Archives March 2010

Sermon: Mass of the Lord's Supper, Year C

Mass of the Lord’s Supper – What a Friend I’ve Found (Martin Smith)

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

The Mass is the most intimate acts of faith, a drawing in, a pulling together, a communion with Our Lord Jesus Christ. It has been preceded by a washing of feet, an intimate act which makes many in our modern society uncomfortable: good. Christ comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comforted, and if you were embarrassed by Mother Margaret touching you, and even horror of horrors, kissing your newly washed feet, then you will have an inkling of how the disciples felt when their Lord and Master, their Teacher, their Messiah took on the role of the lowest slave in the household to cleanse your tired, dusty feet.

As we gather around this holy table, to feed on him, those gentle words of Martin Smith in “What a friend I’ve found” echo that sense of intimacy and connection that can only comes from that sharing of not only a meal, but in the Mass itself by feeding on him directly as is present here in bread and wine.

What drew me to this song was firstly that sense of intimacy in its tone and style, and also in the lines which for many are its most challenging, because it strays into our own vulnerability and even our sexuality:

“I have known your touch, more intimate than a lover”

That Christ reaches into us this very night goes beyond the superficial and into the very depths of our souls: this is why the pain of separation should be keenly felt at our Gethsemene experience – the Watch of the Blesséd Sacrament and the poignant simplicity of the Stripping of the Altars.

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus… Friend Forever…”

And yet, profess that as powerfully as Peter as we may, we know that we too have the capacity for denial, for rejection of that friendship. There is a little of Peter in each and every one of us.

And as Jesus was the forgiver of Peter, so will he reach back out to us. Our eternal friendship and intimacy is not conditional on us, the weaker part of the relationship, but on Jesus: our true friend, the lover of our souls as the Wesley hymn puts it.

In this intimate moment, laid on the breast of Jesus as the beloved disciple was, sharing in not only a meal of hospitality but in Christ himself, in this place we have true acceptance, true intimacy, true friendship.

Your friend bids you come and dine with him.

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus… Friend Forever…”


Sermon: Palm Sunday, Year C

Palm Sunday – Blesséd be your name (Matt & Beth Redman)

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

An extra hymn! In Lent! In Holy Week no less!

A hymn unknown to some, but to others instantly recognisable as the theme tune to Blesséd, our very own alt.worship community.

This Holy Week, I propose to use the themes suggested not only by Holy Scripture, but to lay them alongside the lyrics of a number of evangelical (largely), modern choruses as a way of tapping into this most Catholic, Sacramental of weeks; and applying the signs and symbols of these worship songs to the passion and the resurrection in what I hope will be new insights.

“Blesséd be your name” echoes the clamour of the crowd gathered on Palm Sunday. The joy and celebration, the sense of triumph in the portent that the real king, the Messiah, the long awaited anointed one of God was truly upon them. In its upbeat tone it speaks of the power of God, Creator and Sustainer of All.

And yet, that triumph comes at a price. It is no mistake that the Passion Gospel of Luke that we have heard right through leads us through Holy Week as a sign of that counterpoint, that challenge, that apparent defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

In the same way, the writer of this song, speaks in the more challenging second verse of “the road marked with suffering… where there’s pain in the offering” and the wilderness that surely we will walk through, and seeing that God is to be praised and worshipped even at the foot of the cross, in fact God is to be praised and worshipped exactly at the foot of the cross.

As the bridge of the song notes “You give and take away” – for not all of our lives will be rich, abundant, plentiful or easy. To think it might be so is to collude with the fairytale view of faith and the airbrushed simplicity of the prosperity Gospel. It is the same view which the crowds on Palm Sunday showed when they believed that the Messiah would come with military might to eject the Romans, and establish a secular dominant power in Jerusalem once more. It was a fantasy, and a misreading of the Scriptures and the Humble King who entered Jerusalem.

There is, and there will continue to be brokenness in our lives, in our relationships, in our health; and yet it is this brokenness which is supported, lifted up and redeemed on the Cross in this most holy of weeks.

In one of our Blesséd Meditations, where bitter lemons and sweet honey are tasted, we recall

In Happy moments, praise God.
In Difficult moments, seek God.
In Quiet moments, worship God.
In Painful moments, trust God.
In Every moment, thank God

And he will restore you.

