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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

A message for Lent from Bishop Steven

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by David Billings on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Hope amidst clouded vision

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucy G

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

The God of Reconciliation

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

The love and power of God

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revd. Talisker

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Come and See – Welcome to the full taste experience

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

Lucy G

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Plough Sunday – 14th January

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

Avril

Photo by Michael Austin on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Liminal Space… the time between

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 2024 bring you blessing and joy, 

Revd. Talisker

Photo by BoliviaInteligente on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Godspot: Light in the Darkness

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every blessing,

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Phil Desforges on Unsplash

COP 28 Missive

General 

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

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

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

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

Chris Villiers (from the perspective of Respira International)   

Photo by Nik on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

GodSpot: Hope and Renewal

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Robert Thiemann on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Advent and Pace

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revd. Talisker

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Christ the King

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucy G

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Being Accountable: Time and Resources

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Zachary Keimig on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Pageant? Prayer? Promise?

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucy G

Image courtesy of Lucy G

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Mayur Gala on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Great Commandment

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

link to dailydust

Revd. Talisker

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Image by Mike from Pixabay

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Praying for no hatred or bitterness

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Lucy G


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

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

image from Unsplash, by Sunguk Kim

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Rooted and Grounded

Bulletin 

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

Yes. I remember Adlestrop—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revd. Talisker

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Do as I say, not as I do!

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

Daily Dust

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

Revd. Talisker

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Martin Katler on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Conflict? Or Opportunity?

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Kristina Litvjak on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Alex Shute on Unsplash

Education Sunday

Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucy G

Education Sunday logo © Churches Together in England

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Love is…

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revd. Talisker

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Rooted and Grounded

Bulletin 

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

Yes. I remember Adlestrop—
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revd. Talisker

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Practical Ins and Outs

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

Practical Ins and Outs – dailydust

Photo by Nigel Tadyanehondo on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Peace in the heart of the storm

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

Lucy G

Shakespeare, Hamlet (Act IV, scene V)

Image:  Hokusai The Great Wave, 1831

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Edouard Dognin on Unsplash

Parable Sower

Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Joshua Lanzarini on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

We are all a part of God’s family

Bulletin 

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

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

The opening verses say

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God help us to help the world.

Lucy G

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

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Never Enough?

Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

Photo by Martijn Baudoin on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Doing little things with great love…

Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

Revd. Talisker

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash

Priorities? Peace and the Sword

Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

Revd. Talisker

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Proclaim the Good News!

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revd. Talisker

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

We are one body because we all share in one bread

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

Lucy G.

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

The Visitation

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings,

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

New Year, New Beginnings

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revd. Talisker

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by Leo Rivas on Unsplash

Praying to Our Father

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revd. Talisker

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

What are we seeking?

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

Lucy G

Image adapted by LG from BBC material, with thanks.

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Next?

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings, 

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Nienke Broeksema on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

More precious than gold

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alleluia!

Lucy G

Image by Dan Brown, 2006.

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

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

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

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

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

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

Holy Week

Blog Bulletin 

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

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

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

This Holy Week, I am inviting you all to try and see the story anew through the eyes of those first disciples, eyewitnesses of the events which are so very familiar to us. I wonder, what would it have been like to experience those events for real? To read the book for the first time, not knowing the ending, rather than it being a familiar story we’ve heard dozens of times before. 

And, most importantly, what details suddenly stand out? What is God’s message for you this Holy Week? What new thing is God waiting to show you? I am very sure of this one thing – that if we ask for fresh insight, to see with the grace of the Holy Spirit, we will find something new we had never seen before with such piercing clarity. 

Whatever Holy Week and the Day of Resurrection bring you this year, I pray that above all these holy days bring you into a closer walk with Jesus, not just this week, but in all the weeks to come. 

May this week be holy and blessed for you and your families, and may you be filled with the joy of the Risen Lord this Easter. 

Talisker

Richard Bavin – The Empty Tomb
Image Copyright © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday April 6 2023, 9:36 am

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

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

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

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

Palm Sunday

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday March 30 2023, 2:54 pm

Once more we find ourselves on this rollercoaster journey: from crowds shouting Hosanna as Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph and acclaim, to the new covenant of Maundy Thursday, the terror and despair of Good Friday, the grieving of Holy Saturday, to the unbounded joy of Resurrection on Easter Day.

This year I’d like to invite you to enter into this journey in an imaginative and deeper way. Which character do you most identify with in these stories? If you had been there, what would you have seen and felt? I wonder, how must Jesus himself have felt on Palm Sunday as he was acclaimed by the crowds, knowing as he did that his enemies were plotting and that he had only days to live. There was so much he still had to do, and such a short time to do it all. And yet he also had all the time in the world, because of the Resurrection, and the Holy Spirit which he sent to dwell within us at Pentecost.

In past years, I always wondered how the crowd could turn from shouts of welcome to baying for his blood within such a short time. It doesn’t say much for the goodness of human nature.

Over the past year I’ve read many books, and had the privilege of being introduced to a new way of seeing this. The crowd who welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem were not at all the same ones who demanded his execution on Good Friday. The ordinary people who shouted for joy at the arrival of their long-awaited Messiah, who were filled with hope and love, were still abed and asleep in the early hours of Good Friday. The ones filled with hatred and evil at the challenge that Jesus brought had plotted this, and arrested Jesus whilst the ordinary people who loved him were not there to fight back. By the time that the ordinary citizens awoke, it was all over. They were only in time to watch him, beaten and bloody, carry his cross to the place of crucifixion.

How often have we missed the vital moment? That crucial point when we had the one chance to say something, change things, ensure justice. To stop evil in its tracks. This year, as I make this annual pilgrimage through Passiontide and Holy Week once more, I wonder what parallels will become clear to me, where I need to be alert and awake, to speak up for the right thing.

I wonder, what will Holy Week bring you this year?

I pray that, whatever else it may bring, it also brings you closer to the heart of God, knowing the love of Jesus that was so great he died for you, and rose again that you may live life in all its fullness, both here and hereafter.

Revd. Talisker

Image by Norman Adams – Christ’s entry into Jerusalem
Copyright © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 30 2023, 9:00 am

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

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

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

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

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 26th March – 1st April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 23 2023, 10:12 am

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 16 2023, 9:25 am

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

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

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

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

A Water Cooler Encounter

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday March 9 2023, 2:21 pm

Many firms have embraced the concept of water cooler encounters as a positive force within the workplace.  This is the idea that, as employees go to get a drink from the water cooler, they will meet others doing the same and share chat.  As a result, people talk about topical issues, discover shared interests, get to know each other better, step outside the boxes of their different roles and responsibilities, and discuss what they are working on.  This in turn leads to fresh ideas, new directions of thought and creative perspectives – all benefitting the employees and the company’s work.  The key elements are a social space that people need or want to go to, and a willingness to engage in conversation.

An extension of this is individuals whose gift is to ‘become’ the water cooler moment within the community: people who are able to socialise comfortably, get to know others, bonding over shared stories, and through this are able to share conversation about important issues.  It is not everyone’s gift but I’m sure we can all recognise those around us who are blessed with it.

In John’s gospel, we hear this Sunday of how Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob, half a mile outside the town of Sychar. (John 4: 5-42). The well would have been very much the water cooler place, where women would have gathered together to draw water, helping each other and sharing gossip, usually in the cool times of the early morning or evening.  But Jesus’ encounter with the woman was at noon, under the heat of the midday sun.  She came alone to draw water from a well that was some 100 feet deep!  Why?  As John’s account develops, we discover that the woman has been married five times and is now living in an unmarried relationship.  Perhaps the poor woman had been widowed five times and no man now wanted to risk marrying her.  Or perhaps she had a series of failed marriages and was constantly seeking a better relationship.  Whatever the reason, she seems to have been ostracised by the other women of Sychar.

Indeed, everything about this particular well-side water cooler encounter is against expectations.  Jesus breaks the taboos of a male stranger talking to a woman, of a Jew talking (in Jewish terms) to an ‘unclean’ Samaritan enemy and, worse, drinking water from her pitcher.  But by stepping outside the expectations, Jesus was able to draw her into conversation.  As this developed he showed her that he knew her deeply and he opened up to her the invitation to know and receive his gift of living water, true life.  

And as we see repeatedly elsewhere in the gospel narratives, encounters with Jesus not only turn lives around to a new relationship with God, but also achieve a healing of human relationships, returning ‘healed’ individuals into recognition and social acceptance.  In this restoration of the damaged, Jesus took the outcast and made them the water cooler moments that began the transformation of the lives of those they went on to encounter.  Filled with the exciting news of her well-side meeting with Jesus, the woman rushed back to Sychar to share her story.  There, because of her testimony, people listened to her and many other Samaritans came to know Jesus.

I wonder, what are the water cooler spaces in our communities?  How do we as church be the water cooler identity? How are we sharing the transformative good news of Jesus Christ in the social places and in the unlikely moments?  How are we living his compassion in restoring the dignity of the outcast?

May you be refreshed today by Jesus in your journey of Lent.

Lucy G

Image by Lucy G.

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 9 2023, 9:40 am

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

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

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

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

Image: Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well – Guercino (public domain)

The God of love

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday March 2 2023, 2:18 pm

“For God, so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life.“

This verse from John 3.16 must be one of the most famous in the Bible. And the wonderful and beautiful thing is that it is absolutely true. Jesus’s life was one that demonstrated mercy, forgiveness, and love, in his teachings, and in his actions and feelings; and finally demonstrated in his death upon the Cross, to redeem us all from the power of sin. The most wonderful thing is that love is indeed stronger than death, and so death could not hold Jesus in its grasp, but was forced to let him go, and so the power of death was broken for all time. As Christians, we have a sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life because of the love of God embodied and demonstrated in his son Jesus Christ .

All that may sound like just theology. However, it’s also absolutely and vitally true in our own lives, and has a huge real world impact on how we live, and on our attitude and approach to life and to all around us.

St. John is often called the apostle of love, and when we look at his gospel as a whole, and also look at his letters later in the new Testament, we can see why. After all this is the disciple who wrote that we loved because God first loved us. This is the disciple who leaned upon Jesus’ shoulder at the Last Supper, and who was called “the one whom Jesus loved“. 

Finally when Jesus was asked, “Which is the greatest commandment?” by a Pharisee, who was hoping to trip him up in his theology and knowledge of the law, Jesus replied, quite simply, “love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul, and strength. And love your neighbour as yourself.“ These two commands do indeed, in the words of the Book of Common Prayer, sum up the whole Law and the Prophets. 

If we can put these two commands at the very centre of our lives, then we will be responding in the best possible way to the God who so loved the world that he sent his only Son, that all who believe in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For eternal life is not merely the hereafter on the other side of death,  but rather a way of living, here and now, that allows us to live life to the full, truly to enjoy and appreciate all the blessings which God gives to us, and encourages us to share those with all our fellow human beings and fellow creatures.

So this Lent, may the God of love fill you with all joy in believing, and may you shine love and light to all around you.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Emmanuel Phaeton on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 2 2023, 9:48 am

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

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

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

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

‘Christ Instructing Nicodemus,’ attributed to Crijn Hendricksz Volmarijn (ca 1604-1645)

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 26th February – 4th March

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday February 23 2023, 9:45 am

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

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

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

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

Meeting with God on mountains – and at home

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Friday February 17 2023, 7:59 am

Meeting with God on mountains is a familiar theme in the Bible. Moses does so, very famously, on Mount Sinai where he is given the Law of the Ten Commandments. God is teaching His people how to live in freedom and community. They have been used to generations of slavery, and so they just don’t know how. By the way, Moses also encountered God in the burning bush on a mountain.

Then Jesus meets with Elijah and Moses on a mountain, in the presence of the disciples, at the Transfiguration in Matthew’s gospel.

And there are countless other mountain-top encounters. Abraham when he is asked to sacrifice Isaac. Elijah encountering God in the stillness, after the wind, fire, and earthquake, having called down the fire of the living God to defeat the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel. God’s temple is built on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Jesus’ last night before his arrest was on the Mount of Olives. Some of Jesus’ most famous teaching was the Sermon on the Mount. He feeds the five thousand on another mountain. The list goes on.

For many, there is an internalised expectation that we have to come away to a deserted place to meet with God. That takes time, and money. And for some people, those two commodities are in short supply. The busy parent, working all the hours they can, just to keep things afloat, only to return to all the housework and childcare. Taking large chunks of time to go away alone, to travel to the mountaintop to encounter God, is plainly impractical.

Have you noticed, it tends to be men that are called away to the mountaintops for those encounters? Men are the ones who have to travel, to struggle physically to get to the place to hear God. To take the time away from all their other priorities and distractions. And whilst we may live in a more equal world in terms of shared labour in the home and with children, Covid showed us just how close we still are to the patriarchal values of our long-gone ancestors!

Perhaps that’s why so many of God’s encounters with women are in their homes, including some of the most famous moments of the Bible. God comes to them, because He knows they cannot come to Him on the mountain. God comes to the Blessed Virgin Mary via the Angel Gabriel. God comes to Abraham and Sarah, to tell them they will have a son. Jesus comes to Mary and Martha, teaching in their home. Jesus comes to the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus comes first to Mary Magdalene after his Resurrection.

God encounters women – and those trapped by their responsibilities – in the mundane and the ordinary tasks and places of life. He knows where we are, and the burdens we carry. And He speaks to us just as clearly over a boiling kettle or a kitchen sink as he does on the mountain top.

God isn’t only out there. He’s in here. In our homes. In our daily tasks. In our hearts. And in our every breath, as we breathe in His blessing, and breathe out our gratitude and love for Him. For this is the God who so loved the world, that He sent His only Son…

Best wishes

Talisker

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Friday February 17 2023, 7:59 am

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

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

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

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

Refreshment of heart and soul in times of trouble

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday February 9 2023, 2:55 pm

I am grateful for the reflections of Revd John Pridmore, formerly a priest in the East End of London, and for the inspiration of God’s presence in the beauty of spring flowers unfolding in gardens and hedgerows around us this week as I was thinking about this bulletin piece.

Yesterday I watched my bees beginning to emerge from winter hibernation and heading off in search of the treasures of newly-opened flowers; I think they have probably discovered the swathes of snowdrops and first crocuses that bless the nearby churchyard.  On a fencepost, a robin surveyed the fields while overhead a magnificent kite soared and swooped.  These joys of nature are not limited to our beautiful, rural location; cities too are home to flocks of little birds, peregrines nest in ledges of skyscrapers and bees are nurtured in rooftop hives.

But this beauty has a darker side too.  Each year, surveys show that our wildlife and wildflower populations are declining; pollution and pesticides threaten the lives of insects, including the bees.  Climate change is disrupting the patterns of natural life which are integrated in ways that we still do not fully understand and with far-reaching consequences.

Alongside the environmental concerns are all the many social problems that humans have created by policy and by conflict.  This Sunday’s passage from Matthew (6:25-34) is a challenging read, as Jesus tells us not to be anxious or to worry about life, about food or clothing, because God knows we need these things and will provide.  Knowing God knows doesn’t seem to make the electricity bill any less, and the number of people having to turn to foodbanks and school breakfast clubs continues to rise. But knowing God knows and has a place for us in his kingdom is a lifeline of spiritual strength for today.

Our readings this week are full of the power and wonder of God’s creation and to the presence of his loving care shown in the detail of the moment as much as to the great sweep of his timeless promise.  They invite us to pause and to look with deliberate consideration for how God is present all around us, to look for the beauty – literal and spiritual – with which he blesses us. But our readings also recognise that life is difficult, harsh: creation and ourselves suffering and groaning (Romans 8: 18-23), and that there are troubles today and tomorrow (Matthew 6: 34).  Our readings invite us to stop in the midst of this trouble to have confidence that God understands the pain of living and is inviting us take strength from him as he leads us to new life; to take the time to recentre ourselves on the knowledge of this love and care so that we are spiritually refreshed in the face of worry.  The glimpses of birds and budding flowers are a reminder of this renewing hope. One day, even as in the photograph here of a park in Kiev, in the war-devastated cities of Ukraine life will be restored.

And the account of creation (Genesis 1-2.3) reminds us that God has given us responsibility for caring and building up his world. In creation and in Christ, God has blessed us so that we may bless each other.  So, if we do yearn to strive first for the kingdom of God, God will guide our working together to make the changes today that will ease someone’s troubles tomorrow.

Lucy G.

Image – Starling among crocuses in a park in Kiev, Ukraine, photo by Sergei Supinsky, courtesy of NBC News www.nbcnews.com

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday February 9 2023, 9:39 am

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

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

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

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

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Answering our own questions?

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday February 2 2023, 2:31 pm

So often we expect God to wade in and solve our problems, waving the divine equivalent of a magic wand. And we can get jolly annoyed when that doesn’t happen. Or when things happen, but not as we planned.

Always, God invites us to get involved and to take the first step of faith. And when we do that, we usually find that in fact the entire path ahead of us is smoother than we feared, and many things fall into place, often with unexpected ease and timing.

I do wonder if a first step towards solving many of the world’s problems, and indeed many more local ones as well, might be in putting God’s principles into action. Without being in any way literalist, one could say that God did write the basic coding for humans and the world.

The prophet Isaiah sums it up well, when he speaks these words from God. Just before these words, the prophet has been slating the hypocritical actions and words of the religious and political elites. Instead of all that, this is what God really wants from us.

Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of injustice,
    to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
    and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicatorshall go before you,
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.

It’s a grand vision, but “impossible!” we all say. Impractical. Insane! Or is it? And is it a grand vision, or is it just the simplest of actions. The problem is, simple so often seems impossible. Sometimes things are so ingrained that they feel unchangeable. We ask big questions, and we seek answers outside of ourselves. But I wonder if the answer to our deep longing for change and a better, fairer, more just world, is actually within ourselves, a tiny whisper from the Holy Spirit, if we could only listen.

Best wishes

Talisker

Photo by Hadija Saidi on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday February 2 2023, 9:23 am

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

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

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

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

Photo by Luis Tosta on Unsplash

This week we have NEWS and EXCITING EVENTS!  Please read on….

