Category Archives: Worship

Sermon by Anna Bland 13th October 2019 – The Eucharist (Part 2)

Notes from the sermon by Anna Bland 13th October 2019 – The Eucharist (Part 2 – Kingdom Economics)

Readings:
Mark 6:30–44
1 Cor 11:17–26

Hello for those who don’t know me I am Anna.
I’ve been asked to talk to you about kingdom economics and the Eucharist. The symbol of self-giving love and a meal shared by friends on that fateful night which has resulted in two thousand years if us doing the same.
The gospel reading today is about a different meal shared by 5,000. Thousands fed with a meagre 5 loaves and two fishes.
In my reading for this sermon I came across a theological view I’d never heard before.
Rather than Jesus doing a miraculous multiplication of bread and fish, Jesus sharing the generosity of the young boy to inspire all to share what was in their bags and all were fed as a result.

To quote Myers the theologian who shared this view: ‘the only miracle here is the triumph of the economy of sharing within the context of a community of consumption.’
I love this.
It speaks of a Jesus who isn’t showing off his miraculous power but inspiring a change in each of us.
Making everyone more generous with those around them.
He’s helping us to create community through generosity -something that I think many of us would admit we don’t find easy.
The crowd is likely to have been a real diverse mix of Galilean society:
young, old, male, female, rich, poor, people born in Galilee, people not born in Galilee.
But all shared as equals.
It made me wonder:
Where in our lives could we eat alongside those who different from us?
I believe in this story as in many others Jesus is challenging us to seek out and be generous with those who challenge our view of the world, making us all more well-rounded and compassionate people.
We’re part of a culture built around consumption and forcing us to desire more and more, so never has this been more challenging.
Economist Grace Blakely said at Greenbelt that capitalism as a system is broken.
It’s a system based around gain for the rich and with the poorest paying the price, something we see reflected around the world today.
Unequal trade deals, tax havens, extreme weather hitting poor regions and some rich governments doing nothing – I could go on.
Since the financial crash Blakeley states in Britain the only people who are significantly wealthier are the wealthiest, so the average worker is no better off, the vulnerable are often far worse off due to government policy but the richest few are richer.
How different this is from the generosity of those listening to Jesus on the hill that day 2000 years ago.
One word really stands out to me in that story: all were ‘satisfied’ after the meal.
Not some were stuffed and some remained hungry but ALL were satisfied.
It speaks to us of a system running in a different way, on kingdoms economics rather than earthly economics.
This idea is reflected in 1 Corinthians where Paul chastises them for their Eucharist meals where some, the richer individuals in the party, are full and drunk while others leave the meal hungry.
This has implications for us. Where are we greedy and full, leaving others hungry?
Or do we ever feel that we’re leaving the table hungry?
Where in our lives, in our local communities, can we adopt a system of kingdom economics rather than earthly economics?
One way is as a consumer, as Christians partaking in the Eucharist we are contributing to this global system: where is our bread produced?
Who made the wine?

Gorringe has some strong words for us on this topic: ‘bread which takes from the poor for the consumption of the rich is not the bread of life but bread of death.
In that case our worship is not a Eucharist but idolatry and worship of mammon.’
His words do offer a significant challenge to me and force me to think not only about where my bread and wine come from, but also my veg, tea, coffee, clothes -I could go on.
I believe we’re called to understand our place in the world and in this complex capitalism system and do the best we can to create a more beautiful and equal world from where we are.
One of the reasons the Capitalist system is broken, says Blakeley, is due to climate change and the ecological disasters which are already happening, and are predicted to get worse.
She shared a terrifying message for the future but also her more hopeful view that through this disaster comes opportunity:
because powerful people are now seeing that the capitalism system is leading us to death and destruction and we NEED something different.
It’s no longer optional.
Many here I think would say “about time, and they really need to hurry up.”
With 100 councils declaring a climate emergency and much talk around the green new deal she suggested things are moving in the right direction.

I see a parallel with the child in the feeding of the 5,000 and the young people of today led by Greta Thunberg – the school strikes and their strong views on plastic.
I pray they are leading us to a better, fairer, greener future.
When I read back over this sermon I felt overwhelmed by our responsibility as consumers, campaigners, community members.
And I feared I was only contributing to the feelings of inadequacy many of us feel in the face of such overwhelming problems.
There simply isn’t enough time in the day, week, year or lifetime to make the difference we want in the world.
I believe God sees our intentions for good and even if we don’t hit the mark every time, when we buy something unethical or fail to invite our neighbour in for tea because we are tired, I believe there is always forgiveness and grace.
I leave you with this poem by Thomas Merton, which has relevance for us as individuals but also for our world:

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.


