Monthly Archives: April 2023

Easter 4 – Coronation reflections part 2 – 30th April 2023


Acts 2:42-end, John 10:1-10

In the name of the living God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Two weeks ago in Wincanton, I started talking about the six parts of the Coronation Service and the spiritual significance of the ceremonies. We thought about the first 3 recognition, Oaths, and Anointing then. In brief these cover

  • How the King is presented and recognised by the people attending
  • How the king takes a coronation oath – promising to lead well and as well as he can
  • How the King is anointed for his calling as our monarch.

I was hoping by this stage we would have sight of the running order for the actual service (but sadly we don’t) so I could be clearer about the sequence of events. I also have no idea how the aspects of all this play out for the Queen Consort too. However, from the previous Coronations and the long standing traditions handed down over countless generations, there are three remaining aspects to think about. These are communion, investiture and enthronement with homage.

Starting with communion, After the oaths, the service for our late Queen became more recognisably a Communion service (which Coronation Services have always been) from the Book of Common Prayer. This starts with the collect for purity which begins Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, as our service did today. There follows the prayer for the Sovereign, Biblical readings, and a creed. The next part covers the anointing which we have already talked about and moves into the next stages with the Investiture, and Enthronement with Homage, before recognisably returning to the Communion service with the prayer of intercession, confession, the comfortable words, the prayer of humble access and the prayer of consecration, again all from the Book of Common Prayer. Only a select group seem to receive communion on this occasion. But the most important point really is that this spiritual nourishment is the very first thing the newly crowned Monarch does.

There are lots of reasons why this matters as we will know from our experience of receiving communion, and particularly at significant points in our journey. We also know this all the more from our periods of abstinence caused by Covid restrictions, just how important this is. Communion is our spiritual food for the journey through life, and something very special but that doesn’t make it particularly easy to talk about. But we must talk about it, and help people we know who may remark on this about the importance of this act and following what Jesus commanded us to do in remembrance of him.

So before the receiving of communion we return to the action after the creed with the investiture. There appears to be quite a lot of different things that happen and objects that are given to the monarch (swords, spurs, armills (bracelets), stoles and robes, and finally the orb, ring, sceptre and rod with the dove. These all have different significances. For our coronation journey we have a sceptre and an orb – here is the orb.

Looking at them separately and what they represent:  

  • The ring represents the role of the King as defender of the faith.
  • The Orb is a golden ball with a cross on the top, that the King holds in his right hand. It is shaped as an orb to represent the world under the rule of God.
  • The Sovereign’s Sceptre This is a golden staff with a cross on the top and represents responsibility and power.
  • A Sovereign’s rod with dove represents equity and mercy. It is also referencing what is used by shepherds who guide sheep, and linking to Moses staff as a shepherd guiding God’s people. Our gospel reading today was also very shepherd and sheep orientated words of Jesus.

All of these 4 things (and the crown which comes next) have a cross on them or on top of them, to remind the King that God rules over all, through the love of Christ.

Everyone will stand as the moment of crowning approaches. A prayer is said and the King Edward’s crown is placed on the King’s head. And there is another outbreak of acclamations of God save the King – There will be putting on of coronets and caps, and the Kings of Arms their crowns; and the trumpets shall sound, and by a signal given, the great guns at the Tower shall be shot off.

There will be prayers of blessing before moving to the enthronement itself, which is followed by a lot of different people giving fealty, homage and swearing allegiance to the new King. I think this will take a while before the service moves back into the communion. Forgive me about this being a bit hazy but the important point here, is paying homage is for the King under the rule of God’s love and power for us. I do wonder how this part will play out on the day.  I think we need to remember that kneeling and bowing is a common act in Christianity and symbolises making ourselves low, so that God can be honoured and metaphorically lifted up. It symbolises coming under authority and humility which is important to us all.

Obviously next week we will be able to reflect freshly on what actually took place, but for now I think it is important that we continue to pray for our new King, our country, the countries of the Commonwealth, and the opportunities we will have to talk about all this Christian devotion at the heart of these celebrations. We are also praying for the King and all of us to have life and have it abundantly echoing the words of Jesus from John’s gospel today.

In the Coronation prayer books we have moved into a sequence of prayers related to the fruit of the Spirit and after a longish silence for reflection on these thoughts, I will use today’s prayer which is for patience.


