Speak Lord: Light and Life

Living Eucharist

P1040162 St PetersJesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus: ‘Rabbi,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.

As they came down from the mountain he warned them…

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An Impossible God – a play to begin Holy Week (Sat 24th March at 7.30pm)

The current production of An Impossible God involves an element of son et lumiere, in that each scene and character is isolated by minimal atmospheric lighting, and each Poster - tickets St Nicholasspeech reaches its conclusion accompanied by a piece of music. The lights fade and the last reverberations of the music linger in the air before the next scene and character appears in another area. Scenes elide one into the other. It’s a kind of theatrical sleight of hand. Costumes are suggested by a range of different coloured clothes, a cloak and one or two props. The simplicity of the staging and the lighting of the performance means that it can be performed almost anywhere, but perhaps the stone columns of an English country church provide the best and most natural setting for a Passion-play.

A description of one of the early performances…

The Passion-play, for the actor, is a physically demanding performance. In our set-up, the loading and unloading of the vehicle and the rigging and de-rigging of the equipment, largely supervised and/or carried out by June, makes every production physically demanding for her. While it would be impossible for the actor actually to relive, night after night, the emotional extremes that are conjured up by the play, even the techniques employed to represent those emotions are extremely demanding, physically and mentally.

In Act One there are nine people — each different in voice, character and physique — who appear consecutively before two earlier characters reappear, and the final scene involves the introduction of a tenth character. In the second act, in addition, a further three characters make their entrances. The people from Galilee speak with northern English dialects. Doubting Thomas, for instance, who appears in Act Two and brings a certain amount of light relief to the resurrection stories, is a Liverpudlian Scouser. The people of Jerusalem are West Country, the licentious soldiery are Londoners and Glaswegians. Simon of Cyrene is a foreigner; Cyrene is a thousand miles from Jerusalem, so he is an Eastern European.

The final scene of the Passion-play involves a combination of performance, music and lighting effects which create the impression of someone who just fades away, passes ethereally out of our midst. The timing and coordination of music, lights, voice and action are obviously crucial.

In the village of Emsworth, on the Hampshire coast, where the sea virtually laps the edge of the streets, we reached this final high point and got it exactly right for the first time. Lights and music had faded respectively, the last cried-out words of Christ hung in the air, and in the darkness I left the stage. You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife. It was as if the entire audience was holding its breath. The silence was total and utter. We waited for the applause. It didn’t happen.

We gently put up the house lights. The audience still did not move. We didn’t know what to do. So I walked back on to the platform and took a bow. And then a sea of applause crashed against the stage. Wonderful! We had got it absolutely right. But the real trick would be to do it again, and again and again.

Saturday 24th March at URC Church on Britwell Road.
Tickets are only £3.00, and are available from St Nicholas after any Mass.

Taste and See: Ministry of care

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The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

Gospel for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Mark 1:12-15

The angels gathered to care for Jesus and Jesus came and comes to us to care for us.

Does it end there? Hopefully not – for the gathering of the faithful as Church, in Christ, fits us in our turn to continue the mission of love and care. We do this individually and collectively, in the public works of the Church and also in the many more and hidden acts which are entrusted to us as individuals and which no-one but God (and the angels!) may ever know of…

  • For whom have you cared today?
  • Who and how will you seek to serve tomorrow?

Detail of sculpture at West Door, St Trophime, Arles. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Hope and Promise

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God spoke to Noah and his sons, ‘See, I establish my Covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; also with every living creature to be found with you, birds, cattle and every wild beast with you: everything that came out of the ark, everything that lives on the earth. I establish my Covenant with you: no thing of flesh shall be swept away again by the waters of the flood. There shall be no flood to destroy the earth again.’

God said, ‘Here is the sign of the Covenant I make between myself and you and every living creature with you for all generations: I set my bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of the Covenant between me and the earth. When I gather the clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the Covenant between myself and you and every living creature of every kind. And so the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all things of flesh.’

First reading for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Genesis 9:8-15

The Scriptures open with an account of Creation and its goodness, with the privileging of humankind, made in the image and likeness of God and invited to an intimate sharing of life with the Creator.

