Exodus 3: 1-15; Psalm 105: 1-6, 23-26, 45b; Romans 12: 9-end
Gospel: Matthew 16: 21-end
“Do you want to know how I got to be so smart?”
“Do you want to know how I got to be so smart?” That’s the question a friend of mine used to ask me at the end of our conversations. He is not only a friend. He is also, for me, a teacher and mentor. He and I would often speak about life, prayer, theology, and relationships. I always came away from our conversations with new insights and truths about my life. He opened my eyes to things about me that I either did not or would not see. He offered me a larger vision of my life. Then he would laugh and ask, “Do you want to know how I got to be so smart.” I always say, “Yes, tell me,” and he would always give the same answer. It never changes. It’s just one word. It’s always the same word. Suffering. “Terry,” he would say, “most everything I’ve learned in life, I have learned through suffering”. That’s not what I want to hear. I never like the answer, but I have begun to recognise that he is telling me the truth. The same truth that Jesus speaks in today’s Gospel. Neither my friend, nor Jesus, is talking about suffering for suffering’s sake. They are speaking about a different kind of suffering. It’s the kind of suffering that happens when our home-made, self-created programs for happiness no longer work. If you really want to follow, will you take up your cross?
St Mary’s first service since lockdown
St Mary’s will open for our first service since lockdown was introduced, next Sunday the 6th of September. The service will commence at 10.15am as usual, but for those attending, please be prepared for some little adjustments. Everyone MUST enter via the main front door. When you arrive, you will be asked to provide your name and contact details, should the need arise for contact tracing. There is strategically placed hand sanitizers placed within the church, which I encourage everyone to make use of. You will be asked to wear a mask, unless there is a reason why you should not. You will also be asked to take a service book and retain this as you leave for future services (this is to enable less chance of cross-contamination). You will then be requested to sit in pews from the front of the church as it fills in to the rear. Please don’t expect to be seated in your normal pew. There will be volunteers available to assist. Family groups may sit together on one pew; however, individuals will need to sit on separate pews, which we anticipate will be two to a pew, whilst observing social distancing. There will be no hymns, however, Matthew will provide music during set times within the service. When it comes to Holy Communion, this will be given in one kind only. One pew at a time will come for Communion, which will be distributed at the bottom of the steps in front of the Choir Stalls. Again there will opportunity to use hand sanitizer before and after communion. The toilet facilities are available, but on in an emergency situation only. At the end of the service, there will be no teas/coffee gatherings and you will be asked to depart via the main front door, the rear pews leaving first, and so on – Last in – First out. I appreciate that this is a lot to take in, but I assure you it is absolutely necessary and won’t be as complicated as it first appears. I so look forward to seeing those of you who are coming next week, albeit in limited numbers and under very different circumstances.
I have some meetings planned in the next two weeks with Bishop Anne and several other key personnel concerned with future planning as we look forward to the 27th of September when St Mary’s becomes Pro-Cathedral. Please be assured that I will keep everyone informed regarding all important decisions as the weeks pass.
Our ‘Zoom Brunch’ will continue at 12.30pm every Sunday, and it would be lovely to see those who haven’t yet joined us, for a catch up. Unfortunately, I will not be able to join you this Sunday as Sam and I seized the opportunity to drive south to visit family. As I write this our nearly two-year old granddaughter Hannah Grace is getting dressed for a day of fun and discovery.
I fully understand that not everyone has broadband or even a computer, and I have been calling around again by telephone this week to see if everyone is ok. I tend not to call those whom I have spoken with on Zoom or during meetings, but concentrate more on those with whom I see or hear very little of during the current pandemic. If you would like the link to our Zoom Brunch, please get in touch on either of the details below and I can send you the necessary information required.
Last week we remembered the following individuals:
- 24th Aug – St Bartholomew the Apostle
- 27th Aug – Monica: Mother of Augustine of Hippo
- 28th Aug – Augustine: Bishop and teacher of the faith
- 29th Aug – Beheading of John the Baptist.
As I have mentioned in previous newsletters, St Mary’s still has to attend to its many financial obligations despite the Church being closed, and it is more important than ever to ensure we have the resources to honour those commitments. Some of you have sent me cheques/envelopes for your weekly giving donations and for that I am extremely grateful. I would encourage those who may be saving their envelopes up until a full return to normal Sunday services, to consider making a direct payment into St Mary’s Church bank account. I can provide the necessary information if you contact me on the details below. It is my utmost desire to ensure that we are able to observe all opportunities to cut down the risk of infection. However, if that method is not suitable and you would still like to contribute your envelopes, or make a donation, again, just contact me and I can make alternative arrangements to pick it up. Your continued support is so very much appreciated in these trying times.
Service(s) Week Commencing Sunday 30th Aug 2020
Sunday 6th September – Said Eucharist – 10.15am
O Lord God,
you taught us to pray together
and have promised to hear
even two or three calling on your name.
Lord, hear the prayers of your servants.
Give us knowledge of your truth and salvation,
and in the world to come,
give us life eternal;
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Armenian Liturgy – 4th Century)
Fr Terry Taggart