Family Communion, Sunday 2 August

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Our worship for Sunday 2 August from Barrow Gurney Parish Church will be Family Communion for the 8th Sunday after Trinity, beginning at 10.00am.

The service booklet is here: Ordinary Time August 2020 Single Page

The Bible readings are: Isaiah 5:1-5; Matthew 14:13-21

This service will also be filmed and will be available during the week from our YouTube site: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrNexsQfUAfKubwjXCtp4Sw

There will also be a videoed service for families and young children – Elevenses – on the YouTube channel – further details can be found on on this blog.

Elevenses for August 2020 – The Lost Sheep and the Good Shepherd

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This month we hear one of the stories that Jesus told about a sheep that went missing. Would anyone come to look for it? What can we learn from this tale about us and God?

The service will be available on our YouTube page from Sunday 2 August: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrNexsQfUAfKubwjXCtp4Sw

The craft excerise is to make a sheep sheep lost in the bushes:

You’ll find the instruction sheet here: Lost Sheep Craft Instructions

The prayers we use in this service are:

May our hands be helping hands
For all that must be done;
that fetch and carry, lift and hold
and make the hard jobs fun.

May our hands be clever hands
in all we make and do.
With sand and dough
and clay and things,
with paper, paint and glue.

May our hands be gentle hands,
and may we never dare
to poke and prod
and hurt and harm,
but hold with love and care.
Amen.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Have fun and peace be with you.

 

Family Communion, Sunday 26 July

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Our Sunday worship from Barrow Gurney Parish Church will be Family Communion celebrating the life and work of the Apostle know as St James the Great, who is supposed to be buried in Spain at Santiago de Compostela.

The service booklet is here: Ordinary Time July 2020 single page

The Bible Readings are: Acts 11:27-12:2; Matthew 20:20-28

Our YouTube service this week will be from All Saints’ Church, Long Ashton: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrNexsQfUAfKubwjXCtp4Sw

Peace be with you.

Family Communion, Sunday 19 July

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Our socially distanced 10.00am service will take place at Barrow Gurney Parish Church. The service booklet is here: Ordinary Time July 2020 single page

The Bible readings are: Romans 8:12-25; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

The service will be filmed and will become available on our benefice YouTube page later on Sunday or Monday morning. You will find it here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrNexsQfUAfKubwjXCtp4Sw

Peace be with you.

Family Communion, Sunday 12 July

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We are back for socially distanced worship at Barrow Gurney Church, beginning on Sunday 12 July at 10.00am. If you are unable to be with us the service booklet is here: Ordinary Time July 2020 single page

Our readings for this Sunday are: Isaiah 55:10-13; Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Alternatively, you might wish to join with our sister church, All Saints’, Long Ashton – their Sunday Communion service will be online shortly after Sunday morning: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrNexsQfUAfKubwjXCtp4Sw

Peace be with you.

Elevenses for July 2020 – Spotting Dragonflies in North Somerset

This month our theme is Waterbugs and Dragonflies, as we use these strange, beautiful, exciting, insects to explore not just our local wildlife, but also the connection between earth and heaven.

The service will be availalbe on our YouTube page from Sunday 5 July: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrNexsQfUAfKubwjXCtp4Sw

We’ve given you a choice of two craft activities this time. They do involve glue and scissors so will require adult supervision.

The first is to make dragonfly jam jar tealight holders.

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The instructions can be found here: Dragonfly tealight holder instructions

The second is this dragonfly mobile.

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The template and instructions can be found here: Dragonfly mobile template

If you make either of these activities and want to take a photo that can be sent to us, then we will showcase it on Facebook page.

The prayers in the service are:

God bless the field and bless the furrow
Stream and branch and rabbit burrow,
Bless the minnow, bless the whale,
Bless the rainbow and the hail,
Bless the nest and bless the leaf,
Bess the kind ones and the thief,
Bless the wing and bless the fin,
Bless the air we all breathe in,
Bless the wren and bless the mouse,
Bless our school and our house,
Bless the earth and bless the sea.
God bless you and God bless me.
Amen.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Dragonflies to be found in the Bristol and Somerset Region

Here are some of the dragonflies I’ve photographed locally. See if you can spot some of them in your garden or on your local walks.

