In our journey through Easter we have arrived at Easter 5. The Mass for this Sunday contains some of the most challenging and beautiful scripture in the Bible.
In the reading from the Book of the Acts we find the Apostle, Philip being sent to a wilderness road by an angel of the Lord. He encounters an Ethiopian eunuch. Doubly suspicious.
Not only is this person a foreigner, they are a eunuch. They bear in their body the marks of mutilation by earthly authorities and power. (For a deeper look at this theme please look at Fr Simon’s sermon from Easter 5). Philip points him to Jesus, which is a model for all of us.
In John’s 1st Epistle, John’s writings remind us that ‘God is love’ and that ‘perfect love casts out fear’. In John’s Gospel he records Jesus’ discourse on being the vine.
By contrast, in one of his best-known books ‘The Wounded Healer’, Henri Nouwen describes us as a rootless generation, hopeless people in a dislocated world.
So then in the gospel we hear how a plant that has been cut off from its roots turns into a lifeless stick. This may sound grim but there is just no way around it. A human being with no sense of belonging or awareness of where they have come from or where they are going to, simply cannot have abundant life.
Another of Nouwen's much-loved books is called ‘You Are the Beloved’. The title is the very answer to our loneliness, isolation and rootlessness. "The truth,” writes Nouwen, “even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God's eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity, and held safe in an everlasting belief.”
This profound truth applies to all of God’s children, drawing in those who are cast aside by the world as being of little worth – the poor, the suffering, the forgotten. All are precious, all are part of the living vine.
How do we practise staying aware of our roots and our divine inheritance? We keep reminding ourselves that, in the words of this gospel, Christ is the vine and we are the branches.
The month of May is a special time for us Christians to pay homage to our Blessed Mother Mary.
Note that I say we pay homage to her. Contrary to a distressing misconception found amongst some Christians, we honour Mary. We do not worship her.
She has a unique role in salvation history as the Mother of God, who by her own free will agreed to bring the “Word made flesh", (John 1:14) our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ into the world.
Many Christians may take issue with this notion of honouring Mary, referring to the famous quote from St. Paul in his letter to Timothy that "there is one mediator between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus" (1 Tim 2:5). Yet it is important to note that "one" here means "first" not "only".
Have you ever asked someone to pray for you? That's the kind of mediation we're talking about here. And Mary, as the beloved Mother of Jesus, makes a powerful intercessor for us indeed!
The Wednesday Masses during May will be dedicated to Mary as we ask for her prayers for us, our church and country, culminating in Feast of Visitation on Monday 31st, when I shall say a special Mass at 12 noon to celebrate this feast. It’s wonderful to be back in church once more, albeit dripping in sanitiser and hidden by facial coverings. We often say that numbers are not important, but I would like to record that on Sunday, the 2nd of May there were more people at Mass than in the four previous years of which I have records.
It’s so good to see so many old friends whom we have not seen, in some cases for over a year. If the road path to the lifting of restrictions continues it’s wonderful to think that in just over a month’s time all the restrictions will be lifted. That is, I suppose, if there is not another spike, let’s pray that people will be sensible and not rush too quickly into lifting restrictions.
Our plans for the celebration of the reopening will be on June 28, we shall celebrate our Parish Mass at 10:30 am, as usual, but with special music. Then in the afternoon the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will give a free concert in the church and the day will come culminate with a Festal Evensong, including Howell’s setting of the Te Deum. I hope you will put these events in your diary and make them widely known. Further details will be posted shortly.
We are busy working at present on how best to use the Corona Recovery Grant that we have received from HLF. You may be assured that we will use this money to the best purpose and already plans are to prepare and clean the church floor, to redecorate the kitchen and lavatories and purchase a new office computer. These measures are to aid our recovery from the pandemic, which has drastically affected our financial resources.
Hopefully there will be sufficient funds left to improve our facilities to Zoom service to keep in touch with those who have joined us over the past year and have become friends.
I must not conclude without thanking those who have so generously supported us financially at this time. You have been magnificent – THANK YOU!
Help please! If you are able to support us financially this would be much appreciated. You can give via this link to our ‘give a little’ donation site. If you have online banking you can transfer money via the Church bank account, the details of our bank account are NatWest plc., Baker Street Branch. Sort Code: 56-00-14. Account: St Cyprian’s Parochial Council. Account Number: 12138126.
Something to ponder
Although devoted to a faith that guides and comforts you each day, respect the lives and creeds of those whose paths lead them a different way.
Raise up your eyes and look around take heed of all that others do. Observe their miseries, their smiles, how similar they are to you.
Understand we’re all God’s children, flawed members of one human race. But do not doubt his loving heart has for us all a special place. Richard Lascelles
Your Priest & Friend
Some words of Saint Mother Teresa: ‘When you look at a crucifix you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the Eucharist you understand how much Jesus loves you now!’