Archives September 2011

Unboxing the books…

Yes, I know this is a little geeky, but there is a fine geek tradition about unboxing tech when it arrives on YouTube, so here is today’s diversion from Confirmation Class with the unboxing of my new book “Creative Ideas for Sacramental Worship with Children”

Filmed with Vickie W and Vicky P, share in the little frisson of excitement…

Review of Creative Ideas for Sacramental Worship with Children by @babypigeon

Deb has posted another review of my new book, which I gratefully reproduce here:

‘Creative Ideas for Sacramental Worship with Children’ includes some interesting ideas and is a great antithesis to the view adopted by many ministers, that worship should be ‘middle of the road’. By doing this there is the danger of the worship becoming dull and uninspiring. In this book Father Simon embraces the sacramental aspects of worship, and makes suggestions for creating experiences which will leave all participants feeling enthused and inspired. Many a church service and school assembly could be written using the ideas contained within the book and, although it is primarily about worship with children, many of the ideas could be used equally well withadults. Not only does he include suggestions of what to do, he also explains how this might be achieved. He includes examples of liturgy and suggestions for appropriate music to enhance the worship. These things make this book a valuable resource for all worship leaders. There seems to be a popular belief that sacramental worship detracts from the message in the scriptures. Father Simon, however, emphasises the importance of the scriptures and how the ‘word’ and the ‘sacrament’ can enhance one another. It is encouraging to find a book that embraces modern technology – the twitter Lord’s Prayer, for example – and yet does not lose sight of the importance of sacramental mystery.

Deborah Vears BSc(hons) LTCL

I’m hoping that it might cause a little groundswell of interest which will take my mind off sorting a licensing date

Review of my new book: Creative Ideas for Sacramental Worship with Children

Leanne has reviewed my new book:

Creative Ideas for Sacramental Worship with Children by Simon Rundell

This book is a real gem, one of those great finds that you happen upon every now and then. The first part of the book has some very interesting insights and ideas about the role of children within the church and the attitudes that we all have, often subconsciously, towards the younger members of our church. It certainly made me question the assumptions I have previously made about the best way to make children feel part of the congregation. This part of the book is quite short, but densely packed with thought provoking points, some of which seem quite obvious in their simplicity, but that had not occurred to me as Sunday School teacher in a small rural parish, perhaps for no other reason than that separating “kids church” and “adult” or “main” church seemed like the logical thing to do.

Having read this book, it no longer seems quite so logical. However, despite the thought provoking rhetoric in the first part of the book, the real value for me came in the second part. Here Rundell sets out full examples of child friendly versions of liturgies. They all seem to me to be effective services or parts of services that could be very easily incorporated into existing models, but two particularly stood out for me (and had me rushing to the PCC with gushing ideas about our own services. The first was the Christingle service, written in plain, easily understandable language, relatively short (no matter how child friendly and fascinating you make it, there is after all an attention span cut off point for even the most engaged child) and involving the children making the Christingles as the service goes along. The second was the “Nursery Rhyme Mass”, taking the well known Eucharistic prayers and translating them into simple language, set to nursery rhyme tunes. Fantastic for a Sunday School session on “What is the Eucharist” or similar!

This book is simple, straightforward, thought provoking and ultimately of great practical use to those involved in children’s ministry of any sort. It should also be read by anyone involved in the planning of church services, especially family services and the like.

A sermon of Pope St Gregory the Great: The word "angel" denotes a function rather than a nature

The word “angel” denotes a function rather than a nature

You should be aware that the word “angel” denotes a function rather than a nature. Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits. They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Moreover, those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels. And so it was that not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary. It was only fitting that the highest angel should come to announce the greatest of all messages.

Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are empowered to perform. In that holy city, where perfect knowledge flows from the vision of almighty God, those who have no names may easily be known. But personal names are assigned to some, not because they could not be known without them, but rather to denote their ministry when they came among us. Thus, Michael means “Who is like God”; Gabriel is “The Strength of God”; and Raphael is “God’s Remedy.”

Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do what God does by his superior power. So also our ancient foe desired in his pride to be like God, saying: I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven; I will be like the Most High. He will be allowed to remain in power until the end of the world when he will be destroyed in the final punishment. Then, he will fight with the archangel Michael, as we are told by John: A battle was fought with Michael the archangel.