Southern Hawkers hatching in our garden pond

The last shot is of the exuvia – the empty nymph case after the dragonfly has hatched. Those in our pond usually hatch around the first two weeks of July. But friends in Nottingham se their appear about a month before, which makes me wonder if day length is a factor in emergence.

Here are a couple of the dainty damselflies that are about our pond at the moment.

The first is the Large Red Damselfly and the second is the Common Blue Damselfly. The large red isn’t very large, a few centimetres long, but looks more robust looking than the delicate blues. There are many different types of blue damselflies, with subtle differences in their markings – often I can only tell by taking photographs and checking against books later. For example, this, which I spotted a few miles away, is a Variable Damselfly:P1100541 Variable damselfly

One of the prettiest damsels you might see, especially around streams and running water is the Banded Demoseille. These are a little larger than the Large Red Damselfly. This is a male, and, as you can see, it is very striking: 024 banded demosielle

 

 

 

 

These are some of the mid to large sized dragonflies you might spot. They are not quite as big as the hawkers, but much larger than the damselflies.

The first is a Scarce Chaser, spotted in our garden this spring, the second a female Black-tailed Skimmer (the males are powder blue with black on the tip of their abdomen), and the third is a Four Spot Chaser.

Back to the hawkers. Just about the largest is the Emperor Dragonfly – the males are very noticeably blue in the air, the females much more green, and they are big – you can’t miss them. Then there is the Brown Hawker – you can’t miss them, the body is mainly brown and the wings are like smoked glass. Finally, in these photos, is something a bit unusual. At first I thought it was a Southern or Common Hawker, but looking closely I could see that the thorax – that’s the bulky part of the body behind the head – was furry. So this is a Hairy Dragonfly.

Next we have an insect similar in size and shape to the hawkers – the Golden Ringed Dragonfly. The name gives you a good idea of what to look out for, but it is not very common around here. I know it from one site in North Somerset, and that is a nature reserve not open to the public. It is rather striking though: 045

Later in the year a number of speices from the Darter family will be around. These are small dragonflies – still bigger than most damsels. They are quite robust and the commonest ones you will find in September and October, often in large numbers. Like some of the large hawkers, they seem to survive until the first frosts arrive. These are Common Darter.

Dragonflies are fascinating to watch and photograph – their flight and their beahviour is amazing. They are also a good indicator species – the more variety of dragonflies you find in a place the better it is as a wildlife habitat. I’ve only shown you a few of the ones that live locally – there are plenty more for you to find.

They are also interesting to paint – here is a painting I created of a Golden Ringed Dragonfly: 007-crop golden ringed.JPG

Enjoy the dragonflies and damselflies you find – look after them, they are an important part of God’s creation.

Have fun and peace be with you.

Richard Greatrex

 

 

Elevenses for June 2020

Our Elevenses theme this monNoah's Ark mobileth is Noah – there is much in the story that chimes with our present situation. You’ll find the service of story and song, craft and prayer on our YouTube page from Sunday 7 June. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmSnWdeQYaI

Our craft project this time is to make a Noah’s ark mobile. It does need scissors and glue so will require adult supervision.

The template and instructions are to be found here: Noah’s Ark Mobile instructions

If you make up the mobile and want to take a photo that can be sent to us then we will showcase it on our Facebook page.

The prayers in the service are:

May our hands be helping hands
For all that must be done;
that fetch and carry, lift and hold
and make the hard jobs fun.

May our hands be clever hands
in all we make and do.
with sand and dough
and clay and things,
with paper, paint and glue.

May our hands be gentle hands,
and may we never dare
to poke and prod
and hurt and harm,
but hold with love and care.
Amen.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those
who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Have fun and peace be with you.

VE Day Poppy

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We’ve been knitting poppies as part of our VE Day Celebrations and commemoration. However, as we won’t be worshipping in our churches this weekend we are saving the poppies for Remembrance Day in November, when we will do something special with them.

Meanwhile, we have a poppy template for you to colour in and put in your window, so that when families pass by they can count the poppies in our villages. You can find it here: VE Day Poppy

On 8 My 2020 we commemorate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe, when the sounds of war fell silent on this continent. We come together conscious of our need for God’s forgiveness for the sin and the desire to dominate others that leads to conflict between people, and war between nations. And as we remember the many soldiers, sailors, and airmen who gave their lives restraining evil and opposing tyranny, so we also come in thanksgiving for the years of peace that the nations of Europe have enjoyed since the Second World War. Although we are unable to gather today, as those who gathered on that first Victory day, we are glad of each other’s company, and grateful for the laughter and love that follows times of sadness and loss.

