Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Mama Carlo

A message from Carol Doyle in Tanzania:

Dear Robert
Thank you so much for your email.  I do not know where the days have gone there is so much to do.... The children (mostly)have no English so my Kiswahili has got to improve!  The place is quite away out of town with no decent transport but as long as I can get food there isn't much else I need.  I do miss my worship with you at Cheddington and St Giles.  We go to Church every Sunday but the service is in Swahili and it is pretty meaningless to me and my co worker Beth who has been here for two years says she cannot follow it.  I am trying to follow by myself the Common Prayer Book you lent me but I do miss the Communion service order of service and the Creed and there is no communal worship with the other families which I find odd.  However Tumaini is in a wonderful spot with a view of the Lake and Hills (We are on the edge of the Lake but not on the shore).
It is very hot and we are in the dry season Lizards are running everywhere and dragons flies rise up out of the grasses as I walk by.  There are two Fish Eagles near our kitchen window who have a nest in a nearby tree.. We watch them flying by with Fishes in their bills (Great).  The internet connection is TERRIBLE and keeps dropping the connection so I have to think and type fast Thus the many typo errors.!
Much Love to you Vicky and all at St Giles
Carol  aka Mama Carlo x

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Baptism Anniversary

20 June was our annual baptism anniversary service. Alyssa Clark was baptized.

We also celebrated Fathers’ Day.

Here are some of the congregation after the service.

20 June Baptism Anniversary

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer

St Giles Holy Communion Thursday 17 June 2010

Gospel Matthew 6.5-14


5 "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 "This, then, is how you should pray:
       " 'Our Father in heaven,
       hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come,
       your will be done,
       on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,
       as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
       but deliver us from the evil one. '

14 For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.


‘I’m not much good at prayer.’ Something done by clergy, evangelicals, or specially religious people. Disciples probably felt same in presence of their master. ‘Teach us like John taught his disciples.’

‘This then is how you should pray.’ Does it mean we should endlessly repeat these words? Children learn by rote. How often do we pause and reflect on their meaning?

Or is it a template for prayer? Model of brevity. Babbling like pagans and warnings against ostentatious prayer don’t really apply to today’s western world – perhaps we could do with more public prayer, and less hiding away behind locked doors? But it does warn us not to heap up empty phrases, which includes thoughtlessly repeating Lord’s Prayer.

It deals with everyday needs, but also looks forward to the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s right we should ask God for our daily bread and thank him for it – but does this not also mean we long for the bread of life, the heavenly manna?

The prayer itself makes the twofold meaning clear: hallowed be your name – your kingdom come – your will be done – all apply of course to our present situation, but ‘as it is in heaven’ – and so, as it will be when the reign of God comes in all its fullness at the end time.

Forgive us our debts is translated in different ways. In his parables, Jesus gives examples of debts being cancelled or reduced, but most of these refer to the Kingdom. So we are not talking only about being kind to those who owe us money (good though that might be) but the coming judgement too. Hence the other translations: ‘trespasses’ or ‘sins.’ The last two verses of the reading deal with forgiveness – the Father will not forgive sins to those who are not willing to forgive others who have wronged them.

Notice the doxology we use is missing. The prayer ends with the strange request that God should not tempt us. Why would he? And who is this personified ‘evil one?’ How did an evil one come to be created by a loving and good God, if God created all things, and without him nothing came into being? At Methodist Chapel, we used the words do not bring us to the time of trial – again surely referring to the end of time and the final judgement. We pray to be spared temptation beyond our ability to endure it.

Most importantly, though, when we use this prayer, as Jesus taught us, we should slow down, reflect on the words, think of what we are saying. Even better, use it as a template for our own prayers rather than, as we sometime so, babbling the words, piling up empty phrases that have lost their meaning for us, and not according it its true value as the only prayer our Lord taught us to pray. Amen

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Faith in Christ?

…or Christ’s faith and God’s grace in redemption.

Reading Galatians 2.15-21

We who are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners” know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no-one will be justified.

If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a law-breaker. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

Gospel Luke 7.36-8.3

One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.”

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

“Two men owed money to a certain money-lender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he cancelled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt cancelled.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Then he turned towards the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.


Theme sometimes obvious: here common thread of justification by faith not by works.

Galatians – written to Jews who relied on Law until came to faith in Jesus. Made right with God through observing all the commandments. But through grace of God they have died to the Law – crucified with Christ – now no longer live, but Christ lives in them. Their lives have changed completely. They are no longer their own.

