eMagazine for April – Chat on the web

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THE ANGLICAN CHURCH OF ST ANDREW, KYRENIA

in the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf 

CHAT ON THE WEB

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April 2020

 

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In these unusual times, which are bringing anxiety and so many restrictions to us, there is probably no need to have our usual Church Magazine. However, I feel that it is important to keep our congregation together as much as we can by sharing things. Yes, we are already sharing many church services online and I thank God for the modern-day miracle of the internet that allows us to do this. In fact, I cannot imagine what ‘social-isolating’ might have been like in the 70’s without such technology. But I thought it might be good to share the more mundane happenings of everyday life with each other as well.

Instead of the usual format with service times and duty rotas I thought I would try and put together something we could all get involved in. With Mike’s help I thought we may be able to introduce a Comments page where you can write about the articles or tell each other how you are filling your days – it will make a change from Facebook! So here is my first try at a St Andrew’s Newsletter. If you don’t like reading online, just print off a few pages each time you want to read some of it. Now it’s time to put the kettle on and find that packet of biscuits, let’s try and exchange our news and ideas – (maybe we should call it St A’s Chat on the Web), what might you suggest?

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In last month’s Magazine I printed the first session of Dr Rima Nasrallah’s talks to those of us attending the Diocesan Synod. Here is her second talk:

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Revd Dr Rima Nasrallah

Guest Speaker at the 2020 Synod of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf

Session 2: Ordinary Time

Expecting the Unexpected: Incarnation

The most cherished antependium/ banner in the NEST chapel is White. Naturally, we use it very little, not only because the white seasons are limited to a couple of weeks a year around Christmas and Easter but also because as an Academic institution we are off on these holidays and so the students don’t get to enjoy the white. And if you are in Christian ministry, it is the white that brought you to it. The highs of the Christian year!

These experiences in life, such as the birth of Jesus: the presence of God in the flesh among us! Or his resurrection and conquest of death are the dramatic moments not only of the Christian year but of our Christian experience. Each one of us here has experienced at some point in his or her life a high! A sudden or not so sudden realization that God is in our midst or that no matter what evil and suffering may surround us the Lord is victor and there is and there shall be life!

Unfortunately, just like the colour white in our Chapel, these moments are very rare. Most of the year, we are forced to look at the colour green. A banner that has become worn out and shabby, with wax drippings all over it and tiny black holes from hurried lighting of candles puncturing it, parts of the design has even fallen off…. worst of all: no one seems to notice this!

The ordinary. It is boring.

During ordinary time, we seem to be going through the Sundays like watching electric poles out of a train window, till we finish them and find a more exciting season even if it is Lent, …anything but the ordinary.

Discipleship, following Jesus, seems to be the same. We can make sense of the highs and of the lows but not of the things in between. Everyday life!

Waking up in the morning, showering, making one’s bed, eating breakfast, walking on the street, shopping, typing or answering mail, cleaning … they all seem to be a waste of time from a Christian perspective. Motions we have to go through in-between the important stuff like: Bible Study group, Prison visit, food distribution, praise night!

I bet the disciples of Jesus felt the same. ‘When do we get to see the healing of a blind man again?’ ‘When do we get to do something extraordinary like you?’ The moment he turned his back they even attempted to unsuccessfully heal a demon possessed boy! And we read about them mumbling and grumbling. Instead of keeping the excitement up, Jesus spent much of his time doing quite ordinary things that frustrated his disciples: he stopped to chat with children, he wasted precious minutes looking in the crowd for a person who touched his cloak, he took his sweet time eating lunches and dinners here and there in the homes of just anybody and with nobodies instead of fighting the system and forming a revolutionary cabinet.

One of the most distinctive features of Christianity, is the doctrine of the Incarnation. Our God is a God who believed that our little insignificant existence matters, in fact it matters so much that he became part of it. He took on our flesh, walked our earth, ate our food, breathed our air, and blessed our silly ordinary lives by showing us that it is not insignificant at all!

Christianity has tended (sometimes) to over spiritualize faith that it gave us the impression that we don’t belong here: Not in this place, not in this time and not in this body. And that our only aspiration is to find ways to get to heaven! And that Church might be the springboard from which we could get there, and any discipleship course, is a manual to navigate towards that destination.

Our foundational doctrine of the Incarnation tells a different story. It confirms to us that our bodies matter, the space we inhabit matters and our time matters. Not because we want to make the best out of them – to achieve more and reach higher and better positions, but by themselves. The last thing Jesus did with his disciples is eat with them, and the last thing he taught them was to wash feet. He assured them that the spaces they inhabit, where two or three of them will gather, He will also inhabit with them.

Our bodies matter: They are who we are in their uniqueness, in their specificity, in their colour, shape, smell, touch, in their abilities and in their limitations, the parts we are proud to show off and those we try to hide. We experience the presence of God, we think, we ponder, we act, we feel, we interact with our bodies. Our bodies are not accidental to who we are, we cannot exchange them for something else. They are fragile and easily breakable, yes, but they are who are and that by itself is a gift from God. This realization should prompt us to the ‘daily practice of incarnation’: Of being present in our bodies, reconciling with them, and of seeing everything that we do and feel with them as potentially sacramental, mediating the presence of God in the world.