Whether you enter this Holy Week with joy or with pain, there is a journey to be undertaken and each step of the way, it will be the King of Kings with us, whether on our Donkeys of triumph or our crosses of pain.

Through all this, we are drawn to cry “Blesséd be your name”


Oscar Romero, Martyr – The Long View

The words of Archbishop Oscar Romero, Martyred in 1980

It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.

The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime

only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,

which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No programme accomplishes the church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

My grateful thanks to Mother Carrie for bringing these words to me, just when I need them.

Readings for before the Watch of the Blessed Sacrament

The following readings are laminated onto cards to be reflected on during the Watch of the Blessed Sacrament (until Midnight on Maundy Thursday)

In the rush and noise of life, as you have intervals, step within yourselves and be still. Wait upon God and feel his good presence; this will carry you through your day’s business.

William Penn (1644-1718)

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind;
In purer lives your service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.
Drop your still dews of quietness
Till all our strivings cease:
Take from our lives the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of your peace.

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

0 Lord, my God, grant us your peace;
already, indeed, you have made us rich in all things!
Give us that peace of being at rest,
that sabbath peace, the peace which knows no end.

St Augustine (334-430)

O Lord, support us all the day long of this troublous life,
until the shades lengthen and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over,
and our work is done.
Then, Lord, in your great mercy grant us safe lodging,
a holy rest and peace at last,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Cardinal Newman

Watch, dear Lord, with those who wake, or watch or weep tonight,
and give your angels charge over those who sleep;
Tend your sick ones, O Lord Christ, rest your weary ones,
bless your dying ones, soothe your suffering ones,
pity your afflicted ones, shield your joyous ones,
and all for your love’s sake.

St Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

May the Light of lights come
To my dark heart from thy place;
My the Spirit’s wisdom come
To my heart’s tablet from my Saviour.
Be the peace of the Spirit mine this night,
Be the peace of the Son mine this night,
Be the peace of the Father mine this night,
The peace of all peace be mine this night,
Each morning and evening of my life.

Celtic Prayer

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I place myself in the presence of Him, in whose Incarnate Presence I am before. I place myself there.

I adore Thee, O my Saviour, present here as God and man, in soul and body, in true flesh and blood.

I acknowledge and confess that I kneel before that Sacred Humanity, which was conceived in Mary’s womb and lay in Mary’s bosom; which grew up to man’s estate, and by the Sea of Galilee called the Twelve, wrought miracles, and spoke words of wisdom and peace; which in due season hung on the cross, lay in the tomb, rose from the dead, and now reigns in heaven.

I praise, and bless, and give myself wholly to Him, Who is the true Bread of my soul, and my everlasting joy.

(John Henry Newman)

Hail to Thee, True Body

(A Prayer to our Eucharistic Lord)

Hail to thee, true body born
From Virgin Mary’s womb!
The same that on the cross was nailed
And bore for man the bitter doom.

Thou, whose side was pierced and flowed
Both with water and with blood;
Suffer us to taste of thee,
In our life’s last agony.

O kind, O loving one!
O sweet Jesus, Mary’s Son!

Matthew 26


36Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

40Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

42He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

43When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

45Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Jesus Arrested

47While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

50Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.”[d

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. 51With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

52“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

55At that time Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Mark 14


32They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

35Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

37Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

39Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

41Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Jesus Arrested

43Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

44Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

48“Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50Then everyone deserted him and fled.

51A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

Luke 22

Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives

39Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.[c

45When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46“Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

Jesus Arrested

47While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

49When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

51But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

52Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 53Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”

John 18

Jesus Arrested

1When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.

2Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

4Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

5“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

7Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

8“I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”[a

10Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

11Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”


you understand me

you know my every thought

my brain is not a mystery to you.

Enter into my mind, Lord

Guide and direct my thoughts.

Be before me when I speak,

Be beside me when I act

Be within me when I listen

That I might possess

The wisdom born of love

For you are love

The love which understands

Everything. Amen

Frank Topping, 20th Century

My Lord

And my God

John 20:28

O most sacred redeemer,

Give us wisdom to recognise you,

Intelligence to understand you,

Diligence to seek you,

Patience to wait for us,

Eyes to see you,

Hearts to meditate on you

And lives to proclaim you,

Through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Benedict of Nursia 6th C

Lord, you are the bread if life

and the well of holiness

Just as you feed us day by day

With the food that sustains our bodies

Keeping us alive on earth,

We pray that you will feed our souls

With the spiritual bread of eternity,

Making us ready for heaven.