They continue with stories of human fault and failing, and of human (sometime) striving to respond to God’s offer of reconciliation and restoration.

In Lent we face our own particular history of sin and sorrow, and look for fresh encouragement in the stories of God’s repeated gift of mercy, not least in the formal covenants offered in the Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, culminating in the covenant in Jesus Christ. He is our hope.

And if we will stir ourselves we can help others know that he is their hope also – and by helping them to come to know him, and his love, to understand something of how he is their hope.

Lent is not about turning us in on ourselves, but opening us to the more, the all, that God is and offers

Mosaic. Rosary Basilica, Lourdes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Journey to Christ

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Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Remember your mercy, Lord,
and the love you have shown from of old.
In your love remember me.
because of your goodness, O Lord.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
He teaches his way to the poor.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Responsorial Psalm for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Psalm 24:4-6,7-9

Yesterday at Cathedrals around the world men and women who know themselves called to Christ came forward before their bishop seeking ‘election’, approval for their proceeding to their Baptism, their incorporation into the full communion of the Church and into full communion with Christ.

As they prepare for the Sacrament the faithful, the already baptised, prepare to renew our Baptism Promises at the Easter Vigil, to turn more firmly from sin, and turn to Christ; to affirm our belief in Father, Son and Spirit, and in the Church and in forgiveness for sin. We look for freedom in Christ, to live fully as ourselves, fully in love of God, and love of neighbour.

Ceramic plate in series of articles of the Creed. Musée Dobrée, Nantes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Please pray…

IMG_3700webCongratulations to, and please pray for, William and Eleanor, for Chris and for Jackie as they prepare variously for Baptism, Reception into full communion with the Catholic Church, Confirmation and Eucharist at Easter…

Today they were ‘elected’ by Archbishop Bernard on the recommendation of their sponsors, and allowed to proceed to the celebration of the Sacraments, journeying through Lent to the celebration of Easter…

Speak Lord: Promise us communion with you for ever

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God spoke to Noah and his sons, ‘See, I establish my Covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; also with every living creature to be found with you, birds, cattle and every wild beast with you: everything that came out of the ark, everything that lives on the earth. I establish my Covenant with you: no thing of flesh shall be swept away again by the waters of the flood. There shall be no flood to destroy the earth again.’

God said, ‘Here is the sign of the Covenant I make between myself and you and every living creature with you for all generations: I set my bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of the Covenant between me and the earth. When I gather the clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the Covenant between myself and you and every living creature of every kind. And so the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all things of flesh.’

First reading for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Genesis 9:8-15

In Lent we can struggle, even with God’s grace, struggle, to live faithfully and well.

If/when we stumble and fall it is a great reassurance to remember the mercy of the Lord, that he does not renege on his covenant with us, but rather constantly offers the opportunity for us to own our sorrow, repent and find reassurance in his compassion and mercy.

ConfessionOften people have not received good catechesis and formation with regard to the Sacrament of Confession. A new book in the YOUCAT series, (fruit of World Youth Days and related initiatives) has just been published which many may find helpful. Titled Confession, it is available in the UK from the Catholic Truth ServiceAmazon, good bookshops and, ahem, the best parishes.

Confession is written for teenagers , but it is difficult to think who would not find it helpful.

Floor tile. Gloucester Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

 

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Born for this…

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AM version

Any parishioners who would like to be part of the group performing Born for This are very welcome to attend rehearsals led by Jo Boyce at 7.30-8.30pm on Mondays 5, 12 and 19th March. All welcome!

And if you simply wish to come and enjoy and be helped by the performance to enter into our keeping of Holy Week as a parish, please make a note in your diary now of the time and date of the performance.

Speak Lord: Lead us forward…

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Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Remember your mercy, Lord,
and the love you have shown from of old.
In your love remember me.
because of your goodness, O Lord.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
He teaches his way to the poor.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Responsorial Psalm for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Psalm 24:4-6,7-9

Our journey through Lent has begun.

Will it lead us to Easter? To a deeper participation in Christ in his service of others? Or will it just have been a ‘thing’?

Without the help of God, it will surely not be capable of leading us to the Kingdom, or Christ, and so we sing our prayer asking for help…

John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress. Southwark Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris