Tag Archives: worship

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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Going Viral LXXXV: the certain fact that the virus is still with us.

A statement from the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales regarding attending Sunday Mass.

“It is hoped that it will be possible for all Catholics in England and Wales to fulfil the Sunday Obligation, by the First Sunday in Advent 2021.”

(Pere Jacques Hamel, martyred at the altar, 2017).

We are mindful of the certain fact that the Covid-19 virus is still circulating in society. Vaccines provide genuine protection against the worst effects of the virus, yet we recognise the legitimate fear on the part of some who otherwise desire to gather for Holy Mass. It is our continuing judgement, therefore, that it is not possible at the present time for all of the faithful to attend Mass on a Sunday thus fulfilling their duty to God.

It is hoped that it will be possible for all Catholics in England and Wales to fulfil this most important Church precept, that of the Sunday Obligation, by the First Sunday in Advent 2021. In the meantime, all Catholics are asked to do their best to participate in the celebration of the weekly Sunday Mass and to reflect deeply on the centrality of Sunday worship in the life of the Church.

In April, following our Plenary Assembly, we offered a reflection on the experience of the extraordinary long months of the pandemic. It was titled The Day of the Lord. We also began to look at the way forward. We spoke about the important invitation to restore the Sunday Mass to its rightful centrality in our lives. We asked for a rekindling in our hearts of a yearning for the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, as our response to the total, sacrificial love that Jesus has for us. We said: “The Eucharist should be the cause of our deepest joy, our highest manner of offering thanks to God and for seeking his mercy and love. We need to make it the foundation stone of our lives.”

May this continue to be our striving during these coming months as we journey back to the full celebration of our Sunday Mass and our renewed observance of The Day of the Lord.

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Going Viral LXXXIV: We are in this together! 

A few words from Rev Jo Richards of Saint Mildred’s, Canterbury, on her church’s patronal feast day, 13 July.

St Mildred: Today is the Feast day of St Mildred,  a fascinating woman and a very local saint. So for those who might be less familiar with her, one of our patron saints here is some info: St. Mildred was the daughter of King Merewald of Magonset and his wife, St. Ermenburga (alias Aebbe of Minster-in-Thanet); and therefore sister of SS. Milburga and Milgith. At an early age, her mother sent her to be educated at Chelles in France, where many English ladies were trained to a saintly life. There is lots more info here:   http://earlybritishkingdoms.com/adversaries/bios/mildred.html

Lifting of covid restrictions: we are still awaiting guidance from CofE with respect to what this means for our places of worship, and how we conduct public worship. I assure you that we will not be rushing into anything, though I would be very interested to hear your thoughts about what you would feel comfortable with in terms of mask wearing, social distancing, singing and receiving of communion; of course this may all be dictated by CofE, but good to get a feel of what folk are thinking, and would feel comfortable with – we are in this together! 

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3 July, Going Viral LXXXII: Particular care needs to be taken.

Here are Rev Jo Richards and her team, negotiating the latest twists and turns of policy around covid-19.

Good morning to you all, on a warm sunny morning, and I hope this finds you all well, as we are here at the Rectory – an exciting weekend ahead, and just to update you…

Seating arrangements in our church buildings: updated from Church of England, 30th June 2021:

From Step 3 groups of 6, or larger groups where everyone present is from the same two households (or linked support bubbles), can sit together. Everyone else will need to observe appropriate physical distancing at all times. It may be helpful to remind people as they enter, and to supervise this if needed. When entering and leaving church particular care needs to be taken that there is no mingling between groups. This can be particularly hard for people to do when encountering friends and clear paths for entrance and exit need to be considered as well as stewarding where this is considered to be an issue.” 

What this means is: Attendees may sit in non-household groups of up to six on a pew together, but they must not mingle with other groups.   Mask wearing is mandatory (unless exempt), and there is no congregational singing, track and trace in place, and hand sanitizers.

We are expecting quite a few folk to come to our services on the 4th July and the 11th July, not only is it [new curate] Jenny’s first services with us, but we have couples hearing their Banns of marriage being read (5  couples at St Dunstan’s and 2 at St Mildred’s).

When you arrive, if you would rather sit alone (which is absolutely fine) please do indicate this, otherwise we will ask if you are happy to sit in a group of six on a pew. At St Dunstan’s we have rearranged the ribbons, and closed off every other pew, as that brings us to just under the 2m social distancing between open pews; whereas before it was over 2m social distancing.

