Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Midnight Mass Sermon

As I write, I am sucked in by the ad for tomorrow’s Eastenders - ‘Who is the daddy?’ Only a little while to go and we will know, perhaps!, the truth about the parentage of Roxy’s baby, Amy. I am not a fan of the soap I have to say, but it’s the sort of thing that Alex irons to and that I will half watch if I am in.

Nothing is ever simple in Walford. Families are never ordinary or normal. No 2.4 children. No happily married for 30+ years. It’s all fiction I know, and so do you, but I wonder, was Oscar WIlde right when he said, ‘All that I desire to point out is the general principle that life imitates art far more than art imitates life?’ Perhaps nearer the truth is American singer/songwriter Ani Difranco when she says, ‘...Yeah, art may imitate life. But life imitates tv...’

I am not trying to suggest that tv soaps lead the way that society lives, but I wonder whether to a degree, the media in general becomes a mirror that we can hold up and view ourselves, our famillies and our neighbourhoods in. Speaking personally, I don’t much like what I see in that mirror at the moment.

More than 70 teenagers have been violently killed this year alone. Some 3000 people have died from the Cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe. Unemployment in the UK has reached nearly 2 million - an 11 year high - a direct result of the Credit Crunch...

It is into these stories, that God, ‘the Word made flesh’ speaks. Into this world, God comes.

But St John does not tell of an arrogant Creator God, who slaps the corporate wrist and puts back everything the way that it was. John reminds us of what we celebrate tonight - God becomes flesh and blood like us, weak and needy like us, and lives among us. John literally says that God pitches His tent among us. In other words, he doesn’t move among us like some sort of ghost - in the world but not part of it. God comes into our world, living among us, as a vulnerable baby.

We celebrate the birth of that baby tonight, but that in itself is not miraculous as many babies are born in UK hospitals and homes every day. The baby we celebrate born tonight is born in poverty, but that in itself is not miraculous as many babies are born and survive in similar situations all over the world today. Tonight we are reminded of the parentage of this baby - he is God’s Son. Even that is not the Christmas miracle that we celebrate tonight.

The Christmas miracle that we celebrate tonight is that this baby grew to be a man. Through this man, God spoke and demonstrated what it means, how it feels and what it costs to love and be loved by God and each other. Through the life, death and resurrection of this man, we can not only know about God and His

ways, but we are welcomed as members of the family. The Christmas miracle we celebrate tonight is not that God becomes a human being. The Christmas miracle we celebrate tonight is that through this baby human beings can come to God.

The message of Christmas challenges our complacency an our prejudices and our misconceptions about God and humanity. For this baby was not born amongst the wealthy, the intelligent, or the powerful, but rather was born in the poorest of situations, to parents who were not formally educated and who in the eyes of others had no influence or status. God values the humanity of the ordinary man or woman so much that he chose to come amongst them, trusting them for love and life. In return he offers us as ordinary men and women love and life, and he trusts us to share it with others.

The Christmas miracle that we see and hear tonight, celebrates a God who embraces our humanity completely and sees every single one of us as a potential stand in for him. As potential stand-ins for God therefore we each need to be treated with value, dignity and respect: the God who comes to us in humility tonight as a baby, later as a man speaks forcefully to our pride, our economic and social status, our sense of justice and the importance of our sheer human worth, and calls us to simply love each other. As such, in the killing, raping and

looting fields of Darfur; in the broken nation and a broken people of Zimbabwe who have been forcefed with injustice and can swallow no more; for the unreconciled children of Abraham in the Middle East - the Palestinians without a viable state they can call home and Israelis hungry for peace and security; for the refugees, the homeless and people caught up in human trafficking; in the walls of silence the abduction of Madeline McCann, the murder of Rhys Jones and the failure for any to take responsibility for the Omagh bombing – God is being daily violated and blasphemed.

Through the birth of Jesus, we are reminded that the tragic human plight that we see and read through the media, is God’s plight. Through the birth of Jesus, we are reminded of how much God loves that ordinary humanity, enough to make it his own. Through the birth of Jesus, we are reminded therefore that apathy to horrendous news stories is no longer an option. It is all to easy to change the channel to avoid them, but because of the birth of Jesus, those stories are not about ‘others’, but about men and women like us, amongst whom he was born, whom he trusted for love and life, and who he continues to trust to love.

Tonight we are reminded that through the birth of a baby, God clearly demonstrates the depth of his love for ordinary men an women by being born

vulnerable and helpless amongst us, trusting us for love and life. Tonight we are reminded that through the birth of a baby, God longs for each of us to be loved by
Him, to know that in the midst of complicated family life that he is our Father. Tonight we are reminded that through the birth of a baby, that we are worth loving and so should love each other in turn. Amen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Herewith the third Advent address about Heaven. This was preached by Jane Smart, on of our Readers, on 17th December 2008.

“Jesus said I go to prepare a place for you, in my Fathers house there are many rooms, do not let your hearts be troubled believe in God and also in me.”

Jesus goes to prepare a place for us, by dying on the cross. He makes the way back to God possible, because God always wanted us to have a relationship with him, he loves us and wants us to love him, but we were given free will to choose, he did not want us to be like puppets without life. We were made in Gods image and he wants us to freely choose to live Gods way, just as Jesus did. Jesus glorified God by doing his will.

But people ever since Adam and Eve have thought they could do better and have followed their own will instead, hence the fall and sin making it impossible for God to continue his relationship with us.

So Jesus came to show us what God is like and just how much he truly loves us.

Heaven is where God is and where Gods will is done, where there is no sin or rebellion, where there is a relationship with God and also with others. Heaven is a community. Also it is a place of power don’t forget God is so powerful that he spoke and the universe was created. It is a place not of this world, but it is near by. However it is not several billion light years away, with angels in nightdresses, fluffy clouds, and Philadelphia cheese!!!

Jesus met peoples needs with real answers, he healed the sick, gave the blind sight, made the dumb speak, the deaf hear and the paralysed walk.

Jesus showed them the love that God has for everyone; they had never encountered such love before. Jesus reached out to those shunned by society, teaching us to love our neighbours and our enemies and helping others as we would like to be helped, turning this worlds values upside down.
Now for a story…

A man had a dream where an angel showed him the difference between Heaven and Hell.
The Angel took him to Heaven first to see what it was like. He saw a large room with a big long table laden with a banquet of all sorts of delicious foods imaginable and everyone present was happy laughing and enjoying themselves.

Next the Angel took him to see Hell. The man saw again a long table laden with excellent food in a large room; the only difference he could see was that everyone there was miserable and unhappy. The man could not understand it at all. So he spoke to the Angel and asked why he could not see any difference between the two except everyone in hell was miserable and not enjoying the feast.

The Angel replied that the guests are given chopsticks to eat the food but the chopsticks are two feet long. The difference being that in Heaven everyone feeds their neighbour!

Love changes things; everything is viewed in a new way. Just as a lake looks threatening dark and dangerous under a cloudy grey sky, but suddenly the sun breaks through the cloud and the lake becomes breathtakingly beautiful as the suns rays glisten on the water.

Heaven is where Gods will is done in love, thinking of others before ourselves, it is being in the right relationship with God, with ourselves and others. Which means to accept trust and obey God, just as Jesus did.

Realizing that Jesus died in our place on the cross. Only God can save us, the king’s job is to save his people and that is what Jesus did. By accepting Jesus as our saviour we become citizens of the kingdom of Heaven now!

We are then called to go and share the Good news with others. We cannot just sit back and do nothing like in the parable of the talents, where the man buried his talent in the ground. We are to share our gifts showing by the way we live Gods love for us all, to make a stand against the world, which is only concerned with survival not Peace and Love. Amen

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Herewith the 2nd of four Advent addresses on the 4 Last Things. Today, judgement...

You will have heard the expression, ‘You can’t judge a book by it’s cover.’ This though is just not true! We do it all the time... We constantly make, judgements about people by the way they look, their clothes, their hairstyle, skin colour, age, sex and so on.

As Shakespeare’s Hamlet put it, "Aye, there’s the rub." It is the thought of judgment that strikes fear into the Christian soul. Who among us dares to stand face-to-face with God? Who among us dares to own the darkness that lurks within us? The very word judgment becomes, in our minds, condemnation.

That’s not the dictionary definition of the word. Webster speaks of authoritative opinion, a formal court decision, discernment and comparison.

More importantly, the people who shaped our faith centuries ago, the Jewish people who were Jesus’ own forebears, didn’t think of condemnation when they spoke of judgment. They didn’t see themselves as defendants in a criminal court. Rather, they saw themselves as plaintiffs in a civil action, seeking redress from God for their suffering. Go back and re-read the Book of Job or Daniel for the detail.

Like their Jewish ancestors, Christians await vindication. Speaking of the signs that announce his imminent return on the last day, Jesus told his followers to
"stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand" (Luke 21:28). We fear condemnation because we too easily focus on our own weaknesses and failures rather than on God’s goodness. In truth, were the scales of justice truly balanced, we would surely stand condemned. Nothing we do, nothing we are comes within light-years of God’s holiness. The bottom line is not that we must earn eternal life but, rather, that God has lovingly given it to us. "God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us," Paul wrote (Romans 5:8). And Jesus prayed that his disciples and all future believers "may be with me where I am" (John 17:24).