If you would like to find out more about this series then please visit Phil Gardner’s site.

Sunday 13th October 2019

We will be continuing our series on the eucharist this Sunday at 10:30am when Anna Bland will be sharing her thoughts about the eucharist as “Kingdom Economics”, a divine economy based on sharing, generosity and gift: “you give them something to eat” (Luke 9:13)

If you would like to find out more about this series then please visit Phil Gardner’s site.

Sermon by Paul Magnall 6th October 2019 – The Eucharist (Part 1)

Notes from the sermon by Paul Magnall 6th October 2019 – The Eucharist (Part 1 – Sign of love / Sign of hope)

Readings:
Genesis 9:11-16
Exodus 13:3-16
Acts 2:37–47 

Friday was 4th October the feast of St Francis, the last day of Creation-tide and the time when we focus specifically on God’s Creation, not that we should forget about it for the rest of the year! And Extinction Rebellion will be doing their bit this week to remind us about how we are treating God’s creation.

Today is when we celebrate harvest. We urban dwelling people are more out of touch with the seasons and so harvest might otherwise pass us by especially if we are not involved in growing and harvesting any of our own foods. I will be talking about food today (I never stop thinking about food!) but not so much in connection with harvest.

As I have talked about before, much of our lives, both individual lives and community lives, are guided and influenced by the stories that we tell or are told. If we are brought up to believe that we are superior to everyone else then we will live that way. If we are told that we are worthless when we are young then that is what we are likely to believe as we grow up. If we are part of a nation who believe that they were a great nation once upon a time and that now we have lost our influence in the world then we may well believe that we need to make our nation great again. Some of the stories that influence us are quite obvious, some are much more hidden and subtle.

So today “I wanna tell you a story”!

“Way, Way back many centuries ago, not long after the Bible began!” (Catherine plays tune)

The story of the Bible starts with Creation, something we have been looking at over the last month during Creation tide. The creation story ends with Adam and Eve walking with God in the garden, in paradise. But then things go wrong

Time passes and a very wealthy Jacob with his many wives and sons are living together tending their sheep. Joseph is brought up believing himself to be Jacob’s favourite son and so he acts in a way that really gets his brothers backs up and they try to do away with him. To cut a long story short, as we don’t have the time this morning and I can’t do the whole Bible in half an hour like Heston does, the whole of Jacob’s family end up abandoning their lifestyle and moving to Egypt where they are welcomed. Time passes, Jacobs descendants have increased in numbers and the Egyptians feel threatened by these “refugees” that they welcomed in and so they make them into slaves and all male offspring are killed. Along comes Moses and after some further amazing stories and not a few plagues the Israelites leave Egypt for the wilderness. A new story emerges of how God has chosen them and rescued them from slavery. This is a great new story to live by, they are chosen, special, loved. God is with them. But, and there’s always a but, how will they live in the wilderness? At least in Egypt they had a roof over their heads and some food to eat even if they were slaves!

But God has something else to teach them. The Joy in Enough! Every morning, except the Sabbath, there was enough food for them. It miraculously appeared. There was enough for the day, not too much, not too little, just enough. Except on the day before the Sabbath when there would be enough for the next day as well. We are reminded of this when we pray “give us this day our daily bread” – a prayer for enough, not too much, not too little – a prayer that we should be satisfied with enough.

And so for forty years the people of Israel wander in the desert learning to trust in God, learning how to live in community sharing what they have and that they could live on enough.

Jewish tradition grew from this. Every Sabbath the family would sit together and remember parts of the story of the Exodus using the food of their meal as symbols. For example, in the Sabbath meal on the Friday night they have two loaves of bread to remind themselves that God gave two lots of manna on the day before the Sabbath.

And each year Jewish families celebrate the Passover, Pesach Sedar, with a meal with even more symbolism. Examples include
• bitter herbs to represent the bitterness of slavery in Egypt,
• unleavened bread to represent the speed with which the Israelites had to pack up and leave Egypt, they didn’t have time to let the bread rise
• Salt water to represent the tears of the slaves
• Cushions on the seats to show that they can now recline in comfort at their meal since they are no longer slaves

Pesach Sedar, the Passover meal, is celebrated in many different ways across the world with added symbolism according to the history of that Jewish community eg an additional cup of wine known as Miriam’s cup is used in some communities to symbolise Miriam’s Well and the role of women in the Exodus story.

