Easter Benediction

Posted Leave a commentPosted in parish
The tomb is empty
              But our lives are now filled with hope and expectation
The facecloth is cast aside
              But you are now invited into a new relationship
The stone is rolled away
              And a new beginning is revealed.

In the dumbfoundedness of soldiers
In the incredulity of women
In the tears of the faithful
              And in the gentle laughter of that gardener who seemed
              So strangely familiar…
There is to be found a glimmer of light.

To fall at his feel in the dewy grass very early on that first day of the week
To prostrate before his presence in the company of angels and saints, prophets and patriarchs
To kneel in front of his throne in this sacred space
Is to recognise the new light which has shone out of…
              …absence.

For death has lost it’s final grip
Sin has lost all power
Shame has been overtaken by something unseen
And yet seen enough to be burnt into woven cloth
              Impressed into unleavened bread
              Conmingled with the fruits of vine
And to be shown to the Magdalene
              To be shown to you.

Sermon for the First Mass of Mthr Vickie Morgan, 8th July 2018, S. Faith Havant

Posted Leave a commentPosted in liturgy, mission, sacraments, scripture, teaching

First Mass of Mthr Vickie Morgan, 8th July 2018, S. Faith, Havant

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

It is a privilege for us to be here: a genuine privilege.

  • Not just because I have driven hours up from Plymouth to be with you this morning,
  • not just because I have the opportunity to see a new raft of fresh, young, vigorous faces before me,
  • not just because I have the opportunity to bring with me the greetings and prayers of another group of Christian communities – the parishes of Bickleigh and Shaugh Prior on the northern edge of Plymouth and Dartmoor
  • and not just because I have the opportunity to return to the diocese where I was ordained as both priest and deacon and served for seven years as Vicar of the parish of S. Thomas the Apostle, Elson in Gosport, and where I first encountered Mother Vickie.

It has been my privilege to first baptise both Freddie and Jake, to prepare Vickie for the sacrament of Confirmation, and walk with her as she began to explore the life-changing, norm-challenging notion (if I recall probably getting close to 10 years ago) that began after morning prayer with the words “So, Vickie, has it ever occurred to you that God might be calling you to be a priest?”

Mother Vickie (and in my tradition it is always important to recognise the role and responsibility that a priest takes on as a Spiritual Parent: to call someone Father or Mother is not to big them up but to hold them to account and remind them of the challenging task to which God and this community call them), Mother Vickie has been a support, encouragement and inspiration: from her creative work with Blessed – an alternative sacramental worship community, from youth work and pastoral ministry and now the great service she has offered to this parish as a Deacon is brought to fruition as we celebrate with joy the fulfilling of this vocation which has been a lifetime in the making.

As a result, it is even more than the privilege of being of being asked to preach at her first Mass, first Eucharist, first Holy Communion, first Lord’s Supper – because it doesn’t really matter what you call it – but because we all share in the special privilege of the Eucharist, Mother Vickie’s first Eucharist and the special privilege of an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ present here amongst us in broken bread and wine outpoured.

Last week, Fr David celebrated that most precious thing first the first time, and today it is the opportunity of one of my closest friends, Mthr Vickie, to bring Christ into our midst.

In this morning’s Gospel, we heard the incredulity of the people of Nazareth to the presence of God in their midst. The incarnation, the enfleshment of God himself poured into this world had been in their midst all along, and they were oblivious to it. And I need to ask you therefore, are you oblivious to the wonderful privilege that will take place in just a few minutes at this holy altar?

If you just turned up this morning because 9.30am is the normal time that you turn for church, the normal time that you through the motions, sing the hymns, say the words, and then move on from here unchanged, then today, my dear friends is the day that needs to stop. The day when you must confront the awesome presence of Christ in his home town, here in Havant.

For you have missed the point. It is a point that has led Fr David and Mther Vickie to change, challenge and reform their lives in the service of God at his holy altar, and you have the privilege of being there when this happens for the first time.

God takes the Ordinary and makes it Extraordinary.

Ordinary men and women, like Fr Tom, like Fr David, like Mthr Vickie, like myself, transformed in ways which are both difficult to see, but impossible to avoid or ignore or diminish.

In the same way, that sacred act which occurs at their hands is the transformation of the ordinary into the extraordinary, the mundane into the profound.

Ordinary bread and wine, become the extraordinary presence of God in this place, and those whom he has called, whom he set aside for this awe-inspiring, challenging task do so to serve God, and to serve you in this community.

In each one of my church vestries I have a little reminder stuck to the vestry table, an encouragement and a challenge, and a copy of which I want to present to you, Mthr Vickie, this morning.