We as with everyone else await to hear if there will be any restrictions with the ease of lockdown, and will let you know accordingly.

Welcome party for Rev Jenny (4th and 11th July), following government guidelines: to take place in churchyard only (so if wet it will be cancelled), overall group size max 30 (so split into 2 groups in separate parts of churchyard if necessary). Smaller groups of 6 to be maintained, and sat together with no mingling between the groups. Drinks will be provided and brought to you (or byo); we are not permitted to stand and drink/eat. Individual snacks will be available or bring-your-own. If you do have a collapsible chair and can bring it please do.

Link to the Cathedral for the Ordination service 3rd July at 5.30pm : https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/worship/online-worship/#evensong

As we prepare to welcome Jenny to our Benefice – today’s reading in Morning Prayer spoke to me most profoundly: Romans 16:1-2

“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well.”

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9 May: The Jesus Problem, Part II

Sister Johanna from Minster Abbey continues her reflections on God, money, politics and good faith.

The Pharisees went away to work out between them how to trap Jesus in what he said. They sent their disciples to Jesus, together with some Herodians, to say, ‘Master, we know that you are an honest man and teach the way of God in all honesty, and that you are not afraid of anyone, because human rank means nothing to you. Give us your opinion, then. Is it permissible to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’ (Matthew 22:15-16).

Today we’ll continue our lectio reflection on Matthew 22:15-22. If you weren’t here yesterday, I recommend that you scroll back and see what we were thinking about. Today, I’d like us to use our imagination, and try to picture the group Jesus is talking to. These disciples of the Pharisees: what are they like? We need first to acknowledge that they are not the finished product, they are still in training, still students of the Pharisees; they will probably be young men, therefore. This suggests that some of them will still be impressionable, idealistic, and sincerely seeking the truth. As is the case in any group of people, they will not all be made of the same stuff and won’t all have identical mind-sets. Many – even most – will have been completely prejudiced against Jesus by the Pharisees. But some, surely, would be young men with more independence of mind and character. Despite the Pharisees’ attempts to brain-wash them, the young men of this stamp will have retained some willingness to listen to Jesus, and to test not Jesus so much as the Pharisees’ idea of Jesus. They will want to find out for themselves if Jesus really is the strange villain he has been made out to be. You might say that this sub-group within the larger group is ‘on the fence.’

Now, imagine yourself a member of this sub-group. You do not know Jesus first-hand. You don’t quite know what you think of him yet. This is the first time you have even seen Jesus and dealt with him, but you are a little ashamed of the way some of your peers are behaving toward Jesus.

So you try to study Jesus, physically, to see what story his body may tell. Jesus is broad-shouldered and lean. You know he had been a carpenter before. His muscular body shows that he’s no stranger to hard physical labour. Jesus’ face is arresting in the energy it seems to radiate. His colour is high, but his deep-set dark eyes look tired – although they are clear, and they seem to take everything in. He scans the little group of young men now. Is there even one pair of eyes willing to make sympathetic eye-contact with Jesus, you wonder? The Herodians are a lost cause: not one of them will meet Jesus’ gaze. Some of your peers meet his eye with a hard, belligerent stare, particularly the speaker. You’ve seen that look on the face of your fifteen year old cousin when his father tells him something he doesn’t want to hear. Others fold their arms over their chest and, after a brief glance at Jesus, pretend that there is something interesting on the ground to look at.

What do you do? You are struck by Jesus’ posture. It is open. It is vulnerable, yet strong. There is no evasiveness in him – nor any aggression. He is fully present. You can’t help it: you are impressed by Jesus. You sense his goodness, intelligence and integrity. This is no charlatan. But there is something in him you can’t quite understand. A sort of longing. And an indescribable sadness. You meet his gaze. You want to know what he will do next and you find that you are on his side.

