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St Aidan's Church

Elford Place West

Leeds LS8 5QD

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THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Mo. Andi's Thought for the Week

April 20, 2019

‘Easter Joy’.

Dear friends, alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia.

Yes it is true, the stone is rolled away, the tomb is empty, and the women see two men in dazzling clothes: Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen!

 

Today, we stand with them, in wonder and awe, in joy and amazement: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. With his first friends and followers we join in their prayer and worship, we enjoy adoption as the children of God, we rejoice in God’s abundant love.

 

And today standing with them we are also called out of ourselves and into the world, to the nations and peoples and into our communities, to be Christ for each other and see Christ in each other, to work for justice and for peace, to carry the Good News of Christ’s bursting from the tomb to all, to heal and support where we can, that we and all of God’s creation may be free to rejoice in his praise.

For alleluia, Christ is risen. He is risen indeed, alleluia.

 

With my love and prayers for a blessed Easter: Mo Andi

April 06, 2019

‘Who we are’

Dear Friends and People of God

 

An act of love, words of darkness, and infinite compassion, all part of our Gospel reading on APCM Sunday (7 April 2019 - John 12.1-8). And we can find ourselves in all of these here at St Aidan’s:

 

We are more than capable of acts of love and service, as we continue to be a worshipping, serving and sacrificing community, following the example of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Acts of love and service are part of the very fabric of how we ‘are’ and ‘do’ church here at St Aidan’s. 

 

So too, of course are words of darkness...when we get angry or impatient with each other...when we misunderstand and misconstrue what others say or do...when we close our hands and hearts and minds to God and to each other. Jesu, mercy. 

 

And then, that ‘infinite compassion’. Compassion literally means ‘to suffer together’. It is the feeling that arises when we are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering. And compassion can take so many different forms: Listening, praying or sitting quietly with somebody in their pain. Speaking up, challenging injustice or activism. Offering hospitality, practical help or some of our time and talents. And those who suffer together, also celebrate together. They rejoice over life shared, a hurt eased and difficulties overcome. 

 

A year has passed since our last APCM, a year which had its highs and lows, its joys and challenges, its welcomes and farewells. 

 

We miss Icyline and Daphne and Wilson and others who have gone to greater glory. We miss Aidan and Ruth and John, Farid, Fatima and Ramina and others who have moved to pastures new. We miss Ian, Fr Clyde and Sylvia and others who can’t be with us due to ill health. And we give thanks for all of them and for all they have been and continue to be to us. 

 

We welcome new Middle Eastern friends and give thanks for your enthusiasm for the Gospel of Christ. We welcome new or returning congregation members, you are a blessing among us. We welcome friends who find refreshment or refuge among us for a time - be indeed welcome, traveller, and bide with us for a while. And we welcome Fr Ericcson, our curate, and his wife, Pru, and the girls to our church family - what a glorious celebration for your ordination at Ripon Cathedral - we pray God’s blessing on you and on your development and growth and ministry among us. 

 

Throughout the year we have celebrated weddings and baptisms, One World Day and the Banstead Park Festival, Heritage Weekend and the Carnival, Folk Night and our Young People’s concert and fashion show...and so much more. 

 

Throughout the year we have been challenged by our glorious building and its need for maintenance, repair and plenty of TLC. There was joy and pride over completing the important work in the undercroft to help preserve our treasure, our mosaic, for years to come. And we did a very credible attempt at raising funds, and much thanks is due to groups and individuals, and the Friends is St Aidan’s. Now we are faced with the heart ache of the lead theft and vandalism on the rotunda and adjacent church roof, work that is costly and still ongoing. Our Quinquennial Inspection Report, too, throws plenty of new challenges our way to which we have to respond in a timely and prudent fashion. 

 

My friends, there is much to be thankful for. Our worship glorifies Almighty God and calls us from glory unto glory. We have paid our Parish Share and are entering conversations about a Lease Renewal with IntoUniversity. Our Community Hall is very popular and, thanks to Pat Case’s passionate and dedicated stewardship and Maureen Hall’s constant care, it is a well-loved resource in the community, generating important income for us. Our link with Bankside Primary School goes from strength to strength. And we are grateful for it. So many of us give in so many different ways, to God, to this Church, to each other, to the neighbourhood, to the wider community, to those in need. And for all that, thanks be to God. 

 

And 2019 will be a very special year for St Aidan’s as it is our 125th Anniversary. Building on a PCC Away Day facilitated by Fr Paul Hunt and Ros Lehany last September, we are shaping a programme of activities and events, services and exhibitions to celebrate - watch this space!

 

Oh, and we’re starting a Pop-up Cafe next month, 11 May. It will run on the second Saturday of every month, come rain, come shine, from 10am to 12.30pm, opening the church for the local community and for visitors from further afield. Pray for Sarah Rutty, Ros Lehany and I as we are heading up this new venture, and prayerfully ask yourself whether that is something you might be called to support: welcoming visitors or helping with the refreshments, baking some cakes or dropping off a jar of coffee, talking about it to others and inviting neighbours and friends, and of course, popping by yourself!

 

God’s blessing on all of you, God’s blessing on all of us. 

 

Mother Andi

March 31, 2019

Holy Week and Easter at St Aidan’s Palm Sunday 14 April to Easter Day 21 April 2019

Please take note of the Holy Week and Easter programme of services and activities at St Aidan’s:                       Palm Sunday 10am Parish Mass with Procession of Palms;

Monday to Wednesday of Holy Week: 7pm Sung Mass with sermon;

Maundy Thursday 7pm Mass of the Last Supper followed by the Watch;

Good Friday 9am Service of Penitence, Stations of the Cross and the Sacrament of Reconciliation; 12.30pm Walk of Witness; 7pm Liturgy of the Passion;

Holy Saturday 7pm Easter Vigil with Confirmations and the First Mass of Easter; Easter Day 10am Parish Mass of the Resurrection.

All welcome!

March 24, 2019

Dear Friends,

Tomorrow the Church celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation of our Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary: Mary, who shared our human condition and character; Mary, who said Yes to God. Reflecting on this Feast, St Augustine wrote in the fourth century: "Without God, we cannot; without us, God will not." An archangel is unlikely to surprise us in our daily life quite in the way the old pictures show him disturbing Mary's quiet routine: ‘Hail Mary, full of grace…’ But God's grace and love can and want to be just as powerful in our living and loving and serving. Full of grace, Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord." Will we say with her "I have come to do your will, O God"? Mary's Yes made her the bearer of God's Son, the Word of God. Our Yes makes us, too, bringers of Good News, servants of the Gospel, bearers of the Word of God.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo Andi

March 17, 2019

"Jesus longing"

Dear Friends,

 

Jesus baiting the lion, no wait, the fox, Jesus comparing himself to a nurturing mother, stretching out his arms lovingly to gather us in. Jesus longs to shelter Jerusalem, but Jerusalem is unwilling. Maybe unable. Jesus longs to show Jerusalem that there is refuge here. Jerusalem may be broken and Jerusalem may be proud, but Jesus longs to give her the words she needs to begin again to see the light. Jesus also sees Palm Sunday ahead. With it comes a new chance for Jerusalem. There is so much yet ahead – Holy Week with its exodus resonances, its table-moments, its garden songs, its hardest prayers. And yet in this moment, when Jesus is still on the road and the days are still ahead, we are strongly reminded that what Jesus longs to offer all of us is love. Beyond fear and beyond threat, Jesus offers loving shelter, light and love, light and love, to us, to all creation.

With my love and prayers: Mo Andi

March 10, 2019

Dear Friends,

The gospel story of the temptations of Jesus is foundational for all that lies ahead.

Here we see the conflict between the ways of the world and the ways of God, between the way of death and the way of life, between the way of darkness and the way of light. And at the center of this conflict stands the cross of Jesus.

