Archives September 2010

Elson Infant School Assembly – the local community

This is the slideshow for this afternoon’s Infant School Assembly on the local community: showing a lot of old pictures of old Elson and seeing what is different, particularly around the heart of the community: the Church. Although things change over time, some things remain constant: the sense of community, love and care for this area and the love of God

[slideshare id=5295595&doc=elsoncommunity-100927051843-phpapp02

This slideshow has a lot of lovely Elson images in it, you’ll just have to make up your own words!

Sermon: Ordinary 26, Year C – Lazarus and Dives

Texts: 1 Timothy 6:6-19; Luke 16:19-31

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

What do you think heaven is?

  • A man and his sister were taking care of their father who was in the last stages of cancer, the man staying with their bed-ridden father during the day and his sister staying with their father through the night.
  • It had been a hard day. The man and his father had not always gotten along well, and on this particular day his father was especially irritable and giving him a hard time. The man was impatient, waiting for his sister to come for the night shift. He had his coat and shoes on so he could leave as quickly as possible when she arrived.
  • But he heard his father call to him from the other room. He went in, and his father asked, “What do you think happens to us after this life?”
    • A big question. A serious question.
    • The man didn’t have many words, but he thought he could show his father his answer.
    • He got into the bed and lay down beside his father. He asked him, “Dad, do you love me?”
  • “You know I love you,” his father said.
  • The man touched his own chest
  • and then touched his father’s, right above his heart.
  • The man asked, “How much of our ability to love do you think we use during our lives?
    • Ten percent?”
    • “Fifteen,” said his father.
  • “Okay,” said the man.
    • “In heaven,” he said, touching his own chest and then his father’s,
    • “100 percent.”
  • The next day the man got a call from his sister, telling him his father had died, quite peacefully.
  • But before he died, he made a gesture she didn’t understand.
  • Just before he died, he looked at her,
  • and he touched his chest – his heart – and then reached up and touched hers.
  • In heaven, 100 percent: true connectedness,
  • true love, right relationship, no chasms between us.
  • We were made for relationship.
  • We were made to be in right relationship with God and one another, complete and total.
  • But we don’t live that way.
  • We always have a relationship with something else,

Benedict XVI said last week to young people on his visit to the UK

“There are many temptations placed before you every day – drugs, money, sex, pornography, alcohol – which the world tells you will bring you happiness, yet these things are destructive and divisive. There is only one thing which lasts: the love of Jesus Christ personally for each one of you.”

  • In 1 Timothy, Paul exhorts the faithful not to get too close to the uncertainty of riches, but instead draw close to “God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.”
  • If you live in right relationship with God, it will show in this way, says Paul: doing good, being rich in good works, being generous and ready to share. And living this way will allow us to “take hold of the life that really is life.”
  • Not the appearance of life – what this world trumpets as the good life – material comforts – but the life that really is life, the abundance that comes from living heart to heart, 100 percent now.

The story Jesus tells in the gospel could be an elaboration on this reading. It is easy to talk about righteousness in general, as a concept, in the abstract. It is quite another matter to deal with it in the particular.

