Wisdom & learning

Our learning as Christ’s students can never take place in the virtual classroom.

The title of this post is taken from the heading of the July prayer intentions. Each month the intentions strike a particular theme and it is apt that we should focus upon the area of wisdom and learning at a time that schools close for the summer holidays and the long University holidays continue. We have time to reflect a little about how the pandemic has affected students – young and old. We should also think how Christian teaching may enable us to learn from past mistakes so that we make practice wisdom and seek out people and places of wise counsel. 


Jesus comes to us as a teacher: “Jesus simply offers himself as the model to follow. He alone is the way to God. Follow him and we will find God.” (From the Homily attached below). It is this teaching, this modelling, that we are most concerned about today. How can we model Christ in a way that is authentic and real? How can we continue to desire to be attentive to our teacher so that we can find the mystery which is God? 


Many of us are able to remember one teacher in our lives who was able to make a difference. It might have been at infant school or perhaps at University but through their words and actions something came alive in us. The same, and more – much more, is to be said of Jesus. There was something about his wisdom and learning that turned heads and fed minds and lightened the soul. When he first opened the scriptures as a teenage boy in the synagogue and read from the scroll verses from the prophet Isaiah, there was something in his understanding of the text which brought new meaning. 

An all age presentation with prayers, music and a creative craft!

In the service today, we give thanks to God for the path that we tread. We follow our teacher as protogés – desiring that we may understand our vocation through Christ’s wisdom and learning. Let us also give thanks for teachers at this time, in whatever guise they take, and pray that they may be given God’s grace, perseverance and fortitude to continue in their vocation. In particular, we pray for those who are wearied by virtual teaching and the lack of personal connection with their students. Let us thank God that our discipleship, our learning as Christ’s students can never take place in the virtual classroom. Our wisdom and learning has to come from the reality of Christ before us and within us. Please use the prayer intentions each day this month.

Bishop Steven presides in a special service honouring the NHS. You can view the service via the diocesan website. The downloaded order of service can be found by pressing this link: https://www.oxford.anglican.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/DOX-060-NHS-OoS-v2.pdf

OTHER NEWS

The CEF foodbank collection

Everyone was so generous to the foodbank last month – we delivered 265 items, way above our long term average and almost twice the volume of the May collection. On behalf of CEF – Thankyou! The collection for July will be Wednesday 8th July at St Michael and All Angels church door, Lonsdale Road, from 11.00am – 1.00pm. Malcolm Sadler will be there as usual (suitably distanced and masked when needed) to receive items. Everything will then be delivered to Cowley the following day. 

A special kind of welcome

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.”

As we gear up to finally opening up the church for public worship, we need to plan the welcome that we will provide. Bishop Steven was speaking at our Deanery Chapter over Zoom this week and he said that rather than coming out of the woods (in terms of the Church getting back to normal) he fears that we are only just entering them! 

https://youtu.be/0cz2q3cazYs
The Third Sunday after Trinity. William Whyte provides the homily
click here to watch the service

Whenever we start gathering back in church, we need to make sure that people’s needs are understood, that we protect volunteers and church workers but that we also create an environment of beauty and simplicity. We don’t want to be governed by the latest IT trickery or distracted by protocols and directives. The business of welcoming well needs careful consideration and I would be delighted to hear your views about coming back to church. What might it mean to you? What are your cares and concerns? What have you missed and what are you looking forward to the most? 

At the heart of all of this is the Sacrament. Many of you have had to deny yourselves the presence of Christ and the rhythm of life that flows from taking part in the eucharistic feast. God welcomes us not only in the sacraments of the Church but in the sacrament of life. My hope is that we have all had time and space to consider the beauty of creation and the amazing virtues of human kindness, compassion and solidarity. 

All of these virtues are required as we formulate a welcome programme to start church again in this time of pandemic and change. I have included this, slightly irreverent but reflective piece on a different type of welcome. The themes of justice and inclusivity run through it and describes a community that desires growth of the soul and the charism of seeing God in others. I thought I would share it with you:

WELCOME

     We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich or dirt poor. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds.

     We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our priest who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism.

We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion,” we’ve been there too.

If you blew all your offering money at the bookies, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.

We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts … and you! 

I will inform everyone of the PCC’s decision about when the church will open its doors to public worship and how we will set about this. In the meantime you can come to church for private prayer. The church is open Saturday – Wednesday from 10am – 2pm. I would like to thanks Sarah Scheele for organising the rota and for the 20 or so volunteers who are acting as welcomers. 