Lord of heaven and earth, as Jesus taught his disciples to be persistent in prayer, give us patience and courage never to lose hope, but always to bring our prayers before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.


Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer

The new revised standard version of the Bible © 1989, 1995

The King’s coronation and logo from Church of England website. Resources for Primary and Secondary Schools.

Daily Prayers for the Coronation of King Charles III

Easter 3 – 23rd April 2023 – Penny Ashton

23 April 2023 – 3rd Sunday of Easter

I am sure you have noticed that a great many people to talk in acronyms these days.  I suspect it is to make life easier when sending text messages, but those of us who find it hard to keep up, can easily be confused as the meanings are not always obvious.  We have probably all managed to grasp OMG and have at last worked out that LOL does not – as I originally thought mean lots of love, but rather laugh out loud.  The next most common is probably FOMO, or fear of missing out – not something that bothers me anymore, but which is important when you are young and need to keep up, and our gospel reading last week told us of what happened to Thomas when he missed out.  One of the slightly less well-known acronyms is RBF – something which I am told that I suffer from.  It translates as resting bitch face – hardly complimentary but implies that you look miserable even when you don’t feel it.  I know that I have this, as when I worked as a checkout operator in the days when Wincanton had a Safeway store, customers would frequently come to my till when it was quiet and tell me to cheer up, or that I looked bored, so they would bring me something to do.  I should probably confess here, that the job was not terribly interesting, and on quiet days I almost certainly was bored!

Today’s Gospel reading seems to be all about recognition and hospitality, but it begins with a chance meeting with a stranger who did not know why Cleopas and his companion were looking sad.  We don’t know much about them beyond the one name, but it does seem that they must have been present on Maundy Thursday for supper with Jesus and the twelve – making a lie of Da Vinci’s famous painting which may have given rise to the superstition that it is unlucky to sit down with 13 at a table.  It does sound as if it might have been quite a party, although not the happiest of atmospheres.  It was at that supper that Jesus first broke and blessed the bread and wine as his body and blood, although he may have done it at shared meals many times before, and it was through this familiar action that they suddenly realised why they had found meeting with him so exciting.  That is the sort of realisation that often comes to you if you are watching or taking part in a quiz and you hear the words ‘I will know as soon as you say the answer’.  This is not as silly as it may sound, as often an answer that is just out of memory becomes obvious as soon as you hear it.

As they walked and talked with the stranger, the two knew that they should know who this man was, but could not, until they saw him break the bread call it to mind.  I am equally bad at remembering names, although I do hope that I would recognise the voice of Jesus if I heard it.  But I do wonder if I really would.  How many times do we find ourselves thinking of a friend who we have not seen for a while, and wondering how they are?  How often do we feel that it would be a good idea to drop in on somebody, or offer hospitality of some kind without really knowing why we feel this?  And how often do we ignore these thoughts because they don’t fit in with the day we had planned?

I do believe that the Holy Spirit does send us nudges of things that we should think seriously about.  We are told in the letter to the Hebrews that showing hospitality to strangers is important, as some who have done this have entertained angels without realising it, and in the story of Abraham and his three visitors, it is implied, although not actually said, that God had visited him with the news of his promise of a son.

I do wonder how often we miss hearing what God is trying to say to us because it is not a good time, or the message doesn’t fit in with our plans?  I have no way of knowing the answer to that, but I cannot help feeling that being more open to the Holy Spirit might make me a more effective servant of God, and just possibly convince people that he is interested in us now, and not just a story that we were told as children.

There is, however, a more important way of seeking to recognise Jesus – one which is easy to overlook but is perhaps the most vital.  When I started to think about this subject, the first thought that came to me, oddly enough was the poem entitled ‘Christmas’ by John Betjeman, and I will finish with a couple of verses of it now:

And is it true? And is it true,

    This most tremendous tale of all,

Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,

    A Baby in an ox’s stall?

The Maker of the stars and sea

Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true? For if it is,

  No love that in a family dwells,

    No carolling in frosty air,

Nor all the steeple-shaking bells

    Can with this single Truth compare –

That God was man in Palestine

And lives today in Bread and Wine.[1]

[1] From ‘Christmas’ by John Betjeman  Copyright © 2006 – 2010 Famous Poets And Poems . com.