  • “Poverty” doesn’t lie outside the rich man’s gate.
  • A poor, starving human being does.
    • He is covered with sores, willing to eat scraps;
    • a man, with a name: Lazarus.
  • The rich man, although his sumptuous lifestyle would have him deny it, has a need too.
    • The rich man needs to serve Lazarus as a brother.
    • Together they could help each other experience “the life that really is life.”
    • But during this life, the rich man does not notice Lazarus, much less care for him.
    • It’s as if Lazarus doesn’t exist for him. A great chasm separates the two men, a chasm of the rich man’s making.
  • The scene shifts to heaven. All is reversed.
    • Lazarus is content.
    • The rich man is in torment.
    • The rich man longs for even a drop of water to cool the tongue that had tasted so many pleasing foods during his life.
  • And yet, the rich man still does not care about Lazarus. In his torment, he wants to use Lazarus as a servant. “Send him to put a drop of water to cool my tongue,” he asks.
  • “No,” says Abraham.
    • The chasm between you that you dug during your life has become impassable.
    • The gulf by which you were comforted in life has become un-crossable.
  • The rich man needs Lazarus as much as Lazarus needs the rich man.
  • The independence that riches seem to bring is only an illusion.
  • The rich man thinks he can afford not to see Lazarus lying outside his gate.
  • The rich man lives under the illusion that we are islands, contrary to John Donne’s wisdom, entire of ourselves.
  • We are separated by gulfs, and we can only build so many bridges.
  • The rich man lives with the illusion that we are intrinsically separate beings, our own possessions, and that to be responsible only for ourselves is enough.
  • Like Cain in Genesis, the rich man shrugs, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” assuming it is a rhetorical question, not dreaming that the answer may be “yes.”
  • Yes, you are responsible, and your choices – to see, to notice, to serve, to love, or not – matter.
  • Perhaps for the rich man the gulf between himself and the beggar with his sores brings him a sense of safety.
  • Perhaps he feels there is little he can do, little difference he can make.
  • Perhaps he sees the gulf as a necessary evil.
  • Perhaps the rich man is afraid of really being seen – of being revealed as inept or powerless or empty despite his material success.
  • Who are we in this parable?
    • We are not Lazarus, although we may be longing for something.
    • We are not the rich man, although we may have more than we need of material possessions.
    • We are the five brothers: the brothers and sisters of the rich man, still living, whom the rich man wishes to warn, to save from the torment of being on one side of a chasm; the torment of being separated from God;
    • We are the five brothers, in danger of waiting for some spectacular sign from God before we will take the message seriously.
  • No, says Abraham, you have all the sign you need.
    • And we do.
    • We have the Word, we have the prophets,
    • we even have a man risen from the dead.
  • All of us have someone sitting by our gates – someone who gives us the opportunity to fulfill the promises of our baptismal covenant,
  • Who promises to seek and serve Christ in all people,
  • to respect the dignity of every person.
  • We have a choice: to build bridges or dig chasms.
  • And we can choose to use 100 percent of our capacity to love now and not wait for heaven.


With thanks and respect to the Rev. Dr. Amy Richter whose work inspired this sermon

Electric Ordo for Advent 2010-2011

My annual Ordo (now in its 11th year!) in electronic form is now available for download at

Optimised for Google Calendar, but will work inside Outlook, iCal and any program which understands the iCalendar format.

I create this Ordo for my own use, so that I can have something to plan the services at STE from, and so that I have the daily readings for Mass.

If you also find it useful, then feel free to use it. All I ask is that you pray for me and the ministry of us here at S. Thomas the Apostle, Elson: call it prayerware if you like.

It suits me, but it might not suit you:

  • You might find it a bit too Roman, but we use the Revised Common Lectionary at STE rather than the Common Worship one. They are very close (and in weekdays are identical). It notes the weeks for the Divine Office, because that is the Daily Prayer cycle in use here.
  • You might find it a bit too Anglican with all these commemorations of people you don’t regard as Saints. Well, we are a Church of England parish and we choose to commemorate and memorialise those who don’t carry the official Roman mark of Sainthood. You can always edit these bits.

I owe a hue debt of gratitude to Fr. Huniwick against whose annual publication I always check my working. Any errors and omissions are all my own work. This is the data I will be using, so if you take my word for it, that’ll be two of us making the same mistake on the same day.

All we ask for is your prayers…

how to add this .ics file to your google calendar

  1. Download the .ics file
  2. Go to your Google Calendar
  3. At the very bottom left, under the list of available Calendars is a links for add
  4. Select that and select import a calendar
  5. Browse to where you saved the .ics file
  6. Select which calendar you want to import it to
  7. Import the calendar and these non-busy all-day events will be imported into your calendar

Friday’s Youth Club Reflection: Geese

On the whiteboard: a sketch of birds flying in the V formation

Fact: As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird following. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% to the flying range than if each bird flew alone.

Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier when they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

Fact: Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone, and quickly gets back in formation to take advantage of the “lifting power” of the bird immediately in front.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed where we want to go.

Fact: When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies at point position.

Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership — interdependent with each other.

Fact: The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Lesson: We need to be sure our honking from behind is encouraging, not something less helpful.

