Sunday, 31 May 2020

IN THE PINK Whitsuntide 2020


                                                                             Issue 538

Dear friends
You can watch our service on YouTube.



Whitsunday Parish Mass



SERMON FOR WHITSUNDAY 2020
It’s one of my favourite readings, that one from Acts, the Pentecost reading. There’s so much to enjoy in there: “Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” for instance; that’s really important to hang onto, especially now. There’s the wonderful joke of the apostles being assumed to be drunk, but St Peter saying that they’re not filled with new wine, but with the Holy Spirit, though I smile at St Peter’s argument, because he says, “These are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning”; well, St Peter, it just shows that you don’t go along the Harrow Road very often. And then there’s the description of the coming of the Spirit, “the rush of a violent wind” and “divided tongues, as of fire”; when you see images, paintings or windows or whatever, depicting Pentecost (we’ve got one in the chancel here at St Mary Mags) you see the power of words and the difficulty of depicting something which is so full of movement. When they’re depicted, the apostles almost always look very static, standing still, each with a little flame on their head, which is fine, but doesn’t convey what the words do, that rushing, ecstatic life and power, breaking in on them. And then of course there’s the list of nationalities, which people with my sort of mentality adore. Lots of exoticism, ancient history, and it’s a list! Some of the place names are just great to roll around on your tongue, like Phrygia and Pamphylia. When I was at school we had a boy whose surname was Pamphilion, which sadly has nothing to do with Pamphylia in reality, but is a local Essex surname, which was originally Pamplin or something like that, I believe, but which got poshed-up at some point in the past precisely by reference to this passage. I just love all the place names.

And of course the place names are important, because they emphasize the diversity of the gathering, people from all over the world, well, Europe, Asia and Africa, and not just Jews, but converts as well, they are all able to hear the message of God. That’s tremendously important, because it’s the refutation of the story of the Tower of Babel. You remember the Tower of Babel, in the book of Genesis, the very ancient myth of the arrogant people building their tower up towards heaven to make a name for themselves, in the days when mankind had only one language and lived in one place. God sees what they’ve done and thinks, “Nothing that they now propose will be impossible for them,” and so he puts an end to their potential for arrogance by confusing their language, so that they don’t understand one another, and scattering them all over the globe. It’s a “just so” story, if you like, a parable offering an explanation of how things came to be the way they are, but the interesting thing is that it’s a story of humanity being punished; different languages (and by implication, cultures) are regarded as a curse, obviously a bad thing.

Now, on the day of Pentecost, that’s turned upside down. Now, in the book of Acts, in the light of Christ, human diversity is seen as no bad thing at all. We can accept that different cultures are a blessing, not a curse, and languages are a part of that. We don’t all have to live in the same way, and that doesn’t have to be a disaster. People who wanted us to stay in the EU often talked as though it was absurd to have different systems and approaches, but that was always a weak argument, because in reality uniformity is extremely unusual among humanity, and there is no reason to suppose that it is even desirable. Convenient for administrators, undoubtedly, but life-enhancing, probably not.

We are, as a human race, very diverse. But Jesus Christ somehow embodies all our humanity; we can describe him in a particular way, he was a young, Palestinian Jewish man who lived 2000 years ago, but those particulars are not the most important things; his humanity is shared with us all, that’s what’s most important. He opens the way to God for all of us; instead of God dealing with a particular group, defined by identity, now God’s kingdom is open to all who trust in him. The veil of the Temple is torn in two as the Gospel symbolically puts it; access to God is opened up to the whole of humanity in Jesus. We can come to God thanks to our simple shared humanity, and the diversity of mankind is no obstacle to that, in fact St Paul emphasizes the variety in our approaches to God. We are all different, and that’s not a problem. We can all confess that Jesus is Lord, and God will pour out his Holy Spirit on us all, “on all flesh” as St Peter quotes the book of Joel.


So today, as we thank God for the marvellous gift of the Holy Spirit, who transforms ordinary things so that we may encounter eternity, let’s thank him also for our God-given diversity, and pray that we may all be transformed by the life-giving Spirit, like the apostles, into the people he wants us to be, the messengers of his grace wherever we may happen to be. Because whatever the culture or language, the message of Jesus Christ is the most important thing in the world, and he’s given us the Holy Spirit so that, like the apostles, we can share that message of grace and love.

COVID-19
A statement from the Diocese of London

The Church continues to be alive and active, but in London our buildings must close.