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday January 26 2023, 3:06 pm

THIS SUNDAY 29th JANUARY – Thanksgiving for Revd. Jim Mynors’ ministry

The 10.30am service at Pusey this Sunday will include a benefice thanksgiving to Revd. Canon Jim  Mynors for all that he has given to our churches, and for his ministry among us. Whilst we’re delighted that Jim and Helen still live in Buckland and continue to worship and minister among us, it is good to give thanks properly, as a benefice, for Jim’s time as our Associate Priest. 

BENEFICE AWAY MORNING SATURDAY 4th MARCH

at St. Mary’s Convent, Wantage, 9.30am  – 12.45pm

The ministry team have organised an away morning for all our churches in the benefice to take time out to celebrate what God has done among us over the past seven years, and to begin to think about where God may be calling us next, in the coming few years. 

All church wardens, PCC members, and all church congregation members are invited. Let’s spend a few hours together, thinking and praying on what each of our churches needs, where God is calling us, and how we can follow His call both as individual churches and as a benefice.

Whilst we’re doing this away morning as a benefice, we know that each of the seven churches is very distinctive and has its own identity, and so we’re building that into the framework of the sessions. 

The morning will be facilitated by Revd Charles Chadwick, hosted at St Mary’s Convent in Wantage, from 9.30am to 12.45pm. You’ll be home for lunch! 

There is a cost involved (which will be paid by benefice funds, though donations are welcome) so we ask everyone who wishes to come to book a FREE ticket on the Eventbrite link here. Booking will close at 5pm on Thursday 16th February (though it might be possible to slip in one or two more after that – no promises!). 

Best wishes, 

Talisker

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 29 January – 4 February

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday January 26 2023, 9:55 am

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

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

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

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

Fishers of people

Blog Bulletin 

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

I will make you fishers of men
Fishers of men, fishers of men
I will make you fishers of men
If you follow me
If you follow me, if you follow me
I will make you fishers of men
If you follow me

So go the words of a popular children’s Bible song, using the words of Jesus’ call to Andrew, Simon Peter, James and John in our Gospel reading for this Sunday. (Matthew 4:12-23)  When they heard his calling, at once the men dropped everything and headed off after Jesus.  It was the first big turning point in their lives.  They were just rough fishermen, toiling at their nets, but Jesus chose these men.  He saw what they were at that point in their lives, and their potential, what they could – would – be, if they responded to his call. When they unhesitatingly accepted his invitation to follow him, to become his students, learning by living alongside him, Jesus re-created who and what they were, transforming them into something new.

This story of the call to the first disciples is so familiar that perhaps we take it for granted.  And one of the bits that perhaps we pass over is that Jesus called these first few in pairs, Simon and Andrew and then John and James. They were not asked to step into the unknown alone, but to become part of a seedcorn community into which Jesus drew further disciples, and which would become the beginning of the early Church. It foreshadows the episode in Luke chapter 10 where seventy further disciples (we don’t know their names) were sent out in pairs to carry Jesus’ message of the coming of the kingdom of God into the villages and townships of the surrounding countryside.  This Sunday’s passage also foreshadows the closing lines of Matthew’s Gospel: Jesus’ great commission to his disciples –  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19)  Just as Jesus had invited his disciples to be part of his journey, so he sent them out to the world to continue that invitation.

Our own relationship with Jesus is most likely formed, not only by what we learn of him through the Bible, but by our relationships with those around us who tell us about Jesus and who share their stories of turning points and of living with Jesus alongside them – the people who have invited us to join them in following Jesus and offered to accompany us as we set out into the unknown.    It may be that the cornerstone of a relationship with Christ for some is very personal, perhaps in private prayer, but when we look at the disciples, we see they were brought together by Jesus to become his followers, his collected body to support each other and to become his community to share work together.  And that would have made perfect sense to those early fishermen who worked their nets as a team.

  • What is your story of receiving Jesus’ invitation? 
  • What difference has it made to your life, to be a follower of Jesus? 
  • Who has walked alongside you on your journey of faith?
  • What do you think it looks like for you to be a fisher of people for Jesus?

And let’s remember that we never have to go fishing on our own, thank you Lord.

Lucy G

Image: Jesus calls the fishermen – mosaic from Church of San Apollinare, Ravenna

Song lyrics by Alfred Newman (The Greatest Story Ever Told)

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday January 19 2023, 9:47 am

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

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

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

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

Photo by Mason Kimbarovsky on Unsplash

Come and see

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday January 12 2023, 2:28 pm

Here we are, in the second week of Epiphany, the season of gradual revealing of Jesus, in which we discover more and more about his presence in the world and in our lives. ‘Discovery’ suggests finding something new or surprising, finding something that is being searched for, uncovering something that is already there but just not yet visible, becoming aware … All of this seems present in the Gospel reading for this Sunday – John 1: 29-42. 
 
John the Baptist has known that his is waiting for someone greater than himself to come, that he is preparing the way for the Messiah, and so he has been telling others to reform their lives and has been baptising so that the Messiah would be revealed.  I’m sure a load of people thought he was quite nuts, out in the wilderness of society’s expectations, but quite a few paid attention. And then it happened!  After all the not knowing, the expecting and the preparing, John saw the Spirit descend on Jesus like a dove and remain on Jesus, and now he can’t stop telling people and pointing to Jesus.  I wonder, when we have an epiphany of Jesus moment, do we tuck it away inside ourselves so as not to risk being banished to the wilderness by our hearers, or do we share our experience, tell our story?
 
Andrew and another of John the Baptist’s crowd listened to him and started following Jesus.  Jesus didn’t say, “why are you following me around?” or “what do you want?”  He asked the pair, “what are you looking for?” (v38)  What is it that they were hoping to discover? Maybe they didn’t really know what they were looking for- they just knew they were looking. Certainly, Andrew and his friend didn’t respond with a load of questions; they simply asked, “where are you staying?” and Jesus invited them to come and see.  No pressure, just a simple invitation.  And off they went and spent the day with Jesus, getting to know him.  I wonder, are we always ready to respond with that much time to hang around with Jesus and get to know him better, or are we sometimes just too busy being busy?
 
Once Andrew had had the chance to start getting to know Jesus, he invited his brother Simon along too.  And that was pretty dramatic: before Simon has a chance even to say hello, Jesus recognises him by name, and promptly changes that name, calling Simon Peter, his rock.  That’s the challenge and the joy of accepting the invitation to come and see – Jesus changes us, takes us further on the journey every time we encounter him.
 
I wonder, how often do we invite others who have not yet met Jesus to join us in getting to know him better?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were the tiny start to someone else’s amazing journey with Jesus?  If someone who didn’t know they were looking, suddenly found the opportunity to ask the big questions and discover the answer!  And maybe they in turn will help us deepen our discovery too.
 
Lucy G
 
Image by LG with thanks to EngageMinistry resources.

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday January 12 2023, 9:38 am

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

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

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

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

Chaos at Court, Shock Revelations!

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday January 5 2023, 2:14 pm

Imagine the scene – three important-looking foreigners from faraway lands ride into Jerusalem on camels, with all their retinue, and make their way to the palace. Perhaps it’s not as splendid and excessive as the procession in Disney’s Aladdin (on the Christmas tv watchlist), but it will certainly have been noticed. These men arrive at the palace, and ask to see the recently born child who is King of the Jews.
 
What???!?!?
 
The King in Judea is Herod, and he’s no baby. There is no royal infant here.
 
So, they explain that they are astrologers, wise men from the East, and they’ve seen a star which is the portent of the great King promised by God, and that star has led them here.
 
WHAT??!?!?!?
 
The wise men would have had to tell their story to the chief of the palace guard, the chief vizier (or whoever ran the palace for Herod), and probably several other high-ranking courtiers. After all, one did not simply pitch up at the palace and get to see the King without explaining one’s business! And of course, many others will have overheard these conversations. Whispers would be running like wildfire! A new King of the Jews? One foretold by a star? Could this be the Messiah? You can imagine the scene. If newspapers had existed, imagine the headlines!!
 
Herod is the puppet king installed by Rome, and he’s not all that popular. In fact, he’s known for his cruelty and evil actions. However, he’s the only way the Jewish religious elite manage to retain any semblance of independence, so they put up with his actions. Now these important strangers have arrived, and their news threatens to upend the political settlement, which is a precarious one at best. Given all that, it’s no surprise in political terms that Herod is very unhappy about this, and tries to trick the wise men, and use them to locate the child so he can kill him.
 
Imagine the scene in Bethlehem when these wise men with their camels and retinue arrive in Bethlehem, seeking a small child, no more than two years old, who is born King of the Jews! The whispers would again have spread like wildfire, indeed might already have reached Bethlehem from Jerusalem ahead of them. Mary and Joseph have clearly remained with their wider family in Bethlehem after the census, for it is clear later in the story that Jesus is no longer a tiny baby. If the star appeared at his birth, then he must be at least several months old, to allow for the wise men to travel to Palestine from the far East, along the Silk Road.
 
In Matthew’s gospel, the coming of the wise men symbolises the revealing of God’s son to the wider world. God is revealing his plan to redeem the world from sin and evil. But evil fights back, foolishly thinking it can stop God’s plan. So even as God comes among us as one of us, a king desperate to hold on to his worldly power at any cost, even to the point of fighting against God, unleashes one of the worst evils imaginable – the slaughter of innocent children. Herod’s anger and his capacity for evil in order to eliminate a possible political rival – the consequences of the lust for power were then, as now, utterly tragic for the ordinary people who might threaten that power.
 
God comes, as He promised, to bring us peace. The response of the powerful elite is fear, anger, and destruction. The writer of Matthew’s gospel focuses on the great irony that foreign wise religious men recognise Jesus for who He is, when the Jewish religious leaders do not.
 
Epiphany season (the wise men, Jesus’s baptism, the miracle at Cana) is all about the appearance of God as one of us – and it’s true that sometimes we have to look beyond the surface in order to see God at work. It’s about revelation, realisation, seeing what God is already doing among us, in our lives and in our churches and communities. May God give us the grace to see, and the wisdom and courage to follow His leading.

Revd. Talisker

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday January 5 2023, 9:53 am

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 29 2022, 9:39 am

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

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

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

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

Light in the Darkness

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday December 22 2022, 2:15 pm

On a dark night, when we can’t see our way, there are few things more welcome than a light! And candles (or wood fires) in our homes bring a sense of warmth and welcome – there’s a reason that “hygge” is so popular!

Darkness is both literal and metaphorical. The promise that God gives us is of the light of His presence. All we have to do is ask. The famous picture of The Light of the World by Holman Hunt really resonates for me at this time of year, when the nights are long and light fades so quickly. 

The prophet Isaiah says (Isa 9.2):

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness

a light has dawned.

And then there are the wonderful words of the prologue in St John’s gospel (Jn.1.1-5): 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was with God in the beginning.Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1.1-14 is the bible passage chosen by Bishop Steven for us all in this diocese to reflect on during 2023. It’s one of my absolute favourites. Especially the phrase “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”  The King James Bible renders it “the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.” 

It’s absolutely true – darkness recedes the moment that light shines. And the old-fashioned word “comprehend” has so many layers of meaning. Not only is darkness unable to overcome light, it does not understand it either. Darkness has only utter non-comprehension and defeat when faced with the Light. And that brings such hope! As Aragorn says in the Lord of the Rings, “dawn is ever the hope of men.” 

When faced with Light, darkness flees, and all that was covered in darkness is revealed. Things that appeared shadowy and frightening are seen for what they truly are, and can be dealt with. The enemy (whatever form it may take for us) can be seen, and cannot so easily ambush us. Fear is either banished, or at the very least put in its proper place and perspective. Light is the blessing without which there is no life. Light brings hope, and peace, and knowledge, and truth. 

Jesus is the Light of the whole world, the whole universe in fact! And He is also the Light within each one of us who has invited Him in. He came in vulnerability as a baby, born in Bethlehem, two millennia ago. He comes and knocks at the door of our hearts, asking to be allowed in. And one day, He will come with such light and power and glory that all darkness in the world will be put to flight. 

Until that day, it is for each of us to nurture the light within us, to pray and listen to God so that that light grows every stronger. And to share that light with those around us – for that is the wonderful thing about light: the more we share it, the greater it grows. 

May you know the light and love of Christ this Christmas, and may you keep that light burning brightly throughout the coming year, as you walk each day with God. 

And may you all have a peaceful and joyful Christmas, and a blessed New Year.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Josh Boot on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 25th – 31st December

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Tuesday December 20 2022, 1:29 pm

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

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

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

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

Names Matter

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday December 15 2022, 2:15 pm

Names have meanings, and it is odd how often a person lives up to their name in some way, or their character somehow reflects their name.

When it comes to Jesus, names definitely matter! Jesus is derived from the Jewish Yeshua, meaning God saves. He is also called Christ, meaning anointed, or commissioned for a particular task. And then there is Immanuel, which features in this Sunday’s readings – it means God with us.

All of these names point to something about who Jesus is, and what God called him to do and to be. Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, one of the three Persons or aspects of God. And this Person is the one who is with us, who lived as one of us, who knows what being human really means. He is the one who heals us, brings us wholeness – which is what salvation is really about. Restoring wholeness in our souls, our bodies, and in our relationship with God.

And he is definitely God-with-us. Being born as a human, God is one with us. And it is because of Jesus that the Holy Spirit is able to dwell within our hearts all the time.

Through Jesus, God comes to us. We don’t have to go to Him. We don’t have to strive any longer to reach up to heaven. In Jesus, heaven is brought to earth. How often does Jesus say, in his years of ministry, “behold the Kingdom of Heaven is upon you!”

Jesus brings about the fulfilment of the promise that God will be with us always, that we are adopted as his children, and that we will never be abandoned. He is the one who washes us clean of our sins, who removes evil from us, and who makes it possible for us to stand before God and know we are loved and accepted.

“Behold I stand at the door and knock!”

Jesus is Immanuel. Let’s check and make sure we’ve invited him in, and made room for him in the home of our hearts this Christmas, and that we don’t usher him out the door again when the tinsel and decorations are put away. For Jesus wishes to stay with us, if we will let him. To heal the weary, strengthen the fainthearted, heal the sick, give recovery to the captives. To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. All this and more. To use a cliché, it’s on the tin! It’s all in the name – literally.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Lina Volkmann on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 15 2022, 9:39 am

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

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

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

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

Unto Us a Child Is Born

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday December 8 2022, 2:22 pm

The older I get, the more I love Christmas, with all its glitter and fluff and celebration, bringing light and joy into the dark and cold of winter. And the old principle of “Advent first, Christmas later” is rapidly falling behind me, not least because the childlike excitement of lights and trees is infectious. There’s something so safe and warm and comforting about it all.

Which is of course wonderful – but I find myself wondering whether we love Christmas so much precisely because it makes God safe and warm and comforting, and brings Him down to our size. In part, that’s the point of it all. In Jesus, God dwells with us as one of us. He could have appeared as an adult. He could have come fully formed, bursting on to the scene like a superhero. But He doesn’t. He comes in utter vulnerability, needing the care of human parents, learning the human condition through direct experience, not just because He’s God and knows everything already.

There is something very warm and comforting about this in the darkness of our lives, in the shadowed places where we can feel so very alone and scared. God is not so big that He can’t fit into those places. No corner is too dark for Him to shine a light upon, and chase the shadows away. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not (John 1.5).

But let us also not domesticate Jesus into just a cute and safe little baby. For there was little that was cute or safe about his arrival in the world, born to a teenage single mother, far from home, and then a refugee in Egypt from the cruelty of Herod who wanted to kill him, before finally returning to Galilee years later. If we make Jesus too safe, too cute, then we also remove His power to help and heal us – and surely, as much now as at any time in the past two millennia, we need the healing power of God’s love, in our lives, in our society, and in our world.

The prophet Isaiah wrote thousands of year ago (and Handel famously borrowed!):

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9.6).

May the God of all peace bring you peace this Advent and Christmas, and may that peace remain with you. Amen.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Rodion Kutsaiev on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 8 2022, 10:04 am

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

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

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

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

Peace and Presence

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday December 1 2022, 2:26 pm

Last week I wrote about the very human tendency to put off until tomorrow anything that we plausibly can – particularly the difficult stuff! It usually isn’t the best of ideas, but then the old cliché goes, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

This week the scripture readings move us onwards in Advent. Today I’d like to focus on the hope and encouragement in the lectionary readings. They are not all joy and light – but then few things in life really are. The sole constants in the world are the light and love of God.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15.13).

This Christmas is going to be hard for so many people. This winter is a struggle for nearly everyone, in different ways. Every generation has had its struggles, but so many of the accustomed certainties and fixed points are being swept away in the avalanche that has been the past three years – and that avalanche shows few signs of slowing, even though it changes direction or intensity every so often.

I’m aware this may sound like clichés – but such metaphor is needed to acknowledge that we all face struggles of our own, and that those are part of the struggles of the world. The din and uproar of it all feels deafening, the tides threaten to pull us under emotionally, even physically at times.

And so it has been for almost every generation since the world began. The second half of the 20th century was, for a significant majority of people in Europe and the USA at least, a time of prolonged peace and relative security and certainty, and we became comfortable in that. That comfort is now unravelling. We are returning to the uncertainties that have been the human condition for millennia. And it’s not a pleasant experience.

But it is into precisely this kind of uproar and mess that God comes. Quietly, unobtrusively, often unobserved. Whispering calm words in the storm. Offering a hand to save us, when we are drowning and no one else seems to see. God comes to us in vulnerability and in understanding, in a form we can relate to – in Jesus.

As in Holman Hunt’s famous painting, He stands at the door and knocks. Will we let him in? And if we do, will we welcome him as a temporary visitor, or as family?

He speaks peace into the chaos. Calm into the storm. Presence into the loneliness. Strength in our weakness. And this is not just for a day, a week, a season. It is for always.

To adapt a very famous catchphrase: God is for life, not just for Christmas.

So, this Advent, this Christmas, and every day of your life to come: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Blessings,

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Paul Zoetemeijer on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 1 2022, 10:00 am

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

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

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

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

mañana

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday November 24 2022, 2:43 pm

You know those jobs that you never get round to? The ones that migrate from one to-do list to another? Or, if you’re using a digital reminder list, get moved to the eternal “tomorrow”? I confess, I have some of those. Eventually they fall off the bottom, get deleted. They’ve been there so long, and in fact it turned out that they didn’t really need doing.

“I’ll do it tomorrow” is a phrase which (for me) can evoke very different feelings, depending on who is saying it. If it’s someone I trust and who I know is reliable, then I have confidence that it will be done. And if for some reason it’s not actually tomorrow, it will be in the next couple of days.

In contrast, I can think of at least one person who I’ve known who used to say “I’ll do it tomorrow” all the time, usually in an exasperated voice, annoyed that I had dared to ask. Internally I’d roll my eyes and say to myself, “Oh really? Which tomorrow?” That really was a case of mañana – the tomorrow that never comes. The “I’ll get round to it sometime, maybe, if I feel like it…”

This Sunday’s readings put me somewhat in mind of this. In this Sunday’s reading from St Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 13.11-14), St Paul is urging us to do what we know we ought, to do and be what God calls us to, and to do it now, not leave it until a more convenient date. “

The context for this is that in Paul’s time, a lot of people decided to wait to become Christians on their deathbeds, so that they didn’t have a chance to make any mistakes between becoming Christian and dying!!

Our culture no longer has this approach (generally!), but there are many who frequently say they are Christian, but their actions don’t match up with their words. Because unlike so many things on our to-do lists, if we want to see and create a better world, we need to start taking action now, and actually living our faith in our actions, not merely our words. God is inviting us to work hand in hand with Him, co-creating with Him. But the change and the creating begins with us. Roll back a few verses in Romans 13, and we see the following:

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’10 Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

As we begin Advent, the time of preparation for the coming of the Christ to us once again, the renewing of the Christ light in our hearts at Christmas, are we going to put “love” first on the Christmas to-do list, or say, mañana?

PS: once we decide to put love first, it appears on the top of every to-do list every day – not because it’s been rolled over, but because it’s the first and most important action of every day, and colours everything else on the day’s list.

Peace, love and blessings,

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Mayur Gala on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 27th November – 3rd December

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday November 24 2022, 10:28 am

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday November 17 2022, 10:12 am

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

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

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

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

Seasons of Darkness and Light

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday November 10 2022, 2:18 pm

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. (1)

I have recently been making some long journeys by car and have been listening again to some Dickens novels that I haven’t read since schooldays. One of those is A Tale of Two Cities, which I recall being taught was all about the eternal struggle in the human condition between the precariously balanced forces of good and evil, set against the violent background of complex struggles for justice.  (I can hear my English teacher speaking as I write that!)

I was reminded of this as I read Luke 21: 5-19, our Gospel passage for this Sunday – Remembrance Sunday, when we think about and pay respect to all those who have sacrificed their lives for us in wars, in struggles to bring and maintain peace in troubled places, and who have died fighting for a better future.  The passage paints a vivid picture of betrayal, chaos and destruction: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven” (vv 10-11) and, “all will be thrown down.” (v 6b)  The passage is offered in the context of Jesus’ forthcoming death and the preparation of the disciples for the struggle to come.  It spoke strongly into the violence of humans and of the natural world 2000 years ago, and it speaks ever more strongly into our world context today.  Just as there was fear and uncertainty then, so there is today: fuel and food crises overwhelm us; our world is full of doubts, scepticism and manipulation of truths, as people anxiously seek some sort of meaning; we are living with the deeply fragile nature of the world’s environment and of political systems – issues meeting head on in the deliberations at COP27 right now.

And yet, in Dickens’ novel, hope for the future is brought out of chaos by the unselfish love of one man.  At this Remembrance time, we recall the great sacrifice millions made and continue to make for our safety.  And how much greater is the Gospel narrative’s message of hope and the triumph of life for everyone who desires it, through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ, who has promised, “not a hair of your head will perish.  By your endurance you will gain your souls.” (vv 18-19).  Jesus offers us the Spring of hope out of the winter of our despair; because of Jesus, we have the confidence that goodness and justice will triumph over evil; he is the Light of love shining through the darkness in every age.

Lucy G

  1. Charles Dickens, A tale of two cities, opening lines.

Image: free to use via Pixahive. https://pixahive.com

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 13th – 19th November

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday November 10 2022, 10:19 am

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

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

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

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

Future Hope, and Missing the Point

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday November 3 2022, 2:29 pm

From the feast of All Saints on 1st November to the feast of Christ the King on Sunday 20th November is Kingdom Season, the last hurrah of the year before we begin all over again with Advent, and waiting patiently for the coming of Christ once more, as a tiny vulnerable child, at Christmas.

This is the season when we celebrate the kingship of Christ over all Creation, the time when we anticipate the time when God will be shown to be fully in charge, when all that is evil will be defeated, and the world will be renewed and remade.

It’s a time of “now and not-yet”, when our faith allows us to look forward to what will be, even as we remain mired in “what is” – and admittedly “what is” is often mucky, painful, and unpleasant.

These past weeks in my ministry have been focussed on death and resurrection. I’m currently on funeral number eight, and counting. Death has been my daily companion, and the feasts of All Saints and All Souls have helped give perspective to that.

For these feasts help us to see Death for what it now is. Thanks to the death of Christ upon the Cross, Death is no longer the end of the line, a final brick wall, beyond which we cannot go. A void which sucks us in, and from which there is no exit.

Because of Jesus’ death on the Cross, Death is made into a portal, a gateway, through which we pass, into the sunlit uplands beyond, into the very presence of God. The veil that is our humanity is laid aside, and we truly see, and are seen, for the first time.

Jesus is clear that this is the case. In his conversation with the Sadducees, he points out that Moses himself revealed this truth, when he spoke of his conversation with God, who said “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Not “I was.” But “I am.” The implication is that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still living, and are in the presence of God, and they have an ongoing relationship despite being, in our terms, “dead”.

The Sadducees have tried to trap Jesus with a cunning question – with ( for those Blackadder fans among you) about the subtlety and craft of Baldrick. And Jesus sidesteps it with ease, demonstrating with absolute clarity just how much they’ve missed the point.

Our very human limitation means that we can’t really imagine things utterly beyond our experience. Until the recent developments in quantum theory, we couldn’t understand that we’re actually not solid at all, but the molecules are packed so densely that we, and (for example) our chairs, appear to be solid, when in fact they are in perpetual motion. If we followed this theory, suddenly Jesus’ ability after the Resurrection to walk through locked doors or through walls, to appear and disappear at will, becomes almost completely obvious and logical!

There are more things in heaven and earth … than are dreamt of in your philosophy” as Shakespeare famously said in Hamlet. Whilst our imagination and wild flights of fancy must ALWAYS be tempered with reason and intelligence, it is also true that God is bigger than our imagination. So let us imagine what joy awaits us on the other side of the gateway that is Death, let us not fear it, and let us see it, and everything else in this world, through the lens of God’s love.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday November 3 2022, 10:52 am

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

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

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

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

Remembering, renewing courage, and rejoicing

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday October 27 2022, 2:15 pm

We have arrived again at the season of Allhallowtide, a time to recall in thankfulness the members of Christ’s Church who have died and gone ahead of us to rest in peace until the final resurrection and fulfilment of God’s Kingdom here on Earth.    

Traditionally in Mediaeval times, this season began the day before All Hallows (All Saints’) Day, a date we now know as Halloween.  What seems today to be an entirely secular and commercial children’s activity had deep roots in festive commemoration of the passing of the dead, of harvest and new beginnings.  In the 9th century, when the festival of All Saints’ became fixed on 1st November, the season opened at the evening service of Vespers on 31st October.  From the Reformation onward, the season effectively became the two festival days of All Saints’ and All Souls’, with Halloween gradually becoming a secular folk event. 

So, what distinguishes the festival of All Saints’ from that of All Souls’, and why should this matter to us?

 All Saints’ Day is an opportunity to celebrate all the women and men whose Christian faith and action have borne witness to the grace of God at work in the world.  Often those who spring most easily to mind are those distinguished by the epithet ‘Saint’.  These include the early disciples, apostles, martyrs and the pioneer evangelists who carried the Christian faith around the world, such as St Patrick and St Columba. Others were scholars and teachers who have shaped the Church in its understanding and application of Christian faith to life, such as Saints Augustine and Ignatius Loyola, or radical, simple servants such as Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa.

But if we focus on just a few familiar Saints’ names, we lose the essence of ALL Saints Day.  There are so many Christians who have opened windows to God in the life of the Church and the world whom we don’t label as Saint, like those great preachers and hymn writers the Wesley brothers.  And I’m sure none of them, with or without the label, set out thinking, ‘I’m going to be a saint!’  This is our opportunity as the Church today to be encouraged and inspired by Christians of the past, so many of whom faced great opposition in speaking and living out their faith.  This dual celebration and encouragement is captured in the collect for All Saints Day:

God of holiness

your glory is proclaimed in every age:

as we rejoice in the faith of your saints,

inspire us to follow their example

with boldness and joy,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

As Christians, we are all members of the same Body of Christ, baptised into the same faith which stretches from those early saints through the present and into the future.  As Charles Wesley expressed it:

One family, we dwell in him,

one Church, above, beneath;

though now divided by the stream,

the narrow stream of death. (1)

So, as we remember the body of all saints who are together the Body of Christ, the Church also takes a day to remember the people we have known and loved in our local communities, friendships and families who have enriched our faith and have revealed the life of Christ present in the everyday by their service and life.  We pause to name these people, and we may light a candle as prayer for them and as reminder of how they have shone as Christ’s light in our lives. We are thankful for their care of us and we rejoice that they are held safely in God’s house.  This day is All Souls’, which the Church of England calls the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. Together, All Saints’ and All Souls’ days celebrate our shared belonging, past and present, and provide us with hope for the future that we are all waiting and longing for. 

As we remember and rejoice in the example of those who have helped to shape us as Church and as individuals of faith, we also remember that our absolute maker and shaper is God, without whose grace we are dust.  So, on All Souls’ Day, we also throw ourselves on God’s mercy again, praying in the All Souls’ collect,

Eternal God, our maker and redeemer,

grant us, with all the faithful departed,

the sure benefits of your’ Son’s saving passion and glorious resurrection

that, in the last day,

when you gather up all things in Christ,

we may with them enjoy the fullness of your promises

Lucy G

  • Wesley, Charles – Let saints on earth in concert sing

Image available for free use, courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 30th October – 5th November

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday October 27 2022, 9:56 am

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

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

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

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

Remaining humble

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday October 20 2022, 2:52 pm

On Tuesday evening, I went to the Oxford Playhouse and watched The Two Popes. It is without a doubt one of my absolute all-time favourite films, and when I saw that the play was being put on, I couldn’t resist. 

It is full of poignant one-liners, and takes a deep look at human frailty, especially in positions of power. There’s also a great lesson that God so often uses our very frailties to demonstrate his own power and bring good to the world, and it is at the moment when we think our plans are leading in one direction, that we find that God’s plans are quite different.  Above all, there is nothing and no one too small or too broken or too flawed for God to redeem them and to use them.

Watching the end of the play, as Pope Francis refuses the silks and velvets and trappings of the papacy, I was reminded that it is tradition in church processions that the one who goes first is the least important, and the one who comes at the end of the procession is the most important.  I remember being told of a rather comic stand-off between a bishop and a headmaster at the doorway of a school chapel – “After you!“ said the headmaster. “No! After you!“ replied the Bishop, as they eyed each other up with mild hostility. 

That the first shall be last, and the last shall be first is a key teaching of Jesus. As he says in the parable from this Sunday’s reading, those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted. It doesn’t take the words of Jesus to make us realise that whenever we try and put ourselves on a pedestal, we invariably find that our footing is far from sure, and often more than merely our pride is dented when we fall off. We should be wary indeed of any kind of pedestal or exaltation, and above all wary of ever putting ourselves in that position. It’s bad enough when others do it to us! It is one of the things that has been most striking about Pope Francis, that he has  refused to mount the metaphorical pedestal, preferring to stay on his own two feet.

As the world continues to spin and tip around us, and so many certainties are shaken or lost, keeping our footing is quite a skill. And perhaps the first step (if you will pardon the bad pun) in that direction  is to keep our feet firmly on the ground, remaining humble, and remembering that we are indeed made of the ‘humus’ – the earth or clay in Latin – and that no matter what we do, or do not do in our lives, it is to that same humus that we will return. 

In the end, humility is not about slavish grovelling or pretending to be less than we are. True humility is knowing ourselves, our abilities and our limitations, and using them in the service of others, without pride or boasting ever getting in the way or making us lose focus on who and what we truly are – beloved children of God, but made of frail and fragile clay nonetheless. 

Best wishes, 
Talisker

Photo by E. Vitka on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday October 20 2022, 10:13 am

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

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

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

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

Wrestling with God

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday October 13 2022, 1:59 pm

This Sunday the Old Testament reading is the stirring story of Jacob wrestling with God at the ford of the Jabbok. This struggle happens at a point of great uncertainty in Jacob’s life as he faces up to the challenge of reconciling and restoring his relationship with his brother, broken through his past behaviour.  The episode is very mysterious, but what is clear is that it occurs at a changing point in Jacob’s life, where God renames him Israel and sets him on a new direction, and where new things are about to happen through him.  It seems that Jacob could only discover this new path through painful grappling with God.

I was particularly struck by reading this story again today because I was privileged earlier this week to hear former Archbishop Rowan Willians speaking on arguing with God at critical points in our life journeys.  His words seem to speak so much into Jacob’s situation and to our own stories that I would like to share them with you.  Bishop Rowan was reflecting on Saul’s (Paul’s) experience on the road to Damascus which launched Paul on a whole new direction and reshaped his life.  Paul identified himself as a most unlikely candidate for serving Christ, because of his history of ardent persecution of Christ’s followers.  Bishop Rowan noted that God has plans for every one of us throughout our lives. Yet, very often as we grapple with understanding God’s call to us, our natural response is to resist, to argue: no thank you, Lord, not me … I’m not suitable … I don’t want to … I’m doing something else … I wouldn’t know where to begin to …  

Our own stories are rarely as dramatic and our resistance and wrestling rarely as momentous as the experiences of Jacob, Moses or Paul, but we must still take courage from them.  Bishop Rowan said in truth, we are all unsuitable for this challenge and we all have doubts at some point about our calling, whatever it may be.  But God knows what he wants for us and what he has made us capable of, whatever our failings.   Therefore, Bishop Rowan urged us all, whoever we are, to look out for and embrace God’s invitation along with all our doubts and nerves, and to discover the new identity and purpose – however big or small – that God has planned for us.

Thank you, Bishop Rowan.

Lucy G

Painting: Jacob Wrestling With God, Painting © 2011, by Jack Baumgartner. Photo courtesy of the artist.
http://theschoolofthetransferofenergy.com/

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday October 13 2022, 11:37 am

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

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

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

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

An attitude in gratitude

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday October 6 2022, 2:22 pm

The Gospel reading this week, Luke 17: 11-19, is the story of how Jesus was appealed to by ten lepers.  Jesus sent them to the local priests and the lepers were ‘made clean’. Only one of the ten – and that one being a foreigner from the enemy land of Samaria – bothered to come back to thank Jesus.  The bit that has always struck me out of this reading is the final line: Jesus says, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Is Jesus confirming here that the Samaritan was made clean because he trusted in Jesus and obeyed his instruction to go to the priest?  The passage suggests this was true of the other nine lepers also.  What made the Samaritan special was his thankfulness.

We are living through a period of considerable anxiety about cost of living, and difficult choices to make ends meet; a time when support services like food banks are facing such levels of demand that they are struggling to provide; when there are increasing concerns about health and wellbeing. 

As we seek ways to tackle these issues and to improve wellbeing, there is a growing body of research which shows that intentionally being thankful, practising gratitude, has a remarkable impact on our health and resilience.[i] Taking time to identify something each day for which we can be thankful helps to stimulate happiness and increases our ability to recognise positives. Thankfulness helps us to appreciate ‘the other’, what is larger than ourselves … God.  This is not to say that the problems of our world will vanish, but that in giving thanks, we are lifted up and supported through the problems.

So, back to the Samaritan.  When Jesus said, “your faith has made you well”, I wonder did the Samaritan’s recognition of Jesus’ gift to him and his thankfulness for this do much more than simply cure him of leprosy?  Perhaps the Samaritan’s faith and attitude of gratitude so enhanced his physical and spiritual wellbeing that he was able to go forward in life a more positive and healthier person, better equipped to discover God at work in the world around him.  At this harvest season and in the coming year, may we too walk in this thankfulness.

A poem by Mizuno Genzo [ii]
I can do nothing
for my family
for people
or the Lord.
For the abundant love
of the Lord
of people
of my family
I just give thanks
just give thanks.

Lucy G


Image copyright free, with thanks to St Andrew’s Lutheran Church.

[i] See, for example, https://research.com/education/scientific-benefits-of-gratitude#

[ii] Genzo, in The Lion Treasury of Children’s Prayers, p61

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday October 6 2022, 8:07 am

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

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

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

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

Pastoral Visiting, Home Communion, and Clergy Visits

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday September 29 2022, 3:35 pm

Pastoral visiting is absolutely at the heart of our ministry in the benefice – and Revd. Talisker is always up for a cup of tea or coffee! 

If you would like Revd. Talisker or one of the ministry team to visit you, please do not hesitate to email or call directly, or to contact Jane in the Benefice Office, to arrange a pastoral visit. Talisker also can do Home Communions on request for those who cannot come to church, or as part of a house blessing. Talisker’s day off is Saturday and Monday’s are her retreat day for sermon, writing and prayer. The rest of the week visits tend to need to be during school hours, but in an emergency, something can usually be arranged! 

