30 Pieces of Chocolate

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With a h/t to Mthr Gemma

It was one Saturday night After Eight, and me and my mate Freddo, were being paid a Bounty to guard this tomb. ‘Guard a tomb? You say. Yeah that’s a Whole Nut of an idea, I know.

There was this guy, see. We’d executed him on the Friday, but he had said he would come back to life so we were there to make sure he stayed dead! No really, I’m not Lion! You think that’s mad? Join the Club! Now my mate is a bit of a Smartie, so while we were stood, guarding the dead body, we says, ‘why don’t we have a Picnic?’ And I thought, ‘Well why not? I could do with some Time Out’

So we sat down and ate our sandwiches Crème Egg and cress for me, then Chomping some Fruit and Nuts for one of my five-a-day, all washed down with a cold glass of Dairy Milk.

Anyway, back to the Topic. After our food we were Flaked out and… well… I’m not going to Fudge the facts, we fell asleep. I know we shouldn’t have, but we did. We loosened our Buttons, pulled off our Snickers (sneakers) and lay down under the Milky Way.

Next thing I know there is a Crunchie sound, like when you Rolo way the stone. Sat bolt upright and thought… ‘What a Kinder Surprise is this?’ I said. I couldn’t have been more shocked if a Penguin had arrived on a Double Decker bus!

So what was it, this surprise? Only an angel, clothes all Milky Bar white and hair all Curly Wurly – just sat there, on top of the stone! And the tomb was OPEN! (Open Hollow Egg)

Me and my mate, we were in a complete Twirl – we were so scared we called for our Mars – but just before we fainted, we heard a Ripple of fabric from the tomb. Seems he had come back to life after all!

I heard a Wispa as he stepped out. He winked at me and said ‘Aero!’

Lent 4: Prayer & Senses

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Well, we are nearly four weeks into Lent and I am wondering how it has been for you?

I hope that you have been able to find some time for reflection amidst the busy-ness of daily living. That is always a challenge for me – but very necessary. And I am wondering what has been happening for you in your praying? As we have considered time and place to pray, so today I want to consider Prayer and the senses. As I said at the beginning of this course, my aim was to be more practical than theological, and I hope that this evening I may be able to offer some new insights and things to try as we seek to learn more how to pray.

The Senses. Something integral to being human – and we are bodily people. Most of us, I suspect, take our senses for granted – hearing, sight, touch, taste and smell – unless and until we are deprived of them. A child born without any one of those capacities is, rightly, a source of sadness and pain to those close to them; for suddenly those around anticipate the sense of loss – of deprivation even – a sense of unfairness that a fellow human being should not have the opportunity to experience what we experience and enjoy what we enjoy.

Accident or age can deprive us of one or more of our senses later in life and we are suddenly bereft and left grieving for capacities we once knew and took for granted. Learning to live with such loss is not easy.

And yet there are many who will say that the body’s capacity to adapt is remarkable and where one sense is diminished, another develops extraordinarily to take its place…

The important thing to recognise is that because we are bodily creatures, our senses are very much a part of our praying, whether we recognise it or not. If we think about it, we will probably all agree that hearing and seeing are familiar parts of prayer: when we are together we hear words spoken, either as set prayers or biddings for intercession; and we see words printed on a page, which we read aloud and listen to as we speak them.

But that is only one dimension of hearing; only one dimension of seeing; and there are so many more. So let’s explore each of our senses in turn and stretch our minds, and in doing so, stretch the possibilities for our prayer.

Prayer is clearly about more than just words, but also about the non-words: silence is not just an absence of words, but rather it is a way of being attentive to God and to ourselves which can help us to go deeper than we might in other forms of prayer.

But when we are silent, we are still hearing – and we may well be using other senses as well, as we shall see in a few moments… When you sit in silence you need to hear both the external and the internal ‘noise’ – sounds from round about, but also the sounds from within: a phrase from Scripture; the words of a psalm or hymn that comes into your mind… But what other sounds are there and how might we be active in using our sense of hearing in our prayer?

Let me offer three particular areas you might explore: first, the sounds of nature. Sit in the garden or the local park, or go for a gentle walk on the Moor with your ears open and you will hear the sounds of nature: birds singing; the wind blowing through long grass; the trickle of a stream; the whistling of a buzzard; the scrunch of leaves underfoot; the brushing of a hedgerow against your jacket…. Whilst I’m not one for saying simply ‘You can always find God in the garden’, there is – for many of us – a deep inspiration that comes through hearing the sounds and seeing the sights of our created world. As Gerard Manley-Hopkins reminds us:

The sounds and sights of nature draw us beyond ourselves and can inspire us to praise and wonder at our Creator God. St Francis knew such wonder well and we hear it expressed, of course, in this extract from his Canticle of Brother Son and Sister Moon:

Video:  [youtube=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2AfJm5ZcCc”]

 

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing,
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no human is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,
through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.

Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.

But what about the sounds of daily living? Perhaps we regard those as distractions? The traffic on the street; the crying child; the noises in the market place; the marital argument; the hoover; the washing machine. Our instinct is to say that this is ‘noise’ and we may try to escape from it. But these are the noises – the sounds – of life. And each, in its own way, can lead us to prayer: for the safety of those who travel; for family life; for all who trade; for relationships in conflict; for those who care for homes; for those with no-one to care whose labour is with hands and with back-breaking work. The sounds of daily living can be just as much part of our prayer as silence.

[vimeo 6017188]

For many people, however, music can play a special part in enabling prayer. It is, of course, so often a matter of taste. But, for each of us, there will be particular pieces of music – or styles or types of music – which help to still or stir us and which can often draw us to God.

Music can sometimes ‘reach the parts that others don’t’ in a way that it is hard to explain.

Music has the power to stir the soul, and is a uniquely personal thing. Whether it’s classical, modern, pop, rap, grunge, Taize or something else, music – with and without words- can lead us into prayer and sometimes even become the vehicle by which we pray. A Tallis chant or a Brian Eno piece, whatever works for you. Modern ways of delivering music: streaming online access to virtually the whole musical catalogues of the world give us unlimited opportunities.

[youtube=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6RgaPTo4hE”]

So much for hearing. What about sight?

Well, I have already spoken of nature and few of us would deny the power of a sunset or a glorious vista to stir us within. What God has made is indeed good. But what about the works of human beings? Art, sculpture, photography, icons….

The long history of association between art and religion has borne fruit since time immemorial and never more so than in the Christian era, in a wealth of carvings, engravings, paintings, frescoes, icons, woodcuts and more both inspired by and inspiring of the God in whose image the artist is made.

If you have never used a work of art to inspire you to pray, then please try it; look at it with eyes of faith and be amazed at what God unfolds for you….

And it’s not just works of art that can help us. We live in a visual technological world and the creative possibilities of the internet, YouTube and computer-generated visuals are enormous. Such materials may not be to your personal taste, but for a new generation they offer huge potential for expressing and communicating the truths of God.

Finally, while we’re thinking about sight, let’s not forget the simple power of the lit candle as an aid to focusing the mind and stilling the soul. Whether in light or darkness, a candle can be a hugely effective way of signalling attentiveness to God and to prayer – a way of marking out both the place and the time….

The sense of touch is one we may not have explored before. The classical use of the rosary, not only in the Christian tradition, but by other faiths as well, illustrates the way in which physical connectedness can both enable concentration and engage the body at a different level to the mind.

Holding crosses have become popular in recent years – a simple, off-centred cross which fits neatly into a person’s hand and which can often act as a great reassurance to those who are troubled or sick and otherwise unable to pray.

But what about holding other things from nature – stones, shells, leaves, grass or flowers – feeling their beauty and complexity as an aid to prayer rather than simply looking at them – beautiful as they may be to the eye. Or there may be the seasonal use of objects such as fruits or vegetables at Harvest-time, or nails in Holy Week. And then there is the whole question of the appropriateness of touch when praying with others – the laying on of hands; the holding of another’s hand when praying for them, or anointing the sick with the Oil of Healing (which is always for healing, and not as popular culture understands it as the last rites)

Jesus healed in a visceral way: spittle, mud, physical contact, and when appropriately given, touch can be an important part of the physicality of faith..

[youtube=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBvf7Voj9i4&t=259s”]

Smell and taste are perhaps a little more diffuse when it comes to thinking about prayer, despite the fact that incense as long been an aid to prayer in the history of the Church; and all four Gospels give an account of the woman who anointed Jesus with fragrant perfume in preparation for his burial. There is the distinct smell of the Oil of Chrism used in Baptism, Confirmation, and Ordination.

But when we read Scripture and begin to imagine some of the smells and tastes that those in the stories may have experienced, it can become an inspiration to our own prayer and can open up the narratives in ways we have never thought of.

  • What might it have smelt like, for example, by the Sea of Galilee?
  • What might it have smelt like in the heart of the city of Jerusalem with sheep and goats roaming the streets and spices being sold, and bread baked, and the sweat of humanity all around?
  • What might it have smelt and tasted like when Jesus and his disciples broke the bread and shared the fish, and turned water into wine, and picked the figs, and plucked the grain….?

This might seem a long way from prayer and the senses, but in fact it is not. For Scripture can be a way in to encountering God with more than just our minds. It is a way of prayer (the examen) encouraged and developed by St Ignatius Loyola in the sixteenth century, and which has enabled countless Christians since to deepen their prayer lives as they have learned to enter in to the biblical narrative using their senses as well as their intellect.

There is much more that could be said. But I hope I have whetted your appetite (and I use the phrase deliberately) to experiment with new ways of praying for you; ways that encourage you to use the whole of who you are and not just your mind.

If you want to talk more about ‘how’ to use your senses, then please ask. And remember – God gave us our senses to use in all sorts of ways – not just so that we don’t burn the toast!

Next week we will finally come to explore Prayer and Words.

 

Quiet Day Lent 2017

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We are holding a quiet day on Saturday 8th April (the day before Palm Sunday) from 10am to 4pm at the Violet Evelyn Hall  Buckfast Abbey TQ11 0EE

This quiet day is open to all and costs just £5. There is a separate dining area for us, so bring your own lunch. As numbers become clear, we can arrange car-shares etc.

The day will include a couple of talks/reflections, opportunities for quiet prayer in and around the beautiful grounds, a series of creative rituals for Holy Week, culminating in a creative Eucharist


All are welcome – from all parishes, traditions and backgrounds


To express your interest/book a place

Payment can be made via Paypal from here if you wish (a small booking fee applies to cover the costs)

I intend to pay by
Paypal (most preferred)Cash - before the day (to Fr Simon)Cash - on the day

Payment can be made via Paypal from here if you wish (a small booking fee applies to cover the costs)

O Antiphons

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o-virgin-of-virgins

It is especially in the final week of Advent that our attention is fixed on the messianic promises proclaimed by the ancient prophets of Israel.  A distinctive feature of the Liturgy of the Hours in this week preceding the Christmas vigil is the antiphon sung at Vespers (evening prayer) before and after the recitation of the Magnificat.  Originally incorporated into the monastic office in the Middle Ages, these antiphons, often called the “Greater Antiphons” or the “O Antiphons”, are also echoed in the daily lectionary as the verse for the gospel acclamation during this week.  They add a mood of eager expectation to the liturgy that builds throughout these seven days and climaxes at Christmas.

 

The O Antiphons have been described as “a unique work of art and a special ornament of the pre-Christmas liturgy, filled with the Spirit of the Word of God”.  They “create a poetry that fills the liturgy with its splendour”, and their composer shows “a magnificent command of the Bible’s wealth of motifs”.  The antiphons are, in fact, a collage of Old Testament types of Christ.  Their predominant theme is messianic,  stressing the hope of the Saviour’s coming.  Jesus is invoked by various titles, mainly taken from the prophet Isaiah.  The sequence progresses historically, from the beginning, before creation, to the very gates of Bethlehem.

In their structure, each of the seven antiphons follows the same pattern, resembling a traditional liturgical prayer.  Each O Antiphon begins with an invocation of the expected Messiah, followed by praise of him under one of his particular titles.  Each ends with a petition for God’s people, relevant to the title by which he is addressed, and the cry for him to “Come”.

The seven titles attributed to Jesus in the antiphons are

Wisdom (Sapientia in Latin),

o-wisdom

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/?v=8ngcQDQfhlA]

Ruler of the House of Israel (Adonai),

o-lord-adonai

Root of Jesse (Radix),

o-root-of-jesse

Key of David (Clavis),

o-key-of-david

Rising Dawn (Oriens),

o-morning-star

King of the Gentiles (Rex)

o-king

and Emmanuel.

o-emmanuel

In Latin the initials of the titles make an acrostic which, when read backwards. means: “Tomorrow I will be there” (“Ero cras”).  To the medieval mind this was clearly a reference to the approaching Christmas vigil.

Today the O Antiphons are most familiar to us in the hymn “O come, O come Emmanuel”.  Each verse of the hymn parallels one of the antiphons. In addition to their use in the Liturgy of the Hours and the gospel acclamation, they have been popularly incorporated into church devotions and family prayer.  An Advent prayer service for use at home, in school, or in the events of parish life can be built around the singing or recitation of the antiphons, accompanied by the related Scripture readings and prayers.  They can be prayed at family dinner times or with the lighting of the Advent wreath, with a short explanation of their biblical background.   The titles can also be depicted by simple symbols – for example, on banners and posters or in bulletin illustrations – to help us to reflect on these Advent themes.

Dwelling in the Word – Reflection & Meditation before a PCC or any other meeting at which we should hear God’s Voice…

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I found this exercise very useful, and the two times I have done it, I have been drawn by different things. Here is the key difference between this and Lectio Divina:  you do the same passage each time. This means that new meanings arise in each context. Also, it is not about a personal reflection, as Lectio is, but is about listening to your partner, and listening is a key value to get into frame with at the beginning of a meeting.