Easter 2 – Coronation reflections part 1 – 16 April 2023

Rev Alison Way – Exodus 14:10-end and 15:20-21, and John 20:19-end

In the name of the living God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

Our Old Testament reading today is the culmination of the exciting and dramatic exodus story, with the Israelite people led by Moses successfully quitting the realm of Pharoah, but with pretty dire consequences for the following Egyptians. This is a story about how living side by side in the days of Joseph moved over time to the Israelites being the slaves of the Egyptians (and despite numerous warnings from Moses about letting God’s people go), how their ruler Pharoah did not listen. One of the many qualities we need in a ruler is the capacity to listen and this along with many other things have turned my mind to all things Coronation in our own country and the other countries of the Commonwealth where King Charles is sovereign.

The things that have made me think about the Coronation include, firstly, stuff in the press all about it, as the contents and plans are being revealed piece by piece. Secondly, the need to get our act together in the family events team, and our plans for our family event called the Coronation Journey on Sunday 30th April between 2 and 4pm. Do encourage any families you know to come to that to find out all about the different parts of the Coronation Service. Thirdly, I collected some fresh oils for use across the 2 parishes at the Chrism Mass in holy week, which reminded me of the important part of anointing with the oil of Chrism plays in the Coronation. Fourthly, because I have been using as part of my daily prayers the resource book we handed out last week as an Easter gift, which has had me thinking about different aspects of the Coronation ahead of us. If you haven’t got one of those yet, do take one today.  

And finally, there was the exciting news announced on Tuesday that our Bishop Michael, will be front and centre in these celebrations. He is to be one of two Bishop Assistants to the King (with one at his left and one at his right) during the significant parts of the ceremonial! Bishop Michael said this about it “I am deeply honoured that as the Bishop of Bath and Wells I will have the privilege of supporting of His Majesty King Charles and Her Majesty the Queen Consort during the service of Coronation. It is a truly historic moment and humbling to realise that this continues a tradition dating back to Richard I in 1189. The church family in Bath and Wells will be praying for their Majesties as we approach the Coronation and marking the event itself with services of celebration, community events and volunteering.” I have to say I would be pretty terrified by this prospect of being centre stage next to the King. So do pray for our bishop too in the weeks ahead.

I know a number of us have some clear recollections of the last Coronation and others something much vaguer due to their young age, where as I was not born! So I have also been brushing up via documentaries and reading up on this topic to work out what happens and why. There is still some secrecy about all of this too as the full Order of Service has not been released yet (as I write this sermon), so we don’t exactly know which of the many traditions will stay and which will be altered and what may not play a part at all. It is a long time since 1953, and our world has significantly changed in that time. Our new monarch is also at a very different stage of his life than that of our late Queen at her coronation, which is also likely to have an impact. We have been promised something ‘scaled back’ in the service itself and that will not take 3 hours to do as it did in 1953.

The ceremonial and practice at a Coronation has very ancient origins. Westminster Abbey has been used since 1066 (for William the conqueror), and King Charles III will be the 40th reigning monarch to be crowned there. The first Coronation service that runs in the way we will see it in May, was drawn up when St Dunstan was Archbishop of Canterbury and was undertaken at Bath Abbey. Westminster Abbey was rebuilt in 1245 to better suit the ceremonial for a Coronation (though my experience of worshipping in it for an anniversary of the King James Bible, would suggest that if you are in the nave you will see nothing (except on the TV screens provided for the purpose!)

The service has six distinct parts. Recognition, Oaths, Anointing, Communion, Investiture, and Enthronement with Homage. I would like us to think about the spiritual significance of each of these in the run up to the big day. We will think about the first 3 today, and the second 3 in 2 weeks time.  We don’t know exactly how this will be presented at the Coronation of King Charles and the Queen Consort, but let’s look at the first three in turn and their spiritual significance.

In the Recognition section, King Charles will be presented to those attending by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is possible, this will happen 4 times facing the points of the compass round the abbey and standing next to the Coronation chair. Trumpets will sound and the congregation will shout ‘God save the King’. This is recognition that the King is under the authority of God. Trumpets were used frequently in the Bible to call people to gather, especially before a battle. In our journey to that day we must pray for King Charles and his walk of faith – recognising his authority for our nation and the other countries where he is sovereign, but also his reign under the ultimate authority of God.

