Homily on the Wedding of Richard and Naomi 1st September 2018

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

I am here on serious business today. I am here to warn you all of a great threat to us. A threat to our way of life. A threat to the ease and comfort in which we live. A threat to the personal security that we so often take for granted. I am to speak to you about something, which if left unchecked, could turn our very world upside down.

Some of you may already be thinking that a wedding is not the place to bring up such dire warnings. Weddings should be light, and funny. A wedding sermon should, at minimum, offer some advice to the couple and not take up too much time. Well I apologize in advance because I cannot in good conscience let pass this opportunity to warn you, my dear friends, of this imminent threat that we face.

And rather than bang on about Pop Music lyrics like I usually do at this point – to an extent to which the Mother and Father of the Bride and certainly all of the Choir could recite it along with me, rather than do that, I want to turn to Holy Scripture, for it is full of warnings about the threat that I am concerned with today. So I will let scripture speak for itself.

In the New Testament, and as we have just heard, Saint Paul warns us. In writing to the sophisticated, well-educated Corinthians, who were over flowing in spiritual gifts, he warns them of the insidious danger of love:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

His warning rings true today. Love will turn you into a spineless, wimpy push over and at the same time give you the strength to prevail against all manner of onslaught and conflict. Love will take over your life if you let it. Love will turn your world upside down.

The writer of the first letter attributed to John goes even further, and we heard this at the start of this service:

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love”

1 John 4: 7-8.

If God is love then there is just no escaping it.

Wherever there is love, whoever is loving, however they are loving, that’s God.

Love is risky. Love is demanding. Love is costly, or better yet priceless. There is a power in love.

Love casts down the wealthy and powerful, and lifts up the poor and lowly.

Love cannot rest as long as there are hungry children, broken hearts, or captives of any kind.

Love can change the world, turn it upside down in fact, make up down and last first.

Love does this not in feats of strength but in weakness and vulnerability.

Love is weird like that. Love brought Jesus to the cross and out of the grave.

Love is constantly poured out on all flesh, making all things new.

Yes, God is love and the older I get the harder it is for me to tell the difference between the two.

If you like the way things are, my friends, if you are comfortable, if the status quo is fine by you, then you best steer clear of love.

But in spite of all the warnings from scripture, in the face of a world that seems bent on the opposite of love, and perhaps in contradiction to common sense, two more people gather before God, before us, to commit their lives to love.

Richard and Naomi have seen what love costs, what love demands.

They know that to love means to leave self behind, to empty oneself, to give it all.

They know that love opens oneself up to ridicule, sacrifice and loss, great loss, for Love breaks us open, and the presence of each other, they seek to complete each other.

Their love today is a sacrament, an outward expression of invisible grace.

As Christ gives his life for the church and the church in return gives its life for Christ, so do Richard and Naomi give themselves to each other. Their lives lived in love are not to be hid away but to be lived out in public for all to see. Their shared love is a symbol of the love of God for the world, overflowing to all whom they encounter. Their home a sign of God’s inbreaking Kingdom where justice and peace abound, where love is a higher law.

We who gather here today come to commit ourselves to uphold them in prayer and support them as they answer love’s call. And today too, we are reminded of love’s call on our lives. As we witness the vows of Richard and Naomi may we have our own love strengthened.

For in love, the world is made a more complete place, society a more caring structure, family a deeper bond. For all of us, like the rings exchanged this day, may love be given and received. Let us all recommit ourselves the radical weak power of love, the love of God, in which we live and move and have our being.

May this be our prayer, all of us, in the name of God who is love, God who is +Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

So farewell then, Vimeo…

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I’ve been a user of Vimeo since 2009 and always thought them to be far superior, hipper and of better quality (and initially length) than YouTube. When YT was limited to 15mins, Vimeo had no such limits and the quality was always higher. They also were under the radar as far as DCMA was concerned.

I make a lot of video using material under copyright, but as they are used for the purposes of Worship, they are normally not subject to copyright restriction. The PRS explicitly say they do not pursue copyright on material used in an act of worship for which no charge is made. All my own original material is placed under Creative Commons license because… it is the Gospel and beyond such earthly limitations.

Now the algorithms which trawl YouTube and now Vimeo cannot make such a nuanced differentiation and so in no time at all I have been bombarded by DCMA copyright strikes and they will not listen to my claim of parody (in the case of some rather clever parodies created for Walsingham) or Worship (see above) and so I have decided therefore to close my Vimeo account.

If it is sermons you want, go to https://www.roborough.org.uk/sermons/

If it is worship videos, please visit https://www.agnusdei.org.uk/

Easter Benediction

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The tomb is empty
              But our lives are now filled with hope and expectation
The facecloth is cast aside
              But you are now invited into a new relationship
The stone is rolled away
              And a new beginning is revealed.

In the dumbfoundedness of soldiers
In the incredulity of women
In the tears of the faithful
              And in the gentle laughter of that gardener who seemed
              So strangely familiar…
There is to be found a glimmer of light.

To fall at his feel in the dewy grass very early on that first day of the week
To prostrate before his presence in the company of angels and saints, prophets and patriarchs
To kneel in front of his throne in this sacred space
Is to recognise the new light which has shone out of…
              …absence.

For death has lost it’s final grip
Sin has lost all power
Shame has been overtaken by something unseen
And yet seen enough to be burnt into woven cloth
              Impressed into unleavened bread
              Conmingled with the fruits of vine
And to be shown to the Magdalene
              To be shown to you.