There is so much symbolism and storytelling in this meal and this has sustained Jewish communities over the centuries through all the good times and the bad times.

So let us go back to the time of Jesus and the stories that the Jewish community were telling themselves at that time, and the way in which Jesus wove old and new meaning into the story.

The Jews were again being oppressed. This time they weren’t slaves in a foreign land, they were living in their own homeland, the land that God had promised them but they were being ruled over by yet another invader – the pagan Romans.

The Romans allowed the Jews a certain amount of religious freedom but they were definitely in charge. They imposed their own rules which often contradicted the religious rules of the time. They taxed everyone. They took over land to grow food and wine to export back to Rome. They set about factory fishing the lakes for fish to in order to send them back to Rome. They were the supreme colonialists. And if anyone contradicted them or opposed them they had the military machine to impose “Roman Peace” and to remind everyone that Caesar was the all-powerful “Son of God”.

The Passover meal gained importance for many Jews as it gave them hope, if God could rescue them from the Egyptians He could do it again with the Romans. It inspired some to resist the Romans, every Passover festival the Romans had to send extra troops to Jerusalem in order to enforce their “Roman Peace”.

Into this situation came Jesus. He reminded the Jews of their story, often re-interpreted it and brought new meaning. Let’s look at a few examples:
• In feeding the 4000 and 5000 he reminded them of the story of God feeding them in the wilderness with manna from heaven, that God supplies all their needs, that they should have “Joy in Enough”. Their wealth was not in material things but in being a community walking with God.
• In listening to, speaking to and healing people from all races, all backgrounds, all walks of life – the untouchables, the women, the foreigners, the oppressors, the other – Jesus reminded them that God is the creator of all and the lover of all Creation.
• Jesus told them that to be the children of God you should love your enemies and pray for them since God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt 5:45)

Jesus told a story of a chosen people that was different from the one that the Jewish community were living by at the time. The narrative of Jesus was about a God who loved all of creation, who provided for all and that we should all respond by loving and caring for all of creation and each other. And this narrative got him into a lot of trouble!

So, back to food!

According to the synoptic gospels the last meal that Jesus had with his disciples was a Passover meal or Pesach Sedar. Jesus took the meal that his fellow Jews ate to remember their time as slaves in Egypt and to celebrate that God chose them as a people and led them out of Egypt, into the wilderness and then onto the promised land, Jesus took that meal and gave it what was to become a new narrative, a new story for his followers. In the Jewish Passover those taking part would discuss the symbolism of the meal – the roasted lamb, the unleavened bread, the wine, the bitter herbs. In the meal that Jesus celebrated with his followers Jesus did the same but differently. He talked of the bread as being his body, of the wine as his blood – as I understand it he was redefining the symbols as speaking of what was happening to him. He was saying “I am bringing to this meal a new understanding, a new narrative, a new story. Use these symbols to retell my story in the same way that Jews have retold their story for centuries before.” Of course, the disciples were so wrapped up in their traditional narrative they didn’t understand until after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The early Christian Church was mostly made up of Jewish followers of Jesus and they would have celebrated the Sabbath and the Passover in the traditional Jewish way but with a Christian narrative. As the church grew and non-Jewish Christians grew in number their practice would have been different as they wouldn’t have had that Jewish tradition, that Jewish narrative to guide them.

Here is a description of early Christian worship from the second century AD.

Early Christian worship
In the middle of the second century a Christian writer, Justin, explains
Christian practice to the educated Roman public, telling how ‘On that day
which is called after the sun all who are in the towns and in the country
gather together for a communal celebration.’ First the writings of apostles
and prophets are read, ‘as long as time permits’; then follows an
exhortation by the president:
Then we all rise together and pray and, when our prayer is ended,
bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like
manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability,
and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to
each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given,
and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And
they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and
what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the
orphans and widows, and those who, through sickness or any other
cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds, and the strangers
sojouming among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in
need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common
assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a
change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ
our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.
[From The Sign of Love, chapter 1, by Tim Gorringe]

Since that time, as Christianity has spread around the world and met different cultures and sub-cultures, been absorbed into the Roman Empire and other empires as the state religion new narratives, new interpretations and new practices have either sprung up or been imposed. Today all the different “flavours” of Christianity have their own emphasises, their own practices, their own narratives. I come from a background of exclusivity in the celebration of this meal. In the church that I first went to only those who were baptised and were members of that local church could take part in the meal, it was held once a month after the service once everyone else had left and consisted of tiny squares of white sliced bread and tiny thimble like cups of non-alcoholic wine plus lots of words. It had it’s good points and it’s bad points!