Stanley Houerwas reminds us that Christianity ‘is not a set of doctrines one believes in order to be a Christian, but rather Christianity is to have one’s body shaped, one’s habits determined in such a way that the worship of God is unavoidable’ (Barbara, 45). Worship of God not only in the context of Church or institutionalized rituals, but in everyday life in the places where we are, inspired and informed by institutionalized rituals.

In a digital and connected age, it has become more difficult for us to be ‘present’ in the spaces inhabited by our bodies. I know from our foreign students that sometimes they seem to be living somewhere else, either ‘back home’ (via WhatsApp and facetime) or in a ‘virtual home’ (Facebook, Netflix or Gaming) that seems to be more interesting than where they are. The great majority of the members of this Diocese are not locals. From Cyprus to Oman most members have chosen to temporarily be present in these lands or were forced to indeterminately do so. And yet, the word of Bishop Michael on the website of The Diocese states that the Diocese has a strong ministry of presence. How wonderful is that: A ministry of Presence!

Whether one chose to be present or found themselves here, the season of Ordinary Time and the Doctrine of Incarnation remind that Presence is important …. your presence is important even if one is not doing anything extra-ordinary, presence is important in the ordinary everyday life of the space we inhabit be it for few years, few months, or even days. Your presence as the body of Christ in the world.

I have been part of – and at another point in my life was in the leadership of – an international Church and I know the frustrations that such churches experience. All the tools one knows about Church leadership fail; leadership teams change all the time, community is unstable, some years are blessed with amazing musicians and others not, you teach children that you might never confirm, you marry couples whose kids you will not baptize. We experience the same in Lebanon and Syria where Church members are emigrating all the time. This transient aspect of congregational life can frustrate the leadership of the Church who feel ‘we cannot DO anything’ or at least not in a sustainable way.

Ordinary Time reminds us that being is as important as doing. Being present in the everyday life in the places that host us. Being present in the neighbourhood, being present in the workplace, being present in the marketplace. Being present in the lives of those who are passing by, for that moment to share a laugh, to listen to a secret, to wipe a tear, to discuss life, family and children are very valuable.

The Churches in the part of the world where I come from have been discussing ‘Christian presence’ for as long as I remember. In the Levant area, Iran and Iraq, our numbers have been on the decrease for decades. We have to keep finding ways to exist and reasons to continue in mostly hostile and violent contexts. And yet we still believe that our presence is important not primarily for the great achievements we are doing but to have the opportunity of being part of the life of those who wouldn’t know the love of Christ otherwise in the everyday details of their life.

How can this realization inspire us not only in our daily tasks and interaction, but also in the way we approach the often-not-so-exciting jobs we might have! And how can ordinary time inspire all those in our congregations who feel as if their lives, their jobs, and their existence are insignificant.!?

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Please remember to inform one of the Wardens if you know of someone who is unwell or in hospital. We often hear people say, ‘I thought you knew’. It is better that they hear several times rather than not at all.

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World Day of Prayer

for LOVE – PEACE – RECONCILIATION

Thank you to all who attended this service and a special thank you to those of you who contributed in any way at all, with a particular mention for all that Steve Bishop, Gloria Tattersall, John & Jenny Worton-Griffiths and Pat Etherington did. We were able to send over £52 to the UK Headquarters of World Day of Prayer to go towards their future products.

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Cartoon by Adrian Raeside

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Meditation on the closing of churches

Churches may be glad of the stillness.
These great stone ships seldom have the chance to

hunker down into replenishing silence.

Christianity is too talkative. Noisy religion.
The Society for Standing Up and Sitting Down Again.
The Society for Annunciation of a Momentary Silence

You see your empty church and see shipwreck
And think that because you are not there in linen robes
with rehearsals of creeds, that prayer is not there.

But your churches and temples are not empty.
Silence is there. Praying in her many houses.
Clergy nor creed nor any religion own Her.
Stillness beyond all religion,
Yet deeply at its core,
Even while you fill temples with the clatter of words.

Let Silence be the guardian and keeper of these stone vessels.
She who keeps the stillness on the ocean’s floor
Who tends the cave where no noise echoes because no noise enters
Hers is the aching heart that hides ancient atomic groan
And her home, the rest between the beats in every heartbeat
Look out to the stars beyond the stars and listen
Listen to Her listening to the listening of your own

Go within and find Her in the hush.
In the breath of alleluia in the night
In the inhalation of hope before waking
Hers is the softness between the breath.
And the hidden quiet light that lingers at a death

Do not fret about your empty church.
Silence holds the space holy
And always did.
She holds all things and mourns all things
She is in all things
She holds every story but her own.
She knows each name, with no need to know her own
Let Silence guard the stillness and the stones.
While you care for the bereaved and those full of fear
That is your creaturely task.

The task of all who call each to be priest to each and every other.

And when the great keys are turned, the wooden doors re-open,
Tread gently. Do not rush to fill the stillness

The great stone ships held their prayer for you.

They bade the Absolute to enter in.
They prayed with you.

