Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 25th – Saturday 31st October

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday October 22 2020, 11:01 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.

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 18th – Saturday 24th October

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday October 15 2020, 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.

All Souls & Remembrance Sunday 2020: A Season to Remember

General 

Published on: Wednesday October 14 2020, 9:11 am

November is traditionally the Church’s time to remember those who have died and journeyed ahead of us, and who wait for us to join them when our time comes. This year, perhaps more than at any other time since the World Wars, our society has had to face the prospect of our very human mortality as we have grappled with coronavirus. And it has not been easy.

Remembering the past helps us to live better in the present moment, and to avoid repeating the mistakes of yesteryear. It helps us to build a better future, if we recall where we have been. Remembering was key to the ancient Hebrews. The Ten Commandments begins with a call to remembrance that God had rescued them from slavery, and therefore because of what they had suffered, they must always remember to be merciful and never to oppress others as they were oppressed. If we know where we have come from, if we remember our roots, then we will be better able to cope with the present.

By remembering the past, we know who we are now. The stories we tell about ourselves, our families, and where we come from form a huge part of our identity, and the act of remembering brings all of that to life again for us. It literally re-members it – makes it once more a member (a part) of our very selves. When we remember our family and friends who have died, they live again in our hearts and memories, and are part of us once more.

All Souls Annual Memorial Service

All Souls is the ancient Christian festival of Remembering, when we remember and pray by name for all those who we have loved and lost, and for whom we grieve. Our churches hold an annual Memorial Service which will be on Sunday 1st November this year, and during this service we remember all those whose funerals have been in our churches in recent years, and any who we are asked to remember and to pray for.

All Souls Covid Restrictions

To enable as many as possible to join in, without physical restriction, the service itself will be online only, accessible via our YouTube Channel. Please our website www.cherbury-gainfield.org.uk (or sign up to our newsletter) for more details. In addition, all our churches will be open for private prayer that day, and most will have prayer resources and candles to light in memory of our loved ones

Remembrance Sunday, 8th November is another key point for remembering the dead and honouring their memory – not just the soldiers who died in the two world wars, but also all the service personnel and civilians who suffered and died on every side of every conflict. Nobody chooses war over peace, and so this act of Remembrance is surely about committing ourselves to work for peace and for reconciliation in whatever way we can, in the hope that one day we will be able to stop the tragedy and horror of war being perpetuated year after year as it is now.

Whilst few of us now remember the Second World War, and even fewer the First, many of us have relatives who were in both of them: one of my grandfathers fought in the trenches in 1914-18, and the other was a POW on the Burma Railway. Their stories shape mine, just as the collective narrative of those times still shape our society and national memory today. And perhaps in this present experience of pandemic and the shared grief of the loss of security, stability and a familiar way of life, we may find once again a common solidarity and urge to work together to forge a new world, as those who survived the horrors of the World Wars had to do.

Covid Restrictions for Remembrance Services

To enable as many people as possible to attend, all our Remembrance Sunday services will be outdoors – at Buckland Memorial Hall, at Charney Bassett War Memorial on The Green, and at St Mary’s in Longworth. The service at Buckland will also be livestreamed for those who don’t feel safe coming to a public gathering. Despite being outdoors, we still respectfully request that masks are worn as people will inevitably be in close proximity and many are of a vulnerable age. We also respectfully request that those attending sign in on arrival via the NHS Covid App QR code poster, or by giving their name and number to the welcomers at the entrance.

If you have any questions at all, please phone or email our admin office (details on the contact page) and we will do all we can to help.

With peace and blessings to you all,
Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 11th – Saturday 17th October

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday October 8 2020, 9:04 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.

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 4th – Saturday 10th October

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday October 1 2020, 10:20 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.

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 27th September – Saturday 3rd October

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 24 2020, 10:14 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.

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 20th – Saturday 26th September

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 17 2020, 11:33 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.

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 13th – Saturday 19th September

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 10 2020, 1:50 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.

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 6th – Saturday 12th September

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 3 2020, 1:24 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.

Ride & Stride

General 

Published on: Thursday September 3 2020, 11:52 am

We are happy to announce that the annual sponsored Ride and Stride will take place as usual this year on

SATURDAY 12TH SEPTEMBER 2020

How many historic Oxfordshire churches can you visit on foot, horseback or cycle in a day?

This is a great day out for all the family and a way to raise money for your local church and Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust. Plan your own route and visit the churches of your choice.

Because of Covid 19, churches cannot offer refreshments or toilet facilities this year.

ALL our benefice churches will have an unmanned sign-in desk with sheet for self sign-in.

With the exception of Hinton Waldrist (tbc) and Pusey, ALL our churches will also be open.

For more details and to register visit the OHCT website  where the latest updates will be posted including the list of churches taking part.

Sunday Service 30th August – Livestream & in St Mary’s, Buckland

General 

Published on: Thursday September 3 2020, 9:30 am

Join us for our weekly worship – yesterday, Sunday 30th August, is Come&Praise service of the Word. A very warm welcome to Morning Worship for the Benefice of Cherbury with Gainfield. We are a rural group of seven churches in Oxfordshire, and our worship is led by Revd. Jim this week, and Revd. Talisker is preaching. If you’d like to know more, please visit www.cherbury-gainfield.org.uk or visit our FaceBook page @BeneficeOfCherburyWithGainfield – we’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to donate online and help support our churches financially, please go to www.cherbury-gainfield.org.uk/giving to access the JustGiving pages for each of our churches. Thank you!

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 30th August to Saturday 5th September

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday August 27 2020, 2:24 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.

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 23rd to Saturday 29th August

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday August 20 2020, 10:09 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.

Longworth Community Library

General 

Published on: Thursday August 20 2020, 8:42 am

Held in the Houlton Rooms, St. Mary’s Church, Longworth

WE ARE OPEN!!

First Tuesday of the month (10.00am-12.30pm), next one 1st September

contact Lesley Kinch 01865 820237 or Karen Coleman 01865 821795

Membership free to residents in the Benefice

Books free to borrow

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 9th to Saturday 15th August

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday August 6 2020, 9:00 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.

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 2nd to Saturday 8th August

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Wednesday July 29 2020, 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.

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 26th July to Saturday 1st August

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Wednesday July 22 2020, 9:30 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.

Church Openings for Private Prayer

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Friday July 17 2020, 7:00 am

Our churches are now open for private prayer during the day as follows:

Tuesday      – St Peter’s, Charney Bassett

Wednesday – St Margaret’s, Hinton Waldrist

Thursday    – Holy Ascension, Littleworth

Friday        – St Mary’s, Longworth

Saturday    – St Mary’s Lyford

Sunday      – St Mary’s, Buckland

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 19th to Saturday 25th July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Wednesday July 15 2020, 9:15 am

You can 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.

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 12th to Saturday 18th July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Wednesday July 8 2020, 11:38 am

You can 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 Way of Life and Living?

General 

Published on: Wednesday July 1 2020, 3:37 pm

This Sunday is the fourth Sunday after Trinity, as we continue through the long summer season. Whilst some kind of normality may seem to be hovering on the horizon, it still remains tantalisingly out of reach. What is life really going to be like as lockdown lifts? What will our towns and churches look like? Nobody quite knows yet. And the uncertainty is one of the hardest things.

Clearly for some people, mostly from a desire for familiarity and security, it is tempting to just ‘go back to how it was’ – but that maybe isn’t quite the best idea!! Rather, let’s grasp the opportunities to hang on to what has been good in the past three months, and let go of the toxic old patterns of life where we can. Building back better does after all require clearing the ground first, and removing the debris and weeds and all the things that kept tripping us up.

And then, once the ground is clear, what Way of Life do we want to follow? What do we want life to look like?

How we live seems to be largely predicated on how we see life. This week’s gospel speaks to exactly this. Jesus says to his followers: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. My burden is easy, and my yoke is light.’

For most of us, hearing the phonic ‘yoke’ is more likely to make you think of eggs than oxen. However, the metaphor is a good one. A yoke was / is used to harness two animals together so they pull in unison. Often an older animal was yoked to a younger one, so the younger one would learn how to do its job of ploughing or pulling a load. 

Jewish Rabbis of Jesus’ time used the word ‘yoke’ to indicate their teaching, their way of life that their disciples were to follow. The disciples were to take the rabbi’s yoke, just as a young ox is yoked with an older one, to learn how to live and work and be. 

So when Jesus invites his disciples to take on his yoke – well that’s normal language. But he goes on to make the point that his yoke is easy. Implication – not all rabbis chose to interpret life and following God as an easy thing. But Jesus does. His yoke – his way of living, his teachings about following God – are easy. The burden that he puts on his followers is light. 

What an incredible statement. The Son of God is saying that to follow God is not about being burdened and weighed down with requirements, but rather about lightness of being. The Way of Life, the Yoke which Jesus lays upon us is easy to bear, is designed to help and not to hinder us. 

I wrote above about the need to clear the ground before we can rebuild, before new things can grow. It’s the most laborious and seemingly endless task – whether you’re looking at a building site or an untended and overgrown allotment full of cooch grass. And half the time the backbreaking labour of clearing it seems to make more mess than it removes. But finally, one day, all the debris is gone, and the clear ground is before you, ready to accept the new foundations and the new thing you want to build or plant. 

Many people are reflecting that we have an almost unparalleled opportunity to do things differently. Things that were unthinkable in January are virtually normal now. The politically impossible has become the politically necessary. But on the small scale that works too. 

In the various webinars and meetings I have attended over the past weeks, a particularly useful set of four questions has emerged, as a way to think about our individual personal lives and circumstances, and what we might want going forward. 
1. What have I gained during Covid that I wish to keep?

2. What have I gained that I am willing to let go of?

3. What have I lost during Covid that I must have back?

4. What have I lost that I do not want to have back?

We will all have different answers to these questions, but they’re worth thinking about if we want our lives and communities in the months and years ahead to be what we truly want, instead of situations and spaces that we drift into and don’t really have control over, or ability to grow and shape as we truly want them to be.

And if our thinking and being is shaped by what Jesus invites us to, then surely the yoke and burdens that we bear in the future will be considerably lighter and easier than the ones we have borne in the past.

 

Every blessing, 

Revd. Talisker
 

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 5th to Saturday 11th July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Wednesday July 1 2020, 12:45 pm

You can 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

General 

Published on: Thursday June 25 2020, 3:00 pm

This Sunday 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.

As I said above, 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 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, Sunday 28th June to Saturday 4th July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Wednesday June 24 2020, 8:30 am

For anyone who wishes to follow the readings for morning prayer, the readings for each day can be accessed here, and you can 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.

Letting Go? Or Holding On? I AM, or I HAVE?

General 

Published on: Thursday June 18 2020, 3:00 pm

The gospel for Sunday 21st June, 2nd Sunday after Trinity, is from St Matthew; it is very dense and has so much going on. It has the reassurance that ‘the hairs of your head are counted‘ – ie God knows and cares for you that deeply. But it also says that ‘those who try to gain their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.’ 

I wonder if The Message translation might give a bit more insight: “If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.”

Reading this makes this saying a bit easier to understand I think. It is about focus. Gaining life, holding on to life, so often ends up making us focus on material possessions and status – our job, home, money. And whilst all those things do indeed make life more comfortable, they are adjuncts, not essentials. When people come to crisis points, when people are facing their own imminent death, it is people and relationships that generally are the points of importance, and often of regret.

For our true being does not lie in possesions or status. It lies in our relationships – with ourselves, with God, and with each other. How many of us are doing things that we simply have to do, but which bring no joy or excitement? But if we are truly in touch with our souls, we know ourselves and what brings us passion and makes us feel alive

That’s the kind of life that I think Jesus is talking about here. This is what ‘finding yourself’ is really about. It’s about saying I AM rather than I HAVE. Knowing our true inner nature so that we can allow our souls to shine, to feel fully alive and able to find the joy in each day (even the bad ones!), to be in positive relationships with ourself and others. It’s about letting go of the I HAVE, so that the I AM – our true divine nature – can shine forth.

Every blessing, 

Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 21st to Saturday 27th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Wednesday June 17 2020, 10:30 am

For anyone who wishes to follow the readings for morning prayer, the readings for each day can be accessed via this link, and you can view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

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

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 website, and our Facebook page.

Church Openings for Private Prayer

General 

Published on: Monday June 15 2020, 12:00 pm

Our churches are now open for private prayer during the day as follows:

Monday – St Peter’s, Charney Bassett

Tuesday – St Mary’s, Buckland

Wednesday – St Margaret’s, Hinton Waldrist

Thursday – Holy Ascension, Littleworth

Friday – St Mary’s, Longworth

Saturday – St Mary’s Lyford

One Bread, One Body – thinking about Corpus Christi

General 

Published on: Thursday June 11 2020, 4:09 pm

Being One Body, Sharing One Bread

There are a lot of metaphors about the body in the gospels and in St Paul’s letters. It’s actually a really helpful way to think about things. A body is one cohesive unit (or it’s meant to be!), held together with an outer covering of skin. But within that, there’s bone and muscle and tendon and of course all our vital organs which allow us to function and retain the breath of life. And then there’s the different parts of the body – feet, hands, head, eyes, nose, ears, mouth etc. through which we perceive and experience and interact with the world. 

One of the saddest misunderstandings in Christianity has been a false dualism of the physical and the spiritual. Some people have read the bible to understand it as saying that the physical world is somehow fallen or inherently evil and sinful, and that we must strive to push that aside as we seek to be more and more spiritual. 

But for me Jesus gives the lie to that – the fact that God chooses to become part of his creation, to become one of us, makes it clear that the physical world is in fact inherently good and beautiful and to be celebrated. And that whilst the world is not running to God’s plan, and that there is sorrow and pain and brokenness in this world, one day God will renew and restore and reconcile all things within this creation. He will bring healing – and that’s not by destruction and leaving it behind, but through healing and restoration. I’ll not give lengthy bible quotes here – this is about being a short reflection, offering food for thought, but all that I’ve said is very much based in scripture. 

In Jesus, God lives as a human and experiences our life. And to experience something is a far cry from merely observing it. It is this deeply incarnational physicality and the goodness of the material world – and its connectedness to the spiritual – that is at the core of the Sacrament of sharing Bread and Wine in memory of Christ, as he taught us. 

There is something deeply relational about sharing food and drink. Hospitality is what allow relationships to flourish, for us to know one another better. Sharing food is one of the most important things we as humans can do; it’s at the heart of pretty much every culture I think. It brings togetherness. And it reminds us of what we have in common, giving space for that commonality to be explored and expressed.

So in asking us to remember him in bread and wine, Christ is affirming the goodness of the physical world, but he is also bringing us together. And this brings me back to where I began with the idea of sharing one Bread making us into one Body. 

We’re all differrent. We all have different skills, abilities and experiences. We all have something to contribute – just like the differing parts of the human body. On our own, we are incredibly limited – just as hands can’t hear; ears can’t touch! But together, in harmony, we can achieve incredible things.

As we share in this one Bread – literally and metaphorically and spiritually – may we be built more and more into one Body that can value each of its constituent parts and work in harmony to the glory of God. 

Every blessing, 

Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 14th to Saturday 20th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Wednesday June 10 2020, 1:30 pm

For anyone who wishes to follow the readings for morning prayer, the readings for each day can be accessed via this link, and you can view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

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

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 website, and our Facebook page.

Trinity Sunday – the Divine Dance

General 

Published on: Thursday June 4 2020, 3:00 pm

The Dance of the Trinity

Exploring the concept of the Trinity is one of the hardest parts of the Christian faith. Some theologians have even joked that if you think you get it, you clearly don’t! But this complete conundrum is also central to our faith.

Richard Rohr points out that “Trinitarian revelation says start with the loving – and this is the new definition of being!” (Rohr, The Divine Dance). Many theologians have commented on the idea that the relationship between the persons of the Trinity are what makes us relational, what puts love in action at the heart of the divine image in us. 

For me, this principle that God is not some lone and distant figure is absolutely central to my experience of God. It is also key to understanding why God would choose to come and experience his own creation by living as a human being – Jesus. And it also explains why he continues to be involved in this world every moment through the action and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Above all, if I believe in a God who exists in relationship within God-self, then I can also believe that this God is interested in a relationship with me – and with all his creatures – and this call to relationship runs through the Bible and through Christian faith like letters in a stick of rock. 

God is not distant, but yearns to be close to us, always inviting and calling us into an intimate relationship with Godself. What an incredible joy, and also a rock on which we can rely in our times of struggle. If God was somehow just ‘out there’, uninvolved with the daily dust of the universe, then it would make little sense to call out to this deity in our times of pain and trial.

Instead Christians believe in a God who loves us all so much he became one of us, lived and died as we do, experienced all the human emotions, and who remains with us still through his Spirit. 

And through this we are in turn invited into the divine dance that is God. For the very nature of this God is love and relationship, and so when we love, when we are in relationships that build us up and encourage and strengthen us, then we participate in the Divine nature also. It is in our relationships that we experience love, that we experience the Divine in tangible form.

Rublev’s famous icon painting of the Trinity has three winged figures around a table. There is clearly a space for a fourth at the table, and the poses of the figures suggest invitation. This invitation is for the viewer – for each one of us. 

George Herbert wrote the wonderful poem Love (III). It begins ‘Love bade me welcome’. And it finishes ‘You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat. So I did sit and eat.’ It’s an imagined conversation between God and a person, an utterly beautiful poetic expression of the eternal invitation of Love to the Soul – just google ‘George Herbert Love’, and you’ll find it! So often poetry can express what mere prose cannot. It puts into words the emotions we might feel at the invitation which Rublev paints.

So whilst trying to explain the theology of Trinity in ordinary prose (rather than poetry or art) reduces us to (albeit very useful!) metaphors of clover leaves and all kinds of linguistic contortions, as we desperately search for an image or simile that works completely to express that most elusive of principles, the truth is that we can experience this Trinity each and every day. Just by being – with God, with one another, with ourselves. Just by loving. Just by presence. 

For even though words often fail, Love is always enough.

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 7th to Sunday 14th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Wednesday June 3 2020, 12:30 pm

For anyone who wishes to follow the readings for morning prayer, the readings for each day can be accessed via this link, and you can view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

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

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 website, and our Facebook page.

Pentecost, the fiftieth day – Waiting…

General 

Published on: Thursday May 28 2020, 3:49 pm

Pentecost – the fiftieth day

Nobody likes waiting. Not any more. We used to be able to wait with equanimity, but our patience levels seem to reduce each year. Modern technology has brought wonderful and incredible advances and abilities that previous generations only dreamed of. But there are also flip sides – and one of those appears to be an inability to wait patiently for things to happen in their own time.

It’s a feature of modern life, beautifully exemplified by Amazon and the ‘Order Today Get It Tomorrow’ of online shopping, that we want things immediately. But the world does not naturally operate in that way. And waiting brings beauty and promise that we would otherwise miss.

In the past weeks, I have been doing a bit of gardening. Normally I don’t have the time! And it’s not that I have more time now – in some ways I am busier than ever – but it is that my approach to time has changed. Looking out my study window, I now have a small garden which has grown and morphed over the past weeks. I have learned from YouTube about taking cuttings and repotting things, and I have loved working with my daughter, getting our hands covered in compost – or as she puts it, ‘mud’. And I am reminded of the old adage, one is closer to God’s heart in a garden than any place else on earth. For after all, God was the original Gardener!

Gardens – and plants – take time to grow. And so do people. And that brings me back to Pentecost. It’s called Pentecost because it is fifty days after the Resurrection. Jesus walked with his disciples for forty days after he rose again, and then he returned to heaven to be with the Father. And then, another time of waiting – ten days between Ascension and Pentecost. 

Times of waiting can seem empty, but they might be better seen as times of preparation. A time in which a space is created and made ready for what comes next. Jesus had to go into heaven in order for the Holy Spirit to have space to come and dwell in our hearts. But the waiting time between seeming loss and being refilled is so important. What comes next is not the same shape, size or dynamic as what has gone. The new thing can’t just fit into the old space. The space has got to adapt and be made ready for what will be.

I feel there are all kinds of parallels with the global situation at present as we all try to work out what our individual and collective new ‘normal’ is going to be in a Covid-19 world. Each one of us will have to work that through, and together we will have to work out what society and culture is now going to look like and how it will function. And the waiting time is crucial in giving us the space to do this.  

There are times right now when the immensity of the changes we have undergone and which are likely to linger feel overwhelming. It is so tempting to retreat, however we can, into the old and familiar. But we cannot go back. As the hymn-writer says, ‘Time like an ever-rolling stream bears all its sons away..’ There is only one constant, and that is God, who sustains all life and existence from moment to moment. 

And if we can dwell in each moment, one at a time, if we can bear the waiting, then time itself will help us to re-shape and adapt to what comes next. And above all, we are not alone – for we have the Holy Spirit, the Helper, the Accompanier, the Consoler, who dwells in our hearts. This Helper Spirit is the gift of God. It speaks in a very small voice, we have to listen for it! But through waiting, through stillness, through patience, it becomes clearer and louder, guiding and accompanying us into whatever the future may hold.

As we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost again, and remember the birth of the Church on that first Pentecost Day, let us pray again for the Holy Spirit to be renewed within us, for us to reconnect and listen again for that still small voice, and for the Spirit to bring new life to us, our families, and to the Church throughout the world.

With love, light and peace, 
Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 31st May to Saturday 6th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Wednesday May 27 2020, 10:45 am

For anyone who wishes to follow the readings for morning prayer, the readings for each day can be accessed via this link, and you can view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

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

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 website, and our Facebook page.

The meaning of life… Which way is up??

General 

Published on: Thursday May 21 2020, 3:01 pm

Which way is up? Well, the answer to that depends on your view of the world! The ancients had a cosmology (universe / world view) that had a flat earth in the middle and heaven (the residence of the gods) as Up, somewhere beyond the stars. And the early Christians pretty much took on that view – they had no reason not to! It was, after all, the common understanding of science at the time.

 

So the gospel writers, when they record the ascension of Jesus into heaven, speak of him being taken up and a cloud hiding him from their sight.

 

But since the time when the gospels were written, our whole way of looking at and understanding the world and the universe has changed. We now know that no matter how far Up we go in among the stars and planets, we will never find a place called heaven that is the abode of the gods. That’s just not how it works.

 

I have always found that science fiction is a great place to start when trying to explain how God and the world work. Somehow the very nature of fiction that pushes every possible boundary is exactly the right medium for ways of expressing and understanding things which are at or beyond the boundaries of our understanding and experience.

 

I have the privilege of preaching this coming Sunday on Ascension, so I won’t focus on it today – but I will post my sermon online on our website and on my facebook page after Sunday, so if you want to read more, you can do so there.

 

But there is something connected with this that I will focus in on, and it is very much connected with the concept of a world-view.

 

In last week’s reading from the book of Acts, St Paul is in the Areopagus in Athens, where all the great philosophers and thinkers would gather to talk and chew over the great ideas of their day. Endless discussion and argument would take place, along with teaching schools of thought. Over the decades, it is where you would have found Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and a host of other names which have influenced our thought to this very day.

 

The thing which St Paul picks out is the fact that the Greeks are indeed very religious. It mattered enormously to them. But rather than seeing God in everything, they saw gods everywhere. There was a god for every river and stream, a goddess of the harvest, gods that looked after each family (much like we might think of guardian angels), gods for each city, gods who looked after health and sickness – you name it, it had a deity associated with it. And this was in addition to the main twelve gods that they worshipped, such as Zeus, Athena, Apollo and Aphrodite.

 

But in and amongst all the very many altars that St Paul saw in Athens, there was one to the Unknown God. The Greeks realised that even with all their gods and all their knowledge, there was still something that remained beyond them. And because they were afraid of missing some deity out and thus incurring their wrath, they had this altar.

 

In this “cover all bases” approach, there seems to me a kind of seeking after perfection at the heart of their belief system. And certainly in their worship, any mistake of any kind in the ceremony meant you had to go back to the very beginning and start again!

 

The Hebraic faith seems to me to stand in stark contrast to this, because it is not about seeking perfection but rather about existing and finding joy (and God) in the midst of the mess and chaos and beauty of life. The coming of God as Jesus, to live as one of us, bears witness to this utter dedication to the joy and beauty of life and the world as we know and experience it. God does not stand at a distance, but rather chooses to get involved in the everyday dust of life.

 

And within the Hebrew and Christian faiths, God is not unknown. For this is the core of the Incarnation – the coming of God in Jesus to live as one of us, to live with us. We worship a God who knows and loves us, and who knows what it is to live and die as one of us.

 

For the Greeks, this would be utterly incomprehensible in their religious cultural understanding of the world. To them, the gods were utterly removed from daily existence, living in a state of perpetual bliss in heaven. In contrast, for the Hebrews God might reside in heaven with his angels, but he was deeply concerned and interested in the doings of humans on earth; how we live and interact with each other and the plants and creatures. How you saw and understood God and the world and your place in it all was completely dependent on your world view – and on which culture you belonged to. Which brings me back to where we began – which way is Up??

 

In the end, for me the key to everything in this world lies in the unconditional and limitless love of God for all that exists. We are all climbing the same mountain, though we may use many paths; and the path we choose will depend on our culture, our background, and so many other factors. All that matters is that, whatever path we may be travelling, we help our fellow travellers that we meet along the journey, as we all make our way towards the great Divine Love and Light that embraces and holds us all.

With love, light and peace, 
Revd. Talisker

Thy Kingdom Come – A Global Wave of Prayer

General 

Published on: Thursday May 21 2020, 1:53 pm

Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer initiative across all Christian denominations. It lasts the ten days from Ascension Day until Pentecost…

As we pray during this period we remember and learn from the first followers of Christ who gathered together in hope and joy to pray and make ready for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses …to the ends of the earth. When he had said this…he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight…Then they returned to Jerusalem … and were constantly devoting themselves to prayer… When the day of Pentecost had come they were all together in one place… All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit… and that day about three thousand persons were added.”   (from Acts 1 and 2)

 

Thy Kingdom Come was set up by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to encourage Christians to:

  • Deepen our own relationship with Jesus Christ
  • Pray for five friends or family to come to faith in Jesus
  • Pray for the empowerment of the Spirit that we would be effective in our witness for Christ

“In praying ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ we all commit to playing our part in the renewal of the nations and the transformation of communities.” Archbishop Justin Welby

You can find out more about Thy Kingdom Come, inspiring stories and interviews and resources to help you join in with this worldwide, ecumenical and exciting eleven days of prayer action at

https://www.thykingdomcome.global/about-us

There’s a Thy Kingdom Come app, podcasts and you can even get Alexa and Google Home to ‘Ask the Church of England for today’s Thy Kingdom Come’ to hear a short service of Prayer During the Day (before 7pm) and Night Prayer (after 7pm) throughout the eleven days.

We will be adding daily postings throughout this period on the Cherbury with Gainfield facebook blog at

https://www.facebook.com/BeneficeOfCherburyWithGainfield

 

So, please join us in the global wave of prayer
 
 

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 24th to Saturday 30th May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Wednesday May 20 2020, 9:15 am

For anyone who wishes to follow the readings for morning prayer, the readings for each day can be accessed via this link, and you can view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

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

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 website, and our Facebook page.

“Seek first the Kingdom of God” – Prayer and Possibility

General 

Published on: Thursday May 14 2020, 3:00 pm

So much has happened this week. We are in the now-and-not-yet all over again. Lockdown is easing – but is it? Is it safe to do so? How do we feel about it? I attended a church leadership webinar recently in which we talked about the short, medium and long term plans and approaches for the future – but above all the reality is we simply do not know. There is no blueprint for this. There is no clear A to B – because we don’t yet know what B is! It’s all emerging and we have to figure it out as we go along. 

Uncertainty is something that few people truly like. We may say that we like challenge and flexibility, but generally we do at least like to face those challenges and the need for flexibility with firm ground under our feet, rather than quicksand. But right now, there seems very little firm ground, and many of our old assumptions and habits simply don’t fit or function in our new world. 

So what now? One point that was raised, which resonated greatly for me, was the fact that whilst we haven’t a clue, God does. He knows how blessing can be brought about for us individually, as communities, as nations, and globally. We have a truly once in a lifetime chance to re-imagine what society and daily life looks like. And the best way we can engage with that is by beginning with prayer. 

Unprecented times call for unprecedented prayer! We need to pray lots – as much as we can, whenever we can, in any way that we can. There’s no right or wrong way or place to pray; just do it! And if we engage with God, if we try to listen carefully to what He is saying, what kind of world He might be calling us to on the other side of this, then maybe collectively what emerges may be a whole lot better – for everyone – than what we knew before. 

One simple example of that is meetings. We used to spend hours in our cars driving miles to meetings. In the past 8 weeks, global emissions have gone through the floor on the graphs. Whilst that will go up again once industry picks up once more, maybe we don’t have to go back to all that driving. Maybe we can do at least some of our meetings online. It does save a lot of time as well as miles, and though there will always be times when we do need face to face meetings, is that true all the time? There’s no substitute for real human contact – but wouldn’t you rather that the human contact we focus on and spend the majority of our time on was with our family and friends, the ones we really care about? 

Jesus said, seek first the Kingdom of God, and all else will fall into place (Matthew 6). He said this in the context of worry and anxiety for our daily needs – food, clothing, shelter – and the constant human rat race of getting ahead. How often are we so busy taking care of those daily needs that we don’t have time or energy to step back and look at the bigger picture. To wonder, if we did daily life differently, whether getting those things that we need might be less of a strain and struggle. The Kingdom of God, after all, is not a place – it is a way of living and being. It’s a focus and approach that is in tune with God.

Jesus was above all a teacher of wisdom. He showed us how to live a calmer, less frenzied life that is more in touch with our deepest needs. He showed us how to live according to God’s plan for humanity and in tune with the universe. He knew what he was talking about, and he lived it. Maybe in the coming weeks and months, if we could spend time in prayer, connecting with God and trying to catch His vision – not just for ourselves but for the world – then we could work hand in hand with God in co-creating a new world. 

As I write this, I am reminded of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, where the hand of God stretches out to the hand of Adam, bringing life and the divine spark. God is always stretching out His hand to us. What infinite possibility might arise if we stretched out our hands and touched His?

With love, light and peace, 
Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 17th to Saturday 23rd May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Wednesday May 13 2020, 12:30 pm

For anyone who wishes to follow the readings for morning prayer, the readings for each day can be accessed via this link, and you can view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

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

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 website, and our Facebook page.

Living the Serenity Prayer

General 

Published on: Thursday May 7 2020, 3:00 pm

Living the Serenity Prayer – a reflection on calm and handling change

These are strange and challenging times, and in many ways very troubling because they are so far from what we are used to as our normal daily lives. We used to be able to go out and about we are all stuck at home. We miss our friends from school and work, and we are having to get used to a whole new way of doing things.

In all of this, trying to stay calm and focused, keeping a balance within ourselves, is probably one of the most important things we can do. For those who have faith, taking time to pray has never been more important. What I have found of great encouragement myself is the news that so many people who would not describe themselves as having faith particularly have turned to prayer in these past weeks and have found great comfort in doing so.

At the Buckland School Governors meeting yesterday evening, the Head Teacher Mrs Warren spoke of the serenity prayer which many of you will have heard before and it inspired me to write this short piece to go out with the weekly newsletter.

The Serenity Prayer is a prayer written around 1932-33 by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971). It is commonly quoted as:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.  

Niebuhr’s prayer originally asked for courage first, and specifically for changing things that must be changed, not things that simply can be changed:

Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.  

It’s so easy to see the world around us and to feel completely overwhelmed by all the things which we just feel are too big and which press in upon us. We can’t change them, and even to try is an overwhelming task. Greta Thunberg wrote a small pamphlet entitled ‘No One is Too Small to make a Difference’ and certainly she has made that very true.

Many of the greatest wisdom teachers over the past centuries have noted that in truth, the only thing we can really change in this world is ourselves and our reactions. Sometimes we are blessed enough to be able to change the situation we find ourselves in, but we certainly can’t change anyone else, and a lot of the time changing the situation is beyond us as well.

But what we can change, and what we always have power over, is ourselves and our reactions. We can change how we respond, how we act, and how we interact – with people and with the situation we find ourselves in.

Einstein famously said that you cannot solve the problem with the same level of thinking that created it. When we are struggling with something – and when I was at school for me it was always my maths homework – simply ploughing on in the same old way only caused more frustration and stress. It was only when I tried a different approach, usually after a short break and with a fresh mind, that I was able to achieve anything. And sometimes I needed to ask for help from somebody else to see the problem from a different angle.

