Funeral Reading: 1 Corinthians 15 A reading from the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, when he was asked questions about death and the resurrection of the body…
Someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?”
How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead:
The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;
What is sown in sorrow, it is raised in glory;
What is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
What is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, and when this happens, then the saying that is written will come true:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
Yes, thanks be to God! He gives us the victory over death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.
Funeral Sermon: Rebekah Text: 1 Corinthians 15
There is, indeed, a great deal of sadness in this Church today, as we gather together to lay to rest the earthly body of Rebekah – Bex to many of you – and to commend her soul to Almighty God. As we gather to comfort and support one another, to share stories – and pictures of Beck’s huge range of facial expressions, thanks to Matt, we should be reminded of that special person and the special place she had in the lives of all, whether she was to you a daughter, a sister, a beloved grandchild, relative, friend, a fellow service user or as one who received care from you.
As we have heard from Joe, Rebekah was a unique and strong individual: clearly “a tough cookie”, strong willed and resilient. As Joe mentioned, it turns out she was a bit of a Metal fan! With a beautiful smile and bright engaging eyes, as we see in all these wonderful images on her casket, I know she had a special place in the hearts of you all.
Lovingly cared for at home for many years, she then benefitted greatly from the care at Dame Hannah, and I know enjoyed many of the varied activities that service users participated in; from having her own space to trips to the theatre – I understand the Dreamboys were quite popular – the circus and the cinema, pamper nights and being in a supportive environment that enabled her to be a part of a peer group, something important to any young person.
S. Paul spoke to the people of the city of Corinth about all kinds of things, including the significance of life and the relevance of death. Although in this age we do not speak readily of death, we must recognise that death is a part of life. No matter how many years we have on this earth, we all face it; and naturally the Corinthians sought answers to their concerns about what next?
He speaks of this earthly life, and especially this earthly body as a seed: planted in the earth and ready to be transformed, to be conformed into the resurrection body of Christ. This resurrected body of Christ still bore the marks of the nails on his wrists, side and feet, but was utterly changed by the power of God and the victory of the resurrection.
I’m not going to promise you my friends that in Heaven Bex is fully restored to something she wasn’t on this earth, that disability in whatever form is ended, because that would demean the Bex you all encountered, knew and loved. Disability is not a failure in life, but a different journey through it. It carries with it numerous frustrations, tears and challenges, but Bex does not deserve to be written off as something less, but rather valued for who she was. No less a daughter, no less a sister, but (as we all are) a valued individual and a child of God. God values and loves all of us in this world and in the next, and as God gathers her to himself, she is showered in the heavenly love that was shown to her through family, friends and all those who cared for her on this earth.
Although Death is a physical loss to all of us here, and there will be a Bex-shaped hole in your lives from now on, we need to recognise that her death is not the end. Your relationship with Bex is not ended, but it is changed, also transformed, but she still remains with us: in our memories, in our love and in our prayers.
The victory of Christ over sin and death in the triumph of the resurrection points us to an everlasting hope that is available to us all, whether we actively proclaim our Christian faith or whether faith is a private matter, something kept to oneself. Surrounded by the love of God and the company of all heaven, Bex’s life and legacy will stay with you: you will each carry a little piece of Bex with you until the end of your own lives; until we are once again all together in the presence of God, where I am quite sure, the Metallica will be turned up to Eleven.
A sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot, taken from the Office of Readings for All Saints Day Let us make haste to our brethren who are awaiting us
Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honours when their heavenly Father honours them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honour from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.
Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them. Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.
When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory. Until then we see him, not as he is, but as he became for our sake. He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins. As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; his purple robes are a mockery rather than an honour. When Christ comes again, his death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with him. The glorious head of the Church will appear and his glorified members will shine in splendour with him, when he forms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to himself, its head.
Therefore, we should aim at attaining this glory with a wholehearted and prudent desire. That we may rightly hope and strive for such blessedness, we must above all seek the prayers of the saints. Thus, what is beyond our own powers to obtain will be granted through their intercession. Amen
A beautiful and powerful poem for the funeral of a daughter.
I Pray Today
I pray today
in all earnestness
with all my heart and soul
for those whose hands
have reared me
and held me close
for those who have caressed
and eased my pain
and borne the suffering with me;
for those whose hearts
have wept in grief
sung happy songs to me;
for those who show
the patience rare
and help me
to keep my cool;
for those who dwell in my bruised heart
and keep me wrapped
with the warmth of their love.
How can any harm
come to me,
when I am protected
with an armour of love?
My wonderful co-conspirator, Fidge, filmed this quick (very quick) interview about the course we are both on, and here is me trying to (badly) articulate what on earth Digital Theology is, and why it is relevant to the Church and its mission. I didn’t actually mention how good the course was, and how much I would recommend it, but I really would: it’s an awesome course.
Tonight we seek to raise some money for the Friends of S. Mary’s and have a bit of a laugh in the process. Last year we organised a wine tasting, and so this year, inspired by our love of complex alcohol and a mixology session onboard the Queen Victoria, this is the result.
