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

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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

New Preface for a Mass with Holy Baptism

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We have a baptism tomorrow in the Mass, so I felt a new preface come upon me…

<sersum corda>

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

You give to us new life in waters of baptism
Pour out your blessings with the oils of life
Wrap us in the cloak of purity
And lead us towards Christ our Light

This Easter the joy of the resurrection renews the whole world,
|hile the choirs of heaven sing for ever to your glory

<sanctus>

Paul Fiddes – Sacraments in a Virtual World

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(This paper is no longer available elsewhere on the web, although its critiques are; so as Prof Fiddes gave us a copy of it, I have scanned it here for the sake of completeness)

From The Virtual Body of Christ? Sacrament and Liturgy in Digital Spaces – a symposium organised by the CODEC research centre for Digital Theology (@CODECUK

Sacraments in a Virtual World?

A contribution by Paul S. Fiddes, University of Oxford, June 2009

Summary:

An avatar can receive the bread and wine of the Eucharist within the logic of the virtual world and it will still be a means of grace, since God is present in a virtual world in a way that is suitable for its inhabitants. We may expect that the grace received by the avatar will be shared in some way by the person behind the avatar, because the person in our everyday world has a complex relationship with his or her persona.

Argument:

The key theological question is whether the triune God is present, and whether Christ is incarnate (in some form, including the church) within the virtual world.*If the answer is yes, then one can conceive of the mediation of grace through the materials of that world, i.e. through digital representations.

Grace is, of course, not a substance but the gracious presence of God, coming to transform personality and society. In sacrament, God takes the occasion of bodies in creation to be present in an intense or ‘focused’ way to renew life.

One ought not to assume that cyberspace is a disembodied world. The net is composed of a form of energy, just as is the familiar ‘physical’ world in which we operate everyday. Moreover, the persons behind the avatars are in physical connection with the virtual world – through many of the senses (sight, hearing, touch — i.e. keyboard, mouse). Anyway, mental activity always has a physical base in the brain. Studies have shown that people feel a bodily connection with those with whom they are communicating over the net.

Theologically we should develop a notion of ‘virtual sacraments’ rather than an ‘extension’ of the consecration of elements over a distance, and their direct reception by the person employing the avatar. Within the logic of the virtual world, the cathedral in Second Life is a place where avatars worship God and avatars minister to avatars. The ‘person’ can thus only receive a virtual sacrament indirectly through relation to the avatar. There is a mysterious and complex interaction between the person and the persona projected (avatar), just as there is between the person and his/her personae (self-presentations to others) in everyday life. Avatars do not, however, worship merely an avatarGod because there is only one God, for whom person and persona are identical and in whom ‘all things live and move and have their being’, including the beings of virtual worlds.

There can be an ‘extension’ of the sacraments from the church sacraments of bread and wine into the sacramentality of the whole world, since the world is held in the life of the triune God; for an expression of this, see Teilhard de Chardin’s Mass on the World. Many physical objects in the world can become a focus of mediated grace in continuity with the church sacraments, while remaining dependent upon the sacraments of dominical institution for their meaning. My suggestion about virtual sacraments thus falls somewhere into the spectrum between church sacraments of bread and wine and other sacramental media in the world. I do not want to suggest that virtual sacraments would be simply identical with the church sacraments, though given the context of a ‘virtual church’ I suggest they would be closer on the spectrum than — say — the sacraments of sand and light in RS Thomas’ poem ‘In Great Waters’ :

The sand crumbles
like bread; the wine is
the light quietly lying
in its own chalice. There is
A sacrament there…

It might be said that the stuff of a virtual sacrament includes both sand (silicon) and light (photons)! Is there any less sand and light in a virtual world than in Thomas’ experience of the sea off the coast of Wales?

* This is not an outlandish question. The same question may be asked about the world which is inhabited by a schizophrenic, which appears completely real to the schizophrenic subject but which will be alien to others who share that person’s life in daily experience.

Dying

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We should not be afraid of dying, but modern society sees this as a failure. This is a subject I have been banging on about for 25+ years.

The article on the right was written in 1990 by a Staff Nurse in a Coronary Care Unit (with hair, note!) who felt that we applied the indigities of resuscitation far too indiscriminately. As one who jumped on chests on a daily basis, I saw first hand where it worked and its importance. I was also very aware of its abuses because we were too reticent to tell people that their loved ones were dying and that they should not be afraid.

This video, a short think-piece by a specialist in care for the dying (thanatology) , I feel, should be more widely seen as it explains rather beautifully the gentle process of dying which is natural. I would want also to bring the spiritual dimension into this, and speak of the need for words of comfort, reassurance, of making peace and receiving absolution, and where appropriate the sacraments.

The Oil of Healing might heal us to a good death – a Euthanasia – which is the perfect end. That word has come to mean something very different, very clinical; but I ask you: would we not all want a good death? A euthanasia?

Specialists can ensure that death is peaceful, pain-free and stress-free. But you have to let them do their work. “Do all you can” is usually more for our benefit as the ones who remain behind, unable to grasp the reality that death will ultimately visit us all.

