Speaking truth to power – a risky business

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday July 11 2024, 2:45 pm

This Sunday’s gospel from Mark is the only part of his narrative that does not specifically include Jesus at all!  Instead, we have a grisly little flashback on the death of John the Baptist, at the orders of Herod.  Herod had been manipulated into delivering up the head of John the Baptist on a platter by the seductions of Salome, the machinations of his wife Herodias and his own fear of losing face before the VIPs of his court and the political makers and shakers of the day.

One of the various ways of interpreting this passage – which is sandwiched between the first sending out of the disciples and their return to Jesus to report on the results of their mission in his name – is to focus on the costliness of Christian integrity and faithful discipleship.  By focusing at this point in the narrative on John the Baptist, we are reminded this Gospel opened with John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness to “prepare the way of the Lord” and calling people of all walks of life to repent and refocus their lives in readiness for the coming of Jesus.  We are also reminded that John’s message was so challenging and inspiring that he was influencing many, and as a result Herod feared him.  Because of this fear, Herod had thrown John into prison. Yet in Mark 6:20 we learn that Herod also recognised John as righteous and holy, and that although Herod found John’s words perplexing, he liked to listen to John.

As Mark takes time to look at the purpose of John the Baptist’s life and the relationship between him and Herod, we are shown the twin aspects of faithful prophecy in the service of God: (1) looking forward in heralding the coming of the Kingdom of God, and (2) speaking truth to power now.  Both are challenging, risky, dangerous actions.  Both are a reality we cannot, if we are honest to God, duck (even if we cannot lay claim to the title of prophet).

Where, then, is this power that needs the truth?  Such power might be corrupt or ignorant, or genuinely seeking advice. We might think immediately of how the Church as institution, or ourselves as individual Christians, can offer Christlike example into lobbying of our politicians and government on the causes of poverty, on working out a humane response to issues of immigration or war, or local justice concerns.  Politicians might like to claim that politics does not do Church, but we, surely, must always say Church does politics.  It is not easy – and at its most dangerous we find martyrs like Thomas a Beckett, Thomas More, Oscar Romero … and John the Baptist.

BUT perhaps we need first to look at ourselves as Christians.  History past and present shows us that the Church can be complicit in the policies and actions of nations.  How can we learn from the example of Christian individuals, like Rev Trevor Huddleston standing up to politicians and Church in South Africa in the struggle against apartheid.   How do we come to understand the motivations behind the relationship of Church and State in Russia or Ukraine and how that affects the lives of ordinary, everyday people caught up in war.  What are the questions that could turn our assumptions upside down?

We might look at how our own actions as Church are worked out – or perhaps called out – through the labours of local congregations or national Synod around how the Church should invest for protection of the environment or human dignity. We can challenge ourselves on we model love of God and love of neighbour as we engage in the daily demands of God-thinking and of being Christians in our contexts of home or work or wherever.

I wonder where we find ourselves within this scene in Herod’s palace, inserting itself day by day as a challenging spotlight on our motivations and fears into our striving to be faithful disciples and responsible emissaries for Christ.

Lucy G

Image: The death of John the Baptist by Rubens.  Netherlands Institute for Art History, ID 37886

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 14th – 20th July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday July 11 2024, 9:15 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

My power is made perfect in weakness [2 Cor 12:9]

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday July 4 2024, 2:43 pm

Life is challenging.

It is challenging personally and on the grand scale of global problems. Who does not feel fearful, weak, and inadequate at times when faced with wars, climate change, serious illness, political upheaval and even difficult elections at home and abroad? What can we do, small as we are, to influence problems that seem insoluble for world leaders or medical experts?

But our recent Bible readings have shown us Jesus’ response to impossible situations in daily life .

We have seen him heal a woman with bleeding for twelve years, who was beyond the help of her doctors, knowing ‘power had gone out from him’ when she touched his clothes; raise the daughter of Jairus back to life from death; and calm a storm that was overwhelming experienced sailors on the lake, with a word of power.

Jesus came to the world fully human, laying aside his equality with God. He worked through the Holy Spirit in him and through faith in God his Father.

This weeks readings show us how we too can do far more than we feel adequate to do if we put aside our efforts to act in our own strength to control situations and instead, turn to God in faith and prayer asking for his help and power.

Ezekiel 2:1-5 tells of a man, called to speak God’s word as a Prophet, to reprove the rebellious nation of Israel. Only when the Holy Spirit came into him was he empowered to even stand before God and listen to his calling, and then obey it.

Psalm 20 tells us to appeal to God for his help and support and assures us he will give it, and to trust in God’s power not earthly might.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9 even St Paul was told that God’s power is made perfect in weakness, and so to depend on God’s grace to manage an affliction he was given to save him from pride, rather than being healed.

In Mark 6:1-13 even Jesus encountered doubt and ridicule being seen as only the carpenter getting above himself, when he taught in his home town. He left, to teach in other places where he found more faith in his name and his words and could do more miracles. He sent his fledgling followers out to do as they had seen him do. Inadequate and fearful as they felt, he told them to depend entirely on God taking no means of support for themselves, and to move on where they were not received.

So we can be sure that we  can also do whatever God calls us to do, if we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit in us. 

We can also see that we are not responsible for the way our words or actions are received, but only for obeying our calling with faith in God’s power working through us. 

Neither need we be deterred by mockery or ridicule, as even Jesus suffered this; and Paul, in Philippians 4:6-7 assures us we can experience peace in the most difficult circumstances if we hand our fears to God who empowers, loves and cares for us always.

Steff Stott

Photo by Rosie Sun on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 7th – 13th July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday July 4 2024, 9:40 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Garden Spirituality

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 27 2024, 2:23 pm

We all love gardens. That is one space we love to be in! And many of us are happily opening up our gardens and sharing their mystique and beauty with others. Actually, I think gardens could also be seen from that deeper and different angle – as places where we can slake our thirst for Beauty and God!

The ‘garden’ is one thing; however, we often take for granted without really understanding its incredible spiritual potential. Immersion in the delicate, subtle beauty of a garden might be your first step to a ‘God Experience’ quite unlike in a church building! The ‘garden’ presents a tiny, but tangible, image of our visions of what Heaven might look like or feel like. It also presents people with an opportunity to create something beautiful. While in a garden, our inner chip seems to fall in place and we feel wholesome, integrated and even healed! It is like we have had an experience of the love and beauty of God. We remember William Blake’s poem Auguries of Innocence:

“To see a world in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour.”

Please don’t be shocked when I say that gardening is one simple, ordinary way for people to pray and to experience God. No direct evangelism! No mission preaching! No sermons! The garden speaks for itself. Goodness, like Beauty, is self-diffusive. It is a sanctuary where the flowers and plants, in all their hues and colours, whisper and inspire sentiments of a spiritual nostalgia. They tug at our heartstrings! Actually, that inner ‘whisper’ is a hidden and unspoken thirst we have for God, the Ultimate Beauty, Summum Bonum (The Highest Good) in the words of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Practically speaking, ‘gardening’ and ‘gardens’ can be excellent opportunities for nurturing friendship, fellowship, quiet leisure and even spirituality. Lovely gardens, some having spiritual corners, encourage reflection, prayer and silence and can help  healing of senses and spirit in our broken, wounded world.

We read in the Book of Genesis that the Holy Spirit of God ‘filled the universe’ at creation. Gardening is like walking on holy ground. It is a creative and spiritual activity that heals and nurtures! There you go! You encounter God even in your back garden!

Have a memorable and blessed Summertime!

Fr Sebastian on behalf of the Ministry Team

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 30th June – 6th July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 27 2024, 9:44 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

DISRUPTION, RESCUE AND OPEN TO ALL

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 20 2024, 3:17 pm

This week we revisit the disciples terrified and all at sea, as Jesus calms the storm. As they sail across the Sea of Galilee, Jesus – understandably worn out with all his teaching to the crowds and efforts to open the minds of the Jewish leadership – is sleeping.  Suddenly, an exceptionally rough storm blows up and threatens to swamp the boat.  The disciples cry out to Jesus, who rebukes the storm and orders the wind to be silent. Interestingly, Jesus uses exactly the same terms here to cast out the power of the storm as Mark has recorded him using to rebuke, command silence and cast out the unclean spirit from the man in the synagogue. (Mk 1:25) Immediately, there is a great calm; but no such calm in the minds of the disciples, who are confused and disturbed at what they have just witnessed and what it reveals to them of who Jesus is!

Mark’s Gospel is full of this sense of disruption of the expected, and of the overthrowing of flawed power or unhealthy understanding, to bring people face to face with the power and presence of God revealed in Jesus. Up to the moment of this episode at sea, Jesus had been on a preaching tour of Galilee, during which he had done healing miracles and had been casting out demons or unclean spirits.  Jesus’ teaching is disruptive, threatening the powers that work against God’s will, challenging the norms, pushing beyond the parameters of traditional practices and hopes, and pointing to what it means for the Kingdom of God to come near.

We saw last Sunday, in the parables of growing seed, how the Kingdom of God may have tiny beginnings, but God grows it outrageously, mysteriously and beyond the limited understanding of human minds, and opens its borders to all who would find a home within it.  In this Sunday’s passage, we see Jesus pushing boundaries again, choosing to cross to ‘the other side’ of the lake away from the Jewish communities of upper and lower Galilee, to enter the gentile-dominated Graeco-Roman Decapolis east of the Sea of Galilee. There he continues his mission to spread the good news.  Perhaps the sudden storm was not just a natural phenomenon but brewed up by the agency of what Paul (Ephesians 6:12) describes as the cosmic powers of this present darkness, … the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, in an attempt to thwart Jesus in this mission? Often in Mark’s Gospel, it is the unclean spirits who recognise that Jesus is the Son of God while humans fail to see this.  Jesus’ very first action on disembarking is again to cast out unclean spirits, this time from Legion into a flock of swine.  And although – in response to local pleading – Jesus then leaves, Mark tells us that the swineherds and the healed man both carry the word onwards, Legion proclaiming Jesus around the Decapolis. 

Overcoming the terrible storm, Jesus saved the disciples and revealed himself further to them, foreshadowing his saving grace and nurturing the seed of faith planted in them.  Crossing the barrier of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus broke through divisions between Jew and gentile, spreading further his healing and planting more tiny seeds from which the good news would burst out.  The Kingdom of God has no borders, and there is room for everyone, for those still discovering Christ and for those who are most damaged and despised, to be ambassadors for Christ. 

Help us, Lord, to hold steady for you in the midst of all that terrifies us and overwhelms us, disrupt us from our comfort zones, and keep us working with you to spread the good news of your Kingdom.

Lucy G

Image: Christ calming the water by James Ensor,1891. In the Kunstmuseum aan Zee, Ostend.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 23rd – 29th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 20 2024, 9:44 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Trust in the mystery of Kingdom growth

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 13 2024, 2:15 pm

I wonder, do any of you remember the nursery rhyme:

Oats and beans and barley grow,

oats and beans and barley grow;

neither you nor I nor anyone know

how oats and beans and barley grow.

When I was small, I loved that rhyme, with its actions – the farmer stamping feet and turning round to view the land – and the mystery of the growing crops as the farmer goes through the cycle of tending and harvesting.  I don’t remember where I first heard it, but perhaps one of my farming grandparents introduced it.  It was one of the collection of rhymes I later often used, as a librarian, at children’s story times.  

This mystery of the growing crop is used as the image in one of the parables Jesus told to communicate the nature of the kingdom of God, in this Sunday’s gospel reading. This parable is only in Mark’s gospel (Mk 4:26-29).   It is a curious little parable, using a farming metaphor which would have felt familiar to many of the crowd listening to Jesus.  Yet it challenges assumptions about how such a metaphor would work.  It is not immediately obvious whether the listener is invited to identify with the farmer, or the crop, or neither.  The parable seems to suggest that after sowing seed, the farmer has no more involvement until harvest time, which surely would not ring true to those used to the hard graft of tilling and weeding and tending crops. Perhaps God is the farmer, sowing the seeds of the kingdom which will then grow to fruition, whatever humans do or don’t do.  But God would know just how and why the seed sprouts and develops. Perhaps we don’t need to push the metaphor too far, but just acknowledge that kingdom growth is in the hands of God, something beyond human control and understanding, and that in God’s own time it will ripen fully.  We, like the farmer, must be patient and allow – indeed, expect – the kingdom grow in its own way (God’s way) and have confidence that it will turn out according to his plan. 

But this does not mean we sit back and do nothing. In Mark’s gospel, when he reports Jesus telling parables, he often records how Jesus urged his audience to be all ears, to pay attention: ‘Let anyone with ears to hear, listen!’ (Mk 4:9)  We have to have faith in the mystery of the parables Jesus told, and to seek the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to enable our understanding. Even while the parables are simple, recognisable and evocative at one level, they are deliberately mysterious and hard to grasp at another level.  Just a few verses earlier (vv11-12a) than this parable of the growing seed, Jesus told his disciples,

 ‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that “they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand.

Pondering this, I am transported back to my librarian days again, helping parents to support their children learning to read, and I wonder if you too enjoyed and shared, for example, Briggs’ The Snowman, Spiers’ Rain, Baker’s The Window, or Lehman’s The Red Book? The significance here is that these are wordless picture books, a perfect way to grow language and understanding by exploring and talking together about what is on offer in the images. 

In the same way, the parables offer us wonderful pictures to help us move outside the knowledge and context we already have, and draw us in to how Jesus plays with these ideas and turns them round to open up new ways of thinking. We need not be alone in this task of listening and exploring: we have the guidance of the Spirit, and we have the opportunity to keep on discovering new things as we talk over Jesus’ stories together. And we know that even though Jesus had ‘given the secret’ to his disciples, they continued to struggle to ‘get it’, and Jesus was endlessly patient with them. He will be patient with us too, as we strive to grow in understanding and trust.

Lord, we thank you for your parables and your patience; give us ears to hear you and insight to understand.

Lucy G

Image by Eliza, from Unsplash.com

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 16th – 22nd June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 13 2024, 9:34 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Positive Change

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 6 2024, 3:05 pm

Our readings this Sunday are about change, the drivers behind that change and the hope and power for positive transformation.  In Genesis chapter 3 we read of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, caught out by God in their guilt.  Their response was not grief and repentance but to enter into the blame game.  They wreaked human damage to life within the paradise God had created and in which they had been given a special place as stewards of this creation.  By their choices, Adam and Eve broke their relationship with God. Human greed and willingness to be led astray by Satan brought about a devastating change which cast a long-lasting shadow on the world. 

In Mark’s Gospel, chapter 3, we see Jesus transforming suffering and broken understanding, bringing to the hungry crowds a glimpse of the power and hope of a restored world and relationship with God.  Jesus offered change and was not backward in challenging those in power. And those in power feared that change and accused Jesus of being possessed by Satan, shifting the focus away from their own failures onto blaming Jesus.  Even Jesus’ own family misunderstand him and thought his behaviour crazy. Perhaps they came in loving care to take him away for his own protection; perhaps they were angry that he seemed to be sidetracked from what they felt was his responsibility as head of the family, or were they afraid at the risk to them that his actions might pose?  Within the limitations of their family perceptions, they tried to change Jesus’ mind, and he responded by opening up and transforming what it means to be family: “whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

As we meditate on these passages, we also enter The Great Big Green Week this Saturday.  In this week we are brought face to face again with the damage we have done to God’s beautiful creation and the behaviours we continue to perpetrate that extend this shadow over the world.  We are challenged to recognise all the hurts to the environment and to the lives of others that we bring about by what we do and what we fail to do on a daily basis, through our own desires for convenience, comfort, belongings, etc.  We are challenged to confront wherever we pass the buck on changing our own behaviours or on demanding change at institutional or political levels.  It is not enough to lament or blame.  We are called to show that we are brothers and sisters of Jesus by living out his love and taking seriously God’s charge on us to care for his creation.

This year, the Great Big Green Week invites us to be part of this action by scrutinising wherever we might be wasteful, by thinking about the impact on others of all of the production chain of what we use, and by being proactive in recycling in all sorts of ways. 

What will you do this week to be creation stewards and to make positive change?

May God bless you in your efforts!

Lucy G

Image from https://greatbiggreenweek.com/resources/

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 9th – 15th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 6 2024, 9:22 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer 2nd – 8th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday May 30 2024, 10:44 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Trinity: the dance of love

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday May 23 2024, 2:19 pm

Recently, I wrote about believing the unbelievable. What do we do when the thing which we know to be true with every fibre of our being is also something which is almost impossible to explain and certainly impossible to prove empirically to others around us?

The Christian concept of the Trinity definitely fits into this category! God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: three persons in one. Distinct, and yet united. Indivisible and yet in relationship with one another. People have used all kinds of metaphor to try and explain this seeming paradox, from the three leaves of the single leaf of the clover, to the way in which water can be solid, liquid, or gas.

For me, one of the best metaphors is that of the dance. The dance brings all the dances together into unity and into relationship and yet they are all dancing as one. That sense of relationship is at the heart of God.

We often say God is love, but love is impossible without both a lover and a beloved. Love implies relationship and more than one. But there is more. Not only do we have to have lover and beloved, we also must have the person with whom we can share the fact or existence of love. A third person is needed to observe the relationship between the other two in order to bring it into its fullness. Love cannot be fully itself until it is both felt and voiced between two persons and at the same time observed and acknowledged by a third person. Perhaps it is for this reason that the God whose very nature is love is three persons and not merely two. By expanding the relationship out to three it becomes inclusive rather than exclusive. A relationship between merely two persons is inward looking. As soon as we had a third, the relationship becomes outward focused and creative within itself.

Relationship is creative, whether that be the mother-father relationship that creates the child, or the business relationship which allows a creative project to flourish. Human beings are essentially creative, and that is one of the key tasks with which we are entrusted by God. It’s also one of the ways in which we bear the divine nature, in our ability to create. We are invited to become co-creators with God in this beautiful world which he has made. We are invited to discover its depth and complexity and to help it flourish. 

On May Day, I watched the children at Buckland School perform their annual May pole dance. The May pole itself had three elements – the base, the pole, and the ribbons. Each child had a ribbon and each had a unique place in the dance as they wove in and out amongst each other to make the plait. Each person might have seemed insignificant in and of themselves, but each person had a vital part to play to make the whole function properly. It seems to be a good metaphor for how God as Trinity comes together and invites us into the dance of life and creation, each one of us unique and vital, each one of us creating a part of the whole; and the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. 

Blessings,
Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 26th May – 1st June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday May 23 2024, 9:24 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

What is Church?

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday May 16 2024, 2:15 pm

If I asked you the question “what is Church?”, the image likely to come to mind is of an ancient stone building, probably from the middle ages, with stained glass windows, a tall tower, and possibly some bells. It’s a very English answer, and of course the answer will change depending where one is. But there is genuinely one answer which crosses all boundaries and all cultures and transcends all time.

The answer is found at Holy Communion whenever we celebrate it: we are the Church, the Body of Christ. All those of us who gather together to worship God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who share in the Body and Blood of Christ at Holy Communion, are the Body of Christ. The Church is the people, not merely a place.

That is not to say that place is not important – it is vital. To have a place to gather together, to remember, to be with one another is absolutely essential. Human beings are very physical creatures, and we would be foolish to underestimate or ignore that fact. The physical building of the church, especially the ancient ones, have a place in our collective English memory and imagination that is almost beyond rational explanation. Even those were who would not come to church every Sunday, who might come only for Christmas, for baptisms, weddings, or funerals, love their local Church very much. It’s important to them. And they support it in so many ways, as we see so clearly in our various rural communities in this benefice.

This Sunday, at Pentecost, sometimes called the birthday of the Church – when the Holy Spirit came down upon those first disciples in Jerusalem, and the Church was born, we celebrate the completion of roof works at the church of St Mary the Virgin in Buckland costing over £1 million. For a small village of around 500 residents, this has been a massive achievement! Nine years of hard graft has ensured that this church is no longer on the Heritage at Risk Register, and we are finally in a position to begin thinking about interior creature comforts such as heating and plumbing. 

Whether the church is a place or a gathering of people or both, it is the presence of the Holy Spirit within that brings us to life, gives us courage and faith to reach out in love to one another; and it is being fed with the bread and wine of Christ’s body that binds us together into one Body and makes us holy. We are loved by God, we are redeemed and restored by Christ, we are enlivened by the Holy Spirit. We are the Church, the people of God. 

Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 19th – 25th May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday May 16 2024, 9:29 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Telling the Truth?

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday May 9 2024, 2:15 pm

“But I am telling the truth! Honestly!”

All of the hardest things in life I think is to be telling the truth and not be believed because the truth is so in-credible.

We live in a world where we often take lies, half truths, and obfuscations as an accepted part of public life in particular. I don’t know anyone who actually expects politicians to tell the truth and not attempt to give half answers. Public life no longer seems to require honesty, but thankfully private and personal circumstances still do require honesty, truth, and integrity. Real relationships always do need this, and without it, the relationship very quickly fails. 

The difficulty comes when the truth which we know in our hearts and in every fibre of our beings is something which is so unbelievable that others are tempted to call us liars.

I’ve come across this before, particularly when it comes to seeming miracles. Something amazing has happened, for example a miraculous healing at a church service. My friend tells me about it, but I wasn’t there and I didn’t see it. It stretches the bounds of credibility and definitely passes the bounds of science and anything we could expect in the normal course of things. But the person who has told me about it and who did witness it is somebody who I trust to tell me the truth. So what do I do with that? Do I trust the person who tells me, because I know them to be a truth teller? Or do I trust only what I “know” to be true and possible in the normal course of events in this world?

This question of trust and truthfulness is, I think, at the heart of coming to grips with so much of how God works in our lives. God works differently for each one of us, and most of the time God does work within the normal bands of the laws of nature and science, but sometimes he steps outside of them and confound all our expectations. Ascension is one of those moments, when Jesus was raised up bodily to heaven. Pentecost (next week) is another – when the Holy Spirit came upon all of those first disciples and they were empowered to speak with courage and boldness, where before they had been shy and frightened.

God is found in the very ordinary and the very mundane, in the peace and beauty of the spring garden and the ordinariness of the hedgerow flowers, in the joy of a cup of tea with a friend and a quiet conversation. God is also to be found in strange and seemingly miraculous coincidences and weird happenings that bring unexpected and unthought-of blessings. As we consider the reason Christ who rose to heaven at the Ascension in front of his followers, having only days before cooked and breakfast at the side of the lake, let us rejoice that, as George Herbert said, we can find  “heaven in ordinary”. 

Above all, when we encounter God, may we have the grace and the courage to tell the truth of that encounter no matter how unbelievable it may seem, for it is in sharing this good news that we bring hope and blessing to others, and enable them to see, and experience, and name God at work in their lives too. Nobody said it was easy, and sometimes we are not believed. But when that happens, hold fast to what you know is true, and the truth will (in the end) set you free. 

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Karl Magnuson on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 12th – 18th May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday May 9 2024, 10:28 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Journeys of Faith

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday May 2 2024, 2:52 pm

Journeys are all kinds of things: exciting, challenging, adventurous, daunting. They can be long, they can be short, they can be mundane, or they can be life changing.

This Sunday we will be welcoming two children into the family of faith as children of God in St Mary’s church in Buckland. We will also be celebrating the start of their faith journey, as their parents and godparents make solemn promises to bring them up in the Christian faith, and we as the congregation promise to support them in that.

The Christian journey is all about learning our identity as beloved children of God, reconciled to God and to one another in Jesus Christ. It is about learning how to live as God calls us to do, a journey towards becoming our best selves, becoming the people who God created and intended us to be. To say that “life is a journey“ is such a cliche, but it’s also absolutely true! When we look back at ourselves in the past, and take a trip down memory lane, sometimes there is a smile upon our faces, and sometimes the memory is Incredibly embarrassing. We grow, we change, we transform. What we become is in large measure, determined by our attitude and approach to life, and our willingness to take risks, to be vulnerable, and to love and to be loved.

Recently, I began listening to Lord of the Rings, read by Andy Serkis. I’ve read the book many times, but this is a new experience, and I’m noticing things in a new way. At present, I am journeying with the Company of the Ring across the land of Hollin, and we’ve just begun the ascent up to the Redhorn Gate, attempting to cross the mountains above Moria. The snowstorm is swirling, they are about to have to turn back and find another way through.

So often the path which we thought would be the best turns out to be fraught with difficulty, or even impossible, but that’s not to say that the alternative is going to be easy. What may seem to be disaster can be turned into something positive if we allow it to be .

Above all we do not journey alone – God is with us. The God we encounter in Jesus is one who understands tired and blistered feet, who knows weariness and pain, and he knows what it is to have to take a journey into the heart of darkness. We have a companion, who will help us shoulder the load, and support us when we falter.

Baptism is a time of celebration and joy, but I think that those setting out on a journey are well-advised to pack for all eventualities, because the sun does not shine every single day, nor indeed would one wish it too – if it did you’d swiftly run out of suncream and not have enough to drink! Life is full of joys and celebrations, especially if we open our eyes to see them and are determined to find things to be grateful for and to thank God for each and every single day. However, we also need to acknowledge our pains and our struggles, and allow our brothers and sisters in Christ – the family of the Church – to help us and to bring God’s healing to us. The journey cannot be attempted alone.

So to my fellow pilgrims on this journey of life, as we travel with Jesus as our companion, let us celebrate these new members of our company this Sunday, and let us continue to encourage and support one another every step of the way.

Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 5th – 11th May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday May 2 2024, 9:06 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Photo by Mayur Gala on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 28th April – 4th May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday April 25 2024, 9:44 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

The Cornerstone

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday April 18 2024, 2:15 pm

“Christ is made the sure foundation; Christ the head and cornerstone.” So the hymn by Henry Purcell goes. Psalm 118.22: the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a carpenter, Jesus had a good understanding of building, and used such metaphors in his teachings. Far from being hard to understand, Jesus focussed on using words and images and stories that the people around him would get and be able to see in their own lives. Perhaps that’s part of what made him so beloved by ordinary people, and so hated by the powerful elites.