Honour them with silence of your own

Gilo, (Co-Editor of Letters to a Broken Church)

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GIVING TO GOD

As we can no longer physically attend St Andrew’s we obviously have no weekly collections coming in and yet as a self-supporting church the upkeep must still go on, therefore it is important that we think how best we can address this. If you are someone who usually prayerfully puts their offering in the collection bag perhaps it is time to think of using the method shown below.

We are a UK registered charity and we would ask those of you who believe and support our ministry to change the way you give and channel it through our charity. Regular giving, no matter how modest, does facilitate our forward planning and budgeting. The St Andrew’s Church Kyrenia UK Charity makes it easy to donate by Direct Transfer to the bank account.

Bank details:

Bank: Unity Trust Bank, Nine Brindley Place, Birmingham, B1 2HB

Account No: 20372187

Sort Code: 60-83-01

Account Name: The St Andrew’s Church Kyrenia UK Charity

BIC: CPBKGB22

IBAN: GB15UYTB60830120372187

Many Kibris residents are part of our Gift Aid Envelope scheme. You too could think about joining the above scheme. If not, then perhaps you could save your envelope each week and then given to our Gift Aid officer when we are able to meet again.

None of the above will help us to make up for the loss we will incur from having no casual visitors and holidaymakers. Please remember the needs of St Andrew’s in your prayers.

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DIOCESAN PRAYER REQUESTS

During this month please add the following Diocesan needs to your prayers

                                                                                                    
     

Pray for all parishes and chaplaincies throughout our Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf.

Pray for the clergy both stipendary and self-supporting, may they seek opportunities to minister to your people. Pray for Ordinands, Readers and all laity, may their faith and courage be strengthened during these difficult times.

Pray for all who work for and with the Mission to Seafarers, we pray for their safety.

 

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I heard an eminent person speaking on the radio today make the following statement: “We are living through one of History’s huge moments.” It certainly stopped me in my tracks and made me think for a moment. Then I Googled “History’s huge moments” and found some interesting lists. Which events do you agree was ‘huge’? Or maybe you can create your own list.

The American Revolution (1775-1783)

The Invention of the World Wide Web – 1989

The Reformation (1517-1648)

The discovery of a method to mass produce penicillin – 1929

The life of Jesus of Nazareth

Home Computers – 1975

Tearing down the Berlin Wall – 1989

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – 1948

World War II (1939-1945)

The terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, and the emergence of International terrorism

World War I (1914-1918)

The rise in global awareness of environmental protection and conservation

Gutenberg Printing Press invented around 1440

The influence of Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013)

The life of Muhammad (570-630)

The break-up of the Soviet Union – 1991

Pax Romana (27 BC – 180 AD)

The invention of the Atomic Bomb – 1945

The Renaissance (1300 – 1600)

The move towards greater equality for women in many parts of the world (20th/21st century)

Medical Revolution (19th-20th century)

William The Conqueror Defeats Harold at the Battle of Hastings – 1066.

Industrial and Technological Revolution (1760-1914)

The Sealing of Magna Carta – 1215

American Revolution (1765-1783)

The Plague (Black Death) Arrives in England – 1346

Gutenberg Printing Press (1440)

Wars of The Roses begins – 1455

Renaissance (14th-17th century)

William Shakespeare is born – 1564

Colonialism (16th-20th century)

Guy Fawkes and The Gunpowder Plot Are Discovered – 1605

World War II (1939-45)

The Battle of Waterloo – 1815</p

October Revolution (1917)

Queen Victoria becomes queen – 1837

Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand II (1914)

VE Day marks the end of WWII – 1945

French Revolution (1789-94)

Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web – 1989.

(The above list was from English Heritage)

I trust the discussions didn’t get too heated, at least living on my own avoids that!

 

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Hello Everyone,

Well isn’t life different? I thought as our church has been closed, I’d tell you a bit about how life has changed, and what I’ve been doing instead. I think that my life here is similar in lots of ways to the UK as we are on lockdown too.

The police are patrolling here to make sure everyone is observing the guidelines. We are more restricted than in the UK as we cannot go out walking so my exercise consists of walking down the drive and back and then round the bungalow and pool several times a day until I get fed up (or the legs ache). Supermarkets, chemists, banks etc. are open although some are on restricted hours, but there’s no shortage of toilet rolls.

Trembling exotic flowers: anemones, freesias, Ranunculus - BUKETLAND

The weather today is cold and very windy, as I’m quite near the sea I get the full effect of this. We have had some really lovely days and my pots are looking quite good, particularly the freesias. I’ve got some double ones in flower which I’ve never seen before and there are also some colours I haven’t seen before either, like a lovely deep purple with a yellow and white throat which as the flowers age take on a reddish edge to the petals. That good old favourite the anemone is also making a gorgeous show of colour although I do have to go around that pot every morning to remove the snails that have decided to have them as an extra for breakfast. With just having pots instead of a couple of flower beds I’m also growing (or trying to grow) trailing geraniums, the flower seems more wind proof than the leaves as quite a lot of them have developed brown crispy leaves.