O Lord our God, as we remember, teach us the ways of peace. As we treasure memories, teach us to hope. As we give thanks for the sacrifices of the past, help us to make your future in this world, until your kingdom come. Amen.

Almighty God, from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed: kindle in the hearts of all people the true love of peace; and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth; that in tranquillity your kingdom may go forward, till the earth is filled with the knowledge of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Stations of the Resurrection: A Journey Through Art

Opening prayer

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Risen Lord,
in this time when we may be feeling alone,
isolated, unable to leave our homes,
guide us on this pilgrimage of faith
so that we may find you in both darkness and light.
Here we wait with Mary Magdalene, Peter, John
and all the disciples,
witnesses of your triumph over sin and death.
Direct our meditations
that the seeds of your resurrection
eastering in our hearts
may take root, blossom and be fruitful
in our lives.
Amen.

1. The Sealed Tomb

Opening response

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
Lord, you are our way, our truth and our life. Alleluia.

1 Ben Nicholson 1934

1934, Ben Nicholson, 1934

Reflection

The tomb, the stone that seals it. Nicholson’s abstract brings both to mind. The square entrance of the tomb expanding with our fears, our sense of hopelessness. The circle, the stone, doesn’t seem large enough to contain the terror within. The terror of a world bereft of God. White, the colour of heaven, of purity, of a blank canvas or accusation of an empty page. But there are shadows, the shapes change as we shift our perception. The stone, a full stop in alabaster, the end of the story?

Holy Saturday – a day for keeping canvases clean, pages empty, diaries unopened, a day for making space to acknowledge the presence or absence of God in our lives and for exploring how we need God, why we need God and whether we are ready to be a blank page upon which God can write a new story.

Read: Matthew 27:57-66

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, ‘Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, “After three days I will rise again.” 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, “He has been raised from the dead”, and the last deception would be worse than the first.’ 65 Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.’ 66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

Questions

Stations of the Resurrection begins where Stations of the Cross ends – with Jesus dead, buried, with absence rather than presence.
How do you cope with waiting and with absence?
How much is the absence of God part of your faith?
Does it offer you anything positive?

Pray

Lord Jesus, Author of all, Word made flesh,
you wrote life’s story then you entered the pages,
to break open the boundaries that
hold us back from your love.
Lord of life, walled up in a cold, dark tomb,
be with all those who suffer in secret,
whose pain is hidden from the world’s gaze.
Bring peace to their hearts
and the light of justice to their cause.
Amen.

2. The Resurrection

Opening response

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
Lord, you are our way, our truth and our life. Alleluia.

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Sunrise, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1916

Reflection

The stone – a full stop or a seed in limbo, aestivating? O’Keeffe’s sunrise joyously bursts out of the landscape, thrusting upwards through the sky like a fresh shoot exploding out of dark earth. The ending is a beginning, and what a beginning, happening when most of the land is still sleeping, yet refracting the whole of lived experience through the prism of something radical, unique – resurrection – so that in the light of day new colours illuminate the earth. And what colours they are! Hot and shimmering, endlessly shifting and enchanting. Where else might we find them? Perhaps in Craigie Aitchison’s Crucifixion paintings – the pinks and reds of his desolate landscapes. But now they have shifted from disruptive, disconcerting, unearthly emptiness into the glory of a new, eternal story spilling out and infiltrating, energising, inspiring the whole of creation. Christ is risen, he is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Read: 1 Corinthians 15:20-22

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 21 For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22 for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.

Questions

What is most important to you about the Resurrection?
How would you describe it to someone who knows very little about Christianity?

Pray

Living Lord,
when your resurrection seeded in the dark,
you raised not only yourself but us,
to be new people, fashioned in your own image,
seeds sent out over the earth to spread your good news.
Help us to be that good news,
even when we feel smothered by care and strife,
so that we might share with everyone we meet
the life your grace brings.
Amen.

3. They Found the Stone Rolled Away

Opening response

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
Lord, you are our way, our truth and our life. Alleluia.