When one begins a building, there is a foundation stone, and it’s often at a corner. That cornerstone lays the line for the rest of the building. I like sewing and making things – when laying out the material, if I don’t lay the corners right, the whole thing is ruined. When I do lay the corner right, then minor issues tend to be straightened out automatically, or at the very least become visible so they can be sorted!

Jesus is himself the cornerstone of our faith. If we lay his teachings as the foundation of our lives, then most other things flow pretty well from that. Loving each other, wanting the best for the other person, always speaking truth, honesty, integrity. But it’s more than just good morals or ethics, more than “being a good person”. For being “good” needs to be anchored in a reason why goodness matters. If we don’t know why, over time the what slips, becomes diluted or amended to suit the current need, fashion or moment.

Foundations that move aren’t all that great. They need to be solid enough to withstand the tests of time. The building above also need to have sufficient flex to deal with earthquakes. But the foundation itself must not actually move. The foundation that is Christ is Love in action, the very nature of God revealed in humanity, taken to its uttermost conclusion, in death and resurrection, is the foundation of the Christian life.

We love others, because He first loved us. Without the second clause to anchor it, the first clause of that sentence can become wishy-washy. What is love? What does it look like? What does it mean? The answer to all of those questions is in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God incarnate, the foundation not only of our faith, and our lives, but our very world and all existence.

Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 21st – 27th April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday April 18 2024, 10:04 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you.”

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday April 11 2024, 2:18 pm

It is now three years since a small group across the Deanery has been coming together on Zoom on Wednesday mornings to pray for the Church in our area and topical issues.  Each week we pray for our clergy and ministry teams, and we focus in particular on one benefice and its work.  We pray for matters that are part of our Deanery Mission Action Plan; for our communities, our schools, children and young people; for the environment, and for other concerns as they arise.  This week, for this third anniversary, we were blessed to be joined by Bishop Gavin.

Each week, in a world that is suffering conflict and hurt now and will continue to suffer in the next week, the group prays for peace.  What is this peace for which we pray?  It has to be more than simply an end to war. Dorothy Thompson, pioneer female journalist, campaigner and champion of both Jewish and Palestinian refugees, identified in 1945 peace as “a positive condition of justice. It is the sister of charity and mercy. It is the offspring of honesty and truth. It is the triumph of principle.”  We might be reminded here of the passage out of Isaiah 61 verses 1-2 from which Jesus read in the temple and explained was fulfilled by him:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
        to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
        to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

Peace in the world requires our active commitment and cooperation, our work to put right broken situations and to heal relationships; but time and time again, we see that is not enough.  Real peace depends on our depending on God, and being part of a community, a sharing, of God’s love in the midst of worldly troubles.

In all the confusion, wonder, fear and doubt that the disciples were experiencing in the days following the death and resurrection of Christ, “Peace be with you” was the first thing that Jesus said to them when he appeared among them. Was that simply a greeting – or something much more?  That Jewish greeting ‘Shalom’ is a blessing of deep wellbeing. The World Health Organisation describes wellbeing as “the capacity to cope with life and to contribute fruitfully in work and community.”  It is about flourishing in relationship with the world.  But Shalom is more than this; it is spiritual peace – an inner and outer joy, and being in a state of reconciliation with God and each other.  It is about being centred and rooted in the God-peace which is in the eye of all the storms of life.  When Jesus was preparing his disciples for their doubts and fears after his death and for their life as apostles, he warned them, “I’ve told you this so that my peace will be with you. In the world you’ll have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)

So, peace does not mean no trouble, no trauma, no grief. There is still violence, incurable disease and pain, dementia, money worries … We can each add our own hurt or anxiety to the list.  We can find ways of discovering solace: in nature’s beauty, talking to others, reading, singing, doing things together with friends … Again, add your own to the list.   Personally, lighting a candle and listening to the music of Gregorian chants or making something practical help me when I am stressed or unhappy.  Whatever works for you, these are ways of creating space in the trouble, of finding the storm-eye in which to be recentred in God’s presence and to hand our situation over to Him.  Quite possibly God will hand it straight back to us, not necessarily with the fix that we desire, but inviting us to embrace the situation while being strengthened and held in his love. That may feel impossible and senseless, but St Paul tells us,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

(Philippians 4: 6-7)

When Jesus greets us, “Peace be with you,” it is a blessing and it is a promise.

Whatever your worries are, I pray Christ’s shalom be with you and help you cope today.

Lucy G

Dorothy Thompson, Lincoln Evening Journal, 30 November 1945, p.6.  https://quoteinvestigator.com

World Health Organisation, Promoting Mental Health, WHO 2004

Image – Eye of Hurricane Michael, 10 October 2018, http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov  via Google Images under Creative Commons Licence

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 14th – 20th April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday April 11 2024, 10:43 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Words and Pictures

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday April 4 2024, 2:28 pm

“A picture is worth a thousand words” or so the saying goes. In the same way, a person’s actions reveal far more about what is really important to them, and what their true principles are, than just what comes out of their mouths. “Talk is cheap”, “put your money where your mouth is” – there are many idiomatic phrases in every language which convey this precise point, some politely, some less so, but generally using colourful linguistic images.
 
Seeing is important to us, as is touch, taste, smell. We are embodied creatures, not merely ephemeral spirits. We need things to hold on to in life, to anchor us, to make things “real”. Love is just a word, until we see the compassion or kindness towards someone else.
 
What I find so very wonderful about Easter is how visceral the Resurrection is, and all the disciples’ encounters with Jesus thereafter. Touch, Jesus says. See, feel, put, taste, eat. This is not just an idea, a concept, words. This is physical and good, creation renewed. This gives hope that hereafter will be as rich and textured and beautiful as this world, but without the breakages and pain inherent in sin.
 
I find myself asking, especially on “cloudy” days (which do happen, despite my general cheery outlook), where in my life do I experience the Resurrection today? Where can I find Easter joy? It is in the touch and kindness of a fellow Christian who reaches out and deliberately shares Christ’s peace with me. The person who makes me welcome. The one who holds open a door. The one who sees my struggle, and takes action to ease it. The person to whom I can offer comfort, to whom I can listen and give attention and space.
 
Words without actions are emptied of the depth of meaning of which they are capable. They are line drawings, full of promise but with no colour to bring them to life. Actions without words can sometimes feel scattered, robbed of nuance, without the depth of symbolism that shared description and meaning can give. Together, action and word bring life, depth, colour, meaning.
 
The Word of God came and dwelt among us and we experienced his love, saw his glory, by his wounds we were healed, and he has given us his peace. May we share all this in all we do and say, so by Christ’s grace we too can become “imagers” of God.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by MohammadHosein Mohebbi on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 7th – 13th April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday April 4 2024, 11:10 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

God of Surprises

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Friday March 29 2024, 2:22 pm

Many years ago, there was a book called God of Surprises. The title has stayed with me over the years, because it’s just so very true. Our God is one of surprises, doing the most unexpected and unpredictable things, which often seem (by human standards) to be somewhere between eccentric and daft. 

But these things work out! And in the end they turn out to be the right thing, powerful and beautiful and transformative. 

One of the readings for this Easter Sunday is from Psalm 118, and includes verses 22-24:

22 The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;

To read more, click here to see the post on DailyDust.me

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 31st March – 6th April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Tuesday March 26 2024, 2:27 pm

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Palm Sunday

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday March 21 2024, 3:28 pm

Time is a funny thing. It can seem so quick, and it can seem so slow. From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, it is only eight days, but it can feel like a lifetime as we journey through the days of Holy Week. Equally it’s possible to dash from day one to day eight and barely register all the details in between.

For Jesus and those following him I can imagine though it was a strange paradox of both. The events of Palm Sunday as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, celebrated by the crowds, palm branches waving and shouts of hosanna, must have been incredible to behold. And then Jesus goes and overturns the tables and the Temple the following day, he teaches openly and electrifies the crowds, perhaps even more so than on previous visits to Jerusalem. The enmity of the Pharisees and the Sadducees grows greater and greater, but they seem powerless to stop him. I can imagine that people were getting more and more excited about the possibility that this was the Messiah, this Rabbi would be the one to free them from the hated Roman yoke, to begin God’s Kingdom here on Earth, as he himself was proclaiming: the kingdom of God is at hand.

But then it all goes horribly wrong. Jesus is arrested in the early hours of the Friday morning, when most people were still sleeping off the effects of the Passover meal, and by noon he has been tried, condemned, and is hanging on a cross, a sign nailed above his head “this is the king of the Jews”. All their hopes and dreams are in dust and ashes yet again.

And then suddenly just after dawn on the Sunday the whisper begins: he’s alive! Jesus has risen from the dead! His body is missing, and the tomb is empty. Some of the women among his disciples have seen him – alive! Not a ghost! And then more and more people say that, including Cleopas and his wife who met him on the road to Emmaus. And so, it goes on. It is unstoppable.

The stories of Holy Week in the gospels are wonderful, and what may at first be dismissed as discrepancies or irrelevant details in them actually bring an incredible humanity and sense of immediacy and eyewitness to them. After all, these are the accounts collated by the communities of believers from stories told by those who knew and walked with Jesus and went through those days. Whether the days are short or long to you, whether you find yourself in church only on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, or can come through Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday as well, or whether you find yourself unable to come to church at all, may you find the time to reflect again on these gospel accounts and upon these days. For in these stories, the old system is ended, and the new system begun. The old covenant is brought to a close, and the new covenant is begun. The old creation with all things ending in death is itself put to death upon the Cross and the new creation begins with the resurrection of Christ on the first day of the new week, in a garden, just like in the very Beginning. For in Christ, all things are made new, and in him all power rests, for he is indeed our King.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Grant Whitty on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 24th – 30th March

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 21 2024, 9:29 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

St Patrick Day

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday March 14 2024, 3:19 pm

This Sunday, 17th March, is St Patrick’s Day.  Patrick was one of the very early Celtic saints, carrying the Gospel message around Ireland in the 5th century, and encouraging a monastic way of living in community, prayer and hospitality.   Out of these roots emerged a particularly Celtic understanding of Christian living which has much to offer us today in our own life-journeys of faith.

The centre of Celtic Christianity is the Trinity: one God as three persons in relationship, and that he has made us in his image – invited into relationship with God and with each other and with all of his creation.  At the heart, therefore, is connectedness and community, recognition of the value and dignity of all life and the wonder that nothing is outside of God’s love and grace. 

St Patrick is said to be the first to have used a shamrock or clover leaf to illustrate the mystery of the Trinity.

Celtic Christianity recognises that we discover God in more ways and more places than we can imagine; we encounter God in scripture and in the world, in daily life in the moment of experience and in the moment of disagreement, through our senses, our hearts and our minds.  It places importance on the sacramentality of nature: the discovery of the awesomeness of God made visible through all his creation, the eternal word of God reflected in every plant and insect, every bird and animal, and every human being.  

We are challenged again as Christians to look at how we respect the dignity of others, those with whom we agree and those with whom we profoundly disagree.  We are challenged again to understand and respond to the damage we have done and are doing to God’s world.

Celtic Christianity places emphasis on simplicity, slowing down, taking time for quiet and time to notice, to be with God. Time to perceive God in the interconnectedness of everything. Time to discover the doorways, the openings and opportunities to see God’s path for each of us and feel his presence. Time to breathe in God, to notice where he is calling us to action or to rest. Time to experience his presence in the everyday and to be thankful to God.

Maybe, in this coming week begun with St Patrick’s Day, we might take time each morning to pause for 10 minutes of silence just to be with God and to listen.  We might take time each day to go for a walk and consciously look for how God is revealing himself to us in the unfolding season around us and in the people we meet. We might take time each evening to look back and notice how God has blessed us in the ordinary passing of the day, in the good things and also in the disappointments, sorrows and struggles, and in the words of St Patrick, “whether I receive good or ill … render thanks to God.” Take time to ask ourselves again, what does it mean to hear God’s invitation to be part of his world and to put our lives in his hands.

The hymn we know as St Patrick’s Breastplate was first a Celtic ‘Caim’ – a traditional prayer for protection, wrapping oneself in the encircling presence of God.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
through belief in the Threeness,
through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

Lucy G

Quote from Celebrating the Saints: daily spiritual readings, revised enlarged edition, Canterbury Press, 2004 (17th March)

Image: Dragonfly wing, posted by T’resa Weaver on ‘The Lord God Made Them All’, Facebook, 8 March 2024

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 17th – 23rd March

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 14 2024, 9:21 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash

Mothering Sunday

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday March 7 2024, 2:57 pm

This Sunday, for Mothering Sunday, I have the honour of being the guest preacher at Bolton Priory Church. In part, the reason for this is that within the more Anglo Catholic tradition, women clergy are called Mother, just as men are called Father. I’ve been invited to reflect with them on Holy Mother Church, upon the nurture and mothering within the church, within our worshipping communities, on the concept of ministry as mothering, and of course, in the love that we receive from God, who is our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. 

Mothers are always there when we need them, and generally ignored and taken for granted 90% of the time, more so as we grow older and think we know best. Yet we expect them to pick us up when we fall. To salve graze knees, to mend broken bones and dreams, to bind up the bleeding wounds inflicted by the wider world. And then off we go again, blithely ignoring their advice and warm homely wisdom, into our next adventure, trusting that mother will always be there when next we fall, or need comfort and the sense of being held, tenderly, firmly, safely, as a child. 

That may not be your experience of mothering, but I bet it’s part of your mental “ideal” image. That “ideal” may owe a lot to 1950s American advertising, but ironically, it’s not just wishful Hollywood idealism. For that is what Holy Mother Church (at her best) is and does for us – though the hands that bind and the ears that listen are ours, and those of fellow members of this Body – which is also the Body of Christ here on earth. 

Which leads me to God as Creator, to Mother Mary, and to Jesus. The patient Creator, who lovingly watched and held His new creation and creatures as they tried and blundered and messed up and tried again. The patient Mother, who watched and waited and held her beloved Son throughout His life, so that He could teach and heal and mend, renew, and reconcile. The loving Reconciler, who stopped, took time, touching the untouchable with love, and giving time to the poor and “worthless” who were precious to God even if society failed to value them.  

It was and is always about Being, not merely Doing. Of course, Mothers do endless tasks, most of which are ignored or taken for granted until one day they aren’t done, and we suddenly realise how valuable and important they were. But Mothers also do the one thing most of us forget. They simply are. They have the ability to sit and watch over their children, loving, waiting, being present. A place of comfort and quiet when everything else has gone to pot, and we have reached the absolute end of our resources and ability. 

Isaiah 66.13 God says to his people, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.”

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Dylan McLeod on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 10th – 16th March

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 7 2024, 10:01 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 3rd – 9th March

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday February 29 2024, 9:48 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 25th February – 2nd March

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday February 22 2024, 10:28 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

A message for Lent from Bishop Steven

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday February 15 2024, 2:20 pm

Earlier this month I had an appointment in central Oxford arranged at short notice. The instructions on location in my diary are normally an address or a postcode. But these instructions read as follows: Big Green door left of Ravenscroft and Ede, High Street. This sounds more like an extract from a John Le Carré novel or maybe Harry Potter than a normal Bishop’s diary.

I walked down the High Street with moments to spare, only half remembering where Ravenscroft and Ede is, and concerned that I might miss the big green door because I’m colourblind. Thankfully my host was there to meet me. We stepped inside between the shop fronts, through a door, an alleyway and a gate. Behind the shop front, as so often in Oxford, we entered another world: quadrangles and staircases; modern buildings; student rooms; a maze of corridors. I had walked down the High Street scores of time, never realising the hidden world beyond.

Some years ago, my son bought me a special pair of spectacles which aim to correct colour blindness, so that I could tell the difference between red and green. I had visions of being able to see a glorious range of colours instead of the colours I can see. Sadly they don’t work that well for me.

But it was something like this effect multiplied a hundredfold for Peter, James and John. They see the glory of the Christ who is the image of God. He is transfigured. The Greek word is metamorphosised: the transition from a chrysalis to a glorious butterfly. His clothes became dazzling white. They see part of the company of heaven, represented by Moses and Elijah. They see there is one here who is greater than the law and the prophets. They hear a voice from heaven, echoing the voice at Jesus’ baptism which answers the deepest question in the gospel: who is this Jesus?

“This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!”

One of the most wonderful and profound invitations in the gospel recurs at the beginning of John. Two reticent disciples begin to follow behind Jesus. Jesus turns and sees them following and begins, as Jesus often does, with a question: What are you looking for?

They stammer out a reply: Rabbi, where are you staying? They see him only as a teacher. Jesus gives this most beautiful invitation: Come and see. He opens a door to another world.

This Lent, as every Lent, we are echoing Jesus’ invitation to the whole diocese within the Church and beyond it to Come and See. Use this season to come deeper into faith, to discover the glory of Christ who is the image of God. Use this season to explore faith, perhaps for the first time. Register on our website and we will send you daily reflections by email and short videos each Sunday. This year we are exploring the Way of Love: Jesus’ great summary of the law.

Read Bishop Steven’s whole sermon, preached in St Mary’s, Iffley and Keble College Chapel on 11 February, on the blog.

Photo by David Billings on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 18th – 24th February

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday February 15 2024, 10:03 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Hope amidst clouded vision

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday February 8 2024, 2:25 pm

This Sunday, we find ourselves at the transition between Epiphany, the time of growing revelation of Christ in the world, and Lent, a period of preparation, self-scrutiny and testing of what it means to be followers of Christ; a time of refocussing towards the deep mystery of God’s giving of himself for us and to us in Cross and Resurrection.

The readings this Sunday retell something of God’s revelation of his glory and promise to his people.  The passages are full of the language of God’s presence shining out in blaze and wind, light in darkness.  We read of Elisha witnessing God’s taking of Elijah into heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2: 9-12), God’s creation, covenant and calling of the world (Psalm 50: 1-6), the experience of Peter, James and John dazzled by Jesus transfigured (Mark 9: 2-9) and Paul encouraging the Corinthians with the reminder that through Christ we may see the light of the knowledge of God’s glory. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

These passages fall at moments of great difficulty in the lives of those who are involved.  Elisha has lost his beloved leader and mentor Elijah, and must pick up his mantle.  The psalmist is reminding the people of the danger of turning away from God’s covenant and crying out for a transformation of their heart and soul.  Peter, James and John are struggling with beginning to understand properly what it means to recognise Jesus as Messiah and what it is going to mean to follow him.  Paul is urging the Corinthians not to lose heart in the struggle of being disciples and Church in the distractions and hostility of the world. 

These dazzling glimpses of God’s glory stand out through the fog and veil of our wandering, confusion, fear, hurt, doubt, anger, excuses.  They are a reminder to us of God’s constant presence and promise: a foretaste of the bright welcome at the end of the tunnel, the sudden inspirational view when the cloud lifts on the mountain-top. They are unexpected, awesome, life-changing.

And perhaps that is the point:  these bright moments are gifts when we most need them.  I bet Peter, James and John found it hard to describe to others just what they experienced, but it changed them.  Your bright moment is different from my bright moment, and receiving this touch from God may be confusing or downright terrifying, or may be found in a still, small moment.  However dazzling or fleeting, they are God’s gifts of invitation to change, of courage as we are called to the responsibility of discipleship, and of hope when it is hard to see the way. 

I pray that God blesses you with glimpses of his glory when you most need him, and that Christ lights up the path for you in dark times.

Lucy G

Image with thanks to © Caroline P Swain – On top of Beinn Beula, 2023

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 11th – 17th February

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday February 8 2024, 9:29 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

The God of Reconciliation

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday February 1 2024, 2:20 pm

Reconciliation is a popular word, and as society and people become more and more fragmented and divided, it is needed more than ever. We seem to be focussing more and more on our individual identities and labels, and there seems to be a growing tendency of vicious attack on anyone who queries those identities and labels. But the reality is that for society to function well and in such a way that all can flourish, we all need to be able to live together in harmony – and that means compromise. My edges need to soften in order to create space for you – and vice versa. The difficulty is that in softening our respective edges, we need to ensure that the core of who we are is not damaged.

Observing people’s interactions and the news, and how polarised things seem to be, I wonder if our most pressing need is for reconciliation. To recognise that we are all, every one of us, made in the image of God and thus beloved and precious in God’s sight. And that this God who made us, and loves us, is also the God who gave himself to us in Jesus Christ in order to enable that reconciliation – between God and humanity, and between one another.

This Sunday’s lectionary includes a section from St Paul’s letter to the Colossians (1.17-20):

Christ himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,

and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

Reconciliation between individuals and between nations may seem like an impossible dream. It’s true that with just humans managing it, it is impossible. But with God, all things are possible. Prayer does move mountains. And if we invite God into a situation, that situation can (and usually will) be transformed, if we let it.

God’s promise is not a partial reconciliation, a half way compromise that no one really believes in. It is total, complete, embracing all things in earth and in heaven. One day our differences – which now cause division, fear and even hatred – will be things to celebrate as showing the diversity and incredible beauty of God’s creation. I pray that as Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ, as members of the Church throughout the world, we can model this in our communities as we look forward to the day when it is true in all places and for all people.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 4th – 10th February

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday February 1 2024, 9:12 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 28th January – 3rd February

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday January 25 2024, 9:07 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

The love and power of God

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday January 18 2024, 2:15 pm

This Sunday’s readings focus on the abundance and blessing of God, and of the life with him that he invites us to share. The collect for this Sunday has the following lines:

Renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by your mighty power.

Whilst this may seem like a very ordinary request, made with no particular hope of fulfilment, the opposite is actually true. This is a request and a prayer which we make in the sure and certain knowledge that precisely this promise is given to us by God.

In the Bible, in both the old and new testaments, again and again we find stories of God choosing the weak instead of the strong, the unknown instead of the famous, and those from the margins rather than those who hold obvious power. God so often shows his power and his love and his presence in our lives through those people, things, and situations where we might least expect to find him. 

From Abraham, who was too old to have children, through to Joseph, who was thrown into prison before becoming the most powerful man in Egypt, to Moses who was unable to speak with clarity and thus needed his brother Aaron, to Gideon, who was too scared, to David who was the least and youngest of his family, to Paul who began as an enemy to Christ and was always lacking in physical stature and suffered an unknown and incurable illness or disability – and of course Jesus himself, born in obscurity and poverty. The love and power of God is always found in weakness, at the margins, and in the places so easily overlooked.

May this give you hope in this coming year, that wherever you may find yourself, and most particularly when you find yourself in struggles or difficulties, that you are not alone, and that no matter how invisible things may be to the outside world, God always sees, and God always promises to be with us and to sustain us.

Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 21st – 27th January

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday January 18 2024, 9:17 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Come and See – Welcome to the full taste experience

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday January 11 2024, 2:20 pm

More years ago than I care to remember I went on a study visit to Greece.  On a student grant, I had to travel simply and used small, local restaurants. Often, these did not have a menu; instead, the host would greet us with cries of “come and see!”, drawing us into the kitchen to look at what was on offer for that evening and delighting in encouraging us to sample the cooking.

The gospel reading for this second Sunday of Epiphany reminded me of that student experience of welcome, invitation and participation.  Having himself received the call to follow Jesus, the disciple Philip goes off to find his friend Nathanael, a Jew who knows his Scripture and is well-grounded in the assumptions of his faith.  Philip urges Nathanael to come and see Jesus, to meet him and experience for himself what Jesus has to say.  Nathanael (somewhat reluctantly, one feels) comes to see, and experiences for himself the wonder of being deeply known and wholeheartedly welcomed by Jesus. We read this story in Epiphany season because it illustrates so well the sudden, surprising revelation of the mystery of God who knows us intimately and is immediately present to us and with us in Christ in the ordinary and everyday, God who invites us personally to him and promises us not the earth, but heaven. 

I wonder, when are we like the Nathanael who was constrained by his own expectations and assumptions of faith, and not wanting to step outside our self-imposed boundaries? How are we like the Nathanael who took the risk of entering as a stranger tasting for himself, and found himself invited into the whole feast as a friend?  And how much are we like Philip, whose response to being called by Jesus was to rush off and urge his friend to come and see for himself, to invite others to discover the wonder of Christ?

I took a lot of photos on that study trip, back in the days when photo film had to be developed and printed.  I think Nathanael is a bit like a photo: his God-made image was always there, but its potential was only fulfilled when it was developed by exposure to the Christ-light.  How many more undeveloped images are just waiting to be invited into that light?

Lucy G

Image – public domain use from PxHere, attributed to STAFFAGE Karolina Grabowska

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 14th – 20th January

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday January 11 2024, 9:28 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Plough Sunday – 14th January

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday January 4 2024, 2:42 pm

On Sunday 14th January, we are going to be running a special service at Hinton Waldrist to ask God’s blessing on all our daily work during this New Year. Whatever our life context – whether we are at school, working at home, in paid employment, volunteering or retired – all of us work. The service will be a chance to ask God for grace and help to navigate our work and its challenges – to do our work well, to handle pressures peacefully, to maintain good relationships with our colleagues, and to flourish in our work. 

Traditionally this service is known as Plough Sunday – and many churches would have had a plough blessed to acknowledge the importance of the work on the land. In recent years, Plough Sunday has become an opportunity to recognise that God is interested in all our daily work, and in our service we will commit all our work – and ourselves – to Him at the start of this new year. 

As part of the service, we would invite you to bring along an object which represents your own work, whether that be paid or unpaid, inside or outside the home, so that we can include it in the service and ask God’s blessing on what we do. For example, if you work on the land, you could bring some soil; if you look after children or grandchildren, you could bring a children’s toy; if you are a doctor or nurse, you could bring a thermometer or stethoscope; if you cook, you could bring a wooden spoon; if you are at school, you could bring a favourite reading book. (All the items will be returned to you at the end of the service.)