Just over the garden wall in the field there’s a pomegranate bush/tree just sporting all its new growth which I must admit I’ve never noticed before, such a shame I missed it as it’s such a gorgeous coppery colour (perhaps I was too busy just dashing past). Hopefully in a few weeks it will have lots of lovely reddish flowers and then the big fat pomegranates. I like the seeds scattered on a salad!!

Anne and I had booked to go on a trip to Oberammergau this June, but the village have decided to postpone the decennial production until 2022. I was looking forward to it, I just hope I’ll still be fit enough in ’22!! Thankfully I hadn’t booked my flight to the UK where we were to meet the group.

I’ve been listening the to the various daily services on the BBC and find them good but I must admit I don’t get the feeling from it as I do from going to church but I suppose we will just have to get used to it for now. Steve and Sally Bishop are continuing their Thursday Morning Praise as an e-service and the contact for it is  —stevebrcs@yahoo.co.uk

 I think that’s about all for now.

Keep safe

Love from Cyprus

Pat E.

CENTRAL BAPTIST CHURCH

Thursday Morning e-Praise Service

Ps 112: “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands …. surely he will never be shaken …. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord”

As it seems likely that we will be unable to hold services at St Andrew’s for quite some time, Thursday Morning Praise is going to continue as an E-service. That means regular attendees at that service will be emailed a full service text including Scripture readings, a (short) talk and prayer suggestions.

The intention is that at 10am each Thursday we can still join in corporate worship: participants are encouraged to read aloud the usual responses, read the Scriptures and talk, add their own prayers and hence continue to be part of our worshipping community.

The service will be emailed out a day or so in advance. If you don’t normally go to the mid-week service but would still like to be included in this weekly email, please contact us at stevebrcs@yahoo.co.uk

Yours in Christ

Steve & Sally

When the times darken

When the times darken
will there be singing even then?
There will be singing even then.
Of how the times darken.

Bertolt Brecht

Living under the shadow


How are we supposed to react under the rapidly spreading shadow of a deadly virus epidemic?


It’s a timely question when most, if not all of us, are finding our plans in disarray, when we listen to the grim statistics with mounting unease and when there’s that ominous sense that the Angel of Death is on overtime. Industry talks about ‘stress testing’ a product: putting it under severe strain to see whether it works as it should. Suddenly, almost without warning, we are all facing a stress test. The unspoken question our friends, colleagues and family are asking is whether our faith makes us different. Do we walk our talk?


In an attempt to answer, let me offer you three things that I think should characterise our lives at the moment


First, I suggest that we should be those who display 
sanity. As I alluded in a previous blog, in such situations fear causes many problems and one of them is a loss of the ability to make wise decisions. So, let’s avoid wacky websites, rumours from unreliable sources and any information that begins with ‘They don’t want you to know this, but . . .’ Instead, we need to listen to sensible advice from people who know what they are talking about – preferably, qualified medical experts.

It’s also a time for theological sanity; after all, the Bible is full of references of the need to seek wisdom. Let’s resist those who, in the name of God, offer us guaranteed protection or online virus exorcisms, or those who will confidently explain where exactly these events are to be placed on God’s End Time Calendar of history. We need to remember that what we face at the moment is no worse – and probably a lot better – than what most previous generations took for granted in those epidemics of flu, cholera, plague and the like that arise in history. It’s important to remember that ultimately, where it matters, Covid-19 has changed nothing. We have received our orders from Christ: we are to be his faithful followers, we are to love God and our neighbour and, in all we do, to show faith, hope and love. Let’s show sanity! We should be those who continue to do our duty. Whatever you are called to do, whether it be at home, work or church, continue to do it. Much has been made in recent years of the wartime slogan ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ and much is being made at the moment of how, with fear-driven thefts of hand disinfectant and the panicked hoarding of toilet rolls, that spirit has gone. What few observers have had the courage or insight to say is that attitude of keeping calm in a crisis grew out of a culture that had been shaped for nearly five hundred years by the truth of the Bible. There we read very little about staying calm but a lot about standing firm. Saint Paul in particular constantly commands it (1 Corinthians 16:13, Ephesians 6:13,

Shining Brightly for Christ — Pinnacle Presbyterian Church

Philippians 4:1 and 2 Thessalonians 2:15 for example). It’s a good command. We who have put our faith in Christ the rock has an important role to play in these dark and troubled days. We should be those who stand firm as fixed and unshakeable points amid a chaotic sea of fearfulness. Let’s show stability.

Finally – and to be honest this is the 
big challenge – I would hope that we seek to display serenity. Serenity is the state of being calm and peaceful, especially in the face of problems and crises. It is the peace that is one of the great blessings frequently promised in the New Testament. Given by God the Father through the Spirit, it is offered freely to all who trust in Christ. In Philippians 4:7 Paul makes a wonderful promise: ‘And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ May we all claim that promise of serenity, live it and share it.

What are 
we supposed to do? The answer is that we need to continue to live as children of God, putting our trust and hope in Christ and, in the power of the Spirit, seeking to show sanity, stability and serenity in all that we live, say and do. And in doing so may we, in the very deepest shadows, shine brightly for Christ.

J.John
Reverend Canon

www.canonjjohn.com

 

 

SOME PALM SUNDAY READING

JOY AND TEARS 

Luke 19: 28-40

There is profound tension in Palm Sunday.

We have a brief but haunting burst of sunshine as Jesus is surrounded by the crowds, waving palm branches and songs of praise to God. Yet the storm clouds are quickly gathering. There’s a brooding sense of impending tragedy as Jesus stops his descent from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem and weeps like a broken-hearted lover.

 The different churches are not of one mind as to how best observe this final Sunday before Easter. Some go for an uninhibited Palm Sunday celebration: Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Some keep close to the Passion Sunday theme of Christ suffering. Other churches focus on the hosannas in the morning and the tears at evening. At least in this way a little of the true tension of the event is retained.

ONE POET’S ATTEMPT

Many poets have tried to capture the profound tension. One attempt which speaks to me is in Clive Sansom’s poem, ‘The Donkey’s Owner’, in which he compares the pompous entry of Pilate to Jerusalem one day followed by the arrival of Jesus the next morning 

                                       THE DONKEY’S OWNER

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            Snaffled my donkey, he did — good luck to him!

            Rode him astride, feet dangling, near scraping the ground

            Gave me the laugh of my life when I first saw him,

            Remembering yesterday — you know, how Pilate come

            Bouncing the same road, on that horse of his

            Big as a house and the armour shining

            And half of Rome trotting behind him. Tight mouthed he was

            Looking as if he owned the world.    

            Then today,

            Him and my little donkey! Ha! Laugh —?

            I thought I’d kill myself when he first started.

            So did the rest of them. Gave him a cheer

            Like he was Caesar himself, only heartier:

            Tore off some palm twigs and followed shouting,

            Whacking the donkey’s behind ……..Then suddenly

            We see his face.

            The smile had gone, and somehow the way he sat

            Was different — like he was much older — you know —

            Didn’t want to laugh no more.

 

Powerful stuff. At first the donkey’s owner thinks it’s a just a laugh, but when he sees the face of Jesus, something profound spears at his heart: “Didn’t want to laugh no more.”

 

LIVE WITH THE TENSION

Indeed, there is something both gloriously joyful and awesomely bitter about this day. Are we looking into the mystery of the heart of God? How does God hold infinite sorrow and infinite joy together?

The lectionary readings for today helps us live with the tension.

We started with the passage from Isaiah (50:4-9a) which is the third of the so-called ‘servant songs’ the poems about the true servant of God whose willing suffering will become deeply redemptive. Here is a brief glimpse of a noble person whose back is bared for a flogging, and whose beard in ripped out by the handful, and

            I did not hide my face

            from shame and spitting.

Then comes the Psalm (31:9-16), where there is a similar mood of impending suffering, although without Isaiah’s remarkable concept of redemption.

            For I have heard the whispering of the mob.

            Fears are all around me.

            They put their heads together against me,

            they conspire to take my life.

This grim scene is followed by the Epistle (Philippians 2: 5-11). These sentences are most likely a section from an early Christian hymn, sung in honour of their Christ. It sings of a Jesus who does not make a grab for power, but bends low like Isaiah’s suffering servant, accepting mutilation and a cruel death.

You may think this is all very gloomy stuff.  But that is not how it reads in the Scriptures. There is no despair here. Hope rules. We are taken close to the pulsing, passionate Centre of existence, to the heart of God, where we find redemption at work through willing self-sacrifice  It is a thing of unsurpassed beauty that such a sublime Love should give itself for healing a diseased world.

This is the path to the only genuine new age, to the only sustainable new heaven and new earth. This is true love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and gave his son to be the remedy for our degrading sins.

Of course, the teeming world around us does not admit this. It wants to save itself by clutching at life, hoarding it, grabbing all that one can, treading on other heads to get more than our share. Looking after number one, feverishly possessing, mastering, exploiting. Yet with every fierce grab they lose more than they gain.

There are frenetic people everywhere chasing the big lie. Sadly, in what they think will be gaining richer life, is found much less; spiritual poverty, futility; despair; darkness.

LOVE AND TEARS 

Yet here in the Gospel we have the Man from Nazareth (secretly, many of our secular contemporaries see him as an impractical fool) riding on a donkey with his long legs almost touching the ground. “Lose your life and you will find it,” he is acting out, ready to go to the bitter end.  

Palm Sunday begins the last Act in the drama of purest Love, love in the jaws of humiliation. Like most of the profound moments of life, it is joy mixed with tears.

Luke is alone among the Gospels in highlighting the tears. In a few lines that other writers do not include, Luke tells how, when Jesus rounded the Mount Olives and saw Jerusalem ahead of him with the golden temple brilliant in the morning light, he broke down and wept for the doomed city.

Recall the other occasion where is said that Jesus wept? At the grave of his friend Lazarus? In that case the Greek word for “wept” used by John is dakruo, meaning “shed a tear”.

Later in Luke’s story of the crucifixion, as Jesus stumbled his way to the up the hill to Golgotha, broken-hearted women wept and wailed as he went by. It is the weeping of women who are utterly distraught with grief. Here the Greek word is kalaio.