London is seeing a huge increase in the number of people falling sick with COVID-19. We must physically distance ourselves from one another and prevent the spread of infection in order to save lives.

Therefore, as well as public worship being suspended, all church buildings in the Diocese of London are now closed.
Our worship of God and our care for each other continue but cannot be done in our buildings. Please look at this blog or the website for details of how to join others online for prayer, study, worship and community life.

In an emergency, telephone Fr Henry on 07399540530, or email him frhenry@yahoo.co.uk.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength… Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

To protect the vulnerable amongst us, please do not leave your home except for essential trips.



Father Henry Everett’s blog


Sunday, 24 May 2020

IN THE PINK 7th Sunday of Easter 2020


                                                                   Issue 537

Dear friends
You can watch our service on YouTube.



Sunday  May 24th Service    



SERMON FOR EASTER 7 2020
“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem” we heard in the first reading. On Thursday, in the Gospel of the Ascension, we heard Jesus tell his disciples, “Stay in the city”. Let’s think about those words. Jesus asks God to send the Holy Spirit to his disciples, who are to be his witnesses, continuing his work in the world, and most specifically in the city of Jerusalem and they are to stay in the city for that to happen. Being told to “stay in the city” is really important, because that wasn’t obvious to the apostles, and it’s not always obvious to the Church today.

The specific instruction was for the apostles to stay in the city of Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Spirit, and we hear that they did that, staying in the Cenacle, on Mount Zion, where they’d met for the Last Supper, along with Mary, and other women, including (we can be sure) Mary Magdalene, where they spent their time in constant prayer. It would have been easy, though, to leave the city, if Jesus hadn’t said anything; it would have been more comfortable to go back to their homes in Galilee. And anyone who’s been to the Holy Land can tell you how much more restful a place Galilee is compared to Jerusalem; it would probably have been easier to pray there, they’d have felt calmer, and have had the benefit of peace and quiet, as opposed to the noise and bustle of the city. It would certainly have made sense to withdraw to Galilee to get their breath back after the excitements of the past few weeks rather than hanging around in the city where they really weren’t wanted. Preparation for the coming of the Spirit would really have been much easier under the conditions of Galilee. It would surely have been a temptation if Jesus hadn’t said that.

Just the same, the contemporary Church of England is constantly tempted to withdraw to the suburbs, where there are plenty of big congregations with conventional lives. The inner city is noisy and difficult, and doesn’t raise much income, and although the bishops are happy to take credit for what parishes like ours do in terms of social action, like St Peter’s Support Services feeding the vulnerable, they don’t actually want to acknowledge that this is the Church. You see, the Church is not organisation and bureaucracy and central planning, but the local congregation, of whatever size, witnessing to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ wherever they are. It is a besetting heresy of the Church of England to imagine that the diocese is the basic unit of Church; not so. It’s the congregation. Yes, we should have a bishop with a diocese, but the ones we have now are an accident of history, and it’s very revealing that the Church of England likes episcopal areas to line up with units of local government. A monarchical episcopate went hand in hand with a state church, what we call the Establishment, a concept that nowadays looks pretty odd to most of the world. The result of the establishment is what we’ve had in the last few weeks, when the Anglican bishops have been falling over each other to go the extra mile and set a good example on behalf of the government, and sending out panicky and unlawful instructions to local churches. Falling in step with contemporary society is what our bishops are good at, and that has become sadly evident. Witnessing to Jesus Christ in the situation in which we find ourselves has not been high on their list, and hence you got the bishops issuing that perverse instruction not to stream, or indeed say our prayers at all in church. The idea that actually the Church of God has a distinctive contribution to make, which is not as just another institution contributing to social cohesion, is one that does not seem to have occurred to our bishops. We have missed the distinctiveness of Christian witness. Bearing witness to Jesus Christ does not mean breaking the law or singing hymns at innocent bystanders, but it does mean being alongside people where they are and praying, celebrating the sacraments, and speaking of God.