OTHER NEWS

CLARE LEAL’S ORDINATION TO THE PRIESTHOOD

Clare Leal, our curate, was due to be ordained this weekend before the pandemic took hold. However, I am delighted to report that Clare will be ordained priest. The ordination service will take place at St Michael’s on 20th September. Although deferred from Petertide, I think it is especially apt that Clare should be ordained at Michaelmas, our Patronal Festival! Please continue to pray for Clare and her ministry at St Michael’s, remembering also Dave and their son John.

STEWARDSHIP REQUEST

Our church has been affected by the lockdown as much as any other organisation that has had to close its doors to the public. We have not been able to hire out the halls. We have also lost the weekly giving offering Sunday by Sunday. It costs approaching £450 per day just to keep the building and grounds going and well maintained, and we are very dependent on goodwill offerings and donations. Many of our parishioners pay regularly by Standing Order through the Parish Share Scheme or by Direct Debit. These regular payments have become a lifeline. May I ask all those who do not give in this way to consider setting up a Standing Order or Direct Debit. The instructions to do so follow here.

I fully understand that this request comes at a time when many of us are feeling the pinch. I am also aware of the sacrificial generosity of many in order to support the church’s continuing ministry and mission.

Regular stewardship Standing Orders

Transferring directly into our bank account is the most efficient for us and, by using your online banking, this is usually straightforward and leaves you in complete control. No need to give your private bank details to us or any external organisation — just give your bank our bank details. You can change the amount at any time using your online banking, or visiting your local branch. Our bank is CAF Bank:

Account:  St Michaels & All Angels Summertown
Sort Code:  40-52-40
Acc No.:  00011607

Please don’t forget to Gift Aid if you are able. The Gift Aid form is attached to this message.

VIRTUAL COFFEE AFTER SUNDAY CHURCHWe meet on Zoom at 11.30am to share some thoughts about the week or even the church service which is produced for each Sunday. This is a wonderful way to stay in touch with friends and meet others who we haven’t become acquainted with. Please email Clare for an invitation: curate@stmichaels-summertown.org.uk

Lament, thanksgiving and restoration

Good news! We are inviting people to return to church, in the first instance, for private prayer. The church will be open from Monday – Wednesday and Saturday & Sunday from 10am – 2pm. We will open up the church this Monday. All of the safety procedures are in place. We will use the Lady Chapel and the entry point will be through the south door (not the Threshold). The church has been thoroughly cleaned and will continue to be so each week. Members of the congregation will be on-hand to help and maintain social distancing measures. You are advised to bring a face mask. Although this is a long way from what we are used to, it is a new beginning. We also recognise the amount of pain and disorientation that this pandemic has caused. Special prayers have been written in order for people to speak to God from the heart. These prayers focus on the themes of lament, thanksgiving and restoration. (Please watch my sermon which talks about these themes in more detail). So, come and light a candle if that helps. Pray before the icons which are windows upon something greater than we can say. Use the silence to listen and receive God’s presence.

For all budding liturgists – spot the ‘deliberate’ mistake. No prizes given!

STEWARDSHIP REQUEST

Our church has been affected by the lockdown as much as any other organisation that has had to close its doors to the public. We have not been able to hire out the halls. We have also lost the weekly giving offering Sunday by Sunday. It costs approaching £450 per day just to keep the building and grounds going and well maintained, and we are very dependent on goodwill offerings and donations. Many of our parishioners pay regularly by Standing Order through the Parish Share Scheme or by Direct Debit. These regular payments have become a lifeline. May I ask all those who do not give in this way to consider setting up a Standing Order or Direct Debit. The instructions to do so follow here.

I fully understand that this request comes at a time when many of us are feeling the pinch. I am also aware of the sacrificial generosity of many in order to support the church’s continuing ministry and mission.

Regular stewardship Standing Orders

Transferring directly into our bank account is the most efficient for us and, by using your online banking, this is usually straightforward and leaves you in complete control. No need to give your private bank details to us or any external organisation — just give your bank our bank details. You can change the amount at any time using your online banking, or visiting your local branch. Our bank is CAF Bank:

Account:  St Michaels & All Angels Summertown
Sort Code:  40-52-40
Acc No.:  00011607

Please don’t forget to Gift Aid if you are able. The Gift Aid form is attached to this message.

THE QUARTERLY (From the Editors)

The Quarterly is a journal put together by all the churches in the Summertown-Wolvercote Church Partnership.  At present the June issue is only available electronically. Click this link to open the file or cut and paste this address http://www.stpeterswolvercote.org/wp-content/uploads/The-Quarterly_June2020.pdf into your browser. Do please read it as we, the editors, think we’ve put together an interesting issue thanks to contributions throughout the Partnership. 