 

Of course it is often easier to choose power, violence, and domination instead of the reconciling ways of the reign of God. It is easier to pick up lifeless stones and hurl them toward one another, instead of passing the bread that sustains life.

 

But, people of God, as we walk these great forty days between temptation and crucifixion, let us walk gently and with our hearts wide open … for what will it profit us to gain the whole world, but loose or forfeit our lives, our souls, ourselves.

 

With love and prayers: Mo. Andi

March 03, 2019

“Clarity”

Dear Friends,

On the mountaintop we can see that much farther. And with Jesus at his transfiguration, we see a light, dazzling and bright, bringing clarity of vision and purpose, a light that, please God, may shine forth from our faces, too, a radiance of that transforming grace that may guide us on our path, that glorious call and promise of God in which we may trust every day of our lives...overwhelming, all-embracing, all-transforming, today God making ten of our Iranian and Kurdish sisters and brothers, today and every day when we but open our hearts to his love God making all of us …new.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo Andi

January 20, 2019

"‘Blessing the Water, the Wine’ by Jan Richardson"

Blessing the Water, the Wine

 

You thought
you had learned
to live with the empty,
the hollow.

You could place your ear
against the rim
of the vessel
of your life
and hear its ringing echo
with equanimity,
not expecting
any more
not even bothered
(almost)
to be a bystander
at the feast—
if not delighting
in the celebration
at least not
despairing in it.

When the water
rushed into the emptiness
you were surprised
that you were surprised,
that you could even feel
the sudden wellspring
when you thought
all had been poured out.

And then suddenly
the sweetness
that stuns you
that tells you
this was not all,
this was not the end

that this blessing
was saving the best

for last.

January 13, 2019

‘Remember your Baptism into Christ Jesus’.

Dear Friends,

As the Father’s voice was heard over Jesus: ‘This is my Son, my chosen’ so God’s voice speaks over every baptism candidate in our days, so God’s voice spoke over each one of us at our baptism, and so speaks it into our all lives, today and everyday…into our darknesses, when life’s worries seem to get the better of us, when we turn from love to obsession, from hope to despair, when hatred or prejudice, anger or envy, disappointment or pride mar our faces, …then too God speaks to us, and pray God, opens our ears to hear it and our hearts to take it in, … and he says: You are my beloved son, my beloved daughter, I have bought you, I have redeemed you, you are mine. I love you and I have called you at your baptism and I call you now out of darkness into my marvellous light.

 

And with that call, with that promise, comes the invitation, the pull, the challenge, to seek God with all our hearts, to seek him in the ordinary and extraordinary moments of our lives, to seek him in each other, the rich and poor, the strong and needy, the confident and the unsure, to seek him in our successes and our failures, to seek him in our world…and to seek him in worship and prayer, in love and service, in lives transformed and offered in him, to him and through him.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

January 06, 2019

‘Magi’ - by R. Chapman (Stations of the Nativity).

Dear Friends, words from Ray Chapman’s Stations of the Nativity:

 

Gold for a king, for the King of the Jews,

and King of all the earth, for he made it:

stoop under the low lintel of humility,

to fall before him throned in a cradle.

 

Incense for a priest, for the High Priest of the Covenant,

rising over the sacrifices that unite divine and human:

these rough walls contain the Holy of Holies,

where all may enter into a greater Covenant.

 

Myrrh for the dead, for those whose life returns to the Giver,

yielding the breath that was granted for a span of years:

learn from this Child that the cradle leads to the tomb,

but the anointed body is no the end of the story.

 

Mary and Joseph wonder at the strange visitors

who are brought to their knees before their loved fragility:

not yet knowing of the royal title

to be nailed over the priestly sacrifice, silent in death.

With my love & prayers for a Happy Epiphany & every blessing for 2019: Mo. Andi

December 16, 2018

‘At odds with the world'

Dear Friends

Today we baptise. And what a Gospel to meet us! Nothing simply, sanitized and sweet as our fiery John points to the baptism Jesus brings-one which brings fire and the Holy Spirit. And it is there, for all to see, as the water is poured, and we make the sign of the cross. We make the sign of the very cross on which Jesus died and in so doing we are placing the newest among us at odds with the forces of this world where the likes of greed and violence and hopelessness and despair threaten to prevail.

And for them, and for you and I, who hear John's words, when we ask "What now?" John simply offers this: Share what you have plenty of. Don't take what is not yours. Be content with what you have been given.

In a world where the challenges are so huge, one wonders how these seemingly small things could make any difference at all. And yet, one at a time, one person after another, seeking to live in these ways? Maybe in the end this would be, could be the beginning of changing everything. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo Andi.

December 09, 2018

‘Prepare the way of the Lord’

Dear Friends

On the first Sunday of Advent, the Gospel reading pointed us towards the final moments of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Today we take note of the calling of John, son of Zechariah, who has been entrusted with the work of preparing the way for the salvation of God to be revealed. John is the one crying in the wilderness, offering to all those who will heed his call, a baptism of repentance that leads to forgiveness. The Gospels make it clear that John was not the bearer of salvation.

So what is meant by the salvation of God? What is being revealed? It is Jesus, of course. This is the message of both Advent and Christmas. God the Creator is revealed to us in the person of Jesus. 

John as herald and Jesus our Saviour offer an alternative vision of reality; one where the justice and peace of God reigns. In this Advent season we are invited to consider what this alternative realm looks like and then decide if we want to embrace it. When the salvation of God is revealed, will we recognise that it is from God? Will our eyes and ears be alert to this presence?

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi.

September 15, 2018

‘Holy Cross’

Dear Friends,

on the cross, which we exalt today, our brokenness taken up and healed, and then, transformed even further beyond our human understanding by that glorious resurrection on Easter morn. However much the powerful try to usurp God's rule, or the human condition seems hopeless, love, of which the cross is the incarnate symbol, will always win through. That is the gospel. Love is not capable of being defeated for it knows no bounds, even the apparent absolute, death. Love has a life force of its own for it pours out from Him who is love, the Creator of all things. ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life'.

Pure gift. On this feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross we look on him whom we have pierced, who is exalted in triumph on that Tree, our King crowned on his throne of Golgotha.  We look - and live. 

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

September 08, 2018

Dear friends,

how is today’s encounter Gospel, how is it good news? Where we admire the woman's clever response to an outrageous insult and her literal doggedness in seeking healing for her daughter?

Because this story is told in Mark's Gospel it focuses so much on Jesus' actions. We don't know what Jesus might have thought, only what he did and said.

And here this gospel is extraordinarily good news; for God wants us to be whole, God wants all creation to be whole, to be transformed towards life in all its fullness through the life that is pouring out in the power of love in Jesus Christ.

And for us, friends, living a gospel life will be a lot of ‘doing’ too: pray, rejoice, encourage, offer, remember, imagine, love, share, embrace, give, rest, be.

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

August 11, 2018

'Mary's Grace'

Dear Friends,

Luke’s is the only gospel in which Mary’s story appears, and it is Mary’s grace that has attracted God’s attention. And what is this grace? It is what Luke shows us in her conversation and her actions – courage, boldness, grit, and ringing convictions about justice. Yes, she is startled by the presence of the angel.  And so were Gideon, Jacob, Jonah, and the shepherds of Bethlehem.

Her recitation of the Magnificat is a political manifesto, and in it there is evidence of deep thought, strong conviction, and a good deal of political savvy.

Mary, wanted by God, according to the angel, for her bold, independent, adventuresome spirit, decides to bear a holy child – for a bold agenda: to bring the mighty down from their thrones; to scatter the proud in the imagination of their hearts, to fill the hungry with good things and send the rich empty away.

