REFLECTIONS FOR PENTECOST SUNDAY

Readings: Acts chapter 2, verses 1 - 21,

John chapter 20, verses 19 - 23.

 

Today is Pentecost Sunday, for me, after Christmas and Easter, the greatest date in the church's year. It is the day the Christian church was really born; and where God breathed afresh into us his life; his spirit. A bit like, a very poorly person being given a blood transfusion that suddenly revives them and gives them a new lease of life.

But today, in order to understand a little of this, l want us to think about cars, motor vehicles. Bear with me as l try to explain a little about the working of the Holy Spirit in us. You see, old cars were very slow, rust buckets that gave off a lot of harmful pollutants. They were heavy and difficult to drive but were often beautiful in their own way. However, today's modern cars have so many features to make them easier to drive, safer and less polluting. My car, for instance, has what we call a catalytic converter on it. It is part of the exhaust that cleans away most of the harmful toxins before they enter the air. [ Old cars didn't have this. ] This can be compared to one aspect of the working of the Holy Spirit. He comes into us, is fitted exactly to us, in order to clean away our internal sins. So one of the first things he does for a christian, particularly a new convert, is to highlight any bad habits and harmful practices we have acquired so that they can be dealt with and with that, begin the process of becoming more Jesus like in appearance, purer, holier but never perfect this side of heaven. That's a good thing but sometimes because we are so stubborn he has to use some problem or difficulties to grab our attention first. Of course, we have to remember, that the exhaust is there, not only to protect those around us, but primarily from ourselves, for the toxins, if not expelled can kill.

Another feature of a modern car is that they have a thing called turbo boost. This means, that if l am overtaking and need an extra injection of fuel for power, the engine boost kicks in. It can be helpful, particularly when going up a steep incline. This is what God can provide us through the Holy Spirit when we are needing extra energy, wisdom and patience perhaps, when we face difficult challenges in life. However, my car is heavy, so from a standing start this turbo boost is slow to react; it is better when on the move. A bit like me, ?rst thing in the morning. I have learnt, like lots of fellow christians, that my day proceeds much better, if l start the day with God, in prayer, meditation and bible study; for then l am up and running and extra power is still available when needed. It's important that l travel light too, for any excess baggage will slow the car's boost down.

 

Now, let me take you back to my early twenty days, when l use to work in warehousing and delivery. There, l used to get a chance to drive a big white Mercedes van. (A white van man) It was great, as you were so high up, you could see all around. However, every morning, in order to start it up, l had to hold up a big black button, which charged something up, then when the light glowed yellow l could ?re up the engine. I needed patience, this process couldn't be rushed; and so it is with the Holy Spirit's work in each of us to. But the benefit was a working engine, unlike the little escort van that used a manual choke; very unreliable that was, it would stutter and stall and conk out.

But the other feature of this big white van, was that it didn't have powered steering, which meant you had to pull and heave the large steering wheel around. Nowadays even huge lorries have this feature and a person can turn the wheel with one hand it's so easy. Again, we do make heavy weather of life, by not letting the Holy Spirit assist us. We somehow, prefer to pull and strain at life when there is this God given feature, (really a person) to help us. Why? And today, most cars even have satellite navigation to aid our direction of travel, if we dare listen to it's voice. This is like our prayer, which the Holy Spirit is again programmed to help us with. It is He who incentivises to pray and gives us the desire to pray and even the words with which to pray sometimes.

However, while these features are standard for all Christians, extra power, like the turbo boost, is always available. But this power is given when we need it most. Most of the time we can run on the normal fuel of the Christian life provided through the power of the Holy Spirit, but when God asks us to do something special for him, or if we are facing a mountain to climb, God will supply; we need not fear but we do need to ask and to trust. The power will come in the most unlike and unusual settings, so be prepared.

This is just what God did (and Jesus said he would do) for these early christians in our readings today. The disciples were like abandoned worn out, rusty cars, languishing at the roadside in need of the rescue services; fearful, unsure how they would get moving again. Well that rescue service arrived with the coming of the Holy Spirit, and He soon had them revved up and raring to go. This time their old models had the new features of Jesus himself built into them; the features of love, tolerance, endurance, forgiveness, patience and courage. Very soon, this model became a world brand leader and conquered the world. And all because, God, through the Holy Spirit (the third person of the trinity), breathed a new fuel into them and added some much improved life style features.

So, let us plug into this power everyday, for it is the very same power that the early disciples used and that so transformed their lives and ministry. Let us not heave and strain and face life's difficulties and uncertainties alone; for we have a friendly, spiritual locomotive human vehicle dealer to help us with every step of each day. Amen.

 

Rev Bryan

 

COLLECT FOR PENTECOST (WHIT)SUNDAY:

Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, Ignite in us your holy ?re; Strengthen your children with the gift of faith. Revive your Church with the breath of love, And renew the face of the earth, Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Please visit the Pentecost Montage provided this Sunday by the Robinson Family

 

A REFLECTION FOR SUNDAY 24TH MAY

Readings: Galatians chapter 5 verses 1 - 6, and

Mark chapter 10 verses 13 - 16.

I hope you will forgive me as l have not chosen the designated readings for this Sunday the 7th of Easter, but God laid something else on my heart. Also, please read the section after the reflection and prayer as it is some important news about the church.