St. Paul speaks of facing judgment with imagery that again recalls birth: "At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12, emphasis added). We wear a lot of masks to keep from being known. Perhaps no one judges us more harshly than we judge ourselves. But every now and then someone catches us off guard by peeking behind our masks and loving us as we are—a surprise someone called the most magical: "God’s finger on one’s shoulder." Truly, no one knows us so well and yet loves us with such enduring passion as God does.

Centuries of Christian art reflect many changes in our understanding of Christ’s triumphant return and final judgement. That event was eagerly awaited by the first believers. Into the early Middle Ages, works of art suggest joy rather than terror. Typical is a carving on the tomb of a bishop buried in 608: The elect, wakening from death’s sleep, lift their arms to acclaim the returning Lord. Some 500 years later, another detail appears: the separation of the damned, the scene Jesus describes in Matthew 25:31-46. Their misery becomes more dominant and more horribly detailed as the centuries roll by.

The reasons for the change are too complex to explore here, but it seems apparent that Christianity took a rather gloomy turn after its first millennium ended without Jesus’ return on clouds of glory. The Dies Irae, a hymn describing the terrors of Judgment Day, became part of the funeral liturgy and remained until the post-Vatican II liturgical reform.

This morning’s Gospel reading reminds us that we must not, should not, can can not judge. In Jesus day, sheep and goats looked very alike, almost identical. The untrained eye could not tell them apart only the shepherd. Jesus the Good Shepherd who can discern the righteous from the unrighteous because he sees not the cover of the book, but the nakedness of the human heart with all it’s drives and motives exposed.

The theologian Mirolsav Wolf reminds us that not only are dependent on God to fulfill the longings of our hearts, as we are made in His image. Our need of God goes far deeper. Wolf reminds us that all that we have, all that we are is borrowed by us, given to us as a gift from God. Not even life itself is ours to do with what we wish. As God created human beings, He breathed into them the breath of life - the essence of life itself. We are all created equal in God’s sight, and are equally in need of the grace of God our heavenly father. God made us equally and loves us equally even in judgement.

Jesus judges us but does not condemn us, and neither should we. The story of Jesus’ encounter with the women caught in adultery remind us that it is all too human to condemn. On that day, Jesus reminded us that only the sinless can judge, God alone, and when he does he e looks at each of us in love and in judgement. On the scales of judgement God finds us guilty of falling short of His standards, His expectations through our sinfulness, but rather he balances out the judgement with the weight of love shown in the Cross of Christ.

We judge others by appearance as a means to make sense of our lives and our world, yet we are reminded that despite the superficial differences we define others by, God sees us as equal, made in His image through His love. It is through that same loving nature that God judges our motives and drives, challenging us not judge or condemn, rather to love and love and love just as He does.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Job Opportunity - Adminstrator

The Team Parish of Chambersbury
wish to appoint a
Parish Administrator

This is a large and busy Parish currently consisting of three churches:
St Mary’s in Apsley End
Holy Trinity in Leverstock Green
St Benedict’s in Bennetts End.

You will report directly to the Rector and assist in the following tasks:
The production of the Parish publications
Central administration of parochial fees
Central contact point for baptism, wedding, funeral enquiries
Liaison with other Team Members and Church officers
Co ordination of Parish diary and events
Wedding registers and quarterly returns
Other administrative work as required

The skills required are:
Experience of MS Office is essential
An ability to work as part of a busy team
Maintenance of accuracy whilst under pressure
A smile and a sense of humour!

The post is for 15 hours per week in the afternoons.
Initially, this post will be for one year with a salary in the region of £7,000.
The employee will be based at the Parish Office, All Saints, Kings Langley, and will work with the current Administrator of All Saints.

In the first instance please apply in writing to:
The Revd: David M Lawson
St Mary’s Vicarage
7 Belswains Lane
Hemel Hempstead

The deadline for receipt of applications is Tuesday December 16th 2008. Interviews will be held on Friday December 19th 2008.

Enhanced CRB disclosure will be required for this post.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What follows is the first Advent address on the Four Last Things... This week... death... I am indebted especially to Richard Holloway and his book 'Anger,Sex, Doubt, Death'

They say that there are only 2 things certain in life - death and taxes. In the current financial climate I wouldn’t dream of talking about taxes. I do though, on this the first of four Advent addresses, want to talk about death.

During Advent, the church has traditionally meditated on what it calls the Four Last Things - death, judgement, heaven and hell. They are traditionally the things that the dying contemplate on before the inevitable, or to put another way, they are the four things that the dead encounter after death.

In society in general death is marginalised. In former generations death usually occurred at home and was followed by burial in the churchyard at the centre of the community; more typically nowadays death happens in an institution followed by a funeral at an out of town venue. In order to put off the idea of our mortality we use an increasing array of means to mitigate the effects of ageing - creams, diets, exercise, surgery etc. And its not just that purple is the new black, no, today 60 is the new 40.

Funerals themselves have changed. In the Book of Common Prayer there the service was frankly entitled ‘Burial of the dead’. More and more we have ‘Services of Thanksgiving.’ The funeral is turned into a version of ‘This is your life’; the death of the subject is conveniently ignored. And even within supposedly Christian funerals there is pressure for elements which are scarcely compatible with Christian belief. All too often I am asked if we can have what purports to be a poem about death:

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was…

These words were written by Henry Scott Holland when he was a Canon of St Paul’s cathedral in London. But they weren’t written as a poem, these words, and the longer version usually quoted, were part of a sermon. Scott Holland fashions these words to encapsulate one response to death, a response which often comes in the immediate wake of a death but which swiftly evaporates. Alongside this response to death he expressed another view,

Death ‘makes all we do here meaningless and empty…. It is the cruel ambush into which we are snared... It is the pit of destruction. It wrecks, it defeats, it shatters It makes its horrible breach in our gladness with careless and inhuman disregard of us. We get no consideration from it. Often and often it stumbles in
like an evil mischance, like a feckless misfortune. Its shadow falls across our natural sunlight, and we are swept off into some black abyss. There is no light or hope in the grave; there is no reason to be wrung out of it.’

Though from the same Scott Holland sermon, this extract is not read at funerals.
But death for the Christian is neither ‘nothing at all’ nor is there ‘no light or hope in the grave’, as the Canon goes on to explain.

Paul writes in Rom 6:23 ‘the wages of sin is death’. Death is a serious thing, it is not a trivial or illusory as the first scenario from Scott Holland suggests. But Paul’s verse continues ‘but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’. Therefore the second scenario from Scott Holland is also wide of the mark. For us as Christians therefore we can own on the one hand the seriousness of death, but also to our hope that it does not have the final word; hence Paul can taunt death, I Cor 15:55 "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O grave, is your sting?"

Christian hope in the face of death is an abiding trust in the God who called us out of nothing into life and who will call us again to life out of the second nothing of death. We have no security in ourselves, no false hopes, no naive longings. Our only ground for hope is the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead.

This hope is founded on expectation - on the expectation that death is not the end of life and that hope is rooted in God alone. Our expectations lie in the promise of a reliable God who already, in Christ, set the action of our resurrection in motion. God defeated death by raising Christ from the dead at Easter, and his resurrection is the assurance and beginning our of resurrection.

Death reminds us that we are indeed mortal. Dust we are and to dust we shall return. But remember out of that dust God made human beings and to that dust he gave the gift of life an through faith in Christ he brings that dust to the kingdom of heaven.

Death reminds us of the weakness but also the glory of humanity. Weakness because the universe ultimately defeats us, brings us to dissolution and reminds us that we are dust just dust. We must never be tempted to see Christ’s own death as at best God’s identification to our plight or at worst God’s last ditch rescue mission, for Christ’s death on the cross stands between our fallenness and our fulfilment, between the dust from which we come and the glory towards which we move, between Eden and the New Jerusalem. The resurrection of Jesus confirms this for us. We may be dust, but we assured through the resurrection of Christ, that we are glorious dust through the will of Him who had the first word not allowing death to have the last word. Amen

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Buncefield Trial is to begin... here is the text of the press release from the HSE...

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)and the Environment Agency (the EA) are to prosecute five companies following the explosions and fire at the Buncefield Oil Storage Depot, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire in December 2005.Criminal proceedings have been commenced against Total UK Ltd, Hertfordshire Oil Storage Ltd; British Pipeline Agency Ltd;TAV Engineering Ltd; and Motherwell Control Systems 2003 Ltd following a thorough and complex criminal investigationconducted by the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency.

The initial court date has been fixed for 23 January 2009 at West Hertfordshire Magistrates Court, Clarendon Road,Watford,Hertfordshire, WD17 1ST. The prosecution ofthe five defendants in relation to the Buncefield incident is now a matter for the Court. HSEand theEA are unable to comment further on the decision to prosecute.Notes to editors:

1. On 11 December 2005, a number of explosions occurred at Buncefield Oil Storage Depot in Hemel Hempstead. At least one of the initial explosions was of massive proportions and there was a large fire and over 40 people were injured. Following the explosion,aMajor Incident Investigation Board (MIIB) was established by the Health and Safety Commission, supported by theBoard of the Environment Agency, under section 14 (2)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.Lord Newton was appointed to chair the MIIB whichhas carried out an extensive investigation into the causes of the incident and ways to avoid similar incidents in the futureand has published a number of reports.