The trouble with bearing witness is that it can be demanding; I’m sorry but it’s true. If you’ve ever been a witness to a crime, you’ll know how tiresome and long-winded and time-consuming that can be (to say nothing of what happens if you have to go into witness protection). Well, witnessing to Jesus can be hard work too. Because it isn’t enough to just make a statement; simply saying, “I believe in Jesus,” really isn’t enough, because for the Christian belief is not an abstract intellectual thing, but something that issues in action. Belief leads to a change in how we live. What we have seen and heard about Jesus should be visible from how we live our lives. We are all different, and in different situations, so it’s always a mistake to try to prescribe how people should live out their faith, but the Church should equip people to make moral choices and trust them when they do. That’s all more effectively done at a local level than by pronouncements from on high. It was one of the features of Jesus’s career that he spent his time with ordinary people, bringing the presence of God into their lives; well that should be a model for us of what witnessing to him might mean. We should be proud to stay where God has set us and bear witness to Jesus by our lives of love and service no matter how noisy and distracting and perverse our city seems, simply being the people of God, here.    


COVID-19
A statement from the Diocese of London

The Church continues to be alive and active, but in London our buildings must close.

London is seeing a huge increase in the number of people falling sick with COVID-19. We must physically distance ourselves from one another and prevent the spread of infection in order to save lives.

Therefore, as well as public worship being suspended, all church buildings in the Diocese of London are now closed.
Our worship of God and our care for each other continue but cannot be done in our buildings. Please look at this blog or the website for details of how to join others online for prayer, study, worship and community life.

In an emergency, telephone Fr Henry on 07399540530, or email him frhenry@yahoo.co.uk

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength… Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

To protect the vulnerable amongst us, please do not leave your home except for essential trips.



Father Henry Everett’s blog


Sunday, 17 May 2020

IN THE PINK 6th Sunday of Easter 2020


                                                                                        Issue 536

Dear friends
You can watch our service on YouTube.

Sunday  May 17th Service  


  




SERMON FOR EASTER 6 2020
 Sometimes, when you’re looking around one of the great medieval churches of Europe, you’ll see illustrations of Old Testament scenes paralleling New Testament ones. You often see it in the stained glass. It’s something the Victorians sometimes imitated, as at Keble College Chapel, in Oxford for instance, where the mosaics of Old Testament scenes are along one wall, and their New Testament parallels facing them. And that’s something which for the average church visitor is quite hard going. You can appreciate the attractive scenes, but most of us want to know what they mean, and trying to identify some of the Old Testament stories can be quite hard. But even if you’ve identified the scenes, you haven’t necessarily cracked the code; you haven’t necessarily spotted why those stories are there, what it all means. Because when the scenes are actually parallels, the reason the Old Testament scene is there is because it’s what we call a “type” of something in the New Testament or the Church, which is then an “antitype”. This way of understanding the Old Testament, which we call typology, was hugely popular for most of Christian history, and it is also biblical, because the New Testament authors themselves used typology. St Paul does it, and in today’s second reading the author of 1 Peter does it, he even uses the vocabulary.

The early Christians used this way of understanding the Old Testament a lot, because for them it gave value to the study of the ancient text. It was worth looking at the Old Testament because events there were the types of things to come, in the life of Jesus our Saviour. There was a man called Marcion, who was one of the earliest and most prominent heretics, who was thrown out of the mainstream church in the year 144 and started his own church, and Marcion totally rejected the Old Testament. He had no time for typology, or any allegorical reading of scripture, he read the Old Testament literally, and saw it as completely disconnected from the religion of Jesus. For Marcion, the God revealed by the Old Testament is different from God the Father of Jesus. Now it’s not uncommon for people to make that criticism today, and occasionally you’ll hear people talk about “the Old Testament God”, but one of the things we can be clear about is that we are monotheists, we believe that there is only one God. Logically, that has to be true; if what we believe about God is true, then there can be only one God. The God who is revealed in the Old Testament is God, the Father of our Lord, because it is of the nature of God that there can be only one God. Just so, Muslims worship God; they are quite clear that we, the Jews and they all worship the one God.  And where other people recognise God, it’s the one true God whom they recognise and worship; they may not have the way to him in Jesus Christ, but he is God, nonetheless. St Paul, in our first reading, demonstrates the power of this insight, when he comes upon the altar to an unknown god in Athens, and promptly tells the Athenians that this is great because it means they’ve been worshipping the true God all along. There is only one God, and he is at the base of all mankind’s search for life and meaning. We answer Marcion today by saying, “No, they’re not different gods, because God is God, but humankind’s understanding of God changes over time. So the Old Testament has in itself a range of different pictures of God, which change over the centuries, and it’s a record for us of the development in the human understanding of God.

