparently been happy with his name. God invites – or instructs Abram to walk beside him and be blameless because God is to enter a covenant - a promise – with him. There are to be lots of children – a multitude of nations which of course, doesn’t worry patriarchs one bit; they have wives and concubines to take the life-or-death risk of childbirth and thus people the nations. And because Sarai is to have a child, Abram gets a new name, as will Sarai in a bit.
God flinging God’s promises around, last week with Noah. This week with Abram and God asking almost nothing in return. Just walk before me and be blameless, though there is no checking up on how blameless Abraham proves to be.
Jesus is much more exacting in what he demands of the individual. It’s not just a question of walking beside Jesus and being blameless – that is not enough.
Jesus and the disciples are ‘on the way’ the term that will come to mean commitment to Christian discipleship in the early church. They leave Caesarea Philippi to make the 100-mile journey to Jerusalem where Jesus will challenge his nation at the centre of its religious activity.
Jesus began to teach them, he predicts his condemnation and execution in the hands of a new political coalition that will engineer his murder.
We hear Peter’s voice of protest, Peter who in earlier verses had proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah. Messiahship means royal triumph and restoration of Israel’s collective honour. Yet Jesus speaks of himself as the Son of Man, the Human One and such a term necessarily means suffering
The Human one as a critic of the debt code and the Sabbath – necessarily comes into conflict with the elders and chief priests and scribes. These verses are a discourse of political inevitability.
There is no middle ground, no fence to sit on.
Jesus turned from the disciples and called the crowd – this is for everyone to hear.
Take up your cross
The cross on which dissidents were executed. Crucifixion was a political and military punishment – inflicted on slaves, violent criminals, and unruly elements in rebellious provinces – they must have been very familiar with crucifixion in unruly Judea. Crucifixion of people and their thinking who had to be suppressed. The public display of a naked victim at a prominent place, at a crossroads, in the theatre, on high ground, at the place of his crime – represented the victim’s uttermost humiliation.
Jesus invites the crowd to share the consequences of those who challenged Rome.
We are not told what the crowd thought of this.
Mark is writing for Christians taken to court in times of persecution: they have to choose – profess Jesus or deny him. One or the other, there is no compromise. This stuff is not about resisting a second slice of cream cake or a doing something slippery with money.
Deny yourself is risking one’s own life.
A scholar points out that identical rhetoric can be found in speeches by Hellenistic military officers on the eve of battle – exhorting the faltering spirits of nervous soldiers. We find similar rhetoric in Shakespeare: Once more into the breech dear friends…
Mark is pointing out the paradox, it is precisely the fear of death – the fear of crucifixion - that keeps Rome in power. Thus, the dominant order stays intact. It is by denying yourself and pursing kingdom values that the powers’ reign of death is shattered.
Set into a wall to the east of Chartres Cathedral where the ground drops away to the river is a simple metal disk commemorating the French Resistance leader Jean Moulin. The words are his, ‘I did not know it was so simple to do your duty when you are in danger.’
Sunday 21 February by Alex Norris
The Baptism of Christ
In many of our post-Sunday service Zoom calls we have been having
recently there has been a lot of discussion around art. Art is something that is entwined with Christianity, and all of the central stories from Holy Scripture have been painted by numerous artists across the many different artistic traditions over the years. And if you are like me, you will like many, and some you will find, let’s say, rather challenging. But that said I like to be challenged by what I see, I don’t always want the artist to be playing to the home crowd, so to speak.
The Baptism of Christ is no exception, a quick search online will show
literally hundreds of depictions of John the Baptist pouring the water over
Christ’s head and the Dove ascending and descending above representing the Holy Spirit, which was present at this event, and is present at all Baptisms since.
How do you picture that scene? Do you have an image you have made
yourself, using your go to image of Jesus, the River Jordan and John the
Baptist? Who else is there? Angels, as some pictures show? The disciples? How about yourself? If you were there, where would you be standing? Or are you the one painting the picture?
I think our understanding of this event can be really personalised and made relevant to us in each of our contexts if we spend some time doing this. Also, we should remember that pictures don’t just arouse emotion, but also enable contemplation.
As we make our journey through Lent together, reflecting on the Baptism
of Christ is a good starting point for our journey, as this is where it all began.