So too Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle. Raphael means, as I have said, God’s remedy, for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness. Thus, since he is to heal, he is rightly called God’s remedy.

Late Night Worship at the Portsmouth Diocese Clergy Conference: Blessed Sacramentals

All of these videos can be downloaded from the Agnus Dei website

a) Reconciliation – Late Night Prayer

Gathering Video: Busy



The Lord grant us a quiet night and a perfect end



Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,

world without end. Amen.

At the end of a busy conference day, we come together in night prayer, to recall all that we have said and done, all that we have not said and have failed to do. This is a night prayer offered by Blesséd with a focus upon reconciliation. Reconciliation between ourselves and God and reconciliation for the world.

As we recollect our actions and our lives, we seek the sacrament of forgiveness and the opportunity to look towards the dawn in the light of forgiveness. In this darkness, watch for the resurrection dawn that comes with God’s forgiveness.

So as we prepare to wash away our sins, completely and utterly, we let the bubbles of God’s forgiveness wash over us.

Like bubbles they might seem so fragile, so ephemeral, so small and yet so filled with beauty, each one reflecting for a moment that perfection that can only be created and sustained by God and so we can fill this sacred space with bubbles of forgiveness.

So my dear friends in order to prepare ourselves for these holy and sacred mysteries, let us reflect first on the sins and injustices we inflict upon God’s creation…

Ritual Seeking forgivness for the World: David Ford


Bubbles are blown


Screen: You are forgiven


Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has left power to his Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent and believe in him, of his great mercy forgive you all your offences; and by his authority committed to me, I absolve you from all your sins: +In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Book of Common Prayer, Visitation of the Sick p317

Word: Psalm 4

Lord, have mercy and hear me.

When I call, answer me, O God of justice;

from anguish you released me, have mercy and hear me!

O men, how long will your hearts be closed,

will you love what is futile and seek what is false?

It is the Lord who grants favours to those whom he loves;

the Lord hears me whenever I call him.

Fear him; do not sin: ponder on your bed and be still

Make justice your sacrifice, and trust in the Lord.

‘What can bring us happiness?’ many say.

Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.

You have put into my heart a greater joy

than they have from abundance of corn and new wine.

I will lie down in peace and sleep comes at once

for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,

world without end.


Lord, have mercy and hear me.

The healing of the world begins with ourselves…

Ritual seeking forgiveness for ourselves: Gathered Stones



Nunc Dimittis

Save us, Lord, while we are awake; protect us while we sleep; that we may keep watch with Christ and rest with him in peace.

Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace:

your word has been fulfilled.

My own eyes have seen the salvation

which you have prepared in the sight of every people;

A light to reveal you to the nations

and the glory of your people Israel.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,

world without end.


Save us, Lord, while we are awake; protect us while we sleep; that we may keep watch with Christ and rest with him in peace.

Blessing & Dismissal

God loves you. God forgives you. Go from this place assured of his forgiveness, and pray for me, a sinner als

Let us pray…

Come to us, Lord, this night, and give us the strength to rise at dawn rejoicing in the resurrection of your Anointed, who lives and reigns for ever and ever, Amen.

Take Bubbles and/or Stones away with you.

 b) Healing – Evening Prayer

Gathering Video: Call to Worship


O God make speed to save us

O Lord make haste to help us

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,

world without end. Amen.


We gather towards the end of our day in Conference attentive to God. We are drawn into the raising of our hands in the evening sacrifice of praise and we yearn for his healing in our lives.

This Evening Prayer reminds us that it is okay to be broken, for all are broken in some way. Our ministry to others calls us to be broken to an extent before God, to accept our weakness and our limitations and if we are to be truly ministers of His healing and grace in our communities, to be conformed to the wounded healer himself.

Towards the end of this evening prayer those who desire it will be offered the ministry of laying on of hands and anointing with the oil of healing, to both heal us within ourselves and be equipped for the healing of individuals in our care, communities and the whole world. The indelible sign of the cross on our foreheads and on the palms of our hands, visceral, literal signs of God’s healing on our bodies and a sacrament of the inner healing which He works in us.