In the Oath section, King Charles will take the coronation oath with a Holy Bible in his hand. Over the years who presents the Bible has changed and the words of the oath have changed, but it always includes a promise to lead well and a promise to God to do this as well as he can. The Bible details many promises made between God and people. The oath here is very public and is signed in the sight of all. Making promises features in baptisms and marriages, and taking oaths appears as clergy and lay readers are licensed and ordained. It is a very serious thing, not to be taken lightly!

Next is likely to be the Anointing section, which we know we will not see as it is a holy and special moment invoking the Holy Spirit to rest in King Charles richly. We have a practice of anointing at significant moments, as part of our baptism with baptismal oil, it can form part of praying for healing for the sick with oil for healing, and in rites of passage like confirmation and ordination (when oil of Chrism is used). Here are the new supplies that the Bishop blessed at the Chrism Mass in Holy Week. Being anointed can be a very holy experience, and one that brings a deep sense of the presence of God with us, and I am glad this will be away from the glare of the cameras and behind a canopy. We see anointing with oil in the Old Testament of the Bible, when people are set apart by God for a particular task. King Charles has lived nearly all his life knowing his time as sovereign was coming, but it is really important he enacts this role within the care and guidance of the Holy Spirit to bless our nation.

As I said we will pick this up again in 2 weeks time to think about the following sections of the service. I think it is beholden on us to pray at this time for our new King and all the royal family, for this time of great change and difficulty for our nation, and to connect with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and power as we do this. I am going to finish with today’s reflection prayer from the Coronation prayer books which takes up the theme of servanthood (and is a familiar prayer from the Book of Common Prayer). Let us pray.

ALMIGHTY God, whose kingdom is ever-lasting, and power infinite: Have mercy upon the whole Church; and so rule the heart of thy chosen servant CHARLES, our King and Governor, that he (knowing whose minister he is) may above all things seek thy honour and glory: and that we and all his subjects (duly considering whose authority he hath) may faithfully serve, honour, and humbly obey him, in thee, and for thee, according to thy blessed Word and ordinance; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.


Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer

The new revised standard version of the Bible © 1989, 1995

The King’s coronation and logo from Church of England website. Resources for Primary and Secondary Schools.

Easter Day – 9th April – Rev Alison Way

Jeremiah 31:1-6,  Matthew 28:1-10  

In the name of the Living God, Creator Father and Risen Son and ever- present Holy spirit Amen

Today our fruit of the Spirit is Joy, and on this day our spiritual joy is characterised by recognising that Jesus Christ is risen! Alleluia! In the spiritual fruit story book we have been travelling with this Lent, Joy is represented by an orange. May be on this day which has been engulfed by chocolate, a chocolate one! Anyway the book says – The fruit of joy makes me glad when I am feeling sad. And it is true we can be joy-filled even in the most difficult of times!

Joy is sometimes in a worldly sense defined as a special kind of happiness. But for me a more Christian definition, is gladness (or even perpetual gladness) of the heart that comes from knowing, experiencing and trusting Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus left with us. In all this we worship the God that wants us to celebrate and enjoy all God has made.

Our Bible readings today showed us a number of outward expressions of joy and the spirit of celebration at the heart of it! In Jeremiah as he predicts better times ahead for the people of God after their exile, he describes us taking out our tambourines and dancing. I have always been a bit in awe of the Salvation army’s use of tambourines in worship  – and can see that as an outpouring of joy. Dancing is a source of joy for many (and one of the reasons in my opinion that strictly warms the heart for so many)! Continuing in the thoughts of Jeremiah, likewise there is then reference to planting our gardens and enjoying the fruit as bringing joy. This one has been new to me in my time here serving in Wincanton and Pen Selwood, but well known to many of us and the wonders of tomatoes growing in the Rectory green house! The taste of a just picked tomato is a source of great joy.

In our gospel reading there are joyful responses too. After the earthquake and the  drama of the sealed stone being rolled away by an angel, and the angel sitting on it and those guarding it passing out! And the angel telling the women who had witnessed all that, not to be afraid, and that Jesus had risen. The women are described as quickly leaving with both fear and great joy. When they encounter Jesus they give a cultural outpouring of that sense of joy, by taking hold of Jesus’ feet. Now this is not something we are likely to do, but was culturally appropriate to their times and the status of women back then! Now we are liberated from the strictures of covid regulations, when seeing someone brings us this kind of joy and celebration, we can once again envelope them in a big hug or grasp their hands in ours or kiss on both cheeks and so on!

