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 Clergy Blogs

Thursday 22nd February

Dear All,

 

Readings: 

So God made the two large lights. He made the brighter light to rule the day and 

made the smaller light to rule the night. He also made the stars. Genesis 1:16 

 

You made the moon to mark the seasons,

and the sun always knows when to set. Psalm 104: 19 

  

 At that time the light from the moon will be bright like the sun, and the light from the sun will be seven times brighter than now, like the light of seven days. Isaiah 30:26a

 

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God is its light, and the Lamb is the city's lamp. By its light the people of the world will walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Revelation 21:23

Reflective prayers: 
Eternal God, whose handiwork is seen in the moonlit night, we praise you for the wonders of your creation. May we, your children, reflect your light in the world and find peace in the beauty of holiness. Amen

 

Loving God, as the moon rises and day turns to night, we thank you for the beauty that surrounds us. Bless us with your presence and watch over us as we rest, knowing that you never slumber or sleep. Amen

 

O Lord, when I consider the moon and the start that you have set in place, I am in awe of your vast creation. May your wisdom and majesty be reflected in our lives as we walk in your light. Amen.

 

Lord, as the moon graces the night sky, may your light shine in our hearts. Guide us through the darkness, and grant us the peace that comes from resting in your love. Amen.

 

Heavenly Father, Creator of the moon and stars, your glory fills the heavens. As we gaze upon your creation, may we be reminded of your eternal presence and grace. Amen. 

 

Music for Worship: Praise Him Moon and Stars written (2018) and recorded (2019) by Graham Kendrick https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GpPoqE2HRU

God bless,

Jane 🙏

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Worship through art: Photo taken at The Festival of the Moon, Winchester Cathedral February 2024

Thursday 15th February

Dear All,

 

Reading: The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.

 

Worship through art:

Salvation painted (2005) by Ron DiCianni. Oil on canvas,

 

 

Reflection: It’s the start of Lent and I thoughts turn from a crib towards the cross.

I find this contemporary painting striking – I still need time to process the depth of what it means and what it might mean for me, especially at this beginning of Lent.

 Throughout the Gospel of Mark, we regularly get significant little personal details about Jesus, not mentioned in the other gospels. Mark writes that ‘with a sigh that came straight from the heart’ Jesus continued to address the Pharisees. At this point in his ministry Jesus had already done plenty of miracles, yet they still didn’t believe Him. They wanted even more signs… When would they have enough signs to believe? What sort of signs did they then need?… It shows Jesus humanity, that he, as we can imagine we would have, sighed in desperation at their unbelief.

 

It seems like Jesus is frustrated! However, he didn’t just get frustrated with the Pharisees, he sometimes got frustrated with his own disciples, when they didn’t grasp what Jesus was teaching them. I wonder if sometimes we are tempted to think that if we had lived in Jesus' time, we would have been moved by his miracles and wouldn’t have doubted him. Sometimes we are judgemental of the Pharisees, and possibly even the disciples… why didn’t they understand what Jesus was teaching them? Tbh, they probably just needed time to let things sink in, to come to terms what they had witnessed; they needed time and space to process everything. And that’s how our faith is - we are all on a journey, a journey which slowly brings us to a better understanding of Christ.

 

We know that through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, he made a way for humanity to be reconciled to God. This reconciliation - not just rescue from sin and its consequences - but also the restoration of a right relationship with God. 

The artist, Ron DiCianni has said, “I am a Christian, cleverly disguised as an Artist”. His self-stated mission is to “Reclaim the Arts for Christ”. I am only just discovering the portfolio of beautiful work he has created. 

 

In this painting, Salvation, we see a young man at the foot of the cross, holding a hammer and nail. He seems remorseful and penitent, maybe realising that it was his own sin that put Christ on the cross, and that it could even have been him who hammed one of the nails. As the young man's realisation will bring him to reconciliation with God – to salvation, so our deepening realisation brings us to reconciliation – to salvation!*

 

Music for Worship: Salvation's Song (2009) written and sung by Stuart Townend and band https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKeu9xH4T_w

 

 

 

God bless,

Jane 🙏

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Thursday 8th February

Dear All, 

Reading: Having made the crossing, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret and tied up. No sooner had they stepped out of the boat than people recognised him, and started hurrying all through the countryside and brought the sick on stretchers to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, to village, or town, or farm, they laid down the sick in the open spaces, begging him to let them touch even the fringe of his cloak. And all those who touched him were cured. Mark 6:53-56

 

Worship through art: A woman touching the cloak of Jesus is a mural painting found in the Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter, situated in the south-east of Rome. from the first half of the 4th century AD. 

