Month: March 2018

HOLY SATURDAY

Chant from the lamentation service of Great and Holy Saturday of the Orthodox Church.

“Every generation offers Thee its hymn of praise at Thy burial, O Christ.

Look upon me and have mercy on me, according to the judgment of those who love Your name.

The Arimathean took Thee down from the tree and laid Thee in a tomb.

Direct my steps according to Your teaching and let no lawlessness rule over me.

The myrrh-bearing women, with foresight brought sweet spices and drew near to Thee, O Christ.

Ransom me from the slander of men, and I will keep Your commandments.

Come, all creation, sing a hymn to honor the Creator’s Burial.

Make Your face shine upon Your servant and teach me Your ordinances.

Let us, with the myrrh-bearers, anoint as dead the Living One with the Myrrh of True Knowledge.

My eyes poured down streams of tears because they did not keep Your law.

O thrice blessed Joseph, bury now the body of Christ the Giver of Life.

Your testimonies are righteousness forever; give me understanding, and I shall live.

Joseph and Nicodemus bury the Creator with honors fitting for the dead.

I cry out to You; save me, and I shall keep Your testimonies.

The All-Pure Virgin wept with a mother’s grief, O Word, when she saw You lying dead.

I long for Your salvation, O Lord, and Your law is my meditation.

The hosts of angels tremble at the strange and fearful sight of Your burial, O Maker of All.

My soul shall live and praise You, and Your judgments shall keep me.

Early in the morning the myrrh-bearing women came to You and sprinkled myrrh on Your tomb.

I went astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I have not forgotten Your commandments.

By Your resurrection grant peace to Your Church and salvation to Your people.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. O God in Trinity, Father, Son, and Spirit, grant Your mercy to the world. Both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Grant us your servants to behold, O Virgin, the Resurrection of your Son.

GOOD FRIDAY

GOLGOTHA by John Heath-Stubbs

In the middle of the world, in the centre
Of the polluted heart of man, a midden;
A stake stemmed in the rubbish

From lipless jaws, Adam’s skull
Gasped up through the garbage:
‘I lie in the discarded dross of history,
Ground down again to the red dust,
The obliterated image. Create me.’

From lips cracked with thirst, the voice
That sounded once over the billows of chaos
When the royal banners advanced,
replied through the smother of dark:
‘All is accomplished, all is made new, and look-
All things, once more, are good.’

Then, with a loud cry, exhaled His spirit.

MAUNDY THURSDAY

Maundy Thursday . Jesus both gives us the Eucharist and, as he washes feet, demonstrates Eucharistic living. All who feed on the Living Bread are sent to wash the feet of the poor, the broken, the forgotten. The Eucharist is not just event but subversive lifestyle.  (The Bishop of Burnley)

JOBS AVAILABLE: DEACONS WELCOME!

Jobs for deacons in the C of E are so few and far between they are like hen’s  teeth. 

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However, there are two part-time vacancies in the Diocese of Exeter available now, which would welcome a deacon.  They are for Mission and Ministry Development Advisors:

http://exeter.anglican.org/vacancies/mission-ministry-development-advisor-2-x-part-time-posts/

The Revd Jon Marlow, Mission and Ministry Development Team Leader, writes:

If you do come across colleagues who might be interested in applying then please do encourage them to have a chat with me. We’re looking for a range of people across the four archdeaconries, so it would be great to have a deacon in the mix.

Best wishes,

Jon.

He also thanks me for my ‘really useful’ course ‘Preparing for Mission’, created with deacons in mind and on this blog:  https://deaconstories.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/4-session-course-for-parishes-preparing-for-mission2.pdf

It would be wonderful to see a deacon in this sort of post.  Might that be you?

(image from Malaphors)

THE DEACONHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS

Diaconal enquirer and blogger Terry Smith ponders how all believers are everyday deacons.

I don’t know about you.. but that almost sounds like part of a YA book title from a series of books aimed at teenagers, “Five go deaconing together”, “The Secret Seven and the deacon’s garden”. “Percy Jackson and the search for the missing deaconhood of all believers”

We hear a lot about the priesthood all believers.

