Faith at Home

We need some scaffolding to help us through the challenges of these days.

How might we continue to be Church despite the church not being open? Structure is key to sustain any sort of prayer life – ask any monk or nun! But as Christians living in the world (and a chaotic one at that), we need some scaffolding to help us through the challenges of these days. 

Daily prayer is, therefore, an important element in defining each day, of claiming it for a greater good. Again, please refer to our website and you will find on the home page a link which will take you to either Morning or Evening Prayer. I use this facility a lot. The readings are also provided. It is a great tool. 

Have a time of silence during the day. This quiet time need not take long – just 10 minutes out from a busy day.


Sharing the faith is slightly more challenging. It is possible, within a household, to integrate some activities which lead to prayerfulness. Such faith tools would have been very commonplace a few generations ago. For example, praying a grace before a meal. I have a wonderful prayer dice which has graces printed on each side. Share rolling the dice amongst the family. 

Take it in turn to throw the dice so that everyone has an opportunity to say a prayer ‘out loud.’

Praying as you wake. Before you reach for the mobile phone, pray the Our Father. Place a holding cross by your bedside and pray as you grip the wood of the cross. Before you go to sleep at night, reflect upon the day (in the exercise known by Jesuits as the examen). Look to see what happened, where God has been present. Thank God for the things which have brought growth and delight. Pray to god for those things which have felt deathly to you.

Finally, try to cook according to the season and even day of the week. Fish on Friday respects the tradition that each week we live Good Friday. No meat is eaten. This might be easier for vegetarians! Think about this Lenten season and the rich food which needs to be stored until the Easter celebrations – the feast of feasts. 

I hope these thoughts have helped?  I would like to direct you to the live streaming of the Eucharist this Sunday. Bishop Steven will preside from home! Go to https://www.oxford.anglican.org/coronavirus-covid-19/livestream/ I will hopefully be able to do something similar in the weeks to come but there is a bit of sickness in the vicarage at the present time. 

As ever, please pray for one another as I pray for you.

Testing Times

These are testing times but I am hopeful that we can all pull through. I just wanted to greet you on this the Feast of the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary. We can learn so much from Mary’s role of sacrifice and joy!

Greetings from the vicarage

Please know I am praying for you and, I hope, with you! There are various ways we can still share a sense of fellowship together. In the morning and evening, look to say the daily offices. These can be found on the welcome page of our website. I will also be offering the daily prayer intention sheet for April in the next few days. We have also been asked to pray the Our Father with our Christian brothers and sisters across the world at 11am. At 7pm in the evening, light a candle in your front room and keep it alight for an hour. This will be a visible sign of solidarity for those suffering from the Coronavirus.

Prayer is essential at this time and so is a gospel joy. Spring is here. Nature is abundant and the cry of nature loud. I wonder if we might use this time to re-create and re-shape our lives so that we become more attuned to God in creation? There’s a thought.

Contact me if you have any need – material or spiritual! 07833 251939 / vicar@stmichaels-summertown.org.uk

Broadcasting to your home

God of love, passionate and strong, tender and careful: watch over us all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The first of many broadcasts from St Michaels is now available. We can all gather together to celebrate Mothering Sunday by clicking this link: https://youtu.be/sH3U-X-siUw

This is not a David Lean production! We will try to improve the quality as we go on. We are learning all the time. Please do send in your feedback but, especially, let me have any questions or comments regarding the sermon.

Let’s keep church going and our fellowship active through virtual means. 
Thanks to Ann Livings for the prayers and our wonderful group of church wardens and sacristans for making this possible with a nod to Steve Allen for helping with the tech deep into the night!

Please stay safe and healthy. My prayers are with you all.
God bless you and those you pray for at this time.

God of love, passionate and strong, tender and careful: watch over us all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gavin

Corona Care

“There’s never been such an important time as now to think of others before ourselves.”

“There’s never been such an important time as now to think of others before ourselves.”

These words were said with feeling by a parishioner reflecting on the very beginning of what might turn out to be a lengthy health and wealth crisis. This week the Archbishops of Canterbury and York wrote not once but twice to their brother and sister clergy across the land. They wrote with deep regret to say that public worship must stop but the Christian mission most certainly must continue. Public worship has been interrupted throughout Christian history but never to this extent. How can we be a family of faith without gathering together, without receiving Communion, without experiencing the other sacraments that the Church provides?

As we reflect upon this new reality brought about by COVID-19, we might perceive a way forward, a flickering light that demonstrates that God is very present in our suffering. I have witnessed an amazing upload in human kindness, especially towards the care of neighbours and concern for strangers and the vulnerable. Various networks of care have been created locally. The large corporations are seeking to provide rather than to profit; the government is seeking to serve the common good rather than itself; the media is promoting public health rather than celebrity angst. Plenty of goodness is coming out of this crisis.

As a parish church, what should our mission be? What are the practical and spiritual actions and gifts that we can give to this part of God’s world? We are opening the church – not for public worship – but to invite people to use the sacred space to pray, to light a candle, to listen. Silent and daily prayer continues. I will be recording the Eucharist on Saturday evenings and will ‘broadcast’ this through our website and social media. I will continue to send out the readings of the week with this blog post. I will also attempt to make available a homily, if not a commentary, relating to the Sunday readings.

A new votive candle stand awaits the prayers of those who share the sorrows of these days

I will encourage you to think about embracing faith at home with practical and fun activities which bring faith to life. As the Archbishops suggest, there is much we can learn here from our Jewish cousins in this respect. Watch out for faith at home updates as we continue to live through this crisis.

In order to serve the local community, the Traidcraft Store will be open at St Michaels on Saturday mornings between 10am and 12 noon. It will be selling important household products which may be running out of stock in other stores including toilet rolls, kitchen rolls, sanitizing hand wash, sanitizing multi-surface cleaner, organic toilet cleaner, organic soap, Easter cards & eggs and chocolate bars.

“There’s never been such an important time as now to think of others before ourselves.” This is a message which speaks to the whole of our society not just to a section. All of our previous prejudices and misgivings need to be relinquished. We need to think of others just as Jesus gave us the imperative to love our neighbours and much as we love ourselves.

What else can we do? In an attempt to show solidarity with those who suffer, light a candle in your front room at 7pm for an hour each evening. Let’s light up our homes to others (but make sure the flame is protected). The Christian story describes many episodes of oppression, persecution and restriction. I believe that the way that we experience the graciousness of God will change. Our inner lives will begin to flex some muscles. We will go deeper and become more resourceful and intuitive about the movements of God. But the most important catalyst for the growth of the life of faith is prayer. This is what I wrote for last Sunday’s sermon:

Those of you this Lent – and during this Covid-19 crisis – who are committed to prayer, are in a humble way, being prophetic – standing up for what is good and trusting God to provide.  God needs us to pray, the world needs generous prayer, we all need praying for.  Prayer is the centre of the church’s mission, it lies in the heart of God.  It brings us into a communion with one another but ultimately with the one in whom we live and breathe and have our being.  Through prayer we realise who we are and who God is.  Prayer becomes the purpose of our lives.  Without it we are empty and unfulfilled, tempted and shaken by whatever devil chooses to come alongside us.  

This Lent and during this health and wealth crisis, pray to God for a deeper knowledge of his mystery.  Don’t be afraid to journey into the wilderness of faith, for there you will meet the Christ.  Don’t look for quick fixes or easy answers, but simply rest in God’s presence.  If we commit ourselves to God, we will be challenged and changed as people, and through our prayer God will challenge and change the world.  Prayer is the most important and urgent task of our age, or any age.  Your prayer is asked at this time.   

SUNDAY READINGS

Fourth Sunday of Lent (Mothering Sunday) Old Testament – 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; New Testament – Ephesians 5:8-14; Gospel – John 9

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