VIGIL 2016 Prayers 1

February 5th, 2016

O Lord open thou our lips  –   And our mouths shall shew forth thy praise

O God make speed to save us –  O Lord make haste to help us

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end amen

Praise Ye the Lord –  The Lord’s name be praised.

For many centuries, Christians have prayed in this place, for themselves, for their neighbours and for the world, and they have stood here as a witness to this city and to the whole nation. As long as Christians have done this, the country has prospered and been at peace. So we meet here under the eyes of the saints of this cathedral and hope to pass on the whole blessing of the gospel to our nation. As long as we remain faithful, this country will continue to prosper and be at peace.

At this time of year, at Lent, we prepare to follow the passion of our Lord. During this fast we take up the discipline of prayer and penitence. We intercede and we repent. With the words of God we speak to the world, and with the prayers of the world we speak to God. We say whatever should have been said, but has not been, and we repent on behalf of all those so caught in sin that they are not yet able to repent for themselves. We speak for them as well as for ourselves.

We pray in particular for our public servants. We pray that God would give them confidence in their office and in the authority given to them to carry it out. We pray that they would uphold the law, and protect the nation from all attempts to impose other laws and ideologies. We pray that they will uphold the law and perform their office with a respect and affection for the whole people of this country, not despising any, but working truly for the common good.

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Eucharist – What does taking part in the Eucharist mean to me?

January 7th, 2016

In the Eucharist we come into the presence of the Lord and all his redeemed creatures.

In the Eucharist God comes to us, to mankind. Heaven comes down to earth, and the two are joined. This reveals us that the world is God’s good place for us and that is it is being redeemed, and that it is not a mistake and will not be abandoned.  The limits of our material world now open to reveal the beginning of a creation, in which earth is in permanent relationship with heaven, and always being renewed from it. Our prayers rise up to reach heaven, and the servants of God come down to us, bringing all the good gifts of the Spirit to make us holy.

In Christ’s presence we are free. Our confinement is over and there is no one telling us to be quiet. We can be thankful and joyful and we can sing, and do so with people who share the same joy and who sing with us, ‘with one accord’. We sing ‘Thou only, O Christ, art most high in the glory of God the Father…’ In other words, there is only one Lord. Though there are many masters and authorities, they are all pretenders. In worshipping Christ we reject the claims of all the power-mongers and ‘gods’ of the present. This worship tells the truth, liberates us from falsehood, and this is a huge relief.  Read the rest of this entry »

Mission – What is the mission task facing the Church of England?

January 7th, 2016

The task of the Church of England is to proclaim the Gospel, now and always.

Christians are blessed. We have been made happy, and we are glad to share this happiness. It would be strange if we did not do so. We simply pass on what we ourselves have received, from the Lord. We have been searched for, found, rescued and forgiven; now we may also go searching for, and offer forgiveness to, anyone we encounter. The Lord has commanded us to do so.

God loves us. We are loved and empowered to love and to enable one another to flourish in God’s love. The Christian community is the communion of love, sourced and refreshed by God’s love for us. This love enables all our relationships with friends and opponents, and enables our love to endure through all difficulties.  Read the rest of this entry »

Vocation – What is the calling of a priest in the Church of England today?

January 7th, 2016

Let us start with ‘vocation’. Who calls, and who is called? The Lord calls. He calls us. Along with all creation, he calls us into existence, and we have our existence just because God calls us. The Lord calls man, and in calling him, gives him his life. He calls each of us, and calls us to life with him and in communion with all others. The Lord continues to call until, at last, we hear and respond. As we hear and reply, we discover how to live well, and live well together. Not to hear the call of God, to confuse it with the voices of other powers with their political demands, is to live against the grain of creation and so to create difficulties not otherwise there. But we may reply to God’s call, and do so with thankfulness, with curiosity, and with our own demands. Having heard him, we may respond to him and make our requests and the Lord hears our call and receives our prayers and thanksgiving. The Son has heard the call of the Father, and made our reply to him, and so in Christ the conversation between God and man is underway. Read the rest of this entry »

Intro to The Christian Year – Around the year, through the Lectionary

January 4th, 2016

The Church follows the Lord on a public year-long pilgrimage through the fasts and feasts of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost and Trinity.

The Church is the body of Christ passing through the world. When people see us processing through our town centres they are able to acknowledge that it is our Christian witness that we are bringing them. Christian worship is a public demonstration that God brings all contraries together, and puts them face-to-face in reconciliation, and side-by-side in fellowship. The world that looks on can see this meeting and, if it wishes, recognise this reconciliation and decide that it wants to become part of it.

