Life update

Just thought I’d do a quick update.  After successfully completing my curacy in Malvern, I applied and was accepted as the vicar of three churches just outside Pershore.  This has been a very exciting time for me as I have moved house and gained new friends.  The churches are all in very rural locations and so are quite small in their attendance but each are lovely in their own way.  I have been so thankful for the support I have received.

You may have noticed that most of my posts are missing.  Well, I thought a new life deserved a new blog.  I will still keep posting my sermons when I can.  Recording myself has been difficult as I no longer have the use of pulpits to rest my iphone on.  I’ve been trying to use a mic instead but this has been a bit cumbersome.  Anyway, this meant I didn’t record my first Christmas sermons which I’m a bit sad about as what I said was nothing like what I have written down!  BTW, despite being really ill, I had a fantastic Christmas!

I’m now looking forward to what God has in store for the churches in which I serve.

I hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas and wish you a happy new year!

Emma

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Bible sunday

United 4 Benefice Service 11am St Peters, Flyford Flavell. HC.
Col 3.12-17, Matt 24.30-35.

Listen along!

 

Today in the churches calendar we mark Bible Sunday. On this last Sunday in October, this date also coincides with reformation Sunday observed in the Lutheran tradition. When I visited Germany last year as part of the diocese curate exchange program, the Lutheran churches were busy preparing to celebrate the 500-year anniversary of Luther nailing his 95 these on the door of the Castle church. The day for celebration will be this Tuesday the 31st in Wittenburg, eastern Germany and they are expecting thousands, if not millions of visitors.

Luther’s most important theological contribution was the idea of the priesthood of all believers. He firmly believed that ordinary people should have the chance to read often and well in order to understand the faith. Luther broke away from the tradition of writing in Latin and instead used the language of the common tongue much to the distaste of the Papacy. Thanks to Luther’s translation of the Bible, it became possible for German-speaking people to stop relying on church authorities and instead read the Bible for themselves. Luther argued that ordinary people were not only capable of interpreting the scriptures for themselves, but that in doing so they stood the best chance of hearing God’s word. He wrote, “Let the man who would hear God speak read Holy Scripture.”

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Pay your taxes!

22nd October 2017 St Edmund, Stoulton. 10am HC CW. 19th after Trinity. Isaiah 45.1-7, 1 Thessalonians 1.1-10, Matthew 22.15-22

I am very pleased to be here and lead a service for you. I’m very much looking forward to getting to know you all and of course, you getting to know me. Some of you have already chatted with me and like many others have asked Have you settled in yet? My answer is yes! Very well thank you and so has my dog, Bertie. And yet in light of today’s readings, I began to reflect upon how this could be seen as a trick question. Perhaps not meant in a nasty way but in a way that I feel can only be answered positively. To do otherwise would be to give cause for concern. I mean, who would want a Vicar that doesn’t feel at home here?! And I do, I genuinely feel very at home here and have enjoyed meeting everyone and walking across the fields with my dog.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we hear of a trick question asked out of spite and fear. The Pharisees feel threatened by Jesus and his new teachings. So they try to ask questions that they think will trick Jesus up, exposing him as a false prophet. The Pharisees do this because they do not want their positions of power to be undermined or their relationship with the occupying roman army to be damaged.

Their question to Jesus has a double edge. Paying taxes to the Roman emperor was one of the hottest topics in the Middle east in Jesus’ day. Just take a moment to think about this for a moment. Imagine waking up one day to find that people from the other end of the world had marched in to your country and demanded that you pay them tax as the reward for having your land stolen?! You can imagine how this would cause the people to riot and revolt. That sort of thing is still happening in the world today.
Not paying taxes under the Roman empire rule was punished by death and any revolts were crushed mercilessly. In the wake of the mighty armies were countryside’s littered with crosses with dead and dying revolutionaries on them as a warning to those who were thinking of rising up. Just remember the scene in the film Spartacus staring Kirk Douglas and you get the idea.

Paying taxes was compulsory, not optional, so any prophet leading a kingdom of God movement like Jesus would be expected to oppose such laws. Like many Jews, the Pharisees thought that the point of becoming King would be to overthrow Caesar. If Jesus wasn’t intending to get rid of the tax and the occupying forces then why had they all shouted Hosanna a few days earlier? So, their question was not only to trick Jesus up but to give him a hard time too. To make him look weak and false.