So that’s how we dismiss Marcion, but typology was one way of combatting Marcion and his like for the early Christians. The Old Testament isn’t just the holy book of those annoying people who’ve thrown us out of the synagogues, but it’s a book of types where you can see all sorts of things pointing forward to the life and death of Jesus Christ and our salvation in him. The event or person in the Old Testament was a type for a New Testament antitype. So Moses is a type of Christ, but so is Jonah. And New Testament events can be types as well. The manna in the wilderness is a type of the Eucharist, which Jesus gives to his disciples, but so is the Feeding of the Five Thousand. It’s important to see that nobody ever thought that this was all the Old Testament stories meant; they weren’t only about our salvation, but they look forward to our salvation as well as being stories of God’s ancient people. Because that’s a profound truth about scripture, that it always means many things, it always has rich depths of meaning, through resonance and parallel, through echo and poetry. And in today’s readings, the author of 1 Peter says quite explicitly that Noah’s flood is the type for baptism. What’s rendered in our translation as “which this prefigured” is actually “which is the antitype of this”. We are saved by baptism, he says, just as the family of Noah were saved by his ark in the Flood. He has to explain that he doesn’t mean that you are saved by the water washing dirt away from your body, but that baptism saves you through the resurrection of Christ. The water of the Flood is the type of the water of baptism, and that’s really interesting because the Flood was obviously destructive, whereas we regard the water as positive, clean and refreshing, but the point is that water can kill you; the connection is with the death and resurrection of Christ. In baptism we participate symbolically in Christ’s death and resurrection, dying and rising to new life with him, and Noah’s experience is a type of that; the destruction of the Flood is a type of the death of Christ, the escape of those on the ark to dry land is the type of the resurrection. Just so, we are saved by our baptism into the ark of the Church. As 1 Peter has it, “baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you…through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Service for Ascension Day Thursday 21st May 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfQQI-ZtdK8&feature=youtu.be

SERMON FOR ASCENSION 2020
When I was at primary school, a church school in an Essex village, we always had a half-holiday on Ascension Day. We used to go to the parish church and have a little service (I don’t remember what it consisted of, but I know we sat in pews and sang hymns) and then we would get on a coach (C& R Coaches) and go off to the seaside, either to Dovercourt or to Walton-on-the-Naze. And the thing I remember best about going to those (frankly rather dull) seaside towns, was that the day would end with a brief visit to Woolworths before we got the coach home. So, Ascension Day was a big deal; that’s the sort of thing you remember from childhood. And then at university, Ascension Day was prominent again, because it’s the only major Christian festival that’s guaranteed to fall during full term, and so the College Chapel always makes a fuss of it. But out here in the big wide world, it’s a Thursday, when it’s difficult to get people to come to church, and so actually most parish churches nowadays don’t make much of a fuss. So much so that the Roman Catholics in England transfer it to Sunday. You can see that it’s really a day that’s observed more in college chapels and cathedrals rather than parish churches from the music, because there are plenty of lovely choral motets and anthems for Ascension, (some of which I sent you) but hardly any congregational hymns that anyone knows.

So it’s a major festival, but one which it doesn’t seem to matter very much about us missing it. It’s like, when we were in Jerusalem, one place we didn’t visit was the site of the Ascension. It’s okay to miss it out, no-one will mind much. So why is that? Why is it not a big deal?

Well, it’s because the event in itself isn’t important. The death and resurrection of Jesus are important in a way that his ascension simply is not. It’s just the end of the resurrection appearances, the point at which the apostles realise that they should be expecting the coming of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus had told them he would send, so it’s a transition, rather than an event in itself. So, we shall still be in Eastertide tomorrow, it’s still Easter until Whitsun, Pentecost Sunday, in ten days’ time, when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, which really is important in itself. Because Ascension Day looks like an ending, the end for the apostles of the time of having the risen Jesus with them, but if we were marking an end there would be some sense of loss, and that’s not it at all. There is no sense of loss, instead we follow the apostles in looking forward expectantly. That’s what this day particularly points us to; the need to wait patiently and expectantly. That’s not just about waiting ten days for Whitsunday to come round, that’s the least of it, it’s much more about the whole of our lives.