We list the cocktails, some spiel about it and the measures for a single drink. There is also our scaled-up volumes based on 20 people each having approximately 1/3 of a normal cocktail. I ran the front-of-house by presenting and mixing a single example whilst Lou was busy in the background making the volume.
On arrival: Kir
150ml chilled Prosecco or Cava 50ml Crème de Cassis
For 20 people: 1500ml Prosecco (2 x bottles) £12.00 & 500ml Crème de Cassis (1 bottle) = £9.00 =£21.00
General welcome and introduction about ‘cocktails’ Read the origin of the word from the Savoy Cocktail book (1930) p. 13 – 14
“Most of the people one meets in places where Cocktails grow have an idea that they know the origin of the word “Cocktail”; none of them, however, agree as to what that origin is, and in any case they are all wrong, as they always put that origin somewhere between sixty and seventy years ago (a book published in 1930), whereas in The Balance, an American periodical, of May 13, 1806, we read that:
“Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters – it is vulgarly called bittered sling and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion.”
This is the earliest reference to the Cocktail that I have been able to find in print.
Historians have been misled by the word “Cocktail” into imagining that it was once in some way connected with the plumage of the domestic rooster. But this is not so.
The true, authentic and incontrovertible story of the origin of the Cocktail is as follows:-
Somewhere about the beginning of the last century there had been for some time very considerable friction between the American Army of the Southern States and King Axolotl VIII of Mexico. Several skirmishes and one or two battles took place, but eventually a truce was called and the King agreed to meet the American general and to discuss terms of peace with him.
The place chosen for the meeting was the King’s Pavilion, and thither the American general repaired, and was accommodated with a seat on the Bench, as it were, next to the King himself.
Before opening negotiations, however, His Majesty asked the general, as one man to another, if he would like a drink, and being an American general he of course said yes.
The King gave a command and in a few moments there appeared a lady of entrancing and overwhelming beauty, bearing in her slender fingers a gold cup encrusted with rubies and containing a strange potion of her own brewing. Immediately an awed and ominous hush fell upon the assembly, for the same thought struck everyone at the same time, namely, that as there was only one cup either the King or the general would have to drink out of it first, and that the other would be bound to feel insulted.
The situation was growing tense when the cup-bearer seemed also to realize its difficulty, for with a sweet smile she bowed her shapely head in reverence to the assembly and drank the drink herself.
Everything was saved and the conference came to a satisfactory ending, but before leaving, the general asked if he might know the name of the lady who had shown such tact.
“That,” proudly said the King, who had never seen the lady before, “is my daughter Coctel.”
‘Right,” replied the general, “I will see that her name is honoured for evermore by my Army.”
Coctel, of course, became Cocktail, and there you are! There exists definite unquestionable proof of the truth of this story, but no correspondence upon the subject can in any circumstances be entertained.
For our tastings tonight, we can’t even scratch the surface of the many hundreds of cocktails which have been developed and loved over the years. Our aim is to give you a taste of 8 different cocktails, some gin based, vodka based, whiskey based, rum based and a couple of champagne cocktails such as the ‘Kir’ which you have sampled on arrival.
If we were very wealthy of course, we would serve ‘Kir Royale’ which is identical in every respect apart from using sparkling wine from Champagne rather than the Italian Prosecco we have favoured. There will be another champagne cocktail later. These are half size samples. Other cocktails will be 1/3 size so, over the course of the evening you will have the equivalent of 3 full size cocktails. Hence the need for Taxi Zoë at home time!!
Now, let’s start with THE classic …
Cocktail 2: Gin Martini
The origin of the Martini or Martinez, can be traced back as far as 1862 to San Francisco, California. It quickly gained a huge following and rose to the rank of ‘classic’ in 1888 when it was published in Jerry Thomas’s legendary classic ‘How to Mix Drinks’. A marriage between Gin and dry vermouth perfectly balanced to your liking and served in a martini glass created from the cocktail glass of the same style; the martini glass has a larger stem and a wider bowl.
Martini is, of course, most famous as the preferred tipple of James Bond who started off drinking Vodka Martinis and then changed to gin. The name Martini comes, not from the drink, but the shape of the classic ‘Martini’ glass which had the name before the drink. (Sadly, we don’t have enough for you all tonight so your samples will be in wine glasses.)
Bond’s assertion that it should be ‘shaken, not stirred’ is not accepted by any decent mixologist. Martinis are stirred with the ice until the glass they are stirred in is too cold to touch (about 30 seconds).
If cocktails are shaken, small fragments of ice break off and dilute the drink, thereby affecting the taste and making it cloudy. James Bond, you know nothing… or maybe it was Ian Fleming’s commentary on the poor quality of Post-War Spirits!
60 ml Gin 15 ml Vermouth
The amount of vermouth used dictates how ‘dry’ the martini is.
