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- Geoff’s Health 15 November 2020
Those of you who attended our service in St Helena’s or who joined us online on 15th November will have observed that while he was presiding at the service Geoff Graham became unwell.
What you will not have been able to see is that, after moving to sit in the porch, he was attended by paramedics. By this time he was already feeling much better and was able to stay at church for refreshments after the service and then go out to lunch before going home.
Geoff is going to take some sick leave for a while to recover his strength and we look forward to seeing him back behind the lectern and altar before long.
- Summer worship… with masks! 15 August 2020
Not only do we have to be spaced apart by 2m during the service, but everyone has to wear masks!
- Midweek Reflection, June 3rd 2020 3 June 2020
The Gospel reading set for today is from Mark Chapter 12, verses 18-27 and the story itself is the question posed by the Sadducees regarding marriage at the resurrection. Essentially, they were trying to catch Jesus out, so that they could accuse him of some kind of offence. The story relates to a husband who died with no children, leaving the widow to marry his brother. In fact, there were seven brothers and none had children with the widow before they all died. Then the widow died. The Sadducees asked what would happen at the resurrection when the widow would have seven husbands at the same time.
Jesus accused them of not knowing the Scriptures and not understanding the real nature of the power of God. He told them that, at the resurrection, there would be no marriages. He also told them that, at that future time, they would have to understand that He was not the God of the dead, as there would be no more dead people, that He would in fact be the God of all the living.
This is an interesting concept. I wonder about the mindset of those resurrected people. If they had had long and happy marriages that were only separated by death, would there not be an expectation that they would be married again in their new lives? Would their blissful new lives not be quite as blissful as they might have expected? It’s a bit of a conundrum, which is why the Sadducees thought that it would be a good, trick question that would show Jesus up and catch him out. But they hadn’t done their homework very well because Jesus was easily able to catch the Sadducees out for not understanding the Scriptures, not what God could actually do.
I think that we today may also have an occasional doubt and, even after much scholarly study of the Scriptures over the last 2,000 years, I wonder if we fully understand the power of God, or is it just too huge a concept for us to grasp much more than a very small understanding of His nature – if at all. I think that to develop our understanding, we need to read the Bible regularly and pray for God’s guidance in developing that understanding. As a result, we may feel that we are drawn closer in our relationship with God.
- Resuming Worship at St Helena’s 23 May 2020
Well, we have government permission to begin worshipping together in St Helena’s again from 23rd May. So on Sunday, 24th May, we are able to gather in St Helena’s for a Service of Holy Communion at our usual time of 9.30am.
Anne and I have been into church and spaced the chairs so that we can observe some physical distance (see picture below), and we will all use hand gel as we enter and leave the the church. If, at the moment, you usually wear a face mask and gloves when you are out or in spaces with other people, you are welcome to wear them in church.I am so delighted that we are able to share an Easter greeting together in the real world, though I have enjoyed worshipping with you virtually for the past nine Sundays.Alleluia! Christ is risen.He is risen indeed. Alleluia!Worship will then continue as usual in church Sunday by Sunday and we look forward to seeing you whenever you are able to join us.
- Ascension Day Thoughts 20 May 2020
I have never understood the mind of serial killers. I suppose that’s because whatever they had done went completely against my personal beliefs. They are often described as inhuman, almost as monsters. But what does it mean to be ‘human’? I think that we can sometimes be quick to define humanity to exclude people whose lives and crimes threaten us. We label some as ‘inhuman’ so that we don’t have to think of them as being like us, or face the idea that in other circumstances we could be like them! Some of our most serious ethical debates tackle the question of humanity.
This week we have the feast of the Ascension, a day when we celebrate humanity. The story of the Ascension relates what happened to Jesus after his resurrection. Jesus rose from the dead as a fully human person, recognisable as the same Jesus as he was before his crucifixion. But clearly, after his resurrection, Jesus didn’t hang around on earth as his work here was done. There quickly came a time when God’s presence, in the form of the Holy Spirit would carry on God’s work both within and around humanity.
The doctrine of the Ascension is very important to Christians to understand what it means to be human. The picture of Jesus ascending into the clouds tells us that Jesus, the man, had returned to God. Humanity had become part of God forever. After the resurrection and Ascension, Jesus didn’t stop being human. All that he was, all that we are, was taken into the nature of God. Human beings were always God’s creation, but the Ascension casts us in a different light: now we are truly in God.
So we are encouraged to value humanity highly and rightly. We are not perfect – humankind is capable of the utmost cruelty and violence. But we are worth redeeming, worth sending the Holy Spirit to, worth being taken up into the Godhead. We must take the hard, ethical questions seriously because they concern the humanity that God has taken to himself. We can be realistic about human nature, but we can also be optimistic about it. Our future is bound up with God’s future and, as with Jesus, the sky’s the limit!!