 

You know, it seems to me that a lot of people don't feel comfortable spending time with God, in his presence, because they don't feel worthy enough. They, we, may feel that they are just not holy enough, clever enough theologically, or haven't the time to give as much as they would like to the church in service. Or we may feel that we don't have much to give anyway, in terms of talents, abilities, or that, we have not been successful enough in our relations and or life. We may think that we are just too different to everyone else who goes to church and have different tastes to the people there. But, do you know, none of this really matters to God. He just wants to put his arms around us, to shelter and comfort us. Why? Simply because we are his child - son or daughter. And, like any good parent we don't have to be the brightest and the best or even perfect or particularly religious (churchy or whatever), to be loved by him. He loves just as we are, and with all our faults and eccentricities.

So, I am really glad to be a Christian. It is great being a Christian. Christianity is the best religion in all the world. Why? Because, we are not bound by endless rules and regulations. We ought to rejoice in this fact; that we are free to worship God in a way that suits our personalities and are free to develop our own personal relationship with Jesus. But, sadly, legalism does still dominate in some sections of christianity even today and it shows in the view, that you must do what l do and be like me. Other religions too have a much more prescribed way of conduct; some demanding that you pray for a certain number of times a day, or that you wash or cover your head in a certain way, or only eat some foods. The Jewish people in the Old Testament were prone to this in a terrible way, believing that, by strict observance, they would be holier, purer and thereby earn their way into God's heart. Jesus dispelled this misconception, yet it can still exist in us today. It leaves many feeling guilty and unworthy.

Whereas, St Paul says, it is not so much what we do with the body but whether we are a NEW CREATION IN CHRIST , controlled by love. Jesus never laid down a set of do's and do not's (the Ten Commandments are guidelines for correct living to protect us and others), God wants us to enjoy life, to live it freely and to the full, with him in us; we are free to choose. The only commands Jesus gave us is , ''to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, '' and '' to love your neighbour as yourself.'' 'Love is the turning key, that opens the door, for me to worship thee and to love thee and be me.'

We are saved and live by GRACE and love, not by works or good performances. But again, it seems that some christians like to be weighed down with rules and regulations and burden themselves with this form of self righteousness. But, the real wrong comes when we seek to transfer this heavy yoke onto others coming into the church. 'You must do as l do, be just like me,' whereas, Jesus said, '' My yoke is easy and light to carry.''

So, let us not feel guilty if we have our own way of showing our love to God that is different to others. And, let us not be made to feel bad if we can't reach the standards of others in time spent reading our bibles, praying or in our conduct of life, or even if we prefer a different/ certain type of worship to others; we are free to choose, for no one can see into our hearts, no one has the right to judge us, except God, and what really counts, in his eyes, is if we love him and act lovingly to others, for outward show means nothing, not our wealth, success or lack of them.

Let us then approach God confidently, knowing that nothing bars us from his presence and that he loves us and accepts us, just as we are. May l leave you with this final image. I have loved being a father and now a grandfather; it is a privilege and joy. And one of my greatest memories (perhaps like yours), is, when my children were young, they would just sit on my knee and l would wrap my arms around them and we would snuggle together and just fall asleep or watch TV. No words were necessary, we were one together, a father and child moment. You see, children don't have anything else to bring but themselves and who they are; they haven't any success so to speak of yet or materials to offer. It doesn't matter, because we are of one blood and even if they mess up on occasions my love remains for them just the same. It's exactly, but even more perfectly with ourselves and God, our loving, devoted and eternal Father. So, take a minute, relax in your favourite chair, and just imagine God wrapping his big strong loving arms around you in a comforting embrace and that he's enjoying it, and know that he loves and accepts you for who you are, his child. Amen.

 

A PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you that l can come to you just as l am. I don't have to pretend to be anyone or do anything other that what l am. Thank you that you accept me in your loving embrace no matter what my past has been and that you value me for who l am. Whether l am successful, good looking or not, you welcome me and long to tell me, you love me. Help me to just to come to you in loving trust.. Amen.

______

 

REFLECTIONS FOR THE 6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Readings: Genesis chapter 1 verses 26 end

John chapter 14 verses 15 -21

Like a lot of teenagers and young twenty somethings, l was adamant, that the one thing l would not do, was to be like my parents. Then some 30 odd years later, when l was talking to our baby grandson, Theresa my wife said,'' oh, you sound just like your mum.'' And she was right, l did. Subconsciously l had picked up some of her character traits, and there were many more besides this little expression. Her imprint was indelibly seared into me, a bit like when you look up to the bright sun and close your eyes, you can still see the shape with your eye lids closed. The impression of the women who bore me still lived (as did my fathers), not only in the way l speak sometimes, but in my mannerisms and facial features whether l liked it or not. Perhaps it comes out most in the values and morals she taught too. Her image then continues to live on in me in some minor ways and this will be passed on to my children and their children so that the Dixon image lives on. This is quite a nice thought really, that something (a footprint) will continue to live on in this world, through our children, or those we love, long after we have departed.