All are welcome to our Plough Sunday service, and we hope that many of us will take this opportunity to commit all we do to God at the start of 2024.

Avril

Photo by Michael Austin on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 7th – 13th January

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday January 4 2024, 9:39 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Liminal Space… the time between

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday December 28 2023, 2:16 pm

Sometimes the anticipation of something is better than the actual thing itself! Do you ever find that? When the thing we’ve waited for finally arrives, the pleasure swiftly ebbs. The reality is perhaps not quite what we’ve built it up to be. Or, if it was as wonderful as we had hoped, I might compare it to drinking champagne (or prosecco). Fabulous whilst it lasts, and for the first glass (or three!) it is joyous. But too much, and the hours that follow are less wonderful.

In the days between Christmas and New Year, I find myself feeling in limbo, as if all is on pause. The old year has effectively ended, but the new is yet to begin. It is a time of rest for some. For others, a time of ‘stop – start’ at work.

We often use the word “liminal” to describe the space between here and there. This old Latin word for “threshold” is very useful for many times in our lives when we are in that space in between.

In these days, we stand upon the threshold of the new year, waiting to welcome it in. What will it bring for us?

In a sense, that’s up to us all – collectively and individually – to decide, for the simple reason that we can decide how we want to live our own lives. What we want our perspective on it all to be. If we look for blessings in each moment, we will surely find them, even in the most difficult and awful moments. And if the principles by which we live are the ones Jesus gave us – to love God and to love each other as we love ourselves – then surely, we have a firm foundation. With that as our ground of Being, then we will be able to keep our footing when the ground is rough or shaky.

I am reminded of Jesus’ story of the men who built their houses on rock and on sand. If we build our lives – and this new year – on the rock that is God, then we will stand firm, even as the storm winds and rains continue into 2024 – and they probably will.

I realise that’s probably not quite the encouragement we’d all like to hear. But I do hope and pray that the small blessings of each day will make it all bearable. And that God will provide us all with a firm foundation and footing for all that will come in the year ahead, as we step across the threshold into 2024.

May 2024 bring you blessing and joy, 

Revd. Talisker

Photo by BoliviaInteligente on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 31st December – 6th January

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 28 2023, 10:27 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Godspot: Light in the Darkness

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday December 21 2023, 2:44 pm

Each year I find myself reflecting on the familiar Christmas story from a slightly different angle. After two thousand years, what could there possibly be to say that hasn’t already been said before? Well, maybe not much. After all, nothing has changed! And yet, at the same time, everything has changed. Whilst God has not changed, and the story of God’s love for us remains the same, we have changed, and our understanding has too – it is (hopefully!) broader and deeper and nuanced, not least because humanity has learned so much in the past two millennia.

And at the same time, humanity has (quite spectacularly!) not changed, and seems to have learnt far too little about love and peace and co-existence. We might know how to split the atom, but there is still blood being spilt all too frequently.

In the darkness comes Light. Into the midst of life as it is, in all its mess and chaos and unpreparedness (despite repeated announcements to “be prepared!”) God appears. The funny thing is, He doesn’t come with the usual kind of fanfare, and nobody really notices, except Mary, Joseph, some shepherds on a hillside, and probably the entire town of Bethlehem – gossip travelled pretty fast in those days, even without Twitter / X. “Fake news!”, many would have shouted. “Are you sure?” And for those who had seen and experienced God’s coming in Christ, had seen the angels or some other miraculous visitation, the reply would be unambiguously, “yes!”, the experience so compelling that there was no room for doubt.

Recently I heard that the committed and prominent New Atheist Ayaan Hirsi Ali had become a Christian. In her article on Unherd she writes: “Russell and other activist atheists believed that with the rejection of God we would enter an age of reason and intelligent humanism. But the “God hole” — the void left by the retreat of the church — has merely been filled by a jumble of irrational quasi-religious dogma. The result is a world where modern cults prey on the dislocated masses, offering them spurious reasons for being and action — mostly by engaging in virtue-signalling theatre on behalf of a victimised minority or our supposedly doomed planet. The line often attributed to G.K. Chesterton has turned into a prophecy: “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”

Whilst some of her reasons for becoming a Christian may not seem entirely relevant here, it seems to me that her core point above is entirely relevant: the rejection of God creates a huge void that becomes full of mess and chaos. This chaos and mess is so frightening that to even look at it, let alone try to distentangle it, seems an impossible task. So we give up.

But God does not give up. God is not afraid of chaos or mess. Not at the dawn of creation, when the Spirit hovered over the formless void (Genesis 1), nor when He became part of His creation as Jesus, and not now when he knocks at the doors of our souls, asking whether we have room for Him, whether we will allow Him to come in and sort out the chaos and mess in the voracious void that secularism has created in our hearts and minds.

Into the darkness comes Light. Into the chaos comes order. Into the void comes creativity and new life.

May 2024 bring you peace and blessing and the knowledge of God present with you and within you, and may He give you the grace to share His light and His peace with the world around you.

Every blessing,

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Phil Desforges on Unsplash

COP 28 Missive

General 

Published on: Thursday December 21 2023, 1:09 pm

The largest ever COP came to a moderately successful close in Dubai last week with a commitment to ‘transition away from’ fossil fuels. Not the ‘phase out’ people were looking for but way beyond what was achievable just 2 years ago in Glasgow (and an impressive achievement in a “Petrostate”!)

The international negotiations that are particularly focused on implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement are critical in building the legal framework for tacking climate change but they take place alongside a staggering collection of NGOs, businesses, financiers, project developers and other community groups that are attending events, exchanging ideas and announcing projects and transactions. The reporting of this all seems to be sceptical and mostly presented in the press through a cynical lens but having spent a week there in discussions around climate finance I found the energy, ideas and determination (despite the fact that nothing ever happens fast enough when tackling climate) very inspiring.

It is definitely not the west dictating terms to the rest – far from it. Certainly in climate finance the large opportunities and assets are predominantly in the global south and they are as engaged and leading the process in many cases.   There needs to be such a large reallocation of capital in the world economy that the private and public sectors and other civil society all need to be engaged and pushing for things to change. My impression is that the COPs provide an excellent forum to do this and are have become critical component in the decarbonisation journey.

Chris Villiers (from the perspective of Respira International)   

Photo by Nik on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 24th – 30th December

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 21 2023, 10:03 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

GodSpot: Hope and Renewal

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday December 14 2023, 2:16 pm

This Sunday is Gaudete Sunday, when in the middle of the season of waiting and fasting, we have a respite. We move from the penitential and reflective purple to the joy of pink, and whilst you might expect the theme to be Mary, it’s actually St John the Baptist.

John the Baptist can sometimes get a bad press! After all, he’s not exactly polite nor does he hold back in what he says, or how he says it! In the end, that’s what gets him killed. His words convey more a sense of warning than anything else. Warm and fuzzy he is not!

But he is about renewal, and restoration. These are both things we hope and long for, knowing how broken and hurting our world is. Healing and wholeness are things that we strive for all the time. But the processes of renewal, restoration, and healing are not (if we are honest) comfortable. When it is inner healing or restoration (personal or societal), it often involves painful honesty with ourselves, and physical healing takes time and frequently hurts! It is not, in our modern use of the word, “comfortable”.

We tend to think of “comfortable” as being warm and fuzzy, but that’s not where the word comes from. Comfort comes from the Latin cum and fortis, meaning with strength, with courage, with bravery.

So when we hear the words of the prophet Isaiah saying “comfort my people”, or the words of John the Baptist “make straight the way for the Lord” and calling us to leave behind those things which harm us as individuals and as societies, it may not initially make sense to us as “comfort”. And respite and joy (from my opening words on Gaudete) may not be words you would associate here.

However that is what comes to us in Christ, and this is what John points towards. Jesus Christ is the Sun of Righteousness who brings healing upon his wings. He is the light which chases away all darkness. He is the one who will restore, renew and reconcile all things in himself, and has already begun that process through his death and resurrection.

Gaudete Sunday – rejoicing in the midst of the darkness, for a light we cannot yet fully see – is a reminder of the now-and-not-yet in which we still live. Celebrating the presence of Christ with us, God born as one of us; and yet still awaiting his coming in glory, when all will be made right. Be comforted! Take courage! Be strong in the Lord! For your God is coming to bring light and healing to this beautiful but broken world.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Robert Thiemann on Unsplash

Prayer readings for Morning Prayer – 17th – 23rd December

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 14 2023, 9:46 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Advent and Pace

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday December 7 2023, 2:31 pm

Slowness is soooo frustrating. Waiting is no longer in our DNA. We used to joke about a goldfish’s attention span being two seconds, but I really do wonder what the average human one is. Whether it’s driving, waiting for a parcel, or waiting for something to happen, that time of waiting can seem endless. Amazon did indeed revolutionise the world of shopping, but it also arguably fed into a really unhelpful part of the human psyche which loves instant gratification. It’s what we spend years learning as we grow up, that not everything comes now! Only, these days, it does. And when we don’t get it now, we can become angry, upset, disappointed, and sometimes even rude.

But here’s the thing. How often have you ordered something online and then realised you didn’t really need it, and that if you’d had to go to the shop, you probably wouldn’t have actually bothered with it.

One of the readings for this Sunday is from the second letter of St Peter (2 Peter 3.8-15). This bit really stood out for me:

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

I confess I’ve never read A Brief History of Time, but I’ve often wondered whether the whole thing about the spiritual realm is that it is actually outside of time. Time is something which only mortal things experience, because in essence time is used to measure change, decay, destruction, and rising to new life. Time and death and birth are inextricably linked. But those who dwell in the world of the spirit, who are all around us, are immortal. They are not born, they do not die, they do not have organic bodies that slowly fade. So for God, for the angels, and for those who have died and are with God, time is literally immaterial.

Frustratingly for us humans who are still alive, and for all created and living things, time is an essential part of the experience. When time is not against you, when there is no rush, then a longer view can be taken. One can think in terms of decades and not just the next couple of years (or the next electoral cycle!).

I keep reminding myself of this. God made a promise to Abraham that through him all nations on earth would be blessed. God repeated that promise to Isaac, to Jacob, to the nation of Israel throughout the centuries. God reminded them of that promise through Moses and the prophets. Millennia later it came to fruition through Mary’s willingness to say Yes to God, and so Jesus was born. St Paul and the apostles expected Jesus to return in their natural lifetimes. Yet two millennia later we are still waiting. But God’s promise, made so so long ago, is still unfolding through the work and witness of the Church throughout the world, as we bear witness to the love of God through his Son Jesus Christ.

Advent can seem endlessly busy, a time of waiting and yet absolutely frantic and frenetic. But it’s also in some ways a reflection of life as a whole. We are still waiting for God’s promise to come to completion. And in the meanwhile, time rolls on and on, marking off the days for us. A thousand years is like a day, and a day is like a thousand years. It all depends on one’s perspective. And at the heart of it all, in mid-December, a baby is born, who has already transformed our lives, and one day will transform the whole world. Thanks be to God.

Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 10th – 16th December

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 7 2023, 9:31 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly…..!”

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday November 30 2023, 2:22 pm

Once more the wheel of the year has turned, and Advent heralds the imminent arrival of Christmas. Tinsel and twinkly lights adorn the shops, and we are encouraged into another orgy of spending and consumerism. It’s the season of cheer and goodwill, mulled wine, mince pies, parties and gatherings. Pictures of Father Christmas, snow, robins, reindeer, and all kinds of cute vintage wintry scenes abound, regardless of whether snow is even remotely likely. And of course the bookies have their usual offers on whether it will be a white Christmas, or just cold and wet.

It’s easy to become jaded by it all, secretly rather enjoying some parts, whilst cultivating a world-weary Scrooge persona. I know – I did exactly that. Until recently, Christmas was not my favourite time. For a start, Christmas has overrun Advent, and doesn’t actually start until 24th December at midnight…. Grumbling is easy. But how utterly ungracious! We vicars have a whole month when we can talk about Jesus, and people are acutally willing (more or less!) to listen! How wonderful! I have packed my Scrooge and Herod outfits away forever, and we shall be putting up our Christmas tree with joy tomorrow afternoon when my daughter gets home from school – it’s the 1st December, the new year has started for the Church with the imminent coming of the Christ Child, and Christmas celebrations have begun!

Sadly for many it’s not like that. The peace and reconciliation that Jesus came to bring is a distant dream. I remember one year hearing on the radio that it is absolutely awful – we take all the members of our family who we spend the rest of the year avoiding, stuff them all into one room, and then wonder why war breaks out.

And how sad! Sad that a time of traditional celebration causes such pain and loneliness for so many. Sad also that the tail definitely wags the dog, so to speak – the presents no longer symbolise God’s gift to us of Himself in Jesus, to bring us his love and forgiveness and healing. Instead the presents are so numerous and have taken on such importance, there’s barely room for Jesus under the tree, just as there was no room for him at the inn that night in Bethlehem.

But Jesus is awfully good at squeezing into even the tiniest of spaces, and making a world of difference. Just a whisper of invitation, a little chink, and in he comes. So amidst all the carols and presents and twinkly lights, the tinsel and mulled wine and general revelry and excess, instead of bemoaning the state of the world I shall be celebrating that Jesus is in the midst of it all. And even more importantly, that he is outside in the cold, with the hungry and the homeless and the forgotten, with those squeezed out and excluded by all the joy and noise. As he promised, he is with us always, to the end of the age.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 3rd – 9th December

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday November 30 2023, 9:37 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Christ the King

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday November 23 2023, 2:17 pm

Did you know that the festival of Christ the King was established within the Church calendar as recently as 1925, by Pope Pius XI? His purpose was a refocusing of Christian direction and priorities in the face of the devastation of war past and threatened, growing secularism and the rise of extremes of political authority. We might say today plus ca change …. Pope Pius XI wanted to remind the Church and the world that there could be no hope of lasting peace in a world that rejected Christ:

“We live in the peace of Christ when we surrender our lives to him every day, accept him as our God, Saviour and King and allow him to rule our lives.” (Vatican Encyclical Quas Primas 11121925)

In the Anglican Communion the festival of Christ the King is celebrated this Sunday, the culmination of the Church year, a reminder that Jesus is the ultimate Lord of Earth and heaven, and that all creation, prophecy, law, judgment and life are brought to fulfilment in him. The Church of England liturgical guide to the seasons of the Christian year Common Worship: Times and Seasons (p537) says, “The year that begins with the hope of the coming Messiah ends with the proclamation of his universal sovereignty.” As such, this festival marks an end and a beginning as we look to Advent, the weeks in which we take time to reflect and to scrutinise our lives in preparation to celebrate again the coming of God in the person of Jesus into the world. And Advent is also the season in which we refocus and reprioritise our lives as we look forward in hope to Christ coming again in all the transforming glory of his kingship – Christ the Alpha and the Omega.

Recognising that Jesus is King means accepting our responsibility as subjects in his kingdom today as people who listen to God and hear, who try to live as servants in the world as Jesus has shown, and who look for Christ present and active in the situations and the people around us.

As we celebrate and give thanks this Sunday for Christ our King, let’s also give thanks that he has made us into Kingdom people now to serve and share his truth and his peace in the world today.  

Lucy G

Photo by Wolfgang Sauber of window in Linz Cathedral, available under Creative Commons Licence

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 26th November – 2nd December

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday November 23 2023, 9:11 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Being Accountable: Time and Resources

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday November 16 2023, 2:19 pm

My life is my own! What’s mine is mine! I earned that! It’s no one else’s business what I do with my own things!
 
Well, perhaps. In an individualistic society. But the (admittedly very imperfect) society Jesus lived in, and the (heavenly and thus much better) one which he taught and envisaged, were deeply communal. We do not simply belong to ourselves, with no reference to anyone else. Indeed such an atomised approach to life and society is (in the grand scheme of history) really very modern. John Donne, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, famously said in one of his sermons “no man is an island, entire of itself.” It’s worth quoting in full.
 
“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
 
We are not isolated beings, and we do not “own” anything, not even our lives or selves. Everything we have is a gift from God, and we are but stewards or caretakers of it. And in the end we will have to give account for how we have handled and used what was entrusted to us. Have we done our best to create something beautiful or useful with what we were given? Have we left the world a better or at the very least different place to how it was? Have we taken what was given and made something more with it? After all, in part this is what it is to bear the image of God: to be co-creators with Him, and not merely creatures whose lives are passing shadows and make no imprint upon the world.
 
One day we will have to give account to God for what He entrusted to us. That may sound fearful – and maybe it would be, if we were facing a Victorian headmaster who judged only on outcomes and outward appearances. But instead we offer our gifts to a loving parent, and we can do so with the same confidence of a toddler offering her creation to her mum or dad – confident that this thing, whatever it is, will be appreciated for the love and “trying” that went into it, even if it is rather lopsided and bent. We can’t create to God’s standard, but we can at least try. We can’t make planets, stars, new creatures. But we can make our lives shine with love, and make the lives of those around us better and more joyful. We can take the gifts of light and love which God gave to us, and grow both of those by sharing them with others – for that’s the thing about light and love – the more we give, the more we have, and the more there is around us.
 
No man is an island, entire of itself. Any man’s death – or lack, hunger, lostness, suffering – diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. We are all one in Christ. Our lives are not our own, they are God’s gift to us. And what we enjoy on earth is not truly ours, but merely entrusted to us, to grow and share; and in the end to give back, and to give account.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Zachary Keimig on Unsplash

Prayer readings for Morning Prayer – 19th – 25th November

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday November 16 2023, 9:37 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Pageant? Prayer? Promise?

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday November 9 2023, 2:49 pm

Over the next three days, millions will be joining together at the Cenotaph, at local war memorials, in churches, schools, on football pitches, in acts of remembrance. Why? The answer seems obvious: we are uniting in honouring those who have given their lives to protect our lives and way of life.  Do we even need to ask this?

Across the one hundred plus years of the annual Act of Remembrance, from the early years to today, there have been critics who have questioned its value.  Some have protested that it places too much focus on the past and that it, deliberately or unconsciously, perpetuates tensions of conflict boundaries. Or have we turned the Act into a sort of ritual pageant, made a show out of a solemn moment? They suggest we should instead be laying all this to rest and moving on. Others have worried that, in remembering the fallen, there is not enough thought and support given to the many who have survived but carry the burdens of wounds, PTSD and post-institutional living.  Some have asked why, as the Church already remembers the dead in the services of All Saints and All Souls, do we need also to have a service commemorating those who have died in war.

Yes, as Christians we do celebrate the saints: all those who have tried to live their lives in service to God; and celebrate all souls: all whom we have loved and commended into God’s welcome and kingdom.  And yes, it is important that we also come before God to remember those who have died in war, loved, gone but not lost, and to reflect that war is never far from any of us, that conflict seems built into our human nature. We come together to respond to that. 

The two-minute silence is a moment of stillness and unity in which to recognise the sacrificial service of all who put themselves at risk to combat injustice, work for welfare, bring rescue and aid where needed.  It is a moment of stillness in unity with those whose lives have been damaged by conflict, and the families who live a daily sacrifice of love supporting their members serving in dangerous places.  For Christians, this time of stillness and prayer for those who have died in war, for those who are living with the consequences of war, and for peace, is one moment in one day in a never-ending prayer for the world and for the courage and strength to be the peace-makers to which Christ has called us.

Having a service of remembrance is at the heart of who, as Christians, we are.  Christ came to us, into a world of wars, political jousting and hates, to teach a new way of living and to bring healing. He died an innocent victim of human power struggles and, in his resurrection, he opened the door to new life.   By his grace Christ re-members us, draws us back into his wholeness, reconciles us with God and invites us into reconciliation and restoration with each other.  This is shalom or salam: the gift of wholeness, true health, peace, and we give our praise and gratitude to God for this. In every Eucharist we are called to remember Christ and to be united in the good news of his presence with us through all troubles and his promise of life with him forever.  In response, we go out to love and serve him in all the ways he has shown us, towards this peace in a troubled world.  This is remembering: of the past into the present and for the future, a daily reorienting to his promise of hope and life. 

I pray that the peace of the Lord be with you in the coming days and beyond.

Lucy G

Image courtesy of Lucy G

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 12th – 18th November

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday November 9 2023, 9:24 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Photo by Mayur Gala on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 5th – 11th November

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday November 2 2023, 9:09 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Great Commandment

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday October 26 2023, 2:37 pm

What is heavier: a ton of coal or a ton of cotton wool? I remember when I was a child, being asked that question, or a variant on the theme, where one item was clearly “heavier” than the other. Except it wasn’t. I’d missed the point. … When a group of Pharisees try to gang up on Jesus (again) to trick him, they ask: Which commandment in the Law of Moses is more important? Is it this, or is it that? Tell us! Jesus’ reply is brilliant, and so simple. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself. … 

link to dailydust

Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 29th October – 4th November

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday October 26 2023, 1:51 pm

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Image by Mike from Pixabay

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 22nd – 28th October

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday October 12 2023, 2:53 pm

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Praying for no hatred or bitterness

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday October 12 2023, 2:15 pm

Today, Thursday 12th October, the Church of England remembers two extraordinary Christian women, Elizabeth Fry and Edith Cavell.  Both committed their life’s work to serving God by caring for those damaged and broken by the inhumanity of human beings.

Elizabeth Fry is best known for her campaigning for prison reform.  She inspected prisons, developed post-release reintegration programmes and advised governments in England, Scotland and Europe.  Perhaps less well-known is her work to address homelessness and to improve mental health care.  It must have taken much courage, patience, diplomacy and prayer to carry forward this mission in the face of opposition from people in power and ignorant indifference of those used to the system as it was.

Edith Cavell was a nurse and a trainer of nurses. While she was working in Belgium, the First World War started and she became part of the Brussels Red Cross Hospital. There, she cared for both Allied and German soldiers equally, without discrimination, until German occupation put an end to this.  She also helped many British soldiers escape out of Belgium, until she was captured and executed.  Talking with the chaplain who visited her in prison before her death, she said “Standing, as I do, in view of God and eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness to anyone.”

These words really struck me as I was reading widely differing posts on a Christian site in response to the crisis happening in Israel and Palestine.  Such violence and hatred is rarely a simple matter but rooted in a history of tension and conflict affected by internal and external influences. Whatever the political rights and wrongs, it is the lives of ordinary, everyday, people which suffer: innocent children, civilian casualties, men and women drafted into fighting on one side and the other.  Cavell’s call to lay aside hatred and bitterness, whatever one’s personal political affiliation, is reflected also in the public statement and prayer of both Archbishops Welby and Cottrell on Saturday for restraint on all sides of this conflict and effort towards a just peace for all.

Such tension and conflict are not limited to the national stages of the world.Nor is the Church exempt, as we see from the ‘witness’ of Russia and Ukraine, or the deep pain around the discussions of Living in Love and Faith.  For those who have no Christian faith who look at the Church in the news and social media, what is the witness to good news, hope and peace that they see?  What is the role for each of us in challenging and changing negative perceptions?

Paul hints at this challenge to the Church’s life and witness in his letter to the Philippians from which we read this Sunday (Philippians 4: 1-9). He asks for unity between Euodia and Syntyche, two of the local church’s key agents of mission and ministry. Perhaps there has been a difference of opinion in how to carry out this work; perhaps there is a personality clash here. Whatever is going on, Paul recognises and affirms that both women are offering valuable service to God and to the Church. He encourages the local church to help the women. He invites the Philippians and all who read this letter to grow in faithful witness and unity by prayer and by holding onto what is honourable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. (v8)

Faced with conflict, prayer surely must always be a response.  We pray for God to be present in Israel and Palestine, in Russia and Ukraine, in every such situation, to soften hearts of stone and transform hatred into reconciliation, bringing an end to the terrible damage to life and soul.  We pray that the Holy Spirit leads us through tensions within Church debates, whether around major issues of belief or practical parish concerns, with courage and compassion. And when we pray as Jesus himself taught us, and ask forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, perhaps we need to pray also for honesty to recognise our weaknesses here and courage to acknowledge the position of those with whom we do not agree.


Lucy G


Information on Elizabeth Fry and Edith Cavell taken from JH Darch & SK Burns Saints on earth: a biographical companion to Common Worship. Quoted in the Church of England Lectionary App

Archbishops’ joint statement. 7 October 2023  https://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/

image from Unsplash, by Sunguk Kim

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 15th – 21st October

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday October 12 2023, 8:56 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Rooted and Grounded

Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday October 5 2023, 2:19 pm

Yes. I remember Adlestrop—

This famous poem written by Edward Thomas were about a tiny station stop in the Cotswolds, but those words could equally have been written by a walker visiting a country church.

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

For those who love to sit and muse in a churchyard, these words conjure a familiar setting of rural peace. A brief tranquillity in the hectic bustle of modern life, whether whilst walking the dog, or just when taking a break from work. I seem to spend much time at my desk, often on video or phone calls, and taking a short walk at lunchtime refreshes me; it keeps me feeling rooted and grounded and energised.

The experience of lockdown during Covid has taught us just how important nature and the natural world around us are for our mental wellbeing, as well as our physical health. To feel the wind on our faces, the earth beneath our feet, to see the trees, to hear the sounds of life all around us. To breathe deep, and feel re-connected to it all.

Churches and churchyards have long been places of such peace and pilgrimage, places many of us instinctively go to when the world seems shifting under our feet and we wish to be grounded once more. These places which have stood for centuries can offer a sense of solidity and stability that is found in few other public places.

The local parish church can be part of this sense of being rooted and grounded, in a specific place that has seen generations of our ancestors through baptisms, weddings, funerals, plague, famine, celebration and joy. And of course the seasons and cycle of the year helps us to be rooted in the natural world, and this has been celebrated by the Church for centuries – Lammas and the harvest, All Souls, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Whitsun to name but a few.