Jesus seems to understand you – or you deeply hope he does. You feel a connection with him. He has been silent for several long moments. He is not rushing this. And, surprisingly, no one interrupts this silence. This is unusual; the cut and thrust of debate is what this little group of men loves. Usually, silence in their opponent is interpreted as a win for their side. But no one regards this silence as a win. This Jesus has an uncanny ability to hold a group’s attention. At last he says something odd to the speaker: ‘Show me the money you pay the tax with.’ Now it’s the speaker’s turn to try to hold the crowd’s attention. He decides he’ll take his time, too. He doesn’t react at first. Then he wags his head slightly in mockery, narrows his eyes, smirks, glances to the side, but otherwise doesn’t move. The crowd, though, isn’t with him, and he suddenly realises this. Someone makes an impatient noise from the back, and pushes forward to show Jesus a denarius. That someone is you.

You hold out the coin in your open palm. You feel strangely emotional. Jesus is looking around at all of them again, but he is soon looking straight at you, and says: ‘Whose portrait is this? Whose title?’ Of course, it is Caesar’s. You don’t answer aloud but you continue to look at Jesus, who is now looking at the crowd again. Someone shouts out the obvious answer. Jesus slowly shrugs a bit and says in an off-hand way, ‘Then give to Caesar what belongs to him.’ And here he pauses and looks you fully in the face once more. Your eyes are streaming now. You feel as though he knows you, your past, your present, your hurt, your deep desire for meaning and love. The group is completely silent behind you. No one even moves. Jesus speaks quietly: ‘…and give God what belongs to God.’ He takes your hand that is still stretched out with the coin in it, gently rolls the fingers around the coin, and gives it a firm clasp with both his hands. Then he disengages.

The stunned crowd quietly leaves Jesus. You stay behind. What has just happened to you?

SJC

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Going Viral LXXII: Bishop Geoffrey says Thank you.

A letter from the Bishop of Rupert’s Land, based in Winnipeg, Canada, to the faithful people of his diocese, thanking them for all their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Diocese of Rupert’s Land

The Right Reverend Geoffrey Woodcroft

Bishop of Rupert’s Land

We acknowledge that we meet and work in Treaty 1, 2 and 3 Land, the traditional land of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Dakota, Sioux and Oji-Cree people and the homeland of the Metis Nation.  We are grateful for their stewardship of this land and their hospitality which allows us to live, work and service God the Creator here.
 

March 19, 2021

A message for the Diocese of Rupert’s Land

I write today to express genuine and profound thanks to you. As Christ’s disciples we have learned to answer new calls to serve and be the Body. You and I have endeavored to reduce the risk spreading COVID 19, not just for self, but for the wider communities in which we serve.

For some of us, the lessons we gleaned way back in Sunday School prepared us well for our part in ministering through this pandemic. For those who have come to the Church not as children, your worship, study and fellowship has prepared you to serve compassionately in the world. In so many ways our Church has been preparing us all our lives for the extraordinary times we now navigate.

I am grateful for the parishes and missions who have slowly, carefully and safely begun to return to in-person worship and gatherings. I am grateful for your adherence to safety protocols, healthy education and communication strategies for members, and your zeal for excellence.

I am filled with gratitude for parishes and missions who have continue in dialogue in their communities, weighing risks and information maintaining the suspension of in-person worship. Your careful deliberation and care a fine example of our rich tradition.

I remain indebted to the many members across this diocese and our staff who have offered their expertise, advice/wisdom, their labour, and their love in Christ to me. We are many members, and we are One Body, it takes all of us to be the Church.

Finally, fatigue, grief and feeling like one is constantly on the edge is common amongst us all. Clergy and lay leaders have had steep learning curves in new technology, innovative ways of connecting, and being Church in the wilderness. We grieve the loss of life, relationships, hugs and kisses, we lament that routines have been upended, plans cancelled, and time forgotten, and every day we are hoping for clarity and definition. May we know forgiveness and kindness, and be made to feel less afraid, and raised to that place where we might carefully impart the very same to all who Creator God gives us upon our journey.

In Christ,

+ Geoffrey

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9 January: Follow the Verger

Here’s another story by Eddie Gilmore from the Irish chaplaincy blog. I recall all too well the tension felt when acting as MC, master of ceremonies, at the old Latin High Mass. The priest, deacon and subdeacon – in daily life all three priests, but concelebration had not been heard of back then – would sit during the singing of the Gloria and Creed, wearing their birettas, rather odd black hats, which had to be removed at certain points as a sign of respect. And at a signal from the MC, who stood beside them, his – yes, his – hands together in prayer. Get it wrong – well, it depended on who was celebrant what might be said afterwards in the sacristy. So I appreciated Eddie’s reflection that follows!