Images, both corporate and individual, play an important part in our world today. We can spend a lot of time cultivating an image of ourselves, particularly when younger. Which of us doesn't dress up for an interview; thinking hard about which dress or suit to wear. Which one will present the best and correct image of ourselves. Then, if we are invited out to a cocktail party or to an expensive posh restaurant we want to present a different image to the world, and at home, relaxing another image. Big businesses spend millions on promoting an image; perhaps a family one or one of trust and reliability. Then look at how much time a political party or politician will spend on their image; usually promoting one of strength, competence and caring. David Beckham has carefully, over many years, cultivated a certain image that will increase his worth. Brands also promote an image but some of these images are mere illusions and do not bear out the truth, so we have to be careful.

Which brings us to our bible text for today, from Genesis. After creating the heavens and the earth God then said ''Let us make man (humans) in our image, in our likeness...'' 'So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.' Which means we all have the image of God (or better translated as LIKENESS) residing in us, whether we like it or not. Yes we have blurred this image, likeness, spoilt it through our sin and rebellion. We can try to obliterate, deny it but a part is still there. It is meant to be. We are designed to show God's characteristics, likeness to the world.

You see, God being spirit, is hard to comprehend, visualise. It is why he sent his son into the world, to give his person, a body, shape. But Jesus came, not only to show us what God is truly like, but to restore our damaged image. This he did through his death and resurrection. Then Jesus left so that we, his children could continue to reflect this image, likeness to all the world. That is our privilege and joy.

But we need help because this image has been so badly damaged by the fall. So that is why Jesus promised to send us a helper; the Holy Spirit. (Our second reading from John.) He, the Holy Spirit will help this image of God be more visible in us, but, only if we let him into our hearts, open ourselves up to him. We cannot do this in our own strength or by works or sheer will power; we need the breath of God in us.

Lastly, this image is only ever restored when working in collaboration with Christ's body here on earth - his church. You cannot be a separate entity. Why? Because although people can catch a glimpse of God's likeness in any one person, we need to be added to all the other pieces for the full reflection of God (his likeness) to be seen. It's a bit like a huge mirror that has been broken, shattered into a thousand pieces. Each little piece still reflects something but it's minute, you can only see a small reflection. However, when all the pieces are soldered together by an expert restorer then the mirror can again reflect the full resemblance. The full likeness can now be seen. It acts as it was designed to be, a mirror.

So, let us not seek to cultivate our own image, but seek to re?ect to the world, the very likeness of God, by being open to the Holy Spirit and by being joined to the body of Christ - his church. Then by God's grace and love, and with each other, the likeness of God will be seen more clearly in the world. Amen.

 

A PRAYER FOR EACH ONE OF US:

Heavenly Father, thank you that your DNA is encoded into our being. Forgive us when we distort your like image in us through our sin and rebellion. Help us, instead to embrace this likeness and re?ect it accurately to a world in desperate need. Thank you Jesus that you came to restore and repair this image in us. Help us now through the Holy Spirit to portray it. Amen.

 

Bryan ..

Please do feel free to ring me for a chat or if you are feeling in need of a prayer or just anxious or down

 

 

REFLECTIONS FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Readings: Psalm. 31.1-5, 15-16

Acts. chapter 7. Verses 55 - end

John. chapter 14. Verses 1-14.

As a full time priest, the the one reading that l use most in my work life has to be today's reading from John 14, particularly the the First six verses of this wonderful passage. Why? Well, it is the reading l use most often for funeral services, probably 95% of the time. ''Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms, (sometimes translated as mansion, or dwelling places); if it were not so would l have told you so. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if l go and prepare a place for you, l will come back and take you to be with me so that you also may be where l am.''

Houses are important places for us human beings aren't they? They offer shelter from adverse weather, safety, security, protection. A place to be yourself; to relax and just be who you are. It's a place to bring up a family.
Often, in a house, we have a favourite room. And, as we mature in years, a trait seems to be, that we gravitate to a favourite chair. My parents did this; one each side of a big four bar gas fire that glowed bright orange. Sadly Theresa and l have fallen into this habit too and even when we do manage to sit next to each other, our chocolate cockerpoo dog gets between us as if to say, ''He's mine, hands off.'' There's something comforting about sitting in your own familiar chair, where you can relax, chill out and rest.

So, maybe when Jesus refers to going to prepare a room, a place for us, it's more like preparing a nice, cosy, safe place especially suited to us. For Jesus knows us better than anyone doesn't he? We will not have to compete for this chair, it's already there, prepared, made for us by an expert craftsman. Rooms can be too confining, so it's a place, a dwelling, like a home, for heaven is a shelter from the icy blasts of this world; a place of safety, peace; a place truly to be who we were meant to be. No need to pretend, no masks to wear, no roles to play; just be. And God has done this for us. Why? Because he loves us; he delights to do this for us.

Like, for instance: quite a few years ago now, we enjoyed a special family holiday. A number of milestones were about to happen. I, or Theresa, were about to turn 50, Abigail was due to leave to go to university, Isaac was due to start college and Evie a new school. So, we decided, (with God's help) to have one last big family holiday together; we figured, it may be the last like this for a long while. We went to a beautiful villa in the north of Corfu in July. The weather was wonderful and the villa exceptional. We even had a visit from a beach marten and super yachts anchored within distance. We were blessed indeed. But, my point is, as a father, it
was a delight for me to share this with my children - family. It was better, by far, together.