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Scorpio Series 3, No. 9, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, 1997

Reflection

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham is one of the least known of the St Ives group with Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Peter Lanyon and co. But her career was long and varied, carrying on into the twenty-first century. She was always trying something new while at the same time increasing in her mastery of line, form, colour and the geometry of abstraction. Every element of her pictures is thought through very carefully in relation to the whole.

What appears, at first glance, to be a chaotic, swiftly daubed painting is, if you take time to look closer, a satisfyingly harmonious whole. The orange circle, which reminds me of the stone of the tomb, looks as if it is being pushed away. As it rolls upwards and across the canvas it disturbs the upright stripes of colour, which, just like women in the garden, are disconcerted, fall in a domino effect. In the hopeful blue of a sunny day the impact of the Resurrection is already rippling outwards, changing the whole created order.

Read: Luke 24:2-3

2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body.

Questions

When the women found the stone rolled away, how do you think they felt?
How do you react when something unexpected happens to you?

Pray

Almighty God,
your strong arm delivers,
you sweep the powerful from their thrones
and raise up the weak.
May your strength prevail when we feel too drained
to roll away the stones that block our pathway.
And may we use what strength you give us,
to give heart to those whose voices go unheeded:
whenever there seems to be nothing left,
may the resurrection of your beloved Son
sustain and unite us in love.
Amen.

4. The Women at the Tomb

Opening response

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
Lord, you are our way, our truth and our life. Alleluia.

4 Lorenzo Monaco Three Marys at the Tomb low res

The Three Marys at the Tomb, Lorenzo Monaco, 1396

Reflection

The symbolic language of an icon is recognisable in the use of perspective and colour as well as elements such as the tree (of life, or a reminder of the wood of the Cross, or both) and the blessing gesture of the angel, but the stylised botanical elements are spilling out over the page, like new shoots bursting through the soil – the lines of text dark and straight as furrowed earth – or vines curling around a trellis. The grave is rising heavenward at the angel’s end, like a seesaw, as the women find themselves at the fulcrum of the moment when creation is restored into God’s open, loving embrace.

Read: Luke 24: 4b-5

4bSuddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.’

Questions

How easy do you think it was for the women to accept the message of the angel?
What makes you accept the truth that others are telling you?

Pray

Risen Lord Jesus,
when you broke free of the tomb
you overturned rules and systems
that chain us to false expectations.
Just as your friends and followers
needed the presence of angels to prompt them
to grasp the possibilities of your resurrection,
we ask you to equip us to be your messengers,
overcoming fear and allowing others
to see your love working
throughout the twists and turns of life.
Amen.

5. The Women Meet the Risen Lord

Opening response

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
Lord, you are our way, our truth and our life. Alleluia.

5 Paul Gauguin Arlésiennes low res

Arlésiennes (Mistral), Paul Gauguin, 1888

Reflection

The moment before the meeting – the women, dressed for a visit to church, are anticipatory. They are walking through public gardens that were opposite the house in Arles that Gauguin was at the time sharing with Van Gogh. In that other garden, as the women approach the tomb, they are equally nervous and expectant. Wrapped up tight in their best clothes they steel themselves for the rituals of grief but drawing close, the stone is rolled away. The order of bereavement is disintegrating before their eyes, confronting them with the impossible – it would be easier to blame the authorities for desecration rather than admit to the possibility of resurrection. Yet, no matter how enclosed, protected they feel inside their cloaks, barriers have been sundered – heaven and earth are melding together. Look closely at the bush on the bottom left, in front of the women: just discernible are intimations of an eye, a nose, a face – angel or Christ? Whichever, the women are on the cusp of encountering divinity and nothing will be the same again.

Read: Matthew 28:8-10

So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’

Questions

What was the hardest journey your have made so far?
What made it so difficult?
Think about what may have sustained or strengthen you to carry on.

Pray

Living Son of the loving God,
your first words to the women
who had the courage to visit your tomb,
were ‘Do not be afraid’.
We pray for women all around the world
who are hard-pressed, ill-treated, disenfranchised;
that through your resurrection
their fears may turn to hope
and that they may find the strength, skills and tools
to live life in all its fullness.
Amen.

6. Peter and John Run to the Tomb

Opening response

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
Lord, you are our way, our truth and our life. Alleluia.