We all have our own backgrounds. Some of us have no or very little experience of church practices. Some are from so-called “low” church, some are from “high” church, many of us are from Western traditions but some are from Eastern traditions. We all have our own stories, narratives, interpretations that hopefully speak to us through this meal.

Sign of love / sign of hope
Over thousands of years people have been sustained and inspired by the signs of love and signs of hope that they have found in the Sabbath and Passover meals and the Eucharist or Holy Communion. A meeting place for God and people – God and people sat down together, sharing food and wine, listening to one another and caring for each other, sharing one another’s joys and burdens, recapturing God’s plan for all of Creation. I believe that in these times of political and environmental crisis we need this sign of love and hope more than ever. For me, the story of a faithful God working throughout history, through all sorts of people, continually reminding us of His-Story, his narrative for the world, giving us our daily bread, continually breaking down the barriers between us, giving us new life, new hope – I am reminded of all of this in the simple sharing of bread and wine.

Over the next 6 weeks we would love it if we could share and explore our understanding of the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, Mass, Holy Communion, whatever you choose to call this meal. It is a central part of most, but not all, Christian traditions. It is so full of meaning and death and life and resurrection, of symbolism and of power and of the power to change.

Amen


If you would like to find out more about this series then please visit Phil Gardner’s site.

 

Creation Liturgy

The following video is made using part of the liturgy that we use at All Hallows during Creation Season.

In the Beginning

Voice 1: In the beginning, God created.

Voice 2: God spoke, and created the heavens and the earth; light and darkness, day and night; land and sea; sun, moon and stars.

And God saw that it was good.

Voice 1: In the beginning, God created.

Voice 2: God spoke, and plants grew: trees and shrubs, flowers and fruit. And God saw that it was good.

Voice 1: In the beginning, God created.

Voice 2: God spoke again, and the seas filled with fish, birds flew in the sky, and animals of all kinds roamed the earth.

And God saw that it was good.

Voice 1: In the beginning, God created.

Voice 2: God spoke, and created human beings, men, women and children, created in the image of God, given the world to care for.

God saw everything that God had made, and indeed it was very good.

Confession

But we have forgotten to care for the world.

In our mindlessness we are ravaging the earth, poisoning the air, polluting the water.

We are destroying our fellow creatures and ourselves.

God our maker, so move us by the wonder of creation

that we repent and care more deeply.

So move us to grieve the loss of life

that we learn to cherish and protect your world.

(Music used by permission: “O Radiant Dawn” by James MacMillan sung by the St Peter’s Singers on their album One Equal Music)

Which colour?

There has been some debate recently about which colour the vicar’s stole (the “scarf” he wears for services) should be. It’s After Trinity (or Ordinary Time) at the moment but today is Pride Sunday – so which one should Heston wear?

Baptism service

It was with great joy that we were able to share in the baptism of Marcus on Sunday morning. As usual with All Hallows, lots of people ended up getting wet, not just Marcus!

After the service Marcus said “Today has being a very special day, one that I will always cherish and never forgot.”

Rainbow Covenant Hymn

Rainbow Covenant Hymn

Red is the fire of God’s holy presence
Filling our hearts with love and desire;
Here is our vow to hold people sacred,
Welcoming all with covenant care.

Orange the clay that makes us all mortal
Each of us equal in stature and worth
Given a mission: sharing the Kingdom
Now we affirm that in our new birth.

Yellow, like gold, means all things are precious,
Each with a right to sing and be free;
This is our pledge to make all God’s children,
Valued as part of Earth’s majesty.

Green pulses flow through veins of creation,
Till humans clear great forests in seed;
This is our promise: keep all things growing,
We will reverse our violent greed.

Blue is the heart-song felt in asylum,
Vulnerable children bearing the cost.
Now with our souls we promise to listen,
Publicly giving a voice to the lost.