Let us reflect on our need for healing and look for the signs of the kingdom which are close at hand and heralded by the work of Christ in our lives 

Word: Broken Open


Scripture 1: Lamentations Chapter 3: 1-9, 22-24, 31-33

As the first 9 verses are heard, a cairn of broken bricks is formed. At the latter part, tea lights are placed upon the cairn to symbolise hope.

1        I am one who has seen affliction
under the rod of God’s wrath;
2        he has driven and brought me
into darkness without any light;
3        against me alone he turns his hand,
again and again, all day long.
4        He has made my flesh and my skin waste away,
and broken my bones;
5        he has besieged and enveloped me
with bitterness and tribulation;
6        he has made me sit in darkness
like the dead of long ago.

7        He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;
he has put heavy chains on me;
8        though I call and cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer;
9        he has blocked my ways with hewn stones,
he has made my paths crooked.

22      The steadfast love of Yahweh never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
23      they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24      ” Yahweh is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
31      For Yahweh  will not
reject us forever
32      Although he causes grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
33      for he does not willingly afflict
or grieve anyone.

Prayer: Lord’s Prayer Challenge


Our Father in heaven.Hallowed by your nameYour Kingdom comeYour will be done On earth as in heavenGive us this day our daily bread

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin  against us

Lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil

For the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen


Don’t say ‘Father’ if you do not behave like a son or daughter. Don’t say ‘Our’ if you only think of your self.Don’t say ‘Hallowed’ if you do not honour that name.Don’t say ‘Your Kingdom come’ if you are weighed down with material goodsDon’t say ‘Thy will be done’ if you do not accept the hard bitsDon’t say ‘as it is in heaven’ if you only think about earthly matters

Don’t say ’Our daily bread’ if you have no concern for the hungry or the homeless

Don’t say ‘Forgive us our sins’ if you remain angry with someone

Don’t say ‘Lead us not into temptation’ if you intend to continue sinning

Don’t say ‘Deliver us from evil’ if you are not willing to make a stand against injustice

Don’t say ‘AMEN’ without considering the words of your prayer!

Laying on of hands and anointing

The ministry takes place while a version of the Video featuring Bjork’s Prayer of the Heart is played. 6min.

After the anointing


Father in heaven,

through this holy anointing grant us comfort in our tribulation.

When we are afraid, give us courage,

when afflicted, give us patience,

when dejected, afford us hope,

and when alone, assure us all of the support of your holy people.

We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.

Blessing & Dismissal

Go from this place in peace, filled with the healing power of Christ

Venture back to your communities with hope and with love

Show to each other the marvellous works Christ has begun in you

And be empowered by His Spirit to transform all those whom you will meet.

Take from our broken cairn of lamentations a candle to enable you to shine in the darkness as a healed member of the body of Christ

…and may the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you his peace… and the blessing of God Almighty, +Father, Son & Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you, this night and always. Amen

Take candles away with you

Announcement: Fr. Simon Rundell to move to new opportunity in Plymouth

My dear friends in Christ, for the past seven years I have served here in the parish of St Thomas the Apostle as your Vicar. Over that time we have seen through hardships, challenges, tears, joy and the numerical and more importantly the spiritual growth of this parish. This parish now truly represents the vision of an inclusive, family friendly and missional place to encounter God in his holy sacraments.
Perhaps as a result of what we have achieved together, The Bishop of Plymouth has asked me to consider a new challenge and a new adventure as the Priest in Charge of the Roborough Team Ministry in Plymouth (part of the Diocese of Exeter) and to have a role in enabling Mission and Evangelism in a new and exciting beast called the Mission Community of the Holy Family across the north of the city of Plymouth.
It is always hard to discern the call of God and so it is with a sense of both regret and excitement that I have decided to accept his invitation. It is with regret because it means leaving this community which I love so much and in whom both Lou and I have found so many friends and in which God has blessed us so much together. However this regret is ameliorated by this exciting opportunity: to work in mission and outreach across a number of parishes and to face new opportunities to proclaim the Gospel. I intend that my final Sunday in this Parish will be Sunday 29th January 2012 and my licensing by the Diocesan Bishop of Exeter, Bishop Michael will take place on Sunday 26th February 2012, at S. Edward King and Martyr, Shaugh Prior after which the parish of S. Thomas the Apostle, Elson will be in Vacancy. You may be concerned that the Incumbancy in this Parish might not be replaced, but I understand from Fr John, our Area Dean that Elson as a thriving, vibrant and missional community is at the heart of the Deanery Plan, and of course, we have the continued ministry of Mother Margaret, into whose hands this parish is entrusted during the vacancy and who in partnership with you all will continue to do God’s marvelous work in this place.
This move places before us as a family a number of challenges: not least in as much as Lou, Emma and Zoe will be remaining in Gosport to see out the academic year and join me at the end of July. We ask for your prayers and support for our family during this difficult transitional period.
We should therefore now turn and give thanks to God for the time that we have shared as priest and people and look forward to the new opportunities that a new incumbent will bring to St Thomas, for further growth and deepening in faith, praying that God will call the right person to walk with this parish further on their journey with him…