So it is with God. He delights in preparing a place for us. A super place where we can enjoy our favourite things, activities and where we will share this delight with others; for in heaven, we are all family. It's a place of relaxation. Like when your uptight, shoulder muscles clamped, then you lay out with the warm sun on your back far away from work and it instantly heals you, soothes your body. God's love will do that for us in heaven too. However, l am sure there will be creative things for us to do to, things that re energise us but do not weary us.

However, one great things about this place, heaven - a bit like our homes, hopefully anyway, and unlike work - is that ''our hearts will not be troubled.'' They will be at peace, utterly contented. Which is not like here on earth. Here on earth our hearts so easily get agitated, distracted, troubled. I can start of the day feeling great, on top the world, and then one word of criticism can turn it upside down and throw my heart into turmoil. Or someone, or just something can bring to the foe all my insecurities, that l so carefully keep locked in a cupboard. When these get out depression sets in.

Well, not so in God's house. The heart will never be troubled or anxious again; there my heart will find joy, contentment and peace; it will find it's true home. For this a place prepared for us before the creation of the world, it's there for all who accept Jesus as their saviour and follow him. We will be one big family with, not only those we love, but with all our brothers and sisters in Christ, except all our rough and jagged edges with not be there. Your going to be with the person who loved you into existence and who loves you continually and most, Jesus.

Again, it's like when you meet that one person here on earth; your soul mate; lifelong partner. You've tried getting along with some others but it just didn't work, frustratingly your like magnets that attract but as you come closer you repel each other. That is until you meet THE ONE and instantly (or very quickly) you know you are meant to be together. No longer do you repel the other but as you draw closer together you are joined, connected, bonded by an invisible force. No longer are you two but one. Then it's a joy to share a house, a life together; there' no one else you would want to share your home with.

So it is with God and ourselves. In heaven we will find that we do not repel each other but fit together as one, in a heavenly family and kingdom, a place where God and Jesus are as real to us as our partners her on earth if we have one. And all this has been won for us by God's very own son Jesus. He was pleased to go and prepare a place for you and me and one day he will return to escort us to that place. A place specially made for you and me. Thanks be to God. Amen.

COLLECT FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER:

Almighty God, who through your only begotten Son Jesus Christ have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: grant that, as by your grace going before us, you put into our minds good desires, so by your continual help we may bring them to good effect; through Jesus Christ our risen Lord, who is alive and reigns with you. in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen


Bryan

Rector

 

REFLECTIONS FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER.


Readings: Psalm 23
Acts chapter 2. verses 2.42-end
John chapter 10.1-10 [ The Good Shepherd ]

Today's reading is apt for us who live in the countryside. It is the parable of the Good Shepherd from John 10.1-10. Currently we have an abundance of lambs abounding in the fields; lovely. However, this is such a well told story that l don't want to concentrate on the familiar but instead focus on a little four letter word: GATE.

You see, one of the nicest things about living in England, and in a village at that, is the variety of houses we see. And one of the first things you encounter when approaching a house is the gate. Nearly all of them have one. They come in all shapes and styles, don't they. You can have the little wooden latch gate, often painted in green, brown or blue or a mixture. [Our cat use to perch on top of ours.] You can encounter big wrought iron gates, imposing in stature; proud high, maybe even with an design on, expertly crafted by a skilled blacksmith. Then they are those gates that stand tall, narrow, slim, often leading to a back door. There are also, those magical gates that electronically open as you approach them. Sadly there are also, tired looking gates, worn, battered by the weather, in need of some TLC. Lastly, they are a few, where the gate is off it's hinges altogether, waiting, forlornly to be housed and ready to do it's job.

Gates have an important role to play, don't they? They can make a fabulous statement, like the one l saw on television: a huge double gate covered, painted in gold leaf. Very expensive it was, it led to a paradise of a stately styled home and grounds. But gates are there, mainly, to keep people out and to let them in. They protect and shield but also welcoming you in. They do tell us something as we approach them. Some, even have signs on them saying, 'KEEP OUT' whilst others are permanently left open, enticing you in. If a gate is broken with paint peeling, it may indicate, that the person living there is elderly, ill or away a lot. lf it's big and well kept, it may suggest, that this person is wealthy, powerful or both. So we can see that gates can be fascinating.

But what does Jesus mean, when referring to himself as the 'gate'? [ Which he mentions four or five times in this passage ]. Well, shepherds in his day, the good ones anyway, use to round up their sheep and herd them to a pen for the night; an enclosure to keep them safe from wild beasts and thieves. Except these pens didn't have a fixed gate upon them; the shepherd became the gate and would sleep lying across the entrance. He would, physically be the gate, a gate of protection. Then in the morning he would lead them out to fresh pastures. They would follow his voice only and he would take them back again in the evening.

Which also reminds us, that we need to to listen to the voice of Jesus calling us, leading us. For the beautiful shepherd, [ which is another translation of the good shepherd ] wants to leads us to verdant pastures, where we can enjoy life to it's full. He will not lead us to dry, arid land, if we but follow his call. The trouble is, there are a lot of other voices, false sirens, calling for our attention. But above the din, Jesus, the beautiful shepherd, still calls as ever he did and does; he will guide us, if we but listen and open the gate that leads to our obedience. To often we listen to the alluring voices and end up in a parched waterless place that doesn't satisfy. Too often we have closed the gate of our heart to the one true shepherd.