How we Dwell in the Word

  • Listen to the passage read (below)
  • Consider where it “captures” you, speaks to you and/or what question(s) it raises for you
  • Find a person in the group you do not know or know less well, a ‘reasonably friendly-looking stranger’.
  • Listen to that person as he or she tells you what they heard in the passage. They may mention something they’d never heard before, something odd or something comforting, or something about which they’d like to ask a Bible scholar.
  • Listen well, because your job will be to report to the rest of the group what your partner has said, not what you yourself said. Some people take notes to help them focus and remember.

At the end:

A prayer as we Dwell in the Word

Loving God,
Though our destination is not yet clear,
May we trust in Your graceful promises;
Though we are uncertain of ourselves,
May we be rooted in Your loving regard;
Though our attention is inclined to wander,
May we hear the things You are saying;
Though we often neglect Your influence,
May we be convicted of Your power to change,
In Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

The Text: Luke 10:1-12   (NRSVA)

After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house.

Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.” 12 I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.

A Service of Prayer & Dedication after Marriage

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Introduction

God is love, and those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.
1 John 4

The minister welcomes the couple and their family and friends, using these or similar words:

[N] and [N], you stand in the presence of God having contracted a legal marriage earlier, to dedicate to God your life together. We pray with you that God may empower you to keep the vows you have made to one another.

The Holy Scriptures teach us that marriage is a gift of God’s grace, a holy mystery in which two people become one flesh. It is God’s purpose that, as two people give themselves to each other in love throughout their lives, they shall be united in that love as Christ is united with the Church.

Marriage is given, that two people may comfort and help one another, living faithfully together in need and in plenty, in sorrow and in joy. It is given that with delight and tenderness they may know each other in love, and through the joy of their bodily union may strengthen the union of their hearts and lives.

[N], [N] – Is it your wish today to affirm your desire to live as followers of Christ, and to come to him, the fountain of grace, that, strengthened by the prayers of the Church, you may be enabled to fulfil your marriage vows in love and faithfulness?

The couple reply: It is.

A hymn may be sung here.

Collect

Almighty God,
You have taught us through your Son
that love is the fulfillment of the Law.
Grant to these your servants
that, loving one another,
they may continue in your love until their lives’ end.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Amen.

Readings

At least one Bible reading should be used, and other readings, poems, may also be used here.

The Dedication

The couple face the minister, who says

[fullnames],
you have committed yourselves to each other in marriage
And your marriage is recognised by law.
The Church of Christ understands marriage to be a lifelong union
For better, for worse
For richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish
Til parted by death.
Is this your understanding of the covenant and promises that you have made?

The couple reply: It is.

Have you resolved to be faithful to one another,
forsaking all others,
so long as you both shall live?

The couple reply: We have.

[N], This ring is a symbol of never-ending love
Of all that I am and all that I have.
Receive and treasure it
As a token and pledge of the love I have for you
Wear it always
And find in it a protection whenever we have to be apart.

[N], This ring is a symbol of never-ending love
Of all that I am and all that I have.
Receive and treasure it
As a token and pledge of the love I have for you
Wear it always
And find in it a protection whenever we have to be apart.

The priest says to the congregation:

Will you, the family and friends of [N] and [N]
support and uphold them in their marriage
Now and in the years to come?
All: We will.

The priest takes the two ringed hands and wraps them in his stole

Heavenly Father, by your blessing
let these rings be to [N] and [N]
symbols of unending love and faithfulness
and of the promises they have made to each other:
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

Blessing

God the Giver of Life,
God the Bearer of Pain
God the Maker of love
bless, preserve and keep you

The divine light illuminate you,
and shine out even from the cells of your being
guiding you in truth and peace
and making you strong in faith and wisdom
that you may grow together in this life
and that the love which endures
carved and polished like a diamond,
the love that can never be overcome,
may it bear you even beyond death itself
and transfigure you to glory

God bless you both
as we bless you from our hearts
now and always
Amen

A hymn may be sung here

Prayers

Faithful God,
holy and eternal,
source of life and spring of love,
we thank and praise you for bringing [N] and [N] to this day,
and we pray for them.
Lord of life and love:
hear our prayer.

May their marriage be life-giving and life-long,
enriched by your presence and strengthened by your grace;
may they bring comfort and confidence to each other
in faithfulness and trust.
Lord of life and love:
hear our prayer.

May the hospitality of their home
bring refreshment and joy to all around them;
may their love overflow to neighbours in need
and embrace those in distress.
Lord of life and love:
hear our prayer.

May they discern in your word
order and purpose for their lives;
and may the power of your Holy Spirit
lead them in truth and defend them in adversity.
Lord of life and love:
hear our prayer.

May they nurture each other
and come at last to the end of their lives
with hearts content and in joyful anticipation of heaven.
Lord of life and love:
hear our prayer.

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.

Conclusion

God the Holy Trinity make you strong in faith and love,
Defend you on every side, and guide you in every truth and peace;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be with you and remain with you always.
Amen.

Easter Vigil Liturgy

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Tablets are great for the Easter Vigil – they’re backlit and so you can do the Vigil without any additional light at the legillium

Easter Vigil

A fire is lit outside the darkened church

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this most holy night,
in which our Lord Jesus Christ passed over from death to life,
the Church invites her members, dispersed throughout the world,
to gather in vigil and prayer.

For this is the Passover of the Lord,
in which through word and sacrament we share in his victory over death.

As we await the risen Christ,
let us hear the record of God’s saving deeds in history,
recalling how he saved his people in ages past
and in the fullness of time sent his Son to be our Redeemer;
and let us pray that through this Easter celebration,
God may bring to perfection in each of us the saving work he has begun.
Service of Light

Eternal God,
who made this most holy night
to shine with the brightness of your one true light:
set us aflame with the fire of your love,
and bring us to the radiance of your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Christ yesterday and today,
the beginning and the end,
Alpha and Omega,
all time belongs to him,
and all ages;
to him be glory and power,
through every age and for ever. Amen.

By his holy
and glorious wounds
may Christ our Lord
guard us
and keep us. Amen.

The priest lights the Easter candle with the taper saying

May the light of Christ, rising in glory,
banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.

The candle is brought in

The Light of Christ
Thanks be to God (sung three times)

(said)

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Exsultet

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, Choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendour,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! D
darkness vanishes forever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Saviour shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

The Lord be with you.
and also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.

It is truly right that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God,
the all-powerful Father, and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our eternal Father!

This is our Passover feast,
When Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night, when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their sláv’ry,
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night,
when the pillar of fire
destroyed the darkness of sin.

This is the night, when Christians ev’rywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defĩlement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night,
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a sláve you gave away your Son.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
“The night will be as clear as day: it will become my light, my joy.”

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innócence,
brings mourners joy; it casts out hátred,
brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed,
when heaven is wedded to earth and we are reconciled to God!

Therefore, heavenly Fáther,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church’s solemn offering.

Accept this Easter cándle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honour of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Mórning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on áll mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

Vigil

Dear friends in Christ,
we have begun our solemn vigil.
Let us now listen attentively to the word of God,
recalling how God saved his people throughout history and,
in the fullness of time, sent his own Son to be our Redeemer.