Because Jesus’s ascension points us forward to our own destiny; that we shall one day join him in heaven, that our bodies, our whole humanity, will be transformed as his was, and share in the eternal life of God. And that’s something that requires a state of waiting, of expectation, for our union with God. Waiting is never easy, and our society conditions us not to wait, with the opportunity of getting everything with one click, but wait we must, though actually for us Christians it’s not quite as simple as that. Because of course Jesus tells his apostles “I am with you always” so through his Spirit we are already united with him; through sharing his body and blood we already share his life, and so we are always in a state of here-and-not-here. Waiting and yet on the move. In exile from our true home. That’s a bit of a challenge if you like things to be cut and dried, but it’s profoundly true. Eternity has already begun, and by our life in Christ we inhabit eternity here and now, but we have to wait for the fullness of our life in God to be realised. We have glimpses of God now in love and beauty, but we know we shall come at the last to the blinding glory of his presence, when we shall see him as he is and be united with him. For that we have to wait expectantly; not just in hope, but in confidence, that as Jesus has taken the humanity which he shares with us to the throne of God in heaven, so we too can share his life in glory.     



COVID-19
A statement from the Diocese of London

The Church continues to be alive and active, but in London our buildings must close.

London is seeing a huge increase in the number of people falling sick with COVID-19. We must physically distance ourselves from one another and prevent the spread of infection in order to save lives.

Therefore, as well as public worship being suspended, all church buildings in the Diocese of London are now closed.
Our worship of God and our care for each other continue but cannot be done in our buildings. Please look at this blog or the website for details of how to join others online for prayer, study, worship and community life.

In an emergency, telephone Fr Henry on 07399540530, or email him frhenry@yahoo.co.uk

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength… Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

To protect the vulnerable amongst us, please do not leave your home except for essential trips.



Father Henry Everett’s blog


Sunday, 10 May 2020

IN THE PINK 5th Sunday of Easter 2020


                                                                                          Issue 535

Dear friends
You can watch our service on YouTube.







COVID-19
A statement from the Diocese of London

The Church continues to be alive and active, but in London our buildings must close.

London is seeing a huge increase in the number of people falling sick with COVID-19. We must physically distance ourselves from one another and prevent the spread of infection in order to save lives.

Therefore, as well as public worship being suspended, all church buildings in the Diocese of London are now closed.
Our worship of God and our care for each other continue but cannot be done in our buildings. Please look at this blog or the website for details of how to join others online for prayer, study, worship and community life.

In an emergency, telephone Fr Henry on 07399540530, or email him frhenry@yahoo.co.uk.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength… Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

To protect the vulnerable amongst us, please do not leave your home except for essential trips.



Father Henry Everett’s blog


Sunday, 3 May 2020

IN THE PINK Easter 4 2020


                                                                             Issue 534

Dear friends
You can watch our service on YouTube.
The sermon is below.



Good Shepherd Sunday service


SERMON FOR EASTER 4 2020
One thing you can say for living in London; you don’t usually find random sheep in your garden. Foxes maybe, but not sheep. I grew up in the country, and so I was reasonably familiar with sheep, and so when I became a country parson down in Cornwall, back in the 90s, I wasn’t bothered by them. Which was just as well, really, because there were usually sheep in the field next to our garden, and they periodically got out of that field and into the garden, and when you were driving around the parishes, you were always on your guard in case you met a sheep in a lane. And of course the correct, neighbourly thing to do, when you meet a sheep on the road or find one in your garden, is to try to get it back where it’s come from. Now I won’t describe the pantomime that usually results, but if you do your sheep-herding job successfully, you usually end up trying to manhandle the beast through a gap in a hedge, and it’s at that point that you develop a new respect for the sheep. Because the sheep has had a pretty bad press, people never want to be thought of as like sheep, but when you’re wrestling with one, you realise that they’re not as stupid as they’re made out. It’s a very human thing; we call anything a stupid animal that won’t do what we want. A moment’s thought might tell us that resisting what we want may not in fact be a proof of stupidity at all; quite the opposite. Well, sheep are much heavier and stronger than you ever imagine, and they can be fantastically determined. They’re certainly much more expert in finding holes in hedges than farmers ever are.