 

Reflection: This is one of the first Christian representations of Jesus ever! It depicts the essence of this passage from Mark: ‘people were begging Him to let them touch even the fringe of his cloak. And all those who touched Him were cured’. It may also be the representation of Jesus healing the bleeding woman more specifically. The mural shows how the early Christian communities were particularly taken with the accounts which tell of the healing powers of Jesus.

Following research it turns out that: the ancient term to designate these burial sites is coemeterium(Latin for "cemetery"), which derives from the Greek (κοιμητήριον, koimeterion = " resting place"). This etymological origin of 'resting place' reminds us that for us as Christians, burial is a just a final resting place for our earthly bodies.

The burial sites underneath the ground, were more specifically referred to as catacombs. The word catacomb again originates from the Greek language. It comes from the Greek words "kata," meaning "down," and "kymbas," which refers to a hollow or cavity. Indeed the bodies were buried into carved out hollow recesses deep underground.

Since December we have been reading mostly from Mark and by chapter 6 we sense we are at the height of Jesus’ popularity. People are desperate to meet him,  see him, touch him. We hear that his healing powers are flowing abundantly for everyone, no matter who they are, where they come from or what illness they have. The crowds fully trusted in Him; just touching the cloak would heal them!

Where do we feel touched by Jesus? 

In nature?

In worship?

In the Eucharist?

Where do we seek Jesus?

 

Music for Worship: Broken for me written by the English musician Janet Lunt, published in 1978, performed here by Invitation Music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXmjJsPnNL 

 

Jane 🙏

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Thursday 1st Feb

Dear All,

Reading: The readings at the opening Eucharist of last month’s clergy conference. 

 

Acts 2:42-47: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. 

 

 

Gospel Reading, Mark 16: 9-20: When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.

Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

 

Reflection: At the conference Dean Catherine interviewed Bishop Philip, to help us get to know him a bit better. There were all sorts of questions from the personal to the theological, and all stops in between! The personal and the theological seemed to intersect where his priorities in life and ministry lie, admitting that he cannot help himself when it comes to preacher’s alliteration, he gave us these four words: Listen, learn, love and laugh. We listened to one another and to a variety of preachers and speakers, we learnt and were refreshed, the atmosphere was one of caring, kindness and love and then on the final evening, between the interview with Bishop Philip and night prayer, the comedian Paul Kerensa took to the stage – the final “L” had fallen into place! 

 

Prayer:

As we move into this new phase of our life together let’s pray for our ourselves, our churches and our diocese, you may like to pray the conference prayer:

Loving Lord Jesus,
you called your first disciples to follow you
and gathered them around you; be with us as/when we gather in your name to hear your Word and celebrate your love.


Loving Father God,
in returning and rest we shall be saved,
and your arms are always open as we return to you;
be with us… in our ordinary lives,
and draw us back to the centre of our calling.


Loving Holy Spirit,
you descended on Christ at his baptism,
and led him out into the wilderness to pray;
be with us as we are sent out in Jesus’ name
to love and to serve you in all we do.


Loving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
all praise be to your Holy Name. Amen.

 

Music for Worship: Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me written (2018) Michael Farren, Rich Thompson & Jonny Robinson sung by CityAlight. (The last hymn at the conference opening worship)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwc2d1Xt8gM

 

Jane 🙏

Thursday 25th January

Dear All,

 

Reading: Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
   because he has anointed me
   to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
   and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”  

 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:16-21

 

Reflection: At last week’s conference, Bishop Philip spoke a lot about community, our call to build community where we live and worship, his call to build community for us as a diocese. He spoke to of his role as the curator of the culture across the diocese. He spoke of the centrality of, what is often called, the Nazareth Manifesto (Luke 4) – Jesus’ Spiritual manifesto, what Jesus came to do. Jesus declared this when he visited the synagogue in Nazareth and was passed and read from Isaiah 61:1,2. This was Jesus’ calling, and so is ours too… the good news, the gospel and the heart of our faith and of all we do individually and as a church community.

