Meekly kneeling on our knees

“Meekly kneeling on our knees is no longer a bedtime habit but it is a clue to ending a day well.”

How is your Lent going? Are you able to sustain any resolutions? Are you able to hold on to any holy desires? We do have resources which may encourage us on our way, such as devotional books, sermons (check out our website), commentaries on the internet etc. Prayer is vital and to that end, please do try and commit to saying one of the daily offices. Again, you can find this with just one click on our own homepage. Common prayer, daily prayer and our opening up to a closer relationship with God become more realistic when this desire becomes habitual. 

Holy habits are beneficial in penitential seasons. In medieval times, penitence and confession was the glue by which communities, especially agricultural communities, were bound together. The locus for this sacrament was the parish church. Grace was conveyed upon the parish priest to offer absolution. To confess was/is to acknowledge a deep misgiving in order to rid oneself of the pain of guilt and terror of judgment. Perhaps we have moved away, somewhat, from the superstitious environment of pre-enlightenment belief but, I believe, there is a place for penitence and confession in a society tuned into words such as ‘wellbeing’ and ‘flourishing.’ 

A late medieval confession

If we are not prepared to exercise in a bit of self-examination, we probably will stunt our spiritual growth. Saying sorry is critical in that maturation process. By saying sorry we become aware of our own secret motivations and misdemeanors. We don’t have to wash our laundry in public but it might be helpful for our own health, and that of the community in which we live, to purge ourselves of any invisible toxins.

Meekly kneeling on our knees is no longer a bedtime habit but it is a clue to ending a day well. Try this for a Lenten exercise – at the end of each day, reflect upon your attitudes, actions and behaviours. Allow Christ to enter into your feelings of guilt, failure, ambivalence, happiness and hope and give them over as your night-time gift to God. See what you learn from sharing these deepest of deep experiences. It may well lead to a more peace-filled sleep and renewal for the new day.

Mothering Sunday – This Sunday marks the 4th Sunday of Lent, which traditionally is the celebration of Mother Church and Mothering Sunday. I hope that you can make our special Zoom service at 10am. It is an All Age offering and a profound observation of the life of Mother Mary, who characterises the marks of maternal love – patience, kindness, wisdom, compassion and faithfulness. 

A variety of familiar faces and voices will accompany us on our journey, so please do come along. If you have time, I am running a short quiz which focuses on the more bizarre elements of mothering – not to be missed! 

Mothering Sunday Service. Time: Mar 14, 2021 10:00 AM https://zoom.us/j/96523560501?pwd=TjhzTjRkaVhNa2RIc1BQeFVxTmk1UT09  Meeting ID: 965 2356 0501 Passcode: 551747. We start at 10am so please be on-line by 9.55am. It should only take 40 mins (if you are planning other activities).

OTHER NEWS

Returning Home – We have a clear goal to return to public worship – Palm Sunday. We are opening the church for the 8am and 10am congregations with a new, up-to-date risk assessment in place. Unless we have a rapid rise in local new cases of Covid-19, I will be thrilled to see many of you in person. I also understand the reticence of those who have not received their second vaccination and continue to self-isolate. We will be continuing to livestream the 10am Eucharist for you and others who are unable to join us at this stage.

Summertown Health Centre – Talking of personal health, you are welcome to attend a Zoom planning meeting to discuss the possibility of a new health centre in Summertown. To access the meeting at 7pm on March 23rd, visit www.summertownstmargaretsforum.org.uk

Ecumenical Growth – St Michael’s supports the ecumenical partnership which has been an important part of its history. We will be welcoming All Saints’ Wytham to become the newest member of the Summertown-Wolvercote Church Partnership alongside St Michael’s, St Peter’s, Summertown URC and Wolvercote Baptists. We hope to celebrate our partnership in the autumn at Wytham.

St Michael’s Threshold – We will be undergoing investigations to uncover the source of the water ingress upon the new extension. The Building & Fabric team are committed to ensuring that the integrity of the new build is not compromised and lasts as long as the rest of the church!

Our Garden – The gardeners have been busy this early spring. Thank you to Suzanne and her band of green-fingered helpers. We are watchful of the wild flowers popping up and we are also hoping that the swifts, when they come, find a home this year in our nest boxes. 

The times they are a-changin’

We are called to pray for change in the political arenas of the world; we are called to make transformative change in our lives of faith too.


Bob Dylan’s prophetic words ring truer today than ever. We are called to accept changes that we don’t want to make. We are called to pray for change in the political arenas of the world; we are called to make transformative change in our lives of faith too. We are not called to do this alone. We are given people, friendships, prayer partners. We are also, most critically, given oodles of grace in the form of God’s Holy Spirit. We are not alone, no matter how separated we feel right now.