Visiting is so important as part of being a loving Christian community, looking after each other. However not everyone likes unexpected or unsolicited phone calls or knocks on the door – which is why we are leaving to you to contact us if you would like a visit

Best Wishes
Revd. Talisker

Photo by Dustin Belt on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 29 2022, 10:22 am

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

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

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

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

First-fruits

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday September 22 2022, 2:34 pm

Harvest festival is a big celebration in the church each year, and is very much the theme this month. It’s also the season for church and village fetes. When we talk about Harvest, we’re often thinking about an ending, a completion of gathering everything in. But in Jesus’ time, the Jews also celebrated the start of each harvest, which was called ‘first-fruits’.

This really caught my attention because it speaks of a mindset which looks forward to the future abundance of God, not just about endings and what we’ve already got. It says, Thank you God for what we have now, and thank you that we will have plenty still to come.

I wonder what this change in approach might mean in so many aspects of life. Living each day trusting in the future promise of God, not focussing on counting and hoarding what we have now in the hope of getting through to the next harvest.

Revd Talisker

Photo by Daria Shatova on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 25th September – 1st October

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 22 2022, 9:52 am

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

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

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

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

Praying for Kings and Princes

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday September 15 2022, 4:10 pm

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2.1-2)

Quite incredibly, this is one of the readings set for this Sunday. How utterly appropriate and apt, given that we are, as a nation and Commonwealth, mourning the death of the monarch who has defined an era, and was the second longest-reigning monarch in the world.

Our churches have been open for prayer and reflection, for public and private grieving. I’ve had many conversation with people over the past week about Queen Elizabeth, how incredible she was, what she brought to us all.

But looking at the readings for this Sunday, one conversation in particular came to mind again.

Politics, across the world, are febrile and divisive, and becoming more and more so with each passing year and election. Churchill once said that “democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others which have been tried from time to time”. It’s the best we’ve come up with to date. However meaningful and effective democracy crucially hinges on the need for rational debate and the willingness to listen to one another, not merely see who can shout loudest and score the most points off their opponent.

The person I was speaking with commented that having a monarchy gave us, as a nation, a sense of continuity and of peace and stillness in the depths, regardless of the storms crashing above, which republican nations did not usually have. The all-too-often puerile and petty storms which occupy our headlines, from every part of the political spectrum, do nothing to build us up. In fact they tear us down, causing increasing division and irresponsibility. The more that those in authority have scant regard for rules and the massive responsibility their elected office entails, the more the rest of us wonder what’s the point in obeying those rules ourselves. The very inequity and unfairness of it all sticks in our collective craw.

But Queen Elizabeth provided the exact opposite. Her sense of duty and responsibility, coupled with a self-deprecating humour and dry wit to which many attest, has provided a very real example to us all – most poignantly at the funeral of HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, where due to Covid restrictions she sat alone, at a time when she most needed the comfort and presence of her family.

We have prayed for the Queen in church services for seventy years, on Sundays and in many places daily. We will now pray for the King. May King Charles give us that same sense of stability, of deep calm as a nation, so that below all the chaos and division of Westminster politics, beneath the trials and tribulations of our daily lives, there is a common thread or spine which holds us all and gives us balance as a nation, so that, to use St Paul’s words, “we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.”.

Revd. Talisker

Image courtesy of the Press Association

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 15 2022, 10:32 am

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

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

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

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

Lost and found, broken and restored

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday September 8 2022, 2:18 pm

A while ago, my son introduced me to Tile: an app and gadget for helping locate missing things.  He was fed up with me constantly losing my keys and my mobile phone, despite my best efforts to have a set place for each!  My losing things affects my family, and without these items, I find myself also lost, adrift without my diary, contacts etc., so I sympathise with the woman in Jesus’ parable of the lost coin, as she desperately searched her house from top to bottom, sweeping floors and shifting furnishings until she found her missing coin. More seriously, I remember the anxiety and urgency experienced as a parent, when we lost – albeit briefly – that same son as a small child on a trip to the beach.  I appreciate the woman’s relief, her delight and her desire to celebrate the finding with others, in this parable.

The story is one of three told by Jesus on the theme of searching for and restoration of something precious which was lost: one sheep which had wandered away out of a flock of 100 in the hills, one silver coin – a whole day’s wages – misplaced out of a store of 10 in the home, one profligate son astray in his life.  In these parables the sheep and the coin represent people as much as the prodigal son. There is nothing obviously different about one sheep or one coin from the others; this going astray in life applies to any of us and can happen anywhere and at any time. Taken together, told to a mixed audience of socially-rejected sinners and socially-respected religious representatives, the three parables convey the message that God values all, including the despised and flawed, and delights in those who turn their lives around to come humbly to him. We are invited to see God as constantly and ardently seeking those who are lost in life for whatever reason, long before they (we) may seek him. The recurring theme is that God rejoices in their (our) recovery: all are precious and heaven delights in their restoration.

We don’t know who was invited to the father’s party celebrating his son’s return, but in the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin, the shepherd and the woman both summon their friends and neighbours to share in the joy. Maybe that seems a little over the top, but following through the metaphor of sheep and coin, perhaps the loss of these created a hurt not only to one individual who cared for them but to the whole close-knit community where they belonged.  Perhaps we are invited here to join collectively in caring as much about seeking and helping and celebrating those who need God’s love to flourish, as God himself seeks and cares?  I wonder what are the losses in our society today that damage the wholeness of our collective life, and the close-knitting of our communities, where together we may support each other – a loss of confidence and hope in the face of overwhelming economic burden? A loss of trust in the power and will to safeguard the environment?  A loss of sense of self-worth and resilience in the face of mental health suffering? …

Lord, we rely on your unflagging searching for us and grace to keep us safe. 

Help us to be diligent in looking out and caring for each other

and in sharing the joy of your love.

Lucy G

Image © FreeBibleimages.org – made available under Creative Commons Licence

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 11 – 17 September

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 8 2022, 10:05 am

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

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

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

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

Renewal, New Beginnings, and Putting God First

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday September 1 2022, 2:56 pm

Once again the seasons are changing. The leaves are falling early this year, after the heat and drought. What will autumn and winter bring to us? Autumn is a time for shedding that which no longer is needed, as well as gathering in the harvest so that we have enough to last the winter cold and hunger. Winter is the time of resting, preparing, waiting to see what new shoots will come in Spring.

This Sunday Bishop Gavin will be with us once more in Buckland at the 1030am service, and this service will be somewhat special, for me in particular.

This summer, the Feast of St Peter and St Paul at the end of June marked the tenth anniversary of being a priest, and eleven years since I was first ordained. In a few short weeks, the Feast of St Michael and All Angels will mark seven years here as your parish priest. After a long and hard, and frankly challenging twelve months since August 2021, this is also a celebration of my return to full time ministry after several enforced breaks during the year due to ill health, stress, and learning to manage and live with PTSD. The positive aspect has been that the summer sabbatical has given me time to write a report on rural ministry which has now gone to the Diocese, and which will, hopefully, have a positive impact on how rural ministry is resourced and celebrated and acknowledged in the coming years.

In all this, God has been faithful and present, even in the darkest times. He has taken potential disaster and turned it to good – and God does this when we trust in Him, and ask His help. Romans 8.28 says “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God”.

This Sunday’s readings include one of those incredibly hard bible passages which often make us wince. Luke 14.26-27: Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Ouch! But before we turn away in despair at the impossible, we need to remember that Jesus is using Jewish 1st century idiom to make a point. It’s not literally hating anyone! After all He repeatedly in the gospels tells us to love one another, and that hate is actually a mental step along the path to violence and murder.

This is about priorities. God comes first. Loving God, following Him, obeying His call, comes first. And before that too sounds excessive, remember that Jesus calls all of us who are heavy laden to come to Him for rest, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11.28-30). When we are in dark places, He brings light. When we are burdened, He helps carry the load. But only if we ask Him. Only if we listen to Him. Only if we prioritise giving God time, so that we can hear His voice, listen to His suggestions, and notice the opportunities He is pointing out, which will bring joy and ease and positivity out of dark and despair.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday September 1 2022, 9:10 am

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

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

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

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

The lives of the saints

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday August 25 2022, 4:11 pm

Time sometimes seems to pass very quickly and anniversaries come around before we know it. And it is by the act of remembering that situations and people can be transformed, enabling us all to find redemption and hope. From earliest times, for the Church one of the most important things to remember have been the saints, people whose lives or actions have been examples to inspire others.

Last month, we remember St Thomas, St Mary Magdalen and St James – three very different but very important figures who knew Jesus and whose lives have shaped and inspired generations of Christians. All the saints have something to offer us at different times in our lives, a kind of archetype with which we may identify for a time. St Thomas is known as Doubting Thomas because he would not believe in Jesus’ resurrection until he saw and touched Jesus himself, needing his own experience before he could believe.

In recent decades, scholars have been re-discovering the Early Church view of St Mary Magdalen as the woman of wisdom who truly understood Jesus’ teachings, often more clearly than the male apostles. She is often called The Apostle to the Apostles. But over the centuries male-dominated society, not liking such female pre-eminence, made her into a redeemed prostitute instead. St James was the brother of St John, the Beloved Disciple – the two sons of Zebedee who Jesus once rebuked for being too impulsive, violent, proud and self-regarding, but who also were among the first chosen by Jesus as disciples and who became people of great love and gentleness, key leaders of the Early Church.

My point is that everyone has a place and something to offer in God’s world. And by remembering the saints, by knowing their stories and in those stories identifying elements of ourselves, we can see that we too have gifts that can be used by God, that we too are loved by God, and that no part of the human character or situation is beyond the transforming power of God’s love

Revd. Talisker

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 28th August – 3rd September

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday August 25 2022, 9:12 am

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

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

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

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

Where is God in all this mess?? The reality of faith

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday August 18 2022, 2:55 pm

A few days ago, I was feeling a little sombre, and decided to re-watch The Shack. Many of you will have read the book, and the film is a good interpretation of it. It’s an incredible, powerful story. If you don’t know it, I truly encourage you to read it.

One line struck me – Sarayu, the Holy Spirit, at one point says to Mack: “You’re looking for a pain-free life. There isn’t one.”

How true! Not only is there no such thing as a pain-free life, it is our wounds and our scars that make and shape us. Our broken edges, when they heal, allow us to have greater empathy for others. The person who is un-wounded, who has never known suffering, cannot possibly empathise or understand those who do suffer. The one who has never known hunger or cold or poverty cannot imagine what it truly feels like in the soul to be in that place. The one who has not lived in constant fear, unable to be themselves because of the terror of reprisal or punishment, cannot imagine how such fear can corrode the soul.

This Sunday’s readings are about faith – both our faith in God, and God’s faithfulness to us. If we misunderstand either of those, then we set ourselves up for failure, and we will end up very angry with God, feeling that He has let us down. That He has not been faithful. If we expect that faith in God will mean that our lives are materially prosperous and worry-free, then indeed we will become angry and disillusioned.

But faith is about God’s presence in the midst of the chaos, the pain, the dirt, the dust and the mire of human life. God created us out of dust and dirt and breathed His own life into us. And in Jesus he became truly part of the dirt and dust of earth and human life. He suffered in so many ways – ways that many of us, particularly in the Western world, will never truly understand.

His followers throughout the centuries have had all kinds of lives. But I will dare to suggest that rarely have any of those lives been free of struggle and pain, in one way or another.

Faith is trusting that God will walk with us, through the darkness, through the pain, through the agonies and fears that we will endure, through death itself. Faith is trusting that God will never leave us alone or abandoned, no matter how dark a place we may be in. And faith means that we hold the hand of those in such dark places, offering comfort and succour, knowing that we too have been there.

Faith knows that there is nowhere that God has not been, nowhere he cannot go, and nothing that can prevent Him being alongside us. All we ever have to do is to ask, and then to trust. God will not rescue us from suffering. But He will endure it with us. And for that mercy, thanks be to God.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday August 18 2022, 9:10 am

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

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

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

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

Do not fear challenge

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday August 11 2022, 4:22 pm

Over the years, I have very much enjoyed the creative writing of Philip Pullman, author of many different styles of writing including the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy. However, his determined antipathy to religion, and to Christianity in particular, grieves me. In a discussion at an Oxford Literary Festival event, he based this on a view that religions always seek to control people, and that for centuries Christianity has been responsible for some of the most violent and abusive acts and wars against others. When we look at what has been done in the name of the Church, whether by political powers, the bitter battling of denominations, or the actions of some church bodies in the lives of women and children, I can appreciate Pullman’s point of view.

I suspect that he would regard the gospel passage for this week, Luke 12: 49-56, as confirmation of his perception – in particular verses 51-52, “Do you thing that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three.” Where, in this passage, do we find Christ the Prince of Peace, Lord of love and hope?

I think we find it in recognising that this passage is NOT a call to aggression against one another, or an assumption that we somehow have the right to judge others on matters of faith. Instead, it is in recognising that in receiving the baptism of fire that is the gift of the Holy Spirit, and in seeking to grow our integrity in Christ, we will find ourselves at odds with the assumptions and expectations of the world, discovering that living honestly and humbly for Christ is a rough ride. Indeed, throughout Luke’s gospel, the message of the pledge of God’s love and hope of his Kingdom is repeatedly set alongside the pain and rejection Christ’s followers will experience in being disciples, and in communicating the Gospel.

The recent Lambeth Conference, bringing together Anglican bishops from around the world, and including representatives of other Christian denominations, began with concern for an atmosphere of discord based on the different experiences and divergent established understandings of certain fundamentals of our Christian faith, and an expectation of troubled debate. Yet, through bringing those differences together into a space of shared willingness to discuss, the opportunity was created for greater mutual appreciation and understanding, if not always agreement. In his closing speech, Archbishop Justin Welby warned against clinging only to what we presume or are familiar with:

“Our assumptions, our possessions, become a comfort blanket which ultimately smothers us. For they forbid us to engage with each other and with Christ. We make our worlds and our ambitions smaller because it feels safer, and they come to define and to constrain us. So the institutions, the power, the status, positions that we hold onto out of fear – personal fear for ourselves, fear for the future of the Church – end up fulfilling our fear.”

It is only through being willing to come together and to take the risk of discussion and being challenged that we create the opportunity to dig deep and to learn more about God and God’s Word and our own faith. Archbishop Welby closed with the prayer and promise that as we grow in love as God’s people, fear shrinks and space grows in our hearts and lives for the presence and rule of God’s Kingdom:

“As you, as I, go home, do not fear. Take heart, take courage – because it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you his Kingdom.”

Lucy G

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday August 11 2022, 12:51 pm

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

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

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

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

Transfiguration – process of positive change

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday August 4 2022, 2:51 pm

Whilst the Transfiguration of Jesus is a key moment in his journey and ministry, and is a major festival in the Christian year, I confess that for me, when I hear the word transfiguration, the first thing I think of is Professor McGonagall (or Dame Maggie Smith, who played her to perfection). Changing one thing into another was one of the core lessons in the world of Harry Potter, and it’s something we all try to do much of the time. In the worst cases, we try to shove square pegs into round holes, causing immense damage in the process. In a more positive way, we ourselves are constantly in the process of being changed – being transfigured – in our lives and characters through our experiences.

For those who follow Christ, St Paul (2 Corinthians 3.18) is clear that we are all being changed – transfigured – daily more and more into the likeness of Christ. Indeed this is a key part of our Christian journey of faith, and part of God’s purpose for our lives. Many of you will have heard me pray that each day I may see the face of Christ in all whom I meet, and that in turn they may see Christ in me.

Today I was reading a newspaper article on how angry people are these days. It’s so sad that we take out our frustrations on each other. We’ve all had those moments when it’s been a really hard day. We’re exhausted, low, and really don’t need anything else to go wrong. So when it does, we sometimes lash out. But what if, instead, we take a deep breath and try to see it from the other side? What if we remember that the person we are talking to is also a beloved child of God, and is therefore our sister or brother? And when someone is all grumpy with us, maybe we can laugh with them, or at least acknowledge that it’s not about us – they’ve had a rubbish day too, as Deborah Ross wrote in the The Times today.

The Transfiguration was originally something which happened to Jesus, when he was revealed to his disciples as the Son of God, in shining glory, accompanied by Moses and Elijah. Those disciples saw who he really was on the inside, no longer hidden by external appearance. In the same way, may we allow the Christ light that is within us to shine more brightly, and may we do our very best to see it in others also, acknowledging that we are indeed all being transformed daily to be more and more like Christ.

Romans 12 has a good bit of advice on this. Especially the final verse: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Revd. Talisker

Photo by AARN GIRI on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday August 4 2022, 8:44 am

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

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

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

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

Faith, church and Christian Leadership

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday July 28 2022, 2:24 pm

Many years ago, a friend of mine was speaking about how deepening our faith was really about growing our relationship with God. He spoke of becoming a ‘weekday friend, rather than a Sunday acquaintance’.

When we think of faith, church, and Christian leadership, many of us think only of Sunday, or of those roles which are visible at the front. But being a Christian, and leadership within the Christian community, is not limited in this way. Being a disciple of Jesus is to be someone who is learning the way of Jesus in their context at this moment. And leadership is a part of that discipleship – not just being a positional leader, up the front on Sundays, but even more crucially being a relational leader, someone whose love, care and wisdom exercises influence in the church, the workplace and daily life. Whilst ordained people are generally the ones called to be the positional leaders, the role of lay people as relational leaders is vitally important, and without them our whole community is the poorer.

For we gather on a Sunday to be refreshed to go back out into our daily lives, taking with us the joy and peace that we find in Jesus and in our church community, and working together as God’s people in the world so that the whole of creation may be transformed and restored and healed by God’s love.

May we all in our daily lives be a blessing to others, being the kind of relational leaders who do bring God’s healing love and compassion to those around us Monday to Saturday. And may God give us the grace to see our daily lives, not just Sundays and church, as a time of discipleship and faith.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Gabriel Lamza on Unsplash

Prayer Readings for Morning Prayer – 31st July – 6th August

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday July 28 2022, 8:44 am

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

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

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

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

Lost in translation: Sodom & Gomorrah

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday July 21 2022, 2:28 pm

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18-19 has been held up as a text of terror for LGBTQI+ people for centuries. But that would be to entirely miss the point of the story! When Jesus refers to it in the gospels (Mt 10.14-18), his comparison refers to hospitality, to looking after the stranger in our midst, and to hearing and obeying God’s word, and those whom God sends. It is NOT designed as a condemnation of homosexuality.