Through this Easter celebration
May God bring to perfection
The saving work he has begun in us

Reading I Genesis 1.1-2.2
A reading from the book of Genesis

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.
4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
5 God called the light day, and the darkness he called night. And there was evening, and there was morning— the first day.
6 And God said, Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.
7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so.
8 God called the expanse sky. And there was evening, and there was morning— the second day.
9 And God said, Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear. And it was so.
10 God called the dry ground land, and the gathered waters he called seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds. And it was so.
12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
13 And there was evening, and there was morning— the third day.
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years,
15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth. And it was so.
16 God made two great lights— the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.
17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth,
18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.
19 And there was evening, and there was morning— the fourth day.
20 And God said, Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.
21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
22 God blessed them and said, Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.
23 And there was evening, and there was morning— the fifth day.
24 And God said, Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind. And it was so.
25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
28God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.
29 Then God said, I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground— everything that has the breath of life in it— I give every green plant for food. And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning— the sixth day.
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.

Let us pray.

Almighty and eternal God,
you created all things in wonderful beauty and order.
Help us now to perceive
how still more wonderful is the new creation
by which in the fullness of time
you redeemed your people
through the sacrifice of our passover, Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Reading II Genesis 3
A reading from the book of Genesis

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?
2 The woman said to the serpent, We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,
3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’
4 You will not surely die, the serpent said to the woman.
5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
9 But the LORD God called to the man, Where are you?
10 He answered, I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.
11 And he said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?
12 The man said, The woman you put here with me— she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, What is this you have done? The woman said, The serpent deceived me, and I ate.
14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
16To the woman he said, I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.
17To Adam he said, Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.
20Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.
21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.
22 And the LORD God said, The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live for ever.
23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.
24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Let us pray.

Lord God,
the creation of man was a wonderful work,
his redemption still more wonderful.
May we persevere in right reason
against all that entices to sin
and so attain to everlasting joy.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Reading III Genesis 7.1-5; 7.10-18; 8.6-18; 9.8-13
A reading from the book of Genesis

1 The LORD then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”
5 And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him.
6 After forty days Noah opened the window he had made in the ark 7 and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. 9 But the dove could find no place to set its feet because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. 10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. 11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. 12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.
13 By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. 14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.
15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. 17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you-the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground-so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.”
18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives.
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you-the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you-every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

Let us pray.

Father,
even today we see the wonders
of the miracles you worked so long ago.
You once saved a single nation from slavery,
and now you offer that salvation to all through baptism.
May the peoples of the world become true sons of Abraham
and prove worthy of the heritage of Israel.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Reading IV Isaiah 55.1-11
A reading from the Prophet Isaiah

1 Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.
4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples.
5 Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD yourGod, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendour.
6Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
9 As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Let us pray.

Almighty, ever-living God,
only hope of the world,
by the preaching of the prophets
you proclaimed the mysteries we are celebrating tonight.
Help us to be your faithful people,
for it is by your inspiration along
that we can grow in goodness.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Reading V – Ezekiel 36.25-28
A reading from the prophet Ezekiel
25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
28 You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.

Let us pray.

God of unchanging power and light,
look with mercy and favor on your entire Church.
Bring lasting salvation to mankind,
so that the world may see
the fallen lifted up,
the old made new,
and all things brought to perfection,
through him who is their origin,
our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Reading VI – Romans 6.3-11
A reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans
3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death?
4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—
7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Let us pray.

Father,
you teach us in both the Old and the New Testament
to celebrate this passover mystery.
Help us to understand your great love for us.
May the goodness you now show us
confirm our hope in your future mercy.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Reading VII – Luke 24:1-12 Year C
Hear the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke

1On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared.
2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
3but when they went in, they did not find the body.
4While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them.
5The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.
6Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,
7that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’
8Then they remembered his words,
9and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.
10Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.
11But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
12But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

This is the Gospel of the Lord
Thanks be to God

After the Gospel reading we move straight into the Gloria

Gloria

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship You, we give You thanks, we praise You for Your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us; You are seated at the right hand of the Father: Receive our prayer.

For You alone are the Holy One, You alone are the Lord, You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, In the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Collect

Lord of all life and power,
who through the mighty resurrection of your Son
overcame the old order of sin and death
to make all things new in him:
grant that we, being dead to sin
and alive to you in Jesus Christ,
may reign with him in glory;
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit
be praise and honour, glory and might,
now and in all eternity. Amen.

Homily

Blessing of the Water

My brothers and sisters,
Let us ask the Lord our God to +bless this water he has created
Which we shall use to recall our baptism.
May he renew us and keep us faithful to the Spirit we have all received
through the sacrament of Holy Baptism

Renewal of Baptismal Vows

As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead,
we remember that through the paschal mystery
we have died and been buried with him in baptism,
so that we may rise with him to a new life within the family of his Church.

The Paschal candle is dipped 3 times in the font.

Now that we have completed our observance of Lent,
we renew the promises made at our baptism,
affirming our allegiance to Christ,
and our rejection of all that is evil.

Therefore I ask these questions:

Do you turn to Christ?
I turn to Christ.

Do you repent of your sins?
I repent of my sins.

Do you renounce evil?
I renounce evil.

And now I ask you to make the profession of Christian faith into which you were baptized, and in which you live and grow.

Do you believe and trust in God the Father, who made the world?
I believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ, who redeemed mankind?
I believe and trust in him.

Do you believe and trust in his Holy Spirit, who gives life to the people of God?
I believe and trust in him.

This is the faith of the Church.
This is our faith.
We believe and trust in one God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Almighty God,
we thank you for our fellowship in the household of faith
with all those who have been baptized in your name.
Keep us faithful to our baptism, and so make us ready for that day when the whole creation shall be made perfect in your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Peace

The risen Christ came and stood among his disciples and said, Peace be with you! Then were they glad when they saw the Lord.
Alleluia! The peace of the risen Christ be always with you
and also with you. Alleluia!

Let us offer one another a sign of peace.

all may exchange a sign of peace, greeting one another with these words.

The Lord is risen.
He is risen indeed.

Offertory

Pray, my brothers and sisters, that this our sacrifice may be acceptable to God the almighty Father.
May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his Church.

Prayer over the gifts

Lord,
accept the prayers and offerings of your people.
With your help may this Easter mystery of our redemption
bring to perfection the saving work you have begun in us.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Preface

The Lord be with you
and also with you

Lift up your hearts
We lift them to the Lord

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
It is right to give thanks and praise

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

We praise you with greater joy than ever
on this Easter night,
when Christ became our paschal sacrifice.

He is the true Lamb that took away the sins of the world.
By dying he destroyed our death;
by rising he restored our life.

And so, with all the choirs of angels in heaven
we proclaim your glory
and join in their unending hymn of praise:

Holy Holy Holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory, hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

Eucharistic Prayer B

Lord, you are holy indeed, the source of all holiness;
grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit,
and according to your holy will,
these gifts of bread and wine
may be to us the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ;

who, in the same night that he was betrayed,
took bread and gave you thanks;
he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take, eat; this is my body
which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.