Let us be bold too, my friends, in loving radically and inclusively in a world that sees so much pain. Let us reach into our parish, our neighbourhood, our community. Let us see the hungry fed and the stranger welcomed, the hurting comforted and the youth finding purpose and hope. Let us shine with the grace and light and love of God.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo Andi

August 04, 2018

Dear Friends,

Today Jesus creates a bit of a challenge by claiming that the crowds were following him only because they ate of the loaves, because their needs had been met.

The crowds hear “bread” and assume that Jesus is talking about baked flour dough. They are looking for Jesus, but the “Jesus” for whom they are looking is different from the one they have. Their faith rests in their idea of a Saviour, a King, or perhaps someone who can “fix” all the ills of life. But the bread that filled their stomachs now turns into a holy metaphor.

Jesus is depicting faith as belief in something else, in the spiritual, the incarnation of God. Jesus is challenging, stretching, transforming their understanding inviting them to meet him, meet not just see, as the Word made Flesh, the Bread of Life in whom all our hungers are satisfied.

 

“Seeing” Jesus, seeing signs, is not the same as encountering the Christ who is the Word made Flesh, not the same as knowing Christ as ‘our Lord and our God’.

 

Jesus connects physical hunger to spiritual hunger. The two cannot be separated. After all, what good are “signs” if one is physically hungry and what good is eating if one is spiritually wanting? Encountering Christ we are called to feed the world both physically and spiritually. We can neither concentrate on just the physical nor can we over-spiritualise the basic need of the human body for physical food. We are called to be the “signs” of Christ’s presence in the world. We are called to be the Body of Christ in our society, our neighbourhood, we are called to be sacrament, in this world.   

 

With my love and prayers: Mo Andi

.

July 28, 2018

‘Feast of Salvation’.

Dear Friends,

A million times nothing, is still nothing. But a million times a morsel is a feast. Jesus took the meagre loaves and fishes from the poverty of the people, blessed and broke them and then gave them back in abundance.
Jesus is telling us to come to him in our want, bring our meagre scraps of faith, he will turn them into a feast of fulfilment, surrender a short mortal life, he will give us back an life eternal in endless joy: The Messiah has come among us, the kingdom of God is breaking.

 

How often to we see the feast of salvation as something that lies over the distant horizon. But Jesus is not here to take reservations for a banquet ‘kingdom come’. We need his grace right here, right now. Here is where we struggle… where we need his strength, his love, his compassion. And right here, right now… in his word, in our worship, in our fellowship, in our outreach is where we are fed.

 

But …  Jesus does not feed us abundantly so we can become spiritually self-absorbed… lazy in his service. We are meant to put all this to work. In faith we must shoulder our cross… facing challenges, enduring disappointments, forgiving betrayals. But far beyond that, we must be Christ’s hands in the world… working to build the kingdom, witnessing to his love in all that we do.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo Andi

July 21, 2018

'Mary Magdalene and the courage of love’

Dear Friends,

 

our liturgy provides us with beautiful prayers and texts, some of which we use week in week out, others which help us celebrate a season of the church’s year or a particular feast, occasion or person from amongst the communion of saints. The following words are from the Eucharistic preface for the Feast of Mary Magdalene, which the church observes every year on 22 July:

 

In Mary Magdalene you kindled a fire of love for Christ, whose word had set her free. You gave her the courage of love to follow him even to the cross. Seeking her teacher after his death, so great was her longing that you made her the first to behold him risen from the dead, and the first to announce to the apostles his new and glorious risen life. Her words still ring throughout your Church, to strengthen faith and encourage hope in those who gather faithfully for prayer.

 

Fire of love, set free, courage of love to follow, seeking, longing, beholding, announcing… ‘I have seen the Lord!’, still ringing out to encourage us, to encourage our loving and living, our following and seeking, our own beholding and announcing to others ‘Jesus is Lord, and we are his followers and friends, loving and serving Him and each other and all in need.’

 

With my love and prayers: Mo Andi

July 14, 2018

‘The prophetic voice’

Dear Friends,

the issues that called forth the prophetic messages of the bible, be that spoken through the ancient prophets like Amos, or a John the Baptist of our Gospel reading, are very contemporary issues.

And a prophetic voice is needed to call God's people to return to their calling as His very own people. It will be a voice that will not settle for the status quo, not for the sake of stability, or security, or comfort, or conserving the tradition, but it will be a voice that is radical, calling for change.

A prophetic voice will not gloss over injustice or oppression, will not be silent in the face of bigotry or prejudice or false pride, and will not compromise faithfulness for practical ends. It will sweep away all the trappings of religion and simply ask, ‘What does God require?’, and answer simply, ‘Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God.’ Or even more simply: ‘love God, love others.’

A truly prophetic voice will convict us, move us, overwhelm us, transform us, because it will settle for nothing less than holiness of heart and life as the result of faithful obedience to the voice of God. For, in a very real sense, a prophetic voice is the voice of God.

Let us open our hearts and minds to the prophetic voice speaking to us today, calling us to love & serve God & to love and serve each other & all creation.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo Andi

July 07, 2018

‘Open our hearts, Lord.’

Dear Friends,

the Jesus we hear about in Mark 6 today has been baptised, called his disciples, been proclaiming the good news and teaching with authority, exorcising unclean spirits, healing the sick, stated his lordship over the Sabbath, redefined his family, calmed the sea, raised a child from the dead and spent time teaching his disciples. Now he chooses to return to his hometown, to the people he grew up with and, suddenly, he is five years old again. They know who he is. They know what he can and cannot do. The extent of their unbelief amazes Jesus. It undoes, to an extent, what he is able to do amongst them.

So, Jesus moves on. On to the surrounding villages and to the task of sending the disciples, of making them apostles, for the time is short while the task and the world is large. They are given authority over unclean spirits. They do not go alone. They do go in need of hospitality, however, and of an openness to hear themselves the gospel message they bring. And if they are rebuffed? They are to shake off the very dust of a place that is inhospitable.

Where we allow familiarity to breed contempt, or where we curtail our hospitality of each other and of God’s Word in our lives, there is every chance that the gospel message can be missed, my friends, even in our very midst. So let us make room in our hearts and our lives afresh for the love of God in Jesus Christ, for the seemingly familiar to take deeper and deeper roots within us, for that welcome of God’s will and word through friend and stranger alike.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

June 30, 2018

‘Welcome to Fr Ericcson - a deacon in the Church of God’.

Dear Friends,

 

these are words from the ordination service at Ripon Cathedral. They are mighty and awesome, and we pray for all ordained deacon yesterday, among them Fr Ericcson as they grow into their new role, life and ministry:

‘Deacons are called to work with the Bishop and the priests with whom they serve as heralds of Christ’s kingdom. They are to proclaim the gospel in word and deed, as agents of God’s purposes of love. They are to serve the community in which they are set, bringing to the Church the needs and hopes of all the people. They are to work with their fellow members in searching out the poor and weak, the sick and lonely and those who are oppressed and powerless, reaching into the forgotten corners of the world, that the love of God may be made visible.

 

Deacons share in the pastoral ministry of the Church and in leading God’s people in worship. They preach the word and bring the needs of the world before the Church in intercession. They accompany those searching for faith and bring them to baptism. They assist in administering the sacraments; they distribute communion and minister to the sick and housebound.

 

Deacons are to seek nourishment from the Scriptures; they are to study them with God’s people, that the whole Church may be equipped to live out the gospel in the world. They are to be faithful in prayer, expectant and watchful for the signs of God’s presence, as he reveals his kingdom among us.’

And we, people of God, are called to be Fr Ericcson’s companions and family on the way as he grows, and learns, and ministers among us, that in our all our lives God’s name may be glorified and through our lives, God’s kingdom furthered.

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

June 23, 2018

‘What’s in a name?’

Dear Friends

The name John means, God is Gracious.

John the Baptist was a sign given to the Jewish people of the coming arrival of their king, their messiah, their anointed, the Christ. And the name of the Forerunner of the Christ, John, invites rejoicing over his birth, rejoicing over the graciousness and faithfulness of God.

