Today is Pentecost. It’s generally considered the birthday of the church. But because we have a baptism later this morning, I’ve been wondering about whether it’s more appropriate to call Pentecost the baptism of the church. And then I find myself coming back to the concept of new years, so I want this morning to briefly unpick all three images as we think about Pentecost.
Firstly, the new year. As I said at Advent, new years fall all over the calendar, for different things. In the church it’s Advent, liturgically, but of course you could make an argument for Christmas or for Easter. Or indeed for Pentecost.
A new beginning for the disciples on whom the Spirit fell that first Pentecost, a very new beginning.
So perhaps a good time for us to think of as a new year, a time for taking stock, for making or re-making promises. As we renew our own faith and trust in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ through the Easter period, Pentecost brings us the opportunity to renew our corporate faith and trust.
As the Spirit spread throughout the assembled disciples at Pentecost, they were enabled to speak and understand different tongues. Today as the Spirit breathes on us anew, filling us with passion for a God coming to abide with us forever and energise our lives, we seek to listen and to understand those who speak a different language to us.
We seek to hear those who speak a language born of more…
I’m imagining a pretty good slap up meal in the Sims-Williams house tomorrow, as Robin finishes his #livebelowtheline challenge. Because he can. Little to say other than how sharply he has illustrated the reality for us. His reflection on day three reminds us yet again that thankfully for him this is a time-bound exercise and the dreary monotony will soon end, putting him out of his now not insignificant misery. As his creative more…
So it’s day 2 for Robin and other intrepid livebelowtheliners, and – coincidentally, or not – I saw a fascinating tumblr post today. Whilst Robin and others like him share what their £1 buys them, here’s what others have in a week. Having lived in a few different countries, the anthropologist in me was interested in the variation in people’s kitchens/living rooms and cultures, and in the difference of content (lots of meat versus lots of vegetables versus how many bottles versus how many ready meals), not so much the amount. Until, of course, you reach toward the end of the post, when either half the amount stretches round more than twice as many people, or, as in the case of Mali or Chad, where it doesn’t even come close to half the amount…
Robin begins “living below the line” tomorrow. He has posted on his shopping trip to Asda. I’ve been struck as he prepares for this week by how carefully one must think these things out – I wonder whether people used to doing this kind of budgetting ever manage to sell themselves as skilled at it on job applications – or how much better a state the economy would be in if it were they running it for a while rather than people who stop off for a drink after work and buy £50 bottles of champagne just because they can….
But please note Robin’s opening comments before he even starts, more…
Or rather, prayers in thanksgiving for a new path. For finally, after the debates over concrete/york stone, after the head-scratching about why the architects jutted the steps out into the graved area and not make them adjoin a widened path, and after watching one pushchair pushed off the edge already this morning (ahem), today we dedicate our new ramped access into church.
Together with the council’s rather vigorous removal of ivy which confirmed my suspicions about the actual visibility levels of the place from the road in not very long times gone by, though as yet lacking the new pull up banner still on my drawing board, we hope that it might just off curious onlookers to test out the entry and come on in sometime.
I know that most people had accessible entryways ticked off ages ago, but just in case you happen to need them ever, here are the prayers to be offered at the service: more…
The latest welfare reform cuts are rightly prompting righteous outrage and comment and analysis from all quarters. It was noticeable that government ministers implementing changes refused an invitation to see themselves how it is to live on £53 a week. It is possible. Well, yes, it’s possible to survive, perhaps even to live, after a fashion, but hardly into the abundant fullness of life in which people flourish as human beings. And yes, it’s possible, because to do it for a week means you are full of decent food to start with and you return to your situation afterwards. But what if more…
There are more eloquent blogs than this, but I wanted to draw attention to some of them. I’m not the only one, Tom already did so, and though it’s sad that a high profile case has to be so publicised to raise awareness, I’m glad for a brief moment before Lady Thatcher passed away, a loss of a young life made us stop and think.
I’m no expert, no qualifications in mental health, and like most anyone else, not really equipped to feel very capable of ‘coping with’ – helping, supporting – people who walk in the valley of the shadow of death. But there have been some beautiful contributions over the last couple of days that might one day, somewhere, help someone. So I re-offer them.
Somewhere, once, I think I wrote a post on what it feels like to be left, when you’re a victim of suicide. I might have even written more. But a cursory search doesn’t find much mention beyond brief sadness. But with friends who tried and succeeded, and failed, and long conversations with one who tried and failed was helpful in moving on at least a little from one who tried and succeeded.
Mental health awareness is so important, whether we feel qualified or capable or not. We are all capable of reaching out to another as God does, seeking to see God in their face and reflect their worth back. And to try for however long we can, to walk alongside, carrying what of the burden we can.
In the name of the risen and living God, +Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
The other day, a young woman arrived at church on her way to her mother and sister’s graves in the cemetery and ‘on the off-chance’ came to the door. Now the doors were as closed and as black and as forbidding as they normally are, but she got lucky, because the door was actually unlocked because it was prayer group, so she could get in.
She was drawn to us in her need, and we were here and able to respond to that need, for a few quiet moments in church, a candle and someone to pray for her.
She got lucky. You might say. Or actually you might say that when she was in need, Jesus more…
In the name of the risen and living God, +Father, Son & Holy Spirit.
Welcome. Or welcome back. And I choose “welcome back” carefully. Some of you are regular worshippers at this service, or at this church, some have a family connection which stretches back generations and is part of the story of who you are. Some of you are visiting for, if not the first time, the first time since we carried a loved one of yours in to – and out of – church at their funeral. To all of you, welcome back.
Perhaps this seems a strange time to some to celebrate – or commemorate – those friends and family who we have lost. Many churches hold services for the bereaved in November, at All Souls day. But here at St Mary’s, we host a moment of remembering today, Easter Day, when we also say not only welcome back to the decoration of our church which has been missing in the plain-ness of Lent, but welcome back most of all, to the Christ we saw crucified on Good Friday, the Christ we still – no passive watching only – the Christ we still crucify today with our turning away from God’s invitation to love one another, to serve the poor and the weak, to care for the lost and the lonely.
It is in the Resurrection on Easter Day that we most noticeably recognise the hope that threads through our Christian faith. The hope with which we watch more…
Messy Church isn’t on next week, instead the children have been invited in on Good Friday to help build the Easter Garden. I’m not sure you can build the Easter Garden without learning some story, but we’ve not got very long. It will be a bit of a play-by-ear this year. I’d really have liked to guarantee a nice chunk of time and be aware of how many children, and do a proper interactive Stations of the Cross for them, but I’ve decided on a compromise which takes some of the children’s station service and some ideas from assorted resurrection egg ideas (again, so glad for pinterest).
Photos will follow. I am short a cocktail sword, because I didn’t work this out until after it was too late to trust Royal Mail to deliver in time unless I paid an extortionate amount of money for guaranteed delivery. So I shall have to manufacture one for this year. Otherwise, I’m on the way. I still have some knitting and some finishing to do (as well as a few sermons and a funeral address) but hey, nowhavegottheideaithastohappen.