Now the main thing that people hold against sheep is that they go around together, in a flock, but if you’ve ever found a lone sheep on a road you’ll know that that’s not always true. They do actually quite often make their own way to investigate things, though often others will then follow that leader (which is why it’s good to get a lone sheep back into the field because if you don’t it won’t be alone in ten minutes and then the job is infinitely more difficult). But the thing is that sheep have an instinct for staying together because it’s safer that way, because one sheep alone is vulnerable to predators, whereas they won’t dare attack a whole flock. Okay, there are no wolves in Cornwall (until some eco-loony decides that re-wilding means reintroducing them) but foxes take lambs and juvenile sheep, so the threat is still there. But the fox is a coward, he doesn’t actually want a fight, so he won’t bother a whole flock who might butt him, but a single lamb he can ambush and kill. So, sheep sticking together makes sense. The sheep is a deeply social animal. It’s funny, because we make fun of people for being sheep-like, but actually the sheep’s herd instinct is a perfectly reasonable strategy for self-preservation, and just at the moment, when we aren’t able to satisfy our own desire to be social we can see how deeply ingrained it actually is in us as well. Because while our society makes a big thing of celebrating the brilliant individual, actually we can see at a time like this, how much of value depends on people doing stuff together. So much that is worthwhile in civilisation is achieved by co-operation, by collective effort. Yes, you require the inspiration or insight or brilliance of the individual, but for anything to actually be achieved you need the collective to work together. We marvel at the ingenuity of groups of musicians putting things together through technology to overcome social distancing, but the point is that they are still doing it together, even if virtually. We are all the poorer through not being able to be physically together, and that ingenuity just shows us what we’re missing. So let’s not be so rude about sheep, they’re not so stupid.

In fact, of course, early Christians often pictured themselves as sheep, since Jesus said that he was the good shepherd, as we heard in today’s Gospel, and the earliest pictures and statues of Jesus that have survived are of him in exactly that guise, as the good shepherd. Before ever anyone depicted Jesus on the cross, or reigning in heaven, they depicted him as the good shepherd. If you go to Ravenna and look at the sixth century mosaics there, you’ll see loads of sheep. In the apse of Sant’Apollinare in Classe, you’ve got twelve sheep who represent the apostles, coming to a jewelled cross, which stands for Christ, and then you’ve got a picture of Saint Apollinaris himself, a holy bishop, with a flock of sheep around him. He is leading his flock like a shepherd. It’s no accident that bishops still carry croziers that are shaped like a shepherd’s crook, because the bishop is meant to be someone you can trust and rely on, and who will lead you safely. That’s frankly the most important thing about them; that you can trust them, doctrinally, sacramentally and pastorally.


So, we are Christ’s flock, and there’s no shame in being like sheep, because like sheep we are actually profoundly social creatures, and human civilisation depends on us acting together. The irony just now is that sheep flock together for safety, while we have to stay apart for safety, which perhaps is why this virus is so unsettling for us. It’s demonstrating that actually unbridled individualism isn’t truly the natural state for human beings, because in reality we need each other. Jesus is the good shepherd who sees all our needs, and cares for us infinitely, each one of us. He carries us on his shoulders when we need it, and looks after us, because that’s what a shepherd does for his flock.
        
COVID-19
A statement from the Diocese of London

The Church continues to be alive and active, but in London our buildings must close.

London is seeing a huge increase in the number of people falling sick with COVID-19. We must physically distance ourselves from one another and prevent the spread of infection in order to save lives.

Therefore, as well as public worship being suspended, all church buildings in the Diocese of London are now closed.
Our worship of God and our care for each other continue but cannot be done in our buildings. Please look at this blog or the website for details of how to join others online for prayer, study, worship and community life.

In an emergency, telephone Fr Henry on 07399540530, or email him frhenry@yahoo.co.uk

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength… Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

To protect the vulnerable amongst us, please do not leave your home except for essential trips.



Father Henry Everett’s blog


Sunday, 26 April 2020

IN THE PINK Easter 3 2020


                                                                             Issue 533

Dear friends
You can watch our service on YouTube and read the sermon here.


Easter 3 Sunday service

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4lQoG_jeZM

SERMON FOR EASTER 3 2020
That story, of the road to Emmaus, tells us so much about the risen Lord. If we look at the experience of the couple of disciples, we can understand how it was. They met him on the road, but they didn’t recognise him, but it didn’t occur to them for a moment to doubt that he was a normal person of flesh and blood, just another visitor to Jerusalem at the time of the festival, as they thought. Then, later, he disappeared from the supper table, and they realised the truth, that it was Jesus, and that he was no longer subject to the limitations of time and space. He was utterly real, and yet they didn’t recognise him, when it later seemed to them that they should have done. They did recognise him at the breaking of the bread, and they believed that they should have recognised him when he expounded the scriptures to them.