 

It was John who would be the last prophet of the Old Covenant, the perfect representation of what Israel was meant to be. It is to John that the announcement of the Messiah falls, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’

 

Our world today looks at the message of John the Baptist and in so many areas resists it. We do not like to recognise the grace of God found in repentance. Engaging with the Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist we are challenged to live in constant readiness. We are challenged, in our own lives, to be pointing to the One who is to come in the name of the Lord. We are challenged to decrease so that he, Jesus, the Son of God, may increase in our lives. We are challenged to live as attentive to Jesus who gives us hope for today and for tomorrow.

How are we at living our lives, people of God, how are we at living our lives?

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

June 16, 2018

‘Here is God’

Dear Friends

A tremendously beautiful and majestic image in our first reading: the great tree on the great mountain becoming the great refuge. It’s the imagery of flourishing, flourishing which is possible when one does not rely on one’s own strength and wisdom alone, but rather has faith that God is with us, is working for us, and loves us enough to be there even in life’s darkest moments…

 

…in those moments of grief, and of sickness, of broken relationships and of shattered hopes, in times of confusion and set-backs, when life trips us up and punches us down and kicks us in the stomach for good measure.

 

These are the moments when God is there, right at our side, with us in the depth, the tears, the despair, the anxious sighs, the angry cries. Here, even here, especially here, is God, here is comfort, here is love.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

June 09, 2018

"Courses, courses, courses"

Dear Friends,

Over the last five weeks, I have been away on three residential courses.

The first one, at Hinsley Hall, is part of a national course which stretches over the whole year. Here I am looking at ministry and leadership within the Church of England and develop my understanding and skills, and feed them back into our common life together, here at St Aidan’s.

The second one, at Mirfield, was on Supervision Skills, tailored to the arrival of our new curate, Fr Ericcson, who will be with us soon – exiting times! Fr Ericcson will share with us his story of vocation and training, his hopes and vision for the next four years, in his own time. He will be with us as a ‘trainee vicar’, applying to and exercising within our particular parish setting his passion for Jesus Christ, using skills and knowledge and experiences he already has from his life and training, and experiencing and learning and mastering many new skills and aspects of ministry whilst amongst us. I am very much looking forward to his arrival and know that you will make him very welcome.

The third course, at Scargill House in the Yorkshire Dales, focused on the future of the church, of each and every parish in particular, and of the diocese and national church as a whole, and of the role we all play, together, in making new disciples for Jesus Christ, in growing in love and service, in joy and in numbers, in prayerfulness and generosity. Watch this space, there is an exciting journey ahead of us, which will need every single one of us as we continue as a worshipping, serving and sacrificing community here at St Aidan’s.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

June 02, 2018

“Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”

Dear Friends,

The psalm tells us: “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” Taste that small piece of bread at Communion, and we taste compassion, and mercy, tenderness, and love. This is the goodness of the Lord, this is the Body of Christ.

We mark this feast of Corpus Christi just once a year. But we actually celebrate this gift every time we go to Mass. Every time we receive the Eucharist, we celebrate Corpus Christi and carry Christ into the world in our own individual Eucharistic processions.

 

This Feast of Corpus Christi falls on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. And Trinity Sunday celebrates the unity of God and the community of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And the notion of God as community has something profound and simple and true to teach us:

That God is love – and by its nature love requires more than one. God is love, God loves us, God loves us to love each other.

 

The Body of Christ which is put into our hands as we come forward to receive God’s own self is making us, by that very act, into his body.

We, by God’s grace, are Corpus Christi, Christ’s body in the world.

This is the Body of Christ. We are the Body of Christ.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

May 19, 2018

‘Come, Holy Spirit’

Dear Friends,

 

a theologian once said: Try to hear without ears and breathe without lungs, but to live as a Christian without the Holy Spirit is impossible.

 

The Spirit is the Inspirer, filling us, overwhelming us, transforming us. The Spirit is the Comforter bringing us encouragement and healing. The Sprit is the Advocate who pleads our cause with the Father. The Spirit is the Counsellor bringing us advice and guidance. The Spirit is the Helper who comes to our aid – promised to us, by our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

So come then anew, Holy Spirit, to transform our sorrow into joy, our selfishness into service, our tears into laughter, our shyness into witness, our greed into generosity, our complacency into discipleship, our pride into forgiving, our anger into opportunities, our commitment into life that is everlasting, and renew us, re-create us, overwhelm us, fill us afresh and lead us from glory into glory.

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

May 12, 2018

"In but not of the world"

Dear Friends,

 

the disciples had always wanted in on Jesus' prayer life: you couldn't miss his passionate intimacy with God, and they had said probably more than once, "Lord, teach us to pray." But in the shadows, on that last night after supper, Jesus wasn't teaching them to pray, but he was praying for them--right in front of them.

In his prayer, Jesus prays for us who ‘do not belong to the world’. What does that mean? That our understanding of life and how to live with one another is not to be determined or given or judged by the ways of the world, those values and assumptions of the human ordering of life.

As God’s people, we are about a way of living based on faith, on preserving all creation, on serving our neighbour and all in need, on recognising universal human worth, on action based love of others. God has called us into a risky engagement with life, fully aware of the cost. The cross of Jesus is our calling, his resurrection and ascension our promise, the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit our hope and strength, that being God’s people in but not of the world we may serve God’s purpose, and may truly play our part in God’s bringing about his realm of life and light and love.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

May 05, 2018

Dear Friends,

The best quote on friendship comes from the best friend of all: ‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.’ And this friendship of the best friend of all is highlighted in John's gospel. In this week's text, immediately following on the metaphor of the Vine and the branches from last week, Jesus teaches the disciples that discipleship means friendship with him, and with God. Discipleship is being a branch of the vine. It is relational. Hence Jesus' use of the term "friends" for his followers: ‘I no longer call you servants. I have called you friends.’ To be a friend is to share a personal relationship and to be made aware of the plans and purposes of the other. This is how the Father has related to the Son. Thus, just as Jesus learned from the Father, so now he makes known his purposes to his disciples. And he states the core value of friendship in the community of followers: ‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.’ Then and now, friendship with Jesus brings followers into a relationship of reciprocal love, creating a community in which people who addressed each other as "friends" are invited to embody the ideal of mutual self-sacrifice. Our calling, too, my friends, Easter people, friends of the risen Lord, as we aim to be a worshipping, serving, sacrificing community following the example of Jesus Christ. 

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

April 28, 2018

"Bearing Fruit"

Dear Friends,

‘I am the vine you are the branches’ - an image that intimates profound dependence; profound reliance. And what is life without belonging, without intimacy, without relationship? How can we bear fruit?

 

Bearing fruit has everything to do with who we are in relationship. And sometimes this is what we forget or ignore: That the manifestations of our faith are not individual expressions of our theological commitments and convictions but deeply lodged in and arise from the communities & relationships of our lives.

 

And once we’re out there? Well, it’s awfully hard to take it back. Impossible, actually. So bearing fruit is risky business. It will reveal who we are and on whom and what we depend. It will show others that there is no other way to be but to be dependent. Many will think that’s weakness. Many will think the ties should be broken. Many will think that being cut off is beneficial. But we know different through the one who says, ‘Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.’

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

April 14, 2018

Dear Friends,

 

 

after Jesus walked the Emmaus road with the two disciples, opening the Scriptures, breaking the bread and disappearing from their sight, the two hurry back to Jerusalem, where their excited report is discussed and debated. There, Jesus’ sudden appearance scares all present out of their wits. Jesus shows them his hands and his feet and says, "Touch me and see that it is I myself; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."

A human act, a very material, physical act. Jesus gestures to his wounds and then eats that piece of fish. To be human and to have a body is to be vulnerable, liable to death and yet made for the eternity of God's life.