Luke’s narrative tells similar story. It’s about an unnamed woman whose sins were great – but maybe her lifestyle forced on her through circumstances. Not the point – she was a sinner. Yet she reverenced Jesus – with her tears, her money, her reputation and bravery, and her love. Her works, you may think, should have been sufficient. But it was not her actions that redeemed her. Jesus make is clear – it was her faith.

Argument about works of Law has lost some of its impact today. Supposing someone told you that in order to come to church you had to completely change your diet? The women had to dress in a special way, separate themselves from the men, lose all the rights and authority they took for granted? The men had to be circumcised. They were to observe hundreds of laws and no longer mix with their previous friends and neighbours. It was like giving up everything, and taking on a completely foreign set of ways. How would you react? Imagine then the good news when you were read this letter from Paul.

Justification by faith not by works of Law is the obvious theme, but there are others. Sin and all its consequences. The death of our former selves – what does that mean? Love – and how much do we love? Grudgingly and insolently, like the Pharisee who did not accord any of the customary politenesses when he invited Jesus to dine? Or insanely and overwhelmingly like the woman, whose sins were forgiven regardless of their magnitude.

How about the place of women in the ministry of Christ? Apart from the 12 male followers, Luke lists Mary of Magdala, Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. They all supported the men financially and in other ways – yet still we argue about the place of women in the church.

Or what about justification? What does it mean. How are we justified? Someone once suggested the word sounds a bit like just-as-if-I-had-never-sinned. That doesn’t mean just turning the clock back. There’s no repentance in that. No – it still requires of us a full reckoning of the consequences of our sin, but God’s grace means we stand once more in a right relationship with God, as if he had never sinned.

Another possible sermon topic would be the whole story as a parable. There are similar stories, but from later in Jesus’s ministry where the anointing prefigures Jesus’s death. This one comes much earlier – it is clearly a less about sin, justification, and forgiveness. Notice, by the way, how Simon says nothing after answering the question Jesus puts to him, and the woman is silent throughout. How brave she was – entering a males-only environment, a woman unclean in every way, a person undoubtedly not welcome, yet a woman of faith whose impudence provided her salvation.

So all these are possible themes I could take – and no doubt many more. But this is the one thing I want to say. It’s something I only found out last week. Yet it’s very good news for us all – at least, those of use whose faith is weak and faltering, which I suspect is all of us, if we are truthful.

The thing is this. We read of justification by faith not by our good works. What we think, not what we do. Yet we find belief hard, and our faith is weak. So doesn’t faith, in this sense, sound very much like works? All we have to do is believe – but how difficult a task that is. If we have to do it – to have faith and believe – how much like a work of the Law is that? Good on the woman who believed – but how incredibly difficult what she did must have been to pull off.

Here’s what I found out last week. It comes down to just two words in the Greek. It’s Galatians 2:16. The words in English are faith in Christ. We have put our faith in Christ, with the result that we are justified. The thing is, the Greek actually means faith of Christ rather than faith in Christ – or at least, it can be translated either way. You may find the alternative in those little notes at the bottom of the page.

For those who want to know more – the words are Pisteos and Christou. Πίστεως and Χρίστου. Faith in Christ or Faith of Christ. The objective genitive or the subjective genitive. The different translations make a huge difference.

Supposing we are made right with God through the faith of Jesus, rather than by our faith in Jesus? What a difference that makes. Why should we prefer the easier translation? Because of the boundless grace of God, I would say. God’s grace is free and abundant. It does not depend on a measure of how strong is our faith. There need be no bar, over which we have to jump in order to be made right with God. No – it is through the faith of Christ that we are saved. How good is that? Amen

Sunday, 6 June 2010

A widow in dire need

Sunday 6 June 2010

Reading Galatians 1.11-24

I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.

Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles – only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing to you is no lie. Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they praised God because of me.

Gospel Luke 7.11-17

Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out – the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.


During campaign – parties set out policies. What they would do and why. Period after general election. Briefings. Choosing cabinet and ministers. Conveying vision for next 4 years.

Luke introduces Jesus – family - infancy. John the Baptist campaigns. Jesus tempted.

Sermon on the Plain – Jesus sets out policies – or better, he announced inauguration of God’s reign. Blessings and woes. Love for enemies. Not judging others. Judging people by fruits. Building on rock not sand.

Public ministry – begins at chapter 7. Before, Jesus says. Now he does. Capernaum by Sea of Galilee. Sets up base away from Nazareth where Jesus rejects his family who initially disapprove, and his people rejected him.

Public statement of intent – manifesto. Synagogue at Nazareth – Jesus quotes Isaiah:
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."