Sometimes when visiting and stopping a while in a church, wherever it may be, I wonder about this sense of place and connectedness, both with the here and now but also stretching back through time. And this connectedness is not just with the place, but also its people. How many others have stood here before me?

Being rooted and grounded gives us foundations – emotional, mental, spiritual, as well as the more obvious physical sense of stability. And these places of peace, of solace, of tranquillity, are places where we can re-connect on so many levels. With the earth, with nature, with God, with our inner self.

And I feel that the physical place where we can find this re-connection is also a pointer to the fact that we are rooted and grounded in the love of God. It is this love that sustains us every moment – and not just us, but all that is and exists. Like plants in the earth, our roots must go down and be nourished and drink deep – mentally, emotionally, spiritually – or else we can feel lost and shaky and uncertain, especially when the “certainties” in our lives that we had relied on for stability become less predictable and sure.

Summer now draws to a close, and harvest is upon us. But those words of Edward Thomas still conjure an incredibly vivid experience. It makes me want to go out in the sunshine, and breathe that warm air; a longing for the sounds and smells and utter peace of the church and churchyard. To stand quietly among those who lie at peace around me. To wonder, how many have done the same? And to be rooted and grounded in the love and peace of God that this place symbolises and shares simply by its very presence among us.

Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 8th – 14th October

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday October 5 2023, 8:59 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Do as I say, not as I do!

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday September 28 2023, 2:15 pm

Last week at a clergy gathering, someone mentioned the book “A Year Lost And Found” by Michael Mayne, one time Dean of Westminster Abbey. It chronicles a year of debilitating illness, which was eventually diagnosed as myalgic encephalomyelitis. His recovery was slow and painful and frustrating, and the experience of weakness and vulnerability in that illness affected him deeply.

Daily Dust

Most of the short bulletin pieces end up on the Daily Dust blog. To make our weekly emails shorter, if you’re interested, clink on the link above to read this week’s post in full.

Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 1st – 7th October

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 28 2023, 9:48 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Photo by Martin Katler on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 24th – 30th September

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 21 2023, 9:23 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Conflict? Or Opportunity?

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday September 14 2023, 2:16 pm

Jesus was no stranger to conflict – indeed reading the gospels, he was in the midst of conflict for almost the entirety of his ministry. Then and now, Jesus provokes fierce debate and disagreement. When we have disagreement plus tension (or anxiety), we have conflict. And when two or three or more are gathered, there is always the potential for precisely this to happen. Actually, it’s more of a probability than merely a potential, for no group, no matter how small, will ever agree about everything! 

However conflict can also be an opportunity for growth and change. For reconsidering our own view or position in the light of another. For letting go of the things that no longer serve us or our community, and embracing something new. It can be a chance to understand each other better, to know what the other truly needs or wants. 

Wouldn’t it be amazing if people said, “If you want to know how to handle conflict and difference positively, go down to your local church.” (PS our churches do do it well, but there’s always room for learning!).

https://dailydust.me/2023/09/conflict-or-opportunity/

Most of the short bulletin pieces end up on the Daily Dust blog. To make our weekly emails shorter, if you’re interested, clink on the link above to read this week’s post in full.

Photo by Kristina Litvjak on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 17th – 23rd September

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 14 2023, 9:54 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Photo by Alex Shute on Unsplash

Education Sunday

Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday September 7 2023, 2:34 pm

The second Sunday of September is identified as ‘Education Sunday’ – a day led by the ecumenical organisation Churches Together in England.  Churches across a wide range of Christian denominations unite in recognising and celebrating everyone in the world of education.

Some in England today might ask just what we have to celebrate, at a time when there seem to be so many woes around education: debates on the fitness for purpose of examinations, concerns about the continuing impact of schooling lost to Covid, fears that the current school closures because of RAAC will put further strain on pupils and teaching staff as they try to ensure learning continues, money worries for stressed teachers and also for school finance teams as they juggle budgets to provide the levels of staffing and resources that will enable all children, whatever their needs, to flourish. This is particularly urgent as a higher-than-ever proportion of pupils are living with mental health disorders, and children are stressed with anxieties about family economic survival, world ecological catastrophe and the fear of war and its impacts.

As Church, we can celebrate that in our country there is school provision for all, irrespective of gender, ability or belief, whatever its limitations – and that in this Deanery our schools have exceptional teaching teams who are doing great work for pupils.  We can celebrate that the Church of England was instrumental in ensuring education for all, and continues to be committed to promoting educational excellence for all children and young people, irrespective of their faith or no-faith position. Our Church of England schools are rooted in the principle that Christ came into the world so that ALL might have life in all its fullness.

We can ask ourselves as local churches what it is that we can do to celebrate our teachers, our support staff and all who are working for the educational flourishing of our youngsters.  How, as churches, do we recognise and show our thanks to them?  Are we praying for them regularly in our services and in our private prayers?  How do we know what are their needs each term?  Can we support the Deanery’s initiative to provide dedicated chaplaincy support to the Faringdon Learning Trust?  What can we learn from our teachers and pupils? And what can we offer them?

This year’s Education Sunday theme, the armour of light, is chosen from the lectionary readings for this coming Sunday, from Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 13. Paul wrote that as followers of Christ we need to wake up, recognise and be ready for the hope that Christ promises.  We need to put on the armour of light – put on Christ – and become people of hope, carrying his light in the world.  At a time when there are so many anxieties, conflicts and trouble, and in a context where we may not proselytise our faith in school, instead we can think about how we, as Church, may serve and share hope within schools and with families, and help them discover the strength of that armour of Christ-light, as we offer our service and support to them.

Lucy G

Education Sunday logo © Churches Together in England

For more on Education Sunday see https://cte.org.uk/education-sunday/

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 10th – 16th September

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 7 2023, 9:49 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Love is…

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday August 31 2023, 2:19 pm

When I was young (so much younger than today) there were cartoons on the Tube in London with two figures and the caption “Love is…” I remember especially the “Love is… not putting your feet on the seats”, but there were many more. And all of them were about other people, being considerate, and not being thoughtless or selfish.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been really exploring the idea of what love really is and looks like. Trying to teach anything really does make one delve and explore and research, because otherwise one ends up talking absolute nonsense! What is love, really? We say “God is love” and “I love you” – but what does that mean?

I think the first question I’d ask is, What difference does it make for us to say that? What does love look like? It may be a cliché, but love really is a verb not a noun. It is action, not concept.

“I love you” means caring about your needs, your interests, your wellbeing. It usually means putting “you” before “me” in action, in the same way that we do with grammar (it’s “you and me”, not “me and you”). The best description of love is, I think, still to be found in St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians chapter 13: “Love is…”

“God is love”, wrote St John, “and those who live in love live in God.” He also wrote, “for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not die, but have eternal life.” This really is the ultimate in love, to give oneself, utterly, for the sake of the other. To give up that which is most precious, to bring help, healing, and wholeness to another person. God has no needs, but humanity does – and He gave everything to meet our deepest need and desire, because He loves us.

To say “I love you” is meaningless without action. To turn love into mere words is to cheapen it and rob it of its incredible power. I always remember the ancient Disney version of The Sword in the Stone, when Merlin was teaching the young Arthur. “That love business is a powerful thing,” says Merlin. “Greater than gravity?” asks Arthur. “Well yes,” replies Merlin. “In its way, yes, I’d say it’s the greatest force on earth.” Merlin was half right. Because God is Love, Love is the greatest force in the universe, and indeed is greater than anything else in existence. And we are invited to be part of it.

Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 3rd – 9th September

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday August 31 2023, 9:25 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Rooted and Grounded

Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday August 24 2023, 2:39 pm

Yes. I remember Adlestrop—
 

This famous poem written by Edward Thomas were about a tiny station stop in the Cotswolds, but those words could equally have been written by a walker visiting a country church.

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

For those who love to sit and muse in a churchyard, these words conjure a familiar setting of rural peace. A brief tranquillity in the hectic bustle of modern life, whether whilst walking the dog, or just when taking a break from work. I seem to spend much time at my desk, often on video or phone calls, and taking a short walk at lunchtime refreshes me; it keeps me feeling rooted and grounded and energised.

Churches and churchyards have long been places of such peace and pilgrimage, places many of us instinctively go to when the world seems shifting under our feet and we wish to be grounded once more. These places which have stood for centuries can offer a sense of solidity and stability that is found in few other public places.

The local parish church can be part of this sense of being rooted and grounded, in a specific place that has seen generations of our ancestors through baptisms, weddings, funerals, plague, famine, celebration and joy. And of course the seasons and cycle of the year helps us to be rooted in the natural world, and this has been celebrated by the Church for centuries – Lammas and the harvest, All Souls, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Whitsun to name but a few.

Sometimes when visiting and stopping a while in a church, wherever it may be, I wonder about this sense of place and connectedness, both with the here and now but also stretching back through time. And this connectedness is not just with the place, but also its people. How many others have stood here before me?

Being rooted and grounded gives us foundations – emotional, mental, spiritual, as well as the more obvious physical sense of stability. And these places of peace, of solace, of tranquillity, are places where we can re-connect on so many levels. With the earth, with nature, with God, with our inner self.

And I feel that the physical place where we can find this re-connection is also a pointer to the fact that we are rooted and grounded in the love of God. It is this love that sustains us every moment – and not just us, but all that is and exists. Like plants in the earth, our roots must go down and be nourished and drink deep – mentally, emotionally, spiritually – or else we can feel lost and shaky and uncertain, especially when the “certainties” in our lives that we had relied on for stability become less predictable and sure.

Summer now draws to a close, and harvest is upon us. But those words of Edward Thomas still conjure an incredibly vivid experience. It makes me want to go out in the sunshine, now streaming on to my desk as I type, and breathe that warm air; a longing for the sounds and smells and utter peace of the church and churchyard. To stand quietly among those who lie at peace around me. To wonder, how many have done the same? And to be rooted and grounded in the love and peace of God that this place symbolises and shares simply by its very presence among us.

Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 27th August – 2nd September

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday August 24 2023, 9:15 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Practical Ins and Outs

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday August 17 2023, 2:46 pm

What goes up must come down. What goes in must come out. Maybe not in a form we’d recognise, but input creates output, in some form or other. If you don’t like your output, maybe consider your input!! As so often in life, Jesus had some good advice on this… And like all simple things, it’s not necessarily easy

Practical Ins and Outs – dailydust

Photo by Nigel Tadyanehondo on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 20th – 26th August

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday August 17 2023, 9:22 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Peace in the heart of the storm

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday August 10 2023, 2:16 pm

They say that troubles, like buses, turn up in threes; or perhaps, as Claudius said in Hamlet, When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.  Perhaps they do or maybe, when there are difficulties and anxieties, emotionally and physically we are more drained, and so are less equipped to face the next challenge and so it in turn becomes more of a problem.  Whatever the number, when matters are tough, things can get to feel overwhelming. I have to admit to finding myself a little that way last month.  I was juggling some concerns and then, suddenly, a cancer scare (good newsflash – I’ve now received the all-clear).  Even the thrill of good news, or the adrenaline comedown after something exciting, can be tiring. During these recent weeks I have felt so blessed by those around me who have journeyed with me and held me in prayer.  I have felt myself held by God, as in the well-known Footprints poem.

Our readings through Matthew’s gospel, chapter 14, present us with a rollercoaster of troubles, fear and wonderful miracles. The disciples must have been so confused, downcast, uplifted and exhausted.  Just as John the Baptist’s heralding of a great saviour was becoming a reality, John was brutally executed.  Even as Jesus strove to carry out his ministry of healing and promise, the demands of the crowds were never-ending. Yet, Jesus provided practical and spiritual nourishment to the people on the hillside, and practical and spiritual nourishment to the disciples as he actively involved them in the miracle of fish and bread. Jesus gave his disciples a sign of his power and purpose and a taste of what his presence in them and with them could achieve. In this Sunday’s reading we see the disciples, alone and in fear of their lives as they are caught in a terrible storm on lake Galilee and then when they see what appears to be a ghost – maybe of a previously drowned sailor – coming towards them over the waves. When they screamed in fear, Jesus spoke to them, saying “take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” (14:27) This is more than a simple word of encouragement, or even just, look, it’s only me.  The word Jesus used is the same that God spoke in encouragement and identification to Moses when he was in the wilderness at Mount Horeb: I AM.  This is the God who brings calm out of chaos and creates beauty and purpose.  In Old Testament imagery, this is represented by God conquering raging oceans and destructive sea monsters.  Jesus, declaring I AM in the midst of the storm and calming the wind, was telling them clearly who he was.  But he didn’t do it as a voice out of the wind.  He did it by walking to the terrified disciples and being alongside them in the chaos. When Peter expressed his desire and willingness to be with Jesus, Jesus responded in invitation and then with support when Peter was overwhelmed by the situation and his fears.  Peter wanted to trust; yet even  with the example of Jesus’ power in the miracle on the hillside fresh in his memory, Peter doubted and began to sink – and was caught and carried by Jesus.

The reality of life is that it is stormy and often devastating.  Even when things are going well for us, there is much to distract us. Without desire for, and recognition of, God who has created beauty out of chaos and has promised life out of death, there would be only the chaos, only an ongoing stream of random happenings.  Where would be the hope and point of perseverance in that?  But God has promised life that is abundant in vibrancy and meaning, and travels through the rollercoaster of highs and lows of the world beside us all the way. And because he is with us, when we have the courage to look into his eyes and hold his hand and see his presence, we can step into the still space that he creates and receive his peace in the heart of the storm.

May you feel the peace of the Lord in your life today.

Lucy G

Shakespeare, Hamlet (Act IV, scene V)

Image:  Hokusai The Great Wave, 1831

Prayer Redings for Morning Prayer – 13th – 19th August

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday August 10 2023, 9:59 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 6th – 12th August

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday August 3 2023, 9:41 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 30th July – 5th August

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday July 27 2023, 9:08 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Photo by Edouard Dognin on Unsplash

Parable Sower

Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday July 20 2023, 2:18 pm

Sowing seed is a deeply frustrating thing to do. Recently we decided to grow sunflowers. “Sow the seeds in pairs,” the instructions said. “When they germinate, take the stronger plant and put outdoors.” It was clear that the seed seller was looking for no more than a 50% success rate. 

I also tried to patch up the mess that winter, excess rain, and the dog had made of the lawn. I must have chucked several kilos of grass seed in the bare patches. Maybe my expectations were over-optimistic, but the results were disappointing. It took ages, pigeons must have scoffed at least half of it (judging by the time they spent on the lawn), and the results were not at all the lush verdant green that I had hoped for. The patches that grew best were where there had been nothing at all, and the ground was cleared. The worst bits were where I had tried to fill in gaps. 

Sometimes I wonder if this is part of the creative design. After all, a tree or plant produces thousand – even millions! – of seeds over its lifetime, and probably not more than 1% (if that) manage to grow to maturity as a new plant. 

The parable of the sower is therefore one that makes perfect sense to anyone who knows plants and nature. Jesus lived and worked in a society deeply connected to the land and its rhythms. He also knew that telling stories made principles a lot easier to remember than if he talked philosophy at them. 

There are many many ways to read and understand this parable, and indeed Jesus spells out his intended meaning in his explanation to the disciples. God searches for us indiscriminately, like a farmer sowing seed. He reaches out to us all. Some say we are the soil – good, bad, indifferent – to the Seed of the Word of God that He sows in us. Will we produce an abundant crop? Or are we like the seeds themselves? Will we grow a harvest, growing more seed in ourselves as we mature, or will the inevitable challenges and troubles of life (or indeed its pleasures and distractions) turn us away from God, instead of towards Him? Will we develop into the likeness of God?

The truth is that life is full of both challenge and distraction, both pleasurable and difficult. Challenges are there to give us opportunity to grow in strength of character, to build the muscles of conscience, knowledge, and compassion. We can either face and embrace those challenges and grow, or we can turn aside from them and slowly wither and atrophy into bitterness and weakness. It is not easy. And Jesus never said it would be. 

However God is the great Gardener. He adds compost, He waters the plants, and does all He can to help them. But He can’t grow for them, and whilst soil can be improved, it remains soil. In the same way, though life’s journey is one we have to make ourselves, we are not alone in it. Jesus offers to be our Companion, through the Holy Spirit. 

Gardening is still frustrating, and my lawn is still patchy. But the sunflowers that made it – four of the six – are thriving in the sunshine. I can’t wait to see the flowers, their golden beauty turning to follow the sun through the sky, filled with wonderful seeds for the next generation. Endless possibility! 

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Joshua Lanzarini on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 23rd – 29th July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday July 20 2023, 9:47 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

We are all a part of God’s family

Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday July 13 2023, 2:15 pm

Today, 13th July, it is 38 years since the Live Aid concert, with synchronised performance in the UK and America, raising millions for famine relief in Ethiopia. The whole event closed with the American part of the concert ending with the song We Are The World

The opening verses say

There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
Oh, and it’s time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all.

We can’t go on pretending day by day
That someone, somehow will soon make a change
We’re all a part of God’s great big family
And the truth – you know love is all we need.

That song, by Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson, was about the need for us all to make the intentional choice to make a difference for the world, to be the people who help each other, to recognise our togetherness – and that in our unity, as we help others in their human need, we are helping our own humanity. What hurts the world, hurts us all. In helping others, as the refrain puts it, ”There’s a choice we’re making, We’re saving our own lives.”

The song reminds us that we are all a part of God’s family; implicitly it reminds us that we are commanded to love our neighbour as we love ourselves (Matt 22:39), that we all have a contribution to make (1 Cor. 12:12) and that we are all valued by God.  When Ritchie was asked, in the first year of the Coronavirus pandemic, if he were going to write a new version of We Are The World, he responded that whenever he tried, he kept coming back to the same words; the lyrics are still just as relevant today. The challenges get ever more complex and spread to touch everyone. 

The problems come when we stop feeling these as our hurts, our responsibilities, and see them as someone else’s concern.  Jesus sent his followers out into the world to tell his good news and to show how, through him, the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.  Trusting in Jesus, the disciples were empowered and sent out to be Christlike in the world, to feed, to heal, to bring justice, to be very practical in carrying his invitation to all.  They couldn’t hang around, hoping that somebody else would take the first step towards this better world.  Importantly, Jesus sent them into action with others and with his presence; they had to support each other to be players in making the difference. They had a shared responsibility and a shared love.

38 years on from Live Aid, the call for shared responsibility to the world and intentional choice to make a change is even more urgent.  2000 years on, the call to become a family of welcome exhibiting a taste of the Kingdom of Heaven, to offer Christ’s compassion and justice, to commit to mutual support and mutual generosity of heart (even and maybe especially where this challenges us) in the service of Jesus is just as personal and vital.

May God help us to help the world.

Lucy G

Lionel Ritchie Interviews – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnx0VZdOd6g https://people.com/music/lionel-richie-we-are-the-world-for-coronavirus-victims/

Image – royalty-free photo from PickPic  www.pickpic.com

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 16th – 22nd July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday July 13 2023, 9:31 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Never Enough?

Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday July 6 2023, 2:21 pm

“Never Enough!” The refrain repeats throughout the song, seemingly endlessly. My daughter’s friend loves this song from The Greatest Showman, and the pair of them often listen to it. I found this refrain so utterly annoying, making me think of the modern consumerist culture where more is never enough, and everywhere we look advertisers are constantly showing us how to be dissatisfied. The more we have, the more we want, and the less satisfied we become. There is, thank God, a remedy for this. … 

https://dailydust.me/never-enough/

Most of the short bulletin pieces end up on the Daily Dust blog. To make our weekly emails shorter, if you’re interested, clink on the link above to read this week’s post in full.

Photo by Martijn Baudoin on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 9th – 15th July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Tuesday July 4 2023, 9:57 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Doing little things with great love…

Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 29 2023, 2:16 pm

Jesus says that even little things done with kindness, and for the sake of God because of our faith, are seen and considered as important by God – even just giving a cup of water to a thirsty child (Matthew 10.42). Our Heavenly Father looks at our intention, and our perseverance, and our effort, not just the objective achievement. “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3.17)

http://dailydust.me/doing-little-things-with-great-love/

Most of the short bulletin pieces end up on the Daily Dust blog. To make our weekly emails shorter, if you’re interested, clink on the link above to read this week’s post in full.

Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 2nd – 8th July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 29 2023, 9:06 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash

Priorities? Peace and the Sword

Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 22 2023, 3:50 pm

On first glance, what’s not to like about Jesus and the core values of God’s Kingdom? Justice, mercy, reconciliation, love, peace, healing, restoration, renewal. But to say we want those things means we have to acknowledge the lack and absence of those things – in our societies, cultures, systems, and (most painfully) in ourselves. Jesus doesn’t bring a peace that sweeps everything under the carpet and make it look nice. Jesus brings the sword of truth, that cuts through to the heart of what is really going on, in us and the world. 

http://dailydust.me/priorities-peace-the-sword/

Most of the short bulletin pieces end up on the Daily Dust blog. To make our weekly emails shorter, if you’re interested, clink on the link above to read this week’s post in full.

Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 25th June – 1st July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 22 2023, 9:24 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Proclaim the Good News!

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 15 2023, 2:15 pm

The story of God working among us is all about teamwork. God sends Jesus. Jesus calls and then sends out the twelve apostles. Then later he sends out seventy two, in pairs. Finally, after his Resurrection, he sends all his disciples to the ends of the earth, equipped with the Holy Spirit, so they can share the Good News.

But what is this Good News? The Greek word translated as ‘gospel’ is used of official proclamations from emperors and kings. It’s not just, “have you seen the news in the papers today, it’s great!” The word ‘gospel’ carries far more weight than that. This is a proclamation from the Emperor, important news not to be ignored or dismissed.

But what is the Good News? Jesus takes the words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61.1-2) when he reads in the synagogue (Luke 4.14-20), early in his ministry, in what some theologians call his manifesto. Jesus says that God

has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
    to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour

Again in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus quotes from Isaiah when the disciples of John the Baptist ask him if he is indeed the Messiah:

“Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosyare cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”

This is incredible news! Liberty, release, healing, miracles, even raising the dead! Amazing!

This is not limited to the life of Jesus. This kind of news and these occurrences continued throughout the book of Acts, and throughout the early years of the Church. There are places today where such things still happen. You may have heard of, or seen such things.

od is all about healing and restoration and renewal. This is incredible news! Liberty, release, healing, miracles, even raising the dead! Amazing! This is not limited to the life of Jesus. This kind of news and these occurrences continued throughout the book of Acts, and throughout the early years of the Church. 

The truly wonderful Good News is that God loves us, and has sent Jesus to show us that love, and to lead us back into restored relationship with Him, so that we are able to pray: “Our Father…”, knowing that He hears us, and will always answer….

http://dailydust.me/proclaim-the-good-news/

Most of the short bulletin pieces end up on the Daily Dust blog. To make our weekly emails shorter, if you’re interested, clink on the link above to read this week’s post in full. 

Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 18th – 24th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 15 2023, 9:45 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

We are one body because we all share in one bread

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 8 2023, 2:37 pm

Today is the festival of Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion, also known as the festival of Corpus Christi.  It is one of what is known in the Roman Catholic Church as a ‘feast of devotion’ and within the Catholic and Anglican Church calendars it falls on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.   Trinity Sunday is an opportunity to focus deeply on the extraordinary mystery of the Triune God because the presence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is so threaded through all our worship that we are in danger of overfamiliarity. In the same way, this day dedicated to the Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion is the opportunity to remind ourselves again of why the Eucharist is one of the two essential sacraments central to our Christian worship within the Church of England, and to recognise the profound mystery of how Christ, in his grace, gives himself to us and recreates us as his Church as we receive him in faith.

As the Christian Church, we have been and are very good at creating divisions within ourselves whether for theological, political or other reasons.  Today is a good time to remember that, at the first Holy Communion at the Last Supper, Christ understood the fragility of humanity and the challenges his followers would face.  He knew the world would try to take and break the unity and faith of his disciples, so he commanded a seemingly simple action of shared eating and drinking as a focus for remembering him, and he gave himself, blessed and broken in love, to nourish his Church and to re-member us.  How we understand just what happens within the mystery of Holy Communion and how Jesus gives himself to us may differ, but it is Christ’s gift of love and unity to hold his followers together across all places and time.   Despite our differences and diversity, we are one body for Christ and in Christ because we all share in one bread.  Let us give thanks today to God for that.

Lucy G.

Image – Stained glass from Church of St Michael the Archangel, Findlay, Ohio, available under Creative Commons by Nheyeb, 2011.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 11th – 17th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 8 2023, 9:20 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

The Visitation

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 1 2023, 2:50 pm

An angel and a girl were in a kitchen one day…

We’ve all heard the jokes that begin this way. The phrase sets a scene of utter improbability, inviting us to join in, to imagine.

Imagination is so important in reading the bible. Sometimes we can read it literally, taking the words at face value. But even when we do, we must be aware of the vast gulf in context and culture that lies between 21st century western thought and experience, and 1st century Middle East. And then there is so much in the bible which is allegorical or metaphorical, or where a prophet is trying to express in words a vision which is so transcendent that words will always fall short. “It was like” is a common phrase in the Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and so on), because they are trying to use earthly words and concepts to describe and define the spiritual.

An angel and a girl were in a kitchen one day… Heaven came to meet earth, a precursor of the Incarnation when God became Man in order to help us be restored and reconciled in relationship with God.

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a girl named Mary (Luke 1.26-38), to ask her to be the mother of His Son. It would be possibly dangerous for her – to be an unmarried mother meant shame and disgrace, possibly even death. But Mary had the courage and – most importantly – trusted in God that all would somehow be well. Most importantly, Mary had a lot of evidence to support her trust and faith.

The bible is full of stories of God asking or suggesting seemingly impossible things and then making them happen, with the help of those people who trusted and believed in Him. Last Sunday was Pentecost, the fulfilment of so many things, when the Holy Spirit came in power upon those first followers of Jesus, enabling them to preach the gospel boldly and publicly, and the Church was born. It was the fulfilment of Jesus’ ministry on earth, begun at the Visitation of Gabriel to Mary which this year was on Wednesday 31st May (yesterday). It was also the fulfilment of God’s promises spoken throughout the bible, from Genesis onwards. It was the fulfilment of God’s plan to rescue and restore humanity to full relationship with Himself after the Fall in Genesis 3. St Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians even calls Jesus the Second Adam (1 Cor 15.21-22, 45-49).

God often starts (and continues) in the most surprising places. In a garden with Adam and Eve. With a shepherd boy, David. In a kitchen with Mary. With the headstrong and stubborn fisherman Peter, always too ready to act before thinking. Naked and humiliated, dying on a cross. And again in a garden, at the Resurrection, in a mirror image of the Beginning in Genesis: humanity restored in the same kind of place that it was first created. Finally, with a group of ordinary people, not scholars or powerful men, gathered in the Temple giving praise to God, when the Holy Spirit fell upon them and the Church began.

A Swedish schoolgirl, Greta Thunberg, wrote a small book in 2019 called “No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference”. As I was writing today, that title instantly came to mind. Mary was an invisible girl from a town few had heard of, who was destined for a quiet life of domesticity. Mary’s courage in saying Yes to God, in trusting Him, in obeying Him, changed the world for all time. For that the Church has honoured her above all women for two millennia. Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

An angel and a girl were in a kitchen one day. The angel said to the girl, “How about it? How about becoming the mother of God’s Son?” “You’ve got to be kidding,” said the girl. “Impossible.” “Do you trust God? Look at your cousin Elizabeth! You know God works miracles!” The girl thinks about it for a moment. “Okay, I trust God. I’m in. He’s in charge. I want to help.” And so it was.

May God give us the grace and courage to follow His call, knowing and trusting that God often uses the small and seemingly unimportant people in the world to make the biggest difference.

Blessings,

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 4th – 10th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 1 2023, 9:18 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

New Year, New Beginnings

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday May 25 2023, 2:22 pm

Last week marked a new milestone for me, as it was the first post on the DailyDust blog since August 2021. For those of you who know me well, it’s been an “interesting” time over these past two years. Waiting for life to reach a place of peace and calm has proved pointless, and daily squalls continue to rock the boat. But that is the nature of human life. Peace and stability are wonderful in the moments that we have them, but definitely not a permanent state of being for most of us! I have learnt, in a very personal way, that no matter how bad today has been, as Annie famously sang, tomorrow is another day. A chance for a fresh beginning. 

Pentecost marks a very significant beginning – the birth of the Church worldwide. Jesus’ earthly ministry has ended at the Ascension, and the disciples are waiting in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. Jesus has given them the Great Commission (Matthew 28.18-20), to spread his message of love, peace, mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation to all peoples in all nations. They are waiting for the tools, the ability, the power to carry out that command. And in the meantime as they wait, they obey the Great Commandment (Matthew 22.36-40) – to love God, and to love their neighbour as themselves. Every day, praying together, eating together, supporting each other, and worshipping together in the Temple. 

And it is here, in the Temple, that the Holy Spirit comes upon them in power, and the Church is born. Acts 2 says they were in a house – but what if that house was the house of the Lord? It makes greater sense of what follows – that the crowds around them heard this sound of a rushing wind, that they heard the sudden speaking in tongues, and Peter did not have to go anywhere to speak, but rather stood up and addressed the crowd there and then. There was water to hand for baptism, and three thousand were baptised that day! They were in no ordinary house! 

The incredible bravery of this new start is breath-taking. Fifty days earlier, these men were in utter terror of the Jewish religious authorities (John 20.19-22). Jesus was crucified. Then came the Resurrection, then the forty days of Jesus’ post-resurrection ministry with them, encouraging and equipping them for the next step. Then ten days waiting after the Ascension – during which time they were continually praying and worshipping in the Temple, without fear (Luke 24). 

The Word of God, which had previously been for the Jews and for converts to Judaism, was now in all languages and freely offered to all people. It would be a while yet before Peter and the others realised the true generosity and breadth of God’s self-giving – that this message is truly for all the nations, not just Jews. 

Jesus was and is for everyone. The Word of God continues to be translated into all languages across the world. Prayer and worship is continuous, day and night, throughout the nations. It was as if a second Big Bang explosion occurred, and there has been a constant spread and evolution ever since, rippling out across time and place. 

Pentecost was that new milestone, that point of new beginning, when what had previously been known only to relatively few exploded into the consciousness of thousands, and yet more thousands, on into millions. You and I and all Christians are part of that “great cloud of witnesses” to the love, peace, mercy, justice, and forgiveness of God through His Son Jesus Christ. And that it is through Him that we are able to begin again. He helps us to pick ourselves up when we fall, He tends our wounds, and gives us the courage to face a new day, a new beginning, with Him as our companion. He does indeed send the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous; God shows no partiality, He loves us all equally. But for those who trust Him and call upon His Name, when the floods come they will not be overwhelmed (cf. Isaiah 43.2).

Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 28th May – 3rd June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday May 25 2023, 9:49 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Photo by Leo Rivas on Unsplash

Praying to Our Father

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday May 18 2023, 2:15 pm

Today is Ascension Day, when we remember that Jesus ascended in physical form to heaven, to be with God the Father. There are numberless images and artworks about this – after the Resurrection Jesus spent forty days with the disciples, eating and drinking and talking with them. Giving them the courage and direction for what would come next. There is no doubt that he was there in physical form, not a ghost or spirit. But that also he could enter locked rooms, disappearing in one place and appearing in another in ways that ordinary humans cannot. Perhaps quantum physics now offers us scientific answers to what seemed like divine magic to the early Christians.

Jesus tells his disciples that he is going so that the Advocate – the Holy Spirit – can come to dwell with and within them. Later, St Paul says that it is by the Spirit that we are able to say Abba, Father, to God.

At baptism we call the Holy Spirit upon the one being baptised. This is renewed at Confirmation. It is also renewed every time we pray: Come Holy Spirit. When a priest lays hands on someone for anointing, or when a bishop lays on hands for ordination. All these are moments of deep connection and renewal.

However renewal and connection do not need to wait for these spiritual “high points”. It can (and does) happen each and every day. When we receive the sacrament of Holy Communion, renewing ourselves as members of the Body of Christ, spiritually fed and nourished by Him. And when we pray, Our Father, just as Jesus taught us to do.

The Lord’s Prayer is wonderful. It covers all bases, all that we can ask for and need; it connects us with Christians through the past two millennia; it gives us words when we don’t know what to say; and it is given to us by Christ Himself.

Familiarity with it can make us overlook all this, and we may think it’s just by rote. However there are times that the familiar can bring peace and comfort, especially when we are struggling and feel disconnected and distant from God. In times like these, the Lord’s Prayer may be the very thing that helps us hang on, even by the tips of our fingers.

I will be beginning a small group meeting at the vicarage once a month, on the 3rd Tuesday of the month. If you’re interested, please contact me. Our first meeting is on 20th June. And our first focus will be on the Lord’s Prayer, taking time to unpack it and really think about its meaning, instead of skimming the lines as we so often do. Prayer is going to be one of our key focus points for the next twelve months. I invite you most warmly to join me in this, in deepening our relationship with God through this most vital means of communication with Him, that He Himself gave to us.

As Christ Himself has taught us, so we pray: Our Father… We are all children of the same Heavenly Father, and each and every one of us is beloved and precious to Him.

Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 21st – 27th May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday May 18 2023, 9:55 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

What are we seeking?

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday May 11 2023, 2:15 pm

In Easter season we read from the Acts of the Apostles, and this Sunday finds us in Athens with Paul as he spoke to the governing council (Acts 17:22-31).  It is a passage that is often used as classic exemplar of preaching skill and evangelising engagement. Paul had been talking about Jesus and the Gospel to everyone whose ear he could bend: the Jewish community, Everyman in the marketplace, the Epicurean religious sceptics and the Stoic ethicists striving for a life of virtue and harmony with nature. The Athenian leaders were curious and invited Paul to tell them more.  Paul reached out to his audience through respectful referencing to what was already part of their religious and cultural fabric and used this to introduce God and human relationship with him. 

In this passage we see Paul’s gift of connecting with others and speaking their language to communicate the Gospel.  He found opportunities to talk about God in all sorts of places and he was willing to fail in most cases for the sake of just a few fruitful conversations.

We know from archaeological sources that there was indeed a temple in Athens dedicated to an unknown god.  In a nation with a pantheon of gods, perhaps the Athenians were simply hedging their bets, making sure they had not left out an influential deity.  Perhaps this was part of God’s great plan, that when Paul arrived in Athens there would be a resource he could use to make known the God with no name other than I AM, God of all existence, and yet the God who invites everyone into knowing him personally in Jesus.  Perhaps the fact of the Athenian curiosity and culture of debate was a mark of people constantly seeking deeper understanding and meaning in life.

This seems to resonate now.  While people in our culture are not as Paul expressed at the Areopagus – ‘I see how extremely religious you are in every way’ (v22) – we do know that today many people claim to believe in something divine, ‘other’ and are searching for a spiritual unknown and a sense of meaning in life.  So, what are the community spaces we move in?  Who is asking the questions around us and what are the questions?   We don’t have to have Paul’s preaching skills and evangelising engagement; we just need to be willing to enter the conversation and to trust the Holy Spirit to shine light into the fog of uncertainty and the exploration of the unknown.

Lucy G

Image adapted by LG from BBC material, with thanks.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 14th – 20th May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday May 11 2023, 9:04 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 7th – 13th May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday May 4 2023, 9:36 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 30th April – 6th May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday April 27 2023, 10:10 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

What’s Next?

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday April 20 2023, 2:16 pm

President Bartlett of the West Wing series could be a very decisive man, and when he was finished with a subject, he would close it down with “what’s next?” Woe betide any staffer who tried to continue with any unanswered aspect of that topic! 

Easter Sunday is not an end, but a beginning. It signals the start of the new creation. Death gives way to Life, and becomes a point in the journey, no longer the ending. However it’s easy (and a frequent error) to see Easter as the final destination after the journey of Lent and Holy Week, and to then say, what’s next? 

Easter is not merely a day, it is a whole season lasting seven weeks, up to Pentecost. It is a time to celebrate this new beginning. To dwell in the moment for a while, to savour the joy of the Resurrection which has changed absolutely everything for all creation. The Resurrection has renewed, restored, and reconciled all creation to God. It is still a work in progress – that healing work which Jesus began has not yet come to completion, for this world is still so fractured and hurting, primarily because of humanity’s collective inability to admit our failures and ask for God’s help. 

We could ask “what’s next?” and move on from Easter, leaving it behind as just a long weekend, returning to the work of the ‘real world’. However I wonder if that would be to miss the point somewhat. What if the point of Easter was that we live permanently in the light of the Resurrection? We’re always rushing on to the next thing. It’s part of modern life. “What’s next?” we demand, the moment that the previous thing finishes, and sometimes even sooner! 

Recently I realised that I find it almost impossible to rest and be truly still. The endless to-do list is a crushing burden, and phones and tablets make it easy to “just do” something whilst supposedly doing something else. The phone pings and we react, even if talking to someone or immersed in another activity. I wonder how many of you can recognise this, and find yourselves doing the same or similar? Even when praying I find myself turning over a stone or a set of beads. There’s a pad and pencil to hand to write down all the irritating thoughts and rememberings that come into my mind the moment I try to still it. 

Why does this matter? Well, perhaps it doesn’t. But I do wonder whether this incessant multitasking activity steals the joy of the moment. I watch my daughter playing with Lego, and remember doing the same as a child. Total and complete concentration, with nothing else to occupy or distract my mind. Maybe this Easter I’ll try colouring again, or crochet without trying to also listen to the audio of some improving book that I ought to read! Feel free to laugh! My guess however is that for many of you, it will be a wry laughter as you recognise yourself in my words. 

May Easter bring you peace, healing, and renewal, not only in body, mind and spirit, but also in your relationships – with God, with each other, and with yourself. 

Blessings, 

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Nienke Broeksema on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 23rd – 29th April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday April 20 2023, 9:25 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

More precious than gold

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday April 13 2023, 2:24 pm

In this culture, we often use a gold ring as a mark of the precious commitment and the hope of never-ending love made within marriage vows.  Gold is expensive, doesn’t tarnish and it has that deep, warm glow that make it such a good symbol of something spiritually as well as literally precious.  I have to admit, now that my knuckles have become a bit arthritic, I don’t actually wear my wedding ring these days, but that doesn’t mean I feel any less committed to my husband or love him any less.  I don’t wear the wedding dress either; that was packed away in tissue in the wardrobe a long time ago.  

I wonder, now that we have celebrated Easter Sunday, have we packed it away for the year or are we still deeply involved? Easter is a season of seven weeks in the annual Church calendar, but it is also a new beginning and a new way of being that is for ever.  The Cross and the Resurrection are a transformation story, so what difference has Easter made to us, to who we are and how we live?  When others look at us at work, walking the dog, out shopping or wherever, how can they tell we are Easter people?

Peter develops this theme throughout first letter that we begin to read from this Sunday and will dig into over the coming weeks.  In Easter we have a living hope and the promise of a new future (v3).  That hope and promise is an extraordinary, free, loving gift from God.  But it is not something to be folded away in tissue, to be held in reserve, however precious.  It wouldn’t really be a living hope if we try to lock it away inside ourselves.  It is something to be put into action now as well as something future to rely on with confidence.

And we don’t have to worry about keeping this gift safe, because, as Peter writes, this inheritance from God is imperishable and kept in heaven for us.  God is giving his protection to us now and also in readiness for us for eternity, through faith.  But this is not a sort of handy get-out-of-jail-free card that means we are free to do whatever we want in life now; that was one of the misconceptions that the apostle Paul had to address when writing to the infant church in Corinth.  Nor is this a cosy, safety bubble; we know that life is very often painful, distressing and unfair, and Christians suffer as much as anyone else.  This theme of suffering trials and fiery ordeal is evident in the extract of the letter for this Sunday, and in the extracts read in the coming Sundays of the Easter season.  Peter uses the imagery of gold testing – the trials we suffer sharpen our faith, and faith carries us through the testing – and the result is faith that is stronger, more beautiful and more precious than any gold. That faith is costly but it shines with the deep, warm glow of joy in Christ.

As we travel through this Easter season, may you experience how precious you and your faith are to God – more precious than gold – and may you be filled with joy in living hope.

Alleluia!

Lucy G

Image by Dan Brown, 2006.

Free to use under Creative Commons licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 16th – 22nd April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday April 13 2023, 10:25 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Holy Week

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday April 6 2023, 2:17 pm

The journey of Holy Week is one we take each year, just as each and every Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection on that first Easter Day. It is familiar, and we can ride through the narrative with the ease of that familiarity. It’s like driving the same route to work or school every day – we cease to actually notice the details, because we are on a kind of auto-pilot. 

It takes something out of the ordinary to jolt us awake and into paying attention to what is around us. Sometimes it’s the incredible beauty of trees covered in frost. Other times it’s the way that the sun lights up the landscape and brings it to shining and sparkling life. 

This Holy Week, I am inviting you all to try and see the story anew through the eyes of those first disciples, eyewitnesses of the events which are so very familiar to us. I wonder, what would it have been like to experience those events for real? To read the book for the first time, not knowing the ending, rather than it being a familiar story we’ve heard dozens of times before. 

And, most importantly, what details suddenly stand out? What is God’s message for you this Holy Week? What new thing is God waiting to show you? I am very sure of this one thing – that if we ask for fresh insight, to see with the grace of the Holy Spirit, we will find something new we had never seen before with such piercing clarity. 

Whatever Holy Week and the Day of Resurrection bring you this year, I pray that above all these holy days bring you into a closer walk with Jesus, not just this week, but in all the weeks to come. 

May this week be holy and blessed for you and your families, and may you be filled with the joy of the Risen Lord this Easter. 

Talisker

Richard Bavin – The Empty Tomb
Image Copyright © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 9th – 15th April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday April 6 2023, 9:36 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Palm Sunday

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday March 30 2023, 2:54 pm

Once more we find ourselves on this rollercoaster journey: from crowds shouting Hosanna as Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph and acclaim, to the new covenant of Maundy Thursday, the terror and despair of Good Friday, the grieving of Holy Saturday, to the unbounded joy of Resurrection on Easter Day.

This year I’d like to invite you to enter into this journey in an imaginative and deeper way. Which character do you most identify with in these stories? If you had been there, what would you have seen and felt? I wonder, how must Jesus himself have felt on Palm Sunday as he was acclaimed by the crowds, knowing as he did that his enemies were plotting and that he had only days to live. There was so much he still had to do, and such a short time to do it all. And yet he also had all the time in the world, because of the Resurrection, and the Holy Spirit which he sent to dwell within us at Pentecost.

In past years, I always wondered how the crowd could turn from shouts of welcome to baying for his blood within such a short time. It doesn’t say much for the goodness of human nature.

Over the past year I’ve read many books, and had the privilege of being introduced to a new way of seeing this. The crowd who welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem were not at all the same ones who demanded his execution on Good Friday. The ordinary people who shouted for joy at the arrival of their long-awaited Messiah, who were filled with hope and love, were still abed and asleep in the early hours of Good Friday. The ones filled with hatred and evil at the challenge that Jesus brought had plotted this, and arrested Jesus whilst the ordinary people who loved him were not there to fight back. By the time that the ordinary citizens awoke, it was all over. They were only in time to watch him, beaten and bloody, carry his cross to the place of crucifixion.

How often have we missed the vital moment? That crucial point when we had the one chance to say something, change things, ensure justice. To stop evil in its tracks. This year, as I make this annual pilgrimage through Passiontide and Holy Week once more, I wonder what parallels will become clear to me, where I need to be alert and awake, to speak up for the right thing.

I wonder, what will Holy Week bring you this year?

I pray that, whatever else it may bring, it also brings you closer to the heart of God, knowing the love of Jesus that was so great he died for you, and rose again that you may live life in all its fullness, both here and hereafter.

Revd. Talisker

Image by Norman Adams – Christ’s entry into Jerusalem
Copyright © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 2nd – 8th April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 30 2023, 9:00 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 26th March – 1st April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 23 2023, 10:12 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 19th – 25th March

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 16 2023, 9:25 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

A Water Cooler Encounter

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday March 9 2023, 2:21 pm

Many firms have embraced the concept of water cooler encounters as a positive force within the workplace.  This is the idea that, as employees go to get a drink from the water cooler, they will meet others doing the same and share chat.  As a result, people talk about topical issues, discover shared interests, get to know each other better, step outside the boxes of their different roles and responsibilities, and discuss what they are working on.  This in turn leads to fresh ideas, new directions of thought and creative perspectives – all benefitting the employees and the company’s work.  The key elements are a social space that people need or want to go to, and a willingness to engage in conversation.

An extension of this is individuals whose gift is to ‘become’ the water cooler moment within the community: people who are able to socialise comfortably, get to know others, bonding over shared stories, and through this are able to share conversation about important issues.  It is not everyone’s gift but I’m sure we can all recognise those around us who are blessed with it.

In John’s gospel, we hear this Sunday of how Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob, half a mile outside the town of Sychar. (John 4: 5-42). The well would have been very much the water cooler place, where women would have gathered together to draw water, helping each other and sharing gossip, usually in the cool times of the early morning or evening.  But Jesus’ encounter with the woman was at noon, under the heat of the midday sun.  She came alone to draw water from a well that was some 100 feet deep!  Why?  As John’s account develops, we discover that the woman has been married five times and is now living in an unmarried relationship.  Perhaps the poor woman had been widowed five times and no man now wanted to risk marrying her.  Or perhaps she had a series of failed marriages and was constantly seeking a better relationship.  Whatever the reason, she seems to have been ostracised by the other women of Sychar.

Indeed, everything about this particular well-side water cooler encounter is against expectations.  Jesus breaks the taboos of a male stranger talking to a woman, of a Jew talking (in Jewish terms) to an ‘unclean’ Samaritan enemy and, worse, drinking water from her pitcher.  But by stepping outside the expectations, Jesus was able to draw her into conversation.  As this developed he showed her that he knew her deeply and he opened up to her the invitation to know and receive his gift of living water, true life.  

And as we see repeatedly elsewhere in the gospel narratives, encounters with Jesus not only turn lives around to a new relationship with God, but also achieve a healing of human relationships, returning ‘healed’ individuals into recognition and social acceptance.  In this restoration of the damaged, Jesus took the outcast and made them the water cooler moments that began the transformation of the lives of those they went on to encounter.  Filled with the exciting news of her well-side meeting with Jesus, the woman rushed back to Sychar to share her story.  There, because of her testimony, people listened to her and many other Samaritans came to know Jesus.

I wonder, what are the water cooler spaces in our communities?  How do we as church be the water cooler identity? How are we sharing the transformative good news of Jesus Christ in the social places and in the unlikely moments?  How are we living his compassion in restoring the dignity of the outcast?

May you be refreshed today by Jesus in your journey of Lent.

Lucy G

Image by Lucy G.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 12th – 18th March

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 9 2023, 9:40 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Image: Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well – Guercino (public domain)

The God of love

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday March 2 2023, 2:18 pm

“For God, so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life.“

This verse from John 3.16 must be one of the most famous in the Bible. And the wonderful and beautiful thing is that it is absolutely true. Jesus’s life was one that demonstrated mercy, forgiveness, and love, in his teachings, and in his actions and feelings; and finally demonstrated in his death upon the Cross, to redeem us all from the power of sin. The most wonderful thing is that love is indeed stronger than death, and so death could not hold Jesus in its grasp, but was forced to let him go, and so the power of death was broken for all time. As Christians, we have a sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life because of the love of God embodied and demonstrated in his son Jesus Christ .

All that may sound like just theology. However, it’s also absolutely and vitally true in our own lives, and has a huge real world impact on how we live, and on our attitude and approach to life and to all around us.

St. John is often called the apostle of love, and when we look at his gospel as a whole, and also look at his letters later in the new Testament, we can see why. After all this is the disciple who wrote that we loved because God first loved us. This is the disciple who leaned upon Jesus’ shoulder at the Last Supper, and who was called “the one whom Jesus loved“. 

Finally when Jesus was asked, “Which is the greatest commandment?” by a Pharisee, who was hoping to trip him up in his theology and knowledge of the law, Jesus replied, quite simply, “love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul, and strength. And love your neighbour as yourself.“ These two commands do indeed, in the words of the Book of Common Prayer, sum up the whole Law and the Prophets. 

If we can put these two commands at the very centre of our lives, then we will be responding in the best possible way to the God who so loved the world that he sent his only Son, that all who believe in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For eternal life is not merely the hereafter on the other side of death,  but rather a way of living, here and now, that allows us to live life to the full, truly to enjoy and appreciate all the blessings which God gives to us, and encourages us to share those with all our fellow human beings and fellow creatures.

So this Lent, may the God of love fill you with all joy in believing, and may you shine love and light to all around you.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Emmanuel Phaeton on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 5th – 11th March

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 2 2023, 9:48 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

‘Christ Instructing Nicodemus,’ attributed to Crijn Hendricksz Volmarijn (ca 1604-1645)

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 26th February – 4th March

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday February 23 2023, 9:45 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Meeting with God on mountains – and at home

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Friday February 17 2023, 7:59 am

Meeting with God on mountains is a familiar theme in the Bible. Moses does so, very famously, on Mount Sinai where he is given the Law of the Ten Commandments. God is teaching His people how to live in freedom and community. They have been used to generations of slavery, and so they just don’t know how. By the way, Moses also encountered God in the burning bush on a mountain.

Then Jesus meets with Elijah and Moses on a mountain, in the presence of the disciples, at the Transfiguration in Matthew’s gospel.

And there are countless other mountain-top encounters. Abraham when he is asked to sacrifice Isaac. Elijah encountering God in the stillness, after the wind, fire, and earthquake, having called down the fire of the living God to defeat the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel. God’s temple is built on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Jesus’ last night before his arrest was on the Mount of Olives. Some of Jesus’ most famous teaching was the Sermon on the Mount. He feeds the five thousand on another mountain. The list goes on.

For many, there is an internalised expectation that we have to come away to a deserted place to meet with God. That takes time, and money. And for some people, those two commodities are in short supply. The busy parent, working all the hours they can, just to keep things afloat, only to return to all the housework and childcare. Taking large chunks of time to go away alone, to travel to the mountaintop to encounter God, is plainly impractical.

Have you noticed, it tends to be men that are called away to the mountaintops for those encounters? Men are the ones who have to travel, to struggle physically to get to the place to hear God. To take the time away from all their other priorities and distractions. And whilst we may live in a more equal world in terms of shared labour in the home and with children, Covid showed us just how close we still are to the patriarchal values of our long-gone ancestors!

Perhaps that’s why so many of God’s encounters with women are in their homes, including some of the most famous moments of the Bible. God comes to them, because He knows they cannot come to Him on the mountain. God comes to the Blessed Virgin Mary via the Angel Gabriel. God comes to Abraham and Sarah, to tell them they will have a son. Jesus comes to Mary and Martha, teaching in their home. Jesus comes to the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus comes first to Mary Magdalene after his Resurrection.

God encounters women – and those trapped by their responsibilities – in the mundane and the ordinary tasks and places of life. He knows where we are, and the burdens we carry. And He speaks to us just as clearly over a boiling kettle or a kitchen sink as he does on the mountain top.