2. The Government responded to the work of the MIIB on 13 November 2008. Lord McKenzie, DWP Minister responsible for health and safety made a written statement in the House of Lords.

3. The EA in England and Wales,Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)in Scotland, and HSE are jointly responsible (the Competent Authority) for regulating non nuclear major hazardous industrial sites in the UK under the Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations 1999 (COMAH). COMAH requires operators of major hazard sites subject to the Regulations to take all measures necessary to prevent major accidents and limit their consequences to persons and the environment. Operators of top tier COMAH sites (like Buncefield) are also required to submit written safety reports to the Competent Authority; and to prepare emergency plans to deal with the consequences of a major accident. Operators and others (including contractors, designers and suppliers) also have relevant duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and under other environmental legislation to protect land, air and water, including the Water Resources Act 1991.

4. The MIIB was not appointed to take any decisions on legal proceedings that fall to be considered under the criminal investigation.Decisions on criminal proceedings are forHSE and theEA (and HSE andSEPA in Scotland) as the enforcing authorities under the relevant regulations.

5. The details of the charges are as follows:

5.1 Total UK Ltd of 40 Clarendon Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, is facing three charges:Between the 1st day of January 2003 and the 12th day of December 2005 Total UK Ltd failed to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees, contrary to Section 2(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.Between the 1st day of January 2003 and 12th day of December 2005, Total UK Ltd failed to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in their employment were not exposed to risks to their health or safety, contrary to Sections 3(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.Between the 10th day of December 2005 and the 31st day of December 2005, Total UK Ltd caused polluting matter, namely fuel and firewater chemicals to enter controlled waters, namely ground waters in the chalk aquifer underlying the vicinity of Buncefield, contrary to sections 85(1) and (6) of the Water Resources Act 1991.

5.2 Hertfordshire Oil Storage Ltd, of 40 Clarendon Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, is facing two charges:Between the 1st day of January 2003 and the 12th day of December 2005, Hertfordshire Oil Storage Ltd failed to take all measures necessary to prevent major accidents and limit their consequences to persons and the environment, contrary to Regulation 4 of the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 and section 33(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.Between the 10th day of December 2005 and the 31st day of December 2005, Hertfordshire Oil Storage Ltd caused polluting matter, namely fuel and firewater chemicals to enter controlled waters, namely ground waters in the chalk aquifer underlying the vicinity of Buncefield, contrary to s.85(1) and (6) of the Water Resources Act 1991.

5.3British Pipeline Agency Ltd, of 5 – 7 Alexandra Road, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, is facing two charges:Between the 18th day of November 2001 and the 12th day of December 2005, British Pipeline Agency Ltd failed to take all measures necessary to prevent major accidents and limit their consequences to persons and the environment, contrary to Regulation 4 of the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 and section 33(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.Between the 10th day of December 2005 and the 31st day of December 2005, British Pipeline Agency Ltd caused polluting matter, namely fuel and firewater chemicals to enter controlled waters, namely ground waters in the chalk aquifer underlying the vicinity of Buncefield, contrary to s.85(1) and (6) of the Water Resources Act 1991.

5.4 TAV Engineering Ltd, of The Oriel, Sydenham Road, Guildford, Surrey, is facing one charge:Between the 1st day of October 2003 and the 12th day of December 2005, TAV Engineering Limited failed to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in their employment were not exposed to risks to their health or safety, contrary to Sections 3(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.5.5 Motherwell Control Systems 2003 Ltd, c/o Rooney Associates 2nd Floor, 19 Castle Street, Liverpool, is facing one charge:Between the 28th day of September 2003 and the 12th day of December 2005 Motherwell Control Systems 2003 Limited failed to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in their employment were not exposed to risks to their health or safety, contrary to Sections 3(1) and 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Evening! I am enclosing here a link to the blog of a friend of mine, Mark Brown, and an interesting paper about internet usage, the digital revolution and the church. You can download it as aPDF

Here's the link:

Post your thoughts here...


Copy of the Advent resources now up on the church Facebook page and the Five Minutes Space blog (


“Putting the waiting back into wanting.”


Christmas 2008 looks set to be a time of real stress and pressure for many families. The mounting debt crisis and reports of property repossessions means that people are going to find the traditional commercialised Christmas putting a total squeeze on their family finances.

This coming season of Advent can provide an escape from all that and an opportunity to reclaim the true spirit of Advent. As Fr Christopher Jamison (BBC “Monastery”) writes in his forthcoming book to be published later in the year:

“Advent is the traditional month of preparation before Christmas, a time of fasting and intense prayer, a time of eager expectation. It is above all a time to celebrate waiting as a normal part of human experience, when the Christian tradition invites us to wait for the birth of a child. In Advent we rejoice that we are waiting, that there is still time to prepare a way for the Lord and we celebrate the virtue of patience. By contrast, the consumer world tells us not to wait but to ‘buy now.’ Greed cannot wait, so to learn to wait is a simple antidote to greed.”

This advent, we want PROPHETS, not PROFITS!

THE TWELVE “Cs” of Christmas

1.Christ: on whom all our waiting is centred. In the simplicity and modesty of his birth, we find God’s word among us with a clear message: “Live simply.”

2.Consumption: the engine of economic growth which enslaves us and treats creation as a mere commodity there for our use.

3.Community: a true focus outside of ourselves and immediate families directing us to be mindful of those in need around us.

4.Covetousness: the envy that drives so much materialistic pursuit and which is expressly singled out in the Ten Commandment for special attention.

5.Carols: with their multiple and joyous references to the humility of the Christ-child story.

6.Carbon: the by-product of so much of our modern over-consuming lifestyle.

7.Creation: God’s marvellous work, of which we are a small, but key part. God works ex nihilo, creating out of nothing. Even before the advent of humans in the Genesis creation narrative, God looks on at each passing day’s work and declares all that he sees as “good”.

8.Climate Change: our great unchartered experiment with the biosphere. Threats to creation loom large if we don’t awaken ourselves to the call to go back to some basic principles and live more simply, more sustainably.

9.Covenant: God’s faithfulness pledged first to Noah and then through Abraham, resulting in the coming of “God-with-us”: Emmanuel, promised to Israel.

10.Chaos: the disordered world that awaits if we do not live accordingly within the limits of God’s precepts.

11.Candles: four for each of the weeks of Advent, signifying the coming light that will shine in the darkness and which “darkness cannot overpower.” (St John’s Gospel Ch1

12. Commercialism: that which sees the price of everything and the value of
nothing and sees, in Christmas, one sole opportunity: profits (and not

Plan for first weekend of Advent. To divide the Saturday and Sunday into two distinctly different days.

is a day of fasting and abstinence in which we reflect soberly on how humanity has fallen short of our vocation to be good stewards of God creation. It has a pre-Easter, “tomb-like” feel to it, before we break out into Sunday: an unapologetically pro-Creation day.

The readings of the first weekend of Advent lend themselves (with great serendipity) to our theme and offer great scope for reflection.

Isaiah 64:1-9: “that the mountains would tremble before you…all of us have become like one who is unclean and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…we are the clay, you are the potter, we are all the work of your hand.”

Mark 13: 24-37 “Learn this lesson form the fig tree: as soon as the twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near….Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away. …keep watch for you do not know when the owner of the house will come back.”

There is ample liturgical material that can be accessed from the Iona community for both Saturday and Sunday. In addition, there are some inspiring hymns and reflections in Geoffrey Duncan (Ed): What A World (Granary Press 2002). I cite two here:

A Prayer of Intercession

Father of all,
Creator beyond time, we think of the flow of seasons and generations that is our home,

We remember those who have lived before us:
those whose explorations have left us gifts of knowledge and expertise,
those whose hard work has been the foundation for our prosperity.
those whose sacrifices have become the stuff of our legends,
those whose faithfulness has challenged our ambivalence.

We dream of those who will live long after we are gone:
the great, great grandchildren who will know us as ancient pictures,
the generations of every nation who will trace history back to us,
the people who will shape the world, in part, upon the lessons we demonstrated,
the believers who will know you, a little, through our tesyimony.

Past and future meet in our presence.
So we pray for ourselves and those of our generation:
that we will hand on a world worthy of humanity and of you, eternal God,
that we will measure our treatment of creation against the needs of those unborn,
that we will treasure our world and protect it from ourselves,
that we will be so inspired by your Spirit that our work will bear distant fruit.

And to you, eternal and intimate God,
be all glory, praise and honour,
as it was in the beginning
is now
and for ever shall be
world without end

Neil Thorogood


Come to worship on foot (wherever possible), our pilgrims return.


Most Holy Trinity
We thank you for the beauty of your creation
and for the joy of living in a world so full of wonder,
may all nature join us in praise and worship
adoration and longing love, in response
to the gift of life you have given us.

Lord of all creation
may the beauty of this earth
lead us to a deeper worship of you.
A reverence that causes gentleness.
Fear that leads to holiness
and a peace we long to share.

As evidence of our own creativity and the gifts that God has invested in us, we ask the members of the congregation to offer up, during the liturgy, their own work: that their crafts become a prayer to God (this is extremely useful for engaging the younger children in several weeks before.). Children can be enthused to make use of materials that would be destined for the scrap heap and put them to good use to make:

Animals, flowers, images of their own home and family, the Sun, trees etc.

The mood is upbeat: having Eucharistic faith in the pledge that God will not abandon us and that we have been given the creativity to face up to the problems that beset us.

After the service, people are asked to make their advent pledges: for some this will be to put a cap on the cost of each individual present. For others, it will be a pledge to use their own human creativity to make gifts for their loved ones which are not templates of mass-produced products. Members of the congregation retire for a stint of craft-making.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

During Advent I will be updating a special Advent blog - I hope that this will become a place where you might want to come for five minutes reflection and a chance to pause.

Each day during Advent I will post a short reflection there. I hope that as you spend time at your desk or at home, it might give each of us opportunity to slow down, still down and use Advent - even for just five minutes - for what it originally was designed for... to prepare for the Coming God.

Also, coming up during this holy season:

Sunday 30th November - Advent Sunday
10.00 am All God’s Children - a service for all
3.00 pm Seven Bells to Bethlehem - an Advent Carol Service

7th December - The Second Sunday of Advent
10.00 am A Communion service including a speaker from CMS

14th December - The Third Sunday of Advent
10.00 am A Communion service including a speaker from USPG

21st December - The Fourth Sunday of Advent
10.00 am The Lord is Here - a Communion Service for all the family
3.00 pm A Traditional Candlelit Service of Nine Lessons and Carols.

Every Sunday
8.00 pm Meditative Night Prayer (Compline)

Every Tuesday
12noon Midday Prayer

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays
Christianity, Climate Change and Sustainable Living - an Advent Course. SIgn up in church.

Finally here is a draft of last Sunday's sermon.

We find ourselves at the end of the church’s cycle of readings, at year’s end, today. We have been introduced to Jesus, we have heard him preach and teach and seen his miracles. We have been with him all the way to the last supper, the cross, the resurrection and the ascension. We have walked with confused disciples, following Jesus, who post Pentecost became the Holy Spirit filled leaders and preachers of what became the Church. But where is jesus now?

The end of Matthew’s Gospel that we have been reading through recently is all about preparedness. First of all, there are the foolish bridesmaids, who ran out of oil and so missed the wedding; then there is the slave who wasted his chance of increasing his one talent while the master was away; and now we have the sheep and the goats.

All of these people and groups are unprepared for what is about to happen, and they face terrible consequences. For the stories are not just about the importance of being ready, but also about judgment. But where is Jesus now?
The people in the stories make their judgments. The foolish bridesmaids decide there is no great rush. The slave with one talent decides to do nothing. The “goats” decide that some people are not worth bothering about. God then makes his judgment, and, unfortunately, it is completely different from theirs.

All the people standing at the throne of glory are taken aback by God’s judgment, and, more particularly, by God’s judge. They were not expecting to see the Son of Man up there on the throne, looking completely at home, with angels around him carrying on as if they thought he was God. Here is Jesus....

As the people are separated into two groups, one on the right hand and one on the left of this awesome yet recognisable figure, it is clear that both groups are equally puzzled. They are both, you might say, unprepared for this standard of judgment. Neither group had lived their lives expecting to have them judged by this man, in this way. As their sentences are handed down, both groups say: “We didn’t know we would be judged for that.”

The judge does not explain himself, but he could have pointed to both the Law and the prophets, which make it clear what God expects. The reading from Ezekiel, for example, shows God himself looking for the lost sheep and longing to care for them.

It also shows God’s judgment on those “fat sheep” who kept the pasture for themselves, and deliberately pushed away the hungry and the needy. Any well-brought up Jew listening to Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats would recognise the justice of the judgment handed out to the goats. No one could say that they were not warned about the nature of God.
So how did they — and how do we — manage to be so deceived? How did we manage to persuade ourselves that there would be no real consequences for the way we live? As we gorge ourselves to death, how come we do not realise that we are the fat sheep, pushing the starving millions away from our green fields?

That is what makes Jesus, the Son of Man, such a terrible judge. Judgment is not something alien and distant, but something that bears the human face of the neglected, the tortured, the crucified.

God is not far away - his advent is near - he comes to liberate the oppressed, and we cannot plead that we did not know what he wanted of us fat sheep. We know perfectly well what the hungry, thirsty, estranged, naked, sick and imprisoned people around us want. Jesus the Son of Man is to be our judge, and the human face he shows us is all too recognisable.

Because of the terrible nature of judgment, the seemingly awful exclusivity of it, society keeps telling itself that you don’t need to be religious to please God. Although the judge is Jesus, the King, the Son of Man, it is certainly true that the sheep didn’t think they recognised him in those whom they helped. But where is Jesus now?

Today, as every day, we are honouring the one who understands life, who destroyed death, and rose to eternal life in heaven - Jesus Christ. It is he who now has authority over all, things. Where is Jesus - he is everywhere and in every situation. Today he challenges us to continue to see him at work in his world in the poor and oppressed - and to respond, but not just to their need, but as if to him,

When we, his Church, acknowledge him like this as Lord and King in our lives, receiving bread and wine - remembering him as he commanded us, we become his body, we can have no illusions about what that body looks like. Where is Jesus now - but in each one of us...

We believe in God’s great power, at work in Jesus, to bring life out of death. And so we, his body, work to bring life out of the death all around us. We work to pay attention to the real human beings with whom God came to identify, and we look around us for the life that he created and redeemed out of love. Amen.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Cracking services this morning but I am exhausted now... Herewith a version of my sermon for Remembrance Sunday (with thanks to those who helped!)

There are very few people left who can recall the slaughter of the Somme or
Passchaendale, but there will be those, who like me, have been told stories about it. It is hard now to believe that Northern France and Belgium were the scenes of such carnage.

There are, though, those here today who remember the second world war. People who know what Dunkirk and D-day were really like, people who experienced being prisoners of war in the Far East, people who lost friends or family members. For them, this act of Remembrance is particularly poignant.
There are others here today who wait anxiously for the safe return of those they care about from Afghanistan or Iraq, knowing that there have been many wounded and killed in those conflicts. And there are those who are not with us today because they are now serving in Afghanistan or iraq.

Remembrance is important for all of us, young and old, perhaps it is of even greater importance for those of us who have not been affected personally by war. For war puts into stark contrast the choices we have in life, choices between good and evil. If we look to the second world war, there were many individual acts of bravery. Men who ran to rescue their injured fellows under heavy gunfire. Those who went back onto the beaches to help another. Those who went into the wrecked shells of houses to look for the injured. Those who risked capture and death by hiding Jews. Not only those who laid down their lives for their country and friends, but those who laid down their lives for people they did not know, who were not of their religion. Is that not the greatest love that humankind can show?

But war is not all heroism. There were those who looked after themselves first, those who gave no thought or respect for individual lives. In both wars there were those who turned their back on the injured. But worst of all there were those who turned their back on love completely. Those who tortured, starved and gassed men women and children.

It is no different today. Nor was it in any other age. We must not forget that we too can be raised so high or sink so low. If we have not been put to the test we cannot be sure how we will behave. We must keep alive the memories of the war. We must tell our children and make sure that they tell their children. For we must all be made aware of the choices before us, and the pressures of war show so clearly where the paths lead - on the one hand to selfless love, on the other to denial of love, denial of our own humanity.

If we turn our back on love, we inflict pain upon each other and upon God.
Yet it is so easy to turn away from love when our prejudice makes us fail to see Christ within another person, fail to see a person at all.

When a teacher treats a child as just another pupil instead of seeing him or her as a unique and valuable individual, when an employer cuts the work force and sees only numbers not names, when a government sees the homeless as an unfortunate problem that is damaging tourism, and fails to care about its causes, when a church cares only about its members and ignores the cries for help from outside its walls, then we are ignoring the soul within, we are loving selectively, we are inflicting pain. These are the seeds that if fed with a little fear and a little hate can lead to Atrocities.

The only God who can be worshipped on this Remembrance Sunday, indeed any day, is a God who suffers with us. At the heart of our faith as Christians lies the fact that Jesus of Nazareth, who reveals God to us, dies. The crucifixion of Jesus rescues us from naïve optimism because it identifies God with our pain and suffering.

The death of Jesus shows God bearing the pain most visibly, God suffers. There is no easy way out, no legions of angels flying to the rescue. God like us suffers. Like us when faced with unbearable grief, Jesus shouts ‘why me’‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me’

Yes some of us have personal memories of war and its affects and aftermath, others of us are shocked by its contemprary clinical brutality on other shores, but we believe in a God who speaks to us of goodness in the world. We are confronted all around us by evil, but so too are we faced daily by goodness. There are great saints as well as appalling sinners. The great love that we know in others is a love which finds its source not in a meaningless universe, the result of an accident.

Jesus, the Son of Man, man as God intended man to be, perfect in love, shows us that love by giving his life for us. That perfection of love, perfection of humanity should be our aim. Look again at his story. He was thrashed, then stretched out upon a cross, humiliated, ridiculed, bleeding and in agony. Men did that to him. Ordinary men, with homes and families, but men who turned their back on love, or who chose to love selectively. Each one of us has within us the potential to evil such as this. It can slip so easily, so unobtrusively into our lives that we do not even notice its presence.