So, we need to ask of ourselves: what is the gate leading to my heart looking like right now? Are the hinges rusted up, squeaking and stopping the smooth swing of my heart to Jesus; is it in need of the oil of prayer and the grease of God's love? Or maybe my hinges are broken, with screws or bolts missing; not able to function because l have neglected my Lord, concentrating too much on lesser distractions. Or, as mentioned earlier, maybe my gate is not on the hinge at all; standing, waiting for the right day [ that never comes ] for me to lift it onto the hinges. It's not too late, ever, to repair our souls/spirits, by coming to the beautiful shepherd, who will rehang our souls and repair our hearts. He will be our gate; a gate that protects, shelters, feeds but one that also allows us out into the world to serve and nourish others. For we too, can be a gateway - a sign - leading others to the green, green grass of home; to the love of God in Jesus. The gate of Jesus opens to us eternal life and freedom and it is designed to appeal brightly, to welcome, all into God's paradise of love; a stately home of beauty.

So lets make our hearts a gateway of love for Jesus and others to walk through. For this gate, when working properly, will lead to a deeper relationship not only with God but with each other. It will lead to life in all it's fulness. Thanks be to God for the Good Shepherd, [ the beautiful shepherd ], who is the gate that opens the way to His kingdom and to a richer fully life here on earth. Amen.

COLLECT FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER:
Risen Christ, faithful shepherd of your Father's sheep: teach us to hear your voice and to follow your command, that all your people may be gathered into one flock, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

......................

REFLECTIONS FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER
Readings are: Psalm 116, verses 1-3 and 10-17. Luke chapter 24, verses 13-35
.

After Jesus' death and resurrection we have Luke's retelling of the walk to Emmaus. It is such a normal everyday account of two people moaning, complaining, putting the world to rights with one another. They are sharing their frustrations and sadness with each other. So reminiscent of any walk today we might undertake. For the great thing about walking in a group or in pairs, is that you have the time to converse, share and commiserate with each other. Great way to build friendships together.

Now, l could try to tell you, how some of the academic theologians like to think that Luke is partly trying to link this story with the Adam and Eve story from Genesis, where their eyes are also opened upon sharing some food. Is Luke suggesting that Christ is now healing this earlier rift, mistake? But l am not. It is too much to suggest this for me; l think it is the simple recounting of something that actually happened; so l am going to share with you my updated story and hope this speaks to you as well.

For me this story reminds me of walking home after a football match. When l was a teen, l use to watch Hull City play at their old ground, Boothferry Park. After the match we would walk back to the bus station. [ It saved on catching two buses home as l lived at on the wrong side of the city ] Anyway, as l walked home with a friend, we would relive the match, the near misses, great saves, goals. Except at this match, l had missed the winning goal scored just before half time, as l left my place early to buy a luke warm meat pie and avoid the queues.

Walking home we would sometimes be accompanied by a line of Police Officers, shepherding us. Now, just imagine with me this: I am walking alone, with my mate, chatting incessantly about the match. The Policeman is also walking alongside me, silently, never saying a word, just doing his duty. I am moaning and complaining, about how l had missed the winning goal.
When home, a little later, l am in the pub, and l sit next to a man l don't know. We get chatting and he tells me that he recognises me: he is the police officer who was walking alongside me at the match and he was listening to my views of the game. He was there too, he said, and had seen the goal l missed. [ My friend wasn't sure who had scored the goal ether, someone's big bald head got in the way ]; did the ball come off our favourite centre forwards head or the oppositions centre half? It mattered, for if it was our player he would win the Golden Boot award for most goals scored that season. It was our forward the off duty officer said. I was grateful, but, l hadn't recognised that this was the same man, the police officer who had walked alongside me. He opened my eyes and became a friend.

We don't always recognise people straight away, do we, especially when seen in a different context? What this tells us, is that we need to broaden our horizons and lift our vision from staring at our feet to looking to the stars. For, all too often, we
are preoccupied with our own needs, business and concerns, fears and worries and we miss the beauty and goodness all around us. What we need to do, is slow down, walk slower and listen more. For Jesus is much closer on this walk of life than we often realise but we are too busy navel gazing to see as he often comes in another set of clothing. '' Turn and see, and know that it is He; it is He standing close to thee.'' Jesus often stands in the body of a friend, a neighbour or a visitor, if we could but see. And he speaks to us through these people too. He also comes to us personally, in our hearts, if we open them to him, through the power of the Holy Spirit. He, Jesus can be closer than the air we breathe and he will travel with us on life's journey home, happy to listen to all our moans and groans, as well as our hopes and aspirations. We are not along if we could but see correctly, even in our grief. And, even when we are in a time of darkness and frustration, God will reveal Himself in time; He will make things clear. Perhaps one good thing about this lockdown, is that it might enable to walk slower and to listen to those who accompany us in this life more. It gives us time to draw nearer to Jesus too, if we but choose. For remember, it is often in the very ordinary and mundane things of life that Jesus is seen, not in the spectacular. So, He is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