God isn’t only out there. He’s in here. In our homes. In our daily tasks. In our hearts. And in our every breath, as we breathe in His blessing, and breathe out our gratitude and love for Him. For this is the God who so loved the world, that He sent His only Son…

Best wishes

Talisker

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 19th – 25th February

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Friday February 17 2023, 7:59 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Refreshment of heart and soul in times of trouble

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday February 9 2023, 2:55 pm

I am grateful for the reflections of Revd John Pridmore, formerly a priest in the East End of London, and for the inspiration of God’s presence in the beauty of spring flowers unfolding in gardens and hedgerows around us this week as I was thinking about this bulletin piece.

Yesterday I watched my bees beginning to emerge from winter hibernation and heading off in search of the treasures of newly-opened flowers; I think they have probably discovered the swathes of snowdrops and first crocuses that bless the nearby churchyard.  On a fencepost, a robin surveyed the fields while overhead a magnificent kite soared and swooped.  These joys of nature are not limited to our beautiful, rural location; cities too are home to flocks of little birds, peregrines nest in ledges of skyscrapers and bees are nurtured in rooftop hives.

But this beauty has a darker side too.  Each year, surveys show that our wildlife and wildflower populations are declining; pollution and pesticides threaten the lives of insects, including the bees.  Climate change is disrupting the patterns of natural life which are integrated in ways that we still do not fully understand and with far-reaching consequences.

Alongside the environmental concerns are all the many social problems that humans have created by policy and by conflict.  This Sunday’s passage from Matthew (6:25-34) is a challenging read, as Jesus tells us not to be anxious or to worry about life, about food or clothing, because God knows we need these things and will provide.  Knowing God knows doesn’t seem to make the electricity bill any less, and the number of people having to turn to foodbanks and school breakfast clubs continues to rise. But knowing God knows and has a place for us in his kingdom is a lifeline of spiritual strength for today.

Our readings this week are full of the power and wonder of God’s creation and to the presence of his loving care shown in the detail of the moment as much as to the great sweep of his timeless promise.  They invite us to pause and to look with deliberate consideration for how God is present all around us, to look for the beauty – literal and spiritual – with which he blesses us. But our readings also recognise that life is difficult, harsh: creation and ourselves suffering and groaning (Romans 8: 18-23), and that there are troubles today and tomorrow (Matthew 6: 34).  Our readings invite us to stop in the midst of this trouble to have confidence that God understands the pain of living and is inviting us take strength from him as he leads us to new life; to take the time to recentre ourselves on the knowledge of this love and care so that we are spiritually refreshed in the face of worry.  The glimpses of birds and budding flowers are a reminder of this renewing hope. One day, even as in the photograph here of a park in Kiev, in the war-devastated cities of Ukraine life will be restored.

And the account of creation (Genesis 1-2.3) reminds us that God has given us responsibility for caring and building up his world. In creation and in Christ, God has blessed us so that we may bless each other.  So, if we do yearn to strive first for the kingdom of God, God will guide our working together to make the changes today that will ease someone’s troubles tomorrow.

Lucy G.

Image – Starling among crocuses in a park in Kiev, Ukraine, photo by Sergei Supinsky, courtesy of NBC News www.nbcnews.com

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 12th – 18th February

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday February 9 2023, 9:39 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Answering our own questions?

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday February 2 2023, 2:31 pm

So often we expect God to wade in and solve our problems, waving the divine equivalent of a magic wand. And we can get jolly annoyed when that doesn’t happen. Or when things happen, but not as we planned.

Always, God invites us to get involved and to take the first step of faith. And when we do that, we usually find that in fact the entire path ahead of us is smoother than we feared, and many things fall into place, often with unexpected ease and timing.

I do wonder if a first step towards solving many of the world’s problems, and indeed many more local ones as well, might be in putting God’s principles into action. Without being in any way literalist, one could say that God did write the basic coding for humans and the world.

The prophet Isaiah sums it up well, when he speaks these words from God. Just before these words, the prophet has been slating the hypocritical actions and words of the religious and political elites. Instead of all that, this is what God really wants from us.

Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of injustice,
    to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
    and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicatorshall go before you,
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

It’s a grand vision, but “impossible!” we all say. Impractical. Insane! Or is it? And is it a grand vision, or is it just the simplest of actions. The problem is, simple so often seems impossible. Sometimes things are so ingrained that they feel unchangeable. We ask big questions, and we seek answers outside of ourselves. But I wonder if the answer to our deep longing for change and a better, fairer, more just world, is actually within ourselves, a tiny whisper from the Holy Spirit, if we could only listen.

Best wishes

Talisker

Photo by Hadija Saidi on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 5th – 11th February

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday February 2 2023, 9:23 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Photo by Luis Tosta on Unsplash

This week we have NEWS and EXCITING EVENTS!  Please read on….

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday January 26 2023, 3:06 pm

THIS SUNDAY 29th JANUARY – Thanksgiving for Revd. Jim Mynors’ ministry

The 10.30am service at Pusey this Sunday will include a benefice thanksgiving to Revd. Canon Jim  Mynors for all that he has given to our churches, and for his ministry among us. Whilst we’re delighted that Jim and Helen still live in Buckland and continue to worship and minister among us, it is good to give thanks properly, as a benefice, for Jim’s time as our Associate Priest. 

BENEFICE AWAY MORNING SATURDAY 4th MARCH

at St. Mary’s Convent, Wantage, 9.30am  – 12.45pm

The ministry team have organised an away morning for all our churches in the benefice to take time out to celebrate what God has done among us over the past seven years, and to begin to think about where God may be calling us next, in the coming few years. 

All church wardens, PCC members, and all church congregation members are invited. Let’s spend a few hours together, thinking and praying on what each of our churches needs, where God is calling us, and how we can follow His call both as individual churches and as a benefice.

Whilst we’re doing this away morning as a benefice, we know that each of the seven churches is very distinctive and has its own identity, and so we’re building that into the framework of the sessions. 

The morning will be facilitated by Revd Charles Chadwick, hosted at St Mary’s Convent in Wantage, from 9.30am to 12.45pm. You’ll be home for lunch! 

There is a cost involved (which will be paid by benefice funds, though donations are welcome) so we ask everyone who wishes to come to book a FREE ticket on the Eventbrite link here. Booking will close at 5pm on Thursday 16th February (though it might be possible to slip in one or two more after that – no promises!). 

Best wishes, 

Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 29 January – 4 February

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday January 26 2023, 9:55 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Fishers of people

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday January 19 2023, 2:16 pm

I will make you fishers of men
Fishers of men, fishers of men
I will make you fishers of men
If you follow me
If you follow me, if you follow me
I will make you fishers of men
If you follow me

So go the words of a popular children’s Bible song, using the words of Jesus’ call to Andrew, Simon Peter, James and John in our Gospel reading for this Sunday. (Matthew 4:12-23)  When they heard his calling, at once the men dropped everything and headed off after Jesus.  It was the first big turning point in their lives.  They were just rough fishermen, toiling at their nets, but Jesus chose these men.  He saw what they were at that point in their lives, and their potential, what they could – would – be, if they responded to his call. When they unhesitatingly accepted his invitation to follow him, to become his students, learning by living alongside him, Jesus re-created who and what they were, transforming them into something new.

This story of the call to the first disciples is so familiar that perhaps we take it for granted.  And one of the bits that perhaps we pass over is that Jesus called these first few in pairs, Simon and Andrew and then John and James. They were not asked to step into the unknown alone, but to become part of a seedcorn community into which Jesus drew further disciples, and which would become the beginning of the early Church. It foreshadows the episode in Luke chapter 10 where seventy further disciples (we don’t know their names) were sent out in pairs to carry Jesus’ message of the coming of the kingdom of God into the villages and townships of the surrounding countryside.  This Sunday’s passage also foreshadows the closing lines of Matthew’s Gospel: Jesus’ great commission to his disciples –  “Go therefore 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)  Just as Jesus had invited his disciples to be part of his journey, so he sent them out to the world to continue that invitation.

Our own relationship with Jesus is most likely formed, not only by what we learn of him through the Bible, but by our relationships with those around us who tell us about Jesus and who share their stories of turning points and of living with Jesus alongside them – the people who have invited us to join them in following Jesus and offered to accompany us as we set out into the unknown.    It may be that the cornerstone of a relationship with Christ for some is very personal, perhaps in private prayer, but when we look at the disciples, we see they were brought together by Jesus to become his followers, his collected body to support each other and to become his community to share work together.  And that would have made perfect sense to those early fishermen who worked their nets as a team.

  • What is your story of receiving Jesus’ invitation? 
  • What difference has it made to your life, to be a follower of Jesus? 
  • Who has walked alongside you on your journey of faith?
  • What do you think it looks like for you to be a fisher of people for Jesus?

And let’s remember that we never have to go fishing on our own, thank you Lord.

Lucy G

Image: Jesus calls the fishermen – mosaic from Church of San Apollinare, Ravenna

Song lyrics by Alfred Newman (The Greatest Story Ever Told)

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 22nd – 28th January

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday January 19 2023, 9:47 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Photo by Mason Kimbarovsky on Unsplash

Come and see

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday January 12 2023, 2:28 pm

Here we are, in the second week of Epiphany, the season of gradual revealing of Jesus, in which we discover more and more about his presence in the world and in our lives. ‘Discovery’ suggests finding something new or surprising, finding something that is being searched for, uncovering something that is already there but just not yet visible, becoming aware … All of this seems present in the Gospel reading for this Sunday – John 1: 29-42. 
 
John the Baptist has known that his is waiting for someone greater than himself to come, that he is preparing the way for the Messiah, and so he has been telling others to reform their lives and has been baptising so that the Messiah would be revealed.  I’m sure a load of people thought he was quite nuts, out in the wilderness of society’s expectations, but quite a few paid attention. And then it happened!  After all the not knowing, the expecting and the preparing, John saw the Spirit descend on Jesus like a dove and remain on Jesus, and now he can’t stop telling people and pointing to Jesus.  I wonder, when we have an epiphany of Jesus moment, do we tuck it away inside ourselves so as not to risk being banished to the wilderness by our hearers, or do we share our experience, tell our story?
 
Andrew and another of John the Baptist’s crowd listened to him and started following Jesus.  Jesus didn’t say, “why are you following me around?” or “what do you want?”  He asked the pair, “what are you looking for?” (v38)  What is it that they were hoping to discover? Maybe they didn’t really know what they were looking for- they just knew they were looking. Certainly, Andrew and his friend didn’t respond with a load of questions; they simply asked, “where are you staying?” and Jesus invited them to come and see.  No pressure, just a simple invitation.  And off they went and spent the day with Jesus, getting to know him.  I wonder, are we always ready to respond with that much time to hang around with Jesus and get to know him better, or are we sometimes just too busy being busy?
 
Once Andrew had had the chance to start getting to know Jesus, he invited his brother Simon along too.  And that was pretty dramatic: before Simon has a chance even to say hello, Jesus recognises him by name, and promptly changes that name, calling Simon Peter, his rock.  That’s the challenge and the joy of accepting the invitation to come and see – Jesus changes us, takes us further on the journey every time we encounter him.
 
I wonder, how often do we invite others who have not yet met Jesus to join us in getting to know him better?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were the tiny start to someone else’s amazing journey with Jesus?  If someone who didn’t know they were looking, suddenly found the opportunity to ask the big questions and discover the answer!  And maybe they in turn will help us deepen our discovery too.
 
Lucy G
 
Image by LG with thanks to EngageMinistry resources.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 15th – 21st January

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday January 12 2023, 9:38 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Chaos at Court, Shock Revelations!

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday January 5 2023, 2:14 pm

Imagine the scene – three important-looking foreigners from faraway lands ride into Jerusalem on camels, with all their retinue, and make their way to the palace. Perhaps it’s not as splendid and excessive as the procession in Disney’s Aladdin (on the Christmas tv watchlist), but it will certainly have been noticed. These men arrive at the palace, and ask to see the recently born child who is King of the Jews.
 
What???!?!?
 
The King in Judea is Herod, and he’s no baby. There is no royal infant here.
 
So, they explain that they are astrologers, wise men from the East, and they’ve seen a star which is the portent of the great King promised by God, and that star has led them here.
 
WHAT??!?!?!?
 
The wise men would have had to tell their story to the chief of the palace guard, the chief vizier (or whoever ran the palace for Herod), and probably several other high-ranking courtiers. After all, one did not simply pitch up at the palace and get to see the King without explaining one’s business! And of course, many others will have overheard these conversations. Whispers would be running like wildfire! A new King of the Jews? One foretold by a star? Could this be the Messiah? You can imagine the scene. If newspapers had existed, imagine the headlines!!
 
Herod is the puppet king installed by Rome, and he’s not all that popular. In fact, he’s known for his cruelty and evil actions. However, he’s the only way the Jewish religious elite manage to retain any semblance of independence, so they put up with his actions. Now these important strangers have arrived, and their news threatens to upend the political settlement, which is a precarious one at best. Given all that, it’s no surprise in political terms that Herod is very unhappy about this, and tries to trick the wise men, and use them to locate the child so he can kill him.
 
Imagine the scene in Bethlehem when these wise men with their camels and retinue arrive in Bethlehem, seeking a small child, no more than two years old, who is born King of the Jews! The whispers would again have spread like wildfire, indeed might already have reached Bethlehem from Jerusalem ahead of them. Mary and Joseph have clearly remained with their wider family in Bethlehem after the census, for it is clear later in the story that Jesus is no longer a tiny baby. If the star appeared at his birth, then he must be at least several months old, to allow for the wise men to travel to Palestine from the far East, along the Silk Road.
 
In Matthew’s gospel, the coming of the wise men symbolises the revealing of God’s son to the wider world. God is revealing his plan to redeem the world from sin and evil. But evil fights back, foolishly thinking it can stop God’s plan. So even as God comes among us as one of us, a king desperate to hold on to his worldly power at any cost, even to the point of fighting against God, unleashes one of the worst evils imaginable – the slaughter of innocent children. Herod’s anger and his capacity for evil in order to eliminate a possible political rival – the consequences of the lust for power were then, as now, utterly tragic for the ordinary people who might threaten that power.
 
God comes, as He promised, to bring us peace. The response of the powerful elite is fear, anger, and destruction. The writer of Matthew’s gospel focuses on the great irony that foreign wise religious men recognise Jesus for who He is, when the Jewish religious leaders do not.
 
Epiphany season (the wise men, Jesus’s baptism, the miracle at Cana) is all about the appearance of God as one of us – and it’s true that sometimes we have to look beyond the surface in order to see God at work. It’s about revelation, realisation, seeing what God is already doing among us, in our lives and in our churches and communities. May God give us the grace to see, and the wisdom and courage to follow His leading.

Revd. Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 8th – 14th January

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday January 5 2023, 9:53 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 1st – 7th January

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 29 2022, 9:39 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Light in the Darkness

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday December 22 2022, 2:15 pm

On a dark night, when we can’t see our way, there are few things more welcome than a light! And candles (or wood fires) in our homes bring a sense of warmth and welcome – there’s a reason that “hygge” is so popular!

Darkness is both literal and metaphorical. The promise that God gives us is of the light of His presence. All we have to do is ask. The famous picture of The Light of the World by Holman Hunt really resonates for me at this time of year, when the nights are long and light fades so quickly. 

The prophet Isaiah says (Isa 9.2):

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness

a light has dawned.

And then there are the wonderful words of the prologue in St John’s gospel (Jn.1.1-5): 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was with God in the beginning.Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1.1-14 is the bible passage chosen by Bishop Steven for us all in this diocese to reflect on during 2023. It’s one of my absolute favourites. Especially the phrase “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”  The King James Bible renders it “the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.” 

It’s absolutely true – darkness recedes the moment that light shines. And the old-fashioned word “comprehend” has so many layers of meaning. Not only is darkness unable to overcome light, it does not understand it either. Darkness has only utter non-comprehension and defeat when faced with the Light. And that brings such hope! As Aragorn says in the Lord of the Rings, “dawn is ever the hope of men.” 

When faced with Light, darkness flees, and all that was covered in darkness is revealed. Things that appeared shadowy and frightening are seen for what they truly are, and can be dealt with. The enemy (whatever form it may take for us) can be seen, and cannot so easily ambush us. Fear is either banished, or at the very least put in its proper place and perspective. Light is the blessing without which there is no life. Light brings hope, and peace, and knowledge, and truth. 

Jesus is the Light of the whole world, the whole universe in fact! And He is also the Light within each one of us who has invited Him in. He came in vulnerability as a baby, born in Bethlehem, two millennia ago. He comes and knocks at the door of our hearts, asking to be allowed in. And one day, He will come with such light and power and glory that all darkness in the world will be put to flight. 

Until that day, it is for each of us to nurture the light within us, to pray and listen to God so that that light grows every stronger. And to share that light with those around us – for that is the wonderful thing about light: the more we share it, the greater it grows. 

May you know the light and love of Christ this Christmas, and may you keep that light burning brightly throughout the coming year, as you walk each day with God. 

And may you all have a peaceful and joyful Christmas, and a blessed New Year.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Josh Boot on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 25th – 31st December

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Tuesday December 20 2022, 1:29 pm

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Names Matter

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday December 15 2022, 2:15 pm

Names have meanings, and it is odd how often a person lives up to their name in some way, or their character somehow reflects their name.

When it comes to Jesus, names definitely matter! Jesus is derived from the Jewish Yeshua, meaning God saves. He is also called Christ, meaning anointed, or commissioned for a particular task. And then there is Immanuel, which features in this Sunday’s readings – it means God with us.

All of these names point to something about who Jesus is, and what God called him to do and to be. Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, one of the three Persons or aspects of God. And this Person is the one who is with us, who lived as one of us, who knows what being human really means. He is the one who heals us, brings us wholeness – which is what salvation is really about. Restoring wholeness in our souls, our bodies, and in our relationship with God.

And he is definitely God-with-us. Being born as a human, God is one with us. And it is because of Jesus that the Holy Spirit is able to dwell within our hearts all the time.

Through Jesus, God comes to us. We don’t have to go to Him. We don’t have to strive any longer to reach up to heaven. In Jesus, heaven is brought to earth. How often does Jesus say, in his years of ministry, “behold the Kingdom of Heaven is upon you!”

Jesus brings about the fulfilment of the promise that God will be with us always, that we are adopted as his children, and that we will never be abandoned. He is the one who washes us clean of our sins, who removes evil from us, and who makes it possible for us to stand before God and know we are loved and accepted.

“Behold I stand at the door and knock!”

Jesus is Immanuel. Let’s check and make sure we’ve invited him in, and made room for him in the home of our hearts this Christmas, and that we don’t usher him out the door again when the tinsel and decorations are put away. For Jesus wishes to stay with us, if we will let him. To heal the weary, strengthen the fainthearted, heal the sick, give recovery to the captives. To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. All this and more. To use a cliché, it’s on the tin! It’s all in the name – literally.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Lina Volkmann on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 18th – 24th December

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 15 2022, 9:39 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Unto Us a Child Is Born

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday December 8 2022, 2:22 pm

The older I get, the more I love Christmas, with all its glitter and fluff and celebration, bringing light and joy into the dark and cold of winter. And the old principle of “Advent first, Christmas later” is rapidly falling behind me, not least because the childlike excitement of lights and trees is infectious. There’s something so safe and warm and comforting about it all.

Which is of course wonderful – but I find myself wondering whether we love Christmas so much precisely because it makes God safe and warm and comforting, and brings Him down to our size. In part, that’s the point of it all. In Jesus, God dwells with us as one of us. He could have appeared as an adult. He could have come fully formed, bursting on to the scene like a superhero. But He doesn’t. He comes in utter vulnerability, needing the care of human parents, learning the human condition through direct experience, not just because He’s God and knows everything already.

There is something very warm and comforting about this in the darkness of our lives, in the shadowed places where we can feel so very alone and scared. God is not so big that He can’t fit into those places. No corner is too dark for Him to shine a light upon, and chase the shadows away. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not (John 1.5).

But let us also not domesticate Jesus into just a cute and safe little baby. For there was little that was cute or safe about his arrival in the world, born to a teenage single mother, far from home, and then a refugee in Egypt from the cruelty of Herod who wanted to kill him, before finally returning to Galilee years later. If we make Jesus too safe, too cute, then we also remove His power to help and heal us – and surely, as much now as at any time in the past two millennia, we need the healing power of God’s love, in our lives, in our society, and in our world.

The prophet Isaiah wrote thousands of year ago (and Handel famously borrowed!):

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9.6).

May the God of all peace bring you peace this Advent and Christmas, and may that peace remain with you. Amen.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Rodion Kutsaiev on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 11th – 17th Decemeber

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 8 2022, 10:04 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Peace and Presence

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday December 1 2022, 2:26 pm

Last week I wrote about the very human tendency to put off until tomorrow anything that we plausibly can – particularly the difficult stuff! It usually isn’t the best of ideas, but then the old cliché goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

This week the scripture readings move us onwards in Advent. Today I’d like to focus on the hope and encouragement in the lectionary readings. They are not all joy and light – but then few things in life really are. The sole constants in the world are the light and love of God.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15.13).

This Christmas is going to be hard for so many people. This winter is a struggle for nearly everyone, in different ways. Every generation has had its struggles, but so many of the accustomed certainties and fixed points are being swept away in the avalanche that has been the past three years – and that avalanche shows few signs of slowing, even though it changes direction or intensity every so often.

I’m aware this may sound like clichés – but such metaphor is needed to acknowledge that we all face struggles of our own, and that those are part of the struggles of the world. The din and uproar of it all feels deafening, the tides threaten to pull us under emotionally, even physically at times.

And so it has been for almost every generation since the world began. The second half of the 20th century was, for a significant majority of people in Europe and the USA at least, a time of prolonged peace and relative security and certainty, and we became comfortable in that. That comfort is now unravelling. We are returning to the uncertainties that have been the human condition for millennia. And it’s not a pleasant experience.

But it is into precisely this kind of uproar and mess that God comes. Quietly, unobtrusively, often unobserved. Whispering calm words in the storm. Offering a hand to save us, when we are drowning and no one else seems to see. God comes to us in vulnerability and in understanding, in a form we can relate to – in Jesus.

As in Holman Hunt’s famous painting, He stands at the door and knocks. Will we let him in? And if we do, will we welcome him as a temporary visitor, or as family?

He speaks peace into the chaos. Calm into the storm. Presence into the loneliness. Strength in our weakness. And this is not just for a day, a week, a season. It is for always.

To adapt a very famous catchphrase: God is for life, not just for Christmas.

So, this Advent, this Christmas, and every day of your life to come: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Blessings,

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Paul Zoetemeijer on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 4th – 10th December

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 1 2022, 10:00 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

mañana

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday November 24 2022, 2:43 pm

You know those jobs that you never get round to? The ones that migrate from one to-do list to another? Or, if you’re using a digital reminder list, get moved to the eternal “tomorrow”? I confess, I have some of those. Eventually they fall off the bottom, get deleted. They’ve been there so long, and in fact it turned out that they didn’t really need doing.

“I’ll do it tomorrow” is a phrase which (for me) can evoke very different feelings, depending on who is saying it. If it’s someone I trust and who I know is reliable, then I have confidence that it will be done. And if for some reason it’s not actually tomorrow, it will be in the next couple of days.

In contrast, I can think of at least one person who I’ve known who used to say “I’ll do it tomorrow” all the time, usually in an exasperated voice, annoyed that I had dared to ask. Internally I’d roll my eyes and say to myself, “Oh really? Which tomorrow?” That really was a case of mañana – the tomorrow that never comes. The “I’ll get round to it sometime, maybe, if I feel like it…”

This Sunday’s readings put me somewhat in mind of this. In this Sunday’s reading from St Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 13.11-14), St Paul is urging us to do what we know we ought, to do and be what God calls us to, and to do it now, not leave it until a more convenient date. “

The context for this is that in Paul’s time, a lot of people decided to wait to become Christians on their deathbeds, so that they didn’t have a chance to make any mistakes between becoming Christian and dying!!

Our culture no longer has this approach (generally!), but there are many who frequently say they are Christian, but their actions don’t match up with their words. Because unlike so many things on our to-do lists, if we want to see and create a better world, we need to start taking action now, and actually living our faith in our actions, not merely our words. God is inviting us to work hand in hand with Him, co-creating with Him. But the change and the creating begins with us. Roll back a few verses in Romans 13, and we see the following:

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’10 Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

As we begin Advent, the time of preparation for the coming of the Christ to us once again, the renewing of the Christ light in our hearts at Christmas, are we going to put “love” first on the Christmas to-do list, or say, mañana?

PS: once we decide to put love first, it appears on the top of every to-do list every day – not because it’s been rolled over, but because it’s the first and most important action of every day, and colours everything else on the day’s list.

Peace, love and blessings,

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Mayur Gala on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 27th November – 3rd December

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday November 24 2022, 10:28 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 20th – 26th November

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday November 17 2022, 10:12 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Seasons of Darkness and Light

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday November 10 2022, 2:18 pm

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. (1)

I have recently been making some long journeys by car and have been listening again to some Dickens novels that I haven’t read since schooldays. One of those is A Tale of Two Cities, which I recall being taught was all about the eternal struggle in the human condition between the precariously balanced forces of good and evil, set against the violent background of complex struggles for justice.  (I can hear my English teacher speaking as I write that!)

I was reminded of this as I read Luke 21: 5-19, our Gospel passage for this Sunday – Remembrance Sunday, when we think about and pay respect to all those who have sacrificed their lives for us in wars, in struggles to bring and maintain peace in troubled places, and who have died fighting for a better future.  The passage paints a vivid picture of betrayal, chaos and destruction: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven” (vv 10-11) and, “all will be thrown down.” (v 6b)  The passage is offered in the context of Jesus’ forthcoming death and the preparation of the disciples for the struggle to come.  It spoke strongly into the violence of humans and of the natural world 2000 years ago, and it speaks ever more strongly into our world context today.  Just as there was fear and uncertainty then, so there is today: fuel and food crises overwhelm us; our world is full of doubts, scepticism and manipulation of truths, as people anxiously seek some sort of meaning; we are living with the deeply fragile nature of the world’s environment and of political systems – issues meeting head on in the deliberations at COP27 right now.