It is also a wonderful example of how God involves humans in his plans.

God has a chat with Abraham – and it really is a chat in its tone. “I’ve seen the awful things happening down there,” says God, “and I’m going to do something about it! I’m going to destroy their wickedness!”

Why on earth does God bother to tell Abraham his plans? He doesn’t need to. God can do what he pleases. But the fact remains that he chooses to tell Abraham, and thus to involve him in this.

Perhaps I should right now enter a caveat: I do not in any way take this as a literal account of an exchange between God and Abraham. It may be, for all I know. But I think it more likely that the bible writers were writing this story to make a point about God’s character and way of operating in the world.

By talking to Abraham about this, God is inviting a response. And Abraham definitely has a view here! “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” he demands indignantly. He is basically demanding that God act with justice, and that the good people are not punished along with the bad. The conversation goes back and forth, and Abraham is bold. He bargains with God, until if there is just one good person in Sodom, God will spare them all.

The angels who had visited Abraham and Sarah then go to Sodom.

Hospitality matters in the Middle East. It mattered then, and still matters now. Looking after the traveller is a vital part of desert culture, hence Lot welcomes them and insists they come and stay at his home. But the people of Sodom are not welcoming. Instead they wish to assault and hurt these travellers, effectively for fun.

Lot takes hospitality seriously, to the extent that he even offers his daughters instead of the travellers. There is nothing good or redeemable about this act, but in context it can perhaps be understood, because hospitality demanded that you protect the stranger even if that meant hurt or loss to yourself.

Even this offer does not satisfy the evil people of Sodom. For clarity, seen as part of the sweeping narrative of the bible, their sin is not listening to God, or to the people God has sent; their sin is taking pleasure in hurting others for fun; their sin is in refusing to respect the vulnerable and respect the importance of caring for them. Most scholars now argue that it’s not about sex at all.

There is so much to say about this story, so much that has been misunderstood over the years or taken out of context. But at its heart are two crucial things:

Firstly, that God chooses to involve us humans in his action in the world, as is seen in God’s choice to involve Abraham in conversation, and to listen to what Abraham has to say.

Secondly that God cares for the vulnerable and weak, for the stranger and those in need of care. There is a penalty to pay, in the end, for evil actions against those who cannot protect themselves, for refusing to listen to God’s call to justice and loving compassion. So often the poor and weak suffer, and the rich and powerful do exactly as they choose. But we are all answerable for our actions, and God will call us to account one day.

Jesus gives his disciples clear instruction: If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. (Mt.10.14). We do not need to take revenge. All we must do is listen to God’s teaching, acting with compassion and kindness to all, wherever we go. In the end, we can’t force anyone to be good. Goodness, like love, like obedience to God, has to be freely chosen.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Nathan Lemon on Unsplash

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 24th – 30th July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday July 21 2022, 12:21 pm

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Friday July 8 2022, 5:26 pm

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

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

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

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

Words and Actions

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday July 7 2022, 2:27 pm

It’s a hot topic right now in the news. Do our actions back up our words? Do our words hold integrity? Are we consistent in word and deed?

At the root of this question is trust. Can I trust you to do as you say, and say as you do? If not, then our relationship (whatever it may be) has a problem. Without trust as a solid foundation, nothing lasting or of real value can be built.

A mismatch between word and action has somehow become standard and acceptable in public life and in politics. We even make jokes about it. But how do we feel if that mismatch occurs in relationships closer to home? In our family, with our friends, in our business dealings. The converse of trust is betrayal.

That may seem to be a strong word. So is sin. But sometimes strong words are needed to describe problems which, if allowed to take root and grow, will shake our very foundations and all we hold dear. And without foundations, the structures of our lives, or even of our society, can rapidly come tumbling down. It’s a very big mess.

The parable of the Good Samaritan which Jesus told makes this point brilliantly. A man is injured by robbers, and effectively left to die. Apparently it was very narrow road from Jerusalem to Jericho. Just about two way donkey traffic, but not much more. The idea of passing by on the other side is designed to raise a laugh. More likely you’d have to step over any obstacle in the road rather than go around it.

When we are in trouble, we expect certain types of people to help us, particularly those whose jobs indicate certain roles or responsibilities in the community. For those people to sidestep, step over, or even trample the very things they are supposed to uphold feels like betrayal.

In Jesus’ story, it is the person who you’d expect to trample on the injured man who in fact cares for him, and helps him. The ones who would be expected to help, whose actions so conspicuously do not match their words, walk on by.

Sometimes the hardest thing is to admit our failings, and to face up to them. It hurts. It’s bitter. It makes us feel awful inside. At the end of the story, Jesus turns to the man – a religious teacher – who asked the question which prompted the story. Who was the neighbour to the injured man, Jesus asks. The teacher cannot even bring himself to say “the Samaritan”. He hates them too much. It is too hard. He cannot speak the name of his enemy – for Jews and Samaritans hated each other with a passion – with any kindness or respect.

We used to respect and expect integrity from each other, and in ourselves. St James wrote, you show me your faith without actions, and I by my action will show you my faith. Actions speak a lot louder than words, it’s true; in the same way that a photograph can convey viscerally what words on a page cannot.

Over the past forty years, integrity seems to have become an old-fashioned value. Maybe it’s making a comeback. Maybe it’s all bluster and jockeying for position. But maybe, just maybe, collectively we might begin to expect words and actions to match up – in ourselves, in those around us, and (perhaps most importantly) in those who have huge power over our lives and our society, nationally and internationally. At least we’d know the truth, even if we didn’t like it.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 10th – 16th July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday July 7 2022, 9:19 am

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

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

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

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

Faith and Doubt

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 30 2022, 2:20 pm

Faith is a very emotive word. “Do you have faith, sister?” is a very loaded question indeed. Whether asked quietly and gently, or demanded loudly by a person with a loudhailer on the street, it is personal. It is a question that delves into our innermost being. And quite frankly, it can feel intrusive and rude and judgemental if it isn’t asked the right way! Do you have faith?

Faith in what? And how do I get it? St Paul is clear that faith is the gift of God. It’s something given to us, not something we have to go and find. But Jesus (and St Paul) also speaks of nurturing and growing faith within ourselves. So, much like the tomato plants I was given the other day, it is a gift. But unless I water and nurture it, it will shrink and shrivel. Perhaps faith could be compared to a muscle. If I use it, it grows strong. If I don’t, it wastes away and is weak.

This Sunday is the feast of St Thomas, famous for refusing to believe without evidence. I always think he gets a rough time of it, being nicknamed Doubting Thomas. After all, I like to think that I engage my critical faculties and ability to think and reason when it comes to God and faith, just as I do with any other aspect of my life. Instinct is great, but it needs to work hand in hand with evidence. Not necessarily empirical or objective evidence that someone else can examine under a metaphorical microscope. My evidence may be in the form of my experiences and my feelings combined with my knowledge of the context of the thing or situation.

And then again, when it comes to faith, we don’t have to get it all right and sorted before God will step in and help. Remember the father who asked Jesus to heal his child, because the disciples had not been able to do so. Jesus told him, all things are possible for those who believe. And the father cries out in desperation, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief!” Jesus helps him. Of course he does! Jesus loves him! He cares! He’s not demanding “advance payment” by how high the man’s belief score is!

I wonder sometimes if these stories point in a different direction to the one we expect. So often, when we look properly, the bible does that! Jesus’ comment about belief was more likely directed at his disciples than the poor father, distraught at his son’s illness. And when it comes to Thomas’ inability to believe the “impossible”, I bet the writers included it to give comfort and help to those who struggle, rather than to have a dig at Thomas.

Faith is hard work. And a very wise person once pointed out to me that the opposite of faith is not doubt, but rather knowledge. If we have objective knowledge, we don’t need faith. We don’t need that gift of God to make the instinctive jump between what we know and see and observe and that which is just beyond the boundary of our human senses and limitations of knowing. Faith can go hand in hand with doubt – ask any of the saints!! Perhaps doubt is to faith what dumbbells are to body-building! We believe, but we’re not sure, so we go back over our experiences and our responses to where God has been in our lives, and our faith is strengthened in the process.

So on this festival of St Thomas, I shall ask you not, “Do you have faith?”, but rather, “Where is God in your life?” And are you happy with where God is, or perhaps is not? Every time I have doubts, every time my own faith wavers or wobbles, I ask myself those questions. And in so doing, my faith in God’s love and provision is usually strengthened.

May it be so for you.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Alex Shute on Unsplash

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 3rd – 9th July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 30 2022, 9:23 am

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

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

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

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

Vocation – being our true selves

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 23 2022, 3:32 pm

This Wednesday is the festival of St Peter and St Paul, those two iconic figures on whom so much of the teaching of the Church, and indeed the writing of the New Testament, rest.

Both Peter and Paul were commissioned by Christ himself to go out and spread the good news of God’s love. And so this is traditionally the time of year for people to be ordained as deacons and priests, remembering that those ordained as clergy are called to follow closely in the steps of these saints, preaching and teaching God’s people, and sharing his message of love.

But we are all called by God, whoever we are. Every one of us has a holy vocation – and it is for us to listen and to have the courage to follow God’s call – to be fully the person he created us to be, filled with his light and love, and sharing that light and love with others.

The feast of St Peter and St Paul is usually an opportunity to talk about vocation, especially to the priesthood. That is indeed a precious and beautiful call; it’s also one which is incredibly demanding, will at times wring you out and then come back again, and is not to be undertaken lightly! It is a role of which can be truthfully said, you absolutely CAN’T do it on your own – you need God, every moment. 

God’s call to each of us is completely unique – just as we all are unique. The most wonderful way you can praise and give thanks to God is to live your true life, live it to the full, shine your Divine light, and share that light and love with others. 

That will look different for each of us. It’s not about saying, I must become ‘xxx’ in order to please God. All any of us have to do is to be truly ourselves. Some are priests, prophets, evangelists; some are mums, dads, brothers, aunties; some are police, hairdressers, nurses, teachers; some are mechanics, engineers, gardeners. Some are combination of all the above. No one is better than any other – all play their part in the interdependent symphony of the whole.

And whatever our vocation is – or whatever combination it may be – let us celebrate it, live it, BE it, and be joyful in it. For a life fully and truly lived is the best.

Every blessing, 

Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 26th June – 2nd July

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 23 2022, 10:11 am

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

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

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

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

Daily Bread

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 16 2022, 2:29 pm

It’s a familiar phrase: “Give us this day our daily bread.” We say it in the Lord’s Prayer, and mostly we think we know what we mean by it. Food, shelter, resources sufficient for today, without worrying about tomorrow. Trusting in God’s provision. 

The idea of trusting in God’s provision for our needs was vividly experienced by the Israelites in the wilderness, following Moses, escaping from slavery in Egypt. For forty years they wandered in the desert – because they did not trust in God’s provision, that God would go before them to conquer their enemies. So they ate manna and quails. And they could not gather more than a day’s supply of manna, except for the Sabbath. If they did, it went bad and smelt awful! 

There are many elements to Corpus Christi, or The Fest of the Body of Christ, which celebrates the giving of the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. The readings for the day remind us of Abraham eating with Melchizedek; we have St Paul’s account of Christ’s words at the Last Supper (chronologically the closest written witness); and Jesus’ words from St John’s gospel, where he says he is the Bread that comes from heaven – the reference circling back to the manna in the wilderness. 

The celebration of this festival is a solemn and yet joyous occasion. Rose petals are strewn, incense wafts upwards representing our prayers of thanksgiving, bread is broken and wine shared, as we remember and give thanks again for God’s limitless love for us, in giving us His Son, Jesus, to show us the nature of God in human form, to teach us how to live as God truly intended us to do. Loving one another as He has loved us.

May we live each day in the love and light of Christ. 

Thanks be to God.

Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 19th June – 25th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 16 2022, 10:50 am

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

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

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

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

Trinity Sunday

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday June 9 2022, 2:24 pm

This Sunday is Trinity Sunday in the Church calendar.  I have always found it a little strange that we have a single Sunday identified in the year to remember what is, after all, the central, distinctive tenet of the Christian faith: we believe in one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We affirm this common faith in the One God who is our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, week by week, as we proclaim the Creed in our services, come together in prayers of preparation and intercession, and praise God in the Gloria.  This is our faith, every day and minute – not just on one particular Sunday.

But perhaps it is indeed right to take time at this point in the year for special focus on the Trinity.  This week we see the drawing-together of all our calendar of readings and festivals so far through the year, as we have been learning again of God’s awesome plans for the world, from creation and covenant, through the gift of God’s love and grace revealed in Christ from Christmas to Easter, to God’s intimate welcome and enabling of all into his fellowship through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, this last week.  As we discover again the enduring love of God-our-source, providing for us; God-with-us, transforming us; God-still-with-us, guiding and uniting us, we are sent out by the Trinity and through the Trinity to share and communicate this love and grace. We reconfirm it every time we welcome a new member into this fellowship through baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

It is also good to be made to stop periodically and wrestle again with just how we understand this seeming paradox of God who is Three in One. This time last year I was reflecting on the nature of God as a single, never-ending dynamic relationship of three persons, as a dance or a symphony calling each of us in different ways into relationship with God through his three persons and by whom we are then called into relationship with one another.  This particular reflection works for me, but there are so many potential ways of reflecting on the Trinity. 

Maybe it is also good, this Sunday, not to get bogged down in trying to pin down the paradox of the Trinity, but instead to welcome the mystery of God who is both ineffable and immediate as a never-ending invitation to get to know him better.  Paul, writing to the Corinthians, recognises that our understanding can only be limited:

For now, we see in a mirror, enigmatically, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.  And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

(I Cor 13:12-13)

As Kandiah says, we cannot ourselves ever resolve the paradoxes of our faith because God is so far beyond our human understanding, but we can keep striving to learn more of God and of his love.  If we could grasp the paradoxes, perhaps the danger would be that we would box God away and stop seeking.  “Christianity was never meant to be simple – after all, it is about relationship, and what true relationship is ever simple?” (Kandiah, p308)

Lucy G.

Kandiah, Krish  Paradoxology: why Christianity was never meant to be simple. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2014

Image – LG

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 12th – 18th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday June 9 2022, 10:01 am

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

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

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

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

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

Jubilee!

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Sunday June 5 2022, 7:25 am

Jubilee is an ancient Jewish principle, originally found in Leviticus, and was celebrated every 50 years. In that year, all debts were forgiven, and slaves were freed, and property was returned to its original owner – well, that’s the simple version. Scholars also suggest that the use of 50 years (ie the year after the end of seven sevens) is done to parallel the fifty days between Passover and the Feast of Shavuot, which marks the revelation of the Torah to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai.

Which brings me to our own Jubilee year, celebrating the fact that Queen Elizabeth has reigned over us for seventy years – longer than any other monarch in these isles. She is very nearly the longest reigning monarch in recorded history, bested only by Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand and Louis XIV of France, but as Louis was not yet five when he became king of France in 1643, I think he had something of an advantage!!

Whilst sadly the prospect of a global debt jubilee is extremely unlikely, or indeed any of the other aspects of biblical Jubilee, jubilees are important celebrations. They are moments of reviewing all that went before, and starting a new chapter. In the case of Queen Elizabeth, given her position as Head of the Church of England, and her own deep personal and staunch Christian faith, the biblical aspect seems worth pointing out. Whilst it is another year to the 70th anniversary of her coronation (2nd June 1953), in that year Pentecost had fallen the previous day, on Sunday 1st June. Given her faith, I wonder if the date of her coronation was chosen to fall at Pentecost. And it seems a wonderful and beautiful coincidence that the celebration of her Platinum Jubilee as monarch also falls on this significant biblical festival, when the Holy Spirit fell upon the first disciples whilst they were in the Temple, and they spoke in every language. That festival – Shavuot for the Jews – became Pentecost for the Christians, and is usually considered the birthday of the Church. On the festival of the day that the Torah (or Old Covenant) was given to Moses, the New Covenant of the Holy Spirit was poured out, as Jesus had promised.

I was reflecting on all this in the context of Queens and Kings, and thinking also of the fact that Queens and Kings have traditionally been seen as anointed by God to take on the task and responsibility of rule. Our Queen has taken that duty so very seriously, every day of her life. In April 1947, she said “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service… But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do: I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.

At her accession, she swore faithfully to uphold the duty which had been laid upon her. At her coronation, she was anointed with holy oil, she was blessed by God through the Archbishops, given the grace of the Holy Spirit in a new way, and formally given this holy task. And she has stood firm through seventy years, seeing almost unimaginable changes and developments, holding strong through it all.

All of us are called and anointed by God to a particular task, and that is unique to each one of us. Most of us do not have to carry that task for seventy years! But may God give us grace and strength to carry our tasks and callings for as long as they are ours to bear. And may God give to the Queen peace and blessing as she celebrates this incredible milestone. For her wisdom, care, duty, and faithfulness, thanks be to God.


Gracious God, we give you thanks
for the reign of your servant Elizabeth our Queen,
and for the example of loving and faithful service
which she has shown among us.
Help us to follow her example of dedication
and to commit our lives to you and to one another,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 5th – 11th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Tuesday May 31 2022, 9:32 am

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

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

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

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

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

Speaking blessings

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday May 26 2022, 3:30 pm

Do you ever have those days when, frankly, you’d rather just stay under the duvet? When the prospect of the day is devoid of joy and positivity?

We don’t admit to it very often, and even more rarely admit the real depth of that feeling. Even though we’re much better about talking about our feelings these days than twenty and more years ago, for many people (especially those over a certain age) it’s still quite difficult to do so.

This is where the psalms can be so very helpful. As can the Jewish tradition of blessing God for all things. As the rabbi said in Fiddler on the Roof, there is a blessing for all things! But we need to get the focus of the blessing right. It’s not about blessing the thing, it is about blessing the Giver, who is God.

It’s amazing how speaking a blessing can transform our attitude and feelings toward something. On the mornings when my duvet has seemed so appealing, but I know that my daughter needs me up and about, I begin by saying “Blessed are you O Lord, God of our ancestors, King of the Universe, for bringing me to this new day.” Even though it’s 530am and far too early (for me, there is only one 6 o’clock in the day!) somehow that blessing changes my feelings.

I then find other things to bless God for – hot water usually is next. Most of us take hot showers for granted, but anyone who has stayed at the monastery of Taize in France will know that by 6am all hot water is long gone. Blessed be God that I can have a hot cup of tea. And breakfast. For my daughter who gives the best cuddles in the world. That I have a car to take my daughter to school. That I have a dog who welcomes me with utter exuberance and love each morning, and throughout the day.

And slowly but surely, that desire to hide under the duvet in grumpy isolation dissipates. I’m not saying that everything is suddenly sunshine and roses, but I am at least appreciative that there are good things in my life, instead of taking them for granted and being blind to them.

Blessed are you O Lord, God of our ancestors, King of the Universe, for all the blessings that you have given me.

Next time you have one of those days, try blessing God for all the tiny things in your life and around you that are good. It doesn’t take away the rubbish, the hurt, the grief, the sadness. But it can bring a little perspective. And suddenly instead of only seeing the bad, we can become aware that there is some good – however small – tucked away in little corners all around us. And maybe those good things will be enough to help us through today.

As for tomorrow, well Jesus had a very wise comment about that too (Mt6.34): do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 29th May – 4th June

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday May 26 2022, 9:45 am

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

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

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

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

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

Do as I say, not as I do!

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Friday May 20 2022, 11:31 am

It amazing that it’s so commonplace that we even have a cliché for being an utter hypocrite, and getting away with it. “Do as I say, not as I do” is the classic way of telling people (usually children) that we expect them to obey our teaching and then to turn a blind eye as we blithely ignore those same teachings and principles. It’s even said with wry humour, acknowledging that whilst we know what the right thing to do is, we have no intention (or lack the integrity or ability) to do it ourselves.

It might be the motto of politics – accompanied only by that other great commandment in life, “don’t get caught!”

But what kind of world is this? And what kind of people are we, that we simply accept this kind of double standard as ‘the way things are’?

This Sunday there are two passages set from John’s gospel – John 5.1-9 (Jesus heals the man by the pool), and John 14.23-29. In the first, Jesus heals a man who has been waiting for a miracle for 38 years. The second passage is probably best known for the quote “peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you… Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

But in each passage there’s another detail. In John 5, Jesus asks the man, do you wish to be made well? Instead of saying yes or no, the man replies with what might be called an excuse. Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Fair enough, he needs help! But if we look carefully, he’s actually dodging the question, instead of engaging with it. He deflects Jesus, thinking that there is criticism implied. Maybe there is, maybe not. Whether Jesus’ question was open or critical, his response to the man is devastatingly simple and powerful: “Stand up, take up your mat, and walk!”

In John 14, Jesus is asked, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” He replies, “‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words…” Jesus’ reply is again so simple, so direct. Do as I say, and you will show your love through your actions.

I learned this years ago when I was a teacher, though I think it holds true in every walk of life. Respect is earned, not demanded, nor given by right of hierarchy. And children have a gift for spotting hypocrisy (and bluffing) a mile off! I couldn’t expect them to go and clean the endless toast crumbs and tea spills in their boarding-house kitchen at the end of the evening if I wasn’t willing to help, or if I left a mess in the house-staff study.

We are always full of excuses. And whilst I know better, I still do it sometimes – though my daughter is very good at calling me on it! There’s one she hasn’t spotted yet: I dread the day she does, and tells me she won’t tidy her room until my study is neat.

It’s all very well to say that, but it can’t be done.” And a whole host of reasons and excuses follow. Yesterday I was at a Scout hut, and saw a poem by Edgar Albert Guest, called “It Couldn’t be Done”. It made me smile wryly. How true it is. The alternative is the old story of “Whose Job Is It?” I bet that Jesus would be found with the man in Guest’s poem.

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 22nd – 28th May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday May 19 2022, 9:31 am

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

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

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

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

Line in the sand

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday May 12 2022, 3:16 pm

Some moments in life are unforgettable. Even if, in the moment, they seemed small, insignificant to the others present.

That meeting in the chaplain’s house one evening, when I was still a teacher, was one such evening. The various students had gathered for the usual coffee and biscuits, and I was also present as I was one of the staff who used to help with chaplaincy (unofficially).

The students were asking questions about sexuality and the bible, particularly about same-sex relationships. This must have been some seventeen years ago. Basic assumptions were not the same then, and this was an area of concern for these young people, not least because there was a very vocal Christian member of staff who unequivocally viewed this as sin. They wanted to talk about this, to ask, to make up their own minds. TO ask what the bible really said about this, and other, matters.

In many ways, it was just an ordinary evening.

And then the chaplain, Revd. Munna Mitra, an incredibly wise man, said something I’ll never forget, which has defined and informed my ministry, and my bible reading, ever since.

“Wherever I have drawn a line in the sand, and said ‘thus far and no further will I go!’, I have always encountered Jesus on the other side of that line.”

For the past seventeen years, eleven of them in ordained ministry, these words have echoed in my soul. Every time I find myself facing hard choices, asking hard questions, studying challenging passages in the bible, I remember these words. Jesus with the woman caught in adultery. Jesus with the lepers. Jesus with Levi the tax collector. Jesus with the Samaritan woman. Jesus’ answer to the Pharisee who wanted to know who his neighbour was, wanting to know where that dividing line stood.

And this Sunday’s gospel, when Peter has this vision of all the animals and creatures of the world, and is told to “kill and eat”. Dietary and purity laws were so important in the Jewish faith. Peter is here being told that God has overcome all such laws. Everybody is included. And what follows is an incredible outpouring of God’s Spirit on the non-Jews. The gift and love of Christ is no longer confined to the Jewish people. As St Paul said, “we are all one in Christ Jesus.” Thanks be to God.

“Wherever I have drawn a line in the sand, and said ‘thus far and no further will I go!’, I have always encountered Jesus on the other side of that line.”

Blessings,

Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 15th – 21st May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday May 12 2022, 11:31 am

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

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

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

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

Caring for the flock

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Friday May 6 2022, 6:04 am

Sheep and shepherd are the overriding themes of this week’s readings – Psalm 23, John 10.22-30; Revelation 7.9-17.

God is frequently described as the shepherd of his people. For example, Psalm 95.7: For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. O that today you would listen to his voice! Or again, Psalm 80.1 Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. There are many many more examples!

Most of us probably have some idea of what we “think” shepherding is like – from the perspective of the observer! Talk to any shepherd and they’ll quickly disabuse you of most of those assumptions! Recently I was watching Jeremy Clarkson’s Farm tv series, and his attempts with the sheep were hilarious, in that nothing went to plan, and the sheep always ended up doing almost the opposite of what he wanted. But when the real shepherd (Ellen) arrived, order was restored and things went well. There’s definitely a sermon in that!

Bishops are set as shepherds of the people, and they share that responsibility with those who are called to be priests, who are then set in parishes to be shepherds of God’s flock in that place. The metaphor of sheep and shepherd runs right through Christianity, in practice as well as theory. Bishops, like priests, have a deep care and love for those they are called to look after, which leads me on to the news I must now share with you.

As most of you know, I have been going through a period of immense strain and pressure in my personal life, and have had to take several months off since last August, compounded by pneumonia just before Christmas. I was so happy to be back at work and in ministry for Easter – but the clergy HR and OH depts are most concerned that additional support is needed to ensure I can thrive in ministry, and not go under. Therefore the Bishop, who is (among many other things) “shepherd to the shepherds”, has asked me to take a sabbatical break whilst they assess what support I need, and can put it in place.

This means that I am now moving from pulpit and altar to pews until August. During this time, Bishop Gavin, as our shepherd caring for us all, has asked Revd Chris Ashton, who is the final year curate at Grove and Hanney, to come and help us, to ensure that all our services are covered, and to do those parts of my role which cannot be put on hold and are necessary for the smooth running of the benefice. We will also have Revd. Dick Whittington to help cover the services I would otherwise have taken. This means that Revd. Jim and Lucy and all our churchwardens will hopefully not be put under stress due to my absence, which is very important.

During these months, so that I have something constructive (but fairly stress-free) to do with my time, Bishop Gavin has asked me to write a report on rural ministry. Whilst I am doing this, I will be with you in the pews on Sundays, and you’ll see me around at various things like coffee mornings etc.

I’ll be continuing to write, as it’s something I love doing. So for now I’ll leave you with a reflection on sheep and shepherding from a book I am very much enjoying at present, as it’s looking at Jesus’ teaching through a Jewish lens, and trying to understand how his original Jewish hearers would have understood his words. Sadly, so much of the depth and intensity of his words and stories is lost on us in our modern European 21st century lives.

As this Sunday’s readings are have a lot about sheep, this particular passage resonated for me. Sheep do tend to wander, when not confined, and their escape abilities are legendary. As is their ability to misunderstand the (usually well intentioned) attempts of strangers to get them to move off the road away from cars. Lake District holidays, anyone?

In the south of England and the Cotswolds, we’re used to seeing sheep in enclosed fields. So when we listen to Jesus talking about sheep knowing the shepherd’s voice, and following him, we are missing a large part of the picture that would have been obvious to Jesus’ immediate hearers in a Middle Eastern context.

___

“Shepherding in Israel is a wonderful metaphor for discipleship [which focuses on lifelong learning, growth and transformation]. In many countries, sheep spend their lives in fenced-in pastures where they spend their time grazing and milling about. Many Christians seem to think that the Great Commission is a matter of getting sheep “into the pen”—inviting people to accept Christ, the high point of their spiritual lives. In Israel, however, where grass has difficulty growing in the arid soil, sheep must know their shepherd, following him obediently from pasture to pasture. There, shepherding is a much more active task.

“Judith Fain is a doctoral candidate at the University of Durham. As part of her studies, she spends several months each year in Israel. One day while walking on a road near Bethlehem, Judith watched as three shepherds converged with their separate flocks of sheep. The three men hailed each other and then stopped to talk. While they were conversing, their sheep intermingled, melting into one big flock. Wondering how the three shepherds would ever be able to identify their own sheep, Judith waited until the men were ready to say their goodbyes. She watched, fascinated, as each of the shepherds called out to his sheep. At the sound of their shepherd’s voice, like magic, the sheep separated again into three flocks. Apparently some things in Israel haven’t changed for thousands of years.”

— Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith by Ann Spangler, Lois Tverberg

Blessings,

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Steven Lasry on Unsplash

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 8th – 14th May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday May 5 2022, 9:56 am

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

Do you love me?

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday April 28 2022, 2:18 pm

Simon, son of John, do you love me?

Jesus asks this question three times, echoing Peter’s three denials of Jesus on that terrible night, as he stood in the outer court of the High Priest’s house. Peter’s Galilean accent stood out a mile, and so he was asked, are you one of this man’s followers? In absolute terror, lest he be arrested too, Peter denied it.

It’s easy to be all righteous and say that we would never do that. But I wonder. Faced with that situation, what would I do? Would I boldly shout out that Yes! I am one of Jesus’ followers! Or would I try to hide, and survive til another day, to find out what was going on, and what the best thing to do was. What would I do? What would you do?

And when faced with an extremely challenging situation, and a corresponding escape route, what do we choose?

Jesus is quite clear. “You are my friends if you obey my commands” (Jn 15.14). There’s not a lot of wriggle room in that statement. In responding to his call, in loving and following Jesus, we must also obey him. On the face of it, it’s not that onerous – love one another! But then comes the next bit… “as I have loved you.” That’s far harder, because in Jesus God has loved us unconditionally, regardless of all the usual human barriers of race, language, sexuality, gender, socio-economic status, and all the other categories we try to lump people into.

Simon, son of John, do you love me?

What can Simon say, other than yes, Lord. For that is the truth.

And Jesus brings him back into the fold by asking him to do something – “feed my sheep.”

There is a job and a task for each and every one of us, and the blessing is that God will never ask more of us than we can give, and he will always provide us the resources we need to do the job. After all, when the fishermen came to the shore, Jesus was already there with a fire going, and fish and bread ready to eat (Jn 21.9). They brought more fish, for sure. More than they could eat, enough for the whole community and more! But Jesus has already provided their breakfast, without them even having to ask. For God knows what we have need of, and He will provide.

Jesus meets each of us, and asks, Do you love me? And in recognition of our love for him, he invites us to work with him, in making this world (and our own lives) better. We are not merely passive recipients of grace, but invited by God to work with Him! And when you stop to think about that, it’s actually amazing. A bit like being invited by your favourite celebrity chef or gardener to publicly work with her or him on their programme – but on a cosmic level!

Revd. Talisker

Photo by eberhard  grossgasteiger on Unsplash

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – 1st – 7th May

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday April 28 2022, 10:05 am

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

Seeing & Believing: Perspective is Everything!

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday April 21 2022, 2:22 pm

Sometimes we don’t see what’s under our noses. We’re too busy focussing elsewhere.

Sometimes, we just can’t believe something when somebody tells us, because it makes no sense to us. ‘It’s impossible!’ we say.

And sometimes, we judge the people who don’t see what we see, who can’t understand what’s obvious to us. We forget that we’ve all been in that place too, at one time or another.

Perspective is vital. Arguably, it’s everything. Literally or metaphorically, our perspective totally alters what we are able to see, and to understand.

It’s only when we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, when we imagine ourselves in that situation, that the intensity of the experience comes home to us. It’s only then that the story changes from words on a page, or something we hear, to something we can empathise with, or even experience for ourselves personally.  

This Sunday’s gospel reading continues the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection appearances. He comes to the disciples who are in a locked room – you can just imagine their faces when that happened!! His first words – Peace be with you! – were likely very necessary. He then breathes the Holy Spirit on to them.

But Thomas isn’t there that day. He cannot bring himself to believe that Jesus has risen. Maybe he has seen too much death in his life. Maybe he loved Jesus so much that he cannot bear to believe it, and then endure the disappointment of finding it wasn’t true after all. We don’t know. But we can empathise with how difficult it can be to believe the seemingly physically ‘impossible’. How many times have you heard someone say, ‘that would take a miracle!’, implying that thing is not going to happen.

Jesus didn’t have to come back and see Thomas. He didn’t have to show Thomas that he was really there, physically alive – albeit in a form that could walk through doors and walls!! For the details of how that’s possible, quantum physics has a good explanation – but that’s another story.

But Jesus did come back. He loved Thomas enough to show him, to understand his pain and inability to believe.

I wonder, have you ever had one of those moments? When you couldn’t believe something, and someone came and showed you? Or when you could not believe in God’s deep and limitless love for you – and Jesus came and showed you it was in fact so?

Easter’s a good time for remembering this, and for remembering to be patient with those who struggle to believe the Good News. And for remembering that we have a part to play in sharing that wonderful Good News of God’s love, and that Christ is Risen. Alleluia!

Wishing you a peaceful and blessed Easter season, 
Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 24th – Saturday 30th April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday April 21 2022, 9:18 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.

“Don’t hold on to me.”   Grasping the truth

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday April 14 2022, 2:25 pm

Other than the risen Christ, the centre of our Easter story, Mary Magdalene is the only follower mentioned by name in all four Gospels.  In our reading this Sunday from John chapter 20 she comes, probably with other women, to the tomb where the body of Jesus had been buried, and finds the stone rolled away and no corpse. Naturally, she jumps to the conclusion that Jesus’ body has been taken; perhaps by one or other of the authorities wishing to heap further indignities on Jesus or to prevent the grave becoming a focal point for his followers.

Mary is distraught – she has lost her beloved Teacher to death on the cross and even before she has time to come to terms with that loss, she has lost him again, his body apparently stolen from the tomb. After she has run to tell the disciples, the two who come to see for themselves just abandon her there by the tomb, still seeking answers. 

 It perhaps seems odd that Mary is not more struck or moved by the presence of angels in the tomb – why, after all, would anyone expect to find a couple of strangers sitting in this tomb, let alone angels? But in her shock and distress, Mary is more anxious to have her desperate question answered and her search resolved than to look at details.

I wonder when, faced with inconsolable pain and trauma of another, do we head off back to our comfort zone, rather than remaining alongside, being there, and simply inviting the person to express themself?

I wonder when, as we are desperately looking for help and answers, do we fail to see the signs or accept the support that God puts before us because we are too caught up in the distress of the moment and the search for what we want the answer to be?

In this distressed state Mary does not recognise Jesus when he asks her why she is weeping and for whom she is looking. Then, in one of the most gently touching moments of the gospel, Jesus responds to Mary’s frantic appeal by calling her by name – and she is floored by recognition, relief, love and delight.  But even here in the midst of this new joy, once more she seems to be losing him: just as she reaches out to him, Jesus says, “don’t cling to me … go … tell my brothers, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (v17)

Why did Jesus refuse Mary the comfort of holding him then, and instead charge her with carrying his message to the disciples?  Perhaps she needed to be trusted with this task to help her move on and to give her time to digest what he had said.

I wonder when do we try to cling to a Jesus who fits our expectations and desires, rather than responding to the challenge that Christ gives us?

As we look forward through the confusion and pain of Holy Week and of our own lives towards the astonishing new life and new hope of Easter morning, let’s prepare ourselves to see that empty tomb as a doorway, and to let go of the past and accept again the invitation to step through into a new beginning with Christ.

Lucy G.

Image: extract from Titian: Noli me tangere (National Gallery)

Maundy Thursday and Holy Week

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday April 14 2022, 2:25 pm

This week known as Holy Week is for Christians a key time in the church year, certainly of equal importance with Christmas. Admittedly, for most of the rest of the UK, it’s simply the precursor to a long weekend, accompanied by lots of chocolate and hot cross buns. And indeed due to the busyness of life, those of us who attend church often move seamlessly from Palm Sunday (last Sunday) to Easter, glossing over all the bits in the middle. It’s so very easy to do.

As I reflected on what to write for this week, I found myself thinking about what this Holy Week holds for me. Yesterday I was honoured to take the funeral of a good friend, of whom you could truly say, it was a life well lived; he died aged 90. Today I am with the Bishops and hundreds of other clergy in this diocese, as together we reaffirm our ordination vows in the Cathedral at the annual Chrism Mass, before going to Lyford church for the Eucharist of the Last Supper. And on to Good Friday.