Fact: When a goose gets sick or wounded, two geese drop out of formation and follow him down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it is either able to fly again or dies. Then they launch out on their own, with another formation, or catch up with the flock.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as the geese, we’ll stand by each other like that.

Prayer: Lord, help us in our faith journey, and help us to recognise that when we support each other, we are uplifted, when we struggle, you are there for us. As we begin this new school year, may be find a place for you in our lives, and a sense of community and support in this club, for we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Ministry in graphical form…

I have been reflecting and writing on the Ministry that God entrusts to me (I must get out of the habit of writing my ministry because it has little to do with me, it is the work of the Lord than engages, enthuses and drives me) and so I thought I’d put it through Wordle to see what words pop out. I like the emphasis on Church, Mission, People, Worship and Ministry, and interestingly my Nursing background and my own name seem to have some part in this, so my ego is not totally done away with. To a lesser extend we see Elson (where I am Vicar), Blesséd (our alt.worship community) Local, School and Seen, the latter of which is most interesting as it is about the visibility of ministry and the presence in a community which I consider to be so important.

Sermon: Ordinary 24, Year C – Lost Sheep, Lost coin … lost faith, house, job…

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

  • Being pious has great capacity for irritating people.
  • But people who are genuinely holy have immense power to attract others.
    • In the Gospel for this week, Luke observes the way that the marginal, odd, and those neither virtuous nor pious – the tax-collectors and sinners – were “all drawing near to hear Jesus”.
  • The very people who were excluded from other places felt drawn to Jesus of Nazareth.
  • In that society, as in ours, there must have been many who felt rejected and without value, and who knew that their lives were in disorder.
  • They felt lost: not only because of the lives they lived, but because of who they felt they were.
  • Likewise, the mirror image:
    • why did the pious resent Jesus so much?
    • He taught love, gentleness, and the goodness of God.
    • He included everyone at the table of fellowship
      • – sinners and virtuous, male and female, Jew and Gentile, clean and unclean, good and bad.
    • And the pious loathed him, and wanted in the end to kill him.
    • In a society that discovered holiness through social and ritual means of exclusion,
      • Jesus’s radical inclusion was too threatening, so they crucified him.
  • In our Gospel, Jesus tells the pious two stories about things that are lost – a lost sheep and a lost coin.
  • Luke uses these short stories as an introduction to one of the greatest stories of lostness, that of the Prodigal Son.
    • There is the lad who loses himself;
    • the older brother who loses his temper and sense of values;
    • and the good father who does not lose hope.
  • The father has carefully kept the robe.
    • What we normally translate as “the best robe” is not that literally, but it is “the former robe”. Imagine the lad before he goes off to a far country, dropping his clothes on the floor (an experience of clothes management, still known to the parents of teenagers).
    • The father picks up the clothes, carefully folds the robe, and puts it away.
    • When St Francis left his family to create his religious order,(vividly portrayed in Brother Son, Sister Moon) he cast off all the trappings of his former life by shedding his clothes and walking out of the busy market square as naked as the day he was born – do we think St Francis’ confused, concerned Father did the same?
    • Heartbroken, having lost his son, the father of the Prodigal Son still is trusting that things that are lost, people that are lost, can still be found.
  • Perhaps one of the hardest things we can do is to repent and forgive ourselves for the things that we have foolishly lost.
  • If you turn, as I do most days before morning prayer, to the intercession book or look in other churches to their intercession boards where people can write out requests for prayer.
  • Here, that word recurs again and again:
    • “I have lost my job, pray for me.” “My wife has cancer, I am afraid of losing her. Pray for me.” “I have lost my faith – if there is a God, pray for me.” “I feel so lost, depressed, afraid and suicidal – pray for me.” “I have lost my house, pray for me.” “I feel so lost, pray for me, pray for me.”
  • In the parables that we hear today, we have the assurance that Jesus is never indifferent to these pleas.
  • The shepherd seeks out the lost sheep, finds him, places him on his shoulders, and brings him home.
  • I am not a country person by background. My only experience of sheep is plastic-wrapped chops in Asda. Yet I sit in fascination watching sheep-dog trials on television. The way the dogs move the sheep was not at all what I expected.
    • They did not run barking after the sheep.
    • But, as the sheep wandered off, they watched intelligently,
    • then ran like hell, and got in front of the sheep.
    • Then they lay down across the path where the sheep were wandering.
    • So when the sheep came up to them, they were gently turned towards the right direction.
  • So I put before you this morning, my dear friends, the challenge for your mission to care for the lost, all those we encounter in our daily lives and all those we seek to bring back to the sheepfold on Back to Church Sunday.
  • Seeking out the lost does not in the least need any book to be burnt
  • It does not ask us to rebuke, to admonish or even look down upon, for that was not the way of Christ
  • It calls us to this:
    • First, think and pray;
    • Second, run like hell;
    • and third, be found lying about.
  • For the lost, it is a precious and costly gift to be found at the right time in the right place.
  • “Rejoice with me, for I have found . . . that which I had lost.


