Walking with Jesus

The Christian faith is based upon a beautiful short word called hope.

I recorded a special homily about the interaction between Jesus and his two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It is a spectacularly important story to become acquainted with because it describes the despair of the disciples and then their joy when they are awakened to the person of Jesus before them.

In the video, I try and comment on the intensity of the dialogue between these 3 people and how their conversation becomes our dialogue with God. There is also something very relevant about their worry and anxiety. Their structures of faith have seemingly been crucified with Jesus. They feel dejected unable to contemplate what is normal, what is good, what is righteous! Covid-19 brings with it similar concerns but the Christian faith is based upon a beautiful short word called hope. There is a beautiful animated edition of the Emmaus Road story told by the Bible Society. I recommend that the children watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndtnZV-5QTo Please also see the Messy Church type craft attached called ‘Jesus walks with us’ designed by Leah Mattinson in her time away from the parish computer!

I hope you enjoy the less-professional video shot in St Michael’s garden! If you want to watch it all in one go please click here: https://youtu.be/7eUSK3Op8dw Please watch it with the readings and prayers attached to this email and press pause whenever you need to. I would also commend to you the questions at the end of the clip:

1. How and when you do see the person of Christ in the world today? How does that inform you about the living faith of the Christian Church?

2. Where is your place within the community of faith? How might you be encouraged to continue Christ’s ministry today?

3. What does the conversation between Jesus and his disciples mean to you in this time of Covid-19?

If you have time, please respond to me with your thoughts – or perhaps this might open up similar discussions in your care clusters or with friends and neighbours?

The beginning of the journey
First walk

The First Reading – Acts 2:14a. 36-41  On the day of Pentecost, Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd, “Let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. 

Our desire to be like Christ

The Gospel (Part 1) – Luke 24:13-21 On that same day, two of the disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” Jesus asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. 

The Gospel (Part 2) – Luke 24:22-30 “…It is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see Jesus.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 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. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Jesus; and he vanished from their sight. 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?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. 

Reflecting on the encounter

Our Intercessions

Holy God, we cannot gather in fellowship and worship to hear your word, to sing your praise and to break bread in the presence of the Risen Christ. But in our prayers this Sunday, we pray that you walk with us as individuals and as the Church of God on our Road to Emmaus.  Open our eyes, as you did with Jesus’ companions, to the reality and truth of the resurrection. Jesus Christ, heal us; and bring us your peace.

We pray for our local church of St Michael & All Angels, and our diocese of Oxford and for all our ecumenical partners who preach the Gospel bringing a light to those in darkness and words of love to those in need of comfort in this time of closed churches and congregations locked down in their home. Jesus Christ, heal us; and bring us your peace.

Creator God your Son walked the roads and tracks of the Holy Land and taught us to seek your hand in the beauty and wonders of earth and sea and the sky. We so often see too much of the evidence of poor stewardship in nature and it is easy to forget that the world belongs to you. Help us to recognise your presence in our modern world, to listen to the birdsong, to see the stars, and help us to use more wisely the resources of the earth. Jesus Christ, heal us; and bring us your peace.

Father God we thank you for the gift of your Son, our Saviour, who walks with us on our life’s journey. We pray for all who travel with us in our family, among our friends and neighbours within this community. We pray for a deepening awareness of our need for one another and of your image in the hearts of everyone we meet. We thank you for walking alongside us wherever we travel and, if like those first disciples, we fail to be aware of you forgive us for our human weakness and open our eyes to see you as a constant companion and friend. Jesus Christ, heal us; and bring us your peace.

Loving God, send your son to walk with those we know who are going through a time of suffering and pain perhaps as a result of this current pandemic. Help us to always be aware of one another’s needs and to respond accordingly and assist them with words and deeds on to the road of recovery. Merciful God accompany those travelling through the valley of death and may our love and prayers support those who walk that journey today. Jesus Christ, heal us; and bring us your peace.

Merciful Father: Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

The journey’s end… or just the beginning?

Remember to look out for news and information from our own website:

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

The Boy in the Bubble

These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all.

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These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all.