This same word (kalaio) is also used when Jesus weeps on Palm Sunday.  It’s not just the gentle shedding of a tear or two as in dakruo. It is the shaking shoulders and heaving chest of a very strong, brave man caught in a flood of grief for the city he loved. It is kalaio.

Here is the irony of Palm Sunday: Christ’s racking grief takes place in a celebration that, on the surface, looks like the most triumphant day of his life. We are delighted that for once in Jesus’ experience, this adorable man is given the treatment he deserved. We want to join the cheering and the waving of palms. And we do.

But always there is the tension. Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday. Happiness allied with profound grief; our joy in the Saviour, his sorrow over that which is lost and doomed.

A BROKEN-HEARTED LOVER

I said earlier that Jesus broke down and wept like a broken-hearted lover. That is in fact the literal truth. Yet never was a lover equal to this. Never was the beloved pursued with such a costly love.

Today we are close to the final frontier; to that Divine Mystery who brought us into being and follows us through all the hours of life. Close to that Lover who cannot bear that even the least person should perish. The Christ who wept over Jerusalem weeps over us, and his is the weeping of God.

Tension.

            Laughter and weeping.

                        Trumpet and then plaintive oboe.

                                    God’s redemptive suffering.

                                    Hosanna! Followed by a solemn prelude to “Father forgive them

        for they know not what they do.”

 As the owner of the donkey in Clive Samson’s poem concludes:

         ……Then suddenly

            We see his face.

            The smile had gone, and somehow the way he sat

            Was different — like he was much older — you know —

            Didn’t want to laugh no more.          

Bruce D Prewer

Moving to a new house in a pandemic!

or

Don’t do it!

HouseHouseHouseHouseHouseHouseHouseHouseHouseHouseHouseHouse

Hello to all our dearly loved friends in Kuzey Kıbrıs and beyond. We’re so dreadfully sorry we aren’t able to be with you as we planned (in fact as I write this we should have been winging our way back home), but circumstances dictate that we have to be separated by at least the length of a sweeping brush. In our case it’s almost 5,000km so we should be safe – social distancing par excellence!

It’s hard to believe that it’s only about two and a half months (January 14th) since I flew back to Ireland to re-join Janet, who has been here for some five months now as she sold our apartment in Dublin and found us a new home back in our old parish of Drogheda, some 50 km north of Dublin. Find one she did, and I have to say that she has made an excellent choice. And so, having had an offer made and accepted on our apartment, we too made an offer and had it accepted for the new property. All this happened at the end of November 2019.

But we had forgotten that, as we learned when we moved to the West of Ireland over 30 years ago, “Sure when God made time, He made plenty of it!”. The old saying is so very true: “What’s the Irish for the Spanish word ‘mañana’?” “Ah well now, we wouldn’t have a word that conveys such a sense of urgency!” Which is why, when we moved to our new home in North Cyprus in 2016, we had such a sense of déjà vu!

Apply: Fully Funded PhD Scholarship at Trinity College Dublin ...And so things progressed oh so slowly on for the best part of four months as the solicitors did whatever it is solicitors do, the purchasers of our apartment got more and more frustrated, and we rediscovered the delights of Dublin where I had spent three years as a “mature student” in Trinity College studying Theology prior to my ordination. “Mature student” is such an evocative term: all it really means is that at the age of a little over 40 if one becomes a university student for the first time and discovers the joys of sex and drugs and rock and roll, the response from the “real” students is “What’s rock and roll?”

But I digress. Eventually the message came from our solicitor that our apartment was effectively sold, and contracts were exchanged. We’d anticipated this somewhat in that we’d given over the keys to the apartment to the buyers, who are friends of ours, on 13th March since they, still being in full-time employment, were much more limited by time than we free-wheelin’ pensioners are.

Since our new house wasn’t ours yet (even though it had been empty for quite some time) Janet and I had to find temporary accommodation. This we did, courtesy of friends of ours who couldn’t bear the stigma of their former Rector being homeless! Our few goods and chattels had to be stored and the new Incumbent in my old parish very graciously let us use the basement of our former home. A van was ordered and loaded and our worldly good were transported to Drogheda. After offloading and checking for hernias we headed off to settle in our new gaff. It was strange going into our old home of almost 20 years and to see the changes which have been made. But such is the nature of the tied house in which clergy find a place to rest their heads: once you leave the parish then you must vacate the premises for the next person (or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work).

By now some of you may have realised that while all this was going on an insidious little virus, Coronavirus disease 2019, had appeared on the scene and was swiftly ravaging the world. Countries frantically tried to stop the little demon from infecting their populations and inflicting illness and death on some of the most vulnerable in our society. The practical effect of this, including in Ireland, was at first a gradual, then a much speedier shut down of society. Daily, as the toll of victims rose worldwide, governments imposed more and more restrictions until, at the time of writing, both Ireland, the UK and the island of Cyprus are effectively locked down completely. Please God this all ends sooner rather than later as we remember and pray for those who not only suffer from the virus itself but also those in the front line who work tirelessly and selflessly so that the rest of us can be treated if we do fall ill, or simply continue on buying the necessities of life and caring for our neighbours.