I have bought some more things to help us think about joy more and what can fill us with joy, and encourages a deep held spirit of celebration in our hearts. Particularly joy in knowing Jesus Christ. We are going to use bubbles today to represent our joy in this instance!

Now first we are starting with these that are from an every day bubble blowing tube (though it is a special formula for cats to play with!). Here they come…… There’s a couple of ways you can get bubbles with one of these! Blowing as I have just done or swishing to get a few more. These represent our every day sources of joy. Things like a beautiful piece of music or singing a hymn, seeing a friend who loves us, or catching up over a cuppa or enjoying the natural world, or our team winning at a favourite sport. And in those moments when we experience joy we also feel the presence of God with us more keenly.

Here is a different bubble producer! This one is called a blizzard bubble blower and these little bubbles represent the tiny joys we encounter during each day that can warm our hearts if we stay connected to the moment. Maybe the bursting forth of the snowdrops, or watching a bee in a flower. What other kind of things can you think of – tiny joys we can encounter each day? These can gladden our hearts just when we need it and gives us encouragement for the next step. These can reset our focus. These things are not coincidences, but as Ian Coffey describes it God incidences. The power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives giving us the strength we need just when we need it!

This is another option with which you can produce bubbles with the blowing or swishing method but much larger bubbles. These represent occasions that come along that bring great joy in their wake. Weddings, ordinations and – can you think of others? Maybe for me, Ronnie O’Sullivan winning the world snooker championship in my case! These are occasions or days when joy is near to hand, where love and peace fill our hearts and we experience a sense of freedom to celebrate, and express the deep sense of joy from God we are experiencing!

And finally I am going to blow a steady stream of bubbles with this which is a bubble gun, and this one is most like the joy that God can fill our hearts with through his Holy Spirit as we mark the change Jesus resurrection made to our lives! As it produces a constant stream (noise and lights)! Joy from this source knows that light will always chase away darkness (even when it is very dark). It knows good will always defeat evil (even if there is trouble and chaos all around us). It knows God is always on our side, even when we don’t remember this (or it feels like everything and everyone is against us)

It is the joy God gave us on that first Easter Day when Jesus overcame death by rising again, to bring us and everyone into a new relationship of love and peace with God, and enjoying the love of God we experience in this life through the presence of the Holy Spirit with us. I think that verb related to joy – To enjoy is also important. It means to embody joy and live it out, to celebrate. One of the more spiritual definitions of this verb is to be in joy or as we live out joy we experience knowing God more. Knowing the God who wants us to flourish, following the path he has for us, living as his beloved children in this world and one day intimately with God in the next world. For Jesus said: I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10b

Henri Nouwen explains this influence of Joy in our hearts as Christians – Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved and that nothing can take that away. Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. It is a choice based on the knowledge that we belong to God and have found in God our refuge and our safety and that nothing, not even death, can take God away from us.

All this joy is only possible in our hearts and lives, and given us to share we those around us because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. As a hymn we sang last week reminds us so keenly about joy, turn to 153 – we are going to say joyfully the first verse together to finish!

Give me joy in my heart keep me praising, give me joy in my heart I pray. Give me joy in my heart keep me praising, keep me praising till the end of day. Amen


Good Friday – 7th April – Penny Ashton

Good Friday Meditation 2023

We may not know, we cannot tell  (Isaiah 53 1-6)

Isaiah foresaw that at the end there would be nothing attractive about Jesus.  Suffering is sometimes described as noble, and I don’t doubt the nobility of Jesus bearing even at this dreadful time.  Even so, I doubt whether, had I been passing by I would have been drawn to him.   In the words of the prophet: ‘nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by others;’.  And yet, far worse for Jesus was not only that he knew that this was to be – had known since at least the start of his ministry, but he also knew that the time was coming when even his Father would turn away from him.  We have the saying: ‘What you never had, you never miss’, but I think the reverse must be even more true – what we have never been without, we don’t know what it is like to lose.  We have never been rejected by God.  Whether or not we knew it, he has always loved us.  At this moment in time, Jesus knew what it was to be rejected, not only by his friends and followers, but also by his heavenly father.  We do not know, we cannot (thank God) tell, what pains he had to bear.

Fixed by Godfrey Rust

Between time and eternity

nothing was fixed.

One gaped at the other

across an unbridgeable void.

Stories of patriarchs

pinned them lightly together.

A loose frame of parables,

scraps of psalms, prophecies, tongues.