And yet, in Dickens’ novel, hope for the future is brought out of chaos by the unselfish love of one man.  At this Remembrance time, we recall the great sacrifice millions made and continue to make for our safety.  And how much greater is the Gospel narrative’s message of hope and the triumph of life for everyone who desires it, through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ, who has promised, “not a hair of your head will perish.  By your endurance you will gain your souls.” (vv 18-19).  Jesus offers us the Spring of hope out of the winter of our despair; because of Jesus, we have the confidence that goodness and justice will triumph over evil; he is the Light of love shining through the darkness in every age.

Lucy G

  1. Charles Dickens, A tale of two cities, opening lines.

Image: free to use via Pixahive. https://pixahive.com

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 13th – 19th November

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday November 10 2022, 10:19 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Future Hope, and Missing the Point

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday November 3 2022, 2:29 pm

From the feast of All Saints on 1st November to the feast of Christ the King on Sunday 20th November is Kingdom Season, the last hurrah of the year before we begin all over again with Advent, and waiting patiently for the coming of Christ once more, as a tiny vulnerable child, at Christmas.

This is the season when we celebrate the kingship of Christ over all Creation, the time when we anticipate the time when God will be shown to be fully in charge, when all that is evil will be defeated, and the world will be renewed and remade.

It’s a time of “now and not-yet”, when our faith allows us to look forward to what will be, even as we remain mired in “what is” – and admittedly “what is” is often mucky, painful, and unpleasant.

These past weeks in my ministry have been focussed on death and resurrection. I’m currently on funeral number eight, and counting. Death has been my daily companion, and the feasts of All Saints and All Souls have helped give perspective to that.

For these feasts help us to see Death for what it now is. Thanks to the death of Christ upon the Cross, Death is no longer the end of the line, a final brick wall, beyond which we cannot go. A void which sucks us in, and from which there is no exit.

Because of Jesus’ death on the Cross, Death is made into a portal, a gateway, through which we pass, into the sunlit uplands beyond, into the very presence of God. The veil that is our humanity is laid aside, and we truly see, and are seen, for the first time.

Jesus is clear that this is the case. In his conversation with the Sadducees, he points out that Moses himself revealed this truth, when he spoke of his conversation with God, who said “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Not “I was.” But “I am.” The implication is that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still living, and are in the presence of God, and they have an ongoing relationship despite being, in our terms, “dead”.

The Sadducees have tried to trap Jesus with a cunning question – with ( for those Blackadder fans among you) about the subtlety and craft of Baldrick. And Jesus sidesteps it with ease, demonstrating with absolute clarity just how much they’ve missed the point.

Our very human limitation means that we can’t really imagine things utterly beyond our experience. Until the recent developments in quantum theory, we couldn’t understand that we’re actually not solid at all, but the molecules are packed so densely that we, and (for example) our chairs, appear to be solid, when in fact they are in perpetual motion. If we followed this theory, suddenly Jesus’ ability after the Resurrection to walk through locked doors or through walls, to appear and disappear at will, becomes almost completely obvious and logical!

There are more things in heaven and earth … than are dreamt of in your philosophy” as Shakespeare famously said in Hamlet. Whilst our imagination and wild flights of fancy must ALWAYS be tempered with reason and intelligence, it is also true that God is bigger than our imagination. So let us imagine what joy awaits us on the other side of the gateway that is Death, let us not fear it, and let us see it, and everything else in this world, through the lens of God’s love.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 6th – 12th November

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday November 3 2022, 10:52 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Remembering, renewing courage, and rejoicing

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday October 27 2022, 2:15 pm

We have arrived again at the season of Allhallowtide, a time to recall in thankfulness the members of Christ’s Church who have died and gone ahead of us to rest in peace until the final resurrection and fulfilment of God’s Kingdom here on Earth.    

Traditionally in Mediaeval times, this season began the day before All Hallows (All Saints’) Day, a date we now know as Halloween.  What seems today to be an entirely secular and commercial children’s activity had deep roots in festive commemoration of the passing of the dead, of harvest and new beginnings.  In the 9th century, when the festival of All Saints’ became fixed on 1st November, the season opened at the evening service of Vespers on 31st October.  From the Reformation onward, the season effectively became the two festival days of All Saints’ and All Souls’, with Halloween gradually becoming a secular folk event. 

So, what distinguishes the festival of All Saints’ from that of All Souls’, and why should this matter to us?

 All Saints’ Day is an opportunity to celebrate all the women and men whose Christian faith and action have borne witness to the grace of God at work in the world.  Often those who spring most easily to mind are those distinguished by the epithet ‘Saint’.  These include the early disciples, apostles, martyrs and the pioneer evangelists who carried the Christian faith around the world, such as St Patrick and St Columba. Others were scholars and teachers who have shaped the Church in its understanding and application of Christian faith to life, such as Saints Augustine and Ignatius Loyola, or radical, simple servants such as Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa.

But if we focus on just a few familiar Saints’ names, we lose the essence of ALL Saints Day.  There are so many Christians who have opened windows to God in the life of the Church and the world whom we don’t label as Saint, like those great preachers and hymn writers the Wesley brothers.  And I’m sure none of them, with or without the label, set out thinking, ‘I’m going to be a saint!’  This is our opportunity as the Church today to be encouraged and inspired by Christians of the past, so many of whom faced great opposition in speaking and living out their faith.  This dual celebration and encouragement is captured in the collect for All Saints Day:

God of holiness

your glory is proclaimed in every age:

as we rejoice in the faith of your saints,

inspire us to follow their example

with boldness and joy,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

As Christians, we are all members of the same Body of Christ, baptised into the same faith which stretches from those early saints through the present and into the future.  As Charles Wesley expressed it:

One family, we dwell in him,

one Church, above, beneath;

though now divided by the stream,

the narrow stream of death. (1)

So, as we remember the body of all saints who are together the Body of Christ, the Church also takes a day to remember the people we have known and loved in our local communities, friendships and families who have enriched our faith and have revealed the life of Christ present in the everyday by their service and life.  We pause to name these people, and we may light a candle as prayer for them and as reminder of how they have shone as Christ’s light in our lives. We are thankful for their care of us and we rejoice that they are held safely in God’s house.  This day is All Souls’, which the Church of England calls the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. Together, All Saints’ and All Souls’ days celebrate our shared belonging, past and present, and provide us with hope for the future that we are all waiting and longing for. 

As we remember and rejoice in the example of those who have helped to shape us as Church and as individuals of faith, we also remember that our absolute maker and shaper is God, without whose grace we are dust.  So, on All Souls’ Day, we also throw ourselves on God’s mercy again, praying in the All Souls’ collect,

Eternal God, our maker and redeemer,

grant us, with all the faithful departed,

the sure benefits of your’ Son’s saving passion and glorious resurrection

that, in the last day,

when you gather up all things in Christ,

we may with them enjoy the fullness of your promises

Lucy G

  • Wesley, Charles – Let saints on earth in concert sing

Image available for free use, courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 30th October – 5th November

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday October 27 2022, 9:56 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Remaining humble

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday October 20 2022, 2:52 pm

On Tuesday evening, I went to the Oxford Playhouse and watched The Two Popes. It is without a doubt one of my absolute all-time favourite films, and when I saw that the play was being put on, I couldn’t resist. 

It is full of poignant one-liners, and takes a deep look at human frailty, especially in positions of power. There’s also a great lesson that God so often uses our very frailties to demonstrate his own power and bring good to the world, and it is at the moment when we think our plans are leading in one direction, that we find that God’s plans are quite different.  Above all, there is nothing and no one too small or too broken or too flawed for God to redeem them and to use them.

Watching the end of the play, as Pope Francis refuses the silks and velvets and trappings of the papacy, I was reminded that it is tradition in church processions that the one who goes first is the least important, and the one who comes at the end of the procession is the most important.  I remember being told of a rather comic stand-off between a bishop and a headmaster at the doorway of a school chapel – “After you!“ said the headmaster. “No! After you!“ replied the Bishop, as they eyed each other up with mild hostility. 

That the first shall be last, and the last shall be first is a key teaching of Jesus. As he says in the parable from this Sunday’s reading, those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted. It doesn’t take the words of Jesus to make us realise that whenever we try and put ourselves on a pedestal, we invariably find that our footing is far from sure, and often more than merely our pride is dented when we fall off. We should be wary indeed of any kind of pedestal or exaltation, and above all wary of ever putting ourselves in that position. It’s bad enough when others do it to us! It is one of the things that has been most striking about Pope Francis, that he has  refused to mount the metaphorical pedestal, preferring to stay on his own two feet.

As the world continues to spin and tip around us, and so many certainties are shaken or lost, keeping our footing is quite a skill. And perhaps the first step (if you will pardon the bad pun) in that direction  is to keep our feet firmly on the ground, remaining humble, and remembering that we are indeed made of the ‘humus’ – the earth or clay in Latin – and that no matter what we do, or do not do in our lives, it is to that same humus that we will return. 

In the end, humility is not about slavish grovelling or pretending to be less than we are. True humility is knowing ourselves, our abilities and our limitations, and using them in the service of others, without pride or boasting ever getting in the way or making us lose focus on who and what we truly are – beloved children of God, but made of frail and fragile clay nonetheless. 

Best wishes, 
Talisker

Photo by E. Vitka on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 23rd – 29th October

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday October 20 2022, 10:13 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Wrestling with God

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday October 13 2022, 1:59 pm

This Sunday the Old Testament reading is the stirring story of Jacob wrestling with God at the ford of the Jabbok. This struggle happens at a point of great uncertainty in Jacob’s life as he faces up to the challenge of reconciling and restoring his relationship with his brother, broken through his past behaviour.  The episode is very mysterious, but what is clear is that it occurs at a changing point in Jacob’s life, where God renames him Israel and sets him on a new direction, and where new things are about to happen through him.  It seems that Jacob could only discover this new path through painful grappling with God.

I was particularly struck by reading this story again today because I was privileged earlier this week to hear former Archbishop Rowan Willians speaking on arguing with God at critical points in our life journeys.  His words seem to speak so much into Jacob’s situation and to our own stories that I would like to share them with you.  Bishop Rowan was reflecting on Saul’s (Paul’s) experience on the road to Damascus which launched Paul on a whole new direction and reshaped his life.  Paul identified himself as a most unlikely candidate for serving Christ, because of his history of ardent persecution of Christ’s followers.  Bishop Rowan noted that God has plans for every one of us throughout our lives. Yet, very often as we grapple with understanding God’s call to us, our natural response is to resist, to argue: no thank you, Lord, not me … I’m not suitable … I don’t want to … I’m doing something else … I wouldn’t know where to begin to …  

Our own stories are rarely as dramatic and our resistance and wrestling rarely as momentous as the experiences of Jacob, Moses or Paul, but we must still take courage from them.  Bishop Rowan said in truth, we are all unsuitable for this challenge and we all have doubts at some point about our calling, whatever it may be.  But God knows what he wants for us and what he has made us capable of, whatever our failings.   Therefore, Bishop Rowan urged us all, whoever we are, to look out for and embrace God’s invitation along with all our doubts and nerves, and to discover the new identity and purpose – however big or small – that God has planned for us.

Thank you, Bishop Rowan.

Lucy G

Painting: Jacob Wrestling With God, Painting © 2011, by Jack Baumgartner. Photo courtesy of the artist.
http://theschoolofthetransferofenergy.com/

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 16th – 22nd October

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday October 13 2022, 11:37 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

An attitude in gratitude

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday October 6 2022, 2:22 pm

The Gospel reading this week, Luke 17: 11-19, is the story of how Jesus was appealed to by ten lepers.  Jesus sent them to the local priests and the lepers were ‘made clean’. Only one of the ten – and that one being a foreigner from the enemy land of Samaria – bothered to come back to thank Jesus.  The bit that has always struck me out of this reading is the final line: Jesus says, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Is Jesus confirming here that the Samaritan was made clean because he trusted in Jesus and obeyed his instruction to go to the priest?  The passage suggests this was true of the other nine lepers also.  What made the Samaritan special was his thankfulness.

We are living through a period of considerable anxiety about cost of living, and difficult choices to make ends meet; a time when support services like food banks are facing such levels of demand that they are struggling to provide; when there are increasing concerns about health and wellbeing. 

As we seek ways to tackle these issues and to improve wellbeing, there is a growing body of research which shows that intentionally being thankful, practising gratitude, has a remarkable impact on our health and resilience.[i] Taking time to identify something each day for which we can be thankful helps to stimulate happiness and increases our ability to recognise positives. Thankfulness helps us to appreciate ‘the other’, what is larger than ourselves … God.  This is not to say that the problems of our world will vanish, but that in giving thanks, we are lifted up and supported through the problems.

So, back to the Samaritan.  When Jesus said, “your faith has made you well”, I wonder did the Samaritan’s recognition of Jesus’ gift to him and his thankfulness for this do much more than simply cure him of leprosy?  Perhaps the Samaritan’s faith and attitude of gratitude so enhanced his physical and spiritual wellbeing that he was able to go forward in life a more positive and healthier person, better equipped to discover God at work in the world around him.  At this harvest season and in the coming year, may we too walk in this thankfulness.

A poem by Mizuno Genzo [ii]
I can do nothing
for my family
for people
or the Lord.
For the abundant love
of the Lord
of people
of my family
I just give thanks
just give thanks.

Lucy G


Image copyright free, with thanks to St Andrew’s Lutheran Church.

[i] See, for example, https://research.com/education/scientific-benefits-of-gratitude#

[ii] Genzo, in The Lion Treasury of Children’s Prayers, p61

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 9th – 15th October

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday October 6 2022, 8:07 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Pastoral Visiting, Home Communion, and Clergy Visits

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday September 29 2022, 3:35 pm

Pastoral visiting is absolutely at the heart of our ministry in the benefice – and Revd. Talisker is always up for a cup of tea or coffee! 

If you would like Revd. Talisker or one of the ministry team to visit you, please do not hesitate to email or call directly, or to contact Jane in the Benefice Office, to arrange a pastoral visit. Talisker also can do Home Communions on request for those who cannot come to church, or as part of a house blessing. Talisker’s day off is Saturday and Monday’s are her retreat day for sermon, writing and prayer. The rest of the week visits tend to need to be during school hours, but in an emergency, something can usually be arranged! 

Visiting is so important as part of being a loving Christian community, looking after each other. However not everyone likes unexpected or unsolicited phone calls or knocks on the door – which is why we are leaving to you to contact us if you would like a visit

Best Wishes
Revd. Talisker

Photo by Dustin Belt on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 2nd – 8th October

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 29 2022, 10:22 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

First-fruits

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday September 22 2022, 2:34 pm

Harvest festival is a big celebration in the church each year, and is very much the theme this month. It’s also the season for church and village fetes. When we talk about Harvest, we’re often thinking about an ending, a completion of gathering everything in. But in Jesus’ time, the Jews also celebrated the start of each harvest, which was called ‘first-fruits’.

This really caught my attention because it speaks of a mindset which looks forward to the future abundance of God, not just about endings and what we’ve already got. It says, Thank you God for what we have now, and thank you that we will have plenty still to come.

I wonder what this change in approach might mean in so many aspects of life. Living each day trusting in the future promise of God, not focussing on counting and hoarding what we have now in the hope of getting through to the next harvest.

Revd Talisker

Photo by Daria Shatova on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 25th September – 1st October

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 22 2022, 9:52 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Praying for Kings and Princes

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday September 15 2022, 4:10 pm

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2.1-2)

Quite incredibly, this is one of the readings set for this Sunday. How utterly appropriate and apt, given that we are, as a nation and Commonwealth, mourning the death of the monarch who has defined an era, and was the second longest-reigning monarch in the world.

Our churches have been open for prayer and reflection, for public and private grieving. I’ve had many conversation with people over the past week about Queen Elizabeth, how incredible she was, what she brought to us all.

But looking at the readings for this Sunday, one conversation in particular came to mind again.

Politics, across the world, are febrile and divisive, and becoming more and more so with each passing year and election. Churchill once said that “democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others which have been tried from time to time”. It’s the best we’ve come up with to date. However meaningful and effective democracy crucially hinges on the need for rational debate and the willingness to listen to one another, not merely see who can shout loudest and score the most points off their opponent.

The person I was speaking with commented that having a monarchy gave us, as a nation, a sense of continuity and of peace and stillness in the depths, regardless of the storms crashing above, which republican nations did not usually have. The all-too-often puerile and petty storms which occupy our headlines, from every part of the political spectrum, do nothing to build us up. In fact they tear us down, causing increasing division and irresponsibility. The more that those in authority have scant regard for rules and the massive responsibility their elected office entails, the more the rest of us wonder what’s the point in obeying those rules ourselves. The very inequity and unfairness of it all sticks in our collective craw.

But Queen Elizabeth provided the exact opposite. Her sense of duty and responsibility, coupled with a self-deprecating humour and dry wit to which many attest, has provided a very real example to us all – most poignantly at the funeral of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, where due to Covid restrictions she sat alone, at a time when she most needed the comfort and presence of her family.

We have prayed for the Queen in church services for seventy years, on Sundays and in many places daily. We will now pray for the King. May King Charles give us that same sense of stability, of deep calm as a nation, so that below all the chaos and division of Westminster politics, beneath the trials and tribulations of our daily lives, there is a common thread or spine which holds us all and gives us balance as a nation, so that, to use St Paul’s words, “we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.”.

Revd. Talisker

Image courtesy of the Press Association

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 18th – 24th September

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 15 2022, 10:32 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Lost and found, broken and restored

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday September 8 2022, 2:18 pm

A while ago, my son introduced me to Tile: an app and gadget for helping locate missing things.  He was fed up with me constantly losing my keys and my mobile phone, despite my best efforts to have a set place for each!  My losing things affects my family, and without these items, I find myself also lost, adrift without my diary, contacts etc., so I sympathise with the woman in Jesus’ parable of the lost coin, as she desperately searched her house from top to bottom, sweeping floors and shifting furnishings until she found her missing coin. More seriously, I remember the anxiety and urgency experienced as a parent, when we lost – albeit briefly – that same son as a small child on a trip to the beach.  I appreciate the woman’s relief, her delight and her desire to celebrate the finding with others, in this parable.

The story is one of three told by Jesus on the theme of searching for and restoration of something precious which was lost: one sheep which had wandered away out of a flock of 100 in the hills, one silver coin – a whole day’s wages – misplaced out of a store of 10 in the home, one profligate son astray in his life.  In these parables the sheep and the coin represent people as much as the prodigal son. There is nothing obviously different about one sheep or one coin from the others; this going astray in life applies to any of us and can happen anywhere and at any time. Taken together, told to a mixed audience of socially-rejected sinners and socially-respected religious representatives, the three parables convey the message that God values all, including the despised and flawed, and delights in those who turn their lives around to come humbly to him. We are invited to see God as constantly and ardently seeking those who are lost in life for whatever reason, long before they (we) may seek him. The recurring theme is that God rejoices in their (our) recovery: all are precious and heaven delights in their restoration.

We don’t know who was invited to the father’s party celebrating his son’s return, but in the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin, the shepherd and the woman both summon their friends and neighbours to share in the joy. Maybe that seems a little over the top, but following through the metaphor of sheep and coin, perhaps the loss of these created a hurt not only to one individual who cared for them but to the whole close-knit community where they belonged.  Perhaps we are invited here to join collectively in caring as much about seeking and helping and celebrating those who need God’s love to flourish, as God himself seeks and cares?  I wonder what are the losses in our society today that damage the wholeness of our collective life, and the close-knitting of our communities, where together we may support each other – a loss of confidence and hope in the face of overwhelming economic burden? A loss of trust in the power and will to safeguard the environment?  A loss of sense of self-worth and resilience in the face of mental health suffering? …

Lord, we rely on your unflagging searching for us and grace to keep us safe. 

Help us to be diligent in looking out and caring for each other

and in sharing the joy of your love.

Lucy G

Image © FreeBibleimages.org – made available under Creative Commons Licence

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 11 – 17 September

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 8 2022, 10:05 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Renewal, New Beginnings, and Putting God First

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday September 1 2022, 2:56 pm

Once again the seasons are changing. The leaves are falling early this year, after the heat and drought. What will autumn and winter bring to us? Autumn is a time for shedding that which no longer is needed, as well as gathering in the harvest so that we have enough to last the winter cold and hunger. Winter is the time of resting, preparing, waiting to see what new shoots will come in Spring.

This Sunday Bishop Gavin will be with us once more in Buckland at the 1030am service, and this service will be somewhat special, for me in particular.

This summer, the Feast of St Peter and St Paul at the end of June marked the tenth anniversary of being a priest, and eleven years since I was first ordained. In a few short weeks, the Feast of St Michael and All Angels will mark seven years here as your parish priest. After a long and hard, and frankly challenging twelve months since August 2021, this is also a celebration of my return to full time ministry after several enforced breaks during the year due to ill health, stress, and learning to manage and live with PTSD. The positive aspect has been that the summer sabbatical has given me time to write a report on rural ministry which has now gone to the Diocese, and which will, hopefully, have a positive impact on how rural ministry is resourced and celebrated and acknowledged in the coming years.

In all this, God has been faithful and present, even in the darkest times. He has taken potential disaster and turned it to good – and God does this when we trust in Him, and ask His help. Romans 8.28 says “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God”.

This Sunday’s readings include one of those incredibly hard bible passages which often make us wince. Luke 14.26-27: Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Ouch! But before we turn away in despair at the impossible, we need to remember that Jesus is using Jewish 1st century idiom to make a point. It’s not literally hating anyone! After all He repeatedly in the gospels tells us to love one another, and that hate is actually a mental step along the path to violence and murder.

This is about priorities. God comes first. Loving God, following Him, obeying His call, comes first. And before that too sounds excessive, remember that Jesus calls all of us who are heavy laden to come to Him for rest, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11.28-30). When we are in dark places, He brings light. When we are burdened, He helps carry the load. But only if we ask Him. Only if we listen to Him. Only if we prioritise giving God time, so that we can hear His voice, listen to His suggestions, and notice the opportunities He is pointing out, which will bring joy and ease and positivity out of dark and despair.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 4th – 10th September

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 1 2022, 9:10 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

The lives of the saints

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday August 25 2022, 4:11 pm

Time sometimes seems to pass very quickly and anniversaries come around before we know it. And it is by the act of remembering that situations and people can be transformed, enabling us all to find redemption and hope. From earliest times, for the Church one of the most important things to remember have been the saints, people whose lives or actions have been examples to inspire others.

Last month, we remember St Thomas, St Mary Magdalen and St James – three very different but very important figures who knew Jesus and whose lives have shaped and inspired generations of Christians. All the saints have something to offer us at different times in our lives, a kind of archetype with which we may identify for a time. St Thomas is known as Doubting Thomas because he would not believe in Jesus’ resurrection until he saw and touched Jesus himself, needing his own experience before he could believe.

In recent decades, scholars have been re-discovering the Early Church view of St Mary Magdalen as the woman of wisdom who truly understood Jesus’ teachings, often more clearly than the male apostles. She is often called The Apostle to the Apostles. But over the centuries male-dominated society, not liking such female pre-eminence, made her into a redeemed prostitute instead. St James was the brother of St John, the Beloved Disciple – the two sons of Zebedee who Jesus once rebuked for being too impulsive, violent, proud and self-regarding, but who also were among the first chosen by Jesus as disciples and who became people of great love and gentleness, key leaders of the Early Church.

My point is that everyone has a place and something to offer in God’s world. And by remembering the saints, by knowing their stories and in those stories identifying elements of ourselves, we can see that we too have gifts that can be used by God, that we too are loved by God, and that no part of the human character or situation is beyond the transforming power of God’s love

Revd. Talisker

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 28th August – 3rd September

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday August 25 2022, 9:12 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Where is God in all this mess?? The reality of faith

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday August 18 2022, 2:55 pm

A few days ago, I was feeling a little sombre, and decided to re-watch The Shack. Many of you will have read the book, and the film is a good interpretation of it. It’s an incredible, powerful story. If you don’t know it, I truly encourage you to read it.

One line struck me – Sarayu, the Holy Spirit, at one point says to Mack: “You’re looking for a pain-free life. There isn’t one.”

How true! Not only is there no such thing as a pain-free life, it is our wounds and our scars that make and shape us. Our broken edges, when they heal, allow us to have greater empathy for others. The person who is un-wounded, who has never known suffering, cannot possibly empathise or understand those who do suffer. The one who has never known hunger or cold or poverty cannot imagine what it truly feels like in the soul to be in that place. The one who has not lived in constant fear, unable to be themselves because of the terror of reprisal or punishment, cannot imagine how such fear can corrode the soul.

This Sunday’s readings are about faith – both our faith in God, and God’s faithfulness to us. If we misunderstand either of those, then we set ourselves up for failure, and we will end up very angry with God, feeling that He has let us down. That He has not been faithful. If we expect that faith in God will mean that our lives are materially prosperous and worry-free, then indeed we will become angry and disillusioned.

But faith is about God’s presence in the midst of the chaos, the pain, the dirt, the dust and the mire of human life. God created us out of dust and dirt and breathed His own life into us. And in Jesus he became truly part of the dirt and dust of earth and human life. He suffered in so many ways – ways that many of us, particularly in the Western world, will never truly understand.

His followers throughout the centuries have had all kinds of lives. But I will dare to suggest that rarely have any of those lives been free of struggle and pain, in one way or another.

Faith is trusting that God will walk with us, through the darkness, through the pain, through the agonies and fears that we will endure, through death itself. Faith is trusting that God will never leave us alone or abandoned, no matter how dark a place we may be in. And faith means that we hold the hand of those in such dark places, offering comfort and succour, knowing that we too have been there.

