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 Clergy Blogs

Thursday 20th June

Dear All,

 

Reflection: Last Saturday there was a celebration at Winchester Cathedral to mark the 30 years of women’s ministry as priests. It was an amazing service – extraordinary in its mix of celebration of all that has happened and yet also lament for those for whom decisions came too late, are in churches where women’s ministry is still not possible or live in countries where equality is still only a pipedream. (The whole service is here).

 

 

The Rt Revd Dr Jo Bailey-Wells spoke brilliantly – if you ever get the opportunity to hear her speak, do take it! Jo centred her sermon on Proverbs 31:10-31. Proverbs is a book of Wisdom and concludes with a description of “the embodiment of divine wisdom” and Jo used as her text a scholarly translation by Dr Ellen Davis. However, Jo spoke of much more too, including how society as well as the church, the body of Christ, misses out if everyone’s gifting is not used. I thoroughly recommend listening to her talk which you can listen to here: starting at 40:50.

 

Reading: A woman of valour-who can find?

Her price is higher than corals,

Her husband's heart is secure with her, 

and he does not lack booty, 

She renders him good and not evil, 

all the days of her life.

She searches out wool and flax, 

and works with eager hands.

She is like a trader's fleet; 

from afar she brings her food.

She rises while it is still night, 

and provides prey to her household 

and statutes to her young women.

She plans a field and takes it; 

by the fruit of her palms she plants a vineyard, 

She girds her loins with strength, 

and makes firm her arms.

She judges that her trading is good, 

and so her lamp is not extinguished at night, 

Her hands she reaches out with the spindle, 

and her palms hold the spinning whorl.

Her palm she spreads out to the poor, 

and her hands she reaches out to the needy.

She does not fear snow for her household, 

for all her house is clothed in crimson.

Coverlets she makes for herself; 

of fine linen and purple is her clothing.

Her husband is known at the gates, 

when he sits with the elders of the land.

Linen garments she makes and sells; 

sashes she gives to the merchant.

Strength and splendour, her garment, 

she smiles at the day to come.

She opens her mouth in wisdom 

and faithful teaching is on her tongue.

She is watching over the activities of her household; 

she does not eat the bread of sloth.

Her children arise and pronounce her blessed; 

her husband praises her:

Many daughters have done valiantly, 

but you have surpassed them all.

Charm is a lie, and beauty a vapour.

The God-fearing woman is the one who should be praised.

Celebrate her for the fruit of her hands; 

and let her works praise her in the gates.'

(Proverbs 31:10-31translation by Dr Ellen Davis).

 

A Litany to Honour Women:

We walk in the company of the women who have gone before: mothers and sisters of the faith, both named and unnamed, testifying with ferocity and faith to the Spirit of Wisdom and Healing.

They are the judges, the prophets, the martyrs, the warriors, poets, lovers and saints

who are near to us in the shadow of awareness, in the crevices of memory,

and in the landscape of our dreams.

 

We walk in the company of Deborah, who judged the Israelites with authority and strength.

 

We walk in the company of Ruth,

whose steadfast love brought new life and new hope.

 

We walk in the company of Mary Magdalene,

who wept at the empty tomb until the risen Christ appeared.

 

We walk in the company of Phoebe,

who led an early church in the empire of Rome.

 

We walk in the company of Emma, Queen of England whose steadfastness and devotion set in order the New Foundation of our Church.

 

We walk in the company of Julian of Norwich, who wed imagination and theology proclaiming "all shall be well."

 

We walk in the company of Isabella Gilmore, reviver of the Order of Parish Deaconesses.

 

We walk in the company of Mary Sumner, founder of the Mothers' Union and tireless campaigner for social justice.

 

We walk in the company of Josephine Butler, social reformer, who brought honour to women and families.

 

We walk in the company of Florence Li Tim Oi, the first woman to be ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Communion eighty years ago.

 

We walk in the company of Rosamund Essex, the first woman to be licensed as a Reader in the Church of England.

 

Worship through music: Great is Thy Faithfulnes swritten (1923) by Thomas O. Chisholm. Tune is Faithfulness by (1923) William Marion Runyan. Performed by the

Celebration Choir with the Sheffield Citadel Salvation Army Band.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4ox4es

God bless,

Jane 🙏

Thursday 13th June

Dear All,

Reading: 'First of all then I urge that ... prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we might lead a quiet and peaceable life in all dignity... 1Timothy 2:1-4

 

Reflection: Writing in Pray your Part, a 21-day pray guide leading up to the general election, Justin Welby writes, :

“To vote is to have a say in the future. It is one of the ways we express our participation in society and what we want society to be. However, in 2019, nearly one in three of those eligible did not turn out to vote.

In the 'Our Father', we pray 'your kingdom come, your will be done'. As followers of Jesus, we should always be guided by what we see and understand to be God's purposes for the world. Whatever party we support, our vote is an expression of this.

Across the political spectrum, we believe that those who offer themselves for public office need and deserve our support and our prayer. In fact, the Bible urges us to pray for those who make difficult decisions on our behalf; who shoulder great burdens; who, we pray, will carry out their duty with integrity and compassion.

So let us vote, and let us pray for all those who are standing for election and for the future of our country.”

Especially with the candidate’s names having been issued this week, let’s pray:

Guide the leaders of the nations that they may work for the common good,

and strengthen our hearts with a vision of your kingdom.

Hear us, good Lord. Amen

 

Worship through music: We Seek Your Kingdom written by Noel Robinson, Lou Fellingham, Andy Flannagan, Donna Akodu performed by @DonnaAkoduMusic, @LouFellinghamOfficial, @andyflannaganmusic, @Noelrobinsonuk.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Lp2mMpSa1E 

God bless,

Jane 🙏

Thursday 6th June

Dear All,

Reading: The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
   all the kings of the earth will revere your glory…
He will respond to the prayer of the destitute;
   he will not despise their plea.

Let this be written for a future generation,
   that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
“The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high,
   from heaven he viewed the earth,

to hear the groans of the prisoners
   and release those condemned to death.” Psalm 102: 15-20

 

Extended Reflection: It was on this day in 1940 that Winston Churchill heralded ‘the Miracle of Dunkirk’: the successful evacuation of 338,000 Allied soldiers against almost impossible odds. 

This was to be a decisive moment in the Second World War, a miracle of deliverance, and surely one of the clearest and most remarkable answers to prayer our nation has ever known.

Allied forces had been trapped by the advancing Nazi Army with their backs to the sea at Dunkirk. The German High Command had announced that it was ‘proceeding to annihilate the British Army’, and Allied generals had been secretly anticipating the loss of a third of a million soldiers. 

 

NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER: In utter despair, King George VI had taken to the airwaves on 23 May 1940, calling the people of Great Britain to a National Day of Prayer on the following Sunday, 26 May. Grainy old photographs depict sombre crowds responding, lining up across the land outside cathedrals, churches and chapels as millions cried out to God for national deliverance.

The day after that extraordinary national prayer meeting, a flotilla of some 860 vessels – many of them civilian craft – set out to cross the English Channel in a desperate, ramshackle attempt to rescue these besieged Allied soldiers. 

Churchill’s highest hope was to somehow save 30,000 men; just 10 per cent of those trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. He knew that the British flotilla was highly vulnerable to aerial attack, as was the allied army amassed and exposed like a sitting target on the beach at Dunkirk. 

 

THREE MIRACLES: But then came the first answer to prayer: just in the nick of time, unseasonal storms began to batter the coast of France with such violence that the Luftwaffe was forced to remain grounded, unable to attack. 

Then came the second answer to prayer: Hitler inexplicably ordered his advancing ground forces to halt. For three long days the German army simply didn’t move. His generals were furious and military historians to this day remain baffled by this clear tactical error. 