Poets tried words;

scientists, numbers;

musicians, delicate vibrations;

painters, the placing of colours

but nothing was fixed

until a workman took a hammer and a wrist

and with one whack nailed down

eternity screaming into time.

There was no other good enough (Colossians 1: 18-22)

Paul was a good student of the Law.  He would have been well aware that a sacrifice to God, to comply with the Law had to be without blemish.  He also understood that no person on earth would have been able to fulfil God’s plan for the redemption of humankind.  Since we have been blessed with free will, and have consistently used it to go at all times counter to God’s will, the only person who would be able to fulfil the plan of redemption would have to be perfect.  And only God is perfect.  And so it was that only God himself, in the form of a man on earth, but one who was in all ways perfect, would be good enough to fulfil the plan that was started with creation.  ‘in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things’.

Economics by Godfrey Rust

Here is the only successful

planned free market

in the history of the world,

where the cost of living

and the wages of sin

are the same

and the rate of exchange is fixed

at one life

given as a ransom

for many.

He died that we might be forgiven (Hebrews 10: 16-18)

The writer to the Hebrew Christians in the early church would have understood about covenants, as would the readers of this letter.  It is possible that it was written because some of them were considering leaving their Christian faith and reverting to their ancestral Judaic faith – which relied on the continuing priestly sacrifices still being carried out in the Temple at Jerusalem.  The purpose of this letter is to remind them that the old covenant has been superseded by Jesus on the cross.  Sacrifice is no longer necessary, as sin has been wiped out.  God is saying: ‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.’

Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.  We thank God daily that this forgiveness is ours, freely given on the cross.

Accomplices by Godfrey Rust

father forgive them

they didn’t know what I was doing

when I slipped into humanity disguised

my light shone in a darkness

they could not comprehend

forgive them all

my dear, dull accomplices

who don’t know the cost

of an immortal’s suicide

they tried to keep us

from this meeting here

forgive the crowd

making the necessary choice of Barabbas

forgive Pilate’s wife

whose conscience nearly ruined everything

forgive Judas

his kiss of death

father forgive them

they don’t know what we are doing

forgive them

they didn’t know what they were building

we were architects

and these rough beams were cut

to meet our most exacting standards

forgive them

they don’t know what will be executed here

how might they understand

these hammer blows would be

the final acts of our first creation

like workmen at the launch

of some great enterprise of state

they come to watch

the ceremony of our fierce ambition

and as they hoist me up to you             

before this brutal act of love

extinguishes my mortal life completely

father forgive them

they don’t know what they’re doing

Dearly, dearly has he loved (John 19: 16b19, 26-30) 

It was not his love for Lazarus that turned Jesus face away from his power base in Galilee and sent him south to Jerusalem.  It was not the kiss of Judas that delivered him to the High Priest and the roman soldiers.  It was not the blows and swords of the soldiers or the baying of the crowd that drove him up the hill to the place of execution.  And it was not the nails that held him to the cross.  He had the power to overcome all these things, and the temptation must have been strong.  What took him there and kept him there was the same as that which led him to make provision, when near to death for the care of his mother.  His motivation throughout all of his ministry was, and remains his love for all creation.  His love for me and for you.  We thought earlier of what it must have been like for him to realise that even his Father had abandoned him to his fate.  Our constant thanks must be for the fact that we will never have to know what it is to lost God’s love for us.  His final words on the cross give us that assurance – ‘It is finished’.

Welcome to the real world by Godfrey Rust

I’m beginning to understand.

I saw a sign once

outside a church. It said

Are you really living

or just walking around

to save the expense of a funeral?

I didn’t know

that Love is real life,

and everything else

is just a more or less entertaining way

of dying,

and I didn’t know

that Love is like nothing on earth.

Love isn’t what you fall in.

It’s what pulls you out

of what you fall in.

Love isn’t a good feeling.

Love is doing good

when you’re feeling bad.

Love means hanging in

when everyone else

shrugs their shoulders

and goes off to McDonalds.

Love means taking the knocks

and coming back

to try to make things better.

Love hurts.

It’s its way of telling you

that you’re alive.

And the funny thing is that after all

Love does feel good.

People say love is weak.

But love is tougher than hate.

Hating’s easy.

Most of us have a gift for it.

But love counts to ten

while hate slams the door.

Love says you

where Hate says me.

Love is the strongest weapon

known to humankind.