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

Posted Leave a commentPosted in liturgy, mission, sacraments, scripture, teaching

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

Wedding Prayer

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I was asked to include this wedding prayer in a forthcoming service, but I have declined because it merely repeats vows and prayers already said. It is lovely and profound because it echoes the lovely and profound things already covered in the Marriage service. I think it is a lovely prayer to treasure, and perhaps would like to encourage you to say together on your anniversary, to remind you of that vow and covenant.

 

Lord, bless our love;
Bless our promise
To have and to hold,
To love and to cherish
Each day and always.

Protect our marriage,
And keep us faithful,
So we can support and
Encourage one another
In sorrow and in joy.

Watch over our lives,
Over our home, over our family
Over our hopes and dreams.

We give you thanks
That you make us one
In a bond of love so precious
That through it
We can know your love
Today and always.
Amen.

Response to the Consultation on Bishop’s Missionary Order for Plymouth Deanery

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There is a plan for certain churches to run roughshod over the rest of the deanery of the city of Plymouth. It’s an aggressive planting strategy and it worries the rest of us. They put out a consultation document and this is what I said…


Revd Dr Adrian Hough
Exeter Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Secretary
The Old Deanery
Exeter EX1 1HS

Wednesday, 09 May 2018

Dear Adrian

Re: Formal Consultation on a Proposed Mission Initiative in the City of Plymouth

I write with some comments on the Paper circulated on 1st May 2018 which I hope will add to the discussion on the initiative which will inevitably happen.

The circumstances in which this initiative arises is the result of the continued under-investment in the Deanery of Plymouth by the Diocese: the amount per capita spent on clergy resource within the deanery compared to other deaneries is directly correlatable with the level of church engagement in the areas in question. It is worth noting that all three areas are in parishes which are currently served by a single stipendiary incumbent with little clerical, administrative or lay support. Proper investment in supporting the existing parishes and their distinct tradition, with pastoral and youthworkers rather than resetting these areas in a new spiritual direction may have been more pastoral. That both of these parishes are under the oversight of the Bishop of Ebbsfleet also leaves the impression that there is a determination to undermine the spiritual authority of the parishes.

Of greatest concern to my parish, however, is in the cavalier approach to rapacious expansion that appears to be on the cards. The issuing of a BMO for the whole deanery, and the stated intention that “the plants are determined to create more plants” places the entire deanery in jeopardy of aggressive and frankly unwelcome takeover. When these plants seek to create more plants, they will obviously start to look at other areas where the Church of England is already present and active: S. Anne’s Glenholt feels especially vulnerable by this threat. It is an area where the Church is active and present, but attractive to the kind of Church plant that looks at an area of growth and gentrification as an opportunity for takeover. Under the provisions of this document, that Church feels it will be next, with little safeguard.

The wording of the fourth paragraph of your covering letter, the second para of the Explanatory Notes and most significantly sections 8.1 and 8.3 suggest that further planting WILL happen “without the permission of anyone who has the cure of souls”. The paragraph to “consult” with the local incumbent and the Initiative “informing” the Deanery Synod cuts across the legal and pastoral safeguards established within the Church of England and destabilises the parochial system. Consultation implies no expectation of agreement.

For this reason, I must object most strongly to these two clauses, not just for the way in which they are enacted in the three areas under current consideration, but in the way that they may be misused in future. These paragraphs do not safeguard my mission in the locality to which I have been licensed.

One needs to question whether a Church Plant is the most appropriate model of evangelism for these localities. The characteristics of a Church Plant is that it imports the charism of the parent church into a new area, without responding to local need. The charism of churches from other traditions to that of the parish, from more affluent areas no matter how earnest their enthusiasm may be can be analogised with African and Asian mission in the 19th Century. A more pioneering approach, which is organic, ground-up and based not on such imperialism would ensure that it truly brought the people of Ham, Whitleigh and Ernesettle into a lasting relationship with Christ.

This Mission Initiative has up to this point, not really been satisfactorily consulted and discussions at Deanery Synod and Chapter has been characterised by an attitude that “this is how it is going to be”.

I rather hope that my comments, and the comments of others to whom this particular consultation has been sent will enable a thorough rethinking of a process which in Ham, Whitleigh and Ernesettle are properly served and rebuilt as nurturing communities confident to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Yours sincerely,


Revd Simon Rundell
Priest-in-Charge


 

Animated Facebook Banners (How-to)

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If you can’t quite decide one what picture you want on the big banner across your facebook group, then the animated banner is for you. Personal pages (or at least mine) will only accept still images (no video, no animated gifs) . However, it is supported for companies and other interest FB pages, it means that a bit of film can be easily incorporated into Fan Pages and it can be made very simply.

I will use Sony Vegas Pro, but many other tools are available, some for free.

You will need to create an MP4 Video of a specialist custom size: 820 x 462 pixels (w x h)

 

  1. Under File / Properties I created a new template of the size (820×462) I wanted. As most of these are still images, I could set the frame rate quite low, 15fps but if you are using a video clip, you might have to stay in the 24/25fps range.
  2. You can import your images, and lay them out around this long yet short canvas. If you want to fill the frame rather than leave lots of black border, then there will be cropping and zooming involved. Once I had an 820×462 pixel zoom window, I set it as a preset so I could quickly reuse it.
  3. Make the video between 20 and 50 secs in length
  4. When ready, do FILE / RENDER AS… and create a new output template in the new size 820×462. I usually set this template to render just video, not audio as it will be silent on FB anyway.

You can then upload your video to the banner on your FB Group page. Note: FB will then render it in their own system so this bit takes ages. In fact, I wrote this whole post in the 10+ mins it took to rerender it into an FB format. However, when uploaded you will then have an animated banner of video/images at the top of your Facebook Business or Fan Page.

 

 

You’re welcome!