Here is love strong enough to bear a cross and to say with authority to frightened disciples, "Touch me and see." Through the open arms of forgiven and forgiving people, the deepest wounds are set upon a path of healing. Thus does the Easter Lord keep on inviting, "Touch me and see."

And it points us to the future: The risen Lord’s invitation to touch and see portends what is yet to come for our bodies. And don’t we sometimes long for that fulfilment: to embrace the Christ and those long gone from us.

But before that great consummation, there is a task for us. For the Lord does not leave it just at ‘making himself known to his disciples’. He opens their hearts to the scriptures, he speaks of repentance and forgiveness, for all the world and all creation – you are witnesses! Our promise, our task, my friends, in the name of the risen Christ. For, alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

March 31, 2018

Dear Friends: alleluia, Christ is risen. He is risen indeed, alleluia!

When Mary Magdalene goes to the garden, she sets in motion the Easter gospel as she finds the tomb open and empty. A new day has dawned, God has broken the powers of death and hell and has given us the victory. Though fear, cruelty, power, and violence had their way with Jesus, as they continue to have their way with too many in our world, death has no more the final word, Christ has burst from the tomb. Mary Magdalene stays at the empty tomb, grieving and crying, and meets a man whom she thinks to be the gardener until he speaks. She hears her name, recognises her teacher, and believes: ‘Go, dearest Mary, go and tell them all the good news, death has no hold, - I, Jesus, am returning to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.’

The same command applies to us, too! Let us go, Easter people, let us go and let us tell them all the good news, death has no hold! Our Lord promises, ‘Whoever is in me, Jesus, and I in them, is a new creation.’

With love and prayers: Mo Andi. Alleluia Christ is risen, he is risen indeed, alleluia!

April 07, 2018

Dear Friends,

 

in the upper room, Jesus breathes the restoring life of God into the disciples, making them new people and, through them, offering new life to the world.

 

This story is the Good News of Easter, for us and for all creation, and it transcends time and place: Whenever we practice forgiveness, whenever we overcome the power of death in its many forms—hatred, violence, indifference—the spirit of Christ is alive and well in believers, and resurrection life is expressed again and again in this time and place.

 

It is our calling, as Easter people, to point to God’s reconciling love in Christ whenever we see it, and become ourselves signs that the life of Christ has not been extinguished, but is enfleshed, incarnate, manifest, alive in us and in every Christian community, for…

…Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia!

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

March 18, 2018

"Sir, we would see Jesus"

Dear Friends,

here we have some curious Greeks wanting to see Jesus. That sounds easy enough. Jesus however responds with a lengthy discourse on glorification which culminates in a prediction of crucifixion: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

The Greeks who approached Philip may have wished merely to see Jesus of Nazareth, the itinerant carpenter-preacher-man; however, from our Gospel writer’s perspective, that is no longer possible. Jesus, cross, resurrection and kingdom are no longer separable.

Mary’s boy, born in Bethlehem, carpenter of Nazareth is now revealed as Lord and Christ: God showing us glory…a glory that is already there when we kneel, stand, sit, lie, wrestle, rejoice, and pray at the foot of the cross…a glory that will have its consummation when the Son of Man who was lifted high will finally draw all people to himself. Sir, oh how we wish to see Jesus.

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

March 11, 2018

Holy Week

Holy Week and Easter at St Aidan’s 25th March to 1st April 2018 

Holy Week and Easter programme of services and activities at St Aidan’s:

Monday to Wednesday 7pm Sung Mass with sermon;

Maundy Thursday 7pm Mass of the Last Supper followed by the Watch;

Good Friday 9am Stations of the Cross and Service of Penitence, followed by Prayer of Anointing and the Sacrament of Reconciliation; 12noon Churches Together Good Friday Walk of Witness; 3-6pm Church Cleaning; 7pm Liturgy of the Passion, including Veneration of the Cross and Mass of the Presanctified;

Holy Saturday 7pm Easter Vigil with Confirmations and the First Mass of Easter; Easter Day 10am Parish Mass of the Resurrection. All are welcome!

March 04, 2018

"Holy Anger"

Dear Friends,

in the course of the week I came across these words by Debie Thomas, Journey with Jesus:

‘We don't hear much about anger in mainline churches these days.  After all, there's something unseemly about rage, right?  Something unsophisticated, something crude?  It's not polite to get angry, and it's positively insupportable to stay angry.  But Jesus — the temple of God — burned with zeal for his Father’s house. He didn’t use love and forgiveness as palliatives; he allowed a holy anger to move him to action on behalf of the helpless and the voiceless. In this story, there is nothing godly about responding to systemic evil with passive acceptance or unexamined complicity. If human bodies are really temples — holy places where heaven and earth meet — then we must work, as Jesus did, to preserve and protect these holy places from every form of irreverence and desecration.  We must let go of the comfortable belief that our highest calling as Christians is to niceness.’

So much suffering, so much hurt, so much hatred in our world, served up into our comfortable homes by the daily news. These should move us to compassion and prayer, yes, but also to a holy anger leading us into action to offer ourselves in God’s service and the service of His Kingdom.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

February 25, 2018

‘Take up your Cross’

Dear Friends,

 

Peter’s boldness in our Gospel reading is shocking – how did he have the audacity to take Jesus aside and rebuke him? Peter does it, because he doesn’t like what Jesus is saying. How often have we felt that way ourselves? What do you mean, sell everything we have and give it to the poor to follow you, Jesus? It’s simply not realistic to “give to everyone who asks of you, to turn the other cheek, to forgive seven times seventy-seven times, to love your enemy.”

Jesus promises life to us if we have the courage to face death. And while we know that one day we will all confront physical death, there are many other deaths awaiting us. We will face the death of our pride, of our comfortable ideas about God, perhaps of our financial security and ambition and slavery to success.

The covenant to which we are invited has very high stakes, and the urge to take Jesus aside and rebuke him seems to make perfect sense. But most of us will not go out in a blaze of martyred glory. Most of us will carry the cross one small step at a time, one spiritual discipline at a time, one act of generosity at a time, one sacrifice of self at a time or one service of love at a time.

However we carry the cross, the giving of our lives willingly to follow Jesus will manifest in one perhaps unexpected cost: the risk of being changed. This is the risk we take when we sign on to Jesus’ covenant of life, the journey with and through the cross and its transforming power, the road through death to resurrection.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

February 18, 2018

‘Forty Days’

Dear Friends,

 

to enter into the experience of Lent with its challenges, sorrows and struggles can be a great gift to us. It can be a time of looking at and “trying on” such challenges, sorrows and struggles head on so that in the time when they become ours to experience, we may have some resources with which to deal with them. This is why the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness. This is why Jesus had these forty days ‘apart’ to learn to face down the adversary, so that he might be better prepared to do so over and over and over again over the next three years. Those forty days were absolutely essential to all that would follow. And if Jesus needed them, how much more do you and I need such times ‘apart’ to prepare to face down everything in this world that would tempt us to despair? How much more do you and I need to practice to learn to recognise and rely on the gifts of God which are ours through it all? Pray God to grow us through our daily walk with him, this Lent and always.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

February 11, 2018

‘Made whole in Christ’.

Dear Friends,


Michael Ramsey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury for whom the story of the transfiguration meant so much, loved to quote these words: “The transfiguration is the revelation of the potential spirituality of the earthly life……..Here the Lord, as Son of Man, gives the measure of the capacity of humanity and shows that to which he leads those who are united with him.” This way of looking at the transfiguration contains an invitation to us all. It is an invitation to a depth of transformation and healing of body, mind and spirit, of all our lives, which is perhaps best conveyed by the word ‘wholeness’. We are called to be ‘whole’ in Christ. We have glimpsed what this means in our transfigured Lord, and it is the goal of our journey as Christians: “…all of us, with unveiled faces…are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” as St Paul writes. This places the healing ministry offered to us this morning in the right context – the context of our discipleship and it’s goal – wholeness.


