Message from your Rector

Have you heard about the Church of England’s ‘Daily Hope’ phone line?

Daily Hope offers music, prayers and reflections as well as full worship services from the Church of England at the end of a telephone line.
The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.
More details on the CofE website:
https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-parishes/daily-hope-phone-line
Do please pass this information on to anyone who you think may be interested

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Matthew 8
When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, 6 “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralysed and in terrible pain.”
7 Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”
8 But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. 9 I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.”
10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! 11 And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. 12 But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
13 Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And the young servant was healed that same hour.

Jesus had walked down from the top of the low mountain outside of Capernaum, his adopted home. He had just delivered what would become the most famous sermon in history – the sermon on the mount.
When he entered the town, a Roman centurion, whose servant was so sick that he was expected to die shortly came and asked Jesus if he might be willing to heal his servant.
Jesus set off straight away to go to the man but the Roman centurion stops him saying, ‘Lord I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, “Go” and he goes; and to another, “Come,” and he comes; and to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it.'”
Jesus turned and scanned his eyes over his disciples and the small crowd of people who had followed him down the mountain. Then he said, loud enough for everyone to hear, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith”
The centurion was one the most unlikely people to amaze Jesus by his faith. He was a Gentile. Doubtless he had a pagan upbringing. He was a Roman, stationed in Palestine to subject the Jews to the Emperor’s rule. He was a man of war. He achieved the rank of centurion by distinguishing himself above others in the brutal Roman martial arts. Not exactly the résumé you’d expect for becoming one of the Bible’s great heroes of faith.
So what in the world had happened to this man? We don’t know. But there he is in Capernaum, a living illustration that “many [would] come from the east and west and follow Jesus.”
In the account of this incident in the other gospels we are told that this centurion was highly thought of by the Jewish religious leaders. They told Jesus that the soldier deserved to have his servant healed. He was a good man and respected.
But the centurion himself said ‘he didn’t deserve’ to have Jesus come to him or to go and meet with Jesus himself and he suggested that Jesus should just say some words from a distance that would heal his servant.
We’ve probably got here the two basic views on religion.
The first view says that we need to make ourselves worthy of God.
There are lots of ways that we might think we can become worthy of Gods blessing. I come from a Christian family, I support my local church and I give money to charity, I’ve never murdered anyone, I’d do anything for anybody. all these things boil down to the attitude ‘of course God should accept me and bless me- I deserve it.’
It’s what people often think Christianity is all about. Doing good things, going to church and trying to deserve God’s favour.
There’s a story about a millionaire who wanted to use his money to do good to deserving people. He was in a Post Office one day when he saw an elderly man and woman at the counter drawing their pensions. Going up to them he said, ‘how would you like to spend a week at my house – I’ll give you a wonderful time.’ They agreed and so the millionaire took them off to his house in his Rolls Royce and, as he had promised, he saw that they had a really good holiday with excellent food and more luxuries than they had ever dreamed of. At the end of the week he walked into the library where the elderly man was enjoying a glass of wine and a cigar.
Well, he said, have you enjoyed yourself. Indeed I have said the man but can I ask you a question.
Certainly replied the millionaire.
Well, said the elderly man could you tell me who’s the old woman I’ve been sharing the house with all week!
The Venerable Bede said good works without faith cannot please God.
The Roman soldier had a very different idea. He said ‘I don’t deserve it’, but I believe Jesus’ word is powerful to do what I need.
Its interesting to see what Jesus said to the soldier.
His answer, which is the punch line of the story is in verse 10 – ‘when Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd who had followed him he said, I tell you I have not found such great faith even in Israel.’
The soldier was right. He didn’t deserve God’s blessing but he was right to believe that Jesus was powerful enough to heal his slave even with just a word. It didn’t need Jesus to come to him. It didnt need him to have done lots of good things to earn favours with God. It just needed Jesus to speak.
God’s blessing doesn’t depend on a religious background. Its not about us having religious friends or family. It doesn’t just depend on us supporting our local church or giving money to charity.
Because Jesus can heal at a distance it means that anyone anywhere can cry out to him for mercy and receive it. Of course Jesus is delighted and proud of us when we do all these things – this is how he wants us to live, caring for each other and looking beyond ourselves to others. But the point he is making is that we can’t hide behind these things.
And further in the chapter if we read it we would see that what he is saying offended the religious people. If we think we deserve Gods blessing because we’re more religious or do more good things than other people were going to be upset when God accepts sinners and outcasts.
This centurion is a reminder to us that “man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” I think we will be surprised someday when Jesus doles out rewards.
Jesus is not as impressed with titles, degrees, and achievements as we are. He is impressed with those who really do humbly believe him.
And the actions that come from a faithful heart are the ones which receive God’s blessing.

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Church services will sadly cease again

Zoom services will be available on a Sunday at 10.00 a.m. and every evening for Compline Service at 9.30 p.m,

Morning prayer will be held by Zoom on Tuesday mornings at 9.30 a.m.

For details to access Zoom services please contact Rev Kathryn

The Church will continue to be open for private prayer.

It will be open on Monday to Saturday from 10.00 am to 4.00 p.m.
Only the Lady Chapel will be available. The toilet will be closed
Sanitizers will be available

On Tue, 24 Mar 2020, 12:41 Kathryn Hammond, <rev.kathrynh@gmail.com> wrote:
It is with real regret that we have today had to close our church building to keep people safe.
Remember though that the Church is not the building it is the people.
God is with us through this very testing time and He hurts when we hurt and He understands how we feel.
Please keep in touch with me or with Rev Cathy with any concerns. We will be very happy to pray with you over the telephone or just talk with you.
I send my love and prayers for you to keep safe and well.
Rev Kathryn</rev.kathrynh@gmail.com>

CORONAVIRUS

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR OUR CHURCHES

We will be suspending public worship in all of our churches for the time being.
We want all our church buildings to be open for people to come and pray and find sanctuary.

Our clergy will be offering worship through daily prayer and the eucharist in our churches and some of these acts of worship will be recorded and sent to those able to access them.

Funerals will still take place in church with close family present and without organists or vergers.
We will offer services of thanksgiving at a later date for those who wish to do that.

Weddings and baptisms may still take place with very close family only.

Our church is still here – our clergy and church leaders are still here but most of all Since God is in her midst, she will not be shaken.

“Every hand we don’t shake must become a phone call we make,”

Every inch and every foot of distance we put between ourselves and another must become a thought about how we could help that other should the need arise.”

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