Based closely upon Lyle Dennen’s article in Church Times, 10th Sept, 2010

Back to…

The Diamond Geezer writes largely about the London I love, and I love the sentiment and the colour of this…

» back to work
» back to school
» back to routine
» back to busy trains
» back to a nip in the air
» back to artificial sodium glare
» back to oranges, browns & yellows
» back to leaves clogging up your gutter
» back to being awake in time to see the dawn
» back to no more Big Brother, like, ever, probably
» back to a decent selection of non-imported apples in the shops
» back to prematurely-purchased fireworks exploding somewhere in the dark
» back to politicians returning to their desks and cutting things with a vengeance
» back to Christmas puddings and Advent calendars creeping onto the shelves in your local supermarket
» back to the nation’s tabloids (and 9 year-olds) getting over-excited about a gaggle of karaoke non-entities on the X Factor
» back to being able to take a day off work and go out to a museum somewhere and without finding lots of kids running around inbetween the exhibits
» back to having students in the flat nextdoor again, and them having loud mates round and staying up until all hours playing their Pendulum or Biffy Clyro or some other such pretentious rubbish
» back to the first conkers falling to the pavement from the big horse chestnut outside Bow Road station
» back to being able to see what’s on the other side of a row of trees for the first time in six months
» back to putting a jacket on, and making sure your winter coat’s been to the dry cleaners
» back to hiding away your tattoos under a long-sleeved shirt or full-length trousers
» back to switching on the lights before seven, before six, hell even before five
» back to decent telly (blimey there’s some good stuff on this week)
» back to mulling over locations for next year’s summer holiday
» back to wondering whether the central heating still works
» back to deciding there’s more to life than salad
» back to letting the garden water itself again
» back to staying in for the evening
» back to porridge, soup & cocoa
» back to blackberrying
» back to misty fog
» back to frost
» back to life
» back to reality
» back to the here and now yeah

Bible Study Notes: 1 Corinthians 13: What is this thing called love?

As we gather:


“That’s not a knife,”  “This is a knife!” Quickly disarmed, the hoodlums run for their lives.

As I read the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, I see Paul somewhat like Crocodile Dundee. His words seem to say, “That’s not love … this is love!”

Love is the Key to our relationship with God

(1) The whole Law is summed up by the one word, “love (see Leviticus 19:17-18; Matthew 19:19).

(2) Love sums up the Christian’s responsibilities in the New Testament (Romans 13:9).

(3) Love is the capstone, the crowning virtue, the consummation of all other virtues (Galatians 5:22-23; 2 Peter 1:5-7; Colossians 3:12-14).

(4) Love is the goal of Paul’s instruction (1 Timothy 1:5).

(5) Love is the distinguishing mark of the true Christian (John 13:35).

(6) Without love, the value of spiritual gifts is greatly diminished (1 Corinthians 12:1-3).

(7) Love is greater than any of the spiritual gifts and is even greater than faith and hope (1 Corinthians 13:13).

(8) Love endures suffering under persecution, and Christians will be persecuted (Matthew 24:10; 2 Timothy 3:12).

(9) Love is easily lost, without one’s even being aware of it (Revelation 2:1-7).

(10) Love is misunderstood and distorted by the unbelieving world. Confusions between sex and love

(11) Love is vitally important to Christians, for it should govern our relationships with other Christians, especially those with whom we strongly disagree.