Even though the lockdown due to coronavirus is due to ease shortly, life is not going to simply go back to what it used to be three months ago. We going to have to continue to adapt, to do things differently, and it’s going to be hard and stressful. But maybe we can make it a little bit less stressful if we keep in mind Niebuhr’s prayer, which has had many variations over the years.

I offer you this as my personal variant on the original, as it reminds me always that if I want to change anything in life, that change has to begin with myself.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know that the change is in me.


With love, light and peace, 

Revd. Talisker

Article on “Why You Should Ignore All That Coronavirus-Inspired Productivity Pressure”

General 

Published on: Thursday May 7 2020, 1:55 pm

Some weeks ago, a friend shared this article with me on coping with the stress of huge seismic change. It is, I think, as relevant now as it was then, if not more so, because we are now moving into the stage of creating and accepting our new normal. 

The author, Aisha S. Ahmad writes,

The answer to the question everyone is asking — “When will this be over?” — is simple and obvious, yet terribly hard to accept. The answer is never. 

Her article is brilliant, if you have five minutes, do read on…

Coronavirus Hits Campus

As colleges and universities have struggled to devise policies to respond to the quickly evolving situation, here are links to The Chronicle’s key coverage of how this worldwide health crisis is affecting campuses.

Global catastrophes change the world,

https://www.chronicle.com/arti…

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 10th to Saturday 16th May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Wednesday May 6 2020, 9:45 am

For anyone who wishes to follow the readings for morning prayer, the readings for each day can be accessed via this link, and you can view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

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

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 website, and our Facebook page

Come & Praise Service Sheet Congregation Livestream

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Friday May 1 2020, 3:00 pm

For anyone wishing to follow the Come & Praise Service Congregation Livestream on Sunday, the Come & Praise Service Sheet can be accessed via this link, and you can view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

St Philip & St James – Reflection on Living the Divine I Am

General 

Published on: Friday May 1 2020, 1:07 pm

St Philip and St James – Living the Divine I Am

This Friday 1st May is the saints day of Philip and James, and the gospel reading set for the festival is from John 14. This passage is probably familiar to many of us, and is very often used at funerals. Jesus is speaking to his disciples at the Last Supper, just before he is arrested and put to death; he is seeking to comfort his friends who don’t know what is about to happen, so that when it does, they are not wholly bereft and devastated. 

At funerals, the reading often stops at verse 6 with the statement: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” These words have sadly often been taken by Christians as a claim to exclusivity, and thus have been a great challenge to those who would wish to see the love of God in a more inclusive and holistic way. 

For me, these words were indeed a challenge rather than a comfort for many years. But now I embrace them, along with what comes immediately before and after in Jesus’ conversation with his disciples in John’s gospel. There are a few reasons I can do this. Firstly, Jesus is so clear that there is room for everyone in his Father’s house – “there are many dwelling places. If that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” When I read this, I hear Jesus telling us that everyone – and I do mean everyone – is welcome and has a place prepared especially for them in God’s house, in God’s presence. No one is left out, no one is rejected. After all, the Bible is clear that Jesus has come to renew all things (Matthew 19.28); restore all things (Acts 3.21) and reconcile all things (Colossians 1.20). All things – nothing is left out, seen or unseen, past or present or future. What a wonderful promise and encouragement that is!

I also reflect, in the light of God’s all-embracing, limitless and unconditional love for all his creation, on Jesus’ words “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” And I wonder if the key words in this statement are actually “I Am.”

When Jesus says “I Am”, he is stating his integrity and identity in God, and invites us to do the same. And I believe that it is true that to live with total integrity and honesty is the Way to God, it is the absolute Truth, and it does bring us Life – life in the sense of a vibrant aliveness in our being, rather than simply existing from day to day as so many people do.

Not fully understanding, Philip asks him to “show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” In response, Jesus points him back to the Divine that is contained within himself and within each and every one of us. Jesus has lived his life as one who can say “I Am”, and invites us all to do the same. And it is when we live in that light, that integrity of “I Am”, that the Divine light in each of us shines forth. It is then that God can be seen in us. When Jesus replies “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father… I am in the Father and the Father is in me” he is simply prefiguring that relationship into which we are all invited. 

And this relationship is seen and experienced through action, not merely words. It is in how we live. And this is the point that Jesus seems to be making to Philip and all the disciples.

The disciples so often are examples to us, not because of how advanced and spiritual and knowing they are, but rather because they are, like so many of us, often slow to see or to understand, and because like us they are so flawed. Think of St Peter, who denied Jesus three times and was later commissioned by Jesus to lead his Church. Think of St Paul who utterly rejected Jesus and persecuted all who followed him, and ended up spending the rest of his life travelling the known world preaching the love of God in Jesus Christ. 

We too are loved and called by God just as we are. We don’t have to do anything or become anything. Simply to say “I Am” and to allow the Divine in us to shine out and be seen, and to open our eyes and see it in one another. Not that it’s always easy! And the New Testament records its fair share of arguments between disciples! But to stand in the limitless love of God, shoulder to shoulder with one another as sisters and brothers in Christ, all saying “I Am”, and all seeing the God in one another, is a wonderful thing to strive for.

With love, light and peace, 
Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 3rd to Saturday 9th May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Wednesday April 29 2020, 2:45 pm

For anyone who wishes to follow the readings for morning prayer, the readings for each day can be accessed via this link, and you can view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

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

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 website, and our Facebook page.

Recognising and Resting in God

General 

Published on: Saturday April 25 2020, 11:45 am

Recognising and Resting with God

Last week I wrote about seeing God in the small things and the small blessings in our daily lives – those little things that are making the present challenge bearable. It seems there is a strange paradox going on at present. This morning, I saw a headline in the daily CofE media digest that took me to the Mirror – where it announced that only 9% of people want things to go back to precisely the same normal that we took for granted only a few short weeks ago. So many of us are appreciating our friends and families more, enjoying our homes, valuing our food, just to name a few things. We are reading more, communicating better with each other (ironically!), and making far more effort to be in community and to value one another. 

And all this is happening whilst we are forced to be apart and at a distance. It is indeed a strange paradox. But paradox is often at the heart of the Christian faith. The teaching of Jesus show us a vision of a better world and how to live that and create it in our own lives and communities; and as Christians we believe in that hope and try to live it out in practice.  But for all our attempts, this better world is very clearly both here and not here at the same time – we have only to look at the news to see the pain and suffering throughout the world, as well as seeing the blessings and miracles that do occur.

On Easter day, in my sermon I spoke about not always recognising the presence of God, despite God being very much with us. One of the examples of this is when Jesus walks with the disciples who are travelling home to the village of Emmaus on the Sunday, after witnessing the tragic events of Good Friday in Jerusalem. This is our gospel reading for this Sunday, and it has always been one of my favourite passages. Jesus’ appearances after the Resurrection seem to very often involve conversation and food with his friends, and for anyone who wishes to put the spiritual above the practical, there is the wonderful story from John’s gospel (chapter 21) where Jesus has the breakfast barbeque waiting for his friends. 

God is often not where we expect him to be, nor does he appear in the form that we expect to see him. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t there. It just means that he invites us to see differently. To see with his eyes. To remove the limiting window frame of our expectations and wants, and to go outside and see the whole view. It’s not always comfortable viewing admittedly. God does challenge us to come out of our comfortable habits and ways of being and doing. But if we are willing to take that step, and to recognise his presence with us on the journey, then it seems to me there is also the promise of the practical care that Christ shows in these Resurrection appearances; where time and rest and refreshment together are given to us before we arise and step out on the next part of our journey. 

As this lockdown extends, and the return to “normal” recedes further and further away, all the things that have given us strength and hope in the early weeks must be renewed and refreshed to help us continue. The paradox of closer and better community whilst being forced to remain at a distance will continue; and there is a long journey to take to find what will be on the other side of all this. 

Much has been written on how to survive the kinds of trauma that suspension of normality brings – often in a war situation. And it is both true and helpful. The cliche of ‘marathon not a sprint’ may be annoying to hear repeatedly, but it’s worth noting. And the first disciples had the same challenge ahead of them. 

After Jesus’ death, their normal was shattered. It was shattered again by his resurrection. Everything they thought they knew went out the window, never to return. What on earth was to come next?? Before that ‘next’ could be revealed, they had to come to terms with the ‘now’. And Jesus spent time with them, made them wait and rest, and gave them refreshment – spiritual and literal – before sending them onwards and outwards to share and to build the new vision into reality. 

I wonder if there may be some hope in reflecting upon this for ourselves this Easter season. Our normal has been shattered, and the longer that this lasts, the less our chance of returning to what we used to take for granted. As I wrote at the beginning, the vast majority of us already don’t want to return to it. We have already seen glimmers of a better future and possibility. But we need to rest and be in the ‘now’ that is the present moment, before we can hope to move on to the ‘what next’. 

Because the ‘what next’ has to be built upon the reality and the needs of the ‘now’. This is as true for the Church as for any other part of our society. What is the Church going to look like in the future? Most of us have had our heads in the sand on this question for at least a couple of decades now. We can’t do the ostrich any longer. But before we start to try to run forwards on a new course (which ostriches do extremely well by the way), we have to take time to look around and see what direction we want to travel in! 

Our best direction is surely wherever God is, and wherever he is suggesting we go. Whatever we choose, he’ll go with us; that’s just how God is. But first, let’s take the time to rest and recognise where God is, and which direction he might be ever so gently pointing in…

With love, light and peace, 

Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 26th April to Saturday 2nd May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Wednesday April 22 2020, 10:15 am

For anyone who wishes to follow the readings for morning prayer, the readings for each day can be accessed via this link, and you can view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

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

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 website, and our Facebook page.

Seven Voices Thursday 19th April – Peace be with you

General 

Published on: Thursday April 16 2020, 3:00 pm

“Peace be with you…”

Jesus often says these words, and it is always a benediction, a blessing. Peace is above all what we need most in these times. Peace in our hearts, with a sense of inner tranquillity and calm in the face of almost complete uncertainty and unknowing, is a gift that we all crave.

It is this kind of peace that I think Jesus offers us. The kind of peace that allows us to face the unknown, the crisis, the trauma and the tragedy, with the certainty that whatever is thrown at us, God is with us.

To say that God is with us is absolutely not to say that we will never endure suffering and struggle. We have only to look at the example of countless Christians over the past two millennia who have endured the most terrible struggles and privations, whether because of their faith or simply because of the situation and time in which they lived.

The knowledge that God is with us does however give us hope and strength to continue in whatever crisis, struggle or tragedy that we find ourselves in, taking each day at a time, trusting that above all we are not alone, and that we are loved.

One of the things I have found most helpful in the past weeks has been to give thanks for the smallest blessings. It’s easy to say thank you for the big things. But it is the little things that can make or break our emotional, mental and spiritual stability in the moment. In the midst of the grief, bereavement and struggle that we are all going through, in different ways and on different levels, it is often remembering the small blessings that allows us to continue to smile and gives us the strength to face every new challenge.