An extra time bit for you if you wish:
Or perhaps you could see this story like this: You have been to a concert - a rock or pop concert - to see your favourite band. And, after waiting for hours with your friend after the concert to get the lead singer's autograph, but failing, you trudge off home. However, along the way a couple of fellows slide up alongside you and you get talking enthusiastically about the concert, the band; their rise to fame and fall again, and how they resurrected their careers once again; and how much you admired the lead singer, for his views on global warming and poverty. At the end of the journey and before departing your own ways, you share a burger together and it is in this that the person walking with you reveals, he is the lead singer of the group, but because he doesn't have all his face make up on, [ like Kiss the group ] you hadn't recognised him, although you thought you knew the face from somewhere. But it was his words that warmed your heart and spoke truth to you. That's just what the bible and the Holy Spirit can do for us too; so please read it on your life's way. Amen

COLLECT FOR THE 3RD SINDAY OF EASTER;
Almighty Father, who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples with the sight of the risen Lord: give us such knowledge of his presence with us, that we may be strengthened and sustained by his risen life and serve you continually in righteousness and truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


God bless you all.
Bryan

 

----------------------

EASTER DAY REFLECTION

Readings: Acts chapter 10. verses 34-43.

Gospel: John chapter 20. verses 1-18.

Alleluia, Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Dear friends, brothers and sisters in Christ; what a privilege it is to say these words with you, and millions of others, on this special Easter day. Although we cannot meet in person, as a christian family in church, [ the first time the churches of this land have been closed since the 1200s when Pope Innocent 3rd forbade it for some reason ], we can say it in our minds, in our hearts or even out loud in your house or with your partner or family if you have one. For this is the greatest of all days in the christian calendar. Yet, the strange thing is, we often forget, even as Christians, that every Sunday is a celebration of this fact. For the jewish community, the sabbath, a Saturday, is their holy day, commemorating the rest of God after six days of creation. But, for Christians, we celebrate the Lord's Day, a Sunday, remembering His resurrection. Every Sunday should be a joyous day where we celebrate wholeheartedly, gratefully, Christ's triumph over Satan, sin and death.

But what does the resurrection mean for us? It means that Jesus is now present everywhere and can be a living presence within you and me. It means that we are never alone; that we have the presence of one who is greater and higher than us, helping us every step of the way, leading us. It means that we need never face a problem, a temptation, a sorrow or undergo an e?ort without Jesus Christ. He is there. How wonderful; how privileged we are. And what hope this brings. And yet, still many today are a little like our two disciples who entered the tomb: they are not quite sure if Christ has risen.

I can understand this doubt. After all the resurrection defies human logic. But the evidence for it would stand up in an independent and impartial court of law. Not only did many then testify to its truth but many more over the centuries continue to witness to this truth. I am one of them, as l am sure you are too. For when l was a young man of 21, l went through a kind of resurrection experience. Though l didn't physically see Jesus l felt his presence in a very real and powerful way. Life for me then, went from, what l call monochrome living, when everything was gray and going no where fast, a real struggle of life, to being found by Christ and suddenly, fantastically, living in technicolor, when l had hope, a future and person to live it with and for. Life was now real and exciting; l had a meaning to exist and a purpose. It was for me, like starting over again. Then, l couldn't have dreamed where Jesus would take me. It was as if, l had been awakened from a long drowsy sleep. Now my eyes were opened wide to the beauty of God around me, to the beauty of creation, and of the love of the people next to me. All these l had taken for granted. Above all, l had Jesus to share my every inner thought with. Such joy l had not known but first l had to believe and then let Him in. I've never regretted it. But this is not just my testimony, it is the experience of many throughout the world, former convicts, gang members, drug addicts, people of other religions and none. And, if you have been brought up to know Jesus all your life, you are even more blessed, as you have known His love always. But my prayer is that each and every person may know afresh this love that Jesus has for each of us on this easter day and that many more who yet do not know Jesus may also come to experience this resurrection in their lives.

So here is my last poem for while now.

A HAPPY EASTER SUNDAY DAY TO YOU ALL.

 
WE SING ~ B.D.

 

We sing the praise
of him who died
who gave his life
that l may survive.

We sing the praise
of him who died
who gave his life
that l may rise.

Not to shame
but to glory now,
to sit in heaven
beside the throne,

where crystal seas
and jewels adorn
the face of God
who lets me see, clearly.

 

 

We sing the praise
of him who died
whose beautiful name
will always survive,

who rose again
that l may sing
with angels
and those cherubim.

We sing the praise
of him who died
who scorned the pain, the apathy,
of then and now and of my sin.

He died that we
may rise,
knighted and honoured
as his next of kin.

We sing the praise
of him who died,
that the name of Jesus
will always reside.

 

Yes, l sing
the praise of him who died
my saviour, brother
and much more beside.

So make him your friend
and you will see,
beyond the limits
of humanity.

Covered in gold
shrouded in light,
in heaven
you will find your delight.

Praise from your soul
and love within
all because of him
who died and rose again.

Jesus is his name!

 

COLLECT FOR EASTER SUNDAY

Lord of all life and power, who through the mighty resurrection of your Son overcame the old order of sin and death to make all things new in him: grant that we, being dead to sin and alive to you in Jesus Christ, may reign may reign with him in glory; to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be praise and honour, glory and might, now and in all eternity. Amen.

Shorter more modern collect for the day:

God of Glory, by the raising of your Son you have broken the chains of death and hell: fill your Church with faith and hope; for a new day has dawned and the way to life stands open in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

-----------------------------------

GOOD FRIDAY REFLECTION

When l was a boy, [ and remember that l didn't go to church as a boy ], l often wondered, why they referred to the death of Jesus on Friday as 'Good Friday?' It seemed an awful day to me as a child. But then, l learnt, it was called good for a reason. Put simply, it was because, although it was a terrible day for humankind and God, as he witnessed the worst of human evil, selfishness and pride, and as he watched - endured - suffered even - seeing his own son crucified; it was 'good' because, it marked the turning point in the battle against Satan, sin and death itself. A bit like VE day during the 2WW. Once that day was done, it really was the beginning of the end of the war, though many lesser battles still had to be fought.
So it is with God's great encounter against evil, against the devil and humanities poor choices. A plan was devised, executed and won, by his son, Jesus, on this Friday, [ point in history ], so that we, all humankind, could be free from the stranglehold of sin, which destroys everything, and the tyranny of death. Jesus won for each of us this victory, on a cross of shame and pain, so that we can follow him into heaven and enjoy a true relationship with God again, untarnished by impurity.


Jesus, by God's invitation, did this for all of God's beloved children. He gave us hope where once hope did not exist. It only remains for us to accept this free, yet very costly gift and enter into his glory. But we must remember to see the big picture on this Good Friday too. For Jesus died not just so that we could have our sins forgiven but so that He could live His life with us and through us. So dare we, have we the will to trust in this saviour who died that we might rise and live now for him? There is tremendous hope in this the blackest of days. ''For the darkness is where you learn to see,'' Bono of U2 sings, so there is ever hope too in our current situation. For God just will not let us go. Good Friday proves this. That's why we call this of all days, ''Good Friday.''

Reading Good Friday

John 18:15-27 ~ John 19:1-end

Here is a poem l wrote for this day, Good Friday, entitled 'Peter Weeps.'

 
EASTER POEM ~ PETER WEEPS ~ B.D.

 

It must have been
a night of torment and despair
as Peter gazed upon
his Lord stood there.
Brow beaten, blood stained,
faced pu&ed and swollen
from the pain endured down there.

A soldiers fist, bare knuckles
exists, a quick flick of the wrist;
a face it smites,
a wooden stick,
a whip,
then spit and hit and hit.
A torture chamber and an innocent man.

 

Silhouetted in this darkest night,
whisps of smoke around a brazen fire,
an amber glow, catches
one side of a man; Peter knows.
Then a glance, a gaze,
a flickering smile, tells Peter,
l know, l understand.

And run my man
then let me know,
when your tears have dried
and you can watch again.
For that look, that piecing
stair will supply
your every need.

 

And Jesus bleeds, sweats,
low bowed his head;
and Peter weeps; howls from deep;
and Jesus weeps
and weeps again,
at the fall of this man
and all human kind.

Peter said, ''l wanted to
stand tall, l wanted to
protect you, l wanted to
be with you, yes right through
it all. But, fear was
stronger than will, now l
regret it it all. The darkness
of those eyes, reveal it all.
In my sleep, in my nightmares,
l see it all."

But light shines in the darkness,
for the darkness
cannot have it all

 

Peter Weeps B.D.

-------------------------------------

 

REFLECTIONS FOR PALM SUNDAY - 5TH APRIL READINGS:

Psalm 118. verses 1-2 and then 19-end. Matthew chapter. 21.v. 1-11

Dear Parishioner,

All God's blessings to you at this difficult time. Some of us were planning to process from church to chapel today but such is life, we will have to process in our minds.

Today's gospel reading tells us about Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem. [Please read it through now before you read the rest of these thoughts.]

The beginning of the passage reads like an espionage thriller. Two secret agents are sent to make contact with a mole, secreted undercover in amongst Jesus' enemies. There is a clandestine meeting where a secret code is shared so that when the top secret agent arrives [ Jesus ], his entry into Jerusalem will run smoothly.


Why did Jesus need to do this? Because he was a wanted man, someone seen as a threat by the authorities. As such, some time earlier he had withdrawn to the countryside where he was safer, so as not to be arrested. But, of course, Jesus had a a special mission to fulfill. He was sent by his controller, God, to overcome an evil enemy and force. A bit like James Bond being sent by Her Majesty's Government, parachuted into a foreign land to disarm a nuclear bomb.


Except when he arrives, people recognise him and come out to cheer him on. This is actually good cover for Jesus at this time, as it prevents the authorities capturing him. So, they wave and cheer heartily and sing his name as liberator, as king?


It reminds me of when l was much younger; in the days when l possessed more hair and few less wrinkles. I was unemployed for a time and had just been to the job centre. On my way back to the bus station, l noticed a large crowd forming. I could see the blue uniforms of the police all around and the barriers going up. People were waiting, anticipating. So l asked a bystander, ''What's happening?'' ''Oh, don't you know, Prince Charles is coming.'' He indeed was, to visit the art gallery, right opposite a statue of his great ancestor, Queen Victoria, who stood proudly, if a bit menacingly, overlooking a magnificently built public toilet.


Anyway, the crowd builds up. Then he arrives, police outriders their motorcycles lead in front and a black polished limo glides to a halt. Out he steps, dressed in his best suit, the future King. He waves with one hand, smiles and is soon inside, while the crowd cheers, shouts and flutter their little plastic flags. However, quite some time later, many of this same crowd will have turned on this prince, after he betrays his beautiful princess, Lady Diana. Now, in some eyes there is anger, hate. He is despised or there is an indifference to him now. But one day he will be king.