Remembrance Sunday is about the past. It is there to honour those who gave their lives for others. Today, here as we remember those who have died, we also remember Jesus Christ raised from the dead. The risen Jesus offers us hope that the power of death and sin in the world do not have the last word, rather God who who had the first word in creating us does! Remembrance Sunday must be about Jesus Christ. For through his death on the cross, Jesus doesn’t just suffer with those who suffered and continue to suffer because of war, rather he offerered his persecutors forgiveness and reconcilliation.

We, by bearing his name, made in his image and empowered by his spirit as we gather to remember today, personally, locally, nationally and internationally, must seek to do the same. Amen

Monday, November 03, 2008

Short and simple. A version of Sunday's sermon... Confirmation tomorrow at Apsley... praying for John, Ustane, Alison, Louis, Harry and Amy...

I was shocked watching Orla Guerrin’s report from the Democratic Republic of Congo the other night. I was shocked to see humanity push and shove itself over itself to get to an aid station to get food. There was no concern for who was trampled on, who was separated from their families, who was injured or crushed only to discover that all the aid station had in stock were high energy biscuits. I was further shocked by the reaction of the staff at the station... some with BBC journalists trying to save as many from being crushed as possible, but others reacting to the unruly crowd by lashing out with large sticks in an attempt to keep control. I was shocked at the contrast between simple human concern and sinful dehumanization.

This contrast is present in plenty of places in the world at the moment - Zimbabwe, Iraq, Afghanistan are just three examples. But the dehumanizing affect of war and its aftermath have been a constant theme throughout human history... which we will recall again especially next Sunday... as we recall warmongering, peacemaking, and peacekeeping as three sides of a story told in Ypres, Normandy, Poland, The Falklands, The Balkans, and Sierra Leone.

Dehumanizing actions or words are not limited to the war zones of places like the Congo. We dehumanize ourselves and each other every time we treat someone as less than they are, every time we treat someone as an object to be controlled or despised, every time we time we treat someone or their beliefs as strange.

Dehumanization is a difficult word to stomach, and in the last few minutes I am well aware that I have made it all sound a bit abstract, a bit ethical, a bit lecture theatre and has nothing to do with us. Today. Now. But every time we tell a half truth about what we did with our day, every time we get angry with our spouse or child, every time we that idolize the latest glamourous celebrity more than our husband or wife we dehumanize ourselves and each other.

We dehumanize all too easily. It seems to come all too easily to all of us from time to time in our lives. If only being life-affirmingly human came as easily to us. It’s easy to identify how to dehumanize but what does it mean to be human, life-affirmingly human?

Genesis 1:26 tells us that human beings are made in the image of God. In other words the capacity for life-affirming humanity lies at the heart of every one of us because we are made to be like God in some way - to be in relationship with him and with each other.

Paul and others talk of the call to be saints in connection with the church that they were part of and ministered to. The saints were the church - they are not exalted figures and there is not a halo in sight - they are believers who still have their failings and sins yet who through God’s call in Christ have recognised the sin in the world and in their lives and are committed through Christ, to doing something about it. They are attempting in everyday life to follow the way of

Christ’s disciples. These people are not self made saints, they don’t selflessly suffer in silence, but Paul is clear - we are ‘called to be saints’ (1 Cor 1:2) and are part of the ‘holy and beloved elect’ (Phil 1:1).

Saintliness is something we are all called to as all of us, people of faith and none, are made in the image of God. We begin our saintly journey by acknowledging God and his love for each of us through our baptism. Saints are those who take that relationship with God, whose image they bear seriously, and who deepen it through study of the scriptures, attending worship, praying faithfully and through other special occasions such as receiving communion for the first time or being confirmed both of which are happening for some in this community in the next few days.

Saintliness though as is so often the case with God, turns topsy turvy, what our expectations might be. Saintliness flies in the face of celebrity culture and hedge funds and bonuses. Being a saint is nothing to do with greatness, learning, power or influence, but everything to do with humility, openness, honesty and love.

In a world where we so easily dehumanize ourselves and each, other God’s call to saintliness needs to be seen and heard afresh in our generation. In a world that needs to rediscover the core of what it means to human, life-affirmigly human, lies in a relationship with God and each other, God’s call to saintliness needs to be seen and heard in our generation.

But please God, not a saintliness of otherworldly aloof glass or plaster faces, but one which takes our basic humanity seriously. The humanity Jesus was born into. The humanity that bears God’s image.

Today and every day God calls all of into relationships of love with each other and with him. As we seek to live and grow and thrive in these relationships, God calls us to saintliness, but a saintliness that blesses us and those around us when we are poor in spirit, or mourning, that blesses us or those around us who are meek or who hunger and thirst for what is right, that blesses us and those around us who are merciful or who make peace, that honours those who persecuted because of their striving after justice and what is right for it is these saints that God longs for - sometimes dehumanized by ourselves and others - but through his love, it is to such as these, it is to such as these Congolese, Iraqi, and Afghani, unemployed, depressed, or lonely, it is to such as these (POINT), that God’s kingdom belongs. Amen.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My, what a day! My voice has pretty much gone...! Good 10am service today... well attended and some people becoming regular faces... Roll on half term... tired and need a break! Good to see Pat Kibble there too though...

Here is a version of this morning's sermon, but I have to say that it came out slightly differently to this... often do!

As I write this, I have two songs in conflict in my head. One is “All you need is love’ by the Beatles and the other is ‘WHat’s love gotta do with it?’ Musically, if you know them you will know, they are very different, and their sentiment is also different - one is the hippy era’s all encompassing mantra and the other is about someone who has been hurt by someone they have loved finding love again. If pop songs, films or soap operas are to be believed then love is just a random emotion, something that you can neither create nor control. A bit like the wind, it comes or goes...

When the scriptures speak of love, they don’t do so as a command. The scriptures speak of love either directly or indirectly of the love of God and as an action - something God does and we are called to do. As someone once said, the whole of the Bible is effectively a love story - God loving people over many years, sometimes that love is accepted, sometimes rejected - God passionately loving men and women.

Yet in a way, the Beatles were right. We hear this morning of Jesus being asked which of he 10 Commandments was the greatest, and he replied, all you need is love. Unlike the Beatles, Jesus went on to clarify what he meant. There are over 613 laws that the Jews are to observe, but Jesus chose to sum them up using the Shema - Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. This verse from Deuteronomy lies at the heart of Jewish daily prayer still. To the Shema, Jesus adds ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ Love is not a feeling, but an action towards God and others.

This is easily said. But many of us are not much good at loving God. We are not sure how to go about it. Indeed, we are not entirely clear what the idea of loving God means.

Loving God is not such a simple thing when we consider that to Love God is to love others. It means being a loving person. If we are to fulfill the Law of Christ, we need to become a loving person.
This can only happen when God's loved poured out on us is received, fills us up and poured out on others. How do we know we are becoming loving people?

Learning how to drive in the beginning was difficult. There was so much to remember like looking at mirrors, speed limits, watching out for pedestrians, etc. As he practiced, he started putting it all together. He could focus more on where he was going rather than how to get there. Driving had become second nature to him.

Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor as we love our self. How many of us love ourselves? I don't mean that we look in the mirror and somehow convince our selves that we are lovely. But none of us would normally let ourselves grow hungry. We clothe ourselves. We try to better ourselves through education or other means. We don't think too much about taking care of ourselves. It too is our nature to love ourselves.

And so it should be with love for others. We know we are becoming loving people when we love like we drive or take care of ourselves. We should learn and practice love in a way that it becomes second nature to us.

Have you ever looked at a baby and said, "That is a face only a mother could love?" In a way that is a funny statement. But it also reflects a bit of reality. There are certain people in our lives who are more lovable than others for whatever reason.

A loving person does not put condition on their love. It does not first check out the beloved, the object of love, then determine if one will love him or not. A Godly love does not place conditions on the beloved. We will love whomever. We are called to love.

This is still an impossible task. Perhaps we need the help of those who have fallen in love - and who have stayed in love - with God, to guide us. St Bernard of Clairvaux was one such. Bernard taught that loving God, like everything else we try to do that is difficult, is a step-by-step process. According to Bernard, there are "four steps of love". The first step, he says, is to love ourselves for ourselves. Then we must learn to love God.
We love God - this is the second step - initially for what he gives us. But, if we are true to this path, we shall come to love God for himself, the third step. Finally, we love ourselves for God's sake. For some, that last step is the hardest of all.

These four steps are not rungs of a ladder that I set up inside my head, shutting out the rest of the world. For those who are single-minded in their search for God, other people are not a distraction - far from it. The journey from self-love to the love of God never by-passes my neighbour.

To love God and to love one's neighbour in God is the only way to break free from the hamster-wheel character of the lives so many of us lead. Such lives - however frenetically busy they are - are ultimately futile.

Friends, our loving needs to be not just a thought, but also an action. Jesus demonstrated his love for his disciples in many ways. But before his Crucifixion there was an act of love recorded in John 13 of washing the disciples feet.

God could have told us he loved us, without ever sending his Son. Jesus could have said that He loved us without dying on the Cross. But God did send His Son, and Jesus did die on the Cross for us. What will we do for our brothers and sisters? For our Neighbors and Enemies?

John 13:34-35 - A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. Amen

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vvvvv tired.

Ron Kibble's funeral today, and I'm dreading it... should be big, so I hope that Pat and the family take some comfort from that. I have a staff meeting before that, but it just feels like one of those days where I am not sure how I will do everything that needs to be done.

Herewith a draft of what I will say at 12noon:

You might think that this afternoon’s reading, Jesus promising rest to those who come to him, seems a strange choice when thinking about and remembering Ron. Ron the footballer and referee of some 50 plus years. Or even Ron, who worked in housing In Aylesbury, Hemel and Chilterns Districts, organising the first private sales of council owned housing. Or even Ron the passionate gardener, fuscia grower and lawn mower. Yet today we also remember Ron, who bravely and sometimes stubournly grappled with illness over the last couple of years. Also Ron the man of quiet and yet sure faith in God through Jesus Christ.

Ron didn’t do rest. When I first met him and Pat he was heading up to London twice a week, gardening, activiely involved in the lives of others Retirement was still busy and fruitful. And yet today God offers Ron rest.

I suspect that latterly, Ron has been looking forward to the rest that God offers him today. Throughout the Bible, God promises rest to people who acknowledge his pressence and who live the way asked of them. In other words, those who come to God’s Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus says that the rest on offer can only happen when we agree to take on a yoke. Yokes focus the animals wearing them in a particular directions, on a particular task. I struggle to see Ron as someone who would easily be yoked, that said his focus on a task was sometimes almost single minded.
Throughout his life, Ron has worn Jesus’ yoke of love. Faith in Jesus Christ has been such a quiet and reassuring pressence in Ron’s life, and through that faith, Jesus has walked alongside Ron, worked alongside him, played alongside him. Where Ron was, Jesus was too. When life became hard to deal with, especially due to illness, Ron was often confident that he would get through - Jesus’ reassuring pressence carried them both forward.

Ron’s faith in God was not some sort of insurance policy that he could cash in at a later date. Neither was it a sort of moral compass for him. As we stood at the door each week after the 8am service we would talk about the normal stuff of life, and a shared passion for football (conversations that I miss hugely I hasten to add), Ron was always thankful - even in the face of adversity and uncertainty. Ron was thankful - even when he had been fouled badly like he had been over the last couple of years and was taken off the pitch - Ron was thankful for the way that God had guided his life, watching, loving, protecting. Ron’s faith was about now, about life and how to live it, and certainly not the great hereafter.

Today, following Ron’s example, must be about thankfulness to God for all that he has and will continue to be to all of us, and for everything that we have in life - however difficult our own situations might be from time to time. Today must also being aware that God offers Ron, real and lasting rest from the burden he has carried. He struggled stoicly with illness at the end, today he suffers no more and God offers him what contemporary society so badly needs - real and lasting peace - where peace is freedom from worry, freedom from illness, freedom from frustration, freedom from fear - and in their place God offers the living and beating heart of Christian faith - a knowledge that with Him - all will be well.

Today must also be about God, for today even in our sadness, God offers us his yoke of love, which as Ron will tell you, was not a burden to wear, but light and easy. God will walk, work and play with us - enabling us to find His direction in our lives however hard they may be fro time to time.

When we do take on that yoke and find faith in God for ourselves, we will each find a simple thankfulness in life, a thankfulness that Ron knew. We will also be able to receive God’s greatest of gifts - the lasting and fulfilling peace we all long for. Amen.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Alex's birthday today and we have both been feeling a little fragile after a fantastic night out with friends involving too much alcohol and too little sleep...

In laws have been here today - we took them out to a very slowly served lunch at the Papermill, but the food was great.

An interesting service service this morning... I hadn't marked that Tim was down to preach, so I prepared, only to discover that Tim was raring to go... which was fine....

Anyway, just in case toy are interested, here is what I would have preached...

Governments this week have plough more and more money into the banking sector. both here and abroad, to try to keep both the national and global economies afloat.

More and more of us are finding, with this climate of financial uncertainty that our money does not go as far as it used to - because of increased food and energy prices.

And yet, religious communities find it sometimes hard to talk about money and it’s place in life for fear of offending, especially when we are asking for it! This morning’s Gospel alludes to the fact that conversation about money even back in Jesus day could be controversial. Yet here, Jesus sidesteps the controversy and clearly teaches from God’s perspective the place money should have in our lives, the control we should or should not allow it to have, and in that sense, speaks in a very contemporary way into our 21 century lives.

The Pharisees are confident that they have found the perfect question to ask Jesus. Whichever way he answers this, he will alienate some of his followers, and that is exactly what the Pharisees want: they want to erode Jesus’s power base, without dirtying their own hands. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the Emperor or not?

So, they calculate, if Jesus replies that taxes should be paid to the illegal Roman usurper, he will anger those of his followers who hope and believe that he is the Messiah, the one who will reassert God’s direct rule over his people, and get rid of the Romans. But, if he tries to please that group by saying that taxes should be withheld, he will be liable for arrest by the civil powers, and he will frighten off the ordinary people, who want no trouble with the authorities, but who just come to Jesus to hear about God and to find consolation and healing. “Got him!” the Pharisees chortle.

However, if they think they will lull Jesus into a false sense of security, they are quickly proved very wrong. Within seconds, they are the ones scrabbling for an answer, their careful strategy completely destroyed. Once again, as in all their dealings with Jesus, they are made to look like fools, who do not know their own business.

They are supposed to be the religious leaders, but they never thought to introduce the question of God’s rights into the debate. It is Jesus who does that, as though he knows more about God than they do.

Since that has always been the heart of their hatred for him, they go away with the situation completely unchanged, but their own anger growing to the point where it will not be contained for much longer.

Apparently, it does not occur to them that Jesus’ answer is a real one, perhaps because their question was not real, and they didn’t want an actual answer. But Matthew, through his careful placing of this story, and through the build-up of the question and answer, makes us pause. What does the answer mean?

People often dwell on the “render to Caesar” part of the story, to abstract some of kind of Christian response to a state authority or the place of money in our lives. But it is not Caesar whom Jesus introduces into the conversation — he was put there by the Pharisees. The Pharisees are pretending to want guidance about our duty to “Caesar”, but they are patently refusing guidance from Jesus about our duty to God and that is teh heart of what Jesus teaches us this morning. Jesus’ point is that it is God who determines what is Caesar’s and what is not, and it is God who is Sovereign over the state, tax, money itself and indeed everything. Ultimately no one can serve 2 masters and all that matters therefore is our duty and obdeience to God.

In Matthew’s Gospel, this confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees comes after a series of parables about people who refuse to give God his due, and who will not recognise and rejoice with his Son. So, when the Son stands, now, in front of this group of religious leaders, and says: “What do you think your duty to God might be?”, the answer is plain. Their duty is to use all their supposed knowledge of God to recognise the Son, and allow others to do the same. But this is the one thing they are absolutely determined not to do.

Why, why, why do they hate him so? What is it about Jesus that so challenges them? It is not enough to say that they thought he was a mad impostor. Jerusalem was full of mad religious impostors, but they did not require large conspiracies on the part of the Pharisees to remove them. No, the trouble with Jesus was precisely that they could not be sure that he was an impostor.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that they really did not want God to get that close. And they were right to fear. It would certainly be much easier if God were like Caesar, so that we knew for sure when we had paid our taxes. But, if God is actually like Jesus, then we might need, painfully and humiliatingly, to recognise him over and over again, and give him everything not just what we consider to be his share. This is where the rubber hits the road - we so off try to fob God off with his bit on Sunday, our £1 in the collection plate, best suit and tie on. God, it seems to me from what Jesus clearly says here, does not care a jot about any of that. What actually matters is what’s in here (pat chest). Caesar wants his temple tax and that’s all that he cares about, a small part of our financial lives - but God wants us to have a relationship with him through Jesus, and relationships if they are really to work, require the investment of our whole selves. Amen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Feeling spiritually on top of things, but physically feeling really ground down. Been sick since Sunday and I have been playing it low key since then.

One of the sadnesses was that I had to cancel the follow up meeting for the L!VE iT weekend which should have happened on Sunday night - will have to reschedule.

Anyway, aside from that, Ron Kibble sadly but mercifully died last the week before last. I was able to pray Last Rites with him which was fantastic. Now he is reaping the rewards of faithfully following Jesus - his funeral will be in Church on 20th October at 12noon.

Anyway, here's the sermon...

When it’s meal time in your house, what do you do? Does the person doing the cooking give everyone a five minute warning? If there are guests do you invite them to come and sit up at the table? If the family is scattered in different rooms in the house do you stand at the bottom of the stairs and yell, ‘Come and get it!’ However the invitation is given, you anticipate that everyone will respond and make their way to the table. The meal in the king’s house that we heard about in this morning’s Gospel, was ready, and the invitation to come and eat was given but those who were invited did not come. Now at this point, we begin to realise that this a story that is a little larger than life, as eventually some of the servants who carried the invite were attacked and killed. The king gathers an army, and military operations were carried out, a city was destroyed, and after that the meal was still ready and waiting to be served.

The other thing that is odd about this parable is the chap who turns up improperly dressed, he was thrown out and the Jesus’ comment is - many are called but few are chosen.

Despite the confusing nature of this parable, overblown as it may be in places, I believe that the message is really quite clear. God is the king giving the feast. He does the preparation and provides the messengers. The kingdom of heaven with which the parable is concerned is any place where God is recognised and his will is done. The preparations for the coming kingdom are done by the prophets and the ministry of John the Baptist.

With the preparations done, the invitations are given and almost instantly they are interwoven with rejections. First come invitations to those who are expected to accept. When they don’t, more servants are sent to push the invitation with greater insistence, but still without success.

The servants are sent out a third time, but this time to invite those who had not expected an invite. The response is good and all the seats are filled, but with a mixture of people both bad and good. This leads to that chap being thrown out. The king who had made the invitation came to see the crowd gathered in his honour, and noticed someone not suitably prepared.

The call goes out from the host, ‘Come, for all is ready!’ It is the same call as the invitation which Jesus gave at the beginning of his ministry, ‘The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe the gospel.’ Both calls lead to division between those who accept and those who reject.

The bottom line friends is, are we ready to enter God’s kingdom? Only you can decide to accept or reject the invitation. The question is, does an eternal

relationship with God, healing for past hurts, and knowledge that despite what might be thrown at us in life, we are loved without limit, really feature for you...

What is Jesus trying to teach... the kingdom of God is a place where those eternal longings are a reality. It is the time and place where God’s goodness is celebrated, felt and seen. Every single person is invited to this celebration - no one is turned away, no-one is not good enough, no-one is unworthy. What’s more - the invitation costs us nothing and all we have to do is accept, but no excuses are acceptable. Nothing else is of greater value than this invite...

Oh but then there are some conditions it seems. That poor chap is put outside for not wearing a wedding robe - for many are called and few are chosen... It seems that there is a little more to it than just turning up to the party.

Elsewhere in the scriptures Paul writing to the Galatian christians, talks about ‘clothing yourself with Christ.’ In the book of Revelation it says that ‘the fine clothes are the good deeds of God’s people.’ The wedding garment needed here could also be a ‘putting on of Christ’ through Baptism. These passages and ideas remind me that the invitation to celebrate in God’s kingdom comes free to all, but we also need to be ready to respond. Being ready is not just willing to come to discover more, to enjoy the company, to eat the food and drink the wine,

but it is about living lives that reflect those kingdom values of divine justice, mercy, peace and love. This is about intent of the heart and how we live out our lifestyle. It is about our baptisms not just being a distant memory and long invisible sign of the cross, but rather obvious in the way we think, speak, live, shop and so on.

Recently, at the L!VE iT weekend we recalled God’s eternal hospitality and love - welcoming us to sit and eat bread and drink wine with him round this table. We recalled that this meal is about thanksgiving for all that God has given us, especially in Christ, but also about renewed resources of faith that affect not just the way we worship or build friendships on Sunday, but also about how we live that out Monday through Saturday too wherever we are.

For as we gather in church this morning, we re-clothe ourselves with Christ; here through bread and wine Christ not only goes with us, but dwells inside each of us afresh.

This morning God invites you to the wedding reception of his Son. The invitation is free - all you need to do is respond to it by clothing yourself with Christ, living out your baptism, empowered with Christ himself in you - put simply, by living lives that show how important it is that we have ben invited to that wedding celebration. Amen.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fab service this morning and busy too.

Herewith my sermon for Holy Cross Day...

In 1986 Julie Chimes agreed to let an emotionally distressed acquaintance wait in her cottage until her busy doctor boyfriend was able to make the time to get home in order to assess his patient. No one, not even the woman’s psychiatrist or family knew that she had recently taken herself off all medication for paranoid schizophrenia. Helping herself to a carving knife, she then set about attacking Julie. In a piece she wrote she said:

I think of myself as fortunate because I have never felt a victim. I can remember shouting out that I loved my assailant, which, given the circumstances was as much of a surprise to me as being stabbed. The physical pain was excruciating but a phenomenal strength and focus arose within me, which guided me out of the cottage. Eventually a courageous passer-by managed to disarm my attacker, as she was trying to hack off my head. Police eventually arrived and thought me dead, but I was aware of everything...

From my perspective the sequence of events that had led up to her arrival in our kitchen were so bizarre I knew there was no one to blame. I felt certain the attack was part of a much bigger picture. I believed on some level that it had had to happen and it was not the tragic accident that most people thought. I was determined to understand and a quest for truth began to unfold within me.

My rapid recovery from the five main stab wounds was considered something of a miracle but the attack affected my family leading to ill health and in a way my mother’s early death. My step father later asked for my forgiveness. I am neither christened nor religious but Christ’s words about “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” is the closest way to describe how I felt. This expansive feeling of understanding and compassion even allowed me to take a call from my assailant’s sister, who wanted me to know her sister was desperately sorry and asked my forgiveness. As I blamed no one, there was nothing to forgive, but there was still a lot for me to learn and understand. I wanted to know if it was it possible to reach this place of peace without some horrific trauma.

I have learnt that this inner place of forgiveness and peace is available to everyone, everywhere and in any circumstance. I now know when there is understanding there can be compassion. When compassion arises there can be forgiveness. Where there is forgiveness there is peace.

Friends, after this sort of horrific crime, talk of retribution would be perhaps considered normal. Banner headlines on the red tops would be screaming for it. The more extreme the crime, the louder the shouting. And yet despite the calls for the reintroduction of capital punishment and full life tariffs, we are also less and less willing to take responsibility for our sons and daughters, or indeed for anything for that matter. We want the life tariff but will not acknowledge the part we have played in creating a culture where that is even suggested - where we are increasingly alienated from each other, where life moves fast, where all that matters is getting to the top and doing it at the expense of everyone else, where I reach out and take what I want now - whether I have earned it or not - whether that’s staples from the stationary cupboard or my neighbour’s new car.

In our experience of personal tragedy or loss, of ‘who is my neighbour?’ we still shake our fist at the sky and blame God. “If God loved me...”, “if He is all powerful...”, “if He is there...” and yet, it is exactly in these sorts of places that the cross stands, eclipsing our life and our world.

The cross is a dark place. It brought justice and judgement on the criminal and retribution for the vengeful aggrieved. Yet Jesus was no criminal and God is no hate filled father. But the cross for each one of us is retribution for our sinfulness but it is God who takes the responsibility.

Today is Holy Cross Day, and today we are reminded of the victory or triumph of God on the cross. In a world of countless seen and hidden Stephen Lawrences, of Afghanistans or Iraqs, of domestic violence or tragic accidents it’s hard to take... There is tradition the says that the cross of Jesus was made from the wood of the tree in the Garden of Eden from which Adam an Eve ate. Somehow, through his cross, Jesus’ death offers life and hope, it renews the relationship with God that humanity first had in Eden. On the cross, the affects of our sin are dealt with and God forgives us, and forgives us and forgives us.

Our society wants retribution because we cannot offer forgiveness. We cannot take responsibility for our actions because we cannot receive forgiveness. Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness is acknowledging what has happened, and in spite of it, changing a relationship.

Julie Chimes felt that there was no-one to blame for what happened to her so therefore nothing to forgive despite her horrific attack. If it were me, I’m not sure that I would feel the same. This my friends is surely why the cross is a victory and a triumph for God and us. For through Jesus’ death, God acknowledged that there was much to forgive between Him and us. Each sin of ours, a stab wound to his heart of love. But somehow through the cross - the price is paid for my sin and I go free from its slavery to it to live God’s way. Somehow through the cross Jesus takes my place and receives the punishment due to me for my sin. Somehow through the cross - Jesus ultimately reconciles all that it is to be broken and human with God his Father.

I am forever grateful. My life is so easily a mess - not living by God’s standards, or not living up to either your or my most basic expectations. Yet between you and me and me and God stands Christ’s cross - offering forgiveness and a change in our relationships.

Through the cross we are each offered real hope - the way we are is not the way we should be, says God. For the cross stands between heaven and earth, pointing the way, pointing me again God’s way.

That’s hope. That’s triumph. That’s victory. That’s forgiveness. WOuld you Adam and Eve it? Touch wood...

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Tired today... and I still have this cold. Oh well...

One of my fave bands, Mansun, their album 'Six' was ten years old on Sunday. So in honour of it, I listened to it again yesterday. A cracking cd. Well done guys.

Ben seems to have taken to Nursery like a proverbial duck and Peter to playgroup similarly. Al seems better today about it too - an emotional thing seeing your babies become more independent!

I'm feeling good 'bout the lead up to the activities for the Autumn. We begin the START course at Leverstock Green School on Thursday. I hope and pray that it might speak into the lives of some members of the school community.

START is you chance to think about the big things in life. In an fun and interesting way it will help you to:

* Think through where your life is going
* Learn to ask questions about the Christian faith
* Discover who Jesus is, what he teaches and why it matters
* consider how you want to respond to it - and to him!

The sessions assume no previous knowledge of anything Christian. Using a mix of video input, time to chat, simple discussion activities and space for reflection, all in a style which is down-to-earth and honest, and which aims to be enjoyable too!

Sessions begin on Thursday at 7.45 pm. Don't miss out!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Herewith a version of this morning's sermon. A cracking service... thanks be to God!

By now you will know that our teaching weekend ‘L!VE iT’ is a matter of weeks away. You will have prayed for it and heard hopefully much talk about it and it’s importance for us this Autumn.

For a moment though, cast you minds back. Many of you here this morning will know or remember that back in 2006 Holy Trinity held an exciting week-long event called 'Fan the Flame' which renewed the faith of many people here today.

For those of who were part of Fan the Flame, I think you will agree that the week was immensely important for us as a church. Through it we examined the basics of christian faith - forgiveness, healing, reconciliation, the cross, resurrection and so on. Many people here rediscovered the uniqueness and enormity of the love of God for them.