In the same way, after supper
he took the cup and gave you thanks;
he gave it to them, saying:
Drink this, all of you;
this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you and for all
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me.

Let us proclaim the mystery of faith…
Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again!

And so, Father, calling to mind his death on the cross,
his perfect sacrifice made once for the sins
of the whole world;
rejoicing in his mighty resurrection
and glorious ascension,
and looking for his coming in glory,
we celebrate this memorial of our redemption.

As we offer you this our sacrifice
of praise and thanksgiving,
we bring before you this bread and this cup
and we thank you for counting us worthy
to stand in your presence and serve you.

Send the Holy Spirit on your people
and gather into one in your kingdom
all who share this one bread and one cup,
so that we, in the company of
Our Blesséd Lady, St. Anne, St. Cecilia, St Edward,
and all the saints,
may praise and glorify you for ever,
through Jesus Christ our Lord;

by whom, and with whom, and in whom,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all honour and glory be yours, almighty Father,
for ever and ever.

Amen.

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

We break this bread
to share in the body of Christ
Though we are many, we are one body,
because we all share the one bread

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, grant us peace

[Optional:

Come not because you are strong,
but because you are weak.
Come not because any goodness of your own
but because you need mercy and help.
Come because you love the Lord a little
and would like to love him more.
Come because he loves you
and gave his life for you.]

This is the lamb of God
who takes away the sin of the world.
Blesséd are those who are called to his supper
Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.

Communion Antiphon

Christ has become our paschal sacrifice; let us feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, alleluia. I Corinthians 5:7-8

Post Communion

Heavenly Father,
you have delivered us from the power of darkness,
and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:
grant that, as his death has recalled us to life,
so his continual presence in us
may raise us to eternal joy. Amen.

Lighting of the Easter Candles from the other Churches

Blessing and Dismissal

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Aleluia!

God the Father,
by whose glory Christ was raised from the dead,
strengthen you to walk with him in his risen life;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the +Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you, and remain with you,
this night, this blessed Easter and always. Amen.

The mass is ended Go in the peace of Christ. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Sermon: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Ordinary 5, Year C

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in parish, scripture, teaching

Text: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

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

“I taught you what I had been taught myself, namely that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; and that he was raised to life on the third day, in accordance with the scriptures;”

You probably don’t remember the name Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin nor should you. But during his day, he was a powerful man on this earth. A Russian Communist leader, he took part in the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, was editor of the Soviet newspaper Pravda, and was a full member of the Politburo. Although Communism in Russia is long dead and buried, we should not forget how aggressively Communism sought to undermine, even destroy Christianity and replace it with an atheist state.

There’s one particular story about Bukharin. It’s about a journey he took from Moscow to Kiev in 1930 to address a huge assembly on the subject of atheism. Addressing the crowd, he aimed his heavy artillery at Christianity hurling insult, argument, and proof against it.

An hour later, when he was finished, he looked out at what seemed to be the smouldering ashes of the people’s faith. “Are there are any questions?” Bukharin demanded. Deafening silence filled the auditorium, but then one older man began his slow but steady pace to the lectern.

Standing shoulder to shoulder to the communist leader, he surveyed the crowd first to the left then to the right. Finally, he mustered all the strength he had inside him and shouted the ancient greeting known well in the Russian Orthodox Church, “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” and en masse, the crowd stood to their feet and the response came crashing like the sound of thunder, “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”

My dear friends: the Resurrection: This morning’s epistle outlines the core of our faith, the true Gospel proclaimed by the Church for millennia and as real today as it was in 55AD when Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth.

It is always before us: in our Creed, at the heart of our faith. Paul had to remind the church at Corinth, and we too need to be reminded of the gospel that we have received and on which, we have taken our stand.

This is the Easter message, even though we are not yet even into Lent, our faith is an Easter faith, we are an Easter people, liberated by the Resurrection. I stand here today, in this sacred space, to proclaim this word that…

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Join me in saying, He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

We face interesting times: in our parishes, as we look to our mission and outreach and how we simply faithfully continue to worship; in his deanery as we face the challenges of the future; and in the Church as a whole – a fragmenting Anglican Communion with its divisions and hang-ups about the sexuality; all the while bible-bashing fundamentalists of bigotry and hate at home and abroad, seek to take a Gospel of love and inclusivity and draw a few selective passages of Paul and the Levitical law to condemn in ways that Christ never would.

Lurking behind all of this is the whole issue of how Christians engage with modern society, and explain what the Gospel has to do with them, and how it can transform them.

That Gospel has little to do with heavy-duty theology, or complex philosophy but at the heart of it, and at the heart of all that we do…it’s all about the Resurrection.

Paul said if there’s no Resurrection, then all the preaching is useless.

If there is no Resurrection, our faith has no value.
If there is no Resurrection, we become false witnesses.
If there is no Resurrection, the transformation that takes place within our lives when we know Christ is meaningless.
If there is no Resurrection, then we are to be pitied among humankind.

But Paul was quick to proclaim, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, (he is) the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

In a later verse in the same passage of I Corinthians 15, Paul says the resurrection will change us….

The body sown is perishable, but it will be raised imperishable;
it is sown with dishonour, it will be raised in glory.
it is sown in weakness, it will be raised in power;
it is sown as natural, it will be raised as spiritual” (15:42-43)

This Resurrection is our hope! It is our joy! It is our faith!

The resurrection of Christ from the grave is the cornerstone of Christianity. It is the Magna Carta of our faith. Everything depends on it. Nothing in the Christian faith is worth trusting without it. As a matter of fact, it is not stretching too far to say that all of the New Testament stands firmly on the event we call Easter.

And when we began to doubt, we need to be reminded that no event in history has shaped the world like the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

There is no other religion anywhere in the world that offers an empty tomb as its salvation. There is no other religion that has people lined up for hours in Jerusalem or elsewhere, to look at the empty place where their leader is no longer. In short, Christianity is the only religion that celebrates a Resurrection.”

The resurrection of Jesus Christ has stood the test of time because there isn’t anyone who has been able to disprove it. Even in the face of persecution, the apostles and those who followed them willingly underwent Martyrdom proclaiming Christ risen.

If they had made it up, then surely, at the first sight of an axe, a hammer and nails or a gridiron, surely they would have admitted that it was made up. But no, with faith in Christ resurrected, the glorious martyrs held fast to the Gospel. If anything is worth dying for, then it is worth credibility. That is why I believe in the resurrection and the power that it has to change lives: my life, your lives

And because of that Gospel message, hopes have been restored, attitudes have brightened, emotions have been positively influenced, and lives have been changed.

Let me tell you another story…

It was Easter Day 1973 . Uganda groaned under the terror of Idi Amin. Still fresh in the memory of young priest Kefa Sempangi’s memory was a faced burned beyond recognition, the sight of soldiers cruelly beating a man, and the horrible sound of boots crushing bones, all for the crime of being Christian.

But that East of 1973 Sempangi bravely and openly preached on the Risen Lord in his town’s home football stadium to over 7,000 people. After the service, five of Idi Amin’s Secret Police followed Sempangi back to his little church and closed the door behind them. Five rifles pointed at Sempangi’ s face.