I was spending the weekend in York with Ann and Andy, old friends from Uni. Thanks to Andy being a verger at the Minster I got to sit with Ann in a prominent position for the service, and afterwards got invited to join the vergers and their partners for a drink in one of York’s many olde worlde pubs. They were a great bunch and it was a fascinating insight into what happens ‘behind the scenes’ in a major cathedral. A verger, by the way, is the person in the Anglican tradition who leads the celebrants to their position before and during a service. They hold aloft a virge which is a kind of long rod, and they walk very slowly and solemnly, which means that the procession behind them also walks very slowly and solemnly. The tradition, I believe, is from the middle ages when cathedrals would be filled with people milling around and the verger would almost literally have to barge their way through the throngs to get the celebrants to the altar. Nowadays it’s purely ceremonial and it’s all done with almost military style precision. The vergers even have ear pieces so they can communicate with each other regarding exactly when to set off with the procession and when they need to ‘land’ in a particular place.

There were lots of good stories from the vergers about occasions when things hadn’t quite gone according to plan. Andy told of how a verger once led the procession the wrong way at the beginning of a big important service. The other vergers were looking on helplessly as their colleague (perhaps overawed by the occasion) led the motley crew of choristers, priests and bishops first one way then another until everyone finally arriving at the altar. I told in a recent blog of the day a few months back when Evensong began again in Canterbury Cathedral following the lockdown restrictions. It was in the huge nave instead of the choir and the verger hesitated on the way in, and the Dean and canons behind her came to a temporary halt. I knew straight away what had happened and sent a message to Ann later on: “Tell Andy that the verger didn’t know where to go!”

I’m sometimes not that keen on big solemn church services, where everything is perfectly choreographed but it’s almost too perfect to the extent that I feel like I can’t really be myself. One of the riches of my years at L’Arche was being alongside people who really knew how to be themselves (i.e. people with a learning disability), even in church settings and even if it may have invoked some feelings of discomfort in those around them. Back in the early 90s I used sometimes to go with one of the learning-disabled women in my house to her local church and sometimes during the service my friend, who was very tactile, would get up and walk towards the vicar and give him a big hug. And that memory is especially poignant now in this time when we cannot share physical touch with one another. Another woman who I accompanied occasionally to that same church would let out a big scream just as the gospel reading was coming to an end (i.e. just before the homily). I would have to take her into the hall for a cup of tea and she was happy to return for the remainder of the service. It meant I also got an early cup of tea and didn’t have to sit through a long sermon, so everyone was a winner!

When things don’t go exactly according to plan it makes it all a bit more human somehow. And who could have planned how and where, according the Christian tradition, God chose to be revealed in the world: as a tiny baby born to unmarried parents in a smelly stable in a backwater town on the fringes of the Roman empire. The kingdom of God is indeed an upside-down kingdom.

And so if occasionally the verger leads the celebrants the wrong way, then in my view we’re all the richer and all the more human for it.

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6 January: Going viral LIX, Epiphany Carol Service.

You might like to attend St Mildred’s Carol Service for Epiphany, especially if you are unable to be present in person under the current Covid arrangements where you are. Follow the link.

Many thanks to Revd Jo and her team: Oh that we were there!
Epiphany carol service from St Mildred’s
.

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Going viral LVIII: Whether you are a visitor or a parishioner you are very welcome!

 

The Catholic Parish of St Mary & St Petroc, Bodmin

A school friend is parish priest of Bodmin, in Cornwall. The parish website says, whether you are a visitor or a parishioner you are very welcome! And it gives a clear description of how Catholic parishes cope with the Virus.

Volunteer Stewards are required for each Mass to ensure sanitising of hands, track and trace forms and other guidelines are kept. This is an important part of our being able to open the church for Mass. Please contact Fr Ciaran or the office 01208 72833 if you are able to help.

Due to the ongoing Covid 19 we have to take great care in the way we come together.

  1. There is no obligation to come to Mass
  2. If you are in any way unwell or with any underlying condition DO NOT COME.
  3. When you come you will have a designated seat at a safe distance from others
  4. We ask you to wear a face covering throughout the Mass.
  5. The mass will be shorter (no singing).
  6. Communion will be at the end of Mass.
  7. There will be stewards on duty to help with the new procedures.

