Sunday, 29 January 2012

Village Newsletter February 2012

View from the Vicarage

The ancient Greeks had two words for time. Chronos denotes time as measured by a clock. That’s where the word chronology comes from. Kairos, on the other hand, means the right time or opportune moment.

One expert does a demonstration when talking on time management courses. Taking a large glass jar, he fills it with pebbles and asks the class whether the jar is full. They reply ‘yes – it’s full.’ He then produces a bag of gravel and tips it into the jar. ‘Now is it full?’ By now, people are wary. They’re not sure. Then he has a bag of sand and tips that in. ‘Now is it full?’ I suppose the response is ‘not necessarily.’ It is always possible for the jar to hold smaller and smaller grains without there being no room left, and he can still fit in a glass of water.

As a time management guru his aim is twofold. Firstly to persuade people they should complete the big projects first; but secondly, it is always possible to cram more and more into the working week if you try.

I am sure many unscrupulous employers love this approach. Even benign ones turn a blind eye to longer and longer hours. It saves employing more people, and these days firms rarely pay overtime. Over achievers take note.

Whilst not condoning the drift in the working week, having seen the effect it can have on family life and stress levels, perhaps there’s another conclusion we can draw? Some things are more important than others. They are the big rocks in our lives. Those are the aspects we should prioritise. Stuff we value most. Family. Love. Faith. Health. Wellbeing. Work-life balance.

Other things are less vital. Deal with them only after you have taken care of the big ones. But don’t exclude all the air. You can keep cramming more into your day, but don’t exclude the oxygen of compassion, caring for others, having time for people, and leaving room to breathe.

So tomorrow morning, think of this. What truly are the big rocks in my life? How can I look after them before all else? Am I filling my time with so much that I have no room left for leisure, relaxation, family life, and human flourishing?

Chronos is sequential. It just passes by, regardless of what we do with it. Neither faster nor slower, even when we are rushed off our feet or bored. We can’t stop it. But if we use up too much chromos, we leave no space left for kairos moments. Quality time. Time that has more value than mere chronos.

It might also squeeze out God from our lives. For what is chronos to us may be kairos to God.




Robert Wright
01296 661358
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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Timothy and Titus

Thursday Midweek Communion 26 January at St Giles

The Collect

Heavenly Father,
who sent your apostle Paul to preach the gospel,
and gave him Timothy and Titus
to be his companions in faith:
grant that our fellowship in the Holy Spirit
may bear witness to the name of Jesus,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Reading 2 Timothy 2

1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

4 No-one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs— he wants to please his commanding officer.

5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules.

6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.

7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel,

Gospel Luke 2

Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ was revealed in flesh, proclaimed among the nations
and believed in throughout the world.
All Alleluia.

When the Gospel is announced the reader says

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to N.
All Glory to you, O Lord.

Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-two

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.

2 He told them, The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.

3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

5 When you enter a house, first say, 'Peace to this house.'

6 If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.

7 Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

8 When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you.

9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The kingdom of God is near you.'

This is the Gospel of the Lord.
All Praise to you, O Christ.


The gospel reading is about a ‘sending out.’ 72 followers of Jesus were given a mission to go and tell others what they had seen and heard. The harvest is plentiful, said Jesus, but the workers are few. Isn’t that still the case today?

The disciples were not to rely on their own resources, but to accept hospitality from any who would receive them. It always strikes me as amazing that the spread of the Christian gospel started from so few people in such inauspicious circumstances.

Paul regarded himself as an apostle even though he never met Jesus, and it was mainly thanks to him that the gospel was preached around the Mediterranean and as far as Rome itself. Pauls approach was rather different. He plied his trade as a tent makes, and prided himself on not being a burden to anyone, but to provide for his own keep.

Paul was not alone, though. He had such people as Timothy, Titus and Silas as his followers. Silas accompanied Paul on his travels through Greece and Asia Minor, and was imprisoned with him in Philippi. They were set free by an earthquake that breached the prison walls.