Faith knows that there is nowhere that God has not been, nowhere he cannot go, and nothing that can prevent Him being alongside us. All we ever have to do is to ask, and then to trust. God will not rescue us from suffering. But He will endure it with us. And for that mercy, thanks be to God.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 21st – 27th August

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday August 18 2022, 9:10 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Do not fear challenge

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday August 11 2022, 4:22 pm

Over the years, I have very much enjoyed the creative writing of Philip Pullman, author of many different styles of writing including the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy. However, his determined antipathy to religion, and to Christianity in particular, grieves me. In a discussion at an Oxford Literary Festival event, he based this on a view that religions always seek to control people, and that for centuries Christianity has been responsible for some of the most violent and abusive acts and wars against others. When we look at what has been done in the name of the Church, whether by political powers, the bitter battling of denominations, or the actions of some church bodies in the lives of women and children, I can appreciate Pullman’s point of view.

I suspect that he would regard the gospel passage for this week, Luke 12: 49-56, as confirmation of his perception – in particular verses 51-52, “Do you thing that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three.” Where, in this passage, do we find Christ the Prince of Peace, Lord of love and hope?

I think we find it in recognising that this passage is NOT a call to aggression against one another, or an assumption that we somehow have the right to judge others on matters of faith. Instead, it is in recognising that in receiving the baptism of fire that is the gift of the Holy Spirit, and in seeking to grow our integrity in Christ, we will find ourselves at odds with the assumptions and expectations of the world, discovering that living honestly and humbly for Christ is a rough ride. Indeed, throughout Luke’s gospel, the message of the pledge of God’s love and hope of his Kingdom is repeatedly set alongside the pain and rejection Christ’s followers will experience in being disciples, and in communicating the Gospel.

The recent Lambeth Conference, bringing together Anglican bishops from around the world, and including representatives of other Christian denominations, began with concern for an atmosphere of discord based on the different experiences and divergent established understandings of certain fundamentals of our Christian faith, and an expectation of troubled debate. Yet, through bringing those differences together into a space of shared willingness to discuss, the opportunity was created for greater mutual appreciation and understanding, if not always agreement. In his closing speech, Archbishop Justin Welby warned against clinging only to what we presume or are familiar with:

“Our assumptions, our possessions, become a comfort blanket which ultimately smothers us. For they forbid us to engage with each other and with Christ. We make our worlds and our ambitions smaller because it feels safer, and they come to define and to constrain us. So the institutions, the power, the status, positions that we hold onto out of fear – personal fear for ourselves, fear for the future of the Church – end up fulfilling our fear.”

It is only through being willing to come together and to take the risk of discussion and being challenged that we create the opportunity to dig deep and to learn more about God and God’s Word and our own faith. Archbishop Welby closed with the prayer and promise that as we grow in love as God’s people, fear shrinks and space grows in our hearts and lives for the presence and rule of God’s Kingdom:

“As you, as I, go home, do not fear. Take heart, take courage – because it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you his Kingdom.”

Lucy G

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 14th – 20th August

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday August 11 2022, 12:51 pm

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Transfiguration – process of positive change

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday August 4 2022, 2:51 pm

Whilst the Transfiguration of Jesus is a key moment in his journey and ministry, and is a major festival in the Christian year, I confess that for me, when I hear the word transfiguration, the first thing I think of is Professor McGonagall (or Dame Maggie Smith, who played her to perfection). Changing one thing into another was one of the core lessons in the world of Harry Potter, and it’s something we all try to do much of the time. In the worst cases, we try to shove square pegs into round holes, causing immense damage in the process. In a more positive way, we ourselves are constantly in the process of being changed – being transfigured – in our lives and characters through our experiences.

For those who follow Christ, St Paul (2 Corinthians 3.18) is clear that we are all being changed – transfigured – daily more and more into the likeness of Christ. Indeed this is a key part of our Christian journey of faith, and part of God’s purpose for our lives. Many of you will have heard me pray that each day I may see the face of Christ in all whom I meet, and that in turn they may see Christ in me.

Today I was reading a newspaper article on how angry people are these days. It’s so sad that we take out our frustrations on each other. We’ve all had those moments when it’s been a really hard day. We’re exhausted, low, and really don’t need anything else to go wrong. So when it does, we sometimes lash out. But what if, instead, we take a deep breath and try to see it from the other side? What if we remember that the person we are talking to is also a beloved child of God, and is therefore our sister or brother? And when someone is all grumpy with us, maybe we can laugh with them, or at least acknowledge that it’s not about us – they’ve had a rubbish day too, as Deborah Ross wrote in the The Times today.

The Transfiguration was originally something which happened to Jesus, when he was revealed to his disciples as the Son of God, in shining glory, accompanied by Moses and Elijah. Those disciples saw who he really was on the inside, no longer hidden by external appearance. In the same way, may we allow the Christ light that is within us to shine more brightly, and may we do our very best to see it in others also, acknowledging that we are indeed all being transformed daily to be more and more like Christ.

Romans 12 has a good bit of advice on this. Especially the final verse: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Revd. Talisker

Photo by AARN GIRI on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 7th – 13th August

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday August 4 2022, 8:44 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Faith, church and Christian Leadership

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday July 28 2022, 2:24 pm

Many years ago, a friend of mine was speaking about how deepening our faith was really about growing our relationship with God. He spoke of becoming a ‘weekday friend, rather than a Sunday acquaintance’.

When we think of faith, church, and Christian leadership, many of us think only of Sunday, or of those roles which are visible at the front. But being a Christian, and leadership within the Christian community, is not limited in this way. Being a disciple of Jesus is to be someone who is learning the way of Jesus in their context at this moment. And leadership is a part of that discipleship – not just being a positional leader, up the front on Sundays, but even more crucially being a relational leader, someone whose love, care and wisdom exercises influence in the church, the workplace and daily life. Whilst ordained people are generally the ones called to be the positional leaders, the role of lay people as relational leaders is vitally important, and without them our whole community is the poorer.

For we gather on a Sunday to be refreshed to go back out into our daily lives, taking with us the joy and peace that we find in Jesus and in our church community, and working together as God’s people in the world so that the whole of creation may be transformed and restored and healed by God’s love.

May we all in our daily lives be a blessing to others, being the kind of relational leaders who do bring God’s healing love and compassion to those around us Monday to Saturday. And may God give us the grace to see our daily lives, not just Sundays and church, as a time of discipleship and faith.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Gabriel Lamza on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 31st July – 6th August

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday July 28 2022, 8:44 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Lost in translation: Sodom & Gomorrah

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday July 21 2022, 2:28 pm

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18-19 has been held up as a text of terror for LGBTQI+ people for centuries. But that would be to entirely miss the point of the story! When Jesus refers to it in the gospels (Mt 10.14-18), his comparison refers to hospitality, to looking after the stranger in our midst, and to hearing and obeying God’s word, and those whom God sends. It is NOT designed as a condemnation of homosexuality.

It is also a wonderful example of how God involves humans in his plans.

God has a chat with Abraham – and it really is a chat in its tone. “I’ve seen the awful things happening down there,” says God, “and I’m going to do something about it! I’m going to destroy their wickedness!”

Why on earth does God bother to tell Abraham his plans? He doesn’t need to. God can do what he pleases. But the fact remains that he chooses to tell Abraham, and thus to involve him in this.

Perhaps I should right now enter a caveat: I do not in any way take this as a literal account of an exchange between God and Abraham. It may be, for all I know. But I think it more likely that the bible writers were writing this story to make a point about God’s character and way of operating in the world.

By talking to Abraham about this, God is inviting a response. And Abraham definitely has a view here! “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” he demands indignantly. He is basically demanding that God act with justice, and that the good people are not punished along with the bad. The conversation goes back and forth, and Abraham is bold. He bargains with God, until if there is just one good person in Sodom, God will spare them all.

The angels who had visited Abraham and Sarah then go to Sodom.

Hospitality matters in the Middle East. It mattered then, and still matters now. Looking after the traveller is a vital part of desert culture, hence Lot welcomes them and insists they come and stay at his home. But the people of Sodom are not welcoming. Instead they wish to assault and hurt these travellers, effectively for fun.

Lot takes hospitality seriously, to the extent that he even offers his daughters instead of the travellers. There is nothing good or redeemable about this act, but in context it can perhaps be understood, because hospitality demanded that you protect the stranger even if that meant hurt or loss to yourself.

Even this offer does not satisfy the evil people of Sodom. For clarity, seen as part of the sweeping narrative of the bible, their sin is not listening to God, or to the people God has sent; their sin is taking pleasure in hurting others for fun; their sin is in refusing to respect the vulnerable and respect the importance of caring for them. Most scholars now argue that it’s not about sex at all.

There is so much to say about this story, so much that has been misunderstood over the years or taken out of context. But at its heart are two crucial things:

Firstly, that God chooses to involve us humans in his action in the world, as is seen in God’s choice to involve Abraham in conversation, and to listen to what Abraham has to say.

Secondly that God cares for the vulnerable and weak, for the stranger and those in need of care. There is a penalty to pay, in the end, for evil actions against those who cannot protect themselves, for refusing to listen to God’s call to justice and loving compassion. So often the poor and weak suffer, and the rich and powerful do exactly as they choose. But we are all answerable for our actions, and God will call us to account one day.

Jesus gives his disciples clear instruction: If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. (Mt.10.14). We do not need to take revenge. All we must do is listen to God’s teaching, acting with compassion and kindness to all, wherever we go. In the end, we can’t force anyone to be good. Goodness, like love, like obedience to God, has to be freely chosen.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Nathan Lemon on Unsplash

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 24th – 30th July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday July 21 2022, 12:21 pm

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 17th – 23rd July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Friday July 8 2022, 5:26 pm

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Words and Actions

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday July 7 2022, 2:27 pm

It’s a hot topic right now in the news. Do our actions back up our words? Do our words hold integrity? Are we consistent in word and deed?

At the root of this question is trust. Can I trust you to do as you say, and say as you do? If not, then our relationship (whatever it may be) has a problem. Without trust as a solid foundation, nothing lasting or of real value can be built.

A mismatch between word and action has somehow become standard and acceptable in public life and in politics. We even make jokes about it. But how do we feel if that mismatch occurs in relationships closer to home? In our family, with our friends, in our business dealings. The converse of trust is betrayal.

That may seem to be a strong word. So is sin. But sometimes strong words are needed to describe problems which, if allowed to take root and grow, will shake our very foundations and all we hold dear. And without foundations, the structures of our lives, or even of our society, can rapidly come tumbling down. It’s a very big mess.

The parable of the Good Samaritan which Jesus told makes this point brilliantly. A man is injured by robbers, and effectively left to die. Apparently it was very narrow road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Just about two way donkey traffic, but not much more. The idea of passing by on the other side is designed to raise a laugh. More likely you’d have to step over any obstacle in the road rather than go around it.

When we are in trouble, we expect certain types of people to help us, particularly those whose jobs indicate certain roles or responsibilities in the community. For those people to sidestep, step over, or even trample the very things they are supposed to uphold feels like betrayal.

In Jesus’ story, it is the person who you’d expect to trample on the injured man who in fact cares for him, and helps him. The ones who would be expected to help, whose actions so conspicuously do not match their words, walk on by.

Sometimes the hardest thing is to admit our failings, and to face up to them. It hurts. It’s bitter. It makes us feel awful inside. At the end of the story, Jesus turns to the man – a religious teacher – who asked the question which prompted the story. Who was the neighbour to the injured man, Jesus asks. The teacher cannot even bring himself to say “the Samaritan”. He hates them too much. It is too hard. He cannot speak the name of his enemy – for Jews and Samaritans hated each other with a passion – with any kindness or respect.

We used to respect and expect integrity from each other, and in ourselves. St James wrote, you show me your faith without actions, and I by my action will show you my faith. Actions speak a lot louder than words, it’s true; in the same way that a photograph can convey viscerally what words on a page cannot.

Over the past forty years, integrity seems to have become an old-fashioned value. Maybe it’s making a comeback. Maybe it’s all bluster and jockeying for position. But maybe, just maybe, collectively we might begin to expect words and actions to match up – in ourselves, in those around us, and (perhaps most importantly) in those who have huge power over our lives and our society, nationally and internationally. At least we’d know the truth, even if we didn’t like it.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 10th – 16th July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday July 7 2022, 9:19 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PD document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Faith and Doubt

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 30 2022, 2:20 pm

Faith is a very emotive word. “Do you have faith, sister?” is a very loaded question indeed. Whether asked quietly and gently, or demanded loudly by a person with a loudhailer on the street, it is personal. It is a question that delves into our innermost being. And quite frankly, it can feel intrusive and rude and judgemental if it isn’t asked the right way! Do you have faith?

Faith in what? And how do I get it? St Paul is clear that faith is the gift of God. It’s something given to us, not something we have to go and find. But Jesus (and St Paul) also speaks of nurturing and growing faith within ourselves. So, much like the tomato plants I was given the other day, it is a gift. But unless I water and nurture it, it will shrink and shrivel. Perhaps faith could be compared to a muscle. If I use it, it grows strong. If I don’t, it wastes away and is weak.

This Sunday is the feast of St Thomas, famous for refusing to believe without evidence. I always think he gets a rough time of it, being nicknamed Doubting Thomas. After all, I like to think that I engage my critical faculties and ability to think and reason when it comes to God and faith, just as I do with any other aspect of my life. Instinct is great, but it needs to work hand in hand with evidence. Not necessarily empirical or objective evidence that someone else can examine under a metaphorical microscope. My evidence may be in the form of my experiences and my feelings combined with my knowledge of the context of the thing or situation.

And then again, when it comes to faith, we don’t have to get it all right and sorted before God will step in and help. Remember the father who asked Jesus to heal his child, because the disciples had not been able to do so. Jesus told him, all things are possible for those who believe. And the father cries out in desperation, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief!” Jesus helps him. Of course he does! Jesus loves him! He cares! He’s not demanding “advance payment” by how high the man’s belief score is!

I wonder sometimes if these stories point in a different direction to the one we expect. So often, when we look properly, the bible does that! Jesus’ comment about belief was more likely directed at his disciples than the poor father, distraught at his son’s illness. And when it comes to Thomas’ inability to believe the “impossible”, I bet the writers included it to give comfort and help to those who struggle, rather than to have a dig at Thomas.

Faith is hard work. And a very wise person once pointed out to me that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but rather knowledge. If we have objective knowledge, we don’t need faith. We don’t need that gift of God to make the instinctive jump between what we know and see and observe and that which is just beyond the boundary of our human senses and limitations of knowing. Faith can go hand in hand with doubt – ask any of the saints!! Perhaps doubt is to faith what dumbbells are to body-building! We believe, but we’re not sure, so we go back over our experiences and our responses to where God has been in our lives, and our faith is strengthened in the process.

So on this festival of St Thomas, I shall ask you not, “Do you have faith?”, but rather, “Where is God in your life?” And are you happy with where God is, or perhaps is not? Every time I have doubts, every time my own faith wavers or wobbles, I ask myself those questions. And in so doing, my faith in God’s love and provision is usually strengthened.

May it be so for you.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Alex Shute on Unsplash

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 3rd – 9th July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 30 2022, 9:23 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Vocation – being our true selves

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 23 2022, 3:32 pm

This Wednesday is the festival of St Peter and St Paul, those two iconic figures on whom so much of the teaching of the Church, and indeed the writing of the New Testament, rest.

Both Peter and Paul were commissioned by Christ himself to go out and spread the good news of God’s love. And so this is traditionally the time of year for people to be ordained as deacons and priests, remembering that those ordained as clergy are called to follow closely in the steps of these saints, preaching and teaching God’s people, and sharing his message of love.

But we are all called by God, whoever we are. Every one of us has a holy vocation – and it is for us to listen and to have the courage to follow God’s call – to be fully the person he created us to be, filled with his light and love, and sharing that light and love with others.

The feast of St Peter and St Paul is usually an opportunity to talk about vocation, especially to the priesthood. That is indeed a precious and beautiful call; it’s also one which is incredibly demanding, will at times wring you out and then come back again, and is not to be undertaken lightly! It is a role of which can be truthfully said, you absolutely CAN’T do it on your own – you need God, every moment. 

God’s call to each of us is completely unique – just as we all are unique. The most wonderful way you can praise and give thanks to God is to live your true life, live it to the full, shine your Divine light, and share that light and love with others. 

That will look different for each of us. It’s not about saying, I must become ‘xxx’ in order to please God. All any of us have to do is to be truly ourselves. Some are priests, prophets, evangelists; some are mums, dads, brothers, aunties; some are police, hairdressers, nurses, teachers; some are mechanics, engineers, gardeners. Some are combination of all the above. No one is better than any other – all play their part in the interdependent symphony of the whole.

And whatever our vocation is – or whatever combination it may be – let us celebrate it, live it, BE it, and be joyful in it. For a life fully and truly lived is the best.

Every blessing, 

Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 26th June – 2nd July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 23 2022, 10:11 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Daily Bread

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 16 2022, 2:29 pm

It’s a familiar phrase: “Give us this day our daily bread.” We say it in the Lord’s Prayer, and mostly we think we know what we mean by it. Food, shelter, resources sufficient for today, without worrying about tomorrow. Trusting in God’s provision. 

The idea of trusting in God’s provision for our needs was vividly experienced by the Israelites in the wilderness, following Moses, escaping from slavery in Egypt. For forty years they wandered in the desert – because they did not trust in God’s provision, that God would go before them to conquer their enemies. So they ate manna and quails. And they could not gather more than a day’s supply of manna, except for the Sabbath. If they did, it went bad and smelt awful! 

There are many elements to Corpus Christi, or The Fest of the Body of Christ, which celebrates the giving of the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. The readings for the day remind us of Abraham eating with Melchizedek; we have St Paul’s account of Christ’s words at the Last Supper (chronologically the closest written witness); and Jesus’ words from St John’s gospel, where he says he is the Bread that comes from heaven – the reference circling back to the manna in the wilderness. 

The celebration of this festival is a solemn and yet joyous occasion. Rose petals are strewn, incense wafts upwards representing our prayers of thanksgiving, bread is broken and wine shared, as we remember and give thanks again for God’s limitless love for us, in giving us His Son, Jesus, to show us the nature of God in human form, to teach us how to live as God truly intended us to do. Loving one another as He has loved us.

May we live each day in the love and light of Christ. 

Thanks be to God.

Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 19th June – 25th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 16 2022, 10:50 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Trinity Sunday

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 9 2022, 2:24 pm

This Sunday is Trinity Sunday in the Church calendar.  I have always found it a little strange that we have a single Sunday identified in the year to remember what is, after all, the central, distinctive tenet of the Christian faith: we believe in one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We affirm this common faith in the One God who is our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, week by week, as we proclaim the Creed in our services, come together in prayers of preparation and intercession, and praise God in the Gloria.  This is our faith, every day and minute – not just on one particular Sunday.

But perhaps it is indeed right to take time at this point in the year for special focus on the Trinity.  This week we see the drawing-together of all our calendar of readings and festivals so far through the year, as we have been learning again of God’s awesome plans for the world, from creation and covenant, through the gift of God’s love and grace revealed in Christ from Christmas to Easter, to God’s intimate welcome and enabling of all into his fellowship through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, this last week.  As we discover again the enduring love of God-our-source, providing for us; God-with-us, transforming us; God-still-with-us, guiding and uniting us, we are sent out by the Trinity and through the Trinity to share and communicate this love and grace. We reconfirm it every time we welcome a new member into this fellowship through baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

It is also good to be made to stop periodically and wrestle again with just how we understand this seeming paradox of God who is Three in One. This time last year I was reflecting on the nature of God as a single, never-ending dynamic relationship of three persons, as a dance or a symphony calling each of us in different ways into relationship with God through his three persons and by whom we are then called into relationship with one another.  This particular reflection works for me, but there are so many potential ways of reflecting on the Trinity. 

Maybe it is also good, this Sunday, not to get bogged down in trying to pin down the paradox of the Trinity, but instead to welcome the mystery of God who is both ineffable and immediate as a never-ending invitation to get to know him better.  Paul, writing to the Corinthians, recognises that our understanding can only be limited:

For now, we see in a mirror, enigmatically, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.  And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

(I Cor 13:12-13)

As Kandiah says, we cannot ourselves ever resolve the paradoxes of our faith because God is so far beyond our human understanding, but we can keep striving to learn more of God and of his love.  If we could grasp the paradoxes, perhaps the danger would be that we would box God away and stop seeking.  “Christianity was never meant to be simple – after all, it is about relationship, and what true relationship is ever simple?” (Kandiah, p308)

Lucy G.

Kandiah, Krish  Paradoxology: why Christianity was never meant to be simple. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2014

Image – LG

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 12th – 18th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 9 2022, 10:01 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

Jubilee!

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Sunday June 5 2022, 7:25 am

Jubilee is an ancient Jewish principle, originally found in Leviticus, and was celebrated every 50 years. In that year, all debts were forgiven, and slaves were freed, and property was returned to its original owner – well, that’s the simple version. Scholars also suggest that the use of 50 years (ie the year after the end of seven sevens) is done to parallel the fifty days between Passover and the Feast of Shavuot, which marks the revelation of the Torah to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai.

Which brings me to our own Jubilee year, celebrating the fact that Queen Elizabeth has reigned over us for seventy years – longer than any other monarch in these isles. She is very nearly the longest reigning monarch in recorded history, bested only by Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand and Louis XIV of France, but as Louis was not yet five when he became king of France in 1643, I think he had something of an advantage!!

Whilst sadly the prospect of a global debt jubilee is extremely unlikely, or indeed any of the other aspects of biblical Jubilee, jubilees are important celebrations. They are moments of reviewing all that went before, and starting a new chapter. In the case of Queen Elizabeth, given her position as Head of the Church of England, and her own deep personal and staunch Christian faith, the biblical aspect seems worth pointing out. Whilst it is another year to the 70th anniversary of her coronation (2nd June 1953), in that year Pentecost had fallen the previous day, on Sunday 1st June. Given her faith, I wonder if the date of her coronation was chosen to fall at Pentecost. And it seems a wonderful and beautiful coincidence that the celebration of her Platinum Jubilee as monarch also falls on this significant biblical festival, when the Holy Spirit fell upon the first disciples whilst they were in the Temple, and they spoke in every language. That festival – Shavuot for the Jews – became Pentecost for the Christians, and is usually considered the birthday of the Church. On the festival of the day that the Torah (or Old Covenant) was given to Moses, the New Covenant of the Holy Spirit was poured out, as Jesus had promised.

I was reflecting on all this in the context of Queens and Kings, and thinking also of the fact that Queens and Kings have traditionally been seen as anointed by God to take on the task and responsibility of rule. Our Queen has taken that duty so very seriously, every day of her life. In April 1947, she said “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service… But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do: I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.

At her accession, she swore faithfully to uphold the duty which had been laid upon her. At her coronation, she was anointed with holy oil, she was blessed by God through the Archbishops, given the grace of the Holy Spirit in a new way, and formally given this holy task. And she has stood firm through seventy years, seeing almost unimaginable changes and developments, holding strong through it all.

All of us are called and anointed by God to a particular task, and that is unique to each one of us. Most of us do not have to carry that task for seventy years! But may God give us grace and strength to carry our tasks and callings for as long as they are ours to bear. And may God give to the Queen peace and blessing as she celebrates this incredible milestone. For her wisdom, care, duty, and faithfulness, thanks be to God.


Gracious God, we give you thanks
for the reign of your servant Elizabeth our Queen,
and for the example of loving and faithful service
which she has shown among us.
Help us to follow her example of dedication
and to commit our lives to you and to one another,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 5th – 11th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Tuesday May 31 2022, 9:32 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

Speaking blessings

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday May 26 2022, 3:30 pm

Do you ever have those days when, frankly, you’d rather just stay under the duvet? When the prospect of the day is devoid of joy and positivity?

We don’t admit to it very often, and even more rarely admit the real depth of that feeling. Even though we’re much better about talking about our feelings these days than twenty and more years ago, for many people (especially those over a certain age) it’s still quite difficult to do so.

This is where the psalms can be so very helpful. As can the Jewish tradition of blessing God for all things. As the rabbi said in Fiddler on the Roof, there is a blessing for all things! But we need to get the focus of the blessing right. It’s not about blessing the thing, it is about blessing the Giver, who is God.

It’s amazing how speaking a blessing can transform our attitude and feelings toward something. On the mornings when my duvet has seemed so appealing, but I know that my daughter needs me up and about, I begin by saying “Blessed are you O Lord, God of our ancestors, King of the Universe, for bringing me to this new day.” Even though it’s 530am and far too early (for me, there is only one 6 o’clock in the day!) somehow that blessing changes my feelings.

I then find other things to bless God for – hot water usually is next. Most of us take hot showers for granted, but anyone who has stayed at the monastery of Taize in France will know that by 6am all hot water is long gone. Blessed be God that I can have a hot cup of tea. And breakfast. For my daughter who gives the best cuddles in the world. That I have a car to take my daughter to school. That I have a dog who welcomes me with utter exuberance and love each morning, and throughout the day.

And slowly but surely, that desire to hide under the duvet in grumpy isolation dissipates. I’m not saying that everything is suddenly sunshine and roses, but I am at least appreciative that there are good things in my life, instead of taking them for granted and being blind to them.

Blessed are you O Lord, God of our ancestors, King of the Universe, for all the blessings that you have given me.

Next time you have one of those days, try blessing God for all the tiny things in your life and around you that are good. It doesn’t take away the rubbish, the hurt, the grief, the sadness. But it can bring a little perspective. And suddenly instead of only seeing the bad, we can become aware that there is some good – however small – tucked away in little corners all around us. And maybe those good things will be enough to help us through today.

As for tomorrow, well Jesus had a very wise comment about that too (Mt6.34): do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Revd. Talisker