At last, on Tuesday 24th March (just one week ago as I write), our solicitor advised us that our contracts were exchanged, and we could collect the keys. It was a little odd in that in order to speak to him we had to stand at the door while he addressed us from inside, since they had closed the office except for existing clients with an appointment. Delighted we loaded the car with the remainder of our belongings and rushed up to the estate agent – only to find that they too had closed the office! How were we to get the keys to our new house?

Fortunately, having lived in the town and become well-known as the Church of Ireland Rector during that time, people were so gracious as to go the extra mile for us and so the auctioneer came in and met us and handed them over personally. Together, we might add, with a little “goody bag” and an umbrella bearing the agent’s name!

A picture containing drawing, truck Description automatically generatedJanet and I immediately went up to the house and unloaded the car. The van was ordered again for the next morning and, ignoring once again the threat of hernias, slipped discs and general old age Michael reloaded it and delivered everything to the new house where Janet worked like a Trojan to sort everything out and find a place for everything and put everything in its place. Again, at the time of writing she is the only one who knows where anything is and so, even though I do offer to help my constant cry is “Where’s such-and such?”.

Now through all of this you might have thought that we had simply sat back and waited for everything to happen. Well, not quite. You see we knew what we wanted and needed: useful things like a bed to sleep in and somewhere to sit, pots and pans, a car and the hundred and one other things which are needed to set up a home from scratch (all our original worldly goods are still in our home in Ozanköy). And so, ever the optimists, we had been busy ordering such things convinced that “We’ll be in the new place by the end of next week, no, two weeks, ah surely by the end of the month.” – you get the picture! But it was not to be, and our friendly local shopkeepers had to keep everything for us in storage.

So now was the time to get it all delivered. But wait. These stores too were closing down. And so, it was a frantic rush to try to get things before the shutters came down. Again our contacts from the “olden days” came up trumps and we managed to scrape in under the wire as the bed was delivered from an empty store, the washing machine and dryer arrived on Friday and the settee which we had originally ordered and which wouldn’t fit through the door was returned and, in spite of being officially shut-down, we were permitted to sneak in and order another one which came that same afternoon.

So now we can sit back (thank you Frank), watch our TV in clean, dry clothes (thank you Kevin), sleep in our wonderful new bed – or even the spare bed if we need to because of someone’s snoring (thank you Connor and Pat), cook the dinner (thank you IKEA) and generally relax in our cocoon (not, quite – only the over A drawing of a cartoon character Description automatically generated70s are cocooned) and thank God for good friends and neighbours who have helped us so much.

And, of course, we miss all our friends and neighbours in Kuzey Kıbrıs at this oh, so strange time that we are all living through. It is a time when we will see the best coming out in people as even those who don’t acknowledge his name will follow Our Lord’s command to love their neighbour even before themselves, as well as, sadly we will see those whose first thought is only for themselves as they ignore directives to protect the vulnerable by thinking of others first.

Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

May God bless and keep us all at this time.

But whatever you do –

DON’T MOVE TO A NEW HOUSE IN A PANDEMIC!

Fr Mike and Janet

 

/ / / / / / / / / / \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \

   SELF-ISOLATING………!

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MUSINGS FROM KENT…………………………….

Over this past month I have been jotting down odd notes that I thought reflected my changed life. Maybe my notes might inspire one or two of you to do something similar, because we all like to share a little of each other’s lives. Mike has set us a great example with his story of their house move, I hope you start to find things again soon Mike!

I’m one of those people that needs to have some sounds around me all the time and this is usually from BBC Radio 4 but there has been so much coronavirus coming at me from every programme angle that I’ve now discovered Scala Radio. It’s a bit like Classic FM and is a wonderful oasis away from the pandemic news, but I have to accompany my listening with a cup of tea and a biscuit or slice of cake, so the kettle is being used more frequently!

Yangtze River: Longest River in Asia | Live ScienceI accidently came across a documentary programme on the TV a few days ago about how life had changed in the Yangtze River region of China since the completion of the Three Gorges Dam. Jeff and I visited the Yangtze River in 2000 and I remember how he was completely blown away by the vastness of the engineering work taking place to create this dam. A large ship in a body of water Description automatically generatedThe size of the trucks and cranes working on the site were mind-blowing. I was far more interested in the majestic scenery as we cruised up the Yangtze during the following days. We saw both the beauty of the untouched landscape, marvellous pagodas and temples along the river side and the ugliness where the mining towns dominated. Maybe some of you have taken this trip too. The tv programme was definitely a trip down memory lane.

A slower lifestyle has snuck up on me over the past weeks. It probably really began as I recuperated from my hip surgery (Note: this is going well and each week I notice improvements in what I am able to do) and now, as I’m self-isolating, there is less pressure to do things and no need to speed up! So, I get up between 8 am and 9am and it’s probably 10am by the time I’ve had my breakfast and cleared away. Some days breakfast includes listening to or watching one of the many church services I have links too (no, I’m not doing Joe Wick’s PE session each morning, far too energetic!) or I may save this for my afternoon break.

During Lent I’ve been following Malcolm Guite’s book ‘The Word in the Wilderness’, which discusses a poem a day as a pilgrim’s journey. The poetry is both classic and contemporary and in the main I’m enjoying it but some I find a bit obscure so have been grateful to have his thoughts on them, other poems however are inspiring and thought provoking.