TLDR explanation: That in regards to “access” to God, any Christian has as much “right” as anyone in the ministry from a pope to a curate on his or her first day.  This does not deny the authority of ministry, nor that a minister has a fundamental change of being at the point of their ordination and sealing into the ministry of the Church by the Holy Spirit – yes, I know there is a posh Greek theological word for this, and no, at this moment in time I cannot remember it – just that their change is a change within them and an empowerment for their ministry, not a “special access” or “VIP” status in regards to  “access” to God.

I have been thinking a lot recently about the deaconhood of all believers.

One of the myriad joys of deacon ministry is that deacons can encourage all believers in the church (including the priests!) to look at their own servant ministry, their “deaconhood” in what they do.  How they are ambassadors for Christ in their workplace and daily lives, how they are servants of Christ when they are putting other people’s needs before their own – tidying the church, cleaning for a person who they know is struggling, volunteering at a youth group, shopping for someone who through age or emotional / mental need cannot leave the house, nursing someone who needs care, feeding someone who is hungry, speaking up for someone who does not feel like they have a voice.

I am encouraged that whilst in my area the diaconate is a neglected ministry within the Church of England (give me time…..(and patience, lots of patience, Lord, (oh, and courage Lord.. strength, lots of your Spirit, in fact, any gift going, Lord!)))) People having a diaconal nature is not.  I see so many people sacrificing of themselves, almost to the point of their capacity, and I am so grateful for them for that, and the church should be too.

As we approach Passiontide, we are coming to the time for Cathedrals to have the Chrism Eucharist.

One of the parts of this service is the renewal of Ministry vows, where all types of ministry are affirmed, and vows recommitted to.  Obviously in areas where deacons are less encouraged, only a few people stand at the point when the deacon’s vows are recommitted to.

I am struck with the image that perhaps this should be an “I am Spartacus” moment, that like those who were willing to die to save Spartacus, all believers should stand, for, we ALL are deacons (especially priests as their priestly vows only complement their diaconal vows, they don’t replace them) – some just don’t realise it yet, or have not been told.

As such, no matter what the future may hold, I remain, everyday, an everyday deacon.

PALM SUNDAY

Poet Malcolm Guite and artist John August Swanson accompany us as Holy Week begins.

Entry into the City, 2011, a work in progress

Palm Sunday

Now to the gate of my Jerusalem,

The seething holy city of my heart,

The saviour comes. But will I welcome him?

Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start;

They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing,

And think the battle won. Too soon they’ll find

The challenge, the reversal he is bringing

Changes their tune. I know what lies behind

The surface flourish that so quickly fades;

Self-interest, and fearful guardedness,

The hardness of the heart, its barricades,

And at the core, the dreadful emptiness

Of a perverted temple. Jesus  come

Break my resistance and make me your home.

DEACON LYNNE’S NOVELLA

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Deacon Lynne Chitty (Exeter), animal rights activist, marathon runner, retreat house breadmaker, writer and member of the community at Mill House Retreats, has written a novella which I’m delighted to publicise here.

A story about the healing power of landscape. Set within the dramatic landscape of the Isle of Skye Deals with how the sport of running can be used as part of a healing process. In Out of the Mist a woman with a traumatic past eventually fulfils her lifelong dream of visiting the Isle of Skye, but a phone call just as she arrives on the island almost threatens to derail her whole visit. Used to avoiding company, Eliza unexpectedly finds herself invited to join a trip to the Half Marathon in Portree where she discovers joy and camaraderie, within this running fraternity, for the first time. Can friendship and the haunting landscape that speaks so deeply to her soul give her the courage to overcome her past and to begin again? On returning from her holiday a further tragedy drags her back into the horror of her past.The story of this past is told from the point of view of Eliza, her bedridden mother Edith and her half brother, Marcus, recently released from prison. Each is haunted by the violent events of an attack in their family home eight years earlier, which changed all their lives and destroyed their family. Out of the Mist asks questions about faith and guilt and regret, exploring loneliness and friendship, hope and despair. Does the past always have to define us or is the human spirit capable of overcoming all things?