Being a Godparent

“…on a Saturday?”

Has been the first reaction of many when I have told them that this afternoon, I will make very serious promises on behalf of Isaac and Charlotte, and I will mean them.

This is not to say that when I conduct Baptisms, one of my favourite of the pastoral offices, most people don’t mean it, but it’s just that for many it is the first time they are called to respond directly to a question of faith, a matter that we tend to push under the carpet these days. For a number of practical reasons (Charlotte returning to Spain tomorrow, one of the Godparents (Oh, that would be me then) working on a Sunday) the baptism is today. I hold baptisms on any day of the week (often baptising adults on a Weds night), so no day is set aside for baptism.

One of our parishioners noted the other day that you can so easily tell the difference between the Churched and the Unchurched at a Baptism in the Mass: the regular Churchgoers usually just turn up in normal clothes whereas those unfamiliar with Church will always dress in what used to be called their ‘Sunday best’. It’s nice to make an effort, it gives respect to the occasion (and is why this morning I have my best suit and a clerical collar this morning). However, as most people don’t dress up for a Sunday anymore, and so what we are left with is the curious way of dressing up like a night out at a nightclub. In the middle of the day. In the cold. High heels and very very short dresses. In, as I have mentioned, the cold. Men in casual shirts and uncomfortable trousers. It’s a little odd. However, if the nightclub is the modern church…

…then we should not be surprised. The response is the most important thing. It says “this is important”, even if the medium and the idiom seem a little incongruous to those of us who have taken to heart the welcome of Christ to (in the words of Kurt Cobain) “come as you are”. Inner preparation is the most important thing, and is, I suspect what Matthew had more in mind when in Matthew 22:1-14 (and especially vs 12) when the man who wasn’t dressed appropriately was slung out: inner commitment, the garments a metaphor. I personally don’t think that he does look at your clothes, but rather what you wear on your heart. Do what you wish. If you want to put on your glad rags, then do so. It’s nice to see a bit of bling in Church.

The commitment to a child and their parents which a Godparent makes are essential: a building block of society and the core of the extended family that makes up the body of Christ. The promises I will make on their behalf are challenging and difficult to keep up, but ones which I will keep with joy. My prayers for the beginning of their Christian journey.

Sermon: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Text: Matthew 18:5-20

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

“If he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector”

How should we treat the tax collector? How should we regard the alien in our land – the Samaritan in our midst?

Whenever Lou and I go up to London, to revisit that central part of London in which we trained as nurses we often pass Oxford Circus on our route. You often find someone in that area (in fact, it’s always the same bloke) with a megaphone and a placard. Amid the teeming throngs of people, you hear the occasional word though the megaphone: sin, judgement, hell and Jesus.

As we pass we notice that not one person passing is engaged with what is being said. Everyone has shut the words out. To be honest, it simply isn’t working, and frankly, it is giving out a completely perverted interpretation of what the good news about Jesus Christ is all about. All of this condemnation, all of this disapproval and hate directed at others is not what it is all about.

Remember that story where the woman is caught in the act of adultery: the Jewish leaders have essentially already condemned her to death and Jesus turns to her and says “I DO NOT CONDEMN YOU” (John 8:4-11); and that is what makes Jesus Christ so fascinating – he never stops insisting that God loves you exactly as you are, loves you from were you are. Isn’t that what draws you to his engaging presence – it is what fascinates me.