Many words for Love

Ancient Greek has four distinct words for love: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē. However, as with other languages, it has been historically difficult to separate the meanings of these words. Nonetheless, the senses in which these words were generally used are given below.

  • Éros (έρως érōs) is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. The Modern Greek word “erotas” means “intimate love;” however, eros does not have to be sexual in nature. Eros can be interpreted as a love for someone whom you love more than the philia, love of friendship. It can also apply to dating relationships as well as marriage. Plato refined his own definition: Although eros is initially felt for a person, with contemplation it becomes an appreciation of the beauty within that person, or even becomes appreciation of beauty itself. Plato does not talk of physical attraction as a necessary part of love, hence the use of the word platonic to mean, “without physical attraction.” Plato also said eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty, and contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth. Lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth by eros. The most famous ancient work on the subject of eros is Plato’s Symposium, which is a discussion among the students of Socrates on the nature of eros.
  • Philia (φιλία philía) means friendship in modern Greek. It is a dispassionate virtuous love, a concept developed by Aristotle. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity. In ancient texts, philos denoted a general type of love, used for love between family, between friends, a desire or enjoyment of an activity, as well as between lovers.
  • Storge (στοργή storgē) means “affection” in ancient and modern Greek. It is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring. Rarely used in ancient works, and then almost exclusively as a descriptor of relationships within the family. It is also known to express mere acceptance or putting up with situations, as in “loving” the tyrant.
  • Agápe (αγάπη agápē) means “love” in modern day Greek, such as in the term s’agapo (Σ’αγαπώ), which means “I love you”. In Ancient Greek, it often refers to a general affection or deeper sense of “true love” rather than the attraction suggested by “eros”. Agape is used in the biblical passage known as the “love chapter”, 1 Corinthians 13, and is described there and throughout the New Testament as sacrificial love. Agape is also used in ancient texts to denote feelings for a good meal, one’s children, and the feelings for a spouse. It can be described as the feeling of being content or holding one in high regard

The Importance of Love in Relation to Spiritual Gifts (13:1-3)

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

What Love Is Like (13:4-7)

4 Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Characteristics of Love according to Paul

  • Love Is Patient
  • Love Is Kind
  • Love Is Not Jealous
  • Love Is Not Arrogant and Does Not Boast
  • Love Does Not Behave Badly (Act Unbecomingly)
  • Love Is Not Self-Centred (Does Not Seek Its Own)
  • Love Is Not Provoked
  • Love Does Not Keep Notes on Past Offenses
  • Love Does Not Rejoice in Unrighteousness,  but Rejoices With the Truth
  • Love takes no pleasure in unrighteousness. Love sets its mind on what is right:

The Consistency of Love (13:7)

7 [Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love Never Fails (13:8-13)

8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.


1 Corinthians 13:1-3

  • Why is someone who “speak[s in the tongues of men and of angels” but who is without love like a “resounding gong or a clanging cymbal?”  Reflect on the cheapness of words not backed up by loving conduct.
  • What is the tragedy of possessing gifts but not having any love?
  • What kind of person would give all he possesses to the poor and even surrender his body to the flames without love?  Why does Apostle Paul say that such a person gains nothing?
  • Is there some experience in my life in which I “sacrificed” without love and felt like I haven’t gained anything?
  • What is the end result of a life lived without love (cf. Luke 15:25-32)?

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

  • Think about the life of Jesus based on this passage.  Reflect on how he perfectly fits the description of love.
  • What is the description of love according to the world?
  • How does my idea of what it means to love and to be loved compare with the description of love in this passage?
  • How is it possible for me to love others in this way (cf. Galatians 5:22-25)?
  • In what ways have I been loved by God and his people in terms of the specific way that this passage describes love?

Additional Questions:

1 Corinthians 13:8-13

  • What are the “childish ways” that I need to leave behind?
  • Given Apostle Paul’s description about the “now” and “then,” why is love greater than even “faith” and “hope?”
  • How does this provide the right perspective on the purpose of spiritual gifts and the question of whether or not I have certain spiritual gifts?