With the Luftwaffe grounded by an unexpected storm, and the German army restrained by its own commander, the Dunkirk evacuations were allowed to proceed largely undisrupted for three vital days from 27th to 29th May when the Luftwaffe finally resumed their attacks.

But then came the third answer to prayer: the storms died down so that an extraordinary calm descended upon the English Channel at exactly the right moment for the precariously overloaded boats to sail back to England without capsizing. 

As a result, by the time the German army finally renewed its attack, over 338,000 men had already been rescued, more than ten times the expected number, including 140,000 French, Belgian, Dutch and Polish soldiers.

 

SAVED TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY: No wonder the events of those remarkable days became known as ‘the miracle of Dunkirk’. In fact Winston Churchill, in his report to Parliament on this day in 1940, called it ‘a miracle of deliverance.’ 

A second Day of Prayer was called, two weeks after the first one, this time to thank God for confounding the plans of a dominant enemy, redirecting the entire trajectory of the Second World War by delivering a third of a million men to fight another day. 

We must be very careful indeed about claiming God’s partisan 

support or overt blessing upon any one side in any theatre of war. But it is without doubt that a series of critical elements in the success of the Dunkirk evacuations lay so far beyond the hand of human leadership that they must either be labelled as luck on a massive scale, or as answers to the prayers of an entire nation ascending to heaven on the very day it all began.

 

ONE LAST PUSH: Exactly four years after the miracle of Dunkirk, soldiers were once again being shipped across the English Channel, but this time in the other direction: to liberate Europe. With the war entering its final throes, King George VI summoned the nation for one last, great intercessory push:

‘I desire solemnly to call my people to prayer’, he wrote in a message printed in every British newspaper:

‘I hope that throughout the present crisis of the liberation of Europe there may be offered up earnest, continuous and widespread prayer. If from every place of worship, from every home and factory, men and women of all ages and many races and occupations, prayers and intercessions rise, then, please God . . . the predictions of an ancient Psalm may be fulfilled: ‘The Lord will give strength to his people: the Lord will give his people the blessing of peace.’

 

Extracted with permission from ‘How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People’ by Pete Greig

 

A Prayer for the Anniversary of D-Day:

Lord of the nations, 


we honour the bravery and sacrifice of those who served. 


Grant us similar courage to recognise and restrain evil in our own day, 


and may those who lead the nations of the world 


work together to defend human liberty, 


that we may live peaceably one with another. 


This we ask in the name of the Prince of Peace, 

our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Amen.

 

Remembering with gratitude: 

through music: Royal Marine Band Evening Hymn, Prelude to Sunset, Sunsethttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpeSjt2gVog

 

Royal Marine Band - Home Away from Home https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyzP2Fe7U-g

 

through art:

Queuing to pray.

 

Victory Over Blindness, realised by artist and sculptor Johanna Domke-Guyot.

Unveiled 16th October 2018, this statue commemorates the amazing achievements of the blind veterans and is a permanent memorial to all those injured in conflict; it depicts seven blinded First World War soldiers leading one another away from the battlefield with their hand on the shoulder of the man in front. 

(Photo taken on Tuesday outside Manchester’s Piccadilly station)

 

God bless,

Jane 🙏

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Thursday 30th May

Dear All,

Reading: For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. Colossians 2:9

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most-High will overshadow you. So, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35

Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1: 9-11

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14

 

Reflection: Last Sunday was Trinity Sunday.

Trinity Sunday is a bit different; it is the only Sunday that neither celebrates an event nor remembers a person. Trinity Sunday is about a theology, a doctrine and, while that in itself can be discombobulating, there is evidence of the Trinity always existing, every present and always modelling good relationship. Although what this relationship between the three persons actually looks like has, down the centuries, been the subject of debate, contention, some intriguing heresies and eventually, on July 16th 1054, caused the split between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic/Western churches!

However, the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit are a fundamental part of our faith, one God in three persons, which we see at baptism and affirm in our creeds each Sunday.

Yet often we feel more at ease with one person of the Trinity than the others. Perhaps we relate best to God the Creator? God at work in the beauty, intricacy and immensity of the universe, or God as a parent, leading, nourishing and upholding, the God involved in both the big picture and the tiny detail. 

Maybe we are more at ease with God the Son? We relate to the stories of Jesus, the idea of God as one of us, who walks alongside, giving practical examples of how to live, how to behave, who is brother, friend, teacher, who shares our struggles, who has led the way through death so that we don’t need to be afraid. 

Or perhaps we may respond most easily to God the Holy Spirit? Maybe we’ve had a very strong transforming experience of God, maybe we’ve had dreams or a strong sense of the power of God to change us, leading us into new experiences and challenges. 

Brilliantly, God isn't limited by our inadequate words to explain the Trinity or our lack of understanding of the enormity and mystery of God. However, God does always long for us to go deeper. It maybe that exploring the person/s of the Trinity we feel less comfortable with might help us to grasp something new about God and help deepen our faith? 

 

Worship through Music: King of kings (In the darkness we were waiting) written (2019) by Jason Ingram, Scott Ligertwood & Brooke Gabrielle Fraser sung in worship by Hillsong Worship.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQl4izxPeNU&list=RDdQl4izxPeNU&start_radio=1

Holy Holy Holy – Songs of Praise from the Albert Hall (2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39ZfrO0UW_s

God bless,

Jane 🙏

Thursday 23rd May

Dear All,

 

Reading: When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs – we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!’ Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’

Some, however, made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine.’

 

  Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

  ‘“In the last days, God says,
   I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
   Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
   your young men will see visions,
   your old men will dream dreams.

    Even on my servants, both men and women,
   I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
   and they will prophesy.
   I will show wonders in the heavens above
   and signs on the earth below,
   blood and fire and billows of smoke.
    The sun will be turned to darkness
   and the moon to blood
   before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
     And everyone who calls
   on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Acts 2: 1-21 

 

Reflection: The story of Pentecost is astonishing; the Church is born from the wind and fire of the Spirit. The wind represents God's power but is also a reference to God's breath: God's still small voice that spoke to Elijah and the very breath that brought life to Adam and Eve in the first place.

The fire of the Spirit that illuminates, but does not consume, reminds us of the burning bush out of which God spoke to Moses and the burning fiery furnace that could not overwhelm Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they were asked to worship a statue of the King.

The remarkable ability of the disciples to speak in different languages reverses the confusion that was brought into the world at Babel, when human vanity and greed created, “warring faction from harmonious diversity”.

Joel's prophecy that one day all God's people will receive God's spirit is a dramatic fulfilled as are all these Old Testament stories and prophecies, when the disciples - thought to be drunk with wine - pour onto the streets of Jerusalem telling of God's love in Christ, drunk on the intoxicating joy of the Spirit. 

A new age began, the church was born and this spirit is available to everyone.**

 

A Sonnet for Pentecost by Malcolm Guite

Today we feel the wind beneath our wings
Today  the hidden fountain flows and plays
Today the church draws breath at last and sings
As every flame becomes a Tongue of praise.
This is the feast of fire, air and water
Poured out and breathed and kindled into earth.
The earth herself awakens to her maker
And is translated out of death to birth.
The right words come today in their right order
And every word spells freedom and release
Today the gospel crosses every border
All tongues are loosened by the Prince of Peace
Today the lost are found in His translation.
Whose mother-tongue is Love, in  every nation.

 

Worship through Music: Spirit Break Out written by Toby Mckeehan / Tim Hughes / Luke Hellebronth / Myles Dhillon / Ben Bryant sung (2011) by Tim Hughes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7t9FH6aRGD8

Someone asked the question this Pentecost – is the unity the Spirit brings to Christians one of the most amazing things ever…

 

**Reflection based on one by Stephen Cottrell -Archbishop of York 

Jane 🙏

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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