These are the days when we travel with Jesus into Jerusalem. We walk with him through the city. We sit with him at the Last Supper. We pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane, as he prays for the coming anguish to pass him by. We watch as he is betrayed, flogged, endures unspeakable pain, and is finally put to death on a cross.

And then we wait, for hope to be reborn in those dark hours before dawn, the hope which we will finally see with the rising of the sun on Easter Day.

For we are an Easter people. We know that hope is coming. We live in the light of the Resurrection.

The problem is, for so many of us, that light is far off, and we are still stuck somewhere in Gethsemane, or in Good Friday. Whether it is through grief, or some other personal circumstance, we are often in places of doubt, anxiety, even anguish, and terror. And unlike the story of Jesus, we don’t know what will happen next! We do believe that there is hope, that God does indeed hold us safe in his hands, but we also know that whilst God holds us, he does not rescue us from suffering and struggle. Rather he walks through it with us, every agonising step of the way. He is our truest and closest companion, the one who stays no matter what. The one who keeps the tiny flickering flame of hope alive within us.

My favourite service of Holy Week, as many of you know, is the Easter Eve Service of Light, also known as the Easter Vigil. The church is in darkness. We light the Easter flame outside, as night falls, and bring that light of Christ back in to the church in joy and celebration.

It’s a symbol of hope, and symbols are so powerful. Right now, looking around our world, and for many of us in our personal lives, there is so much that is not right. But there are also seeds of good, and the sunrise will come, and the bright light of Easter and Resurrection will banish the dark of our fears and grief.

So let us draw comfort from that hope which we celebrate at Easter, and every Sunday: that Christ is Risen, and that he is victorious over all evil.

And in the meantime, at risk of trivialising, let us draw more worldly comfort from hot cross buns, chocolate, and being together.

Revd. Talisker

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 17th – Saturday 23rd April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday April 14 2022, 9:31 am

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

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

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

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

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 10th – Saturday 16th April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Sunday April 10 2022, 5:51 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.

“I am about to do a new thing…”

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday March 31 2022, 2:31 pm

The passage from Isaiah is fairly well known, often read at Christmas.

18 Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
19 I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.

There is a wonderful promise here. No matter where we find ourselves, there is a future. No matter how bleak our situation, God will bring something positive out of it.

The wilderness is something we rarely encounter in modern life, unless we go searching for it. These Oxfordshire villages may be rural, but they are certainly not wild! But for the people of Isaiah’s day, the wilderness was very real and existed right at the edge of every town or village. The wilderness was a place of desolation, of danger, and potentially of death. A pathless place, where a person could easily get wholly lost.

The promise of making a way in the wilderness, of rivers in the desert, is a promise of safety and security. It is a promise that God will ensure we do not get lost, and that he will look after our needs.

The things and dangers of the past do however prey on our minds, and are hard to forget. Sometimes we are so focussed on the past that we don’t see the shoots of new growth and possibility under our feet, right in front of us. Indeed, we might even tread on those tender new shoots if we are not careful. But we also must remember that His timing is not our timing, and that can be very challenging indeed, especially when we want to get ahead, or find resolution.

May God give us the wisdom and grace to see where He is at work, to recognise the new shoots of His presence. And may He give us the strength to wait for His timing, painful though that may sometimes be.

Photo by Dustin Humes on Unsplash

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 3rd April – Saturday 9th April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 31 2022, 10:31 am

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

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

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

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

Thoughts on the parable of the prodigal son

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Friday March 25 2022, 5:23 pm

The story of the prodigal son has caught the imagination of Christians throughout the ages.  In some ways for me it is very personal, because it was a sermon on precisely this parable which brought me back to God after a period of some years of anger and rejection towards the God that I had been taught about. The God that I encountered in this parable is the same loving God who sustains me now in all the times of joy and in the times of struggle and stress. This God could not be more different to the God of judgement, wrath, and punishment that I have been taught about in my youth.

Interestingly, it could be that this parable would be better described as the story of the prodigal father. After all, for a youngster to take resources and unthinkingly fritter them away is not so very unusual. To have little understanding of the value of money and of the impact of one’s actions and the consequences of them is very typical when we are young. We all have our own stories of that! It’s how we learn not to do it again!

What is remarkable here is the behaviour of the father. The father gives his son what he asks for, regardless of the incredible insult and rudeness inherent in the request. After all, for the son to demand his inheritance whilst the father is still alive is the equivalent of saying, I wish you were dead.

There is another remarkable thing – in the Middle Eastern society of Jesus‘s time, for a grown man to run would be most unusual because, quite frankly, it would be beneath his dignity to do so. Imagine if you will, a man of middle age and of good standing in the community – after all he is a very wealthy man according to the story – literally picking up his robes to around his knees as he runs down the road towards his son, who disgraced him in front of the whole community, as he comes home again. 

There is something even more remarkable and it is so easily overlooked. The father saw his son from far off. That means that the father was looking for his son. He was waiting for him. It’s as if that father was standing at the gate, looking down the road which his son had walked off along when he had taken his inheritance and gone off to enjoy his life. And every day the father came back and stood at that gate and watched for his son, hoping that one day he would come home. 

Can you imagine how the father must’ve felt when he suddenly saw in the distance a familiar figure? Even though the young man was in rags, filthy, and probably stumbling and lame, he recognised his son. Without thought, without pause, he ran to meet this son who had been in every way rude and offensive to him. 

The story that Jesus tells here is really about the love of God. How the love of God the father for us is unconditional, limitless, and always ready to forgive and to embrace. In fact, forgive and forgiveness have already taken place and all we have to do is to turn and receive it. The eternal arms of love are already held out to us to embrace us, and all we have to do is to turn into that embrace. You’ve often heard me say in church that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’ve come from, what you’ve done, or where you’ve been, God loves you.

The world becomes ever more uncertain and for many of us there is trauma and struggle in our own personal lives. The certainty and knowledge of a God who loves us and is always there with and for us is surely the most precious thing that any of us can cling to when all else seems to be adrift.

Photo by Ümit Bulut on Unsplash

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 27th March – Saturday 2nd April

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 24 2022, 9:39 am

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 17 2022, 8:49 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.

Times of Trials

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday March 10 2022, 2:28 pm

Back in summer 2019, there was a bit of controversy in the headlines about proposals to change the Lord’s Prayer. It was about the line “lead us not into temptation…”. Pope Francis was arguing that God does not lead us into temptation, and so the better phrasing would be, “let us not fall into temptation.” The word “temptation” is also rendered “time of trial”.

Why does this matter, I hear you ask! Well, lots of reasons. Not least that for those people who are in dark places, suffering all kinds of evils and trials, to be told that God put them there would be terrible. It suggests that God causes suffering of the innocent. And I would argue that nothing could be further from the truth.

God does not cause suffering. We cause it, whether through our thoughtless action or inaction, or deliberately and with the intent of wounding others. And the reality is that we must all live with the consequences of our actions, and often the consequences of the actions of others too!

Sometimes we can feel very alone, and as if there is no one to turn to. When we are unjustly accused, when there are false allegations against us, when others are trying to hurt or humiliate us, it can even feel like God himself is absent. This is often called the ‘dark night of the soul’, a phrase coined by St John of the Cross in the 16th century.

As I write, the terrible evil of war rages still in Ukraine, and in many other places across the world, though those are not in the main headlines. Moving away from the global, individuals suffer terribly through injustice and the lies and brutality of others. It can feel like we are living in the pain and agony of Good Friday, with Jesus as he is rejected, scourged, crucified.

But as Christians, we are an Easter people. Good Friday is not the end. Resurrection comes with the dawn of ‘the third day’, and with it comes new life and new hope.

I’m reminded of the children’s story, ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt.’ You may know the refrain: “can’t go under it, can’t go over it, go to go through it!” But how often we wish we could skip the bad and scary parts!

The words of Psalm 27, the psalm set for this Sunday, give hope to those in dark places.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold[
a] of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
    to devour my flesh—
my adversaries and foes—
    they shall stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
    yet I will be confident.

One thing I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
    and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
    in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
    he will set me high on a rock.

It finishes with words of hope and trust:

13 I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

For those of you who are in that place of struggle, in pain, hurting, or feeling alone – I offer you these words of comfort. For you are not alone; God is with you. And though it can feel endless, and be agonising, Good Friday does come to an end. Evil does have a limit and an ending.

And after that, when the trial is over, when humans have done their worst, God in Christ Jesus, who is Love Incarnate, is always victorious.

Photo by Rainier Ridao on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 10 2022, 10:51 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.

Ashes to Ashes

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Tuesday March 8 2022, 10:00 am

In August 1883, there was an explosion which could be heard for hundreds of miles, and the shockwaves of which travelled all around the globe – multiple times. The volcanic island of Krakatoa, dormant for the previous two centuries, had erupted. The island was blown apart. Much of the island simply ceased to exist. The remaining pieces of the island were covered in ash, feet deep.

Within a year, the first grass shoots could be seen growing. It is now part of Ujung Kulon National Park.

I remember first learning about this huge volcano on one of David Attenborough’s many documentaries. It has stuck in my imagination. The vast explosive power of the earth, its utter destructiveness which had reverberations and impacts hundreds, even thousands of miles away; and yet Nature’s power to replenish, to renew, to bring life in a place of death and destruction.

The news each day at present is grim. People in Ukraine are suffering the terrible reality of war. There are almost no words adequate to describe what is happening. It is at moments like this that a word such as “sin” comes into its own.

“Sin” carries a huge weight. It describes the evil that comes when faith, trust, and relationship are broken, in any context. We don’t like to use this word much nowadays, preferring to talk of mistakes, and of forgiveness. But there are some contexts, some actions, where “sin” is exactly the right word, to be used where all others fall short.

In the place of pain and sin and brokenness, the presence of God is known. It is known in the acts of kindness, of compassion, of mercy.

After sin, forgiveness can exist. Reconciliation is possible. But it requires both sides to come to the negotiating table. It requires recognition of sin and of culpability. There is no space for excuses. Only for remorse.

And in that place of recognition and remorse, the love of God is made visible.

God knows what will happen next in Ukraine, but I am sure that God is there weeping with those who weep, bringing comfort through His presence. God has already come among us. But the reason that free will is such a double-edged thing, both wonderful and terrible, is that for God to act further, we must act first and invite him in. He will never invade, uninvited. He will never do to us what Russia has done to Ukraine. He simply stands, waits, invites, offers, loves.

I am reminded of the words of the funeral service, at the point of committal, as the body of our loved one is lowered into the ground. That moment when we say our final goodbye, and it seems such a terrible and final ending. And yet, by the grace of God, it is but a new beginning.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday March 3 2022, 9:58 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 February – Saturday 5th March

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday February 24 2022, 11:19 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.

In the beginning – but which version?

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday February 17 2022, 5:06 pm

In the beginning – but which version?

If I asked you about the account of the creation of the world according to the bible, I’m sure that most of you would say something about seven days, God saying “let there be…” and it was so, that there was a garden in Eden, that Adam named the creatures, and that Eve came out of Adam’s rib.

Well, in a sense, yes. All those elements are present in chapters one and two of Genesis. But they are NOT actually the same story. Or rather, they are the same story told two different ways by two different authors with two differing perspectives and priorities.

I’d like to invite you to re-read both chapters, and really look at this. There are so many reasons why I think this is important – but perhaps the most crucial is the acknowledgment that each storyteller has a perspective, a lens, through which they experience life and will relate those experiences. You and I may see the same thing, and we may tell differing stories of our experiences of that thing.

But that difference of perspective does not take away the fact that there is still Truth. There is a bigger perspective, a bigger picture. However the only Being who ever can be truly said to see that is, arguably, God.

You see, in Genesis 1, human beings are made together. Eve is not created out of Adam. And they are made on the sixth day, along with all the other creatures of the earth, animals and insects. Fish and all sea creatures are Day 5. Light is Day 1. But Sun and Moon and Stars don’t arrive until Day 4.

And then in Genesis 2, nearly all those details disappear. God does the whole job in a day! And Adam was created of dust before any plants or any other creatures. And then plants were created, and Adam was set in a garden. And the creatures were all created to be companions and helpers for Adam – but none of them were able to be his true and equal partner, hence Eve was created out of Adam.

Which is true? Neither, if you are to ask the question literally, and if you have regard for the wonders of knowledge which science has gifted us.

But our reading of our beginnings as creatures, and of the very universe itself, will have a huge impact on how we view ourselves, one another, other creatures, and the world around us.

I’ll come clean here and admit my favourite is Genesis 1. And not because of the equality and simultaneity of creation of men and women. But rather because after each part of creation, God looks and says, “it is good”. And at the end of it all, God also creates rest.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday February 17 2022, 10:02 am

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

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

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

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

A tricky passage in 1 Timothy

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday February 10 2022, 4:00 pm

Those of us who follow the official readings for Morning Prayer have the advantage of encountering passages that are not part of the Sunday cycle.  But there are verses that seem to cause difficulty, and this last Tuesday’s was one because of what it says about the behaviour of women in church.  

Three ways to make sense of such material are
1. To consider the wider context of Scripture as a whole
2. To read the surrounding verses carefully
3. To access the best possible translations

So bear in mind that St Paul’s friend and close ally Luke wrote even more of the New Testament than he did and is famous for his positive view of women – as notably in Jesus’ treatment of them. Indeed we should find this a good year to register the point because Luke is ‘flavour of month’ for all this year’s Sunday readings. Then notice the disturbing paragraph (1 Timothy 2: 8) starts  ‘ I desire that…men should pray lifting up holy hands without anger or argument’ and only in verse 11 talks about women keeping ‘silent’ – a word which in the original and in the best new English translations is in any case better rendered ‘quiet’.

And all this is specific to a particular situation in Ephesus in the early church. So we need to beware how we apply its lessons to our modern situation in the UK.

One thing is clear. Men and women should still regard our churches as places of peace and not of conflict. What an irony therefore that gender issues should sometimes be the cause of controversy today.

And maybe it’s wise not to include such potentially controversial material in our Sunday readings!
Revd. Jim

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday February 10 2022, 9:47 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 6th – Saturday 12th February

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday February 3 2022, 10:35 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.

Seeing through a different lens

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday January 27 2022, 2:55 pm

Epiphany season (approximately the month of January) seems to be a time when one might be forgiven for getting thoroughly confused in the narrative of Jesus life. In the gospel readings each Sunday, we jump back and forth: from baby to adult, to youth, and back to baby again. It might be compared to a movie, flicking along a character’s timeline. For those unused to such a device, or unfamiliar with the story, it can be incredibly difficult to follow!

The season of Epiphany is about revelation – about things being revealed and seen for what they are. Hence we find ourselves with the wise men arriving to visit the baby Jesus, revealing his divine and kingly nature to those observing. We find Jesus being baptised in the river Jordan by John, when he is revealed as the son of God as the holy spirit descends upon him. We have the story of Jesus as a youth in the temple, when his parents come up for a particular festival, and Jesus is left behind when the family group depart for Nazareth. His terrified parents go searching for him, and they find him in the temple with the religious teachers and leaders, engaged in learned debate. And of course we have the gospel passage from last week when Jesus performed his first public miracle, turning water into wine at the wedding at Cana.

This week we take a huge step backwards some 30 years, and find ourselves with Mary and Joseph presenting their 40 day old baby in the temple, according to the law of Moses, making a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God for their firstborn son.

As happens so often around Jesus, things do not proceed simply, anonymously, or according to plan. Mary and Joseph are accosted by Simeon and by the prophet Anna. Simeon is an old man, who faithfully believed in God’s word, and has been waiting for many years to see God’s Messiah. God has promised him that he will not die until this has happened. This gives rise to Simeon’s most famous words, often used funerals and at evening prayer each day: “now Lord, lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.” And the prophet Anna speaks of God’s redemption through this child.

It must be almost impossible to imagine what Mary and Joseph must have thought and felt on this occasion. For this was no private gathering. The temple would have been absolutely full of people – all kinds of people, from all kinds of places – all going about their religious business. They would no doubt have drawn a crowd. And although Mary and Joseph might, perhaps, have been not wholly overwhelmed, having had the shepherds visit them most unexpectedly immediately after Jesus’s birth, this would surely not have been without and unease and embarrassment in front of so many people. Even knowing that your child is special and sent by God would surely not make such public moments any easier!

All of these stories that come together in Epiphany are showing us different aspects of the nature, person, and work of Jesus Christ. All of them set the stage for what will later follow in his public ministry, in his death, and in his resurrection. Very shortly we will leap forward into Lent, and the 40 days of testing and meditation which Jesus faced in the wilderness, the period of time to prepare him for the public ministry which would follow. Strict chronology would place it between Jesus’ baptism by John and the miracle at Cana, but that is not how the Church’s year structures it.

Sometimes the best way to look at a narrative is not a linear structure, but rather one that is cyclical and spiral. The Church’s year, which may at first glance seem slightly incomprehensible and illogical, is actually all about thematic groupings to help us to a greater and more intimate understanding of the nature of Jesus, and of God as revealed through him. Sometimes to be able to look at things thematically grouped by type rather than simply by chronological order, allows an insight and depth to reflection which is sadly missing if one is insistent upon purely logical and linear progress. The very process of reflection and of seeing repeated patterns allows us to learn from the past in the present moment and to walk forward with greater wisdom and confidence into the future.

It has often been said that the one who does not know history is condemned to repeat its mistakes. Surely this is true on a personal level as much as on a national or global level. In this Epiphany season, what perhaps is coming to light now? What patterns may we be seeing, beginning to emerge in the light? And what perhaps could we take as wisdom to light our path as we travel forward together into this New Year?

With peace and blessings,

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Marten Newhall on Unsplash

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 30th January – Saturday 5th February

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday January 27 2022, 12:50 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.

This is the day the Lord has made

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday January 20 2022, 2:18 pm

The readings from today remind me very much of the words from Psalm 118 that Elizabeth I was said to have uttered as she sank to her knees under a great oak tree at Hatfield Palace, having just received the news that her half-sister, Mary I, was dead and that she was now Queen of England.