Water has featured in both of our readings today, but in very different
capacities. In Genesis, and the story of Noah, the waters rose and killed
off everything on the earth and in the sky (I always wonder what happened to all the fish, but that’s for another day!) and then they receded, and Noah came out of the ark, and when he did so God said that he would establish his covenant with him, and ‘that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth’. Looking at climate change today, this may not be as certain as originally thought.
Water plays a big role in many of the stories of the Bible, dramatically it
was parted twice; The Red Sea, when God closed it again on the ensuing army and the River Jordan, for the Israelites, and then again for Elisha.
Here water has been viewed as something dangerous and obstructive,
which God can govern, and rule and change the behaviour of as required. Water is also cleansing, we use it for washing and cleaning, removing grime and dirt. So, water can support life and end life, and in Baptism water supports our spiritual life. It could be said that water has metaphysical qualities as well! So, when we consider the waters of baptism, to me this is something more genteel, holy, sacred, cleansing.These waters are the waters re-birth, a fresh start.
So what happened when Christ was Baptised, it must have been different to when we have been baptised in a font in church?
As one scholar notes, ‘In undergoing baptism, the sinless Christ has
identified himself with sinful humanity. The descent of the Spirit inaugurates a ministry which will wash away those sins once and for all.
To accomplish this, Jesus has to undergo a further baptism: the Passion
journey in which he bears humanity through the deep waters of death into the light of resurrection.
It is from this “baptism” on the cross that the Church receives the gift of
baptism as a sacrament’, which we all receive today.
This explanation neatly links Christ’s Baptism in the Jordan to his death on the cross, and glorious resurrection, which we await as we journey through Lent together. In Mark’s reading we see this journey start quite abruptly after his Baptism, with Christ being driven by the spirit into the wilderness to undergo his temptation, as he denies himself.
As we ponder Christ’s baptism, and picture that in our minds eye, think
about what this journey of sacrifice means to you. Why not look at some
of the pictures of Christ’s Baptism online, there are some inspiring images to reflect on, as we walk with Jesus through this Lent.
As things start to feel more optimistic as the days get longer, let us all
consider our own Baptisms, and picture the Holy Spirit being there, and
what that would have looked like to us. Would it have been a Dove also?
And as we do this, let’s remember Christ’s own baptism and his being
driven into the wilderness, as we too find ourselves in the wilderness of
Lent, in the knowledge that in the end, these times will pass, with Christ’s victory over Death for all of us
Sunday 14 February Sunday before Lent by Katharine Rumens
Mark 9: 2 – 9
What do you and I know of mountains? Here in the flat lands – where the best we can do is take the lift to the top of one of the tower blocks, book a ticket on the Millennium wheel, or climb up to the dome of St Paul’s. From there we have all London at our feet and in the far beyond, the landscape stretching for miles in all directions.
When I’m telling the story of Moses and the 10 commandments or the Sermon on the Mount in school assembly, I ask the children to imagine – imagine because like us, that is the only way they can get up mountains from where they live. I tell them high places allow you to look all around, high places enable you to get things in perspective. Traditionally, high places bring us closer to God. And when you come back down the mountain, what had been bothering you is all sorted, you can now have a plan of action.
Except, according to scripture, mountains have the touch of death about them. God instructed Moses, ‘any who touch the mountain shall be put to death.’ It’s amazing that Jesus ever had any climbing companions when you consider the risk they were taking.
Today’s gospel, Mark Chapter 9. The midpoint in his story. Jesus leads Peter, James and John up a high mountain. As in the second half of the gospel the chief priests will bind Jesus and lead him away to Pilate. The one who leads will become the one who is led.
Up the mountain they encounter a sort of salvation history summit conference – Moses and Elijah standing by Jesus. It’s an impressive lineup. A cloud descends and the heavenly voice speaks. A theologian helps me to look at the story in a new way. He suggests being on the top of a mountain is not necessarily a high point in the life of either Moses or Elijah. Moses was gone for so long up Mount Sinai - 40 days and 40 nights – that the people got bored and made the golden calf as distraction therapy. Thus, rejected he had to go up the mountain a second time. It must have been a long and weary climb. Mountains have not been kind to Moses. Similarly, Elijah was not having the best of times, he was on the run from Jezebel who has vowed to kill him ‘by this time tomorrow.’ He fled to mount Horeb – that is Sinai where in the sheer silence God speaks to him. God instructs Elijah to go down the mountain, and he found Elisha who would continue his work. Well – it’s all you can do really, having once scaled the heights, the only way is down.