Indigo brings us a God-man of Sorrows:
Faith being used to hurt and divide;
We will resist and draw close to others,
Loving our neighbours, we’ll stand by side.

Violet announces Christ in our cosmos,
Holding our Earth in all of its pain.
Christ now invites us: join in my mission!
Cov’nant with me to bring peace again.

Tune: Morning Has Broken
Adapted by Hayley Matthews 2018
Originally from https://seasonofcreation.com/

‘Tis the season to REMEMBER.

Last night we had all sorts of ‘fun’ with death, with the help of this beautiful ofrenda.

This gift from Mexico is with us all week! And will be the focus of our worship next Sunday morning – so please bring a photo or special memento of someone important to you who has died to place onto the ofrenda in celebration and remembrance of them. We are also hosting St Michael’s and St Chad’s to mark our ‘church birthday’ (or patronal festival) of All Hallows’ so do please bring some food to share with them over lunch if you are able.

Today’s service – Sunday 21st October 2018

It was absolutely wonderful, even beautiful, to have Andrew Mustapha back with us this morning. It was so moving to hear him read from 1 Corinthians 13 about love, and to hear him describe his experience in detention. Heston was also brilliant at sharing with us how God’s love is about taking us from slavery and captivity to that place of promise where we as individuals, created in God’s image, can become whole by sharing and being interdependent in the community of God’s people, that between us we have the gifts that make a body work and be at peace.

Today we shared together:

We believe in a bright and amazing God
who has been to the depths of despair on our behalf;
who has risen in splendor and majesty;
who decorates the universe with bright lights,
twinkling stars and brilliant colours,
again and again and again.

We believe that Jesus is the light of the world;
that God believes in us, and trusts us,
even though we make the same mistakes
over and over again.

We commit ourselves to Jesus,
ton one another as brothers and sisters,
and to the Maker’s good plans for the world.

God said: Let there be light.
May we be the light of the world.
Amen!

Sunday Morning Worship 17th June

This morning we revisited the story of the Good Samaritan by all taking part in a drama of the story narrated by Heston. We were each given a heart outline with a break in it to write on a situation where someone was hurting, we then joined all the hearts together to make a heart “daisy” chain by mending the hearts with a small “God Loves You” sticker. For our prayers we wrote the name of someone we wanted to pray for on a plaster and stuck them onto a wooden cross.

And here are some of the quotes that Heston used during the service for us to reflect on:

There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer, no disease that enough love will not heal, no door that enough love will not open; no gulf that enough love will not bridge; no wall that enough love will not throw down; no sin that enough love will not redeem. It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble, how hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle, how great the mistake. A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all. If only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world.

— Emmet Fox


Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.

— Brennan Manning


You are loved strongly and relentlessly, faithfully and without reservation. Your God does not watch you undecided, she does not wait to be convinced, the jury is not out. The verdict in Christ is you, always. Without hesitation, deviation, and with endless repetition.

— Chris Russell


‘Welcome to the Real World’ by Godfrey Rust

I didn’t know
that Love is real life,

and everything else
just a more or less entertaining way
of dying.

And I didn’t know
that Love is like nothing on earth.

Love isn’t what you fall in.
It’s what pulls you out
of what you fall in.

Love isn’t a good feeling.
Love is doing good
when you’re feeling bad.

Love means hanging in
when everyone else
shrugs their shoulders
and goes off to McDonalds.

Love means taking the knocks
and coming back
to try to make things better.

Love hurts.
That’s its way of telling you
that you’re alive.

And the funny thing is that after all
Love does feel good.
People say Love is weak.
But Love is tougher than Hate.
Hating’s easy.
Most of us have a gift for it.

But Love counts to ten
while Hate slams the door.

Love says you
where Hate says me.

Love is the strongest weapon
known to mankind.
Other weapons blow people up.
Only Love puts them back together again.

And everything that seems real,
that looks smart,
that feels good,
has a sell-by date.
But Love has no sell-by date.
Love is Long Life.
Love is the ultimate preservative.

I don’t know too much about Love
but I know a man who does,
up there on the cross
Loving us to death.

Love is the key
to the door of the place
he’s prepared for you
in the kingdom of God.

If you’re beginning to understand
then welcome to the real world.

 

This coming week is Refugee Week, let us remember the story of the Good Samaritan and love and welcome the hurting stranger, whoever they are.