It is this enormous love of God that Paul writes of in his letter to the Romans that we have heard some of this morning. It is a love that reaches out to each of us in and through Jesus Christ, and offers us nothing less than an eternal relationship with Him - the way that he always intended. Throughout his letter, Paul argues that all humanity is guilty and accountable to God for sin and that it is only through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we can have that relationship restored.

The L!VE iT weekend is an intensive opportunity to remind ourselves of what lies at the heart of Paul’s letter. Over that weekend we will be learning together about our central act of worship - the Eucharist. Those planning this weekend felt that this was a vital theme for us as a church. For in sharing in the eucharist, through breaking bread together and drinking wine, we give thanks to God for, and in a way re-enact, God’s offer of that restored relationship of love.

Any relationship that we may be part of requires work. I say that to every dewy eyed wedding couple I see. Love, I tell them, is not a spontaneous emotion. You cannot just randomnly fall in love or fall out of love. To be in a love relationship means that you make deliberate decisions to do and say loving things to each other. When the Bible speaks of love, it does so as an action. Something that God does to us, and we are to do to each other.

Similarly our relationship with God requires work. We don’t just randomnly fall in love with God. He showed us love first through Jesus. We have each responded to that love in some way. If, though, we do not continue to work at our relationship with him our it will go stale. Paul, as Jesus elsewhere, is quite clear, love acted upon and lived out to God and neighbour fulfills all that God asks of us.

It can become all too easy to take anyone in any relationship that we might be part of for granted. The consequences of that should be obvious in say a marriage or even a close friendship. The same is true of our relationship with God. It should be so much more than worship on a Sunday. It should be a relationship that defines us, drives us, challenges and changes us. And yet, over time, many of us might admit that coming to church becomes nothing more than a habit from time to time. Something that we just do, rather than, as Jesus promised us in the Gospel reading this morning, where 2 or 3 gather expecting to meet with Him, there he will indeed be.

Paul says to us - WAKE UP! If our relationship with God is nothing more than habitually coming to church - WAKE UP! If we are knowingly meeting with God on Sunday and yet slipping easily back into what Paul calls the works of darkness - WAKE UP! Instead let us renew our relationship with God and each other and - to use Paul’s phrase - put on the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, lets work hard at our relationship with him through prayer, service to others, study of the scriptures and receiving the eucharist - that our relationship with God becomes so intimately close to us its like wearing a shirt or a blouse.

L!VE iT is an opportunity another opportunity for us to grow together in friendship and grow in faith; to become both individually and together, more the people God longs for us to be.
The church council, the planning group and I commend the weekend to you, and especially to your prayers. But friends do let this opportunity pass you by. Do not miss out on an extremely exciting opportunity to deepen and renew our relationship with God. Amen.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Here is a copy of an email I sent today. I would value some feedback from any of you who read this, so do let me know!

A simple question, if we were to launch a new service, when would be best for you and would you come? Choose from below:

A Sunday 7pm informal, more adult, quality teaching and a chance to respond, prayer for healing etc
B Saturday or Sunday (monthly) with informal tea. At Leverstock Green School perhaps. 4pm?
C Weekday version of option B
D Sundays monthly - 11.30 am - family service. More informal. Not Eucharist

Watched Secret Millionaire again tonight. I love the fact that, yes the money that is given changes the people and organisations that are in receipt of it, but the people who change the most are the secret millianaires!

If you do not shed even a little tear watching it - you really have no soul! Well done channel 4!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Back from hols and it's fair to say that so far I am rested and relaxed!

I cannot believe that it's September already! L!ve iT is only a matter of days away now and there is still alot to do. That said I am very excited at what God will do through this weekend.

If you haven't committed to coming and joining us over the weekend of 26-28th September then please do. Full details are available at make sure you scroll right down.

For now please do pray for this exciting opportunity using the following prayer:

God our Father,
you have invited us to share the meal
which Jesus gave to the Church:
Transform us by your Holy Spirit,
through bread and wine,
so that we may we be fed by his presence,
and become a family in his love. Amen.

There is a lot going on this Autumn with a course called START beginning on 11th September at Leverstock Green School all about life and faith. The preparation for children 7+ to receive communion before confirmation begins on 20th September at 3pm at St Benedicts church. We also begin our house groups again next week - we're looking at material called 'Worship Changes Lives' which looks really good and the impact on our life together could be amazing - God willing! If you haven't signefd up to come then you best do so quickly - as the groups begin on Tuesday at 2pm, Wednesday (2 groups) at 8pm, and a new group meeting on Thursdays at 8pm.

I am feeling excited also following the skills audit - if you haven't returned your form - please do so quickly. Many people have replied and have graciously offered to serve God in many ways in and outside His church. Thank you very much to all of you who have.

So, the Autumn is a time when the church celebrates Harvest, and thanks God for the goodness of the earth - it's also a time for us at Holy Trinity when we can look to God tending, nurturing and growing our faith and friendship together.

Don't miss out - come and grow with us!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Ohhhhhhhh I am feeling stressed!!!!! There still seems so much to before we go away on hols, because there is!

And yet I hear in the back of my head Jesus' words about not worrying about tomorrow as today has enough worries of it's own... don't I know it!!!

I don't find those words very comforting, and yet I know them to be true. In times of great stress the best way of dealing with the situation is to share it. And who better to share it with than the creator of life itself... he knows you know....

What I do long for, and I know that God can give me is peace - freedom from inner conflict, angst and difficulty - the shalom of God. The sabbath rest. The time and place where He and I can look at it all, and know that everything is good.

With so many unravelled ends at the moment - works in progress - it seems unlikely that I can sit and look at everything and know that it is good. And perhaps that's the point.

I cannot sit back if what I am doing is mine. Whereas if I give all that I do to God, and all thing are possible through Him, then together there will be a point we can look back together at all that we have done - and know that it is indeed good.

I really long for this. The stress then stops being mine, but ours (God's and mine), and together we can deal with it.

Perhaps our stressed out world needs to hear this - stress is only stress if the pressure we put ourselves under or we are put under - is something we try to deal with on our own. If we make some concious space, even for a moment, as long as it has taken to write and read this - and share the pressured lives with God - he promises not short term stress relief, but peace beyond our understanding!

I'll have some of that please!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Well another day... still not feeling 100%. Not sure what's really wrong. Feels like it's some sort of stomach bug. Really hope and pray that I feel better soon...

Holiday club still goes well. Reflecting on yesterdays session, I would say that I am unsure what it was that they were trying to teach - hence my very garbled talk. I also feel that they were trying to achieve too much for 5-11 year olds. That said I still do feel that it's been a really good week and one that I hope that we can buld on and advertise and plan better. It feels like the beginning of a good relationship...

Hols a week today - can't wait. Need the break...

Feeding of 5000 is Sunday's reading. I think that I will say something about Jesus working in and with the ordinary. I will work on it more thoroughly on Saturday evening. I am aware that I am doing the intercessions on Sunday too and I am going to see if there is a way of doing something creative and different with them. Need to figure that out on Saturday too...

Not sure what we will do tomorrow afternoon. Maybe swim? We'll see.

Gemma's wedding on Saturday - that will be a great occasion I am sure! I wonder who will be there and whether Jen will be there? It will be good to see her if she is!

Anyway, over and out!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Holiday club continues to go really well. I am feeling very energised by it. It is good to do some youth work again. My reflections thus far are that this joint venture can only go from strength to strength!

Not feeling very well again today. I haven't done for a coiple of days now, I think it's the heat. I have nothing on tonight and I hope that I might go to bed early! I am sure that will help!!!

Plans for the weekend of 26-28th September are now in place and I can now reveal that we are planning an event called L!ve iT. Details to be released publically on Sunday, but the details on the flyer are set out here below:

Back in 2006 Holy Trinity held an exciting week-long event called 'Fan the Flame' which enlivened the faith of many in Leverstock Green. During the weekend of Friday 26th-Sunday 28th September 2008 we are holding a weekend of fantastic fun and faith-enhancing learning together, which we hope and pray will take many of us on further. This info sheet should give you a little more detail.

The weekend will give us the opportunity to grow together in friendship and grow in faith. The heart of the weekend will be a chance for children and adults to learn more about our central act of worship – our sharing of bread and wine – known by some as Holy Communion, the Eucharist, the Lord's Supper or the Mass. The weekend's programme looks like this:

Friday 26th September 2008
7.45pm Social Event at Leverstock Green School.

Saturday 27th September 2008
10.00 am Teaching session 1 in church
11.00 am Coffee in Trinity room
11.30 am Teaching Session 2 in church
12.30 pm Finish
Afternoon free
7.00 pm 'Teaching Eucharist' in church

Sunday 28th September 2008 'Back To Church Sunday.'
8.00 am Said Eucharist (order 2)
10.00 am A Special Eucharist for the Whole Family.

We would really like you to join us and not miss out on this opportunity. Please put the date in your diaries now and commit yourselves to coming along. Please also pray for the weekend using the following prayer, which we will use at all our main services:

God our Father,
you have invited us to share the meal
which Jesus gave to the Church:
Transform us by your Holy Spirit, through bread and wine,
so that we may we be fed by his presence,
and become a family in his love. Amen.