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/260-7743109-2284118?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=out+of+the+mist+chitty

Lynne also blogs at http://www.lynnechittypoetryandprayers.com/

and tweets @hoppityhen

 

DEACONS AND READERS: letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor, Church Times 16 March 2018

Patterns of ministry in the C of E

From the Revd Gill Kimber

Sir, — Nigel Holmes (Letters, 9 March) writes of Readers’ being “encouraged to move seamlessly to ordained ministry unless they wished to stay lay”.

He is, I think, missing the point. Dr Sentamu’s bold initiative is less about ordained and lay ministries than about the distinctive aspects of the callings of the Reader and the vocational deacon. Readers in York are being encouraged to consider whether their current ministries are more akin to those of the diaconate. Do they find themselves primarily focused in the community outside the church, characteristic of the outward-reaching, missional, and developmental ministry of the deacon?

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Or are they primarily focused on the teaching and preaching ministry of the church, and the building up of people in the faith, characteristic of Reader ministry?

Over the years, many Readers have recognised that in fact they are deacons at heart. The main reason that they did not become deacons was that they were never told that this was an option for them. Now is the time to offer them this opportunity.

GILL KIMBER
Warden, College of St Philip the Deacon, Diocese of Exeter

deacons@tutanota.com

NOT CALLED TO PRIESTHOOD: Deacon Sarah Gillard-Faulkner

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Born and raised in Newport, South East Wales, I have been brought up in the tradition of the Church in Wales, with both my mother and father being key figures in several church communities. It was not until I was 18 and left home to study at university that I found my spiritual identity. Through friends, I associated myself much more to the catholic tradition, and with the appointment of an influential priest, in Newport when I returned from study did I really engage in the Anglo-Catholic tradition.
I embarked upon a successful career as a secondary school teacher until one day a conversation lead me down the path of considering more deeply my vocation. Here was to begin a journey that has been, and in many respects continues to be, an adventure. A woman in the catholic tradition offering herself for the ordained life. I had from the beginning of this road a clear sense that, what ever some vocations advisors had said, I was not called to the priesthood. And so for many years it has been a journey to discover what the distinctive diaconate meant in the church of the 21st century.
Ordained in 2009 by the then Bishop of Monmouth I served my title in the valley’s parishes of Abertillery, with Cwmtillery, Six Bells, Lllanhilleth and Aberbeeg and well as throughout it working with a team to develop a youth community within the diocese through the mediums of Music, Drama and liturgy. The end of my curacy saw a difficult time for the diocesan team who, at that point, were unsure what to do with me and so I was left wondering what the next stage of ministry would hold.

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It was at this point in 2012 that the then Managing chaplain of HMP Cardiff took me under his wing and more formally, having spent some time there during my theological training, employed me to work as a chaplain 2 hours a week in that establishment. Within a few months I was working part time at 3 establishments in the South Wales region. It is an intrinsic call of the church to be present in these communities. And a call to which few respond. This went hand in hand with becoming the new Bishop of Monmouth’s liturgical chaplain and continuing with the youth work as a non stipendiary minister in a parish in the city of Newport.
Young people have always been a part of my life, as I started teaching at the age of 17, and it was back to young people I’d be drawn into a more settled parish setting, when in 2014 I was appointed to be the Sub Prior of the Holywell Community in Abergavenny, a community which the ACS has supported since its conception at that point. So for 2 and a half years, whilst still ministering to the various prison communities I was involved in, I walked alongside 6 young people in living in the spirit of the rule of St Benedict.
In some strange way for me prison ministry has been ever so slightly addictive in its nature. Through it the Diaconate really takes its shape. Building the bridge between the church and the outcasts of society seems to fulfil what those early Deacons in first- century Jerusalem were doing. And so in July 2017 I began the next stage of the adventure and this time a huge change of life and place for me. In April last year I was appointed as the full time Church of England chaplain at HMP Onley. The church that we peeked at over the river Severn occasionally was now going to be my new family! And now 6 months on I’m fairly much part of the furniture in this new prison community and still discovering how the Church of England works as an entity!
And in that transition period Fr Darren asked me to join the ACS council as one of its members. A huge honour for me to be considered. The first ordained female to take a seat in this forum. And for me, as I hope for the society, a brave and well placed move. I bring with me a whole host of experience from a church, as connected as it is in being an Anglican province, which is very different in its culture. The Church in Wales is a smaller more family-styled province which has, in my own experience, by several of its Bishops over the time I was there, been welcoming to those of us of such a tradition amongst them. So I bring with me that experience of finding space within a church that has no formal strategy for a place for AngloCatholics but seeks in love to make that space for all to engage.
I bring with me the rather unusual context of being ordained as a Deacon and living in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. It at times feels like the church  struggles with those who exercise a similar ministry to myself. In truth some in the Anglo-Catholic tradition seem not to be so sure about my existence because, a woman in a collar is just wrong! And those in the more liberal tradition seem to see me as some kind of traitor to womankind! Those situations withstanding I bring the reality that we have a church that is predominantly attended faithfully by women. So I hope to be able to help the Society answer questions about how do we speak into the real set up of the congregations we have in front of us.
I hope that my experience of working with younger people can be something with the ACS can use to its advantage in encouraging younger people to consider their own vocation in the context of their own discipleship. I look forward to being given the opportunity to speak into the discussions on vocation and the catholic tradition and hopefully widen the horizon of the church in their concepts of the needs of the church today.
To bring a new perspective to the work of the ACS I hope and pray will further encourage the church in its needs to engage the church with the reality of the world in which we live, so that the gospel message may continue to be engaged in the world of today.