Titus is mentioned in some of Paul’s letters as his companion. Timothy is mentioned in Acts. His father was a Greek, but his mother a Jewish believer. They didn’t always travel with Paul. Timothy was put in charge of the congregation in Ephesus, and Titus looked after the church in Crete. We know this because we have letters written to them by Paul himself. Two addressed to Timothy and one to Titus. They are known as the pastoral epistles. Not surprisingly these epistles differ from Paul’s other letters. They are more personal, and concern church organisation, rather than being like extended sermons that are read out.

There’s a special prayer for today about these two men. It teaches us to follow their example, and the examples of the 72 who told others what they themselves had learned. It goes like this:

Almighty God, who called Timothy, Titus, and Silas to be Evangelists and teachers, and made them strong to endure hardship: Strengthen us to stand fast in adversity, and to live righteous and godly lives in this present time, that with sure confidence we may look for our blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Messianic Secret

Mid week communion at St Giles

Thursday 12 January 2011

Reading 1 Samuel 8

Israel Asks for a King

4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah.

5 They said to him, You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.

6 But when they said, Give us a king to lead us, this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD.

7 And the LORD told him: Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.

10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king.

11 He said, This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots.

12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plough his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.

13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.

14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants.

15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants.

16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use.

17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.

18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. No! they said. We want a king over us.

20 Then we shall be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.

21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD.

22 The LORD answered, Listen to them and give them a king. Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, Everyone is to go back to his town.

Gospel Mark 1

Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ was revealed in flesh, proclaimed among the nations
and believed in throughout the world.
All Alleluia.

When the Gospel is announced the reader says

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to N.
All Glory to you, O Lord.

A Man With Leprosy

40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, If you are willing, you can make me clean.

41 Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. I am willing, he said. Be clean!

42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.

43 Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning:

44 See that you don't tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.

45 Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.
All Praise to you, O Christ.


Mark’s gospel is a fast paced account of the ministry and mission of Jesus. The words immediately and at once crop up all the time. We are moved quickly from one incident to another. Remember this is the first chapter of Mark. Jesus’ baptism by John fills the first 11 verses. Then there is the temptation in the wilderness and the call of the first disciples. Jesus’ first healing comes in verse 21. Mark seems to draw little distinction between healing souls and healing bodies. We need both.

Leprosy in the Bible is a particularly nasty affliction. The word covers not only leprosy itself, but many other skin complaints. Sufferers were shunned from society, forced to live outside the towns and avoided at all costs.

The leper’s approach is therefore bold. He uses the words If you are willing… or if you can, you can make me clean. Given what Jesus has been doing, I don’t think this means the leper doubts Jesus’ ability to heal, but his preparedness to touch the leper or have any contact with him at all.

Jesus heals him with the words I am willing. Be clean. But before saying these words, he reaches out and touches the man. Jesus, Mark says, is full of compassion.

What theologians call the Messianic Secret follows. The man is warned not to tell anyone what has happened. The leper of course ignores the warning. Who can blame him? He broadcasts his joy to everyone.

One practical reason for the warning might be the crowds that inevitably turned out. Jesus was followed about and could hardly move for the crush. Hardly the best conditions in which to preach his gospel.

Another explanation might be that the crowds might get the wrong idea of what sort of a Messiah he was. Not the military leader, but the servant of all.

The result of all this was that Jesus tended to favour lonely out of the way places, and this is especially the case when he prays alone.

You can contrast today’s gospel with the demand for a King. Prior to Samuel’s anointing of Saul, Israel was a theocracy, with prophets interpreting the will of God for his people. Jesus’ incarnation returns us to a direct relationship with God. No longer is there any need for mediation, by a King, a Messiah, a church, a priest or anyone else.

The trouble with this for some people is that faith revolves very much around ‘me’ rather than ‘us.’ Whenever we say the Lord’s Prayer, it’s wise for us to recall that the disciples were taught Our Father and not My Father.