“We are going to kill you for disobeying Amin’s orders” said the captain. “If you have something to say, say it now before you die.” Sempangi, thinking of his wife and little girl, began to shake.

But the risen Lord living in his heart gave him the courage to speak. “Do what you must, “ he said, “The Word of God says that in Christ I am already dead, and that my real life is hidden with Him in God. It is not my life that is danger my friends, but yours. I am alive in the risen Lord, but you are still dead in your sins. May He spare you from eternal destruction.”

The leader looked at Sempangi for a long time. Then he lower his gun and the other guns followed, “Will you pray for us?” he asked. Sempangi did, and from that day those five officers, now converted through the witness of Sempangi’s bravery, protected the Anglican Priest with their very lives.”

Nothing has ever shaped the world like the gospel message.

As we are reminded that it’s all about the Resurrection, and that nothing has ever shaped the world like it, I’m also reminded a very simple fact about life itself…Life on this earth, in these bodies, does not go on forever.

There is death. Every one of us must face our own mortality. There is no military victory, no medical cure, no global village that can prepare any individual to answer the ultimate questions in life any better than the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s the hope of the Russian Orthodox standing against the atheism of Communion, It’s the hope of Paul and the Corinthian Church. It’s the hope of people like Sempangi, who in the face of death itself, stood firm and claimed that indeed Christ is risen!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Amen.

Christingle 2015

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in mission, scripture, teaching

Christmas Eve

The Prezi which accompanies this can be found at: https://prezi.com/mj9bepkettmj/

Equipment:
Christingle Kits and Grace, Knitted Nativity given to various children around Church and asked to look after them carefully, Candles & Tapers, Fire Extinguishers and Water Buckets in Chancel. Voile covers the big nativity

People gather in Nave; while Micky Mouse’s Christmas, Tom & Jerry’s “Twas the Night before Christmas” and CJMs “Heaven’s Final Word” plays

Welcome

(coming in from the back) 10..9..8..7..6..5..4..3..2..1…

Christmas starts… now! Welcome to our Christingle Service

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

The Lord Be With You
And also with you

O Come All Ye Faithful

(vs 1-3) ( Number 12 on Carol Sheets)

1 O come, all ye faithful,
joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
come and behold him,
born the King of angels:

O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

2 God of God,
Light of light,
Lo, he abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
very God,
begotten, not created:
Chorus

3 Sing, choirs of angels,
sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heaven above:
‘Glory to God
in the highest:’
Chorus

  • Now I won’t want to keep you long tonight as I know you all have to get back to your beds
  • because some of you may be expecting something or someone later to call.
  • However, before then, I want us tonight to go on a special journey.
  • There are so many of us that we can’t actually move, but this will be a journey of the mind: a journey through the Christmas story, and through this journey, I hope that we will be able to remind ourselves of the reason why we gather on this special night, the reason for the season, the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour.

So, let us begin our journey by hearing what Isaiah foretold…

Listen to this:

A reading from the book of a wise man called Isaiah

“Once upon a time, everyone lived in the dark,
but now – we can see!
They used to live in a world that was so full of shadows
But now – we have a light to light up our way!

We have God with us
And he has made us happy
He has sent us a baby
Who is to be our King,
And he will keep everyone safe.

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

This is certainly an exciting time: and as we get all figitty with the sheer fun of seeing all our relatives, eating lots of scrummy food and may (if we’ve been good) opening the odd present or two! Sometimes, we can miss the reason for the season: sometimes amid the hustle and bustle, the noise, we can lose sight of the stillness, the pause.

God plan has been coming some time. A baby takes time to grow in their Mummy’s tummy and in the same way, Jesus grew inside Mary, slowly and over the past few weeks and months we have been looking forward to this wonderful thing which the prophets of old (like Isaiah) foretold.

Until God chooses to step into this world and become one of us,

GOD

IS

HERE

God is here to be a part of our lives, not remote and distant, but here in time and history and to be present today in the Church, in his word and in his holy sacraments.

Let us now sing The First Noel (Vs 1+6) as we turn round to the sanctuary

The First Noel

(Vs 1+6) (Number 5)
1 The first Nowell the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay:
In fields where they lay a-keeping their sheep
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep:

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
Born is the King of Israel.

6 Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord,
That hath made heaven and earth of nought,
And with his blood mankind hath bought:

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell,
Born is the King of Israel.

Knitted Nativity – dotted around with various children in the church, who should be there?

Mary / Joseph / Shepherds / Kings / Animals

Call children up to form mixed human/knitted tableau

No Jesus, because he is born tonight.

We have another crib in this church, before we see it let us sing While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks.

While Shepherds Watched their flocks

(Number 7)

1 While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
all seated on the ground,
the angel of the Lord came down,
and glory shone around.

2 ‘Fear not,’ said he (for mighty dread
had seized their troubled mind);
‘glad tidings of great joy I bring
to you and all mankind.

3 ‘To you in David’s town this day
is born of David’s line
a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord;
and this shall be the sign:

4 ‘The heavenly babe you there shall find
to human view displayed,
all meanly wrapped in swathing bands,
and in a manger laid.’

5 Thus spake the seraph; and forthwith
appeared a shining throng
of angels praising God, who thus
addressed their joyful song;

6 ‘All glory be to God on high,
and to the earth be peace;
good will henceforth from heaven to men
begin and never cease.’

The Voile is lifted from the Big Nativity

Here we can see all those characters that we collected at the front of Church.

Listen to the story from the holy bible:

A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew:

Joseph lived in the town of Nazareth
But one day he had to go all the way to Bethlehem with Mary
Even though she was going to have a baby.
While they were in Bethlehem,
The Baby was born – it was Mary’s first little boy,
And she dressed him up in baby clothes
And made a bed for him in a stable
Because there was no room left for them at the Inn.

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

This year has certainly been a good year for Christmas Adverts hasn’t it? Mog’s Christmas, and the one about the man in the moon. They’re all trying to make us buy stuff for Christmas, but the best gift is different.

This version of the Man in the Moon video ends a bit different

As we are all excited about all the gifts Father Christmas will bring, we need to remember that the best gift of all comes wrapped not in shiny paper with a big bow on it, but wrapped in human flesh.

Every time a gift is given, it says something doesn’t it? A gift means:

  • I care about you
  • I think you’re special
  • I love you

And this gift from God says exactly that.

God, the powerful creator of the world, could have sent his Son in power and glory and forced us to be good; but God loves us, and wanted his Son to show us, not force us.

God sent Jesus in the world as a tiny, vulnerable baby; in an obscure corner of the world; so that the saviour of the world would be one of us: tiny and vulnerable in this great big world.

It’s very tempting to only think of the baby Jesus and to forget that this is not the end of the story, but only the beginning. The child born in a smelly, cold, cave which sheltered animals would grow up, and the fabulous stories told of his birth would be mirrored by those wonderful things he did as an adult: to make the deaf hear, the blind see, the lame walk and to heal the sick; but none of that compares to the ultimate giving – the best present of all, the gift of our eternal life, won by the baby grown into the man, the man who offered himself on the cross.