These small things, the small blessings, will be different for each and everyone of us. But if we can slow down enough to notice them, and then to say thank you to God for each one of them, then we may be able to notice his presence with us in and through those blessings. We are indeed in a time that is unprecedented. And the fear that this brings because of the uncertainties can be overwhelming, especially for those who are older, isolated and unable to be self-sufficient in the way that they used to.

I do not wish these words to be in any way trite or to be a gloss over the very real pain and struggles that we all face in our individual situations and as humanity as a whole. But I do hope that for those of us who have faith in God and in his son Jesus, the Easter hope of resurrection, renewal and transformation may speak to the doubt and the darkness in our hearts and shine a light there, so that our own hope is renewed, and that we in turn can shine a light for others. 

I am reminded of the hymn, Brother Sister Let me serve you (YouTube link) by Richard Gillard. I have put the words below.

Brother, sister, let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you;

pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too. 
We are pilgrims on a journey, and companions on the road;

we are here to help each other walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you in the night-time of your fear;

I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;

I will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven we shall find such harmony,

born of all we’ve known together of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, sister, let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you;

pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too.

________________________

This Sunday, 19 April, we will again be live streaming our Sunday morning service at 10 AM via YouTube. This week will be a Service of the Word, and I will be joined by my colleagues in the clergy team, Revd. Jim, Revd. Tim and Lucy G.

We will send the link for the YouTube live stream on Saturday morning so that it is near the top of your inbox and easy to find on Sunday morning! Thank you very much those of you who shared so much positive feedback on last Sunday’s service – you’ve given us the faith to keep going!

_______________________

Our community groups are going from strength to strength in the various villages, and if you haven’t already connected into them or are not sure how to, please do be in touch with us and we will put you in touch with the group leaders. 

Please know that the clergy team and our wonderful churchwardens are here to support you in any way we can – the church buildings may be closed but the church is very much open and we are here for you as brothers and sisters in Christ. It is in times like this that faith and the support that we can offer one another is so very important for us all. 

With love, light and peace, 

Revd. Talisker

and the Ministry Team

Easter Sunday sermon – signs of hope

General 

Published on: Thursday April 16 2020, 10:09 am

For those of you who missed the Easter Sunday sermon, if you would like to read it, the text is below. 

Revd. Talisker

____________

Easter Sermon 2020
 

The gospel reading from today is from St Matthew. At dawn Mary Magdalen and another Mary go to the tomb where Jesus has been laid.
 

Reading the text, their experience must have shaken them to the core. There was a violent earthquake; the stone in front of the tomb was rolled away, and an unearthly being with an appearance like lightning was in front of them. This experience so terrified the Roman soldiers who were present that they became like dead men!
 

Clearly the women were made of stronger stuff! They did not faint; but I can imagine that they must have been absolutely terrified. This experience must have been so far beyond anything they had expected or experienced before, even though they had travelled with Jesus for years and seen many miracles and amazing things.
 

This Easter must be the strangest that any of us have experienced, perhaps the strangest in living memory. The last time the churches were closed in this country was in 1208, when the Pope excommunicated King John. We are unable to meet together, worship and pray together, or to celebrate the traditional dawn of new life and new hope at Easter with our friends and families.
 

So to speak of resurrection and new life in a time when it feels more like a continuing Good Friday, or the emptiness and waiting of holy Saturday, is very strange. Emptiness, absence of the familiar, and a sense of isolation and lostness are, for many of us, probably more prominent emotions at present.
 

I find myself reflecting on the fact that the women who had spent so much time with Jesus and who were so close to him did not seem to immediately recognise him when they saw him that Easter Sunday. This lack of recognition is something which comes up, one way or another, in all of the gospel accounts of the resurrection. The women do not recognise Jesus; the travellers on the road to Emmaus do not know who they are walking with; until a certain moment. And that moment is different for each person in each of these accounts. 

What I’m trying to say is that the resurrection was not immediately obvious. At first they saw emptiness and absence, or perhaps it is truer to say they did not recognise God’s presence with them.

 

I think this is especially relevant to us this year in the midst of this pandemic, where we hear of the numbers in hospital and the numbers of those who have died rising and rising, both in this country and around the world. Although today is Easter and is a celebration of the renewal of hope and new life, for very many of us that hope is not yet visible, but rather all seems still very dark.

 

Perhaps we are looking in the wrong place for these signs of hope. If we look in the tomb for signs of life, we will not find it. In Matthew’s gospel, the angel said to the women: I know that you are looking for Jesus, he’s not here, he has risen, just as he said. Go and tell his disciples that he is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.

 

If Jesus has gone ahead of us into Galilee, then where is Galilee for us today? It is no good looking in the tomb for the signs of life and for hope and a future which are not there. Instead, we must look forward to what is not yet known, and be brave enough to take the journey, trusting that Jesus will walk with us even as he walked to Emmaus with those disciples. We may not recognise him as we travel; we may have to wait until we arrive, even as they did. But we can make that journey in the certainty that he will meet us, that we will see him, that the resurrection hope is there and that new life is with us even if we don’t see it yet.

 

Matthew finishes this section of the account with another unexpected twist. Given what the angel has said, we would expect that the women would go home, tell all the other disciples, and that together they will see Jesus in Galilee. But as they hurry away, Jesus meets them. He repeats the message that the angel has given for the other disciples.

 

This is worth stopping to think about because it is likely to have been so unexpected to those hearing this story for the first time. For women to be the first witnesses of the resurrection is amazing. In Jesus’s time, women were of less importance and value than men, in all kinds of ways. But in this account, the men – the Roman soldiers – are unable to cope and overcome by the experience and are as corpses. The women may be afraid but they stand their ground, and they are given the message of hope to pass on.

 

Looking at this as a metaphor, perhaps again this is relevant for our own times. The people, systems, and ways of doing things that we expect to be powerful and which we rely upon have perhaps not been as strong or important as we might have expected. Rather it has been the people and the aspects of life which we have overlooked and taken for granted as small, and perhaps previously unimportant, which have suddenly become absolutely key to our everyday lives. It is these that have brought us the message of hope and new life, the message that we can survive, even if not in the ways to which we have been accustomed.

 

And that brings me back again to the fact that the resurrected Jesus was not immediately recognized even by people who knew him well. Maybe the shoots of hope, and the possibilities of transformation and blessing, that are symbols of the resurrection and of Easter are among us already, but we need a little more time before we can recognise them for what they are.

 

Wherever we find ourselves, spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically, may we be open to God’s blessing and to his peace, and above all may we know that we are loved and precious in his sight. Amen.

 

________________________

 

 

A Reflection Before The Cross for Good Friday

General 

Published on: Friday April 10 2020, 3:54 pm

Here is a reflection for Good Friday made by Lucy G, a video meditation on the Seven Last Words of Jesus upon the Cross.

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, including Easter Day – Sunday 12th to Saturday 18th April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Wednesday April 8 2020, 2:30 pm

For anyone who wishes to follow the readings for morning prayer, the readings for each day can be accessed via this link, and you can view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

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

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 website, and our Facebook page.

The journey begins…

General 

Published on: Sunday April 5 2020, 3:52 pm

And so the journey of Holy Week begins. It is the ultimate rollercoaster, spiritually and emotionally. This year, it will have an even deeper meaning for so many people, given that our church buildings are shut and we cannot gather together in prayer or worship, except in virtual online communities. 

Today is Palm Sunday, and the readings take us from the jubilant shouts of Hosanna, as Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph, to the despair and darkness, as the sun sets, of Good Friday. From being hailed as King, to being taken down dead from a cross reserved for criminals and traitors. 

Each day of Holy Week the story unfolds further. The bible readings take us deeper into the story. I sometimes wonder, what must those days have been like for Jesus’s disciples. None of them had truly grasped his message that the Messiah must suffer and die, that it was his role to take upon himself all the pain and suffering and agony of humankind upon the cross, absorbing it all into himself and thus ending our perpetual cycle of violence. The death of Jesus opens up new possibilities for us all, whoever we are, wherever we are from or are going. Death is indeed a transformation, and not an end. 

The Palm Sunday story is also a visceral reminder of the fleeting nature of human success and fame. The same crowd that joyously and exuberantly welcomes Jesus on the Sunday is likely more or less the same crowd who are like hounds baying, demanding his death only a few days later. 

And in all this, there is the deeply human experience not only of Jesus himself but also of his followers, as they struggle to make sense of all they see and experience. Sometimes things can just seem too much, it is overload, and we cannot process it all at the time. It takes quiet and reflection after the storm before any kind of clarity comes. St Peter is perhaps the clearest example of this when he says that he will follow Jesus anywhere, even to death. And yet mere hours after he speaks these words he is the one who three times denies knowing Jesus in order to save his own life.

I write all this to try to show that whilst we might be tempted to see the bible narratives as cut and dried and fixed somehow, when we enter into them they are as dynamic and visceral as our own experiences today. These may be events that happened (give or take) two millenia ago; but it would not be hard to imagine ourselves into the scene. How would we feel? How would we respond? The characters of the gospels are the same characters we encounter in our daily lives, perhaps even at times the character we encounter in the mirror!! 

I wonder if, in times of chaos and upheaval such as we are living through now, we may have the gift of a greater understanding and engagement with the earth-shattering events (for those who experienced them) of Holy Week. Maybe this year, we can take the time to make that journey, step by slow step, day by day, through the bible readings and prayers, with Jesus and his disciples from the palm-strewn road and shouts of Hosanna, to the cries of ‘Crucify him’, and on, through the dark gate of Death, to the Resurrection hope of transformation and renewal that lies beyond. 

Every blessing, 

Revd. Talisker

An Iona Community Prayer

General 

Published on: Thursday April 2 2020, 11:10 am

Some years ago a clergy friend shared this prayer by John Bell of the Iona Community. It has helped me a lot in the past days.

You keep us waiting … you, the God of all time, want us to wait

For the right time in which to discover

Who we are, where we must go,

Who will be with us, and what we must do.

So thank you … for the waiting time.

You keep us looking … you, the God of all space,

Want us to look in the right and wrong places for signs of hope,

For people who are hopeless,

For visions of a better world which will appear

Among the disappointments of the world we know.

So thank you … for the looking time.

You keep us loving … you, the God whose name is love,

Want us to be like you –

To love the loveless and the unlovely and the unlovable;

To love without jealousy or design or threat;

And, most difficult of all, to love ourselves.

So thank you … for the loving time.

And in all this, you keep us.

Through hard questions with no easy answers;

Through failing where we had hoped to succeed

And making an impact when we felt we were useless;

Through the patience and the dreams and the love of others,

And through Jesus Christ and his Spirit, you keep us.

So thank you … for the keeping time,

And for now,

And for ever,

Amen.

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Holy Week and Easter – Sunday 5th to Sunday 12th April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday April 2 2020, 2:45 am

For anyone who wishes to follow the readings for morning prayer, the readings for each day can be accessed via this link, and you can view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

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

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 website, and our Facebook page.

