2020 June 21 - Pew News

Update on church buildings opening

There are no services of worship in our church buildings presently. This applies to Sunday and midweek services, and to ‘occasional offices’ (weddings, funerals and baptisms). We continue to listen to the directions of Government and the central Church, as to how things may change.

However, following relaxation of directions from the Government, we have found ourselves able to open the Parish Church to all comers for a limited period each week for private prayer. The opening times will be Sundays 12 noon-3pm; and Thursdays 10am-3pm; until further notice. The Parish Hall, which is closed to general bookings, also re-opened last week for the limited use of the Nursery School.

The local church continues to worship together through ‘Zoom’. The Rector will be delighted to add to those names already registered with us. Just send him an email. The church is also effectively active pastorally, through the use of telephone, email, and by acts of care, together with face to face interaction where this is permitted. Please let the Rector know if you are aware of anyone who will benefit from contact from him or another church member presently.

Worship for 21 June 2020

At 09:30 we worship together virtually in our Parish Communion.
At 18:00 we offer a said service of Evening Prayer In traditional language (BCP).

The presiding minister and preacher at our 09:30 Service is Revd Andrew Doye.
The readings in our morning service are Romans 6: 1-11 and Matthew 10: 24-39.

The Rector writes 

Our readings today are about losing ‘self’ and instead being GIVEN something far
more important: ... LIFE in its fullest form and fashion.

They are about an ironic movement whereby we give up something of our power and prestige, and self-determination, that (instead) the person of Christ be our ‘place’ of residing; our identity is found in him; and as a consequence, God’s life is in us.

In putting some things down, we are taken up. A wonderful truth, that is full of spiritual irony.
Romans 6: 1-11, our opening passage, is summarised by its closing words: you ‘are dead to sin, and alive to God’.
Sin robs us of life.
God, in contrast, imparts life to us.
To come to this life, means ‘dying’ which is a threatening image. However, dying ‘to sin’ is a wholly positive thing. It means saying NO to the power of sin in our lives, which is no longer going to dominate us.

St Paul commends instead our identification with Jesus in two ways.
We are BAPTISED into him: a sacramental identification with him.

Our identity is taken up into his.
In the same way, what we were, ‘our old self’, is ‘crucified with him’: it is dealt with on the Cross. This is a death, in us, of that which once was ... in order that the power of sin is lost, and we have (hear, it again) a NEW LIFE with Christ.

Christian life is taking the ‘I’ that is at the centre of our world view, casting it out; so that the SIN that once was, is replaced by the SON (in whom we have our new identity).
Willingly, and powerfully, this is the new context for us. And it is life .. in all its fullness.
  
Move to Matthew’s Gospel chapter 10, and our other reading: here, we find Jesus is talking to disciples and preparing them for missionary endeavour: spreading his word and his influence.

As they set out on this mission, (which is ours as well), they will face, he says, condemnation and persecution: it’s no easy road ahead. But, he says: don’t be afraid: God’s eternal protection surrounds you.

A little surprisingly, in what amounts to a high octane pep talk, Jesus calls to focus the most intimate of imagery. None of this would make sense were it not for the love of God, who cares extravagantly for his creation.

Consider a couple of sparrows. The least prepossessing of birds; used as the cheapest available occasionally in the temple sacrifice, when a lamb or a pigeon is too costly. Or for household food. Imagine these. Two such birds sold at the cheapest price in the market-place, are upheld in the hand of God.

Or consider the hairs of your head - so much more noticeable in lockdown! - these, are counted in the eyes of God. Be assured, have courage, it is so.

These disciples, like us, are being challenged to find a new centre to their lives: and that centre is to be God. They are invited to a humility, that is true and life-giving.

Humility, I am reminded (said CS Lewis): is not thinking less of yourselves. It is thinking-of-yourselves .. less. Less often. Less exclusively.

It is thinking of others, more. And of God, more.

Finally, Jesus encourages his hearers: take up the cross yourselves.
What?! The very form of execution that took the life of Jesus .. take up the cross.
This is not imagined as an invitation to martyrdom, but it is a willingness in following him, to embrace the possibilities of hardship and suffering for the sake of what is right.
 
Perhaps it is why so many of us will wear a cross around our neck. His path, and ours.
In the shadow of the cross, putting down some of our precious things may be what is asked.
Whilst the shallowness of self-seeking may be shown in its own true light.

If we are forever bent on trying to GAIN life: .. take it, get on and get up, get ahead and get advantage ... we are in deathly peril. We can indeed, in Jesus’ words, find ourselves LOSING our lives.

It is the greatest of spiritual ironies, that in ‘losing your life’ for the sake of Christ .. YOU WILL FIND LIFE .. find life MOST TRULY .. and MOST FULLY.

Embracing him; following his path; taking on our own death-to-self .. we shall, most surely, live !

Worship for the week ahead 

(‘remote’ through the medium of ‘Zoom’)

Week day prayer
Monday 22, Tuesday 23, Wednesday 24, Thursday 25, Friday 26
08:30 Morning Prayer

Sunday worship
Sunday 28 June 2020:
09:30 Morning Prayer, with hymns and address. 3rd Sunday after TRINITY 1800 Holy Communion (traditional language: BCP)

The Rector is off duty on Friday.

News and Events

Wednesday 24 June 2020 is the day in which the Church celebrates the birth of John the Baptist.
Whilst the designation of our own Parish Church is in honour of his death, the Rector nonetheless offers a series of short reflections and prayers on the theme of our patron at the times of 10am, midday, 2pm and 4pm. Join any that you can for a period of up to 15 minutes and perhaps make that day, in all, one of reflection and home-based ‘retreat’.

Private prayer in church. St John the Baptist Church building will be open again this week for private prayer from 10am to 3pm on Thursday andfrom midday to 3pm on Sunday. There will be a single route in and out, and within the Church.

If you come into the Church within these periods please take care to use the provided hand
 sanitiser at the entrance and the exit, and to observe social distancing. Books and other written
 materials have been removed from the parts of the Church that are accessible. Please be aware
 that the toilet facilities will not be in use.

Thanks. We continue to admire and applaud the actions of those who give themselves generously in the service of others. We think this week particularly of those who work in our schools, overseeing the return to the classroom of many, and the online provision of learning for others.

Westbourne Magazine for July 2020: this coming month’s copy returns in a paper version. Our expectation is that it may be available around next weekend. Thanks to those who have made this possible, and to the various contributors. The editors are always glad to received material for publication.


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