Moses and Elijah, both going through times of great discouragement in their lives. Both stories are clearly instructive at this midway point in Mark’s narrative. The cross now stands with the law and the prophets, up the mountain the veil between earth and heaven is torn in two, as at the baptism of Jesus and at his death. The revelation of God, as revealed in these past weeks of Epiphany – to the magi and then to Simeon and Anna is revealed on high today.
And we are not to hang on to this revelation of God - life goes on. The magi return by another road, Simeon and Anna – we presume, stay at prayer in the temple. We cannot carve the revelation of God in stone or cast it in concrete. But tangible proof reassures, and Peter speaks for us, ‘Master it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings – or tents’.
The disciples will come down to earth after what they have experienced together up on the mountain. They know that somehow, just somehow, without any tangible proof, they are on the right path. Amen.
Sunday 7 February Second Sunday before Lent by Alex Norris
‘A Perfect Planet’
I am not sure if you have been able to see David Attenbrorough’s latest series ‘A Perfect Planet’, in which he explains specific aspects of planet earth, such as the weather, volcanoes, or most recently, humans. This last episode went out on Sunday evening just gone and, along with a panel of experts, discussed the future in the light of what humanity is currently doing to the planet.
It was not easy viewing, with distressing images of suffering animals, fish
caught up accidentally in nets and also the impact of climate change on
humanity; nobody escaped, and it was fairly damning, and something that I would recommend everyone to watch (it's on the iPlayer if you want to catch up on it).
I also like the name they have given to the series, ‘A Perfect Planet’, as I
believe creation is, and always has been perfect, but is currently being
This viewing really resonated, for me, with today’s Old Testament
reading and Psalm, which are both about creation, as they also relate
the perfection of creation to our part in it.
As Proverbs said this morning, about the role of Wisdom in creation, ‘I
was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race’.
There is a large quantity of debate about who Wisdom actually is, be it Solomon, The Holy Spirit, but convention has it that Wisdom is referred to as ‘she’, which is quite befitting when considering the creative role of Wisdom in our reading today.
What image do you have in your mind's eye when you hear Wisdom being referred to? When I think of Wisdom it invariably involves a sagely old man with a long white beard, like something out of Hogwarts, or an Owl, such as you see in literature or films, or possibly even David Attenborough
himself, because of his decades of knowledge and expertise in his field.
Do I regard Great Thunberg in the same light? Probably not,
but should I?
She has mobilised tens of thousands of people in this cause, chastised the member nations of the UN, saying she should be in school and not telling the UN that they should be looking after the planet. I suspect all of our images of what we regard as Wisdom probably need updating.
In our world today, with all its suffering and imperfection, especially with the pandemic, we might want to question the perfection of our world, especially in the light of what humanity has done to the planet in the last two hundred thousand years. But, with that questioning, we should not forget that God
delights in his creation, and in all of us. Our God is a creative God, he made us, and the world around us.
As the well-known Gospel reading from John this morning, used lovingly in carol services across the land reminds us, ‘All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being’. God made everything. And as he delights in it, so should we. And in doing this, we should respect it.
Attenborough doesn’t just give the viewer a diatribe of doom and gloom, he also gives us hope with some of the projects that are being done to counter the effects of the damage we are inflicting on the planet, and these projects are amazing, and already making a difference. It shows that we have the
capacity to repair, and to care, and as Christians, we are all called to love and respect God’s Creation.
As we move from the Christmas and Epiphany season towards Lent, I think it gives us all good time for pause and reflection. The creation in which we all live, was not just abandoned by God, as some creative experiment, as the Gospel reading this morning reminds us, ‘And the Word became flesh and lived among us’, the Word being God, his only Son.
It is really quite dramatic stuff, God, becoming human, and living among us, with all of the risks that this entailed, from a fairly dramatic birth, through to a final humiliation and agonising death, and all for us, God’s creation.
And as we come to reflect on the passion, death and resurrection of Christ this Lent, we are also given time to reflect on our own failings and shortcomings.
Just as Christ endured the temptation in the desert and denied himself, we too should look at what commitment we will make in our Lenten observance this year.