It is important to follow the guidelines below:

  • Hands will be sanitised on entering the church
  • Guidance to your seat will be given
  • No kneeling – sitting or standing permitted only
  • Communion will be by hand only
  • No candles will be available for lighting

Track and Trace

We are obliged to fill out the forms which accompany this letter for each Mass we attend with the time and date of Mass also.  This is an added precaution we are taking in case we are contacted by the Track & Trace system. This would only happen if they are notified of a person who has attended one of our Masses and has gone on to show symptoms.

We have to the best of our ability and Government/Diocese guidelines made Church a safe space for our parishioners to attend.

Fr. Ciarán McGuinness

Saturday Vigil Mass 12noon (This will be recorded and broadcast for those unable to attend mass.)

https://www.facebook.com/bodmincatholicparish/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_ELipPKOulvnhPQxAgu7NQ/

SUNDAY   9.00am

                10.30am

TUESDAY   10.00AM       ST PETROC SHARED CHURCH, PADSTOW

THURSDAY 10.00AM       ST PAUL THE APOSTLE, TINTAGEL

FRIDAY       10.00AM         ST MICHAEL CHURCH, WADEBRIDGE

Weekday masses Monday, &Wednesday  at St Mary’s Church will be at 10.00am.

The church will close immediately after each Mass.

There will be no washroom facilities

Please note in line with new government    regulations it is now mandatory to wear facial coverings when attending places of worship

You are expected to wear a face covering immediately before entering and it must kept on until you leave.

Our parish priest is Fr Ciaran McGuinness. The presbytery in Bodmin and the parish office are situated in the Parish Centre. If you wish to speak with Fr Ciaran please leave a message and he will return your call.

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Going Viral LV: City centre Anglican plans.

Madonna and Child. St Mildred’s, Canterbury

Good morning to you all, and another beautiful morning – even some frost out there. We will be open again for Worship, from Sunday 6th December:

Corporate Worship in our church buildings: Tier three guidance – please read. We will let you know of any further updates, as we receive them.

We are in tier 3, and have to adhere to all covid-secure precautions that we had in place before this current lockdown and the following:

Please observe 2metre social distancing at all times, and we are not permitted to mix with anyone outside our household bubble either inside or outside our church buildings. However tempting it is to go and chat to someone we haven’t seen for ages, please refrain from doing so as it is a tier 3 condition that we are not to mix.

We will resume our recent pattern of services from 6th December 2020:

1st and 3rd Sundays, 9.30 at St Peter’s & 11.00 at St Mildred’s

2nd & 4th Sundays 10.00 at St Dunstan’s

Every Sunday: 8.00 at St Dunstan’s Said Eucharist

Every Wednesday 10.00 at St Mildred’s Said Eucharist

10.00 Matins on-line 1st & 3rd Sundays with John Morrison

Advent & Christmas services

Please note that all non-eucharistic services (Contemplating Advent, Nine Lessons & Carols, Epiphany Carol Service) during this difficult time are online only and will be broadcast from our church buildings.

If you are in touch with our off-liners, please can you let them know these details

Contemplating Advent: Sunday 13 December – 6.30pm online only, 

Benefice Nine Lessons & Carols: Sunday 20 December – 4.30pm online only

Christmas Eve: 

Christmas Vigil at 6.30pm St Peter’s  also recorded/live streamed

Benefice Midnight Mass – 11.30pm at St Mildred’s – booking required , with guest preacher – also recorded/live streamed

Christmas Day: 

8.00am at St Dunstan’s, Benefice Christmas  Said Eucharist – live streamed

10.00am at St Dunstan’s – Benefice Christmas Day Eucharist booking required – live streamed
Epiphany Carol Service: Sunday 3rd January 4.30pm – online only
Coffee and cake today  at 2.00 NOT at 3.00

It is difficult to keep on top of all these changes as they come about, but thank you for your patience and support, and we will keep you updated as we receive information.

Jo’s leave: a couple of weeks ago I had planned to go on retreat, needless to say that was cancelled, so instead am taking two days out walking, and will be spending much of that time in prayer.
God Bless you all at this time, and keep well.
From today’s reading in Morning Prayer: Revelation 21: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.
Rev Jo Richards

Rector of the Benefice of St Dunstan, St Mildred and St Peter, Canterbury

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