For 20 people (1/3 size): 400ml Gin £8.50 & 200ml vermouth = £1.20 = £10.00
Other Martini descriptions are:
Dirty – with the addition of a dash of olive brine
Wet – heavy on the vermouth
Dickens – without an olive or a lemon twist
Gibson – with 2 cocktail onions
Bradford – shaken with bitters
Churchill – The Churchill martini is the driest. Famously favoured by Sir Winston Churchill and involves waving an unopened bottle of vermouth over neat, chilled gin!
Local interest: Plymouth Gin was mentioned by name in the 1904 publication’ Stuarts Fancy Drinks and How to Mix Them – in the section entitled ‘New and up-to-date drinks’!
One of these said up-to-date drinks was the Marguerite Cocktail which lifted the original Martini with the addition of bitters to slightly lift the dry taste. The currently favoured version also adds a bar spoon of Cointreau)
Cocktail 3: Margarita
With a worldwide reputation, the Margarita carries a heavy burden as the household name of the tequila cocktail family. With such recognition comes dozens of variations – everyone loves a Margarita and everyone has their own idea of what makes the best –
The Margarita is part of the daisy family of cocktails, which were popular in the early 20th century. In fact, ‘margarita’ is the Spanish word for daisy. Cocktails in the daisy family consist of spirit, citrus juice and something to both sweeten it up and to balance the citrus. Although many people think the Margarita comes from Mexico or South America, the origins of a cocktail containing tequila, citrus juice and an orange liqueur can be traced back to the Café Royal Cocktail Book in 1937, well before this combination was published as a Margarita. Named the Picador, its makeup is undoubtedly a tequila daisy, and at 2:1:1 parts respectively, it follows the classic formula of a Margarita. A British invention then? Perhaps.
For the homemade margarita mix:
1/2 cup sugar (or your favourite sweetener – ie 3-5 drops liquid stevia per serving)
& salted glass rims (put lime juice on a saucer, salt on another, turn the glass rimwards into the lime and then the salt)
For 20 people (1/3 size): 350ml Tequila £10.00 & triple sec 135ml = £4.00 = £14.00
Cocktail 4: Manhattan
The general consensus is that the Manhattan originated in New York around the 1930s. Some argue that the original recipe was made with Rye whisky from Canada due to prohibition restrictions in the US. Apparently, there are no documents to support this; however, a recipe for a Manhattan using Canadian Rye whisky features in The Savoy cocktail book of 1930. Whatever bourbon or rye you choose to use, make sure it is balanced out with a splash of sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters to create a truly marvellous drink that you’ll want to try over and over again.
For 20 people (1/3 size): 400ml Bourbon £6.40 & 100ml Martini Rosso = £0.60 = £7.00
Cocktail 5: Cosmopolitan
Classic Cosmopolitan should be fluorescent pink – not red. It was actually born in the 1960s in Florida USA. This classic rose to fame in the mid-2000s thanks to the TV show ‘Sex and the City’. It has ties to the Cape Cod ( The Cape Coder cocktail is vodka and cranberry juice) and the kamikaze cocktails. A pairing of citrus vodka, orange liquor, fresh lime and cranberry juices, it’s easy to see why this is one of the top selling cocktails of all time. Describe the use of the Boston shaker.
45ml Vodka citron 30ml Cointreau 30ml cranberry juice Juice of 1 lime
For 20 people (1/3 size): 300ml Citrus vodka £7.70 & 200ml Cointreau £6.00, 200ml cranberry juice £1.00, 7 limes, £2.00 = £16.00
Cocktail 6: Sex on the Beach
There are several stories claiming to describe the origin of the Sex on the Beach. One claims that the cocktail originated in Florida in the spring of 1987, coinciding with the introduction of peach schnapps. A bartender at Confetti’s Bar devised the drink and gave it the name in a nod to the many tourists visiting Florida’s beaches each spring.
50ml cranberry juice 50ml orange juice 50ml vodka 25ml peach schnapps 2tsp crème de cassis
For 20 people (1/3 size): 350ml cranberry, 350ml orange £2.00, 350ml vodka £4.00, 170ml peach schnaps £1.30 = £7.50
Cocktail 7: Champagne Cocktail
A classic. Winner of the 1899 ‘New York Cocktail’ Competition. This recipe proves simplicity at its best and is easy to make as it requires no special equipment.
1 brown sugar cube 15ml Cognac Angostura bitters Top with Champagne (Prosecco/Cava) (150ml)
For 20 people (1/2 size): 10 sugar cubes (£1) 140ml Cognac £3.00 2000 ml Prosecco = £21.00 = £25.00
Cocktail 8: Officer of the Watch
And finally – the perfect after dinner cocktail to end the evening. Developed aboard Cunard as an alternative to the Espresso Martini. Officer of the Watch uses freshly made espresso which takes on a creamy appearance when shaken with the ice.
45ml gin (original recipe has navy strength) 15ml Amaretto (or Amaretti Syrup) Single Espresso 3 drops chocolate bitters
For 20 people (1/3 size): 300ml Gin £6.40, 100ml syrup £1.00 = £7.50
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
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.