In some seasons the church is a large and noisy demonstration passing through a crowded town centre. During the feasts of the Church year we are celebrating and on carnival. The world will part on each side to let us through and some will join us as we go.  We bless the world by greeting everyone as Christ’s future people. We greet them as examples of Christ’s body rejected, lost and forlorn, and we greet them as future members of his body redeemed, restored and made joyful.

At other times, during the fasts, we are on a demonstration of our public repentance and remorse. We are going out into neighbourhood and nation to bring them comfort and to repent for not having brought that comfort to them sooner. In our public processions we sing and bless. We sing psalms and hymns in alternation. We pray and intercede, kneeling together and keeping silence for long moments. So the form of our progress is simultaneously the way of the resurrection and glory, and the way of the cross and shame. As we go, the cross alternates with the glory, so at any one moment we are either repentant or joyful. Read the rest of this entry »

Lent & Easter 5. Palm Sunday – Entry to Jerusalem

December 28th, 2015

The sixth Sunday of Lent is Palm Sunday. The Lord rides into Jerusalem. We will read the short version of this entry from Mark, but here is the longer one from Matthew:

When they had come near Jerusalem … Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey

The disciples brought the donkey and its foal… and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! 

Matthew points out that the Lord is now doing what Zechariah said he would:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

The Lord is at war, riding out to confront the malevolent forces arrayed against mankind. But this king is so confident in his victory that he does not ride a war horse but a much more peaceful animal.

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Lent & Easter 4. Lifted Up, Raised – and true Mothering

December 28th, 2015

The Passover was near and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He went into action on our behalf. He rode in to the rescue, to take us back out of the power of those who held us captive. John telescopes the whole incarnation and passion into the Passover and its celebration – The Passover is the event of the resurrection and our celebration of it.

The Gospel for the fourth week of Lent is John 3:

Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up… in order that the world might be saved through him

The Son of Man is lifted up. He is picked out from the crowd, selected from the whole assembly of Israel and indeed of the world. Of all these many millions, this one is the One. Having been picked by the selectors, he has been trialled and he has come through all the tests well, the Letter to the Hebrews tell us. He is confirmed and anointed. This is man in all his glory, given by God who intended it for him from the beginning. In this man, God has established the future for all men.

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Lent & Easter 3. Christ must suffer and be rejected

December 28th, 2015

We are on our way through Lent to Easter, looking at the Sunday readings and learning something about the public contribution of Christian witness. Though we are going through Lent, we already enjoy Easter. For only the power of Easter can take us through the long Lent we have to undergo.

In the first two talks we said that the Gospel brings the reconciliation that allows a national communion to develop. Without Christianity, there is no covenant between rich and poor, or between one tribe and another, and so there is no nation, and no basis for an international community of nations. The law makes us secular: secularity is the achievement of Christianity, not an escape from it.  The Ten Commandments are our call to liberty and to communion. They call out of the savage all-against-all isolation of pagan society, and into civil life together. They give us such confidence that we are able to live with those who we do not know or do not like, so this confidence gives us this civility and this civilisation. Only Christian discipleship enables us to grow up towards the vast definition of humanity set out by the Gospel, towards maturity and holiness, made fit by God for life with him and with each other.  Read the rest of this entry »

Lent & Easter 2. The Law, the Command and the Freedom

December 28th, 2015

We are under the covenant and so we settled. We are members of a robust and confident society, culture and nation. And we are on the move, following Abraham, who is following Christ. We alternate between being settled, and being nomads. In Lent and Passion week we are on the move, in file behind our Lord, and he is taking us with him through the very darkest places. Noah and Abraham, obedient to God’s call, stood up, left their communities and cultures and walked out into unknown, and so became the founders of a new society,  Israel. We are amongst their heirs; we worship their God.

But why should we worship God? Or rather, why should we worship this God rather than some other? Read the rest of this entry »

Lent and Easter 1 The Covenant

December 28th, 2015

We are on the way to Easter. We travel around the Christian year, each Sunday hearing a new reading from Scripture that tells us who we are, where we have come from, where we are going, what the obstacles are and what the hopes. This six-week season of Lent gives us so many Old Testament lessons, so many psalms, epistles and readings either from the Gospel of Mark or John.  Here are some of the passages we will hear in the coming weeks. They come from the second year (B) of the three-year cycle of our Common Lectionary.  Read the rest of this entry »