 

This article has been taken from the Additional Curates’ Society publication http://www.additionalcurates.co.uk/admin/uploads/GoodNews_Summer_2018.pdf

THE SUBJECTIVENESS OF SEEING: Deacon Jess reflects on a multi-faith visit to Israel-Palestine

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Walking along the canal today I passed a man who was intent on taking a photo. He stood for quite some time focussing and refocussing a professional looking camera, gazing at a spot over the water. After passing him I glanced back to try and understand what had caught his eye – but I could see nothing – just a bleak tree backed by a sixties tower.

This moment reminded me of the reflections we had yesterday, one month after our visit to Israel-Palestine as a group of Christian, Muslim and Jewish friends. The Israeli organisation which led the group is called ADAShA which means lens in Hebrew and Arabic.  They accompanied us with great expertise, giving us multi-faceted perspectives, helping us to understand nuance and complexity, stretching our understanding and challenging our preconceptions.

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As we met yesterday one of our local group leaders commented that to some extent we had seen what we wished to see. I wanted to disagree and say what we saw are the facts on the ground, they are indisputable. But the conversation continued reminding me that on our first day in Jerusalem I had said I was unnerved by the predominance of guns because they spoke to me of violence and oppression. Other people saw guns and felt grateful for safety and security. For others who had lived abroad they were simply normal. The diversity of the group and leading and guiding of Adasha worked to move us on from our preconceptions and give us new understandings and new insights.

When I was a teenager, one of the few convincing things I heard about repentance – that was much more palatable than the no drinking, no smoking, no dating interpretation – was the idea that repentance means having new eyes, new lenses – it is a whole new way seeing.

I have been to Israel-Palestine four times and looked with four different perspectives at the situation there but I still carry fixed ideas, prejudices and judgements.

If there is anything I am learning over the last few months it seems to be one simple thing. It is probably something some people don’t need to learn or others learnt ages ago – that simple thing is that it is not important to be right.

In Scriptural Reasoning this evening we looked at King Hezekiah and his healing. He is described as man ‘who has walked before you (God) in truth and with a perfect heart and have done that which is good in your sight.’  Not a bad epitaph. To me a truthful character seems quite different from being right.

Right is about facts, truth is about virtue; right is about competition, truth is about an honest humility; right makes demands and will not necessarily bring peace, truth seeks to look beyond one’s own experience and limited knowlege; right is often knee-jerk, truth is the long slow gaze that focuses and refocuses the lens.

I know there is far more truth to learn in Israel-Palestine than can be learnt in four short visits and some of that truth will conflict. I know repentance is ongoing and my lenses need constant changing, cleaning and refining. So thank you to all of you who have broadened my vision, helped to challenge my prejudices and thanks to the man with a camera who has reminded me that truth needs a slow, thoughtful gaze, accurate focussing and the ability to see beauty where others see nothing.