Other weapons blow people up.

Only love puts them back together again.

And everything that seems real,

that looks smart,

that feels good,

has a sell-by date.

But love has no sell-by date.

Love is Long Life.

Love is the ultimate preservative.

I don’t know too much about love

but I know a man who does,

up there on the cross

loving us to death.

Love is the key

to the door of the place

he’s prepared for you

in the kingdom of God.

If you’re beginning to understand

then welcome to the real world.

Hymns reproduced under  CCLI 1618191 for St Michael’s Church, Pen Selwood  

Poems copyright Godfrey Rust,,uk.  Used with permission

Maundy Thursday – Peace – 6th April 2023 – Rev Alison Way

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 and John 13:1-17 31b-35

God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, grow in us the fruit of your spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Amen

Today in our consideration of the fruit of the Spirit that St Paul describes in his letter to the Galatians, we are briefly thinking about peace. God promises us peace and peace is a sign of God at work with in us. Peace is very easy to say but complicated to understand and has many facets. In our Spiritual Fruit book peace is a blueberry and the words say – The fruit of peace helps me stay calm even when the day is long.

On the one hand peace is wholeness, health, completeness, and serenity for ourselves and the world. On another hand it is the absence of war, conflict and trouble. On yet another hand it is a more inner thing, a sense of confidence we have in something higher than our selves – contentment, tranquillity and calm regardless of our circumstances.

We know that peace in a spiritual sense doesn’t mean there isn’t conflict in the world or in ourselves, but there is a sense of otherness and serenity that can guide us through even the most choppy waters in our lives. Julian of Norwich who wrote profoundly beyond her years says this:-

Peace and love are always alive in us, but we are not always alive to love and peace.

Mel Eyeons wrote a story about peace – I want to share with you and if you are sitting comfortably I will begin.

There was a man looking for a perfect picture of peace. He looked everywhere but couldn’t find one he was happy with so he announced a contest to produce one instead. Artists from all over the world worked hard and sent in their creations, until the great day arrived when the perfect painting would be chosen.

The judges unveiled one after another while a crowd watched in anticipation until only 2 pictures were left.  As the judges removed the cover from one of them a hush fell over the audience. The picture showed a smooth lake with trees reflected in its waters and sheep grazing quietly along the shore. Everyone sighed contentedly at the image, and imagined themselves there, resting on the lake’s bank. Surely this was the winning entry?

But then the last picture was revealed and the crowd gasped with surprise. This picture showed a huge waterfall crashing down from a great height on to jagged rocks. There were dark threatening storm clouds looming overhead. And there was one solitary small tree clinging desperately to the rocks at the bottom of the waterfall.

This surely didn’t show peace? What was the artist thinking of? Yet in the tree there was a little bird in a nest, calmly sitting on her eggs, apparently undisturbed by the crashing and chaos around her. And in her quiet sitting she radiated the kind of peace that transcends troubles, worries and difficulties.

 We need to be more like the bird in the story in our approach to peace, and cultivate our own peace through God’s love for us, that the outside circumstances cannot dent.  God’s peace is a gift to us that can be grown, nurtured and encouraged with the help of God, and the Christians we travel the road with.

In our prayers and as we receive the bread and wine Jesus shares with us on this special night, we need to ask God for the inner peace only God can bring us. We need to accept it wholeheartedly and strengthen it through faith and dependence on God in our hearts and lives. At the last supper Jesus poured out his love for those gathered, in washing their feet, in sharing bread and wine in remembrance of all he was to do for them through his death and resurrection.

We also need to be makers and bringers of peace in our lives. Jesus said ‘Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God’. We need to share the inner peace that God gives us with those we meet, always seeking peace and reconciliation in our relationships.  We are given peace to share it (as we do week in week out) in our communion services – the kingdom of God grows through the peace God places in our hearts and the peace we share with those around us. Let it grow through us.

I am going to end with a very familiar prayer – the traditional collect for peace

O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels,
and all just works do proceed;
give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give;
that both, our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments,
and also that, by thee,
we being defended from the fear of our enemies
may pass our time in rest and quietness;
through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen


The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible  © 1989, 1995. Picture from © reproduced with permission.  

Fruit of the spirit – reflections on growing in Christ – Mel Eyeons

Some material is copyright: © The Archbishops’ Council 2000-2023

The Fruit of the spirit for little ones by Mandy Fender.