6 Elisabeth Frink Riace Figures low res

Riace Figures, Elisabeth Frink, 1987-1989

Reflection

The original figures – bronzes cast around 450BC – were discovered in the sea near Riace in 1972. Elisabeth Frink’s reimagined warriors are also encased in masks, but hers give them more of an Everyman quality and while they are still muscly and taut there is vulnerability in their nakedness. John and Peter running to the tomb are both raw with grief, all certainty stripped from them, energy coiled up inside them awaiting release. The concrete bases of the sculptures are clearly visible – they are running while weighed down by their own fears, insecurities, failures, doubts. Perhaps these are less for John than Peter, which is why he reaches the tomb first.

Read: John 20:3-10

Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.

Questions

We each react to situations in our own individual way.
What has impressed you about how some people have behaved throughout the current lockdown?
What do you feel has been positive about your own attitude and behaviour?
What would you change about your response?

Pray

Heavenly Father,
In your wisdom you create every person
as individuals with a unique relationship to the world.
We thank you that, just like Peter and John,
each one of us has our own way
of examining, evaluating, trusting and believing.
May opportunities to meet with you open up to everyone,
whether in times of emptiness or fulness,
that the breath of resurrection might bring
fresh vitality to our lives.
Amen.

7. Angels at the empty tomb

Opening response

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
Lord, you are our way, our truth and our life. Alleluia.

7 James Tissot Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene Questions the Angels in the Tomb, James Tissot, 1886, 1894

Reflection

A traditional image with big winged, white robed angels. They are rather stiff, formal and translucent – neither in nor of this world. They dominate, Mary is cramped in the doorway, angular, uncomfortable, disconcerted. The angels emit an icy harmony, Mary disrupts it with her grief, her shock, her dis-ease. She is in the liminal place, not inside yet not outside the tomb. She can back out or plunge in, take the risk to lose any lingering control she feels she has over the situation and be at the mercy of the angels and their message. The square doorway recalls the square of the Ben Nicholson in the first station. There it seemed to be expanding with our fears, now Mary can feel them closing in, the frame contracting to squeeze the breath out of her, to limit the potential of the resurrection. She has to make a decision – to grasp a radical new knowledge or to retreat into safety and ignorance.

Read: John 20:11-13

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’

Questions

What has been the most constricting aspect of this situation for you?
How might you have found it unexpectedly positive?
Can you identify a time when your vision of life, of faith suddenly expanded significantly?

Pray

Saviour God,
there are periods when we feel so weighed down
that all and any help seems to be no help at all.
During these times may we discern your voice
and remember that you never let us go.
We pray for all who mourn,
that out of their sadness may come
a new understanding:
that each and every one of us
is bound together eternally
by your love.
Amen.

8. Mary Magdalene meets the risen Lord

Opening response

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
Lord, you are our way, our truth and our life. Alleluia.

8 Samuel Palmer Garden in Shoreham

Garden in Shoreham, Samuel Palmer, c1830

Reflection

A contemporary of Blake, Samuel Palmer’s works sing with transcendence. Later artists such as Stanley Spencer and Carel Weight hint at a similar lineage – each depicts the divine breaking into the everyday, Christ spotted on the street corner (much as in Mark Cazelet’s recent London based Stations of the Cross). Here spring comes to a Shoreham garden, trees froth over with the vitality of fresh blossom. A woman, Mary, glimpsed at the end of a sunlight path, is looking up, searching, willing herself to catch sight of, something, someone who will tell her where the body of her beloved Master has been hidden. There is longing in her pose – but perhaps there are also the faintest stirrings of hope that lead her to be the first witness of the new life, new relationships, new love that are about to flood the earth.

Read: John 20:14b-18

14bShe turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16 Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’ 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Questions

Many people feel that they are nearer to God in a garden. Has there ever been a time when a garden, a landscape, nature has revealed something of God to you?
What was it, what impact did it have on you?
Have you ever been tasked to take a difficult, hard to believe message to others?
What was the result?

Pray

Living Word,
you called us by name and we are yours.
When you spoke Mary’s name
you gave her back her identity, her strength, her vision.
Forgive us for all the times we have not treated
other people as individuals,
when we have been disrespectful,
when we have allowed anonymity to colour our behaviour.
By your grace may we turn again
to strive to be your community
where everyone matters.
Amen.

9. The walk to Emmaus

Opening response

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
Lord, you are our way, our truth and our life. Alleluia.

9 Paul Nash The Mule Track

The Mule Track, Paul Nash, 1918

Reflection

The couple who broke out of the barricaded room, where the remaining disciples were hiding out, were prepared to risk their lives to escape the fetid and febrile atmosphere, awash with fear and conspiracy theories. Paul Nash’s Mule Track is an almost perfect evocation of their journey. They are in enemy territory, with the Roman occupiers on high alert for insurrection. They are in No Man’s Land – Jesus, the Son of Man, is dead. Inside their heads their thoughts, like barbed wire, are tangled and vicious. They are trying to hold the line, walking a rickety, narrow path. At any moment some explosion might blow them off track into the mud, the slough of despond. But there are mules ahead on the road, mules, donkeys, cavorting, dancing, rearing – in panic, or maybe simply because they can, they are alive.  And we are back to two other journeys – to Bethlehem with a pregnant mother, and into Jerusalem, riding triumphant on a manifesto of radical change. At this moment if the stones cry out it is with pain, but by taking this road the disciples are already following in the footsteps of Christ.

Read: Luke 24:15-16, 25-27

15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him… 25 Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

Questions

Think about any times when life has felt hostile and everything seemed to be against you.
What helped you to see the situation more clearly?
If you had been with disciples hiding behind locked doors in Jerusalem, would you have stayed put or joined the two on their journey to Emmaus? Why?

Pray

God of exodus,
who brought your people out of slavery,
into the abundance of the promised land,
we know that travelling is both necessary and risky
if we are to grow in life and faith.
We pray that you will guide our feet and minds
along the way of faith,
encouraging us to step beyond the borders of our fears
into your Kingdom.
Amen.

10. Supper at Emmaus

Opening response

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
Lord, you are our way, our truth and our life. Alleluia.

10 Paul Gauguin The Meal low res

Le repas (Les bananes) – The meal (The bananas), Paul Gauguin, 1891

Reflection

Surely Gauguin had Old Master images of the Emmaus supper in his mind for this scene? The carefully positioned layout of the table (note how the knife is pointing through the bowl to the central figure), the questioning looks of the outer men towards their companion, who is ambiguous, enigmatic, focussed, perhaps on matters not of this world. There is a cosy domesticity in the collation of everyday objects – the food of daily living, the frieze on the wall behind, but all speak of fecundity, of fruiting, of life going on, of life energised, sustained. The patchwork of white cloths, the large, glowing, central vessel, hint at an altar, the Mass, the Last Supper – through the offering of hospitality, the two companions are on the brink of a new reality – transformation is about to explode into the heart of their home.

Read: Luke 24:28-33

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together.

Questions

What is there about the Eucharist that you find important? Why?
Does it help to deepen your connection with God? How?
Does it do this for your connection with others, with creation?
What more do you think the Eucharists you take part in should be offering or achieving?

Pray

Lord Jesus Christ,
when you took bread and wine,
blessed them in the Father’s name,
broke them open and shared them around the table,
you reached out to us through the basic elements of food and drink.
As we remember your eternal sacrifice
through our celebration of the Eucharist,
may we share equally and fairly
with the whole of your creation
all that sustains us and makes us whole.
Amen.

11. Jesus and Peter

Opening response

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
Lord, you are our way, our truth and our life. Alleluia.

11 Henry Moore Sheep Piece low res

Sheep Piece, Henry Moore, 1971-1972

Reflection

Henry Moore’s sheep sketchbook shows how closely he observed the relationship between ewes and lambs. This monumental bronze distils that bond into a moment of suckling – the lamb intent upon its task nuzzles hard at the teat, the ewe arches in acknowledgement of her offspring’s needs. She gives, the lamb takes. More than that, she knows that this one is hers, called home to the only place where it can be truly nourished and grow. Jesus is the ewe calling Peter, his errant lamb back to him, allowing them both to acknowledge their need for the other. Peter has learnt that he isn’t a dominant, invincible ram, his weaknesses are as great as anyone else’s. Now when Jesus calls ‘feed my sheep, feed my lambs’ Peter understands their demands and can respond faithfully. The antithesis of this image might have been Damien Hirst’s Away from the Flock.

Read: John 21:15b-17, 19b

15bJesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ 16 A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ 17 He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep… 19bAfter this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’

Questions

How have you learnt to accept your own limitations?
How might your reliance on others and on God have developed?
What helps you to admit that you have got something wrong?

