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Easter..

Posted in Uncategorized on May 4, 2015 by fibrefairy

I know I haven’t finished my easter reflections..  So I’m placeholding
!!

Saturday II/Sunday I

Posted in Uncategorized on April 5, 2015 by fibrefairy

I should never be surprised.  After the empty day of waiting,  the self questioning I arrived back at the cathedral for the Vigil. This first part was held in the darkness in the retroquire,  where history,  family history and His story mingle ,  where Bishops,  saints and the other many faithful are remembered.  In the darkness we listened to the overarching story of God at work: and I remembered once again in the small span of my life he is at work ,   sometimes unseen,  unrecognised,  but always there.
The story retold, we moved to join many more waiting in the nave,  in silence and anticipation.  The fire lit,  the Christ light renewed,  slowly the cathedral filled with light from hundreds of small candles,  a reminder that we pass the light of Christ to each other in our lives. The exsultet,  the song of resurrection proclaimed  *This* is the night….
And à fanfare,  joyful cacophony as we proclaim  He is Risen! Alleluia!  He is Risen indeed!  ALLELUIA.

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I had forgotten up to this point that the setting for mass was Mozart’s Kronungsmesse,  one of my complete favourite settings and the one that was used at my ordination.  Gloria in excelsis Deo.
I love the Easter Vigil and to be in what is, as a priest in the diocese, my mother church, was very special.  The joy of the baptisms and confirmations,  with renewal of baptismal vows and the Bishop flinging water around with glee all combined to make such a rich celebration.  Such tangible joy,  such resurrection hope and also moments of quirk. The bishop suggested that as crepuscular creatures perhaps it may have been that among the first witnesses to the resurrection would have been cats..  Who knows.

At some point in the afternoon I had realised that I was free to visit my sending parish for their dawn eucharist &  breakfast,  the thought of celebrating with long time friends pulled me in.  This was what I knew I was missing. The full sense of community in this journey,  and despite not having walked Holy Week with them I decided I would go,  before returning to the cathedral for the Festal Eucharist.  So after a short night I got up at 5 to make the trip,  rejoiced with friends,  but witnessed too at the moment of lighting of the Paschal candle,  a cat creep through the churchyard,  look at the unaccustomed activity at that hour,  and move on….

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Saturday

Posted in Uncategorized on April 4, 2015 by fibrefairy

Friday night I felt unsettled.  Physically on edge.  Like something was about to happen,  but I didn’t know what.  I’m learning to live more in the emotions of this time.  I think when we immerse ourselves in Holy Week and the Triduum it’s no surprise our own emotions start to coincide. Perhaps this “detached”  Easter is helping me see this with a bit more clarity,  earlier rather than later in the moment.  The twitchy feeling has persisted,  the feeling of being constantly on the brink of tears,  the saying the wrong thing,  waking too early.  But like Mary,  I’m in limbo.  She was constrained by Sabbath law.  Trying to continue through the day as normal,  wanting to go to the tomb,  and yet fearful,  did she need reminding of what happened yesterday? What if she couldn’t get to the body,  what if…  Not trusting her own emotions her own reactions..  But they are moot reflections. She wasn’t going anywhere.
I’m doing normal too,  mum taxi,  this blog,  coffee.  I want today over,  to move on,  and yet I don’t.  Perhaps I’m needing to stay in this waity Holy place.  In my in-betweeny state right now it’s the place that fits,  that names &  owns me.  Detached,  alienated,  having no home.  Perhaps I’m scared of Easter Sunday because I’m not there yet.  But then I think I think this every year, and when it comes the relief is immense.
Life might not be Sunday yet,  staying in Saturday might appeal,  but tonight in the Vigil we hear the stories, the pattern of God’s hand through time..  And we know we are part of that story,  again &  again at different points,  in different years, resurrection &  redemption come.  Even when we’re not there now,  Sunday promises is that we will be. 
But for today we wait.

Friday

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2015 by fibrefairy

Good Friday; a day of sadness, anticipation, emotion, silence, shouting .

In my childhood it was dominated by the Walk of Witness, a gathering of the churches in thetown to walk through the streets, singing badly and in my mind witnessing only to the fact we were a bit weird. We were *supposed* to be quiet, which in some ways made it all much worse, because as soon as you’re supposed to be quiet  as a child of course you can’t be. This was too the era of the Baptist black shirt wth full collar, when the minister wouldn’t be seen without suit and shirt front and the ring of confidence.

