Tag Archives: Easter

2 September 2022, Praying with Pope Francis: the death penalty.

Pope Francis’s intention for this month is:

We pray that the death penalty, 
which attacks the dignity of the human person, 
may be legally abolished in every country.

Jesus was crucified between two thieves. These willow crosses were used to make Easter Gardens for Saint Mildred’s church in Canterbury and for our community houses, but they do not convey the torturous death of crucifixion. The ivory figures on the crosses in Winchester Cathedral express the attack on the dignity of the three condemned men, each one unable to lift a finger to ease his suffering. The only way to alleviate the pain is for the overseeing centurion to intervene with a leg-breaking, death-dealing blow.

When today someone is killed by firing squad, hanging, electric shock or lethal drugs, there is not the three hours’ agony endured by Jesus, but there is a lifetime of sorrow for the criminal’s relatives, while ‘closure’ for the victim’s family may still be elusive. It is well-known that the greater number of violent offenders have experienced violence themselves; are their lives to be terminated in violence?

We could add to Pope Francis’s intention a prayer for the children who are subjected to violence, that through the love, care and respect of adults who work with them, they may come to live in peace with themselves, with other people and with God.

And let us remember Jesus’ promise to the repentant thief: this day you will be with me in Paradise.

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Justice and Peace, Laudato si'

2 July: The Good Shepherd

St Mildred’s, Canterbury.

One of the classic Victorian hymns that still speaks to us today.

Souls of men! why will ye scatter 
Like a crowd of frightened sheep?
Foolish hearts! why will ye wander
From a love so true and deep?
Was there ever kindest shepherd
Half so gentle, half so sweet,
As the Saviour who would have us
Come and gather round his feet?

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
Like the wideness of the sea;
There’s a kindness in his justice
Which is more than liberty.

There is welcome for the sinner,
And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the Saviour;
There is healing in his blood.

But we make his love too narrow
By false limits of our own;
And we lose the tender shepherd
In the judge upon the throne.

For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of man’s mind;
And the heart of the eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.

FW Faber

The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice.

John 10;27.

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26 May: Love’s redeeming work is done

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Jackdaws soaring near Uppermill, Yorkshire.

While they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. Acts 1:7.

Charles Wesley wrote many hymns, and this one fits the end of Eastertide, the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus. I like the image of us soaring where Christ has led: on high and beyond. Let us soar now by enjoying as much as we can of what life offers, as Jackdaws, Starlings, Swifts and Seagulls so often seem to celebrate the gift of flight together. Together may we soar when we are called to go above the cloud and the sunset. 

Christ has burst the gates of hell!
Love's redeeming work is done;
fought the fight, the battle won:
lo, our Sun's eclipse is o'er,
lo, he sets in blood no more.
Vain the stone, the watch, the seal;
Christ has burst the gates of hell;
death in vain forbids his rise;
Christ has opened paradise.
Lives again our glorious King;
where, O death, is now thy sting?
dying once, he all doth save;
where thy victory, O grave?
Soar we now where Christ has led,
following our exalted Head;
made like him, like him we rise;
ours the cross, the grave, the skies.
Hail the Lord of earth and heaven!
Praise to thee by both be given:
thee we greet triumphant now;
hail, the Resurrection Thou!

                                                   

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1 May: Christ at Emmaus.

Goldwyn Smith, a 19th Century Professor of History at Oxford, commented: The lines on the two disciples going to Emmaus convey pleasantly the Evangelical idea of the Divine Friend. Cowper says in one of his letters that a man who had confessed to him that though he could not subscribe to the truth of Christianity, he could never read this passage of St. Luke without being deeply affected by it, and feeling that if the stamp of divinity was impressed upon anything in the Scriptures, it was upon that passage.

It is a favourite passage for many, one we have reflected upon in Agnellus Mirror – do a search for Emmaus – and one to return to gladly. William Cowper’s work is more than pleasant, it is respectful toward the two disciples, bringing out their humanity and friendship, and shows the courtesy of the stranger who gathered up the broken thread, and opened their eyes and ears.

   It happen'd on a solemn eventide,
  Soon after He that was our surety died,
  Two bosom friends, each pensively inclined,
  The scene of all those sorrows left behind,
  Sought their own village, busied as they went
  In musings worthy of the great event:
  They spake of him they loved, of him whose life,
  Though blameless, had incurr'd perpetual strife,
  Whose deeds had left, in spite of hostile arts,
  A deep memorial graven on their hearts.
  The recollection, like a vein of ore,
  The farther traced enrich'd them still the more;
 They thought him, and they justly thought him, one
  Sent to do more than he appear'd to have done,
  To exalt a people, and to place them high
  Above all else, and wonder'd he should die.
  Ere yet they brought their journey to an ends,
  A stranger join'd them, courteous as a friend,
  And ask'd them with a kind engaging air
  What their affliction was, and begg'd a share.
  Inform'd, he gathered up the broken thread,
  And truth and wisdom gracing all he said,
  Explain'd, illustrated, and search'd so well
  The tender theme on which they chose to dwell,
  That reaching home, the night, they said is near,
  We must not now be parted, sojourn here.—
  The new acquaintance soon became a guest,
  And made so welcome at their simple feast,
  He bless'd the bread, but vanish'd at the word,
  And left them both exclaiming, 'Twas the Lord!
  Did not our hearts feel all he deign'd to say,
  Did they not burn within us by the way?" 
 William Cowper (1731–1800) 

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23 April: lighting a candle. (Going Viral CV.)

Saint George, whose feast falls today, famously rescued a young woman from being devoured by a dragon, not an everyday problem in Canterbury today, but there are many of us nursing sorrow and distress, often unknown to others.

One such is my friend Marie. Though we go into town at about the same time as each other, we may not see each other for months, especially under covid restrictions. I realised not long ago that it had been at least three months since our paths had crossed, and looked out for her often.

Then today, a ring of my bicycle bell and she stopped, just where our ways diverge; ten seconds later and I would have missed her.

After our usual pleasantries, Marie asked, had I heard about Callum. Thinking she meant her great-grandson, I said, no; was he alright? ‘Not little Callum, OUR Callum’: she was talking of her own son. Little Callum’s mother had told me how her uncle had died in his armchair after a family gathering, as the covid restrictions were easing.

Of course Marie wanted to talk about it.

‘It doesn’t feel right, at all’, I said.

‘I speak to him and light my candles, that’s all I can do. But some people are embarrassed to talk to me, they avoid me now.’

‘Well, Marie, I hope I haven’t passed you by without noticing. I would always say hello’.

Lighting a candle, talking to the person who has died, by these actions Marie acknowledges the truth of Easter, of the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

Let us pray for all those who have died since last Easter, for those they have left behind. Let us pray for ourselves, that we may shake off covid-induced avoidance of human contact and use any opportunity to offer an ear and a few words of comfort, rescuing our friends from the dragon of loneliness and loss, step by step.

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22 April: A Promise

2009-05-04 20.01.43 (800x532)

Part of me wants Genesis 9:8-15, God’s Covenant with Noah, to be an Easter Vigil reading, when in fact it comes at the beginning of Lent in Year B. Nevertheless, it does speak of salvation, and water bringing Noah’s family to new life; it’s a little taste of Easter as Lent starts. The rainbow still tastes of Easter if we celebrate it in Easter week, with the curate of Selborne, Gilbert White. Our picture is of the rainbow seen over our friend Mrs O’s house on the day of her funeral. White was a pioneer of natural history, and here the scientist and theologian are one with the poet: ‘Lovely refraction!’ ‘Maker Omnipotent.’ Happy Easter!

ON THE RAINBOW by Gilbert White of Selborne.

” Look upon the Rainbow, and praise him that made it: very beautiful is it in the brightness thereof.” Ecclesiastes, 18:11.

On morning or on evening cloud impress'd, 
Bent in vast curve, the watery meteor shines 
Delightfully, to th' levell'd sun opposed: 
Lovely refraction ! while the vivid brede 
In listed colours glows, th' unconscious swain, 
With vacant eye, gazes on the divine 
Phenomenon, gleaming o'er the illumined fields, 
Or runs to catch the treasures which it sheds. 
Not so the sage: inspired with pious awe, 
He hails the federal arch ; and looking up, 
Adores that God, whose fingers form'd this bow 
Magnificent, compassing heaven about
With a resplendent verge, " Thou mad'st the cloud, 
Maker omnipotent, and thou the bow
And by that covenant graciously hast sworn 
Never to drown the world again: henceforth, 
Till time shall be no more, in ceaseless round, 
Season shall follow season: day to night,
Summer to winter, harvest to seed time,
Heat shall to cold in regular array
Succeed. — Heav'n taught, so sang the Hebrew bard." 

(from “The Natural History of Selborne” by Gilbert White)

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Easter in Lichfield: a message from the Dean

Easter in Lichfield will be a time of celebration in more ways than one this year, because after two years of uncertainty Lichfield Cathedral can now open back up and mark the occasion with a blend of ceremony that will involve, not only the cathedral, but everyone in the city.

This is the introduction to Dean Adrian’s Holy Week Message from Lichfield Cathedral. See the whole message here. It is a very clear account of the events and ceremonies of the Triduum.

Dear Friends,

I am writing to send you greetings and blessings at this the most important, solemn and (yet ultimately) joyful time of the Christian year.  We’re about to enter the holy three days (Triduum) of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Eve and Day. You will be welcome at any or all of the special services we hold on each of these days.  Every occasion comes with its special ceremonies and distinct focus.  Let me say a few words about each but first explain the context.

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Filed under Christian Unity, Easter, Justice and Peace, Lent, Mission

11 April, Monday in Holy Week: We worship a truly living, loving Lord

This open letter was written by an Anglican Priest, Reverend Iain Taylor, tragically killed in a road accident in Canterbury in September 2021. I’m sure he won’t mind crocuses in Lenten purple: the anthers and stamens are as golden as anyone, bees included, could wish.

PASTORAL LETTER

APRIL 2020

Dear Friends

Returning home recently from a sick visit, I decided to take the route through the Westgate Gardens.  It is some considerable time since I came that way, and I was greatly impressed by the general standard of upkeep throughout the park.  The golden yellow daffodils were, at that time, just in bud and there was a profusion of gold crocuses (or should that be croci?)  Now it is well known that my plant knowledge is very limited, to say the least, and to me one snowdrop looks exactly the same as any other snowdrop.  So I was intrigued to learn from a friend that there are actually over thirty different types of snowdrop – I’m still trying to distinguish them!  As I paused to gaze at the flower beds, I was aware of the forthcoming spring; there were signs of new life everywhere.


By the time you read this message, we shall be in the season of Passiontide during which we recall how God allowed his Son to go through the hideous ordeal of crucifixion; a form of execution that was normally reserved for the vilest of criminals.  However, it is during this season that we prepare to celebrate the greatest event in the history of the world.  It is the season when God breathes new life into his church, just as spring heralds new life in the world of nature.  As our thoughts turn to the Resurrection of our Lord, we remember with joy in our hearts that on the third day he rose in glorious triumph from the grave.


We worship a truly living, loving Lord, and Easter is a time when we focus on new life, new opportunities and new hope.  Here again the array of those budding young plants in the park comes to mind: the tender spring blooms surely remind us that God is a wondrous God and, as his precious buds, as his body on earth, the Church, we must learn to love and nurture one another, especially those fragile buds who are new in the faith, so that in due time we may all come into full bloom as worthy disciples of our risen Lord.


The most significant change that came over the first disciples after the resurrection was their confidence in Jesus.  They realized that, for about three years, they had been in the presence of someone very special.  They also realized that what he had been teaching was not just a good idea but THE way to live – the life of love and forgiveness, for them and everyone else.
They followed in his footsteps – trusting when things were difficult – getting things wrong (read the book of Acts to see how!) But in due time those fragile buds blossomed into strong blooms and with the help of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, they set about spreading the Good News of the Gospel, although in some cases it cost them their lives.


The message of Easter is that, just as the spring plants burst into bloom at springtime , so Christ conquered death and burst from the tomb revealing the power, the love and the glory of God in all its splendour.


May the glory of the Resurrection transform our lives that we may become, to use a favourite expression of Archbishop Michael Ramsey, ‘An Easter people’.

Rev Iain Taylor

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Holy Week and Easter at Lichfield Cathedral.

A queue for covid vaccinations at Lichfield Cathedral. TB.

A message from the Dean of Lichfield,  The Very Rev’d Adrian Dorber.

Dear Friends

The last two years have been very difficult and disruptive for everyone, but it is a real joy that now we can throw open the Cathedral doors and invite you to share in worship this coming Holy Week and Easter.  
 
You will find a full list of the services below, with a brief description of what each service is about. We would love to welcome you as we celebrate, remember and explore the summit and crown of the Christian Year.
 The Very Rev’d Adrian Dorber

Click the link to read the whole message and see what services will be celebrated in Lichfield Cathedral this year,

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Filed under corona virus, Easter, Lent, Mission, PLaces

27 March, Laetare Sunday: Make an Easter Garden.

Laetare Sunday is three weeks before Easter. ‘Laetare’ means ‘rejoice’, have a joyful Sunday! Perhaps this is a good time to think ahead to Easter, so here’s a project for you. Last year Vincent and Maurice made Easter Gardens for the locked-down L’Arche Kent houses, and the slide show tells how we did it.

You don’t need to use big pots like these, especially if yours will be displayed indoors. Ours were outside people’s houses or St Mildred’s church for a few weeks, so we used big pots to keep the plants alive.

We think the houses could make their own gardens this year, so here’s our helpful guide. You’ve got three weeks, so start off by collecting the pits and pieces. Don’t forget to share your photos by emailing maurice.billingsley1@btopenworld.com .

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Filed under Christian Unity, Daily Reflections, Easter, L'Arche, Lent, PLaces, Spring