It isn’t true that “Death is nothing at all”, for the bereavement it leaves behind can be devastating, but we should be assured that death is a part of life, an inescapable part of reality and a frame around which our lives have meaning and context. What we do on this earth matters: the people we love, the laughter we share, the lives we impact. But it will not last for ever, and there is a time for that to end, and time for subsequent generations to take up the baton. Learning to live with and beyond the loss of someone we love does not mean you have failed them, but that we adjust to that loss .

“Then”, as S. Paul reminds us, “we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess 4:17-18)

[video width=”1280″ height=”720″ mp4=”http://www.frsimon.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/BBC-Dr.-Kathryn-Mannix-explains-why-we-should-all-talk…mp4″[/video

Homily: Ordinary 2 Year B “This is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”

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

“This is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”

John the Baptist uses the metaphor of the Lamb of God. It is an odd metaphor when one considers the traditional view of the Messiah of God as a powerful military leader who would free Israel from oppression.

The Lamb of God is the sacrificial lamb, the willing victim, the man of sorrows. John the Evangelist makes this connection clear by telling us that Christ is arrested and is given up late on Maundy Thursday – at the same time as the Passover Lambs were being slaughtered in preparation for the Passover. In the Gospel of John, the Last Supper is not the Passover meal, but the one that precedes it – look closely at the text and you will see this.

When I raise the consecrated elements at the end of the Lord’s Prayer, I always echo these words of John the Baptist directly: “This is the Lamb of God”, not “This is something that reminds me of the Lamb of God…” but “This is…”

As you can tell from my girth: in the past I have been very fond of wine. As the Scriptures say, it “gladdens our hearts” and has been a wonderful source of joy in my life.

The process of making wine is ancient: when Noah found dry land again, he planted a vineyard and got drunk (it’s in Genesis 9:20-21). However, one does not simply plant grapes and get wine, something has to happen to it to make it into that wonderful substance.

The action of fermentation, the work of yeast, to convert sugar into alcohol happens almost invisibly. It happens as it must in the dark, in the warm, and out of sight, and for most of us, how it does it is a mystery.

We start with grape juice and we end with champagne. A transformation in substance.

In the same way, the words and the actions of the priest and the responses of the congregation works on ordinary things: simple bread and wine, and there is another transformation in substance.

In a way that is also mysterious, that cannot be satisfactorily explained, nor indeed should be explained, there is a change in the ordinary and it becomes extraordinary, as God enters into these elements and simple bread and wine become the blessed sacrament and precious blood.

“This is the Lamb of God…” is literally true, it is not a metaphor or an illustration, but a statement of fact. In these changed elements we find God. We find the real presence of Him “hiding” as St Francis of Assisi wonderfully said “under an ordinary piece of bread”. When Jesus took the bread and wine of a meal, he said “This is my body”, “This is my blood”. It was not a metaphor, not an illustration, but the institution of a sacrament. We believe Christ when he admits that he is the Son of God, so I fail to understand why some would wish to deny the reality of Christ in these most sacred mysteries.

We start with bread and wine and we end with the body and blood of Christ. We need not look for God in the molecules of the wine, or the atoms of the bread, look not for the change to the elements but look for the change in the people of receive it – the comfort derived from the sacrament. Look not for the wind, but for the action the wind has on the trees.
God takes the ordinary: people like you and like me, and he transforms us into something extraordinary – into the saved. God does this is subtle ways, hidden, in the dark. How he does this is a mystery. We are transformed by the power of God, transformed by Christ’s body and blood.

This is why I have the highest possible regard for the sacraments.

This is why the Mass is the cornerstone of our worship and why it is at the heart of our missionary activity in this place.

This is why we come together not just on a Sunday but at other times during the week to worship God, and why you should come also.

This is why we keep the blessed sacrament safely in that Aumbrey behind the altar and we revere it with a bow or a genuflection, for God is really present here in these blessed sacraments and his holy presence is signified by the candle that always burns above the Aumbrey.

That is why we have the opportunity to pray before the blessed sacrament when it is exposed. This is why is taken to those too unwell to come to Church to receive the sacrament of salvation.

That is why you should all come to this holy altar to partake in these blessed sacraments; for he was prepared to make himself available to all of us.

As we continue through 2018, we are called into the presence of the sacrament, of the Lamb of God, for here, at this altar, in the midst of these powerful prayers, we are forgiven, reconciled, renewed, anointed.

“This is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. Not the sins of a few, or the sins of those who are already good, but the sins of the whole world, the sins of you, the sins of me, the sins of all of us, past, present and future.

We behold Christ on the altar, making the holy sacrifice, we witness the transformation, we ourselves are transformed.

…and it is something far finer than the finest champagne, for this is the taste of salvation.
Amen.

Epiphany Proclamation

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While a day like Christmas is fixed in our minds and on the calendars on December 25th, many of the important feasts of the Church year move, based upon the date that Easter is set. Easter changes each year moving to the Sunday after the “Paschal Full Moon,” and can fall between March 22 and April 25.