Due to the concerning infection rate of the new Covid-19 variant, the PCC decided to close the church for public worship but insisted that it be kept open for private prayer. This was a difficult decision but one that was driven by the need for public safety and also the opportunity for the Church to be an exemplar for the local community in respecting and protecting lives. 

We are open for private prayer – Monday-Wednesday; Saturday 10am-12 noon; Sunday 11am-12 noon and I continue to commend saying morning and/or evening prayer, provided on our website homepage.

It will still be possible to connect with church if you have a computer or smartphone. We will be livestreaming the 10am Eucharist each Sunday with readers and intercessors and preachers invited to take part in the service. In order to watch the livestream simply click here: www.facebook.com/stmichaelssummertown If you would like to watch the service at a time convenient to you later on Sunday or in the week, just click here: www.youtube.com/channel/UCFx4HGfklx1GCGp9Sc2oNAg

The church is keen to maintain pastoral contact with anyone in need – through Zoom or phone. Please get in touch. Please also inform me if you are concerned for anyone else. We don’t want anyone to feel unnoticed or unloved!

A Prayer for America

Irim Sarwar, one of our churchwardens at St Michael’s, wrote a profound and heart-felt note after the violence on Capitol Hill and in anticipation of the presidential inauguration. I have summarised Irim’s work; I hope that I have done it justice. She writes in the context of the season of Epiphany and specifically last week’s readings, the calling of Samuel in the Old Testament and and Nathanael in John’s Gospel:

It will come as no surprise to those of you who have heard me speak – and I’m not one for being quiet, whether it’s making announcements, reading, or discussing anything from politics to coffee –  that I  was born and raised in the land of Hamilton. What many of you may not know is that Washington, D.C. is my home. Yet even as I rooted myself here, becoming more Anglicised, I still looked back over the ocean. I voted in every American election; felt every result. Then came 2020. 

I sent both a regular and emergency ballot, the latter by DHL. Election Day came; American friends and I figuratively held each other’s hands over the next four days as the result unfolded, until Saturday, when it was called, and relief and joy rang across the Internet. “We did it!” “MADAM. VICE. PRESIDENT!”

But that joy was soon touched by apprehension, then overwhelmed by it, as a refusal to concede and lie after lie whipped grievance into a frenzy, and finally into the violence we watched, horrified, on Epiphany last week. 

I shook as the events unfolded, unable to do anything but hold those virtual hands and pray. This was my home. I’d walked past the cherry blossoms in full bloom on so many spring days; taken relatives and friends to the Mall and the Smithsonian; cursed traffic and tourists; shopped in Georgetown; navigated by the Capitol that now had a gallows in front of it and was being overrun by those bent on insurrection. I wept. For my people, for my city, and for the nation that formed me.

But in that rage and sorrow was a glimmer of hope. Hope, because, at long last, we could no longer hide from the truth, from the ugliness that had long sat beneath a veneer of power and well-being. Finally, America has to confess that she is profoundly unwell, and in that admission, the work of facing the truth, repentance, and healing can begin, slow and hard as it will be.

 If we have learned anything from these last four years, it is that there is always harm in allowing a lie to stand and gain momentum. In our first reading, Eli knows that well, which is why he exhorts Samuel to tell him the whole truth and nothing but the truth, no matter how difficult it is. Our Lord treasures the truth in today’s gospel, despite Nathaniel’s stinging ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’, responding with ‘Behold, an Israelite in whom there is no guile!’

And so, this churchwarden who calls St Michael’s and the UK home asks you to pray for her other home across the Atlantic: that the transition of power may proceed with no further violence, that Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and the incoming administration and Congress may lead wisely and tend to a wounded nation, that the truth may take deep root and flourish, so that America may finally realise the promise of her motto, E pluribus unum – a motto, perhaps, for the Church as well: out of the many, one.

(Thank you, Irim. Yes, we will pray for America, for humility, for healing, for hope and for peace and reconciliation).

Come and See

Bishop Steven introduces the inspiration behind ‘Come and See’ in this short video:
https://vimeo.com/502216171If you are interested in taking up the invitation to ‘come and see,’ please email me for more information. 

Upcoming Service

Please note that the church building is closed.
This week we welcome Revd Mary Gurr who will be preaching. Jesus celebrates the first of many signs of the new kingdom, he turns ordinary water into extraordinary wine. So much for a dry January!