So, when considering giving up cigarettes, not drinking alcohol,or heaven forbid, stopping eating chocolate (all admirable pursuits) maybe we tie in our Lenten observance with our commitment to care for God’s creation, by making changes to our lives to help us to be more environmentally friendly.
Proverbs said of the Oceans, ‘...he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command….’ I suspect David Attenborough would say that we are very close to the waters making this transgression, and that now is the time to act, before it is too late.
Sunday 31 January Candlemas by Katharine Rumens
Today we mark Candlemas a cross quarter day, the midway point of winter halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. “Down with the rosemary and bays, Down with the mistletoe, Instead of holly, now up-raise The greener box for show.” Says the poet.
Its equivalent in six months’ time is Lammas - the cross-quarter day between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox; the feast of the Transfiguration in the Christians calendar. The early church knew how to impress itself upon the world. In the pagan calendar it is Imbolc and traditionally marks the first stirrings of spring. It is time for purification and spring cleaning in anticipation of the year's new life.
Whatever calendar we follow, pagan or Christian, the year is on the move. Candlemas refers to the practice of the blessing a whole year’s supply of candles – that light may shine in the darkness of people’s lives. In 542 the Emperor Justinian ordered its observance in Constantinople as a thanksgiving for the cession of plague. These historical details that previously might have been interesting, but not thought of as significant, find a resonance with us right now.
The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, brackets Candlemas, marks the end of the Christmas cycle. Mary and Joseph go to the Temple to fulfill the necessary religious rituals. There are two encounters, one with Simeon, described as righteous and devout, the other with Anna, a prophet who never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day.
There is significance is in the meeting of the old dispensation and the new. The elderly man takes the new-born child in his arms and gives thanks. ‘A light for the revelation to the Gentiles, and to the glory of your people Israel.’ This is the Christ, the sun of righteousness, who will shine upon you and scatter the darkness from before your path.
Simeon sings his song. If we put our ear to the ground and listened would we hear the songs of this place? The songs of thanksgiving and praise down the ages which are held in time and etched into the fabric of this church and the earth beneath our feet. Listen.
There is that wonderful account of the Inuit brought back from his travels by Martin Frobisher and paraded through the streets of London. “The captive suffered them to lead him about; he seemed like a man in a trance as if his soul were elsewhere. But all of a sudden, he rose up and began to sing in his own tongue. He looked upwards to the sky, and sang with a great voice, and shortly after that he expired and died. He sings to the world of which he is a part, and from which he was snatched but to which he now returns.” In a strange land he sang his song and died.
We are not told how the song was heard by the traders in Cheapside or the bankers in Lombard Street. Was it one more distraction on a busy day, or did the song of the Inuit inform their own song at their time of death?
Simeon, holding the child sings in the Temple. The moment had come for which he had been living. Praise be to God that I have lived to see this day. God’s promise is fulfilled, and my duty is done. What will it take for us to die in peace?
As we leave these seasons of the incarnation, I return to the Advent exhortation: ‘Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.’ Simeon and Anna watched for God’s redemption. The result is that even when God appeared in the most unexpected guise (that of an eight-day-old baby) they were able to recognise him and give thanks for him. That’s what watching and keeping awake does for you.
Sunday 24 January Epiphany 3 by Alex Norris
Talking about weddings in this current situation is probably not the most
sensitive thing to do as so many couples have had to drastically alter,
significantly postpone, or cancel their wedding plans because of what is
the Pandemic and National Lockdown that we are all subject to. So, I
continue down this route, holding all those couples in my prayers as they
await the opportunity to make the vows to one another before God.
Whether it’s a wedding, birthday or celebration of any kind where you
have your guests being catered for, guessing the rate of alcohol
consumption can be very difficult, and the unmentioned nightmare of
running out of drink at such an event looms as some spectre that must
be avoided at all costs, driving many hosts to seriously over order ‘just to
be sure’. Having those conversations of, well half a bottle of wine a head
should be fine,. Shouldn’t it, but then there is auntie Gladys, it just would
not be enough for her, so count her as two….!
This must go on in households all over the country, they certainly have in mine. And no, I do not have an auntie Gladys!
More importantly I always find it interesting that the focus on such
logistics seems to be far more important than the actual wedding itself.
In our Gospel reading, the writer only gives a slight nod to the actual
ceremony, in as much as ‘there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and
the mother of Jesus was there….’ then we get straight into the business
of the drink running out and Jesus stepping in to save the day. But the
events of this day would go down in history, and are remembered all
these years later.
Jesus’ first miracle, which is performed at the Wedding in Cana, as
described by the evangelist John, is probably one of the most famous
miracles of them all, Jesus turns water into wine. And not just some
water, but around 20-30 gallons of it. And not any old wine, we are
talking more a fine wine, so less Blue Nun, and more Pinotage if you get
my drift! Whether you actually believe this event took place as described, or not, the meaning and deep imagery that this event conveys is what we should be taking away from this account.
First, some context: Galilee was a wine producing region, and whilst
many residents of Galilee were involved in the production of wine, they
could only afford to drink it on special occasions, it was a luxury.
The bridegroom and his family would have saved for a long time to put
on such a feast and running out of wine (as happens at this wedding)
was one of the most powerful ways in which poverty became a cause of
shame. Because not having enough wine for your guests was the most
obvious way of stating that you were poor.
Interestingly, the Aramaic word for “wedding feast” has the same roots
as the word for “drink”, so culturally drinking wine and attending a
wedding reception were closely associated, and one could assume that
the provision of wine was expected at such occasions, and that it should
not run out.
So, in this case Jesus’s actions quietly helped out his host, restoring
dignity to the household, which was obviously living in the shadow of
scarcity and shame. Because of Jesus’ actions the shortage of wine is
known about by only a few people who were present. In short Jesus’s
discretion saves the bridegroom and his family from public humiliation,
which would have been certain if word had got out.
But if that is not enough, the steward has to get involved asking why they had saved the good stuff until the end of the evening, when the guests would not have been so considered in the quality of the wine that they were drinking.
Should Jesus have matched the vintage, were the family quietly feeling
upstaged that the wine they have slavishly saved up for was considered
‘plonk’ that should have been guzzled at the latter stages of the feast by
the more hardened and less scrupulous drinkers?
Well, we will of course never know.
This miracle was not a parlour trick to amaze everyone. As previously
noted, nobody knew what had happened apart from a select few people,
it was far more important than that. We get our first clue in what Jesus
says to Mary when she prompts Jesus to step in. (Did she know that
Jesus was able to do something like this, or was she expecting
He tells his mother that his hour has not yet come, this shows us the
dependence of his actions on the will of the Father and connecting the
miracle he is about to work with the mystery of the Cross. It also
represents the switch from Jesus’ family life, and being subject to what
his parents asked, to his Public Ministry, which was reliant on God.
But there was more; the miracle at Cana represents a far greater work of
As the eucharistic preface for this season expresses it:
In the water made wine, the new creation was revealed at the wedding
feast. Poverty was turned to riches, sorrow into joy.
And here we get into the deeper meaning of what was going on here.
This new wine, refers to Jesus’ blood which is poured out for all of us,
the redemption of fallen humanity. As our reading from Revelation says,
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the
Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready’ we can see the
use of the matrimonial imagery for something far greater here, the use of
the image of the Lamb, a strongly sacrificial image in this context.
In our Genesis reading, bread and wine are also offered, when the kings
gathered and Melchizedek blessed them, and blessed God. So even
from the earliest times, hospitality has been closely associated with God
and the blessing he gives to all of us.
As one scholar notes, ‘At Cana, at his last supper, and at each
celebration of the eucharist, Jesus reveals himself in deeds as well as
These actions summon us to bear witness to him in our daily, material
relationships, so that the abundant love of God is made known in a world
still held captive by scarcity and shame’.
Drawing this conclusion, in our current circumstances is very timely. We
live in a world of scarcity, and one where the few have so much, and the
many have very little. In contrast to the message of scarcity and
embarrassment of not having enough, which is the pretext of the
Wedding at Cana, I wonder whether we should turn this round, and
wonder whether those with too much should feel the shame, especially
when we look at the world around us.
Hospitality and care is at the heart of the Christian message, as is justice
and fairness for all. When we next think of the wedding at Cana and the
water being turned into wine, maybe we look to think more deeply about
the message that this miracle is trying to convey.
Sunday 17 January Epiphany 2 by Katharine Rumens
It never happens to Londoners – or certainly not to those of us who dwell in the posh parts like Zone 1. Can anything good come out of the City of London is not a frequent remark. The City of London has substance, significance, eminence, a world-wide reputation, Whereas, meeting local builders working on my house, hearing where I was living, remarked ‘Oh you got away’. Local builders in that city that disdainful youths call Smallisbury.
The son of a man from Nazareth – what a joke. A small village in the backwaters of Galilee. A nowhere place up north. Admit it, we know what we know about people in the north – all coal in the bath and not a Clerkenwll hipster or chai latte in sight. Or why I found it hilarious when (at a party in Zone 2) a woman said that she was from the pretty bit of Didcot. We can be dismissive of people’s place of origin or habitation. And such dismissals obstruct our openness to one another. Today’s gospel reading about son of Joseph the carpenter who was from the pretty bit of Nazareth.
The first reading also indicates the surprising nature of the call of God – here to the boy lying in the temple of the Lord. ‘Samuel, Samuel (wouldn’t it be just wonderful if every now and again we could read in scripture the account of a girl or woman being beckoned in this way by God, but we don’t and we just have to get on with it.) And Eli advises the child to say yes, speak, I am listening. Here I am.
The gospel reading is from the last verses of John chapter 1. A chapter that begins with such profundity: ‘In the beginning was the Word’ and the Word was – guess what - the son of Joseph from Nazareth. It is not supposed to happen this way – the Messiah – him about whom Moses in the law and the prophets wrote.
I’m with Nathanael here, under my fig tree enjoying the shade on a hot day – the Messiah can’t possibly come from Nazareth. But those who live in the shadows may not be alert to the urgency of the task in hand. Andrew and Simon are followers of John, Jesus walks by. Andrew and Simon leave John and follow Jesus. Come and see. The next day Philip is invited, Follow me – and Philip found Nathanael. Oops.
The author of John’s is teaching us something about community. About the people we have to get on with, however different they are from us. Philip and Andrew have Greek names, Simon and Nathanael (which means God has given) are Hebrew names. The first disciples are a mixture.
Back under the fig tree the mood is not receptive. Why does Jesus bother with one who is cynically dismissive? Even Matthew was an easier call and he was a tax collector: Jesus went out and saw a tax-collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Yet Nathanael is prepared to reconsider, unlike Jonah, there is a limit to his sulking.
As his ancestor Jacob, that cunning thief who stole his brother’s birthright, saw in a dream, A ladder set up on earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it, Nathanael too will see the gates of heaven opened, and he will find himself in the nearer presence of God. You don’t have to be that perfect to see angels – you just need to be ready to see heaven opened.
It is always worth taking a closer look when something new invades our experience. It might just be a vision of angels ascending and descending. To follow God is to witness the bridge between the divine and human. And to stop sulking – not that we are.
Sunday 10th January - Baptism of Christ by Alex Norris
Today the church celebrates two festivals, the Baptism of Christ, as we
have heard described in our Gospel reading today, but also Plough
Sunday, which of we were in a more rural setting, we would be more
likely to be celebrating, praying for the farmers as they begin to break
the ground and sew the seed for the future harvest. The seed and
ploughs would be blessed. Something that both of these festivals have
in come, is of course new life, whether it is the Baptism of a new child or
the cultivation of new life in our fields; and both of these are essential for
our survival as a species, and as part of God’s creation.
Baptism is one of the great sacraments of the church, an outward
physical sign of inward Grace. It is in itself a new life, a new life in Christ,
signified with the blessing of water and then the sprinkling of water on
the head of the child, or depending on tradition, a portion of the floor
would be removed, revealing a large baptismal pool, in which the
candidate would be fully submerged. I am glad we are not doing that
today, in these temperatures!
The font we use, is, as it is in most churches at the back of the church.
Ours is at the back in between the two entrances to the church.
It came from St Luke’s church, when the church was closed, and used to
be used by the Wesley brothers, so lots of history there.
As I mentioned, the font and baptism signifies new life, not just in the
child that’s being baptised, as is our tradition here, but also the font itself
signifies new life.
Many fonts are made octagonal in shape, having 8 sides to it. Why?
Well, each side represents a day, with the 8th day being the first day of
the new creation, also the eighth day would traditionally be the day that
circumcision would take place.
With the font placed where it is at the back of the church, it also sits
within the design rationale of the church, and this is generally the layout
for all traditional churches.