“This is the Lord’s doing: it is marvellous in our eyes”.

The twenty-five year old daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, rose above her illegitimacy and the taint of being an alleged traitor’s daughter to be a great queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Gloriana. Arguably one of the greatest monarchs that Great Britain has known, and certainly one of the most famous.

This morning, I was talking to the children at Buckland school about patience, and waiting for the right time – that moment when all the preparing and waiting and hard work come to fruition, and the thing we have been working, watching, and waiting for comes into being. Simply, naturally, as if it was always meant to be. And yet how many months, sometimes years, of planning and preparation have gone into that wonderful happening that we have longed for?

The Psalm continues, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Whether that day is the Sabbath – the day of rest – or the day when freedom comes to the prisoner who has been held in long captivity; the day when healing comes to the one who has suffered chronic pain for so long; the day when all our hopes and dreams come true; the day when we stand tall and proud and joyful in success. All these days are the gift of God, who has worked with us in making this thing happen.

Waiting is not something that comes easily to us, especially in the age of technology, instant online gratification, and next-day delivery. But whether we experience that waiting or not, it must happen. Creation of anything takes time. Creation of beauty and wonder can take a lot of time.

In Luke’s gospel for this Sunday, Jesus reads the prophet Isaiah, speaking of the coming Messiah. He then tells them, this has come true in their presence this day. This Messiah wasn’t what they expected. This Messiah wasn’t packaged how they wanted him. And so they did not recognise him, despite having as a nation longed and prayed and waited for God’s promise for centuries.

Whatever it is that you have been longing for, know that it is growing and unfolding unseen in the metaphorical ground of your life. It may not flower or fruit exactly as you thought. But be in no doubt that it will be exactly what you most needed. And may you rejoice and be glad in it, may you take joy and rest in that experience, knowing that ‘this is the Lord’s doing’ and that the timing of it is ‘the day that the Lord has made.’

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 23rd – Saturday 29 January

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday January 20 2022, 10:59 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.

New wine?

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday January 13 2022, 2:40 pm

As we continue through the season of Epiphany, this Sunday we revisit the account in John’s Gospel of the miracle at the wedding in Cana. (John 2:1-11)   It only occupies eleven verses but reflection and discussion on the significance and resonance of every word and action within this story take up pages in the commentaries on John’s Gospel – far too much to explore here!

At the heart of the episode is the transformation by Jesus of water into wine, which John defines as the first of the miraculous signs by which Jesus is revealed in his glory and as a result his disciples put their faith in Jesus. As we look forward, therefore, to seeking out these signs and rediscovering again, over the coming months, with the disciples the meaning of putting our faith in Christ, it may be helpful to remember that this episode follows directly on from the baptism of Christ and the calling of the first disciples, as well as pointing us forward to the living wine of the Eucharist.  

When the wedding servants take water drawn from the stone purification jars to the master of ceremonies, Jesus has transformed it into something urgently needed for the wedding guests and something uniquely special.  

This water which Jesus uses at Cana to become wine – the best wine of the wedding – was placed in the jars used by Jews for ceremonial washing.  This was washing prescribed in Jewish law, an outer purification conducted as recurring tradition.  We can contrast this ritual purification with the deep inner cleansing of the heart and soul in baptism through which we are transformed from mundane into becoming lives adopted by God, called by name as disciples to be a part of the new thing that Christ is doing in the world.

I think it is lovely that this first sign takes place at a party, a community celebration marking a new beginning, and that the wine which is gifted is richer than all that has gone before.  Water, wine and grapes are recurring imagery of Christ, of which this episode is a foretaste, but I think that this miracle also highlights that when we are transformed by Christ into something richer than we were before, he takes our ordinary selves and makes us into people who are called to be full of joy in him.  I wonder, if we were wine at that party in Cana, would the master of ceremonies recognise us as something special?  Can people see that ‘wine’ in us today?

Lucy G

Image under Creative Commons from pxhere.com

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 16th – Saturday 22nd January

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday January 13 2022, 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.

Baptism – Are you “In” or “Out”?

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday January 6 2022, 2:46 pm

Human civilisations and cultures are full of rituals, of ways of establishing whether a person is “in” or “out” of the group. It has gone on since the dawn of time, in one form or another. Whether it’s the clothes you wear, the way you speak, how you hold your knife and fork… Or more physical rituals, such as participating in indigenous tribal ritual experiences.

Faith groups are, in some ways, little different. For the Hebrews (and still the Jews) it is circumcision. For Christians, it is usually baptism.

But nothing is ever quite so simple as mere words might suggest. In the early centuries of the church, some Christians put off baptism until the point of death, so that they were completely cleansed of sin and redeemed, and thus avoided any possibility of punishment for sins committed after baptism! Others, especially after St Augustine, baptised infants as quickly as possible after birth to ensure that they were “in” and accepted by God.

But both of the examples above are driven, at their root, by fear. Not by love. Not by wanting to accept a loving invitation to be in God’s huge family, but by terror of being left out, and the punishment that might entail.

I find this very interesting, because it’s here that the vast gap between our words about God and our true inner feelings about God can be revealed.

What is it that we truly, foundationally, believe about the nature of God?

Are some in, and some out, depending on whether they were baptised or not? Or whether they’ve said the right prayer or not? Or whether they’re Catholic, or Protestant, or pre-destined and chosen, or belonging to the “right” religious group?

For me, this has always been the fundamental question of faith. It was precisely this question of “in” or “out” which led me to reject the God that as a teenager I was introduced to. Any god who could condemn humans to eternal punishment and exclusion based on a human decision made with finite knowledge and dependent on cultural and personal circumstances was not a god I wanted anything to do with. If that’s Jesus, and God, then no thank you!!

Over the years, despite my angry rejection of Him, God did not reject me. He came searching for me. He kept on inviting. He kept on creating opportunities to see something different. And through other people, and through my own experiences, I came to understand that my instinct of rejection had been absolutely right. When in my mid-twenties, I accepted His invitation, I did so out of love, not of fear of eternal consequences.

We will all see things differently. We all have different personalities, often different cultural perspectives. What is right for me may be utterly wrong for you – and that’s okay.

One caveat – that’s not to say that some actions are utterly and completely wrong and sinful and unacceptable. Sin is a very important word, and we need to use it in the right way. Actions which deliberately and knowingly hurt others, especially the weak and vulnerable, are wrong, and the Bible is utterly clear that God does not condone or accept such actions. But God’s love is so great that even whilst He rejects and is grieved by the action, He will never reject the person. Redemption and forgiveness are always possible with God, even when it feels impossible for humans. And in all honesty, some sins are so awful, some crimes so terrible, that only God can sort them out.

But to return to my point about difference in belief and perspective. For me, the most important reason why “in” and “out” is not the key question in belief and faith is that God loves us all, exactly as we are. Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jew, Baha’i, Buddhist. Our paths may be different, and we will all make different choices. The person who decides whether we are “in” or “out” when it comes to the divine party is not God. It’s each one of us. You. Me.

It may be somewhat uncomfortable to come in if the people there are all the ones we’ve spent our human lives rejecting and excluding. Or if we’re the person who did unspeakable things in life, because the Bible also tells us that in God’s presence, there are no secrets. Think of it as spiritual and emotional nakedness. Whatever our true nature, and our actions, everyone knows it! I can’t imagine that will be anything other than very, very embarrassing and difficult!

But my guess is that, in the end, when we hear the music and see how great the party is, we’ll want to come in. And there won’t be anyone on the door asking whether we have our invite, or checking our credentials. Simply wanting to be there, and being brave enough to come in, will be enough.

And for that, thanks be to God.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 9th – Saturday 15th January

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday January 6 2022, 11:46 am

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

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

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

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

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 2nd – Saturday 8th January

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 30 2021, 10:28 am

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

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

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

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

“O Come all ye faithful… Come and behold him”

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday December 23 2021, 2:42 pm

“O Come all ye faithful…”  The call to come and acknowledge and worship God echoes through the centuries, the millennia. God has come to be with us, and invites us into intimate relationship with Him, even as His Spirit comes to dwell within our hearts.

Christmas is a time for gathering, for celebration, for gifts, and for saying thank you. This year, like last year, feels a little strange for most of us. We are permitted to gather, but there is a cloud over us, a deep concern over spreading this virus. If I get it, I may be okay, but what about my neighbour? What about old Mr and Mrs Jones? Will they be okay?

This year, I find myself reflecting in a very personal way on how Christmas must feel for those who are unable to gather and celebrate as they might wish. As you know, I’ve had pneumonia, and so I’m effectively shielding for the next couple of weeks whilst I recover. This means I’m not taking any Christmas services – and it has meant for me that there is an aching absence at the heart of Christmas. I freely admit that in years past I have often muttered somewhat grumpily about the number of Christmas services across the benefice – but this year I realise how much I love it, because I miss it so much.

I say this only because this realisation and reflection has helped me to think about Christmas in a fresh way. I’ve become so used to one thing, that the absence of it is a shock.

But in that absence there is a new presence. A quieter, but no less powerful, sense that God is here. Jesus was indeed born in the chaos and mess and noise of a busy and very full home, where there wasn’t a spare inch of space – hence he was laid in the animal feeding trough to keep him safe.

Yet God is also in the quiet corners, the lonely places, and the tiny voice in the silence of a quiet frosty night. The moon shines bright, the only sound is the ice crackling gently on the leaves and grass as it settles. It’s not the warm glow of candles in the church, nor the singing of carols, nor the mulled wine and noisy gathering of friends. But up in the sky, a star shines bright, and it calls us as surely as it did the shepherds and the wise men.

Come let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a blessed new year.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by KaLisa Veer on Unsplash

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 26th December – Saturday 1st January

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 23 2021, 9:57 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 19th – Saturday 25th December

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 16 2021, 9:29 am

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

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

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

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

“On Jordan’s bank, the Baptist’s cry announces that the Lord is nigh…”

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday December 9 2021, 2:36 pm

So begins the hymn that really does belong to the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday.

Where do I begin? There are so many strands that I am struggling to weave them – so I offer them to you as they are, to do with as the Spirit moves you!

It’s Gaudete Sunday because Advent is a season of preparation and penitence (like Lent) and the Church tradition is that the third Sunday of these seasons is a day off from the fasting, and we get to rejoice and eat some good food!

How apt therefore that this Sunday, we are blessed to have Bishop Gavin coming to lead our benefice service at Buckland  – it’s great to welcome him here for the first time.

But to return to John the Baptist. He wasn’t exactly the most subtle or soft-spoken of people. But then prophets rarely are! Perhaps if I wanted to summarise his words from today’s gospel reading, it might be, “Don’t be complacent!” It’s so easy to become very complacent, and very comfortable, and think that everything’s okay because we are okay.

But oh how quickly things can change! There is no room for complacency for any of us. Surely Covid has taught us that in this past couple of years! But there is also the call to ensure that our actions and our words match, and that our religion is of the heart, and not only the outward appearance.

This Sunday, Mike Sheil begins his Rough Sleep, one night in each churchyard in the benefice, sleeping out under a tarpaulin. He’s doing it to support YoCO and Aspire, two Oxford charities helping homeless and vulnerable young people. And again this year, we are appealing for Toys and Toiletries as gifts for all the guests at the Oxford Christmas Lunch.

John the Baptist calls us to rise from any complacency, to take action, to examine our own lives and hearts, to ensure that we are attentive to the presence of Christ within our hearts, calling us to make sure he isn’t squished in a tiny corner, but given space in the very centre. I’m sure we will find some dusty cobwebs and dirty corners that are rather embarrassing. We all have them. And we can all do with a little clean-up.

But there is also much to celebrate this Gaudete Sunday. So, rejoice with me, that God so loved the world that he sent his Son – a light shining in the darkness – to dwell in our hearts through faith, and to be with us always.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by KaLisa Veer on Unsplash

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 12th – Saturday 18th December

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 9 2021, 9:32 am

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

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

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Speaking the Truth?

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday December 2 2021, 2:47 pm

Snow in November? What is the world coming to?!! Strange things do indeed happen all the time. Often those strange things become legends and myths, stories that we pass on, tell and re-tell, until the actual facts of the event are lost in the mists of time. What remains is the heart of the event, the ‘truth’ of it, the impact of it.

At present, I’m reading a book by Simon Loveday called ‘The Bible for Grown-Ups’. His basic premise and question is, how do we move from the simple unquestioning narrative and faith of a child to the intelligent and well-considered faith of an adult. As St Paul says, ‘when I was a child, I thought as a child, I spoke as a child…. Now that I am a man, I have put away childish things.’

(By the way, this book is utterly brilliant – it makes the bible scholarship accessible and understandable without needing a theology degree!)

When we are children, we believe in Santa. My daughter is now three and a half, and she is so excited about Christmas and Santa and the Nativity play. It’s wonderful to see. But when she’s thirteen, I would be frankly worried if she still believed in Santa Claus, and I would definitely hope she would have a deeper understanding of the true meaning of the Christmas story, beyond angels and shepherds and a special baby.

The four gospels all treat the Christmas narratives (ie the birth of Jesus) differently. In fact they don’t agree, they all have different details, and one doesn’t mention it at all! Does that mean it’s not true? No. Does that mean it probably didn’t happen quite as the stories suggest? Almost certainly.

In the end, truth is bigger than mere facts. Truth is the heart of the event – in this case, that God so loved the world that He became one of us, as Jesus, to show us God-in-action and God-in-humanity.

Truth is, I think, often subjective. Your experience of an event and mine may be wildly different – but does that always mean one of us is lying? Not necessarily. We simply tell our experience. And from among those differing experiences, those differing perspectives, Truth emerges – radiant, multifaceted, beautiful, shimmering. And completely beyond the confines of mere fact.

And for this, Thanks be to God.

Revd. Talisker

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 5th – Saturday 11th December

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday December 2 2021, 10:08 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.

Timing is everything

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday November 25 2021, 5:18 pm

There’s a scene in the film, A Good Life, where an eccentric uncle teaches his young nephew the secret of life. He says, it’s the same as comedy: ‘timing’.

Like so many things in life, that line I’ve just quoted (probably misquoted!) has to be delivered exactly, to be heard and witnessed, not simply read in words on a page or screen. It has to be experienced to be in any way meaningful or funny.

So often the psalmist in the bible cries, ‘how long, O Lord, how long?’ We echo that cry down the centuries; millennia in fact. It has been the cry of humanity, and of the earth, probably since consciousness began.

When, Lord? When will you do this? When will you act? When will the righteous person be vindicated? When will the unjust get their comeuppance? When will evil be stopped? When? When? When????

And there are simply no answers that fit comfortably within human timeframes. ‘The time is coming’, says the Lord. ‘Soon’, says Aslan in the Narnia books. A lot of the time, in all honesty, that sounds like mum telling the toddler, ‘maybe’ or ‘later’. In other words, probably either ‘never’, ‘when I get round to it’, or ‘hopefully you’ll get distracted by something else and forget’.

Whilst God is as a mother to us, ‘soon’ to God means ‘yes, in the right moment’. For if there is one thing we must hold to, it is that God never never goes back on his promise. Even if his sense of timing isn’t what we want or expect. Come to think of it, quite often his answers to our prayers are not what we expect or think we want, but that’s another story.

Human time is meaningless to God – he dwells outside of time, as much as he is able to be within it. Quantum physics teaches us that all time is in fact ‘now’, the present moment. Everything else is an illusion, and all collapses into the pure ‘now’.

Where does that leave us?

This Sunday is Advent Sunday. The start of a new year in the Church calendar. The start of the time of preparation and waiting. God asks us to make room for him once again in our hearts, coming to us as one of us in Jesus. Just as expectant parents need to make room in the house for the baby, so we need to do a bit of spiritual internal space-creation.

But not too much. God doesn’t ask for everything to be perfect. Quite often, new-born babies would be put in a drawer, pulled out from a chest, as a makeshift crib. It’s effective, it’s safe, and it’s a very good way of putting the baby right there in the middle of the family, so all can be present and keep an eye on it. In the same way, when Jesus was born, he was put in the feeding trough for the animals – not in the stable out of sight or hearing, but in the centre of the house where the whole family, humans and animals, all shared the one room, the one roof.

God doesn’t mind the mess. He doesn’t mind being given a small space. But he does ask for just a tiny bit.

And when will he arrive? Now.

And when will your life change? Now.

And when will you become aware of those changes? Of the difference that God makes? That he does in fact keep his promises? Soon. At precisely the right moment. When that right moment is Now.

Revd. Talisker

image: bernie_photo

Bible Readings for Morning Prayer – Sunday 28th November – Saturday 4th December

Prayers & Readings 

Published on: Thursday November 25 2021, 9:42 am

Please find the daily readings for morning prayer here and you can also view it on screen or print out the PDF document.

You can also access the Church Of England’s Daily Prayer services.

If you wish, you can also download the Church of England “Daily Prayer” smartphone & tablet app from Apple Store or Google Play, which gives you the whole service including all the readings for every day.

If you or anyone you know would prefer a copy of Morning Prayer printed out, please let us know and we will post this to you. We will be sharing more resources online over the coming days and weeks, so please continue to check our benefice website and our Facebook page.

Christ the King

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday November 18 2021, 2:31 pm

Did you know that the festival of Christ the King was established within the Church calendar as recently as 1925, by Pope Pius XI? His purpose was a refocusing of Christian direction and priorities in the face of the devastation of war past and threatened, growing secularism and the rise of extremes of political authority. We might say today plus ca change …. Pope Pius XI wanted to remind the Church and the world that there could be no hope of lasting peace in a world that rejected Christ:

“We live in the peace of Christ when we surrender our lives to him every day, accept him as our God, Saviour and King and allow him to rule our lives.” (Vatican Encyclical Quas Primas 11121925)

In the Anglican Communion the festival of Christ the King is celebrated this Sunday, the culmination of the Church year, a reminder that Jesus is the ultimate Lord of Earth and heaven, and that all creation, prophecy, law, judgment and life are brought to fulfilment in him. The Church of England liturgical guide to the seasons of the Christian year Common Worship: Times and Seasons (p53