Tag Archives: worship

20 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, III.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023

Photo: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk

As we join with other Christians around the world for the Week of Prayer we pray that our hearts will be open to see and hear the many ways in which racism continues to destroy lives, and to discern the steps we can take as individuals and communities to heal the hurts and build a better future for everyone.

Day 3 Difference

Luke 5:27-29 
Amos 5

Commentary

The identity of the Minnesota Working Group is immersed in the rich and haunting harmonies that tell the history of many peoples. “Our bodies can be in tune with the ancestral, while acknowledging all of the pain, joy, brilliance, fatigue, connection and more wrapped up in one. We centre ourselves in the stories of the place we call home. We are men, women, mothers, fathers, storytellers and healers.”

We can recognise the diversity within our communities if we take time to look. Even within our gatherings there is a beautiful tapestry of worship experience and spiritual expression, woven together from the indigenous population, from those who have immigrated, or those who are displaced and who now call this place home.

We are blessed and we are to bless others. We are loved and we are to love others. We are to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God, together. We. Not Me. Our kinship and God’s teachings guide us into community together as we learn and act as We. Not Me. So our gatherings, prayers, hymns, art and culture should reflect this, and be infused with the beauty of difference, all the while reaching toward the unity of God’s divine justice.

A tapestry is a beautiful work of art, but if you look at the back, you see the messy edges, and frayed ends, the knots and snags – how do we celebrate the beauty of the tapestry while acknowledging the work that is necessary to maintain the beauty, not as a façade, but as a result of recognising and celebrating difference?

Reflection

What is this noise? 
These meaningless festivals of falsehood, 
litanies of lip service and diatribes of doxologies, 
that seek to drown out the reality of poisonous polity, 
that hope to mask the clanging cymbals of fear and frailty. 
We do not seem to understand that disharmony is our downfall.

But in the midst of our din, 
God calls forth from each corner of this earth, 
songs of justice that roll down like waters 
– interwoven melody and haunting harmony 
deep enough to hold our dissonance 
and the unresolved tension of our journeys to this place.

Prayer

Gracious and loving God, 
expand our vision that it may be wide enough to recognise the beautiful complexity
 of the tapestry you chose to weave with each and every one of us. 
Gather our frayed edges, our loose ends 
and bind us together for your glory.

Questions

How often do we think and act as ‘We. Not me’?

How much of the necessary work are we doing to make a beautiful tapestry in our communities?

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19 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, II.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023

Photo: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk

As we join with other Christians around the world for the Week of Prayer we pray that our hearts will be open to see and hear the many ways in which racism continues to destroy lives, and to discern the steps we can take as individuals and communities to heal the hurts and build a better future for everyone.

Day 2 That they may be one

Isaiah 1:12-18
John 17:13-26

Commentary

Jesus prays that we will be “completely one”, praying for an authentic and selfless unity, one with no half measures, reflected in the person of God, in the unity of the Trinity. Such unity is challenging, it requires self-reflection, humility, a release of power and control, and an openness to change. Is this the unity that you are praying for this week?

Isaiah reminds us of the hypocrisy that can still exist in our churches, claiming a love for others, but really only extending a full welcome to those who are like us. Many have experienced pain, rejection, abuse, and exclusion within the Church. A Christian expression of unity must include everyone and offer healing and justice. This is rarely done in isolation, but more often together.

Instead of offering empty worship Isaiah calls us to “learn to do good; seek justice” (Isaiah 1:17). Learning to do good also requires an openness to change. This is the perfect season for Christians to reflect not just on unity but on the role we can all play together in promoting racial justice in a world all too often unmoved by suffering.

And yet, there is joy in affirming that “Black Lives Matter” in the pursuit of justice for God’s oppressed, dominated, and exploited beloved. There is power in giving in to wisdom’s call for justice, and in doing it as a church together.

Reflection

Trample my courts no more, says the Lord, 
cease your offerings to me. 
I cannot endure your worship, 
it is too heavy to bear.
Put down your burden, 
release the load of others. 
Rescue, defend, and plead as one,
in my name, seek justice together.

Prayer

God of Unity, 
forgive us when we are self-serving
and help us to grow in unity and understanding
as we extend your love and justice to all.

Questions

Where can you speak out together with other Christians against racial injustice?

Where do you need God’s help in recognising, understanding and overcoming your own prejudice?

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19 November: A space for prayer and reflection.

From Canon Anthony Charlton’s blog, exploring ways to welcome pilgrims to the shrine of Saints Thomas Becket and Oscar Romero in Canterbury.

It was a delight for me one afternoon recently to have eleven groups of students from the School of Architecture of the University of the Creative arts present to us their projects. They were asked to create in our Martyrs Chapel a space that should contain the relics of St Thomas More and St Oscar Romero. As one submission said the “space is without focus, having collected so many relics and icons over the years there is no order to how they are placed, creating a dissonant space which lacks a clear focal point for prayer and worship.”

I was very moved to see how each group presented their designs. There was much inspiration and it was great to see the different ways they found to create a space for prayer and reflection for pilgrims and those who wished to come and pray. Many of the submissions recognised there was a need for more light. One darkened the chapel and explored the relationship between the dark and the light of the relics. Another submission was bold in creating an outside entrance with an antechamber.

The challenge now is for parishioners to meet and decide the next step in creating a beautiful space for the relics of these two great Martyrs.

We look forward to that meeting and to developing the shrine as an accessible, welcoming space in the heart of Canterbury. Thank you, Canon Anthony! And let’s not sacrifice this window in the present shrine.

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Going viral CI: slowly returning to normal Parish Life

The martyrdom of Saint Thomas, 1170.

CHANGES TO COVID RESTRICTIONS for Catholic Churches in England and Wales; as applied to Saint Thomas, Canterbury.

For the record, here is the current situation regarding coming to Church.
• Follow good practice for transmissible diseases – if you display symptoms of illness please stay at home
• The main for of virus transmission is via personal oral or nasal aerosol. We ask that you continue to wear face coverings (covering both nose and mouth) when in the church building unless you are exempt from doing so.
• Formal social distancing is no longer required but please be sensitive to the needs of others around you.
• Scientific evidence shows that surface transmission is minimal but we ask that you continue the good practice of sanitising hands on entering and leaving the church. We are also reintroducing the use of Hymn Books and our Holy Water Fonts
• Test and Trace is no longer required but the QR codes and forms will still be available for parishioners’ use.

To allow as many parishioners as possible to be able to return to Mass, we will retain the current practice of celebrating two Masses with restricted seating in addition to the points above.

LIVESTREAMING IN CHURCH . We use livestreaming for all Masses. If any services are to be recorded we will inform the parish of those specific services.

USE OF CHURCH FACILITIES. With the relaxation of COVID restrictions, we are slowly returning to normal Parish Life. If you lead a group who wish to use the parish facilities – church, church hall or Upper Room, during 2022, please contact Linda in the office to confirm your bookings. Please contact Linda regardless of whether you used the facilities in the past as some groups have changed venues and times. Thank you

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2 February, Going Viral C: Easy there!

Saint Dunstan’s Church, Canterbury.

Rev Jo RIchards writes about the next stage in the pandemic as numbers locally are high amongst school children, teachers and parents. In the three churches of Saints Dunstan, Mildred and Peter this is the new policy for worship.

Easing of covid restrictions

With the easing of restrictions we must remember that the case numbers of covid are still high. Therefore in our church buildings and hall:

  • Mask wearing is not mandatory but to be encouraged – I will continue to wear mine; Jenny and I also do a lateral flow test before all services.
  • Sanitise hands on entry
  • Remain mindful of social distancing – if you prefer not to be close to someone in church, please put bag/coat on seat next to you
  • Peace from afar
  • Communion: we will return to people coming forward and the intincting (dipping) of a consecrated wafer, for those who would like to receive, or just wafer only. If you would prefer to receive in your seat, that is fine and we will come to you.
  • Please note when coming forward at St Dunstan’s – the service is live streamed and recorded and you will be observed coming forward to receive. If you would prefer to remain off-camera please come receive in the Roper Chapel.
  • Coffee will be served in the hall after the 10.00 service

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Going viral XCVIII: New Guidance for Catholic Churches in England.

Our Lady Star of the Sea, Staithes, Yorkshire.

The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have updated and relaxed rules for worship according to new Government guidelines. The following sets out the principles for the new guidance; the link leads to the full document.

The vaccine programme has had a major impact in reducing death and serious illness from infection
with Covid-19. The Church in England and Wales supports the vaccination programme and
encourages people to be vaccinated.
The scientific consensus is that society is moving towards the stage where the virus is transitioning
from the pandemic phase to the endemic phase, but as stated by HM Government, there is still a risk
associated with gathering for sustained periods in enclosed spaces and therefore there needs to be
continued caution by all against infection.
This, however, has to be balanced against the need to move forward safely towards a normal lifestyle
and these two positions will always be held in tension. This holding in tension is the key to living
safely with Covid-19, namely keeping infections from a virus that cannot be eliminated to levels
which minimise disruption to people’s lives.
This guidance has been written with this principle in mind.
Alongside the positive effects of covid vaccination, it should be stressed that any people displaying
symptoms of Covid-19 should stay at home and not participate in acts of worship in church.

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23 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022, Day VI.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022

Original photo of Nablus (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0): Dr. Michael Loadenthal

Day 6 They saw the child with Mary his mother, and they knelt down and paid him homage Matthew 2:11

Readings

Psalm 84 How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!

Mt 28:16-20 When they saw him, they worshipped him.

Reflection

When the Magi from their far-away countries arrived at Bethlehem and saw the child with his mother, they worshipped him. In the presence of this revelation of God among us, eyes were cast down and knees bent. Similarly, when the disciples saw the risen Christ on the mountain in Galilee, they were amazed and troubled. Yet they worshipped him.

Do we see? Are we amazed? Are we truly worshipping? How many times do we remain blind to God’s presence? How can we worship in truth if we do not really see first? In our narrow vision, too often we see only our tangled disagreements, forgetting that God’s saving grace is to all, and that we share in the one Spirit who draws us into unity. Often in our pride we follow human laws and traditions, disregarding the love we are called to share as one people justified by Christ’s blood.

As communities enlivened by the Holy Spirit, we are called to walk together towards the Christ-Child, offering homage as one people. The Spirit of compassion guides us to each other and only by following this guide will we be able to “worship in spirit and truth”.

Prayer

Compassionate God, 
in your mercy, remove the scales from our eyes
and lead us to repent and to worship you.
In the midst of our sorrow and despite the depth of our sin,
give us the capacity to love you with all our hearts.
As we journey together with one heart and mind,
may we glorify you in the Spirit’s fellowship,
and witness to those around us.Amen.
Hymn Verse
Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in Heav'n we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.
                          Charles Wesley, 1747

Questions

Global: What are you doing as part of your own pattern of worship to pray for the worldwide church?

Local: Within your worship as a local Christian community what are the barriers you face to greater unity and how might they be overcome?

Personal: Can you remember a time when you were able to worship “in spirit and in truth”? What was it like?

Go and Do

(see www.ctbi.org.uk/goanddo)

Global: Use the ecumenical prayer cycle to pray with communities across the global Church – https://www.oikoumene.org/resources/prayer-cycle

Local: Partner with churches in your area to participate in a biblical dialogue to learn with a church community across the world. Visit Just Scripture to find out more – https://www.christianaid.org.uk/pray/join-in/just-scripture

Personal: Find and join an online service from a church of a different tradition. Join in this act of worship and reflect on what riches God has shown you through this different experience of worship together.

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Going Viral XCIV: Just when you thought it was safer…

If we thought we were jogging along quietly, along comes Covid.mark omicron. Here are the responses from the Roman Catholic and Anglican parishes in Canterbury. Not quite Christmas Past; let’s hope it is only Christmas Present, but not Christmas Yet-to-come!

Saint Thomas’ Catholic Church

MASKS AT MASS (AND IN OUR SHOP TOO)

The return to stricter Covid restrictions, announced by the Prime Minister this week,
means that people must now wear face masks, sanitise their
hands, keep a social distance and be aware of fellow worshippers’
safety when at Mass and in the church shop. Thank you

BOOKINGS FOR CHRISTMAS MASSES.
Due to the COVID situation, it has been decided to ticket all
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses. Tickets are now available via our website. For those unable to access the website
bookings system, please telephone the Parish Office – please
leave a message including a contact telephone number. Bookings
will close at midnight on Wednesday, 22nd December and no further tickets in any format will be available after this time. Thank you

CHRISTMAS FAIR.: Sunday. 12 December 10:30- 12:30 in Hall.
WE REGRET TO INFORM YOU THAT THIS EVENT HAS BEEN
CANCELLED DUE TO THE COVID STATUS

And Saints Dunstan, Mildred and Peter, Anglican Benefice.

Covid updates and cancellations

Following the guidance issued by the government on Weds 8th December, face coverings are now mandatory in places of worship, unless exempt. We will also for the short term, return to receiving communion in one kind in seats.

Remain mindful of social distancing.

Sanitise hands upon entry.

More information can be found at: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2021-12/COVID%2019%20Guidance%20v2.3.pdf
In light of this, both the Rectory Christmas drinks party is cancelled (18th December) and the Benefice Homecoming Bring & Share lunch on the 19th December is cancelled.
We will keep you up to date with any further developments, but at the moment our pattern of Christmas Services remain as planned, with mandatory wearing of face coverings, hand sanitising and remain mindful of social distancing.

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Going Viral LXXXVIII: Covid changes in Worship

Worship in our church buildings – a step forward for Canterbury’s Anglican churches.

Covid measures: hand sanitising, Test & Trace and social distancing are still in place. Face coverings are recommended, particularly when coming and going. The Peace will continue from afar and the communion will continue in one kind only. Singing is permitted, but we will wear masks when doing so.

God Bless and have a good day

Rev Jo Richards

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21 July: Dancing in the aisles.

African music on the march at the St Maurice Pilgrimage, Switzerland.

A few years ago the Missionaries of Africa came to help celebrate the centenary of our parish school. Every parishioner I spoke to at the time was struck by the reverence shown by the African Missionary students as they danced the book of the Gospels to the lectern to the sound of drums. Other Masses that I have attended with African music and dance were also accessibly prayerful. So I was disappointed to read some of what Sister Freda Ehimuan describes in this article; a mismatch between Christian faith and practice in Africa. She reports that:

  • For the African, worship is the expression of feelings (negative and positive) toward the Divine, in different ways and through various media. Since worship is the expression of feelings, songs, dance, drums and incantations are significant to African worship. Physical expression is important in African worship; even if the person remains motionless, they may be crying, or making sounds from their throat. Without these expressions, Africans think that their worship is not deep enough and that it lacks the ability to reach God. They go through the rubrics of worship without experiencing an internal impact.

She describes one mismatch below:

  • A bishop has been speaking against dancing in the church for many years. One day he got a donation from some organization to build a pastoral center. He was so full of joy that right there on the altar he began to sing and dance. All the parishioners were so surprised that they spontaneously danced with him. Of course, he stopped when he realized what he was doing! When some Africans — who feel that they are civilized and too dignified to dance in worship — are shaken by incidents or experiences, their true nature comes out. Physical expression is their natural way of expressing faith whether they deny it or not.

I urge you to reflect on the article in the light of the recent posts about reforming the liturgy. Not just to ‘tut, tut’ at the missionaries whose predecessors had insufficient understanding of African cultures: they laid the foundations people like Sister Freda can build on today. But also to wonder what a truly local expression of faith would look like in your home town. What would you like to see happening in our celebrations? Read all of Sister Freda’s article here. (from Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter, 12 July 2021.)

Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.

Psalm 149.3

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