“Wild Worship” – time in Nature

General 

Published on: Tuesday March 31 2020, 12:45 pm

Whilst we are confined to our homes, our daily walks can become an incredible time of wonder and worship – we are spending time in God’s own cathedral of Nature. Today I came across this wonderful resource of creative outdoor prayer ideas from thesanctuarycentre.org. You can find it here. http://thesanctuarycentre.org/…/creative_prayer_idea_wild_w…

A Wild Worshipper’s Prayer

God of the wild and wonderful –
of arcing skies and miniscule, jewelled wings –
set my worship free to explore beyond these walls.
Re-ignite me, excite me and creatively delight me
as your word comes newly alive through the colourful witness of your world.
Re-tune my senses, sharpen my mind
and quicken my spirit to your presence
as I look, hear, smell, touch and taste more of your goodness and lead me out into greater adventures
of discovering you and caring for all you have made.

(photo courtesy of unsplash via google)

A reflection on resurrection hope – the prophet Ezekiel and John’s gospel, Sunday 29th March 2020

General 

Published on: Sunday March 29 2020, 1:15 pm

Reading the bible passages set for this Sunday, I find myself noticing a particular thread in both Ezekiel and St John. In Ezekiel’s vision, the valley is filled with dry bones. There is no life left in them; they speak of life long gone and ended. God speaks to him and asks, can these bones live? Wisely Ezekiel answers, ‘Only you know’.

God’s response to this is to give Ezekiel a message that the bones will indeed have flesh put on them again, and the breath of life breathed into them. And Ezekiel passes the message on, and surely enough the bones knit together, and muscle and skin appears on them, and the breath of life is in them once more – and they stand before the prophet, a huge number of people, living and breathing, where before there was only bones and death.

There are indeed times when, as in Ezekiel, we say ‘our bones are dried up and our hope is gone.’ But that does not need to be the case. Unless of course we are relying on our own strength, our own abilities, our own resources.

We see this again in the story from St John’s gospel, where Lazarus is sick and Jesus does not arrive in time to heal him – or so it seems. Lazarus is one of Jesus’ dear friends, along with his sisters Martha and Mary. We know Jesus has visited their home; this family clearly plays a significant part in Jesus’ life. But when news comes of Lazarus’ illness, Jesus does not drop everything and run to him. Instead he finishes his task where is presently is before going to Judea where Lazarus lived.

By the time Jesus arrives, it is all too late. Lazarus is dead. Hope is gone. There are only bones, and the body decomposing upon them – it is quite a graphic moment in the gospel description, when Jesus tells them to open the tomb and the response is that this will not be pleasant as the man has been dead four days and it’s a hot country! The sisters Mary and Martha are reproachful. If you had come, they say, he would not have died. This could have been avoided.

We all have moments like this, when it seems utterly hopeless. When the people or places or things that we love or rely on are snatched away from us, and we are bereft. At present for most of us, it is only our way of life that has radically changed as we try to slow the spread of Covid-19. But soon, the time will come when we lose loved ones. The announcement by the NHS chief medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, that the UK will do well to keep deaths below 20,000 is a big reality check. And it means that many of us may lose friends and family members. What can we do? Sitting at home in a way feels like doing nothing. But it is one of the best things we can do.  

The other key thing we can do is to keep hope alive and trust in God to bring blessing. To bring the breath of life back into the dry bones. Things may not be the same after this as they were before, but it is possible that God will bring something beautiful out of the pain and struggle and chaos that we are currently in – not just in the UK but across the world. Already we are seeing communities pulling together and a generosity of spirit coming through. Yes, there are incidents of rage and anger and violence. But let us also pray for those people, that God’s love can break through their pain and anger, so they too can see hope.

Tonight, Sunday, the #CandleOfHope continues to shine its light, its flame burning strong. I will be lighting candles in the windows of the Rectory, and I encourage you to join with me and with thousands of others. Please share your photos on our facebook page too!

‘The light shines in the darkness; and the darkness has not overcome it.’ (John 1.5)

With love, light and peace,

Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer, Sunday 29th March to Saturday 4th April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Friday March 27 2020, 12:30 pm

For anyone who wishes to follow the readings for morning prayer, the readings for each day can be accessed via this link, and you can view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

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

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 website, and our Facebook page.

Longworth Village Coronavirus Assistance Group

General 

Published on: Thursday March 26 2020, 1:45 pm

LONGWORTH VILLAGE 

Dear residents of Longworth,

During these uncertain and difficult times, it’s more important than ever that we come together as a community and support one another. As a village we are all here to help so you do not need to feel alone. If you are struggling to collect a medical prescription or obtain food or essential supplies, below you will find a list of local businesses delivering to Longworth or initiatives which can help you.

KEEP IN TOUCH Regular updates will be posted on http://longworthvillage.org.uk… and on the Longworth Village Community Facebook group . If you require any support there is a list below of villagers happy to be contacted and help if they can. If you know of neighbours not online, please give them a call and keep them updated.

CAN YOU HELP? If you are able to volunteer your services and would like to be added to the list, please go to the village website (link above) to see who to email with you name, contact details, availability and what you are prepared to help with (collection & delivery of shopping, medicines or just a phone resource to ensure people don’t have to be lonely if self-isolating and they have no one to talk to).

Hinton Helpers Group

General 

Published on: Thursday March 26 2020, 1:41 pm

HINTON WALDRIST VILLAGE

Hinton Waldrist has a group of volunteers, Hinton Helpers to assist anyone self-isolating or vulnerable in Hinton Waldrist & Duxford who needs help relating to the Covid-19 pandemic as set out in  the letter you have received through your letterbox. 

Please see the noticeboard and the village website http://www.hintonwaldrist.net/ for details. 
If you are unable to view these, feel free to contact the Clerk who can direct you to those who can help.

Littleworth Village Coronavirus Help Group

General 

Published on: Thursday March 26 2020, 1:34 pm

LITTLEWORTH VILLAGE

It has been suggested that a list of volunteers be collated who are prepared to assist anyone afflicted with the virus and/or self isolating in our community with running errands, fetching prescriptions, collecting provisions and giving moral support generally.

There are already two people who have very public spiritedly put their names forward and if anyone else would like to do so as well please let me know and I will compile a list.
If anyone is in need of assistance in any way please contact me at clerk@talktalk.net and I will do my best to match those in need with volunteers. We can also help by communicating with our neighbours in an approved safe manner, to ensure nobody is left in need.

Livestreaming Sunday Services from the Diocese of Oxford

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Published on: Thursday March 26 2020, 1:04 pm

Every Sunday, the Diocese of Oxford will be livestreaming a Sunday service at 10am – the permanent link for this is here https://www.oxford.anglican.or…

You can also access the Daily Prayer section of the Church of England website to download daily morning, midday or night prayer, or read it online – see here https://www.churchofengland.or…

Closure of all Church buildings

General 

Published on: Tuesday March 24 2020, 9:05 pm

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that this evening we have closed all our church buildings in this benefice until further notice.

Whilst our buildings must now close, the Church is more active than ever before and we continue to be a presence of prayer, love and care for all in our parishes. God is not limited to any building, but is in our heart and our actions. May we by our loving action bring the love of Christ to all whom we encounter, and may we see Christ in each one of them.

Every blessing,
Revd. Talisker

Praying together: the Lord’s Prayer, and Psalm 23.

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Published on: Tuesday March 24 2020, 9:04 pm

At 11am GMT tomorrow, and every day following, the Archbishop of Canterbury is inviting us to join with Pope Francis’ call to prayer around the world, inviting Christians everywhere to pray the Lord’s Prayer together at 12noon Rome time (11am GMT). The Diocese of Oxford has also written this special version of Psalm 23 to help us in reflecting and using it as a resource for prayer. It is beautiful… The link is here https://www.oxford.anglican.org/…/DOX-032-Coronavirus-psalm…

Join me and thousands of others in this prayer, knowing that we are not alone, but that we are praying together in spirit.

When abnormal becomes the new normal…

General 

Published on: Tuesday March 24 2020, 9:43 am

“When abnormal becomes the new normal…”. I saw this post four days ago from Martin Punaks, and it rings so true, especially in the light of last night’s announcement asking everyone to stay home. It may be a bit of a cliche, but letting go of the situation and letting God bless us in wherever we find ourselves is probably the only thing we really can do right now. Here’s the link to the post https://www.martinpunaks.com/…/covid-19-when-the-abnormal-b…

Church Information Update re Coronavirus – being a new kind of church.

General 

Published on: Thursday March 19 2020, 8:58 am

As many of you will now know, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, in line with government advice, have issued guidance that all public worship be put on hold for the time being. This means that there will be no Sunday or weekday church services, including public Morning Prayer, until further notice.

However, the Church of England continues to be a strong presence of prayer and action in our communities. Our ministry team continues to say morning prayer daily at home, and now meets weekly for a private Eucharist on behalf of and to pray for the whole benefice We are also available for pastoral support, though this may be more by phone and email than in person as the need for social distancing and self-isolation grows, especially among the more vulnerable. The churches in Buckland, Charney Bassett, Longworth, Littleworth and Lyford are also open every day for private prayer. Please do feel free to go in and take some time to be still and reflect and pray, whenever you wish or need to do so.

Please do continue to check the Benefice website www.cherbury-gainfield.org for updates; and the clergy team will also continue our Thursday emails. As we are no longer doing public church services, we will instead share messages of hope and faith through the Thursday emails and on our website blog, so please stay in touch. It would presently seem that our website and emails are the best way of staying in touch with the majority of people, as they are regularly updated.

If you or someone you know would appreciate prayers or clergy support, please contact us via our website Contact Page. You can also phone or email any of the ministry team using the contacts listed in Village Voices.

Although we cannot for the time being meet together publicly on Sundays for worship and prayer, we do have resources for those who wish to follow the Church service of morning prayer, and these can be posted out to you on request, along with a list of bible readings references for each day. If you would like this, please email or phone the benefice office and this will be arranged for you as quickly as possible.

With prayers and blessings to you & all your families during this very difficult time,

Revd. Talisker, Revd. Jim, Revd. Tim & Lucy Gildersleeves

Coronavirus – Archbishops call for a national day of prayer and action

General 

Published on: Tuesday March 17 2020, 10:28 pm

In this joint article published in the Daily Mail and the Yorkshire Post today (17th March), the Archbishops of Canterbury and York call for a National Day of Prayer and Action in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

We are good in this country at holding our nerve and steadying one another. But a pandemic is something else; you can’t touch the virus, see it or even know where it is. It may be spread by those who don’t even know they are infected. It is very serious for some, very mild for many. Nevertheless, the effect of the virus could drive us apart. To some extent it must do.

When someone we care for has it they must be isolated. That is particularly so for older people and the most vulnerable, the ones by whose bed we want to sit, and hold their hand, express our love with touch. As in epidemics throughout history the effects of this fear disturb us very deeply, and dread comes upon us.