At the beginning of March there were still plans to hold the ‘Friends Gathering’ in Launde Abbey so some of my time was taken up with that. It is not a huge journey to get from Rochester to Rutland but as I haven’t done a great deal of driving since my fall, I thought I would break my journey by stopping in Cambridge, a city I’ve never really visited. I spent a lovely afternoon checking various websites as to where I would stay and what I would like to see. A punt on the river, visit to one of the colleges, evensong in King’s College chapel. It was going to be a lovely break. Fortunately, I didn’t actually book anything as the next day everything was cancelled, and I spent my time writing out to members telling them of the decision. Ah well!

This extra time I have means I can indulge in baking and cooking more which I really enjoy, and one of the recipes I’ve tried recently has been Spiced Butternut Squash Bread which is great spread with butter and enjoyed with a cup of tea. Here’s the recipe:

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SPICED BUTTERNUT SQUASH BREAD. (Serves 8)

300g self-raising flour      1 teasp sea salt flakes

1 teasp ground cumin      1 teasp ground coriander

1 teasp ground turmeric    1 teasp chilli flakes

½ teasp sweet paprika      200g cooked mashed butternut squash

125 ml buttermilk      60g melted butter

2 eggs          50g pumpkin seeds, chopped coarsely

20g finely grated parmesan    2 teasp fresh thyme leaves

1 teasp dried oregano leaves

 

1.Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan. Oil an 11cm x 18cm loaf tin, line base with baking paper.
2.Combine flour, salt and spices in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre; stir in combined squash, buttermilk, butter and eggs until just combined.
3.Spoon mixture into pan; smooth surface. Sprinkle with combined pumpkin seeds, parmesan and herbs.
4.Bake for 55 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped. Stand in tin for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.
5.Slice and spread with butter.
 

Here in Kent most days during March have been bright and sunny and I’ve been having a short wander around the estate where I’m living as I don’t have a garden. Lots of dog walkers and family groups are out but everyone is keeping very much distanced from each other. In the early days I did take myself to Asda, which is just five minutes up the road, but I could not have panic-bought anything if I tried as all the basics had gone! I have often shopped on-line because I usually order my groceries before leaving Cyprus ready to be delivered the day after I arrive back to my flat in Kent. So, as I had an account I tried to shop online, however getting onto the website was a major problem as the demand was so heavy. I tried and tried, and eventually the site sprung into life and I was able to place a decent size order that was delivered to my door. Definitely a reason to give thanks.

Actual human contact is rare. I last saw my daughter on the Saturday before Mother’s Day and had a pedicure on the 17th, my last official day out. I’ve only spoken to the postman or other delivery person since. The routine is that they drop the delivery by my front door, knock and then move down the corridor while they wait to see if I open the door. We exchange a greeting and then go our separate ways. It’s a bit like the children’s game of ‘Rosey Apple’, only this time I’m pleased to see them instead of opening the door and shouting “I’ll tell yer mother you little …….. rascal”. So last week when we had the national arrangement to go outside and clap for the NHS workers at 8pm I found the whole experience very emotional. It made me feel part of a community after the isolation I’m in, as well as showing my appreciation for the NHS. Many neighbours came out and were cheering as well as clapping and the children enjoyed being allowed to bang saucepans and blow any instruments they had. I do hope it will continue.

Thanks to modern technology everyone that can, from the Cabinet down is working from home. This includes both my son and daughter, for which I am very grateful. Keeping all my grandsons busy is a problem I don’t wish to share with them, but they are coping so far. Their ages range from 14 to 21 now, can you believe it, so not as problematic as dealing with little ones. Entertaining us all has given rise to great ingenuity by some which they promote through websites, YouTube and other social media. I’ve dipped into Gareth Malone”s Great British Home Chorus – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFgYqP2wUQU (there’s a bit too much warm up and not enough singing) and The Marsh Choir which grew from an existing choir that’s based on Romney Marsh – https://youtu.be/W32CS7IVErE (it can be a bit silly at times). I also found David Walliams reading some of his stories on https://bit.ly/AudioElevenses – they are designed for children but can be great fun. I’ve also been knitting, sewing, paper crafting, diamond painting and reading of course. These are many of the things I thought retirement was all about but somehow have been pushed to the back as I became involved in other things.

How might we have coped if this pandemic had happened to the world 30/40 years ago when digital phones and laptops were not available to the majority. I think it might have been a whole lot scarier. Or maybe it wouldn’t have spread so far or so quickly as people didn’t travel the world in the same way as we do now.

When I produce the next newsletter or whatever we decide to call it, we will have celebrated Easter. What a different Easter it will be this year. I am sure there will be opportunities through radio, tv and the internet for us to celebrate and worship at this most important time of the year. However difficult things become we must remember to keep our Heavenly Father at the heart of our thoughts, put our faith in Him, He will be our strength and comfort.

From the Book of Common Prayer:

This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.

 

Please remember people from our congregation in your prayers and with their permission, tell us of anyone in particular who needs our prayers

 

Day 35: Easter Sunday 21st April pray for dreams and visions ...

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A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS!

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