When you come through the doors, your first part of the journey is
Baptism, you then progress down the church through the pews, to where
you receive communion, through to the sanctuary and finally heaven. So
the journey of life is represented here. As with many things to do with the
church, there are always exceptions to this rule, and variants, but I hope
this gives a good idea of how baptism sits within the scheme of things.
I do find this journey through the church interesting at this time of the
year, as we still have the nativity scene set up, now with the three kings
present, as it is Epiphany, and at the heart of this, the baby Jesus. As I
stand here on the threshold of the sanctuary of the church, the boundary
between heaven and earth, I have Jesus here (Point to the Nativity) that
new life that came for all of us, being visited by the Magi, with their gifts
for the new-born king.
And as with Christ’s baptism, with Plough Sunday, and with Christ’s own
nativity, the theme of new life runs like a seam of gold through all of this.
New life, it's what helps us make sense of death, what preserves our
race, and what is at the core of the meaning of life; Survival.
In the current situation that we all find ourselves with the pandemic and
all that this entails, we should take heart at the story of Christ’s baptism,
that new life that has come upon us, and the work that carries on apace
to grow our food, and all that takes place throughout the rural
communities in our land.
Too many people are dying at the moment, a hard battle is being fought
to bring this pandemic under control, and with the measures being taken,
we will get there.
But whilst all this is going on, and whilst it might seem a dark time that
we are all currently living in, there is light at the end for all of us, whoever
we are, wherever we are.
Christ fought with death, and won, for all of us, and as we remember the
life of Christ over the next few months as we move from Christmas and
Epiphany through to Lent and then the joys of Easter, we can experience
that journey that Christ took physically as well as spiritually in his
relatively short life here on earth.
The alternative Gospel reading for today is the famous passage about
worry, and how by worrying you do not add to your number of days. For
the farmers, worrying about their crops, what the weather will do, and the
impact on their livelihoods is of course a natural and expected thing to
do. I suspect many will be worrying about what is going on nationally and
for what this year holds.
I think that the two Gospel readings for today sit well together, because
as Christ is baptised and clothed with the Holy Spirit, as signified when
the Dove came down as Christ came up from the water, so, as we have
been baptised in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit, we too
are clothed with the Holy Spirit.
And whilst, I would not stand here and simply say, ‘well because of this,
we all need not worry’ when, I know there are things that I certainly worry
about, I would, say, having this reassurance should at least help us deal
with our worries, whatever they are.
As we celebrate Holy Communion today, as we remember the sacrifice
that Christ made for all of us, remember the Crib scene, and picture a
font, and in doing this, remember your own birth, rebirth through
baptism, and also the sacrifice that Christ made for you, for all that you
have done, and as we start the new week in the uncertain world that we
currently find ourselves, remember the certainty of the saving love of
God, his constant presence with us, whatever we are going through.
We have been baptised not just with water, but in the name of the
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As John said, he was unworthy to untie the
shoes of the person who was to follow him. Well, that person has now
come and is now here with us, and will always be with us, from this day
on and forevermore.
Birth, Baptism, Life; all things we can remain positive and hopeful about,
constants that are around us all. Let is give thanks for our lives, for the
life of Christ, and for all he did for us.
Where to visit us:-
St Giles' Cripplegate Church
London EC2Y 8DA
Registered Charity Number 1138077
Services church at St Giles’
Sunday 25 July Trinity 8
For Music and Readings
There will be no Morning Prayer on weekdays during the Interregnum.
28 July and 1 September
Home Prayer Group - Lectio Divina 19.30 via Zoom. To join contact Suzanne Royce email@example.com
The church is open for private prayer
The church is open from 11.00-16.00 Monday-Friday for private prayer. Please observe social distancing and any other instructions required when visiting the church.
Private Prayer and Reflection on first Thursday of the month
You are invited to join others in church on Thursday 6 May. Please bring the monthly prayer sheet here. If you are not able to join us, we hope you will continue to pray with us wherever you are.
Dates for 2021
5 August, 2 September, 7 October, 4 November, 2 December.
The monthly sessions on the first Thursday of the month from 13.30-15.00 including tea and cake.
Dates in 2021
5 August, 2 September, 7 October, 4 November, 2 December.
2021 Dates of PCC meetings in church at 19.30 (all currently on Zoom)
Parish Office Opening Hours
Tel: 020 7638 1997