 

Music for Worship: O Breath of Life words by Bessie Porter Head(1850-1936) Tune by Mary J. Hammond (1878-1964) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmHX5shrzVc

Jane 🙏

Thursday 18th February

Dear All,

Reading: Revelation 21:22-22:5(Bishop Philip’s chosen reading at his welcome service last Saturday)

 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honour of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. 

 

Reflection: This last week has been all about new beginnings: on Saturday afternoon many of us gathered at the Cathedral to welcome Bishop Philip as the 98th Bishop of Winchester… an introduction to what the service would involve is here (hope the link works for those who aren’t on Instagram) https://www.instagram.com/reel/C1t32iYJ4an/?igsh=MmZiZDQ2amQwNzRk

 

The service itself is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBkKfHaHbOs

 

and Bishop Philip’s encouraging sermon at his welcome service on heritage, healing and hope is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPzq0u708_k

 

Then, from Monday – Wednesday, the clergy of our Diocese were invited to High Leigh Conference Centre. The time together was useful, encouraging, inspiring, hope-filled and life-giving. Many of the messages that came through worship, in seminars and from Bishops Philip, Graham Tomlin (our keynote speaker) were about community, the centrality of building community: worshipping communities, communicating communities, communities that are outward-facing. There is no doubt that the refreshing and the hope received will have lasting impact.

 

Music for Worship: None of this of course happens in our own strength – but through Christ in us ALL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwc2d1Xt8gM

 

Worship through art: Andrei Rublev– The Trinity (1411 or 1425–27), the ultimate picture of God in community… AND with a space of each of us individually to join…

 

  

Jane 🙏

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Thursday 11th January

Dear All,

Reading: After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magifrom the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
   are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
   who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:1-11

 

Reflection: What struck you most as you read? 

For me it was the response of those first gentile believers, when they found the one that they, and all of Judea, had been waiting and searching for… they were over-joyed - they were filled with joy. 

The appearance of the star they believed was a portent; it gave them an urgency to leave all they knew and follow, to seek the truth behind the prophecies. So when they saw the star, they were overjoyed: they were overcome with emotion. Matthew writes that: On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. 

This was big, this was life changing, this was world changing.
Their joy of meeting the Christ-child was compounded by knowing that all the prophecies were true, that even the skies had proclaimed God’s arrival; that all they had based their lives on was no longer a belief but a concrete truth. 

The truth of the wise men’s discovery rings down through the generations… the long-awaited anointed-one from God, the Messiah…the saviour of the world.

This is big, this is life changing, this is world changing. What is our fresh response at the start of 2024?
 

Music for Worship: Adore written by  Chris Tomlin sung (2022) by Hope Grace Churchhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZC1cy8hv7E

 

Worship through art: The Adoration of the Magi, painted oil on oak panel by Gerard David (circa 1515) on view at the National Gallery, London

Jane 🙏

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Thursday 4th January

Dear All,

Readings: Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

 

Reflection today is a prayer. On New Year’s Day it is traditional for Methodists to pray the ‘Covenant Prayer’ written by John Wesley himself. 

So shall we pray to the Lord for the coming year in the words of one of the most challenging - and liberating - prayers of all time…

 

I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine.

So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.

Amen.

 

Music for Worship: Be Thou My Vision – recorded 2016 by Audrey Assad

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Optrm7lF16s

 

A Blessing for the New Year

 

 

 

 

 

Wishing you a Happy New Year,

 

Jane 🙏

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Thursday 28th December

Dear All,

Reading: Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Luke 2: 4-6

 

Reflection: No words needed – this song/video gives plenty for reflection and personal prayer…

Do you have room (2022) by Shawna Edwards, sung by April Meservy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjGCahjAUQk

Wishing you a Happy New Year,

 

Jane 🙏

01794 502035

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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