The answer to conquering this fear is love that we receive. The tears of the child wakened by a bad dream are stilled by the embrace of someone who loves them. The uncertainty of someone of great age is often quietened with a familiar voice. The words of a friend can enable us to challenge the fears of illness to reduce our sense of threat. The UK has a culture of caring, expressed through the NHS, in Social Care, and in many other ways.

All of us, now, face a common threat, COVID-19. The question is, how do we find hope in these difficult circumstances? Hope comes both from what we can do and who we are.

We know that everything possible is being done to ensure that we can meet the challenge, in the NHS and across society. The struggle will bring with it many practical difficulties, from the closing of sports grounds to meeting the needs of those in isolation. It may mean some very hard decisions have to be taken about who is treated, as in Italy where they have had to decide not to treat some patients.

We must not be suspicious or indulge in conspiracy theories. Those who are leading our country are seeking the best advice and can be trusted to do all they can. NHS staff and scientists our Government can call upon are amongst the best anywhere in the world. They have no agenda other than the wellbeing of all.

We are capable of bearing the truth. Honesty strengthens our hopes. We need to listen to the science. Through listening we already know how to reduce the risk: washing our hands meticulously; self-isolating even if we are not ill but have come into contact with the virus; resisting the temptation to go to a doctor’s surgery where we might infect others; resisting the temptation, too, to panic buy.

Above all we must look after one another, knowing that in an uncertain world with a new virus we are best protected with honesty, compassion and care.

Remember the example of the Good Samaritan, the story in the Bible, which speaks about the need to care for the other and ensure we notice those who are in distress even if they are those who are often invisible to us.

We can find hope and courage in the goodly and wholesome spirit that is in so many ways common to all human beings, whether they are people of Faith or None. We must distinguish between a healthy fear – the beginning of wisdom, which prompts us to follow advice, and to care for those at risk – and unhealthy fear which is driven by pride, leading us to act, selfishly, doing harm to ourselves and others.

With the gift of truth and hope, we can care for one another lovingly, using words if not touch because of self-isolation. We can accept advice without grumbling, out of concerns for others, even if we do not see ourselves as being at risk.

We can go out of our way to be attentive to neighbours and to those who are vulnerable. We can shop for one another. We can help at a food bank. We can volunteer in community service. We can support those who struggle to feed their children when there are no free school lunches.

Finally, there is one more thing that everyone can do. Something we would expect from two Archbishops. We make no apology for saying “Pray!” Even if you scarcely can imagine how, pray! Pray for yourself, for those you love, for friends and neighbours.

Three thousand years ago a young King, of shepherd background, called David, wrote a song. It was a hit at his time and has remained so ever since. That is quite a success, even the greatest of our stars of today would feel that three thousand years at the top was quite an achievement. It’s the Shepherd song, “The Lord’s my Shepherd”.

We sing it in our common worship, at weddings and at funerals. It starts with hope but speaks of darkness as well as life. The singer begins with joy: God, the divine Shepherd-King, leads his people to nourishment and safety but in the song the scene quickly darkens.

The path along which he goes becomes a valley of the shadow of death. But the shepherd’s ‘rod’ and ‘staff’, implements that prod and guide the sheep, provides the comfort that comes from divine guidance.

Find Psalm 23 and read it aloud. The Shepherd’s song is about real life, not an idealised picture. It speaks of suffering and facing enemies.

Whether we are confident and brave, or doubt-filled and fearful, God is the source of love and hope. Why not say the Lord’s prayer – “Our Father who art in heaven ….” when you wash your hands. It takes more than the recommended 20 seconds.

So, we are inviting you to join us from today, for 7 days, in praying the Lord’s prayer every time you wash your hands. Yes – for seven days! And then pray throughout the day for healing for those who are sick with COVID-19; and that God will heal us from the fear which will prevent us from working together.

May the wisdom of God lead the doctors, nurses and researchers, that they may know God’s protection; and that God will guide the leaders of the nations into the ways of justice and peace. And that the love of Christ will surround us and take away our anxiety and give us His peace. May He hear us and heal us.

With the hope that you will find, then act. Where someone is ill, encourage them. Where someone dies, remember that, as the foundation of our faith for over two thousand years, we have believed that God shared the pains and fears of our lives in Jesus Christ, that He faced death, but overcame it. And He is with the bereaved.

Where is our hope? It is in the end in the love and faithfulness of a God whom we may have forgotten, but whose action and character is expressed in millions of acts of love by every person in this country. This is the God who we see in Jesus Christ, who called himself the Good Shepherd. Acts of love are the normal reaction to those in need. They are a reflection of the God who is our Shepherd.

So today we, together with our fellow bishops and other church leaders, call for a National Day of Prayer and Action this coming Mothering Sunday (22nd March) – light a candle at 7pm and put it in your window, ring someone who is isolated and vulnerable; buy an extra item and place it in your local food bank, keep your night shelters open.

We have a stronghold and refuge, we do not depend on ourselves alone, for God keeps us so that as the Shepherd song ends: “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life”.

The full text above was published online at https://www.archbishopofcanter…

Light a Candle of Hope – a national call to prayer Sunday 22nd March

General 

Published on: Tuesday March 17 2020, 10:15 pm

Light a Candle of Hope

A national call to prayer, Sunday 22nd March 2020 at 7pm

Place a lighted candle in your window at 7pm this Sunday, and join with hundreds, maybe thousands of others in praying together in these strange and challenging times. These candles are a symbol that the light and love of Christ shines in the darkness and can never be extinguished.

The following has been published by Thy Kingdom Come, a prayer initiative within the Church of England.

A National Day of Prayer and Action has been announced by the presidents of Churches Together in England, re. the Coronavirus epidemic, for this Sunday 22nd March.
In an excerpt from a joint letter issued today, they wrote:
  “At such a time as this, when so many are fearful and there is great uncertainty, we are reminded of our dependence on our loving Heavenly Father and the future that he holds.
Therefore, at 7pm (GMT) this Sunday, light a candle in the windows of your homes as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, our source and hope in prayer.”

 
Wherever you are in the world, we invite you to join with us in prayer to see an end to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Let us pray for one another during this difficult time.
  “Cast all your cares on to Him, for He cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7

Main text Copyright © 2020 Thy Kingdom Come, All rights reserved.

#LiveLent – Week 3 – Land and Vegetation

General 

Published on: Wednesday March 11 2020, 9:31 pm

Continuing our series using the #LiveLent tag, next week (16th – 22nd March) we turn to the Land and Vegetation, and we’re reading chapter 3 of “Saying Yes to Life”, as we explore the incredible beauty and abundance of the earth and all the plants which grow.

Read Genesis 1.9-13 – The earth brought forth … plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind … and God saw that it was good.

Monday – get in touch with Nature – perhaps spend time outdoors noticing any plants, trees and wildlife. Get wet, go for a walk, dig the earth. 

Tuesday – find out how trees help the planet.  Trees do so much to support other life around them – people, animals and plants. 

Wednesday – save paper – and trees – today. Think of ways you might use less paper.  What can you recycle?

Thursday – pray for people leading action on environment, who are working hard to encourage changes that will help tackle climate change and conserve the natural world. 

Friday – prune your stuff! Sharing and re-using things is good for the environment.  Do you have unwanted things like toys or games or clothes that you could give to a friend or donate to a charity shop?

Weekend – Take a break. This weekend includes Mothering Sunday, the half-way point in Lent.  Enjoy a break and treat yourself (and those who care for you) this weekend.

If you want to, you can follow the #LiveLent campaign via the Church of England app on your phone – see here, or you can sign up to receive the daily emails.

#LiveLent – Week 2 – Water

General 

Published on: Thursday March 5 2020, 12:00 am

Continuing our series using the #LiveLent tag, this week is all about Water, and we’re reading chapters 2 & 5 of “Saying Yes to Life”, as we explore this precious natural resource which God has given us.

Read Psalm 65.9-13: You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water.

Monday – give thanks for water. Whenever you use water today, say thank you to God for this amazing gift we often take for granted. 

Tuesday – find out about “virtual water” – how much water does it take to make a pair of jeans? Or a hamburger? Research online, and share what you find.

Wednesday – Care for local waterways. Where are the canals, rivers and beaches in your area? Perhaps you could be involved in a local community clean-up.

Thursday – Check your cupboards!  Go through your bathroom and kitchen cupboards and see if at least one or two products could be swapped for ones with fewer harmful chemicals.

Friday – Don’t give up hope. Pray for people already experiencing damaging climate change, and ask God to bring hope and courage to those trying to help them.

Weekend – Support a water charity. Find out about charities providing clean water and toilets in poor communities. Can you help, maybe through raising money in the church or the school. 

If you want to, you can follow the #LiveLent campaign via the Church of England app on your phone – see here, or you can sign up to receive the daily emails.

Seven Voices March 2020 newsletter

Seven Voices Magazine 

Published on: Sunday March 1 2020, 6:30 am

The March issue of the Seven Voices newsletter is now available! Please download your copy here. 

There are a limited number of printed copies available in each of our churches but it would be great for the environment viewed online. If you would like to subscribe, you can do so via our contact page. If you have any notices and events to include in March’s e-newsletter, please contact sevenvoiceseditor@gmail.com by 20th February.

#LiveLent – Week 1 – Light and Energy

General 

Published on: Thursday February 27 2020, 1:40 pm

This Lent, the Church of England is doing a series using the #LiveLent tag. Every day of Lent, for 40 days, there is a little thing we can do or think about to help us connect with the Earth and all that God has created.

Week one is all about Light and Energy, and this ties in with our Lent Book Group session too.

Read Genesis 1.1-3: In the beginning… darkness covered the face of the deep… Then God said, “Let there be light” and there was light.

Monday – notice Light around you – sit and watch a candle or the sunlight, and think about the difference light makes in our lives.

Tuesday – make small changes – turn off the light when you leave the room. Turn off your phone charger when it isn’t in use. 

Wednesday – Walk in the Light – is there one journey we could make on foot or by bike today?

Thursday – Let your Light Shine – Jesus calls us to share his Light with others. Can we think of one way our family, school or church could take better care of creation?

Friday – give thanks for light and warmth at home – almost a billion more people now hae electricity at home than did ten years ago. Thank God for this progress, and for your own home too. 

Weekend – help those bringing hope – read a webpage for a charity like Christian Aid, or Tearfund. How do they help bring light into dark situations, such as countries badly affected by climate change?

Prayers & Readings – March 2020

Pew Sheet 

Published on: Monday February 24 2020, 1:00 pm

Prayers & Readings for March 2020 can be read here

Seven Voices February 2020 e-newsletter

Seven Voices Magazine 

Published on: Sunday February 2 2020, 8:00 am

Latest News! 

The February issue of the Seven Voices e-newsletter is now available! Please download your copy here

There are a limited number of printed copies available in each of our churches but it would be great for the environment viewed online. If you would like to subscribe, you can do so via our contact page.

If you have any notices and events to include in March’s e-newsletter, please contact sevenvoiceseditor@gmail.com by 20th February.