Before each Mass I see it and it holds me to account, and I pray that over the years, for both you and Fr David it will do the same.

It says:

Say each Mass

  • As if it was the first time
  • As if it was the last time
  • As if it was the only time

You will ever say Mass

 

This is not an ordinary, everyday, humdrum act, not a going through the motions, not something that should be muttered through as though it does not matter.

Likewise, my friends, you also should all receive the Eucharist

  • As if it was the first time
  • As if it was the last time
  • As if it was the only time

You will ever receive Holy Communion.

For you also, this is not an ordinary, everyday, humdrum act, not a going through the motions, not something that should be muttered through as though it does not matter.

For you, and I, and all those who encounter Christ in the most holy sacrament of the altar should do so in the humble expectation that it will change you. That which is placed in your hands was poured out from heaven into this world with the sole purpose of transformation. The Holy Spirit, through the conduit of these two newly-set-aside priests is active in these sacraments and in this community because at their hands, Christ is made present to you in this most special gift, as Christ comes to us, hiding, as St Francis of Assisi once wrote “under an ordinary piece of bread”.

The ordinary, made extraordinary. Bread, Wine, You and Me.

Each Eucharist, Mass, Holy Communion, Lord’s Supper is a transformative act. If you have become blasé, bored even, desensitised by repetition, then this first Mass is for you.

If you have stopped being overawed by the sense of Christ here and now, within you and through you in this act of holy Co-munion, then at the hands of a priest nervously undertaking an act which has been thought about, prayed about, hoped over for many years, may this be the moment of renewal: a return to a full, spirit-filled, awe-inspiring realisation of Christ poured out for you at this holy altar.

A privilege. An encounter with the Divine. A moment of transformation.

This Priest will only have the opportunity to say a first Mass once. But tomorrow, and the day after, and the Sunday after and the next year and all subsequent years, I pray, Mother that you will not lose the sense of excitement, nervousness, the significance and importance of what you do for us here this day.

Mother Vickie, with the love and prayer of this community, may you say each Mass

  • As if it was the first time
  • As if it was the last time
  • As if it was the only time

And you, my dear friends, may you always receive Him in the same way, with same sense of awe and wonder…

In the name of Christ the living bread, broken for you, poured out for you, made present for you this day at the hands of the newly ordained.

A privilege.

Amen.

2010

2018

Wedding Prayer

Posted Leave a commentPosted in liturgy, parish, poetry

I was asked to include this wedding prayer in a forthcoming service, but I have declined because it merely repeats vows and prayers already said. It is lovely and profound because it echoes the lovely and profound things already covered in the Marriage service. I think it is a lovely prayer to treasure, and perhaps would like to encourage you to say together on your anniversary, to remind you of that vow and covenant.

 

Lord, bless our love;
Bless our promise
To have and to hold,
To love and to cherish
Each day and always.

Protect our marriage,
And keep us faithful,
So we can support and
Encourage one another
In sorrow and in joy.

Watch over our lives,
Over our home, over our family
Over our hopes and dreams.

We give you thanks
That you make us one
In a bond of love so precious
That through it
We can know your love
Today and always.
Amen.

Response to the Consultation on Bishop’s Missionary Order for Plymouth Deanery

Posted Leave a commentPosted in parish

There is a plan for certain churches to run roughshod over the rest of the deanery of the city of Plymouth. It’s an aggressive planting strategy and it worries the rest of us. They put out a consultation document and this is what I said…


Revd Dr Adrian Hough
Exeter Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Secretary
The Old Deanery
Exeter EX1 1HS

Wednesday, 09 May 2018

Dear Adrian

Re: Formal Consultation on a Proposed Mission Initiative in the City of Plymouth

I write with some comments on the Paper circulated on 1st May 2018 which I hope will add to the discussion on the initiative which will inevitably happen.

The circumstances in which this initiative arises is the result of the continued under-investment in the Deanery of Plymouth by the Diocese: the amount per capita spent on clergy resource within the deanery compared to other deaneries is directly correlatable with the level of church engagement in the areas in question. It is worth noting that all three areas are in parishes which are currently served by a single stipendiary incumbent with little clerical, administrative or lay support. Proper investment in supporting the existing parishes and their distinct tradition, with pastoral and youthworkers rather than resetting these areas in a new spiritual direction may have been more pastoral. That both of these parishes are under the oversight of the Bishop of Ebbsfleet also leaves the impression that there is a determination to undermine the spiritual authority of the parishes.

Of greatest concern to my parish, however, is in the cavalier approach to rapacious expansion that appears to be on the cards. The issuing of a BMO for the whole deanery, and the stated intention that “the plants are determined to create more plants” places the entire deanery in jeopardy of aggressive and frankly unwelcome takeover. When these plants seek to create more plants, they will obviously start to look at other areas where the Church of England is already present and active: S. Anne’s Glenholt feels especially vulnerable by this threat. It is an area where the Church is active and present, but attractive to the kind of Church plant that looks at an area of growth and gentrification as an opportunity for takeover. Under the provisions of this document, that Church feels it will be next, with little safeguard.

The wording of the fourth paragraph of your covering letter, the second para of the Explanatory Notes and most significantly sections 8.1 and 8.3 suggest that further planting WILL happen “without the permission of anyone who has the cure of souls”. The paragraph to “consult” with the local incumbent and the Initiative “informing” the Deanery Synod cuts across the legal and pastoral safeguards established within the Church of England and destabilises the parochial system. Consultation implies no expectation of agreement.

For this reason, I must object most strongly to these two clauses, not just for the way in which they are enacted in the three areas under current consideration, but in the way that they may be misused in future. These paragraphs do not safeguard my mission in the locality to which I have been licensed.

One needs to question whether a Church Plant is the most appropriate model of evangelism for these localities. The characteristics of a Church Plant is that it imports the charism of the parent church into a new area, without responding to local need. The charism of churches from other traditions to that of the parish, from more affluent areas no matter how earnest their enthusiasm may be can be analogised with African and Asian mission in the 19th Century. A more pioneering approach, which is organic, ground-up and based not on such imperialism would ensure that it truly brought the people of Ham, Whitleigh and Ernesettle into a lasting relationship with Christ.

This Mission Initiative has up to this point, not really been satisfactorily consulted and discussions at Deanery Synod and Chapter has been characterised by an attitude that “this is how it is going to be”.

I rather hope that my comments, and the comments of others to whom this particular consultation has been sent will enable a thorough rethinking of a process which in Ham, Whitleigh and Ernesettle are properly served and rebuilt as nurturing communities confident to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Yours sincerely,


Revd Simon Rundell
Priest-in-Charge


 

Animated Facebook Banners (How-to)

Posted Leave a commentPosted in parish

If you can’t quite decide one what picture you want on the big banner across your facebook group, then the animated banner is for you. Personal pages (or at least mine) will only accept still images (no video, no animated gifs) . However, it is supported for companies and other interest FB pages, it means that a bit of film can be easily incorporated into Fan Pages and it can be made very simply.

I will use Sony Vegas Pro, but many other tools are available, some for free.

You will need to create an MP4 Video of a specialist custom size: 820 x 462 pixels (w x h)

 

  1. Under File / Properties I created a new template of the size (820×462) I wanted. As most of these are still images, I could set the frame rate quite low, 15fps but if you are using a video clip, you might have to stay in the 24/25fps range.
  2. You can import your images, and lay them out around this long yet short canvas. If you want to fill the frame rather than leave lots of black border, then there will be cropping and zooming involved. Once I had an 820×462 pixel zoom window, I set it as a preset so I could quickly reuse it.
  3. Make the video between 20 and 50 secs in length
  4. When ready, do FILE / RENDER AS… and create a new output template in the new size 820×462. I usually set this template to render just video, not audio as it will be silent on FB anyway.

You can then upload your video to the banner on your FB Group page. Note: FB will then render it in their own system so this bit takes ages. In fact, I wrote this whole post in the 10+ mins it took to rerender it into an FB format. However, when uploaded you will then have an animated banner of video/images at the top of your Facebook Business or Fan Page.

 

 

You’re welcome!

New Preface for a Mass with Holy Baptism

Posted Leave a commentPosted in sacraments, teaching

We have a baptism tomorrow in the Mass, so I felt a new preface come upon me…

<sersum corda>

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

You give to us new life in waters of baptism
Pour out your blessings with the oils of life
Wrap us in the cloak of purity
And lead us towards Christ our Light

This Easter the joy of the resurrection renews the whole world,
|hile the choirs of heaven sing for ever to your glory

<sanctus>

Being present with the dying

Posted Leave a commentPosted in funeral

Waiting upon each laboured breath
Is far greater than simply duty
For there is a mysterious beauty 
Within each well-prepared death

There’s few more precious times than this
Now that life’s pains are put to rest
Acknowledging that death is best
Then sharing one departing kiss

‘Neath fading smile and closing eyes,
And steady grasping hand;
Heart and soul seem to understand
That they’ll live on when this frail body dies.

Fr Steve Sheridan