Words from Paul Simon’s, The Boy in the Bubble from his Graceland album. The lyrics to this – and the whole album – are a commentary on Simon’s experience of Apartheid South Africa. Simon creates a tension between hope and despair, between “days of miracle and wonder” and “the way that camera follows us in slo-mo” like it always does when reporting on tragedy. I feel we are caught in a similar bubble during these days of Covid-19, trapped between hope and despair. I must admit, I have felt like I am the boy in the bubble over the last two or three weeks! I am very grateful to Alyosn, Mary and Clare for standing in for me.


I would, however, like to direct us to the place called hope. this word fits well in the Christian lectionary and, although despair also has a place, we have the desire, the capability and the adaptability as Christians to scribe our thoughts about hope in a way that makes sense, that gives life and provides a witness to the world. “These are the days of miracle and wonder” when you hear of people literally going the extra mile for others. Captain Tom Morgan the now 100 year old former army officer walked 100 laps of his Bedfordshire garden raising (to date) £18 million for the NHS. My sister is in the process of making up 35 sets of scrubs for her local Covid-19 unity. A local Formula One team has designed and produced ventilators for the NHS in record time (excuse pun). The Cherwell School’s Design & Technology department is making face masks using its own 3-D printer. Many local people are contributing their delivery slots and shopping to others who are in greater need. The miracles and wonders continue to shine yet the camera continues to follow us in slo-mo.


What has amazed me about this period is how people have used that camera for good not ill. Clare and Dave Leal have spent most of this week putting together a video for this Sunday. It is a video of a service of the Word and is accompanied by images, various voices and familiar resurrection texts. Thank you to all involved in this project. We are all learning and the curve is steep but we hope to communicate God’s love through the likes of YouTube and Zoom. Please find the service by clicking on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25QNFL-72v4   You can also find Mary Gurr’s commentary on the Gospel text on our website alongside the readings – thank you, Mary!

Our Sunday Club has quite a few children hoping to go forward to receive their First Communion after the lockdown finishes, It will be a great celebration when we all get together and see how the Church continues to bless God’s children. In order for them to prepare for this, I have set some work. The first session is called “What is Church?” I ask, is the church a place, a building? Is the church a people? I come to the conclusion that Church can be anywhere and everywhere, as long as Jesus and his people are present. 

Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines - Or, how I flew from London to Paris in 25 hours and 11 minutes Irina Demick, Eric Sykes, Stuart Whitman, Ephemera, Jazz, Childhood, Hollywood, Memories, London

The Church has had to become more adaptable and flexible than it has been used to in more comfortable times. I watched the film, Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines with the boys this week and was reminded of the dexterity and versatility of the early aviators, not to mention their bravery! With material strapped across flimsy wood held together by piano wire, these flying machines were a sight to behold. But there was something about the ambition to fly, to record the longest flight, to become pioneers of the sky which speaks to me about “the days of miracle and wonder” and brings us back to the Christian response to Covid-19. Versatility, bravery, pioneering effort – these are the charisms of Christ’s fellowship. I hope that we can all serve God’s world by bursting the bubble and allowing love to fly!

LOCAL NEWS

Ursula Amey RIP We commend to God’s greater light, Ursula Amey. We have prayed for Ursula for many years and she has been cared for beautifully at St Luke’s. She died this week. In a note to family and friends I said, “Ursula has remained in our intercessions and, as such, was always part of our eucharist community.” May she rest in peace.

The Quarterly – While it is still intended to produce the next issue of the Quarterly, because of ‘lockdown’ it may have to be in an electronic form. However, when current restrictions are lifted it will be possible to produce a hard copy for the records and for those who might like it. Contributions for the next issue, including book reviews, will therefore be welcomed, preferably by e-mail, by any of the editors – Ann Stedman (ann.stedman@btinternet.com), Michael Daniell (michaeldaniell51@gmail.com) and John Harding (john.harding22@gmail.com). The deadline for submission is Sunday 17 May. If possible, your contribution should not exceed 600 words. Many thanks from the Editors

Faith at Home Roots produce some great learning sheets. I hope you can access this one for Sunday:https://www.rootsontheweb.com/media/20316/19-apr-2020-childrens-sheet.pdf

Diocesan Live streaming If you play our StM&AA video at another time, you can join others who will be attending virtual church here: https://www.oxford.anglican.org/coronavirus-covid-19/livestream/

Don’t forget to check out our website for news and updates – www.stmichaels-summertown.org.uk

Entering Holy Week

For the first time in many people’s lives, the vulnerable and forgotten are being thought about!