With all my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

February 04, 2018

Dear Friends,


‘The word became flesh and dwelt among us’, that is the gospel in seven words. The creative power of God, the wisdom of God, the Holy One became a human being and dwelt among us. God keeps company with us.
This is the One laid in a manger, who walked among us, healing the sick, casting out the darkness, sharing meals with the outcast, and showing us the way. In the end, he was abandoned on a cross. Amid human folly and human failure, we tried to extinguish God, snuff out the light.


Yet, even the darkness of death could not overcome the light of God's love through Jesus Christ. And it is into this light, my friends, that we are all called. Let us walk in that light every day of our lives.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

January 28, 2018

‘Seeing Salvation'

Dear Friends,


Simeon’s life was complete. And posted at the crux of history, the old soldier foresaw the greatest battle of all time faced, fought, and won by this one tiny child. And there he stood, breathing the breath of Christ, whole and wholly in the arms of God. Would our eyes have seen the Saviour in that baby? It is impossible to say because we were not given the privilege of being in the temple that day.


We do, however, have the privilege today of seeing our Saviour in other just as unlikely place – and that is when we celebrate the life-transforming gift of holy baptism in our midst, and the mystery of our Lord’s real and personal presence in the Mass. Today, and every time we baptise, today, and everyday we make Eucharist together, God calls us to open our ears and eyes and hearts to meet him in the water and the Spirit, in bread and wine, so that we, too, see our Saviour there.


Simeon cradled the baby Jesus in his arms; an encounter, a gift that fulfilled all his hunger and thirsting, all his longing and all his desires. Like him, let us come to our God with our lives, our joys and sorrows, our dreams and our fears and our hopes...so that today, now, as we come to your table, Lord, may cradle your precious body in our hands and taste your life and comfort under bread and wine; and as we come, Lord Jesus, come you to us.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

January 21, 2018

From Cana to Kingdom Come’ - a poem by Rick Fry

Dear Friends,

A poem by Rick Fry:

‘I saw you leisurely hanging out on a couch,
laughing at a joke the best man told,
when your mother interrupted
and whispered something in your ear.
You were reluctant,
but she was persistent.
And you transformed water into wine.
And you blessed the party.
And you made the wedding guests happy.
And you kept the celebration going,
not just for a week,
or for a year,
but for a lifetime -
A panoramic vision of blessing
stretching from Cana to kingdom come.’

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

January 14, 2018

'Come and see’

Dear Friends,

“Come and See!” That is how Jesus invites his first disciples, this is how Philip gets the Nathanael to come along despite his reservations and prejudices, those are the very words the Samaritan woman at the well uses to get her entire village to come along and meet Jesus.

Come and See. Come with me – see for yourself. Aren’t those wonderful words? They the words of invitation Jesus has been offering to seekers throughout the centuries.

And isn’t it also the invitation of the church? Come and See!

“Come and See” Jesus – not us. Come and See our Saviour who makes his home among us. Come and See this Jesus whose love is based on who he is – not who we’ve been. Come and See this Jesus whose words sometimes defy definition, whose actions go beyond our logic and whose life is beyond our wildest imagination. Come and See this God who dwells among us, who dwells within us!

Come and see this Saviour for whom all creation has waited!

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

January 07, 2018

Dear Friends,

On 6 January, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany, in the early church one of the great feast days–second only to Easter in its importance.

John the Baptist knew about the coming Salvation of the Human race, he had been preparing the way for Jesus’ coming and testified when he saw him: Behold the Lamb of God, here is the Saviour for whom all creation has waited.


More that thousand years before, during their captivity in Egypt the Israelites had eaten the first Passover meal, the spotless lamb that would be their purification before the coming of the angel of death. Now, in John’s exclamation Jesus is proclaimed as the sacrificial lamb, the Saviour of the world.

But who could really understand at that moment that Jesus was going to take the blame for all sins and be sacrificed as the Lamb of God? To wash souls with his blood, to nourish them with the food of life so that everyone who would accept him could stand blameless before God the Father.

Here is the Saviour for whom all creation has waited – And we can never be the same again!

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

December 31, 2017

`Christmas blessings’

Dear Friends,

Well, here we are, on the other side of Christmas. The gifts are opened, the parties are over, and the Christmas pudding is consumed. I have not yet seen many Christmas tree on the roadside, but I am sure it cannot be very far off. The Church celebrates, as the song says, the Twelve Days of Christmas from the birth of Jesus to the visit of the Magi. But society had been celebrating Christmas while we were observing Advent, and now that we are ready to make merry, they are done.

 

But we continue to celebrate the promise. The promise of God’s great love which leads us to find life out of death, hope in despair, company in loneliness, a future despite all fears, light in the darkness, food for the journey through life, welcome in the muddle of personal relationships, graciousness, hospitality, indwelling and fulfilment … and we find that in our Yes to God, love beyond measure, which knows no bounds and borders, a foretaste of future glory, in Jesus, the name above every name, the child born in Bethlehem, born as one of us...

 

I have seen a painting of the baby Jesus greeting the dawn. He is shown with his arms open while the rising sun throws a shadow behind him - the shadow has the shape of a cross. Here is where the road to our salvation, the road to newness and life for us and all creation begins, at Bethlehem.

With my love and prayers, and on this New Year’s Eve with my best wishes for a happy, peaceful and joy-filled New Year: Mo. Andi

December 25, 2017

`Annunciation’ by Raymond Chapman

Dear Friends,

A reflection written by Raymond Chapman used at one of our Advent Groups:

 

‘On an ordinary spring day, she did not expect

anything to happen because she was one of

the quiet people who ask for little.

 

Lords of a higher creation did not pass that way

until an angel, shafted in new season sunlight,

spoke to her with the heavenly salutation of her Maker,

Father of all sending the uncreated, the only-begotten,

to be the newly begotten, the weak and vulnerable.

 

The power of the Spirit, unseen, overshadowing,

the still small voice more powerful than thunder,

breathed life into the womb of innocence,

Son of the Highest, son of a virgin.

 

She bowed beneath the Word’s weight told

and graciously accepted uncovenanted grace.

 

When we are too busy to notice them,

angels may pass through the familiar room

sometimes with human voices, sometimes in silent love,

calling, promising, pointing the way –

because things will happen when God wills them

and not when we think it is appropriate.’

 

With my love and prayers for a blessed and joyous Christmas: Mo. Andi

December 17, 2017

Pointing to the one who is to come

Dear Friends,

Today we are concerned with John the Baptist – the fearless prophet who with his whole life and ministry points to the one who is coming in the name of the Lord, Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. I’ll never forget my visit to the Isenheim altar in Colmar as a teenager, how impressed I was by the index finger of the Baptist, over-proportionately large, pointing to Jesus, the Lamb of God, hanging on the tree of shame, the cross. That is John’s vocation, work and ministry. And as Jesus’ friends and followers that is our vocation, work and ministry, too, for every single one of us: to point with our lives, the way how we love and serve God, how we love and serve each other, to the one who’s birth we await to celebrate again this Christmas.

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

December 10, 2017

Dear Friends,

 

somewhere in the midst of Advent, worrying over cards, food and presents, we tend to lose our way, and forget our destination.

It is just then that prophets are called to speak. And the prophets’ message is that we don’t have to wait to find God at our destination points. God is in the journey. Isaiah cries, “Here, here is your God!”