Jesus not the only prophet rejected. Elijah also rejected, he says. Severe famine. Many starved – Elijah sent to save non-Jewish widow. Naaman – Syrian general cured of leprosy through Elisha. Both turned to Gentiles – Jesus would eventually do so too.

Message - God’s love for all creatures. Chapter 7 begins with 2 miracle stories. Centurion’s servant – parallel to Naaman. Raising of widow’s son – parallel to Zarephath. It is through God’s love for all creatures that he reaches out to save. ‘Heal’ or ‘save’ – same word in Gk – sozo.

Capernaum – strong Roman presence. Jesus heals slave of foreign occupying legionary officer. Official – like Naaman. He is not in need – can get many other slaves – still Jesus reached out. Turned weeping into joy.

Comparison – widow losing sole means of support – tragedy. Dire consequences. Judaism – care for widows mandated by Law. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don't cry.” First use of ‘Lord’ in Luke.

God’s reign – action of Jesus establishes his credibility and identity. Speaks volumes about coming Kingdom.

· Weeping turned into laughing.

· Jesus empowered to act as only God can.

· Poor receive the Kingdom

· Do good to enemies – show mercy and love

· God’s healing and salvation – indiscriminate – no requirement for faith here

These are representative of Jesus’s power and credibility. People who witness miracle attest to his identity – their reaction: 16 They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.”

These two stories – not just miracles but offer powerful messages about Kingdom. Yet if we look for a lesson we can take from them, need to be treated with care. God reaches out to woman in dire and critical need. Not surprising Jesus moved to compassion. Who would not be?

The reality of widows at the time was life-threatening at worst, miserable most of the time. A concern for assisting widows throughout the Bible stems from their dire need. So God reached out.

But not every widow is helped. What about all those in terrible need today? On our streets. In continent of Africa? Suffering from want, disease, oppression?

In these stories, Jesus ‘sees’ the widow. He ‘sees’ her need and acts. Jesus – God incarnate – is no longer ‘walking about among us.’ The coming Kingdom will bring joy where there was weeping, but in the meantime we are God’s hand, feet and eyes to act as Jesus did. To ‘see’ those in want and need. To reach out and act.

More than just miracle stories, this is one of the lessons to be learned. There may be many others, but one will do for now. Isn’t this what Paul is getting at, in our reading from Galatians? God, he says ‘set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, and was pleased to reveal his Son in me’

Can we say the same? That God is pleased to reveal his Son in me? And in return, are we pleased to be God’s hands and feet? His eyes? His voice? Only by being so can we claim, as Paul did, that God is pleased to reveal his Son in me. Amen

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Corpus Christi

Holy Communion – 9.15am Thursday 3 June

Short passage of scripture

Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
He had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread. Luke 24.31a,35

Second Reading 1 Corinthians 11.23-26

I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Gospel John 6.51-58

Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live for ever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you can eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”


Walk – Lake Bolsena. Volcano. Miracle 1263. German priest – Peter of Prague on pilgrimage to Rome – doubted transubstantiation. Celebrated mass in Bolsena above tomb of Santa Christina.

As he readied himself to give communion the bread turned blood red; the liquid then spilled onto the white altar cloth, forming a stain that resembled the profile of Jesus, as well as the onto the marble floor and into the grotto of St. Christina, where the stain can still be seen today.

Walk to Orvieto – overgrown track to Roman road. Roack fall on via cava blocked pilgrims’ way. Split – Pope Urban IV declared miracle and Corpus Domini marked in petal-strewn streets to this day.

Corpus Christi a RC festival. Thurs after Trinity. In the Church of England it is known as The Day of Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion and has the status of a Festival. Although its observance is optional, where kept it is typically celebrated as a major holy day. It is also celebrated by the Old Catholic Church and by some Western Rite Orthodox Christians, and is commemorated in the liturgical calendars of the more Latinized Eastern Catholic Churches.

It is right we should celebrate institution of Eucharist. Centre of our worship. Re-enactment of final hours of Jesus’s life. Following his command when Jesus said “This is my body” and “this is my blood.”

Eucharist εὐχαριστία means ‘thanksgiving.’ The Lord's Supper (Κυριακὸν δεῖπνον) derives from 1 Corinthians 11:20-21 – “When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat...” Communion is a translation of the Greek κοινωνία in 1 Corinthians 10:16. The AV has “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”

The word means ‘participation’, ‘sharing’, ‘fellowship.’

Although we do not subscribe to doctrine of transubstantiation, we recognise a special presence of Christ in this rite or sacrament. In this spirit, after our intercessions, let us give thanks to God for the institution of Holy Communion on this day – Corpus Christi.