Sunday, 8 January 2012


Sunday 8 January 2012 at St Giles

Reading Ephesians 3.1-12 Jan Scobey

I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles –

Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Gospel Matthew 2.1-12

Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ was revealed in flesh, proclaimed among the nations
and believed in throughout the world.
All Alleluia.

When the Gospel is announced the reader says

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to N.
All Glory to you, O Lord.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.
All Praise to you, O Christ.


Epiphany falls on 6 January. Unless that happens to be a Sunday, some churches miss it altogether. Instead, they observe the Baptism of Christ, which is itself a kind of epiphany. In Matthew 3, we read:

16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Look up Epiphany in a dictionary, and you will find two main meanings. One is the feast itself celebrating the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi. The other tells you what it really means. A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something. In particular, Epiphany reveals to us the reality of God, usually by a sudden realisation by intuition.

Last year, I talked about the part played by the Magi. The mysterious, shadowy figures that have captured the imagination of Christians since before the gospels were written down. What we know about them is speculation. Today I want to concentrate on what they represent.

In the story, there are the opposites of Worship and Hostility. Reactions to Jesus have been polarised since the very beginning. The Magi came to worship, so it says in v2. We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.

Does that strike you as odd? They did not make a journey of discovery. They did not just come to record and observe. They did not come out of curiosity, or academic inquiry. No – they came to worship.

Some theologians claim the word proskyneo can only be translated as referring to worship of God, but there are many instances in the Greek OT of people bowing down and worshipping other human beings or angels. David the King, and Elisha the prophet for example. Ruth worshipped Boaz.

Personally I find it hard to accept that astrologers, or wise men from the east, could bow down and do homage to Jesus merely because he was future King of the Jews in the line of David, unless they were worshipping him as much more than a mere human being.

Herod on the other hand led the hostility. Herod’s part in the story foreshadows the hostility that will be shown to Jesus by the powerful people of his day who sought to destroy him. Religious leaders do the bidding of Herod the tetrarch who believed Jesus threatened his position. In a cruel twist of fate, at the very end the roles are reversed. Pilate takes orders from the Chief Priest and hands Jesus over to be executed.

So we have the opposite extremes. Worship and open Hostility. The real Kings are not the three wise men but Herod and Jesus. One is the tyrant who rules by terror. The other is the servant king who shepherds his sheep. There are parallels today if we look around the world, especially in Africa and see what kind of leaders are in power.

Epiphany, of course, is not about the quality of leadership, but the revelation of God and whom He favours. And it’s clear from the gospels that God’s favour does not rest with the powerful like Herod or the religious authorities. His favour does not even rest with the learning of the Magi, although it was to them He revealed the birth of Jesus. His favour did not rest with the arrogant or the wise, those men who tipped off Herod that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. No – in spite of the massacre of the innocents God’s favour rests with the meek, the humble, the servant leader, the shepherds, the little children, the disadvantaged, the poor, and the trusting.

Does that not unfairly exclude the learned, religious leaders, and those with authority? By no means. Take Paul the apostle in today’s reading from Ephesians. Paul was a religious leader. Paul was learned. Paul wielded authority and persecuted the early church. Yet on the road to Damascus Paul had his own epiphany – there shone a bright light, and he heard the voice of Christ.

By God’s grace, he says, the mystery of Jesus Christ was made know to him by revelation. He stopped lording it over others and became a servant of the gospel. He became the least of all God’s people in his own eyes. Those things that had been hidden in God were made known to him. And through Paul, of all people, the gospel spread through the Mediterranean world. All that – the very prosperity and survival of the good news – came through one epiphany moment. And that can profoundly change the way we are, the way we act, the way we relate to our maker.

This is why the church’s observance of epiphany ought not be a triumphal occasion. Both today’s readings encourage humble submission to God, and the realisation that God's glory may be manifest where we least expect it. Sometimes God's people become light for others . Sometimes they appear blind to the light others can see. But always, the light is there, as God graciously, mysteriously, and defiantly breaks into human lives. Amen