We don’t have to wait until Christmas to experience the ‘God With Us’ who will come in the Christ child. We don’t have to wait until we exchange presents. We don’t have to wait until candle-lit Midnight Mass. We are waiting, waiting for the baby, but while we wait, God is here. So let us prepare, right here, in the wilderness, for God to come, already, again, and soon.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

November 26, 2017

Christ the King

Dear Friends,

 

an amazing piece of art of Christ the King in Judgment resides in Chichester cathedral: Jesus the young victor the crown of thorns like a coronet on his brow wielding the sword of justice and of truth. But there are many other images which explore facets of the meaning of Christ’s Kingship further;

- Jesus who challenges the leadership of his times, who now us, who warns, preaches and persuades, and at the end of time will pronounce judgement;

- Jesus who in his earthly life and ministry goes about telling the people the Good News of God’s kingdom, calling to repentance, inviting the stranger, the sinner, the outcast not only to his table, but into his heart, healing the afflicted;

- Jesus on the cross who was lifted up on high to draw all people to himself.

 

This is Christ our king, a King who loves and who serves, a King of those who seek to know the truth and do it, and theirs is the kingdom of God, and anybody’s who cares for and serves another in need.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

November 19, 2017

‘Talents’

Dear Friends,

 

quite a Gospel we have today…three servants entrusted with ‘talents’ to work for their master while he is away. Three very different stories of trust and commitment, challenge and response. Three very different outcomes when we look at reward and remonstration, future service and rejection.

One of Jesus’ Kingdom parables through which he teaches and explains, coaxes and inspires, challenges and warns. For this Kingdom of God is our gift, is our hope, is our promise. It is already present amongst us where we love and serve God, where we love and serve each other, where we are changed and mature in our friendship with the living God. This Kingdom awaits it future arrival in all its fullness, it manifestation in all creation for all times. And God’s Kingdom also requires our response, as co-workers with Jesus as we look towards new heavens and a new earth. Are we using our ‘talents’ well?

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

November 12, 2017

Dear Friends,

no greater love have they who lay down their lives for another, the ultimate sacrifice which we remember today in those who have given up their lives for freedom and peace, and we remember them in Christ, which makes us ask, yet again, whether we are worthy of such sacrifice.

We also remember that we are essentially spiritual creatures, creatures who bear the image of God in ourselves, and, even more, the image of Christ through our baptism, creatures who know and love and whose knowing and loving ultimately belong to our life with God in Christ.

We remember … and in so doing we honour the moral and spiritual freedoms which dignify human lives.

But our remembering is also part of another, a greater kind of friendship, namely, the friendship between God and humanity in Jesus Christ. “I have called you friends,” Jesus says. And “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” …so that through his dying and rising we might have life, and have it abundantly.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

November 05, 2017

Dear Friends,

The Beatitudes on All Saints day remind us of the qualities of saint hood and the type of life we are to strive to lead.  But I don’t identify that easily with many of the beatitudes – I am not poor in spirit, I am not often meek, I am hungry for many things, but righteousness? I have difficulty with being pure in heart, and thanks to the freedoms given to us, I am not often persecuted in the truest sense of the word… so if you’re like me, how do we live up to these expectations – how are we to become saints?

Perhaps ‘simply’ by trying to continue living in the love of Christ and living out the love of Christ. And how can this love be shown by Christ’s people and Christ’s church in the world? How are we to relate to the world to show the world that God loves them?

Saints do this in so many ways all over the world every day – in little ways through their daily kindness for another, in bigger ways by giving of themselves in order to care for another, by lending an ear in a time of need or telling another their own journey of faith, by prayer and love and service of each other and of the one who loved us and served us first, even Jesus Christ, our Lord.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

October 28, 2017

The Greatest Commandment

Dear Friends,

when asked ‘which is the greatest commandment?’ Jesus could have chosen any commandment of the Torah. He chose Deuteronomy 6.5: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.’ And he added ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’

A challenge: In the course of the next week, sit down comfortably, perhaps light a candle, and spend some time slowly, prayerfully and sacramentally listening for how God is inviting us today to choose love. Read the following twice, read it slowly:

You shall love God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.  You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

And open your heart. Be attentive. Pause for a few minutes of silence to listen for how God is speaking to you in this present moment. Go on, give it a whirl! And God be with you.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

October 21, 2017

Dear Friends,

“Whose is this image and title on the coin?” Jesus asks his critics as they try to trap him with the question of whether to pay taxes to the emperor or not. It is the question that must be asked about ourselves: ‘whose image are we?’

We, who are creatures of flesh and blood, we who are also spiritual creatures, are creatures who bear the image of God in ourselves, and, even more, the image of Christ through our baptism. We are creatures who know and love and whose knowing and loving ultimately belong to our life with God in Christ.

Let us always remember this, my friends, our shared humanity, our common, shared being created in the image of God, which of course is nothing common at all, but a gift, a miracle, a challenge, a calling.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

October 14, 2017

Dear Friends,

 

Mother Teresa said “If you give what you do not need, it isn’t giving.” So, the issue is not how much we give, be that time or skill and talent, or of our financial and material possessions, but a far deeper question: how much of me and the life God has given to me, is truly reflected in the gift I give?

Celebrating the splendour of our church on this Dedication Festival, speaks of God’s glory but also of his presence with his people.

That is the context in which we are called to give: The ‘first fruits’, our first and best, not what is left over; the difference the ministry of our church makes in people’s lives, rather than bills and budgets; beyond what we can afford when we have done everything else that we need to do with our time and skills, our money and other possessions. So, my friends, how much of you and I and the life God has given to us, is truly reflected in the gifts we give?

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

September 30, 2017

Dear Friends,

to worship the Eternal One - that is the angels' everlasting joy. So in the paintings, poetry and stained-glass of the middle ages, they have harps and trumpets in their hands; they sing in the heavenly choir and conduct the music of the spheres. And the wonderful truth of Christian worship is that when we praise God, we, too, join in heavenly music. Music gives our worship wings. It soars and flies, it beckons heaven come down to us. Music touches parts of us nothing else can quite reach. It enlarges our imaginations, it moves our spirits, it overwhelms our self-centredness, it coaxes us to love in a new and deeper way. And above all, it is for the praise of God. Worshipping God is the most important thing we can do in this life. It's the only thing we shall do in the next, when we shall be like the angels, and their song and ours will be joined ‘in perfect harmony’, forever in tune with heaven.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

September 23, 2017

Dear Friends,

 

our Lord promises ‘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. (Isa 41.10). We come to him with our joys and sorrows, in pain and confusion, we lay our lives before him and ask for his love, his guidance, his strength, his healing grace, his forgiving peace, his life-giving touch, to make us whole.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

September 16, 2017

Dear Friends,

 

On this Harvest Festival as on every Sunday, we as the Christian family of this place offer worship to God through lives dedicated to his service, lives which try to reflect God’s love – generous, abundant, responsible and joyous.  But Jesus recognised that we have a tendency to worry and in particular to worry about the necessities of life, and worry to the point where there never ever could be enough.  But Christians time and time also bear witness that when they find ways to give God priority that there is discovery of unseen or unnoticed abundance.  So let us look into our own lives to see how heaven’s agenda could shape our giving and spending, so that there may be growth in holiness and a deeper connectedness to each other and to this good earth.

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

September 09, 2017

Dear Friends,

 

Just a couple of weeks after celebrating glorious West Indian Carnival here in Leeds our hearts bleed for all affected by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma, with Hurricane Jose on its heels. Sharing life, sharing joys and sorrows, sharing faith with so many Caribbean friends in our congregation here at St Aidan's, and in the neighbouring parishes and churches and the local community, we offer our support and prayers for God’s blessing of comfort, strength, relief and peace.

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

September 02, 2017

St Aidan and Stewardship

The Venerable Bede writes about Aidan and his days: Churches were built in diverse places; the people joyfully flocked together to hear the Word; lands and other property were given of the king’s bounty to found monasteries; English children, as well as their elders, were instructed by their teachers in study and the observance of the discipline of a Rule.