In ancient times before calendars were common, most people did not know the dates for the upcoming Liturgical year. On Epiphany Sunday, the upcoming dates were “proclaimed” after the gospel in this way, and I make this announcement on the Feast of the Epiphany each year:

Dear brothers and sisters,
the glory of the Lord has shone upon us,
and shall ever be manifest among us,
until the day of his return.

Through the rhythms of times and seasons
let us celebrate the mysteries of salvation.

Let us recall the year’s culmination,
the Easter Triduum of the Lord:
his last supper, his crucifixion, his burial,
and his rising celebrated
between the evening of the Twenty-ninth of March
and the evening of the Thirty-first of March,
Easter Sunday being on the First day of April.

Each Easter — as on each Sunday —
the Holy Church makes present the great and saving deed
by which Christ has for ever conquered sin and death.
From Easter are reckoned all the days we keep holy.

Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent,
will occur on the Fourteenth Day of February.

The Ascension of the Lord will be commemorated on
Thursday, the Tenth day of May.

Pentecost, joyful conclusion of the season of Easter,
will be celebrated on the Twentieth day of May.

And, this year the First Sunday of Advent will be
on the Second day of December, 2018.

Likewise the pilgrim Church proclaims the passover of Christ
in the feasts of the holy Mother of God,
in the feasts of the Apostles and Saints,
and in the commemoration of the faithful departed.

To Jesus Christ, who was, who is, and who is to come,
Lord of time and history,
be endless praise, for ever and ever.

Amen.

Divine Presence

Posted Leave a commentPosted in poetry, teaching

 

When did God become fully human?
When an egg was fertilised?
When cells divided?
When Mary felt her first kick?
When Jesus took his first breath?

When did God become fully human?
When he entered the kingdom as a child?
When he chose to resist temptation?
When he fought, by not fighting back?
When he hung with us; for us?

Here is a gift of authentic hope: divine presence.

Amid the white noise of a world surfing the airwaves;
amid the narrow casts,
broadcasts and podcasts;
embedded in the WIFI and the 4G
the twitter feeds and the status updates;
up with the static and the crackle of interference
one simple signal still pulses from ages past, like a
heartbeat: Are you receiving me?
Are you receiving me?
Are you receiving me?

(not sure of the author, stolen from the 42Cdo Padre, Dec 2017)

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Brighton Dec 2017

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At the #CuratingLiturgy conference I began the day with an act of benediction. Liturgically traditional, yet realised in a distinctively holy ground way. All videos can be downloaded from the Agnus Dei Website

Exposition

The host in the Perspex monstrance is revealed slowly from underneath organza coverings

He is here…

You might not be able to spot him… but he is present

Really, literally present… amongst us

The image of the invisible God enfleshed at one time, and now with us in another form.

The form he left us: Body and Blood. Bread and wine.

No less than his real self.

To bring change to our humdrum lives, to transform us, as so surely he himself was transformed

To be amongst us… alongside us… with us…

It may be just a glimpse, a suggestion, an idea, captured in the corner of your eye, but he wants to reveal himself to you…

From the mountain top, to the upper room, to this sacred, holy meeting point between you and him.

O saving victim! opening wide
The gate of heaven to man below,
Our foes press hard on every side-
Thine aid supply, thy strength bestow.

All praise and thanks to thee ascend
For evermore, blest One in Three;
O grant us life that shall not end
In our true native land with thee. Amen

Adoration

While the Blessed Sacrament is exposed on the altar, we spend sometime in silent prayer. There may be scripture readings, hymns and prayers from time to time.

Blessed, Praised, Hallowed and Adored,
Be Our Lord Jesus Christ on his throne of Glory
And in the most holy sacrament of the altar

ANIMA CHRISTI

Soul of Christ, sanctify me,
Body of Christ, save me,
Blood of Christ, inebriate me,
Water from the side of Christ, wash me,
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesu, hear me,
Within thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from thee.
From the malicious enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come to thee
That with thy saints I may praise thee
for all eternity. Amen

S. PATRICK’S BREASTPLATE

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

THE DIVINE PRAISES
Repeat each line after the priest

Blessed be God.
Blessed be his holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Blessed be the name of Jesus.
Blessed be his most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be his most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, Virgin and Mother. ;
Blessed be S.Joseph, her spouse most chaste.
Blessed be God in his Angels and in his Saints.

Benediction

Therefore we, before him bending,
This great Sacrament revere:
Types and shadows have there ending,
For the newer rite is here;
Faith, our outward sense befriending,
Makes the inward vision clear.

Glory let us give, and blessing
To the Father and the Son.
Honour, might, and praise addressing,
While eternal ages run;
Ever to his love confessing,
Who, from both, with both is one. Amen

Thou gavest them bread from heaven.
Containing in itself all sweetness.

Let us pray.

O GOD, who in a wondrous Sacrament has left us a memorial of thy passion: grant that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood; that we may ever perceive within ourselves the fruit of thy redemption: who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.

The priest makes the sign of the cross over the people with the Blessed Sacrament in silence.

 

Reposition

After Benediction the Blessed Sacrament is placed at the other end.