Thought for the month

The Kohanim blessing: a symbol showing two hands arranged for the Priestly Blessing

The Kohanim blessing

When Valerie Walker was ordained Priest on 3 June, the preacher (the Rev Canon Dr Alison Peden) spoke about the priestly task of blessing: pronouncing God’s favour, God’s good-will, and making “a link between God and the people, a channel for the blessings of God to flow to us.

“If you go to the Jewish cemetery in Prague, you can see the tombstones of the Cohen families, who were of the priestly line. They are identified by hands held up, with five spaces between the joined fingers. It was to make a kind of lattice for God’s light and presence to come through in the blessing.

“And, in a way, that is how you could describe the Incarnation: God letting light and blessing come through to the world in Christ. As Christ lived and taught and healed and prayed and died, he let God’s blessing through to us, as a channel; he became a blessing himself, transparent to God, opening up the new life and kingdom of God, raising the weak and lowly, calling us God’s children and his friends.

“So, in the liturgy, the priest enacts Christ’s blessing of the world: and lets a bit of the glory of the risen and ascended Christ into the world.” [Alison’s full sermon is linked to her blog and will appear in the next issue of Contact]

Experience that blessing as you join us in worship.

Pentecost: The language of love

Pentecost: The language of love

Things were happening to the disciples in that period six weeks after Easter … having just grown accustomed to Christ being back with them, he leaves them again in circumstances that must have been difficult to understand. Then, just ten days later, their world is once more blown apart as the Holy Spirit arrives, and energises them into action. Talk about operating out of their comfort zone!

That Pentecost experience of the apostles led to a new form of ministry for them, and to an explosive growth in the number of followers of Christ, so it’s no surprise that Pentecost is often thought of as being the birthday of the Church.

At this time of new beginnings, we rejoice with our curate, Rev Valerie Walker, as she starts a new phase of her service by being ordained Priest on 3 June.

Every week in our Eucharist we pray: “send your Holy Spirit upon us … that we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.” May that be our special prayer as we join in worship this month.

From China's Millions; China Inland Mission; London; January 1892

Preaching outdoors in an Eastern context

After the build-up through Lent, the drama of Holy Week, and the glorious resurrection of Easter Day, the period leading to our Lord’s ascension is often a bit of an anticlimax, mirroring the uncertainty that his first disciples must have felt.

But on the Sundays in May this year our readings from Acts and I Peter are much more positive, because they reflect the passionate declaration of faith of the apostles after their Pentecost experience, and show the transforming power of the preached word.

Karl Dahlfred (who has a church planting ministry in Thailand) points out that sermons have their foundation in the pages of Scripture, and are not merely a Western cultural tradition. He continues: “It is possible to preach a good Biblical sermon and get little response, through no fault of the preacher but through the hardness of the listeners’ hearts and the sovereign decision of God. But when the preaching is Biblical and the Holy Spirit is moving, look out! Peter preached at Pentecost and three thousand people repented in one day. I’d say that that was an effective sermon.”

Let God speak to you as you join in our worship this month.

Scenes from the Passion of Christ

Scenes from the Passion of Christ by Hans Memling

This work by a fifteenth-century artist, now in a Turin gallery, combines most of the familiar scenes from the Passion story into a single painting. The story of Jesus’ last hours begins in the top left corner with his entry into Jerusalem, then winds its way through town into the Garden of Gethsemane (bottom left). In the middle we see Jesus brought before Pilate and the scourging, and then we leave the city and end with the Crucifixion on the mount behind.

But Memling didn’t stop there, adding Christ’s resurrection and three of his appearances to the many witnesses that his death wasn’t the end that his enemies had expected, but that he had indeed risen from the dead.

Click on the picture to open a web page with more detail, and follow the story. Better still, join us for our services this month, when we will be experiencing all the highs and lows of Christ’s final days on earth, from the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, through the agony of betrayal and crucifixion, to the glories of Easter morning.

A colourful tapestry by Norma Ulloa. an embroiderer from Copiulemu, to illustrate the theme of WDP 2011

A colourful tapestry by Norma Ulloa. an embroiderer from Copiulemu,
to illustrate the theme of WDP 2011

The first Friday of March is celebrated as the World Day of Prayer, when women and men, old and young, in over 180 countries make time to come together to sing, think and pray around a common theme.

The theme for 2011 is “How many loaves have you?”. Before starting work, Norma Ulloa tried to imagine what Jesus’ life was like in his time, she read the Bible, and she thought a great deal.

Her idea focused around prayer and bread, and she said of her work: “The upper part depicts Christ praying and healing. On the left he is praying and the apostles have fallen asleep. On the right is the healing of a lame person, others are surrounding the scene and there are children among them. The lower part is related to bread. First there is the wheat, because that is what bread is made of. In the centre Christ is multiplying the loaves and the fish. There are loaves and fish in the baskets, and he is surrounded by many people. Finally there is the threshing with mares, a rural motif common in village life.”

May these thoughts about prayer, healing and sharing, with Christ’s ministry always at the centre, stay with us as we enter the period of Lent.

Coming up …
  • 21 August 2022 9:30 am Sung Eucharist
  • 21 August 2022 11:00 am Morning Worship
  • 28 August 2022 9:30 am Lay Communion from the Reserved Sacrament
  • 28 August 2022 11:00 am Morning Worship

More details at this link


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1100 Methodist Worship
0930 Sung Eucharist

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