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

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

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