Pray

Holy God,
Holy and strong,
Holy and immortal,
have mercy on us.
We, like Peter, often stray,
we boast, or we dissemble, or we run from responsibility.
Speak to us, as you spoke to him,
so that we may know that we are forgiven
and may strike out to share
that forgiveness with all we meet.
Amen.

12. Jesus Appears to the Disciples

Opening response

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
Lord, you are our way, our truth and our life. Alleluia.

12 William Blake Christ Appearing to His Apostles low res

Christ Appearing to his Apostles after the Resurrection, William Blake, c1795

Reflection

There is often something ethereal about the way Blake renders figures – a transparency of colour – yet also a weighty physicality to them – an emphasis on musculature – which in the case of his resurrected Christ, powerfully portrays him as ‘in the world but not of it’. Adoring, awe-struck, fearful or just simply exhausted and asleep, the disciples are only just awakening to the possibility of a post-Easter universe. Christ offers his hand – a sign that he is real, the scars a reminder of the cost of that reality, but he is there to pull them upwards, towards their own destinies, perhaps mirroring the Anastasis of the Eastern Church, the moment when Christ descends to Hades and pulls Adam, Eve and (in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus) all humanity out of Hades belly.

Read: Luke 24:36-43

36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ 37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence.

Questions

Whose touch are you missing the most at the moment?
What are you finding is the most effective way to feel connected to others in lockdown?

Pray

Christ, the Son of Righteousness,
the first resurrection gift you offered your disciples
was ‘Peace be with you’.
We pray that you will breathe your peace
over a world disfigured by conflict and disaster,
bringing comfort, rest and hope to all who are suffering,
and filling us with the faith, the vision, the compassion,
to go forth into the hard places
as agents of your peace.
Amen.

13. Thomas Meets his Lord

Opening response

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
Lord, you are our way, our truth and our life. Alleluia.

13 Duccio Christ Appearing to His Disciples

Doubting Thomas, Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308-1311

Reflection

The architectural inverted V-shaped arch draws the reluctant disciples in towards the centre, places them on the edges of the space occupied by Christ and Thomas, who are themselves drawn together by the smaller smoothly rounded arch of the barred doorway. Christ raises his hand in blessing, but also to offer his wounded side to Thomas’s tentatively questing fingers. There is calm wonderment on the faces of the disciples and puzzlement on that of Thomas, but his gaze is unflinchingly on his Lord, who stares back with love, willing him on towards revelation.

Read: John 20:24-9

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ 27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ 28 Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29 Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

Questions

The descriptions of Jesus’s Resurrected body are very physical, emphasising that he wasn’t a ghost. Does this make it harder, or easier for you to believe in?
Why do you think the physical nature of the Resurrection might be important?
If you were in the room with disciples would you have needed the same proof as Thomas?

Pray

King of glory,
while we doubt, we fail, we turn away,
your faith in us remains strong.
May we experience that divine strength
coursing through our souls, bodies and minds,
so that our doubts may become the source of new knowledge,
leading us to see you more clearly,
and be drawn into the heart of your love for all creation.
Amen.

14. At the Sea of Tiberias

Opening response

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
Lord, you are our way, our truth and our life. Alleluia.

0334289
Piet Mondriaan
Zee na zonsopgang
Post restaurtie 2011

Sea after Sunset, Piet Mondrian, 1909

Reflection

Mondrian offers a liminal moment, the betwixt time when night and day shade one into the other, shadows shift and change, what is seen and unseen swithers back and forth, dreams erupt into daylight, the veil separating heaven and earth seems torn and limitless possibilities overflow. The horizon stretches to infinity, the waves ripple outwards, the Resurrection is unbounded and yet held in a moment as the author of life sits on the shore cooking fish for his friends.

Read: John 21:1-6, 9-13

1After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish…

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.

Questions

What has been the most important meal so far in your life? Why?
What makes communal eating valuable, or difficult for you?
How do you think such post-Resurrection moments helped the disciples in their faith?

Pray

Lord Jesus, Bread of Life,
we give thanks to you,
for out of your compassion,
out of your own humanity,
you understood the needs of your disciples
and gave them both sustenance and hope.
We pray that all those who cry out to you in hunger
will be satisfied in body and spirit.
May all peoples be guided to share your riches
and so be brought together to feast
at one table in your heavenly Kingdom.
Amen.

15. The Ascension

Opening response

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
Lord, you are our way, our truth and our life. Alleluia.

15 Paul Nash Cumulus Head low res

Cumulus Head, Paul Nash, 1944

Reflection

There is something unseemly and incongruous about classical depictions of the Ascension with their tendency to portray a group of neck craning disciples staring up Jesus’s billowy skirts as he flies heavenwards. It is an awkward moment – physical and yet spiritual. It has to be physical – the resurrection has been described so solidly, the Jesus who is resurrected is flesh and blood, no ghost, mirage or hallucination. But the flying upwards aspect removes it from grounded experience. Nash’s Cumulus Head offers another possibility – it retains a towering physicality – as monumental as Moore’s Sheep Piece – but invests it with fresh spiritual potential. Clouds are real, molecular, measurable, but they are also constantly shifting, shape-changing, parting to offer, closing to obscure the lady blue vista of space beyond.

Read: Mark 16:19-20

19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

Questions

Why do you think the Ascension is important to the Christian faith?
If you were asked to depict it, how would you do it?
What aspects of it would you want to emphasise?

Pray

Eternal God,
through your birth and death,
resurrection and ascension
you split open the veil that hides heaven from earth.
In baptism you reach out your hand
to draw us home into your gracious presence.
Emboldened by your Spirit
may we proclaim the Good News with faithful passion,
encouraging others to break through their own fears
into the never-ending embrace of your love.
Amen.

16. Pentecost

Opening response

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
Lord, you are our way, our truth and our life. Alleluia.

16 Georgia O'Keeffe Blue and Green Music

Blue and Green Music, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1921

Reflection

The square tomb gape of Nicholson and Tissot is turned into the walls of the upper room, hiding place of the disciples who, disturbed by the second loss of their Lord, are once again pitched back into a grave of fear, unknowing and shivering with anticipation. But now the Spirit erupts into their enclosure, exploding the walls, brimming over with the breath of life, seeding a new hope, dancing a fresh tune into existence. Blue and green, the colours of the Holy Spirit in Rublev’s icon of the Old Testament Trinity, the colours of earth and water, life and vitality, sends the eternal song rippling out across all creation. This is music with no end.

Read: Acts 2:1-4

1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Questions

Think about any experiences you might have had of God’s Spirit. How did you know they were from God?
What did you learn or gain from them?
Was it a comfortable experience, or do you think it was necessarily discomforting?
When we are liberated from lockdown, what do you think will be the most important insight you will want to share with others?

Pray

Living Lord,
risen, ascended, returning,
through this way of light,
you have reminded us that darkness is part of the journey.
You have shared with us the revelation of your glory,
you have challenged us to be
the next chapter in your resurrection story.
Send forth your Holy Spirit upon us,
that we might tend and light
the fires of your love throughout all creation.
Amen.

Concluding Prayers

We pray together for the flourishing of God’s kingdom in the words Jesus himself taught us:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

Alleluia. Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Christ has offered us each a place at his holy table.
He has called us to take and bless, break and share,
he has called us to welcome everyone to his feast.

Alleluia. Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Christ has claimed us to be his body in the world.
He charged us to be his hands, his feet,
to be his compassionate eyes, to offer his blessing.

Alleluia. Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

17.01

Flax Bourton Swallowtail, Richard Greatrex, 2015

All Biblical texts included are taken from the NRSV, Anglicized Edition, copyright © Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, 1989. 1995.

Stations of the Resurrection: from Easter to Pentecost, prayers from which is included in this service, © Richard Q. Greatrex, 2019. Reflections on the art works also © Richard Q. Greatrex, 2019, 2020.

Elevenses for May 2020

20200429_141844Elevenses is our time of craft, story, song and prayer for young children and their families. We missed last month but now we are back, with all the usual ingredients and mayhem, fun and finding out about God, Jesus and the Bible.

Our Bible story this time is very, very short, but it tells us something important about God’s love and God’s kingdom.

We’ve written a new story to go with it and we’ve created a fresh craft project that you might like to try at home.

Here is an instruction sheet if you would like to have a go yourself:

Kingdom of God Tree Instructions

You’ll find the service itself on our YouTube channel: ttps://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrNexsQfUAfKubwjXCtp4Sw

Do join us!