We would assemble at the green in the centre by the Methodist church where a short service was held, and we could then be let loose on the hot cross buns with margarine (it was the 70s , but this is significant) in the church hall. Honestly. Butter or nothing. Do Not Ever desecrate a HCB with marge….

My teen years allowed me to miss the increasingly straggly Walk because I was involved in preparing for the service, playing or reading or doing some bit of drama. For this relief, much thanks, as the bard said…

My experience of Walks of Witness since has not been much better, they seem only to witness to the fact we’re still weird, nuttery in fact, the increase in Good Friday as a full on Bank holiday shopping opportunity has only emphasised that. What is more we witness to this weirdness and then tend to disappear into a church building for the bit that  might make more of an impact – the gathering and vigil around the cross.

I’d scrap the walk for any more than the shortest of gathering processions and  have a simple outdoor service, Christians gathered together, the cross at the centre, simplicity, silence, visual more than words and hot cross buns with butter. Good Friday morning is also/alternatively the time to really involve the children. Workshops, simple GF activities, stations, reflective activities and short time of worship. This involves the families and the community and keeps the afternoon free for the Three Hours, it’s more than just icing biscuits though, this is the opportunity to really immerse young people in the story (their parents too) multi sensory stations, visuals and music. The sort of stuff that gets to the non verbal bit of our brains and spirits.

Today I set off for the Cathedral again for the Three Hours ( no walks involved). The Preparation was led by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware. I’ve read a lot of his stuff but never heard him, a dead ringer for Dumbledore (see, more Hogwarts !) he spoke in three parts about the companionship of Christ, the true sympathy he has, touched by and sharing in our suffering, sharing it but also showing us the way out. Suffering man, suffering God.
He spoke of the fact that it was not just physical pain that Christ endured, but the emotional agony, perhaps deeper and more severe than physical pain, as he prayed in the Garden. Only with this emotional side too can we begin to comprehend the totality of his suffering.
What more could he have done for us that he has not done?

He is with us in our utter isolation and detached state, in our loneliness and rejection. Truly he has suffered as we do.
“he came to his own and his own did not receive him ”
Christ accepts being cut off even from God for our sakes. All for love.
The Cross was not a disaster put right by the Resurrection. The Cross is victory, hidden victory, the Resurrection makes that victory manifest. The wounds of Christ are seen on his risen body, the continuity. The marks of his suffering will always remain, though risen & glorified he is not separated from the suffering of the world. At this moment Jesus is suffering what you suffer and helping you to overcome.
The Cross and Resurrection are one event, one victory. We need to see this, perhaps they are illustrated in the two sorts of crucifixes, the dead Christ and Christus Victor.
It is finished is not a cry of resignation but of triumph. The victory is won. A victory of suffering love. “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it”

That line from John 1 has often seemed to me to sit oddly in its tense, reading it as we often do at Christmas, should it read the darkness did not overcome it? No. For this victory over darkness is not in the past it is continual and present. That hit me again.

The Preparation over the choir sang the Litany, in Procession and the Liturgy of Good Friday followed with sublime music for Psalm 22, and The Passion according to St John.
Sophie Hacker had created an amazing corpus for the Cross, unveiled at this point.
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It seems to me to combine a twist of agony and a gesture of triumph the suffering and the victory combined and so spoke directly to me of what the Archbishop had been saying.
So few words are needed to convey so much. The Reserved Sacrament was offered, each host broken into the recipients hand “the body of Christ, broken for you” The Reproaches in a setting by Sanders and Tenebrae by Poulenc, and we left. Pitched into the business and bustle of the bank holiday city.

Father forgive them for they know not. … How will they know unless someone tells them?

Perhaps this post has come full circle.. The walk of witness should be our lives.

Thursday

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2015 by fibrefairy

The mood on Thursday plummets pretty fast. For clergy it starts with Chrism Mass, a powerful reminder of our ordination vows, a chance to be anointed for ministry once more and  a great chance to meet and chat with colleagues.

Then Mass of the Last Supper, churches still dressed in white and gold, a celebration, albeit it solemn, of the gift of the Eucharist given to us. Then the Sacrament is taken from the church, the fittings are stripped, the sanctuary is left in  emptiness  and just as Jesus and his disciples went out from their party room  to the garden, we follow the Sacrament to its resting place in a side chapel, decorated with palms and leaves, lit with just a few flickering candles (In the cathedral for a few minutes this setting was very Hogwarts as the choristers flitted around in their black cloaks before disappearing off to bed in the boarding house or home with their parents.)

I have always struggled with the Watch. in every other circumstance faced with an hour or two praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the dark and silence my soul would, sing, breathe deeply and relax.

On Thursday night I twitch, I fidget, I wonder ( or I have in the past when Ive been at “home”) how many people will stay,  I count those leaving, I fret about whether we advertised it well enough, I shiver with cold and fidget some more. Then I feel bad that I can’t do what Jesus asked..watch & pray just one hour even. I feel like this precious time is wasted as my thoughts wander. I feel like the presence of Jesus in the Sacrament is distant and disconnected from me.

and then, suddenly, tonight, it hit me. It’s *supposed* to be like this.. I am feeling exactly how the disciples did, uncomfortable, twitchy, unsure, guilty, probably cold, tired.  this isn’t a blissful prayer experience it’s raw uncertainty, waiting; everything I’ve felt  on this night before is the right thing to feel. it fits.

I felt a bit better, as I tried to pray struggling with words and pictures in my head, and then another revelation.  Jesus is in the garden praying for *me*. I don’t need to struggle with words or thoughts,  he just asks me to be aware of his prayers and to join with him in them. As he struggles with what lies ahead, he prays for each of us; as we wait & watch he prays. Holding us.

The watch ended with Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me;
Body of Christ, save me;
Blood of Christ, inebriate me;
Water from the side of Christ, wash me;
Passion of Christ, strengthen me;
0 good Jesus, hear me;
Within Thy wounds, hide me;
Permit me not to be separated from ‘Thee;
From the wicked foe defend me;
In the hour of my death call me,
And bid me come unto Thee,
That with all Thy saints I may praise Thee
For ever and ever. Amen.

which sent me home with an earworm of Soul of my Saviour


The Path Ahead

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2015 by fibrefairy

I’m between jobs at the moment, so it is I find myself without services to lead and things to prepare over  Holy Week and the Triduum. (or at least after Wednesday anyway) . More on the leaving another time, but  conscious of the need to travel through these days  in a place and with a community, I have decided to worship at the Cathedral. Beautiful, imposing and intimate; linked with my family’s history and my own personal story this is *my* cathedral and will be  ( now I have a job in the diocese) for at least a good few years more. It is not like a stranger that I come to worship in this place, but as someone who belongs, as you do in your parents or grandparents home, even when you do not live there day by day.

I hadn’t thought about blogging until I was on my way home from the Eucharist of the Last supper and Watch.  The posts that follow may be slight or they may be momentous. It’s a journey and we shall see how the path winds.

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a different Kingdom: a sermon for remembrance

Posted in sermons, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 9, 2014 by fibrefairy

Remembrance Sunday 2014 : The Beatitudes

It’s not often we hear someone in public life stand up and give a speech that radically surprises us.

We don’t expect our politicians to say anything radical or earth shattering any more , we’ve heard it all before, several  times.

Somehow we think know how the world runs, and  our somewhat cynical  expectation is that everyone is as bad as the next person, and it doesn’t  much matter which colour tie they wear who what their badge is.

There can also be sadly that same expectation in church. What  do we  think we’ll hear preached, or taught? maybe we come and we don’t expect to hear a different message or the status quo challenged?

I wonder if it was similar in first century Palestine? I wonder if the listeners to any speaker, whether political, or perhaps more so religious, thought that they  knew what was coming.

If human nature hasn’t changed much, and I don’t suspect that it has very much .I expect that was  indeed the case;  and so when Jesus stood up to speak, what he said and how he said it would have been all the more radical and challenging.

The Sermon on the Mount, from which today’s reading is taken was nothing short of an extraordinarily radical sermon, the things Jesus said and the approach to life that he was advocating would have shaken his listeners completely.

Over the course of the years, familiarity has lost the sense of the radical that the original would have had,

We often approach the Beatitudes, the “ blessed are…” statements  with a rather cozy comforting feeling,  the idea that they’re there to make us feel better,  nice Christian mottoes with vague positive meanings.

They’re absolutely not!

These are challenges that are designed to really make people think about their lives and how they lived them,

Blessed are those who show mercy and forgiveness, without looking for a return,  who open themselves to the stranger and the foreigner without differentiation;

and  those who are poor in spirit,  who know they’re broken  and messed up and in need of  forgiveness, change and help…

blessed are the peacemakers, not just those who want peace but those who stand in between warring factions and risk themselves, their lives their reputations & their lives for reconciliation …

blessed are  those who ache with every fibre of their being for  what God wants in the world…

 

It’s these people, Jesus says, who understand what the Kingdom of God is all about,

For the Kingdom of God is not like any earthly rule or dominion.