So remember, don’t keep the baby in the manger, don’t cling onto the chocolate box image of the child, but allow the child to grow, and your faith will grow too – for the mature Jesus is the man who won us the ultimate freedom through the victory of the Cross.

Christingles

This is a Christingle Service, which means I suppose that we should have some Christingles around here somewhere… Oh yes, you have them in kit form! I hope no-one has opened and eaten the sweets yet…

Because this year, I thought it would be a good idea for us to make our own, and you have the kit here

Can anyone tell me what a Christingle is?

The Christingle was invented by Saint Lucia in Scandanavia to explain symbolically God’s goodness to the world. As this is quite a large crowd, I’m going to scale up my Christingle a little bit, so everyone can see. It features:

• An Orange, which represents the World that God made.
• Four cocktail sticks, representing the four seasons, the four corners of the earth
• … dried fruit, and sweets representing God’s gifts to the world.
• A Red Ribbon tied around the Orange, representing the Blood of Christ
• A Lighted Candle representing Jesus Christ, shining in the world today

Christingles not only signify the goodness of God to us, but also they can be a focus for Christmas.

If you can, replace the sweeties on the Christingle tonight and place it alit on your Christmas table, so as you gather as a family, you can be reminded of the place that Jesus Christ has amongst your festivities.

Say Grace before your meal, and thank God for bringing you together as a family. On the outside of the bag there is a special grace that you can say together when you have re-lit your Christingle

When you have completed your Christingle…

Start with your vial of iron powder – show it, sprinkle some between your fingers, back into the container. Explain what it is – it looks just like dust. In fact, it’s what the earth’s core is made of. It’s the most common element in our planet. It’s earth-dust, nothing more; we might remember that the Bible tells of God making the first human being from dust.  You can’t get anything more earthy than this. It’s grey and dull, really. It doesn’t look like anything special. It doesn’t look like it’s going to do anything cool.  Not on its own, anyway.

But look what happens when we introduce the dust of the earth to the light of the world. (Light your own Christingle at this point, dim the lights, and carefully sprinkle some of the iron powder into the flame – it’s worth practicing before the service so you get the right amount – the iron should turn to bright orange sparks, clearly visible in a dark church).

The dust of the earth comes alive when it touches the light of Christ – Jesus came into the world to bring it to life, to bring energy and joy to places that were grey and lifeless.  When Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world’ he meant that he was bringing the light of heaven right into the midst of earth’s darkness.  When he said ‘you are the light of the world’ he meant that he could transform our dull dustiness into bright shining sparks of God’s love in the world!

At this service, we turn from dust to sparkles! The light of Jesus is with us, and is bringing us to life, so that we can bring his light and life to the dark places of this world – that’s our life’s work, and we do it in the transforming love and power of Jesus.  So shine as lights in the world to the glory of God the Father! (Ally Barrett)

Candles are lit.

The children will sing the first verse of Away in a Manger in the candlelight and then for the next two verses we will all join in.

Light Christingles LIGHTS OUT

Away in a Manager

(Number 6)
(in dark, Children first verse, 2nd/3rd verse, all)

1 Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;
the stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

2 The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes.
I love thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky,
and stay by my bedside till morning is nigh.

3 Be near me, Lord Jesus: I ask thee to stay
close by me for ever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
and fit us for heaven, to live with thee there.

Now, tomorrow is the birthday of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, and all these candles make it look a bit like a birthday cake.

I don’t know if we have 2012 candles here, but we have quite a lot… What song do we sing at someone’s birthday? Why don’t we all sing “Happy Birthday Dear Jesus” to remind ourselves of why we celebrate Christmas – the birthday of the most special man ever in the history of the world!

Happy Birthday to you

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Jesus,
Happy birthday to you!

Blow Candles Out.

Poem

And that’s why we have Christmas and welcome the day
And sing and eat turkey and put on a play
And dress up like angels and get lots of toys
It’s not just because of that sweet baby boy
It’s because of the man he grew up to be
Who changed people’s lives and can change you and me
To live and to love just like God always planned
And turn what is sad into glad again
And turn what is sad
INTO GLAD!

Blessing

May the humility of the shepherds,
the faith of the wise men,
the joy of the angels,
and the peace of the Christ Child,
be God’s gift to us and to all people this Christmas
and the blessing of God Almighty,
the +Father, Son and Holy Spirit
be upon you and remain with you, this night and always.

Amen

Depart

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

END

Reading for Christingle Service 1

A reading from the book of a wise man called Isaiah
(small pause)

“Once upon a time, everyone lived in the dark,
but now – we can see!
They used to live in a world that was so full of shadows
But now – we have a light to light up our way!

We have God with us
And he has made us happy
He has sent us a baby
Who is to be our King,
And he will keep everyone safe.

(small pause)

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Reading for Christingle Service 2

A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew:
(small pause)

Joseph lived in the town of Nazareth
But one day he had to go all the way to Bethlehem with Mary
Even though she was going to have a baby.

While they were in Bethlehem,
The Baby was born – it was Mary’s first little boy,
And she dressed him up in baby clothes
And made a bed for him in a stable
Because there was no room left for them at the Inn.

(small pause)

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

How to use Prezi for Collective Worship (& other useful bits about using tech in worship)

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in geek, mission, parish, scripture, teaching, youth

Death by Powerpoint - a crime against humanityI’ve been speaking to people about Jesus (and in previous lives, other things as well) and supporting that with slides for more years than I care to remember. It started with Harvard Graphics for me, and if you too remember that on DOS then we are both way too old for this game. However, Powerpoint eventually took over and on Windows it has been and remains the dominant presentational tool used. However, we have all encountered Death by Powerpoint where a dull speaker simply reads dense and poorly set out text to a bored and lifeless audience.

Text on it’s own is dull. The visual media was intended for the visual, with text kept to a minimum. I see Dr Bex Lewis report from the many many conferences she attends and am struck by how wordy, how dull, how lifeless many of the slides on screen are like. Once when I was giving a Clinical Paper using traditional old-fashioned 35mm slides, as a poor and unfunded Staff Nurse I could not afford to have any extra slides made above the 5 which the conference would pay for. This focuses the mind somewhat on what you really want to illustrate so it was just the most important diagrams I needed. To fill the space, I went down to the National Gallery and interspersed my talk with classical paintings on 35mm slides (remember them?) and it went down a storm as people remembered images and what I said around the images far better. It was not what was on screen that was important, but the story that I told using the images as backdrop. Less words. More images. Images tell a story for you whilst you spin a yarn.

The TED talks have reinvigorated the scientific conference: short and pithy, scriptless 20 min talks direct to an audience which inspire and invigorate. Every Collective Worship should be like a TED talk and enable those in Worship to leave inspired and challenged.

image

The story is the important thing. Never read it, but internalise it: tell it from the first person, as one of the witnesses or one of the protagonists (but obviously not as Jesus himself), the woman who was healed, a disciple in the boat, or the Last Supper, someone in the Jerusalem observing the Crucifixion. I seem to spend a lot of time playing S. Peter – especially as he was good at stupid statements at critical times which make hugely useful teaching opportunities. Draw the audience in with what is going on and through that communicate the awesome truth of the Gospel of Jesus. None of these stories are very long. You probably grew up with them, and with a little prompt can remember it fully. It doesn’t matter if a word is out of place, for this is the Oral tradition which you are continuing: worry less about the words, but about the word – the overarching meaning of this story. It’s better also, given in your own accent, the accent of the people you are speaking with, as though we were all there.