Just as you satisfy our bodily thirst

With cool water from the rivers and streams

We pray that you will pour the waters

Of holiness into our souls,

Making our every work and action

A joyful sign of your love

Basil of Caesarea 6th C

Stay with us, Lord Jesus,

So that we shall begin to shine as you shine,

As a light to others.

The light will be all from you

It will be you who shine through us upon others

Give light to them as well as to us;

Light them with us, through us.

Help us to witness to you without preaching;

Not by words but by example

And by the sympathetic influence of what we do;

By our visible resemblance to your saints

And the evident fullness of our love for you.

JH Newman 19th C

Father, I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all Your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,

For you are my Father.

Charles de Foucault, 20th Century

Spring Harvest Visual Intercessions

This showreel features the four videos for the daily intercessions at the beginning of the day. Ishmael (Ian Smail) and Irene Smail originally asked me to do it for their week, in the second week after Easter, but apparently, they now want it for all of them. This has meant a lot of late nights this week to complete them, but I think the results have been truly blessed.

I was always uneasy about a conference in Holy Week, as I fear it detracts from the Church’s most important season, but if they want to take on new forms of praying then I am happy to help. I won’t be there to see how people react to them (of course, they might hate it), but if anyone does have any feedback after the conferences, then I would be most interested.

Announcing the Time (Annunciation Poem by VM Kimball)

Announcing the Time by VM Kimball

With God there is no time …
and yet, God made time,
made the day and made the night
God called the light Day,
and the darkness he called Night.
And there was evening
and there was morning,
one day.

Genesis 1:5

God placed a sun, the stars, a moon
so we can measure and call it time,
so all things then are made right,
so only time when God ordains reality,
and only time can man mark it down.
There is an appointed time
for everything.

And there is a time
for every event under heaven.
A time to be born, and a time to die,
a time to plant, and a time to pluck the planted.
A time to kill, and a time to heal,
a time to tear down, and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh.
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to search, and a time to lose.
A time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to tear apart, and a time to sew.
A time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate.
A time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

But there was a time, in the time that God made,
when God entered in, God in time called Miryam,
a young girl, to embrace God’s time,(eth)
and find it was a time to love, no time to hate,
no time for war, but time for peace.
But I trust in thee, O LORD,
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand.

Psalm 31:14-15

From the time of the rupture, from the time

God knew, from the time when man and woman
wrenched themselves from the Timeless,
the righteous prayed and hoped for Yahweh
to enter in, yearning for YHWH (the One of Being)
archaic past, before, during, now, and future …
Sow for yourselves righteousness,
reap the fruit of steadfast love;
break up your fallow ground,
for it is the time to seek the LORD,
that he may come and rain salvation over you.

Hosea 10:12

So the tender daughter of Zion sewed
righteousness. John preached in the
wilderness: The time is fulfilled,
and the kingdom of God is at hand.

Mark 1:15

God found Mary joyful in his Presence,
and came upon her with Spirit and Life.
When the time had fully come, God sent
forth his Son, born of a woman, born
in the truth, redeeming those who lived
in the truth, so they could live with
the Timeless One.

Galatians 4:4-5

Time is an illusion, not a measure,
according to a Greek philosopher.
But science uses time, clocks time,
not definable since other quantities
are defined in time and space!
Is it a mental measuring system
of mankind’s limited mind? Or,
is it hung on the sun as it faithfully
rises through our sky? Or perhaps the moon,
phasing full to nil, marking seasons
for the seeds, and moons for woman’s
time. Or is it a swing of pendulum, an
oscillation of some Cesium atoms?
The rising of the Nile, shadows on pillars
set to catch the time? Is it a time that only
earth can hold, a time that disappears
in space, and then it is the space that
time ignores. Big Bang began it all
but one Planck moment didn’t pass,
before the moment came, before the
moment past. And so we call it mystery
when Mary stopped in time, stopping
time itself, and God entered in …
He sent forth Christ as a plan
for the fullness of time,
to unite all things in him,
things in heaven and things on earth.

Ephesians 1:9-10

In God’s time, which is no time,
it was beginning with her,
to bring the world to God,
to start creation again,
to initiate this holy birth

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee, Blesséd art thou, and Blesséd is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen