Sleaford Parish Church 

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On This Rock

Posted on 6 July, 2017 at 6:20 Comments comments (0)

 

 

Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter (which translates as rock or stone) to emphasise the transformation that had taken place in Simon-Peter and the role he was going to have in the (early) church. On this Rock... I will build.... So, Peter was not simply to be a rock but a foundation stone.

 

In so many companies or institutions there are foundation stones - often called something like core values: respect, resilience, tolerance, adaptable, capable, honesty, integrity... The list is endless. Even our diocese has its core values: faithful, confident, joyful.

 

Jesus taught much about these 'core values' as he spoke about our relationship to God, to our neighbour, and to the world we inhabit. However, when he came to build his church he chose people as the foundation stones rather than abstract concepts. You are Peter and on this petros (rock) I will build my church.

 

On the feast of St Peter once again men and women have been ordained as priests and deacons in the Church of England - our curate Rhona was one of those ordained priest. I too was ordained at Peterstide many years ago. At every ordination I am reminded that as servants of God and his people we are called to a life of prayer, lived in close relationship with God and with those we have been called to serve. The gospel must be lived in relationship with others.

 

An institutions core values are of no benefit if they are not followed. In the church we are called to a life of prayer, following the teaching of Jesus. If we do this then God can and will build his church.

Fr Philip

 

 

May 2017

Posted on 2 May, 2017 at 6:30 Comments comments (0)

Easter is not over yet!

During these days of Easter we use the refrain ‘Christ is risen: he is risen indeed, alleluia’ quite a lot. It replaces the more standard greeting which begins most services: ‘the Lord be with you: and also with you’ or its alternative ‘the Lord is here: his spirit is with us’. But these refrains are related. At Easter we celebrated once again the victory of God in Christ over sin, death, and the powers of darkness – a victory made manifest in the resurrection and the occasions when the risen Christ appeared to his disciples and followers. Holy week and Good Friday were not the end – they were the beginning. The victorious Christ was with us (humanity). He endured suffering pain and death but overcame them all to be with us. That is why we proclaim Christ is risen. It is in the present continuous tense – it refers back to a specific event in the past but it continues to be a present reality. 

As we move through the month of May we move towards the Ascension and Pentecost (Whitsun). First Christ ascended into heaven after giving the disciples his great commission to go into all the world bearing witness to all that they have seen and heard: the disciples never saw him again. He also promised that he would not leave them alone to perform this task; he would send the Holy Spirit, the fulfilment of which is the feast of Pentecost. And this is the link between the two refrains that I mentioned at the beginning. It is because Christ is risen that we can ‘the Lord is here. We may spend 50 days celebrating Easter but we are a church of Pentecost – God’s Spirit is with us. This we affirm at every service Christ may have ascended into heaven but through his Spirit he is with us still today. Alleluia.

Palm Sunday 2017

Posted on 10 April, 2017 at 4:05 Comments comments (0)

On Palm Sunday morning we began the service on the Market Square. We heard the reading of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem before processing around the church, singing All glory, laud, and honour to thee redeemer king. On entering the church the story of Holy Week continued as the Passion Narrative was read. There was a shift in mood in the church as we moved from shouts of ‘Hosanna’ to ‘crucify him.

Later in the afternoon singers from a number of parishes in the local area gather to sing the Cantata The Cross of Christ, put together in 1956 by the Royal School of Church Music as a musical meditation for Holy Week. These two services set us up for our observation of Holy Week as we prepare for Good Friday and Easter. But as I led these services half of my mind was in Egypt.

Coptic Christians had gathered in Egypt to celebrate Palm Sunday – much of what they were doing would have been familiar to us. But in the midst of their service horror struck as they were targeted by a suicide bomber.

It doesn’t seem so many years ago that the Good Friday Agreement brought a fragile peace to the ‘Troubles’ of Northern Ireland. Suicide bombings and vehicular terrorist attacks are not such a far cry from the world of two thousand years ago where insurrections and uprisings in and around Jerusalem were fairly common occurrences. Palm Sunday and Holy Week remind us that the people then thought that Jesus was the answer to the ‘troubles’ but they expected him to do it their way. Jesus was and is the answer but his plan was God’s plan – the greatest demonstration of love for the World and its peoples. God so loved the world that he gave us his Son… therefore in the midst of grief, of fear, of sorrow, of hopelessness we can find in him comfort and Peace.



St Patrick and the Six Nations

Posted on 17 March, 2017 at 5:10 Comments comments (0)

The Six Nations Rugby Tounament is drawing to a close. In an Irish pub close to where I used to work every match day during the tournament saw large numbers of green rugby shirt wearing men (and some women) gathering to watch the match. A fair amount of Guinness was also consumed. St Patrick's day was also marked in a similar fashion: green was the predominant colour, shamrock was in abundance, Irish folk music and the ubiquitous Guinness.

I wonder what St Patrick would have made of these festivities! He was born in Britain and taken into captivity as a slave by a raiding party from teh West Coast of ireland. During this period he moved from knowing about the Christian God to knowing the Christian God. After a period in France he returned to Ireland as a bishop and set about establishing a monastic foundation and travelling throughout Ireland telling people of the love of God. His influence on teh Irish people exists to this day and spread from Ireland to, initially, the West Coast of Scotand and from there to the northern parts of England. The Celtic saints of Lindisfarne and Iona were all influenced by Patrick.

St Patrick received much persecution but throughout never lost that sense of the love of God that was always with him. One of the great Celltic hymns attributed to St Patrick expresses this well.

Christ be with me, Christ within me

Christ behind me, Christ before me

Christ beside me, Christ to win me

Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger

Christ in hearts of all that love me

Christ in mouth of friend or stranger.

On the occasions that I did go to the Irish pub one of the things that struck me was the warmth of hospitality even though I was not wearing the green! This, St Patrick would have recognised. and in his hymn talked about finding Christ in that hospitality we share.

Happy St Patrick's Day


Ash Wednesday

Posted on 1 March, 2017 at 7:10 Comments comments (0)

Today marks the beginning of Lent. Yesterday I burned some of last year's palm crosses and mixed the ash with the olive oil used in baptism services to put the sign of the cross of the forehead of those who are baptised. With this black oily sludge I marked the cross on the foreheads of those at today's service. At our baptism we are told that 'Christ claims us for his own, receive the sign of his cross'. On Ash Wednesday we say 'Dust you are and to dust you shall return, repent of your sins and turn to Christ'

As we enter the season of Lent we are called to examine ourselves and ask God to illumine those parts of our life that need to be transformed into something closer to that which God would want of us. We are made in the image of God but when we are self-centred that image of God in us is marred - just like when ash is added to the olive oil. Let us pray that through this season of Lent we may be transformed so that we reflect more of God's light, love and grace in this troubled world.

Holy God

Holy and Strong

Holy and Immortal

Have mercy upon us.


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