They should have recognised him, they reckoned, because their hearts were burning within them as he opened the scriptures to them. It’s a phrase that John Wesley echoed seventeen hundred years later, when he said he felt his “heart strangely warmed” when listening to an exposition of the scriptures at a meeting in Aldersgate Street, in the City. That was the experience that Wesley regarded as his conversion, and which gave him the conviction that he must become an evangelist, going around preaching the Gospel all over the country. In both cases, it’s a way of describing a feeling, an experience, an emotional experience. Sometimes people want faith to be something that’s just about the intellect, and our society rightly puts particular value on things that can be argued rationally, and that’s fair enough, because it’s much better that we deal with practical problems in rational ways, but there’s more to life than just the practical. So, of course it’s better that public policy in the crisis is guided by peer-reviewed scientists rather than some conspiracy theory that’s come from David Icke via your Whatsapp group; this situation requires facts, and the application of reason. If lives are to be saved, we need to act rationally. But people also need their lives to make sense. They need to feel that they are not alone. When people go out and clap for care workers, and I ring the church bell, every Thursday at 8, that doesn’t achieve anything rationally, but we all know it’s worth doing, because it affects our emotions, and gives us a sense, a shape, to what’s going on. Equally, faith is actually important now, because believing that death is not the end, believing that Jesus has risen from the dead and that we can share his risen life so that we can live in a new way now, that can sustain us, and give us the strength, emotionally, spiritually, to carry on. Faith gives meaning and shape to our lives, which is especially important in a situation which seems chaotic and beyond our control, and where despair is the easiest response. So actually, faith is important now, and the resurrection faith answers our needs especially well. Our faith that Jesus rose from the dead, as the story of the road to Emmaus makes clear, sustains us in hope, and gives us the strength to live in his way, knowing that he will be beside us on the way, whether we recognise him or not.

Now the really interesting thing about the Emmaus story, to my mind, is what it tells us about early Christianity, because remember, this Gospel was written around the year 100. That doesn’t make what it contains suspect, or inaccurate, because the stories were preserved and handed on very carefully, and as St Luke says, lots of them had been written down before, but it means that it tells us not only about the life of Jesus, but also about the immediate concerns of the second generation of Christians, making their way in an unsympathetic world around the end of the first century. And the thing that is most striking about the Emmaus story, for me, is that it’s about the Eucharist, the Mass. Because the two disciples listen to the scriptures, and exposition of the scriptures, and then they share in the breaking of bread; and those are the two essential elements in the Mass, and clearly already were back in the year 100. And for the disciples, the scriptures and the breaking of bread is where they expect to recognise Jesus, where they expect to meet him. They are moved, emotionally engaged, by the exposition of the scriptures, and they recognise him present with them at the breaking of the bread, which is the guarantee of his continuing presence. It’s clear from Acts that “the breaking of the bread” was the technical term for the Eucharist in the early Church, and that’s obviously deliberate for St Luke. It is in the Eucharist that we meet the risen Lord Jesus. That is as true for us as it was for St Luke’s church in the year 100, and as it was for the disciples at Emmaus. He comes to us, and we can hear his voice in the scriptures, and we can enjoy his presence in the breaking of the bread. We actually don’t have to receive the Sacrament for us to be aware of his presence, because we can adore him, as they did when they saw him. So, in these strange times, when the resurrection is so important, let’s make the most of what we have, and adore the risen Lord, as he is present with us at the breaking of the bread.       

COVID-19
A statement from the Diocese of London

The Church continues to be alive and active, but in London our buildings must close.

London is seeing a huge increase in the number of people falling sick with COVID-19. We must physically distance ourselves from one another and prevent the spread of infection in order to save lives.

Therefore, as well as public worship being suspended, all church buildings in the Diocese of London are now closed.
Our worship of God and our care for each other continue but cannot be done in our buildings. Please look at this blog or the website for details of how to join others online for prayer, study, worship and community life.

In an emergency, telephone Fr Henry on 07399540530, or email him frhenry@yahoo.co.uk.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength… Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

To protect the vulnerable amongst us, please do not leave your home except for essential trips.



Father Henry Everett’s blog


Sunday, 19 April 2020

IN THE PINK Easter 2 2020


                                                                              Issue 532

Dear friends
You can watch our service on YouTube and read the sermon here.

 Easter 2 Sunday service


SERMON FOR EASTER 2 2020

Now we always talk about “Doubting Thomas”, but if you call him that in India you’ll get into trouble, because that name upsets people there, where they venerate St Thomas as the founder of Indian Christianity. I’ve got a marvellous Indian icon of St Thomas, which I used as the thumbnail for this morning’s service. Now you may well say, “Founder of Indian Christianity?” surely that’s just one of those picturesque legends about saints. Well, true all the apostles (except St John, who was looking after our Lord’s blessed Mother, as he’d been told to) were supposed to have gone out from Palestine and founded churches in other places, but while some of those tales are fairly sketchy, there are actually numerous well-attested ancient traditions for others, like Peter in Rome, James in Jerusalem, Mark in Egypt, and Thomas in India. Certainly, the book “The Acts of Thomas”, which was written in East Syria around the year 200AD, is full of legendary stuff, but it records Thomas going to a king who was real, a king who reigned a kingdom that stretched from Kandahar to the Punjab from the year 19 to the year 46. So that’s interesting, not proof, but worth thinking about. And perhaps more interesting still is the South Indian tradition. There are hymns and poems in South Indian languages that were written down hundreds of years ago, but which had centuries of oral tradition behind them before that, and which record the work of St Thomas in South India. And what is said to be the site of St Thomas’s martyrdom, at Mylapore, just outside Chennai, has been venerated for many hundreds of years. And since we know that the Romans came to trade in a port in Kerala, in South India, we can be clear that it’s certainly possible that St Thomas went across the Arabian Sea as they did, and if he did, then clearly he’d have taken the Gospel with him.

But what would that gospel message have consisted of? What would St Thomas have told them? Well, he’d undoubtedly have told them that Jesus had been raised from the dead, because the reality of that was at the core of his own faith, as we’ve heard. He couldn’t believe it when he heard from others, and then, a week after the first Easter Day, he saw for himself. He thought he would need to touch Jesus to satisfy himself, but in fact he exclaims, “My Lord and my God!” when Jesus addresses him. So St Thomas would undoubtedly have spoken of that central experience, but of course he’d have said much more than that, because why should a sophisticated, foreign audience be interested in the story of an itinerant Jewish preacher being raised from death in Palestine some years earlier? For Jews, you could tie it to the prophets, and the whole story of God’s covenant with his people and the sacrifices in the Temple which expressed that covenant, but we know that the earliest Christian missionaries weren’t only talking to Jews, but very swiftly started addressing different cultural worlds, most famously St Paul addressing the Greco-Roman world. Well, if St Thomas went to India, he had to speak of the message of the Easter Gospel without reference to the prophets or the covenant, but in universal terms, he had to talk about things that mattered to everybody.

“God has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” That’s how the author of 1 Peter, writing a generation after St Thomas but writing for another non-Jewish audience, summed up what Easter means. New birth into a living hope. That’s pretty universal. Just now, in our current circumstances, where we’re surrounded by miserable news, and unhappiness, and where each of us knows someone who has lost someone, hope seems rather important, even more so a living hope. That’s sometimes translated as a sure hope, but “living” is the literal translation, and I’m sure that’s what is intended, because of course the hope that we have as Christians is all about life, real life, the life with God that we are made for. St John tells us that he has written what he has “so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” Life, again, see. So what does 1 Peter say about that life? It’s described as “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you” which is part of a salvation ready to be revealed. “Kept in heaven for you” is the crucial phrase; and it’s important to see that this isn’t just about us living in heaven at some unspecified future time, but much more than that, a life which is for us, which is being looked after, kept safe, with God. We have life with God available to us, now. It’s being kept ready for us, right now. And it’s the cause for rejoicing, in spite of our faith being tested by suffering various trials; because, remember, at the time that was being written Christians were being arrested, tortured and killed just on account of their faith, and in spite of that they were still full of joy. So this life is real life, life lived in the dimension of eternity, life lived in the fellowship of God, the hope of which sustains our faith, faith which produces an indescribable and glorious joy. So in spite of horrible trials and tests, the confidence we have in life can sustain us; our living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 


COVID-19
A statement from the Diocese of London

The Church continues to be alive and active, but in London our buildings must close.

London is seeing a huge increase in the number of people falling sick with COVID-19. We must physically distance ourselves from one another and prevent the spread of infection in order to save lives.

Therefore, as well as public worship being suspended, all church buildings in the Diocese of London are now closed.
Our worship of God and our care for each other continue but cannot be done in our buildings. Please look at this blog or the website for details of how to join others online for prayer, study, worship and community life.

In an emergency, telephone Fr Henry on 07399540530, or email him frhenry@yahoo.co.uk.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength… Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

To protect the vulnerable amongst us, please do not leave your home except for essential trips.



Father Henry Everett’s blog