Lent Book Group – Saying Yes to Life

General 

Published on: Thursday January 30 2020, 11:23 am

This Lent, please join Revd. Talisker, Revd. Jim and Lucy Gildersleeves for soup lunch and an exploration of ‘Saying Yes to Life’.

The lunchtime Book Group will meet on Thursdays, 12.30pm – 2pm, in the Houlton Room at St Mary’s Church in Longworth, where we will share soup and homemade bread, and share our thoughts and reflections as we explore this faith perspective of some of the challenges facing us all in the coming years.

We will meet on four Thursdays: 5th March, 12th March, 19th March, and 26th March.

If you are interested in joining the group, or would like to know more about the book, please contact Revd. Talisker, Revd. Jim or Lucy.

Copies of the book can be purchased at Blackwells online at a discounted price, and the book is available from all major bookstores.

‘Ruth Valerio’s book is perfect for individuals and groups to think, reflect, pray and be challenged together.’ — Justin Welby

Seven Voices January 2020 e-newsletter

Seven Voices Magazine 

Published on: Thursday January 2 2020, 11:16 am

Latest News! 

The January issue of the online Seven Voices e-newsletter is now available! Please download your copy here.

There are a limited number of printed copies available in each of our churches but it would be great for the environment viewed online. If you would like to subscribe, you can do so via our contact page.

If you have any notices and events to include in February’s e-newsletter, please contact sevenvoiceseditor@gmail.com by 23rd January. 

Seven Voices December e-newsletter

Seven Voices Magazine 

Published on: Monday December 2 2019, 12:04 pm

Latest News! 

The December edition of the online Seven Voices e-newsletter is now available! Please download your copy here

There are a limited number of printed copies available in each of our churches but it would be great for the environment viewed online. If you would like to subscribe, you can do so via our contact page.

If you have any notices and events to include in January’s e-newsletter, please contact sevenvoiceseditor@gmail.com by 12th December

Seven Voices November e-newsletter

Seven Voices Magazine 

Published on: Thursday October 31 2019, 2:00 pm

Latest News! 

The November edition of the online Seven Voices e-newsletteris now available! Please download your copy here! There are a limited number of printed copies available in each of our churches but it would be great for the environment viewed online. If you would like to subscribe, you can do so via our contact page.

If you have any notices and events to include in December’s e-newsletter, please contact sevenvoiceseditor@gmail.com by Thursday 21st November

Benefice Advent Course – Who are we praying to?

General 

Published on: Thursday October 31 2019, 12:23 pm

This year’s Advent Course is focussing on prayer – why we pray and who we’re praying to.

The course is written by Principal of St John’s College Durham, David Wilkinson, who has Ph.Ds in astrophysics and theology, and includes contributions from churchgoers of several denominations.

David Wilkinson helps us to engage and reflect on why we pray and who we are praying to, and helps us to relax into the idea of prayer as an ongoing conversation which is at the very heart of our relationship with God, and which can happen at any time and in any place.

 

The course is in four sessions, but don’t worry if you can’t make it to all of them – come to what you can. Everybody welcome!

There are 3 groups – please contact the group leader directly to sign up!

MONDAY AFTERNOONS: Richard Waterhouse  (07808 764981)
18th November, 25th November, 2nd December, 9th December, 1.45pm at Pusey Furze House

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOONS: Revd. Talisker  (01865 596224, rector@alathea.org.uk)
20th November, 27th November, 4th December and 11th December 3.00pm in Buckland

WEDNESDAY EVENINGS: Revd. Jim (01367 243219, jim@mynors.me.uk)
20th November, 27th November, 4th December and 11th December 7.30pm at Longworth Rectory

Seven Voices October e-newsletter

Seven Voices Magazine 

Published on: Tuesday October 1 2019, 3:30 pm

Hot in your Inbox!

The October edition of the online Seven Voices e-newsletter is now available! Please download your copy here.There are a limited number of printed copies available in each of our churches but it would be great for the environment viewed online. If you would like to subscribe, you can do so via our contact page.

If you have any notices and events to include in October’s e-newsletter, please contact sevenvoiceseditor@gmail.com by Monday 21st October.

Seven Voices September e-newsletter

Seven Voices Magazine 

Published on: Saturday August 31 2019, 7:59 pm

Hot in your Inbox!

The September edition ofthe online Seven Voices e-newsletteris now available! Please download your copy here.There are a limited number of printed copies available in each of our churches but it would be great for the environment viewed online. If you would like to subscribe, you can do so via our contact page.

If you have any notices and events to include in October’s e-newsletter, please contact sevenvoiceseditor@gmail.com by Sunday 15th September.

Seven Voices August e-newsletter

Seven Voices Magazine 

Published on: Thursday August 1 2019, 8:39 am

Hot in your Inbox!

The August edition of the online Seven Voices e-newsletteris now available! Please download your copy here.There are a limited number of printed copies available in each of our churches but it would be great for the environment viewed online. If you would like to subscribe, you can do so via our contact page.

If you have any notices and events to include in September’s e-newsletter, please contact sevenvoiceseditor@gmail.com by Thursday 22nd August.

The Beatitudes and Social Media

General 

Published on: Saturday July 6 2019, 9:24 am

Let’s Make Social Media Kinder…

Another post from Bishop Steven, this time on Social Media and The Beatitudes – let’s make social media a blessing, not a burden.

“Fifteen years ago, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube didn’t exist. Today, 67% of people in the UK are active users of at least one of them, and we now spend almost two hours each day on social media. Yet society is increasingly fearful of the risks of fake news and harmful content and distrustful of the very platforms that consume so much of our time.

Our lives are irreversibly online, lived with ever decreasing levels of privacy and hyperstimulated to a relentless place. Few of us have stopped to properly consider what it means to live well in this age, but as Christians, we have an essential part to play in the shape of online society.

This week the national Church launched a Digital Charter, which includes guidelines and a pledge that anyone can add their name to as part of a personal commitment to making social media a more positive place.”

Read the rest of the blog post here.… The list of the beatitudes and how they relate to social media and our daily lives is really inspiring and thought-provoking.

Seven Voices July e-newsletter

Seven Voices Magazine 

Published on: Monday July 1 2019, 11:31 am

Hot in your Inbox!

The July edition of the online Seven Voices e-newsletter is now available! Please download your copy here. There are a limited number of printed copies available in each of our churches but it would be great for the environment viewed online. If you would like to subscribe, you can do so via our contact page.

If you have any notices and events to include in August’s e-newsletter, please contact sevenvoiceseditor@gmail.com by Monday 22nd July.

Bishop Steven’s reflection on Psalm 8 for the Mass Lobby of Parliament

General 

Published on: Thursday June 27 2019, 7:52 pm

Bishop Steven was in Westminster on 26 June with over 16,000 people. Thousands more were there in spirit. They were meeting and marching and lobbying because the time is now to arrest the emission of greenhouse gases which are causing such lasting damage to the Earth.

Inspired by this, he has written a reflection on Psalm 8 which you can read here

“When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have ordained…

“The Time Is Now” – Bishop Steven’s article on climate change from the Diocesan e-news

General 

Published on: Thursday June 6 2019, 12:40 pm

From today’s Diocesan e-news, a new article by Bishop Steven is a clarion call for action on climate chaos: “…why have our politicians failed us on climate change? Partially, it’s because you and I, the voters in the democracies, looked away. We could not face the reality of what was coming towards us. We still can’t.” 

The time for action to address the greatest crisis of our age is now. Join +Steven and thousands of others at the mass lobby of parliament on 26 June. Find out more at https://blogs.oxford.anglican.org/the-time-is-now

St Frideswide Pilgrimage to Christ Church Cathedral

General 

Published on: Friday May 31 2019, 12:00 am

Christ Church Cathedral are inviting everyone from across the Diocese to take part in the inaugural St Frideswide Pilgrimage on the saint’s day, Saturday 19th October. 

People have always gone
on journeys to enrich their
spiritual lives. The desire
seems deeply ingrained in
human nature. Pilgrimage
can be a way of nurturing and sustaining our
inner life – and helping us to become a more
‘Contemplative’ Church.

Christians have felt drawn to pray at the
Shrine of St Frideswide for many centuries.
Indeed, the Priory on which our Cathedral
was built was an important destination for
medieval pilgrims. And today, pilgrimage is
enjoying something of a boom.

They are offering a range of guided walks of
varying lengths, bringing pilgrims in to the
city of Oxford from all points of the compass
and all corners of the diocese.

If you’d like to know more, you can download their leaflet here.

Putting out into Deep Water – Bishop Steven’s blog on Acts and the mission of the Church

General 

Published on: Wednesday May 29 2019, 9:35 pm

Bishop Steven has written four bible studies on the book of Acts which he gave at the Common Vision diocesan conference in May. In these he looks at how the story of the early Christians can inspire and help us today as we live out our faith and share it with others in our own local contexts.

He writes:

The story of the spread of the Christian faith across the Roman world is a story full of surprises. It is a story of both suffering and joy. It is a story of human endeavour and God’s agency. It is a story to which the Church has returned again and again through two thousand years as we seek fresh inspiration in God’s mission. It is the story told by St. Luke both in the gospel and in his second book, the Acts of the Apostles.

In every era of the Church, Christians have turned to Luke’s great narrative to find renewal and to return to first principles. In the eighth century AD, the great English historian Bede bases his Ecclesiastical History on the Book of Acts. In the early twentieth century, the Anglo-Catholic theologian, Roland Allen reflects on the story of Christian mission in China in his seminal book: Missionary Methods, St. Paul’s our ours?. In the late twentieth century, the American Episcopalian priest Dennis Bennet turns to Acts to describe his experiences of God which were the beginnings of charismatic renewal in his book Nine O’clock in the Morning.

In these talks, I want to continue this tradition of reflection on the principles of Christian mission in Luke and Acts. We are reflecting together as a Diocese on what it means to be a Christ-like Church for the sake of God’s world: contemplative, compassionate and courageous. We have listened carefully to the kind of church we are called to be in the Beatitudes, in the story of the raising of Lazarus and in the Letter to the Colossians [you can find the common vision study guides on our online store].

We are now at the point where we are beginning to move forward in God’s mission together: to attempt new things in new ways for the sake of the kingdom of God. We are doing this as a single Diocese and also in our parishes, benefices and deaneries and in our schools and chaplaincies.

As we begin to act and to do new things, so this is a good moment to listen to the Book of Acts, as framed by Luke, and to find fresh inspiration for mission in our own day.

These studies are being published, one per week, on his blog – you can read them here.

“It’s about abundant life, not hell avoidance”

General 

Published on: Saturday October 7 2017, 5:56 pm

“The Church is called … to celebrate creation, enjoy culture, and share in flourishing life. … “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10.10). Christians don’t have to look far for a mission statement for the Church. Living abundant life.” 

This is an article from the Church Times (6th October 2017) offering a new and exciting view on how the Church might rethink its purpose and the way that churches are used.  

Please click on the article link here to read the full article by Revd. Dr. Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields London. It’s part of the “Reformation” series of lectures – you can hear the podcast or see more at www.smitf.org