 

And we know from Bede and other witnesses how Aidan lived and witnessed among the people: regularly, mindfully, prayerfully, he walked the land and talked to all people he met, sharing of himself and of the love of Christ.

 

Aidan brought hope, he brought learning, he was generous in helping the poor, he ransomed slaves and restored them back to freedom and life, he was humble, he was gentle, he showed no favouritism to any group or class or background or status or origin.

 

Aidan left his homeland to lay down his life for the English-speaking people, never to return.

Sharing life, sharing of ourselves, sharing faith, sharing God’s love as followers and friends of Jesus is about making neither faith nor church, let alone God’s love, a possession.

 

We listen to God for the opportunities to serve, to love, to grow, to be transformed in grace.

Walking as followers of Christ, taking up the challenge of the new beginnings laid before us, my friends, means to take time to withdraw as well as to reach out, to retreat and rest and be refreshed as well as give, and give abundantly, give of ourselves.

 

For Aidan, place was important, but it was not the be-all and end-all. What was all-important to him was to be in the right place at the right time.

 

What does that mean for us today, my friends, here in this place, to be in the right place at the right time, to face new beginnings as a church family and as individual Christians in a place where place is important, this beautiful church we call our home, this challenging part of the city in which it is set, in which many of us live (or lived in the past), or into which many of us travel to worship, to love, to serve…

 

What does it mean to us, my friends, here in this place, to be followers of Jesus?

To let ourselves, yet again, be overwhelmed by his love, by his generosity, by his compassion, by his call.

 

For calling us, he does, my friends, calling us, he does, to walk as his friends and followers, his disciples and witnesses, responding to his love, to his generosity, by being loving, and generous ourselves.

 

And here, unashamedly, my friends, is my hook, my hook to our stewardship campaign which we will be running over these next seven weeks.

And yes, stewardship has to do with money.

 

We need money, we need more money, we need regular money, we need money from you and from me. We need it today, we need it next week, we need it in the months and years to come…so about money we will talk and think and pray in the next few weeks.

 

But stewardship has to do with so much more than money. It’s actually easier to give money than to give our hearts, to give our lives, to give our love.

What do I mean, you ask? You can’t look into our souls, you say, and judge our faith. And right you are, I can’t, and I don’t want to! It is God who will judge, and God alone, who is infinitely merciful.

 

But I still say it’s easier to give money than to give our hearts and lives and love, otherwise we would be giving more freely of our time, our talents, our skills to God, to each other and to our church.

 

So about that, too, how we respond to God’s generous love in active service, giving a bit of time, using some of our skills and talents, our smiles, a helping hand, about that we, too, will be talking and thinking and praying in the next few weeks.

And may God give us ears to listen!

 

For us and for this holy place I pray:

 

Here be the peace of those who do your sacred will;

Here be the praise of God by night and day;

Here be the place where strong ones serve the weakest,

Here be a sight of Christ’s most gentle way.

 

Here be the strength of prophets righting greed and wrong,

Here be the green of land that’s tilled with love;

Here be the soil of holy lives maturing,

Here be a people one with all the saints above.

 

Amen.

.

August 25, 2017

Who do YOU think I am

Who do people say that the Son of Man is? … Who do you say that I am?

 

Who do you, [insert names]…and you Mother Andi, who do you say that I, Jesus, am? On what will you stake your faith? How are you going to live your life? What will you stand up for? What is important? When will you say what you need to, want to, have to say?

In asking his questions, Jesus is asking his disciples on what they will wager their lives, to whom or what they give the claim over their being.

This is no benign easy question, a pat on the head, give the boy or girl a lolly occasion, but has everything to do with who the disciples think Jesus is. And more importantly, this question has everything to do with who the disciples think they are.

Questions like this are risky, are challenging, can cause offence and anger and a turning-away from the one asking.

And Jesus had his fair share of people rejecting or leaving his cause after initial excitement. Nevertheless these questions have to be asked.

 

Listen again to what St Paul writes: I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

Who do people say that the Son of Man is? … Who do you say that I am?

 

On what will we stake our identities, our lives, and our futures? How do we want to be known? …

… And this is not looking for text book answers, writings from the church fathers or great saints, quotations from famous international theologians cited in the original language… but this is putting ourselves out there, our faith, our thinking, our experiences, our prayer, our service, our witness however feeble …

… in full recognition of the possibility of rejection and of judgment by those who don’t want to hear and see and meet God.

Who do people say that the Son of Man is? … Who do you say that I am?

 

Who is Jesus? What is he to us? Who is he, what is he in relation to our living and loving?

 

I believe, people of God, that these questions are posed to us every day. And I believe that each one of us, my friends, is invited to answer these questions every day.

Because “who do you say that I am” has everything to do with who we are willing to become and ‘be’ as Jesus’ friends. (repeat)

 

We worship nearly daily in our church. We help feeding the hungry through our food share on a Sunday. We help people learn English and support them through their asylum claims. We look after our building, try to keep it repaired, try to improve it for everybody’s use. We visit the sick. We photocopy the weekly sheet, do the finances, clean, make funding applications and battle with the admin. We enable Into Univeristy, PAFRAS and the Eritrean Church to meet.

We are a welcoming, embracing community. Our strapline reads that we aim to be a worshipping, serving, sacrificing community following the example of Jesus Christ.

 

But, my friends, every single one of us would do well asking ourselves again and again, in how much those grand and wonderful things are ‘what do people say and do’ rather than ‘what do I say and do’.

 

Granted, we can’t all do everything.

 

But perhaps we all need to think:

 

Where do you and I need to grow?

 

Where can you and I do more, become more?

 

How can you and I be more generous, more loving in our response to a generous and loving God?

 

Where are we happy to quote those grand and wonderful things and feel good about them without us sharing in making them happen?

 

Where are we lacking in getting to know new people, …

… or making people welcome who are different and perhaps a bit difficult and needy?

 

So, friends, people of God, who do you, and you, and you, and you, preacher, too, say, that I, Jesus, am? And as people of God in this place, my friends, into what manner of living and loving are our answers going to lead us? Are we willing to listen, to grow, to act, to follow?

July 22, 2017

Healing

Dear Friends,

Praying for healing, comfort and strength for those on our prayer list, for those whom we carry on our hearts, for the needs of the world and for our own needs in preparation for today’s Healing Mass, I happened to think of some words from the following rather ‘unseasonal’ song:

Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?

The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb

Mary did you know …?

 

Do we know, my friends, do we trust, do we come to the Lord with our darknesses and pains, our sorrows and our wounds, to be met by the Wounded Healer who was born as one of us, lived and loved, taught and healed, suffered and died and rose again so that we may have life, and may have it abundantly?

 

With my love and prayers: Mo. Andi

July 15, 2017

Seeds

Dear Friends,

From the first time I have heard today’s parable I have usually felt quite uneasy about the whole business of my own Christian discipleship and its obvious shortcomings. Which, of course, is no bad thing, once in a while to reflect on how one lives one’s commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and witnesses to the kingdom of God. But looking at the story from another angle, what exactly are these seeds?

When Jesus explains the parable the seeds are likened to ‘The word of the kingdom’, which is preached in the world. Now, ignoring all the mishaps, temptations and influences, which weaken, test and even destroy the effectiveness of the word of God in its hearers, let us progress straight to the end of the parable. The seeds which fall onto good, fertile ground bear fruit and yield a rich harvest, a harvest, which provides food and a livelihood, and … more seeds. Words of the kingdom of God, which we first receive by God’s grace through … a story told, a sermon heard, a kind remark, a bible reading, a chance conversation in the street, bread broken and wine outpoured, an act of love, a visit to a sick bed, a grieve shared, our church community … all these encounters of the Word of God which bear fruit in us. They not only nourish and encourage us on our way through life, but they also provide new seed for the sower, who is God, new seed which God puts to his use in the bringing about of his kingdom.

 

With love and prayers: Mo. Andi