It’s not based on power, and might, empire or influence, its not based on beating your neighbour,  or being stronger or more important, or amassing more than they have.

It’s not based on keeping up a front and pretending you’re better than you are.

The Kingdom of God is about turning the values of the world on their heads –perhaps turning the world the right way up again , it’s radical , different and costly

It’s not what we’re used to,  nothing like we’ve known before.

The kingdom of God is not about “me”

Its not about  them & us

It is about the other,  about welcome,  forgiveness, radical peace, and living God’s way.

This way of living is not natural to us,  it’s not how  humanity lives given the choice – and today is a day when we recall that sombre fact; we recall and remember  the legacy of kingdoms built on power and might and aggression, rather than the values of the Kingdom of God.

But living the way of the Kingdom of God is only possible with Jesus.

Today at the memorial, we listen to the Last Post,  that poignant symbol of night, and death.

We stand in silence, as we remember all those who have died in war,

and we resume with the Reveille, the Rouse –the call to wake, to Live

Death. Sleep and Resurrection

That ceremony reminds us not just of those who have died for this country and so many others,

It reminds us too of what is at the very core of our Christian faith, it reminds of of what Jesus did, to enable us  to be forgiven, and to live a different way,

His death,

the silence of the grave

and then his glorious resurrection are what give us the chance  of a new and radical way of living,   a change in ourselves and in our communities, a challenge to the world around us as we learn in his power to  live not for ourselves and the old ways,  but for the Kingdom of God , for mercy, peace, forgiveness, justice and life.

 

Reblogged:Why We Don’t Have Children’s Church Anymore

Posted in Uncategorized on November 2, 2014 by fibrefairy

Why We Don’t Have Children’s Church Anymore.

Reflections for ‘Celebrating Together’ 20th Anniversary Service 18 October 2014

Posted in Uncategorized on October 19, 2014 by fibrefairy

As part of a conversation  at the service in Winchester Cathedral to mark 20 years of shared priestly ministry , I reflected on the gospel reading, Luke 1: 39-56.

I began though with a comment about how times had changed in 20 years   My colleague ordained in 1994 had remarked that her 17 year old daughter had gained enormous street cred & kudos from having  a mother who was a priest.

20 years on, I remarked,  for my 17 year old daughter there was no such kudos at all! I think this is a good thing , as the ministry of women continues to be come more and more  “unremarkable”, in the best sense of the word.

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The verse that sits in the middle of the gospel passage – the hinge really, is one that has been very personally special to me over the course of my adult life, there have been times when I’ve known deep down that God has promised something for me, that he’s had  a purpose – sometimes I’ve known what I thought it was – other times it has been just the more general knowledge that he’s promised to fulfil his calling on my life –

 

And there have been times of waiting and trusting – and hanging on to the fact that there is blessing in the waiting itself, and in the trusting and not just in the fulfilment

Sometimes – as it has been for all of us I’m sure it has been so counter intuitive to believe, to keep on hoping, and yet we trust, we believe and we are blessed in doing so.

 

When Mary visits Elizabeth, Elizabeth recognises in her what God is doing, the call on her life and she blesses her

There is support, and discernment, no pulling down or envy but a recognition of what God is doing in each of them,

For each of us, men, women,  whatever our labels and our struggles,   our vocations are our own, to be discovered, discerned and supported, we’re not in competition, in rivalry but in mutality – always recognising God’s hand on the other and blessing what he is doing. It’s such an important lesson –equality  does not  come by pulling everyone down to the same level, but by allowing each of us to rise to where God calls us all.

 

Mary’s calling to bear God to the world must have caused her immense pain – the sword that Simeon spoke of at the Presentation was not just a future one – it had happened already.

The ostracism and  social condemnation,  becoming a pariah in her own village, the moral judgement and the fear of harm & death would have pierced her heart even at the start, and yet she clung to the promise, and its fulfilment,

The promise given to her, her calling, encompassed death, and resurrection,

It was the forerunner of all our vocations, as many of us have dealt in so many various ways with  pain and  rejection, the death of our calling – and  its resurrection in God’s own time. These experiences are universal, not limited to women, for all of us are following the same God, who calls us to die, in order to rise again.

 

So we proclaim with Mary, that he HAS brought down the powerful and lifted up the lowly

Whatever our vocation, our calling our path,

Blessed are we who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what the Lord had promised

“He who has called you is faithful – and he will do it”

 

 

 

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