VIRTUAL COFFEE AFTER SUNDAY CHURCHWe meet on Zoom at 11.30am to share some thoughts about the week or even the church service which is produced for each Sunday. This is a wonderful way to stay in touch with friends and meet others who we haven’t become acquainted with. Please email Clare for an invitation: curate@stmichaels-summertown.org.uk

Private prayers in a common space

“But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6)

Finally…. finally, it seems that the Church will be opening its doors again. Some say that it has been far too long, that the Church has not shown any leadership in this Covid chaos, that the one place of sanctuary needed for those who despair is the Church. Whatever position you take and however you have been living through this crisis, the lockdown rules are being eased to allow a more normal pattern of life to emerge.

However, before I am able to open the doors for those who wish to pray, I need to ensure that the Church is a safe place to enter and gather. We need to organise a rota of people to act as welcomers as well as cleaners, ensuring social distancing protocols are met and hygiene measures put into place. We need to limit the spaces which people travel and clearly signpost where they can sit. We need to take away all objects and books and papers which could be touched by visitors. We need to offer cleansing fluid on the way in and the way out. All of these things are to be written up on a risk assessment. It could sap any sense of joy that we might see friends returning from a long sabbatical! It all seems so functional, so procedural – nothing like Jesus’ instruction to pray.

“The church belongs to all of us. It is a common space. As long as we observe the guidance and science, the church should soon return to be a place of sanctuary.”

I will contact you as soon as I know when we can welcome pilgrims to church once more. We are meeting this weekend to decide those matters. You can, of course, continue to use the gardens – and many people have taken advantage of this quiet space. But my main message is that the church belongs to all of us. It is a common space. As long as we observe the guidance and science, the church should soon return to be a place of sanctuary.

Finally, I would like to direct you to the Oxford Diocese’s Church at Home service this Sunday. It features a variety of familiar faces from St Michael’s and so, I thought, I would take a break from the director’s chair! (In fact, I helped produce this service). The online Church at Home service takes place at 10am on Sunday. Bishop Steven is giving an address on Philippians and the Gospel of Matthew, and the Revd Skye Denno is presiding from her home in Old Marston. Press this link to watch the service “as live” on Sunday at 10am. If you miss it, you are able to watch it “as live.”  https://www.oxford.anglican.org/coronavirus-covid-19-2/livestream/ 

I realise that many of you will be continuing to shield and will not be able to come back to church. There are two ways of keeping in contact. The first is by phoning or emailing me or one of the other clergy. In the first instance my contact details can be found below. Please do bother me!! Secondly, if you are familiar with Zoom and are not over-zoomed then you can join us for coffee after church at 11.30am on Sundays. Simply email me or Clare Leal (curate@stmichaels-summertown.org.uk) for an invitation to join. It will be good to see/hear from you. I have included the June prayer intentions for you. Please also remember that you can easily say Morning or Evening Prayer at home from the Homepage of our website: www.stmichaels-summertown.org.uk Simply press the button and all the prayers, readings and canticles for each day open up before you! Give it a go.

I hope to be writing soon with details of how and when we will be opening the church. 

Gavin

Trinity Sunday

In today’s service, the Revd Alyson Peberdy – an associate priest at St Michael’s – comments on some images which may well help in our quest to know God. In particular, how we might know God as Trinity: creator, redeemer and sustainer. Alyson uses the Andrei Rublev icon to try and describe God’s loving welcome to us, his creation. See the presentation and service here:

The icon writers have attempted to re-create God’s story through Christ and his followers. The icon writers’ art is a contemplative process, praying the icon into life. And in the looking can we detect that we are part of God, made in God’s image. So, God know’s us, what we look like, what we sound like, who we are. God sees us as divine, he cannot separate us from his own divine image. The next time you see a reflection of yourself know that you are of God, saturated in divine life.

A SPECIAL PLEA FOR FUNDS

As with many non-profit organisations, your parish Church has also suffered from a loss of income from the weekly plate offerings as well as the hall and church rentals. 

I have received some very generous donations which now cover the interim works – so generous, in fact, that it might be possible, with another push, to create a fund to rebuild the wall completely! We now have permission from the diocese to get on with this work. I realise that many of you are struggling financially as a result of the lockdown. However, I wonder if you could find a way in supporting the church in this aspect of its community vision.

Another way of contributing to the life of the Church is by becoming a friend of the Church Gardens and Halls. The details of this scheme are attached.

I would be grateful if you could consider responding to this appeal.

By BACS:

Account:  St Michaels & All Angels Summertown
Sort Code:  40-52-40
Acc No.:  00011607

Ref: Garden wall

By cheque:

Payable to:  “St Michael and All Angels Church, Summertown”
Post to our office at:  St. Michael & All Angels Church, Lonsdale Road, Oxford OX2 7ES.

Many thanks. Do remember to get in touch and share these videos and comments.

http://www.stmichaels-summertown.org.uk

Email me at: vicar@stmichaels-summertown.org.uk

God bless you, Gavin