It might sound like a contradiction but at a time of isolation and fear there have been so many signs of engagement – pastorally and spiritually. We have all experienced the coming together of neighbourhoods and communities through this Covid-19 virus. For the first time in many people’s lives, the vulnerable and forgotten are being thought about! We have a common cause – to protect one another and give each other hope. There’s a little bit of Kingdom culture being established on earth.  

Having said all of that, I do not want to belittle the scourge of this virus and the dangers that many people are facing and the ultimate test of it which could be death. Jo and I have been suffering from the virus which has manifested itself differently in both of us. I thought it was a mild dose earlier in the week only to be pole-axed by it in the last couple of days. I’ve had a fever and bouts of aching throughout the body. Jo is suffering from a shortage of breath. We are fine! We have a brilliant support network – the boys are exercising Thor in the garden – and we have a wonderful parish care network which is busy in prayer! 

Our lived experience makes us even more concerned for those who are really ill and for those who care for them – our NHS and all the care providers. Please do look after yourselves and any others who you have oversight of. I am pleased that the rainbow cluster care network is up and running. I hope that this may continue to provide spiritual and pastoral support.

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We are entering into the holiest of holy weeks. Palm Sunday represents Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. He attracted crowds. Voices of joy shouted, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” In the past on Palm Sunday we have gathered in Summertown Parade and processed to church with our palm crosses raised to the skies singing, ‘All glory, laud and honour to thee, Redeemer King.’ The prospect of no public worship this Holy Week feels wrong. The opportunity to live Christ’s passion has always been, for me, a life-giving and faith-awakening experience year-on-year. We will be somewhat depleted without the journey to the cross and the vital story of Jesus through the Last Supper of Maundy Thursday, the agony of Good Friday, the anticipation of hope and Easter light on Holy Saturday and finally, the feast of Feasts on Easter Sunday.

I have tried to include as many links and media threads as possible so it might be possible to have a Holy Week experience at home. In the days to come, I will be sending posts which have homilies or reflections from members of our wonderful clergy team. Please look out for those, and , again, where possible, I will include a reading sheet. 
I am delighted to say that we have been able to convert Claire Sadler’s Stations of the Cross on to our website. Please take 15-20 minutes each day considering Jesus’ final journey to the cross. Thank you to Claire, Steve and Willie for making this possible. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCbHgO5sfvs&feature=youtu.be.

I have attached the readings for Palm Sunday. Each week, I will attach the readings in this way so that you are able to reflect upon God’s word week by week. I have also attached a Palm Sunday reflection which, I hope, you may find helpful. Please also see this wonderful biblical reflection on Mark 1: 12-13 by one of the Taizé brothers on how to live in these times of isolation and learning to live in the wilderness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYeKH-ogEOQ

From our own diocese, I would like to commend to you the Sunday Eucharists which are being live streamed. You can catch them here: https://vimeo.com/402963043For the whole programme of live streamed events this Holy Week, please ee this poster. You might want to make other people aware of this opportunity in your colour cluster? https://www.oxford.anglican.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/DOX-033-Easter-poster-v3.pdf?utm_source=Diocese+of+Oxford+Mailing+Lists&utm_campaign=850c4f26e1-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_06_07_04_41_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5e6b832234-850c4f26e1-339828577

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FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG FAMILIES

I am mindful that we don’t forget our children in all of this. We are aiming  to find a way of keeping in touch more directly with the children. In the coming weeks we will be sending more information which will directly focus on the nurture of our young people’s faith (we have an adult network in place and need something now for the children too). Alyson Peberdy has helpfully sent this link for children with toddlers with Palm Sunday worship in mind: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=diddy+disciples

Our friends at Wolvercote Baptist Church are ambitiously putting on a virtual Messy Church at home, they on Sunday 5 April at 3.30pm. They’ll be exploring the Easter story. You can tune in by emailing Sophie Aldred sophie.aldred@googlemail.com who will give you more details about how to take part and how to make the crafts and activities before the session begins.

God bless you all as we enter Holy Week distanced but together!