Sleaford Parish Church 

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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.