The man with the megaphone may think that his Gospel of condemnation is the truth and the good news: declaring with absolute certainty that homosexuality is the gravest of sins but that it’s okay to eat shellfish (prohibited in the same book of the Torah (Leviticus 18/19), but it doesn’t come over that way, it doesn’t appear that loving. Beware of anyone who declares the will of God with absolute certainty.

Jesus says that loving God and loving others is what defines us (Matthew 22:37). Everything hangs on those two. The defining mark of a Christian is love.

John writes in his first letter that if you say you love God and don’t love others around you then you are a liar (1 John 1:10). How you love others is how you love God. Paul says that even if you have enough faith to move mountains and don’t love, then you are just like an empty clanging vessel (1 Corinthians 13:1-2).

The man with the megaphone is trying to coerce people into his religion, not share his faith: bullying them into fearing some image of a vengeful and jealous, remote deity rather than becoming aware of the love of a close, intimate, loving God which is what Christ sought to bring to us. The YHWH of the old testament is, frankly, not a very nice character, but I suspect that is just poor Public Relations – a spin placed by writers of the Hebrews which reflected the sense of loss and alienation of the Jews in exile in Babylonia rather than the loving, embracing God which Christ reveals.

By trying to bully people into Church all we will do is alienate them, because it goes against people’s innate understanding of God – a God who loves without exception. God loves us without agenda, without reservation, and so we should love without agenda or reservation. If you love someone with an agenda, then it isn’t really love is it? Any movement which condemns, hates or marginalises is not, cannot possibly be of Christ.

It doesn’t mean of course that we cannot disagree, that we must put up with injustice or oppression or things which are clearly not of the love of God. It doesn’t mean that we cannot have a spine or stand up for what we know to be right; but we are called to do it with love and respect.

Jesus told us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). When you love your enemies, something powerful happens – something transformative, something of God, which cannot be denied or perverted.

And yes, God does indeed love everyone: he loves you, and he loves me. He loves axe murderers and child molesters and he even loves those who don’t think that he exists, or those people who think that God loves only them and hates everyone else. God is love (1 John 4:8).

The apostle James said that God shows no favouritism (James 2:1-10) – that he loves without condition or exception and because God so loves the world, so a Christian should too. Rejection and condemnation has no place within the Gospel.

These words may challenge you, and call you to a fresh take on things which you have never ever contemplated in your life before, and what I am saying is radical and dangerous (that is certainly what they said of Our Lord was it not?) or you may be sitting there thinking “at last”. But I need to ask: what are we doing to challenge the perspective of those hundreds of people in Oxford Circus who think that Christianity is that man with the megaphone, who think that fire and brimstone from homophobic African bishops or rich evangelical churches in the home counties is what makes Anglicanism; or who find websites like “” and think that it is what God really thinks (the site exists, I am ashamed to confirm – it is a terrible and frightening perversion of the faith).

The media love to report on splits in the Church of England, from the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate, to report on its perceived decline and it infighting rather than its true purpose of proclaiming the name of Jesus as Lord and God in Elson and Hardway.

People think that rejection and condemnation is what makes Christianity and forget that Jesus said in the Gospel of John “I come that you may have life and life in all its fullness.” (John 10:10).

Our faith is not something to be jealously hidden away from all others who fail the soundness test, but is something worth sharing; not something which causes us to sit in judgement of others, but calls us to open our hearts to those who need it. There are so many negative stereotypes of our faith, and it is only us who can change them.

Are those who preach rejection of the young, the homosexual, the addicted, priests of a different gender or race, are they so far from those who blow themselves up in a religious frenzy on the underground? It is all fanaticism in the name of religion, not of faith.

Our purpose for Elson, I believe, should be to help shape this community of faith into a praying, spiritual community of people who strive to reach out to God. In the seven amazing years we have shared together we have seen growth and deepening in faith as we prayerfully we come together to share in God’s Holy Sacraments and to hear his holy word. Conscious of God, we reach out to him. Through these we are able to reach out to others.

As we journey together in faith, we need to consider how we can embrace that call to love that God makes to us: to provide an environment for the disadvantaged, for the young and homeless, the refugee, those of a different culture than us; for the isolated and alone and those of different lifestyles, sexualities even, than us. That is the challenge; that is what the Inclusive Church movement is all about: the inclusive love of God for all regardless of colour or lifestyle: that is what we should be working to build.

“If he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector”

You know now what that means. Love them.