It shows just how fickle we human are. And, are we the same with God and Jesus? Our love and support for God can rise and wane, if not quite as often as the tide, it does over the course of a lifetime. Should this perplex us? Not really. It is not unusual. It is all part of our human frailty. Even our love for our partners is never wholly constant, it rises and falls and hopefully rises again over the course of time. The KEY is, constancy. Being there. Not the emotions, feelings at any given time. These are unreliable indictors. Just turn up.


Because, the thing to remember is; God understands this human weakness; He doesn't stop loving us when we struggle to love him or show it. He never stops loving us. His love remains the same whether we are faithful to him or not, whether we sing his praise or not. He waits for us.


So, take heart, we are human. Our emotions do rise and wane but this doesn't effect God or prevent him from loving us. Just turn up, stick with it, for he is going to be king anyway. For Jesus' love wasn't determined by the crowds response: he still had a mission to fulfill whether they shouted his praise, or not, or eventually turned against him. His love, like God's, is the same for us, yesterday, today and for evermore. It has nothing to do with our feelings or whether we are a 007 player or a bystander in the crowd.

Journey with Jesus over this coming week and see how far his love will go.


Bryan


COLLECT FOR THE DAY

Almighty and everlasting God, who in your tender love towards the human race sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh and to suffer upon the cross: grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen


Meanwhile, here are some poems I've written inspired by these uncertain times. Poems are not to everyone's taste and styles vary, so l won't be upset if you don't like them: Look out for the one about the church mouse and the pop song references in the first one, if your young [ or old enough ] to recognise them.

 
SHADES OF WHITE
DON'T STOP

When the world

begins to turn

a whiter shade of pale,

and all that we enjoy

begins to fade away,

don't look back in

anger or frustration,

but turn your heart

prayer and let Him

lead you on your given way.

For remember, it's

still a beautiful day

In this time

of unprecedented fear.

When Coronavirus is all

we ever hear.

Let us not stop

communicating with each other,

through 'WhatsApp',

'Facebook', 'Messenger', 'Text',

whatever you hold dear.

Let us keep on talking

to those far and near.

For your voice

may just give them

some cheer, as hope,

today, is more precious

than warm beer.

~ B.D. ~

 

________________________________________________

REFLECTIONS FOR SUNDAY 29TH MARCH.


READINGS: Psalm. 130, Ezekiel chapter 37. v.1-14, John chapter. 11. v. 1-45.


Dear Parishioners,

l do hope this message finds you safe and well. This Sunday is the 5th Sunday of Lent, and the readings are an excellent set for the peculiar times we are in. (The bible l used for the readings was the New International Version)

The writer of the today's psalm, probably King David, cries out in anguish to God, ''Out of the depths, l cry to you, O Lord; O Lord hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry of mercy.'' David is bereft; he is in anguish; he has sinned and feels that the Lord God is not at all close. So he decides, the best thing is to wait upon the Lord and study the scriptures. ''I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word l put my hope.'' This is wise and good advice for us at this time of crises, when we can do little but wait. But, whilst doing this David never loses hope. For there is always hope when you trust in the Lord. Because David is familiar with the God's nature, he knows that God will put him on his feet again, and that of his nation. For David writes this, ''O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.'' There is always hope in the christian faith and in the Jewish Old Testament. David keeps his hope alive by prayer and scripture reading, even when things are not going so well. So must we.

For there is hope too in our second reading from Ezekiel. Here we see Ezekiel set in a valley [ a vast area ] of dry bones. This depicts his nation, who many years after David's reign, were captured and forced to live in another land. As a nation exiled it felt like all that they once enjoyed and processed had disappeared for ever. They couldn't roam as freely as they once did. They were held captive. When would this nightmare end. Then God sends them a message through Ezekiel the prophet. God sets him in this valley and asks him,''What do you see Ezekiel?'' Nothing but desolation. Then God tells him, that he, God, will breathe life into these dry bones, by his very own breath, and make them alive again. He is saying, through this vision, that this time will end and the people, Israel, will go home again and return to they lives as before. This did indeed eventually happen.So there is hope here too for us today. There is hope for our tired, old and battered nation. We will live again as before and return to normal.

Lastly, in our Gospel reading, we see Jesus weep. Yes weep. He cries for his best friend Lazarus, who has died and for his sisters who he sees are hurting. Jesus weeps with us at this time too, with all who have lost loved ones or whose livelihoods are under threat and and families in danger. But this is not the end, there is always hope with Jesus. For, when he arrives at the tomb, he commends Lazarus to come out, rise and live again. This Lazarus does. He emerges still wrapped in the his grave clothes. Life and death are not barriers to Jesus, only gateways.

This time of entrapment for us will also end. We will rise again as a people and as a nation. For Jesus says in this passage, '' I am the resurrection and the life...and whoever believes in this will never die.''

Easter is around the corner. And with easter there is even more hope. Hope even when the world throws it's worst at us and God. Let's wait and see what easter has to offer us.


Let me us end by saying the collect for the day:

Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered the world: grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross we may triumph in the power of his victory, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen


Please do not hesitate to ring me if you just ned to talk to someone, to pray or if you need something collecting from the shop or pharmacy.

All God's love,
Bryan

Rector.

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