Reading from the Powerpoint doesn’t work with Children, especially not in Worship

Children are the worst audience. They don’t hide their boredom or disengagement and the problem with many clergy coming into to Schools to lead Collective Worship (previously known as Assembles, but no longer) is that they have forgotten how visual the story we have to tell is. If you simply read a passage of the Holy Scriptures at them in a dull and lifeless way then they will come to believe that Scripture is dull and lifeless. This is a dynamic collection of stories inherited from an Oral Tradition, which was told and retold before anyone ever got to writing it down. It speaks powerfully and so your Collective Worship should also be powerful, driven and lively. I find that with a well-crafted retelling of a Gospel Story, one can hold a large hall of Children rapt with attention, because most of them have never heard the story. It is said that you have to hear the (whole) truth about Jesus dozens of times before it even starts to make an impact, so start here and repeat until evangelised.

“I won’t use the screen because I’m not technical” is not really an excuse, because the screen becomes the backdrop and the prompt for the important bit: the story. Later in this post, I will guide you step-by-step through effective use of presentation software with a minimum of technical skill. If you don’t know how to do it yet, then why not try and learn: baby steps at first because you have the most important task in primary evangelism later this morning, with undoubtedly the largest congregation you will have all week, to make Christ known through your Collective Worship.

Of course this is but one way to reinvigorating Collective Worship, and if you have a team of people, I highly commend the Open the Book project from the Bible Society which uses real live drama, and backs up my point perfectly. However, few of us have those human resources (on our own normally) and have to tell the story as best we can.

The End of Death by Powerpoint

I do use projected images in Worship, and there are some words on them. I always begin worship with “In the name of the Father…”, use “The Lord be with you” on absolutely every encounter with a group of young people, close with the Lord’s Prayer, the Grace and a proper Blessing and Dismissal because, well, it’s part of the Anglican liturgical heritage and how can you teach authentic Anglican values (as desired by SIAMS) if you don’t frame Collective Worship in an Anglican structure? I use the opening, blessing and dismissal and Lord’s Prayer in non-Church schools as well, but whether in Church or LA Schools, children are never forced to pray. “I invite you to pray. If you don’t want to pray, then that’s fine but please remain still with your own thoughts so as not to disturb those who do want to pray...” If the Humanists don’t think that this is adequate, then they really have no confidence in their misunderstandings.

To support the Worship, I use a presentation tool called Prezi.

screenshot-prezi.com 2015-11-27 11-14-25

Prezi is available online and for free, but you have only limited space for presentations and have to have an internet connection (although it has run very successfully over my phone). You can create a wonderful Prezi online and download it as a standalone, take anywhere presentation (and I have seen them used very effectively as an interactive kiosk tool) but obviously that is fixed and you can’t modify the Prezi rapidly without downloading a fresh, edited standalone file.

However, there is a very reasonably priced Educational/Non Profit licence which schools and churches can sign up for and which not only gives you much more space but the ability to work offline which is what I normally do, particularly as the firewall in most schools block access to YouTube and your carefully embedded video link won’t play. I always embedd a complete video inside my Prezi – of course it makes the file bigger, but it always works, even offline. You can edit and share really easily without Internet and they are synced with your online version. Editing and reusing is a doddle.

Prezi

Rather than having traditional “slides” it features a canvas around which the user may roam. Once can zoom in and out of sections, revealing text and images and moving around a graphic, a picture or even text. This means that for storytelling, it gives you a perfect backdrop.

I often call up an image: a painting or an icon of a given story, and then roam around it highlighting details as part of my story

You can call up an image or some text, and then zoom in to make a point, or draw attention to something, zoom out to get a bigger picture.

prezi_demo

Notice how little text there is above here.

You can link to YouTube Videos to illustrate or amuse or even help tell the story. I often take an animation like a lego brickmation and have the sound off in order to tell my story over the top. As I mentioned before, I have often reedited these slightly to either trim the beginning (the annoying titles are unnecessary and the audio is often not needed). Most of this basic editing can be done in Windows Movie Maker (free for PC) or iMovie (Mac), but you will need to get the movie from YouTube or Vimeo first.

screenshot-www.freemake.com 2015-11-27 17-52-33

There are many ways of downloading video off the Internet, but my current favourite is Freemake Video Downloader. It is free, but comes bundled with loads of bloatware, which you just have to be careful with and decline to install. Once you wade through that, it is a powerful and effective tool that can download in a variety of formats. My preferred format and which is perfect for Prezi is the one with the little Apple Symbol next to it – 640×480 MP4 (if this means nothing to you, don’t worry, just look for the little Apple icon and you’re fine. Prezi can import other formats, but it needs to upload them, crunch them and send them back (automatically) as the same format I just described – so saving a file directly means that you cut out the middleman.

All you have to do is find the video you want, copy the address of the video and then paste it into Freemake Video Downloader, choose your format and choose just Download.

Making a Prezi

screenshot-prezi.com 2015-11-28 09-23-38

As with all things, Prezi provides a host of templates which enable your presentations/worship to look like everybody else’s. My advice is to ignore those and concentrate more on your look and feel. There is a limited pallete of fonts for each Prezi which prevents the ‘I’ve just got a new presentation tool’ riot of colour, whizzy transitions and fonts which proliferate: Teachers, I’m looking at you. Choose a colour scheme to suit you. Choose fonts which are first of all legible. Non-Serif fonts are generally accepted as better. However if you use Comic Sans then you are patronising the children and you might as well leave now…screenshot-prezi.com 2015-11-28 09-22-37

screenshot-prezi.com 2015-11-28 09-21-52I tend to create ‘invisible frames’ which I suppose are the closest to slides Prezi has. By being invisible it does not clutter up the screen. There is only one form of transition, praise the Lord, which is the simple fade-in and is all you need: seriously, all you need.


Stop thinking in bullet points.

screenshot-prezi.com 2015-11-28 09-23-16It is possible to do bullet points, and I do occasionally use them, but it should not be your default way of thinking. Consider instead how to illustrate your story. Move through that story using the screen as your support, not your script. Engage by telling the story to, not at your young people.

The Zooming around concept in Prezi is awesome, but you should be careful with moving rapidly across a massive canvas, in and out quickly: it can disorientate, so better to make reasonable, non vomit-inducing moves. Or provide a bucket – your choice.

The rest of this tutorial

The only way to learn is to play: start basic and then progress. My first test Prezis were very basic indeed, then they got horrible and over-ambitious and so I scaled them back to where we are now. It’s a good tool, but it doesn’t replace YOU. Your story is the heart of this: short, pithy, challenging and with something to learn from: oh yes, just like the stories Jesus himself taught…