When Jesus does answer them, he doesn’t rush into his answer but instead asks for a coin, a denar. This is in fact part of his answer but also reveals something about the Pharisees themselves as when they produce a coin they are in fact showing that despite opposing the Roman rule they are handling the hated currency.

Why was the currency hated? Well Jews at the time were not allowed to put images of people, human faces, on their coins. Caesar of course had his image stamped on the coins with words proclaiming that he was the Son of God and High priest. Words that would send a shudder through any loyal or devout Jew as for them, there was only one Son of God, the Messiah, and this pagan man wasn’t it. So how could the Pharisees even touch something so abhorrent unless they secretly colluded with the Romans for their own gain.

You can imagine Jesus looking at the coin with utter distaste as he asks Whose is this … image? Jesus has not said anything that would get him into trouble but instead has turned the question back at them. Of course they have to reply Caesar. Well, then says Jesus You’d better pay Caesar back his own coin, hadn’t you? How astonishing! Jesus is advocating paying taxes! But then here comes the kicker. Jesus then says and give to God the things that are God’s!

You see Jesus wasn’t trying to give an answer on the relationship between God and political authority but was pointing out to whose allegiance the Pharisees should have been giving themselves truly to. Jesus was rebuking them by challenging their playing games of keeping Caesar happy while speaking of God. He showed that the Pharisees were only paying lip service to God and were not being whole hearted in their faith. They had gotten it wrong about what the coming of the Messiah would mean. Jesus’ revolution was not about leading a military revolt, or defeating the Kingdom or Caesar by conventional means. No, Jesus would bring and continues to do so, through the victory of God’s love and power, victory over even death itself.

So what does this reading have to say to us today? Well the same challenge Jesus gave to the Pharisees can still be given. And this is no trick question. From time to time, we too need to remind ourselves about who we are truly serving. Have we truly given ourselves whole heartedly to serving God? Or are there other God we serve, like money, possessions and activities in our lives that we put first, before God? Its easily done. Yet God is always there, loving us and ready to forgive our mistakes as we return again in prayer to Him.

Cassocks – A guide to

So in prep for Cuddesdon in September I have received a welcome pack.  Apparently a black cassock is required and a surplice.  So after discussing across twitter and various priests, this is my definitive* guide!  Remembering a good cassock will last 20 yrs – so some thought is needed!

First I need to point out that many Ordinands borrow a cassock during training or buy second-hand.  I have chosen not to do that as I am short and the likelihood of borrowing one that fits is low!  Also, I have been lucky enough to have my Diocese pay for my Cassock out of the end budget for clergy wear.  I do not know if this is the norm but as I am the only f/t ordinand my diocese is sending this year I may be a ‘special’ case.

Where to buy

  • www.jandmsewing.com  Ask around and you’ll soon be told that J&M are the best around for quality, cost and service. I’ll be ordering mine from them! Also, in the USA they are considered to be ‘high end’! 😉 Also Ordinands get a discount or a free Preaching Scarf when ordering a surplice with their cassock!

Others are:

  • www.wippell.co.uk V Expensive. I ordered a Cassock Alb from them and it was ok although the buttons had to have extra attention as they were not tied securely.  Men biased.
  • www.vanpoulles.co.uk – I bought a travel bag from these as, at the time, I could not find a better /cheaper one. Expensive overall.
  • www.hfltd.com Hayes and Finch. www.mccfs.com Mary Collins. www.wattsandco.com Watts and Co. And Ebay! Yes really! There are others but none of these I have ordered from.

Cassock Features – or Symbolism of pleates, collars, buttons (all entirely down to taste)

Pleates

  • 5 pleates on the back = Five wounds of Christ. (St Stephens House requirement). Has good ‘swing’ but not gd for the ladies who worry about “does my bum look big in this ?”.
  • 3 pleates = Trinity (My choice due to above and suggested for women).
  • 1 pleates = No meaning (unless you know different?!)
Pleates

Pleates

Collars

  • Rounded = Catholic or Anglo-C, so ‘High church’. Also longer wearing and more comfortable. (My choice.)
  • Square = Middle church. (there must be a better way to describe ‘other than high church’.
  • No gap in collar = Ordinand awaiting priesting.  So altered to include gap later at extra cost.
  • No collar = Come fly with me High in the Sky Church.
  • Gap size = Personal preference but the average seems to be 3cm. But rounded collars usually come with 1 inch (2cm) gap.
Collar

Rounded collar

Square Collar

Square Collar

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buttons on Single breasted

  • 39 = Represents the 39 Articles of the Church of England and/ or the stripes of our Lord’s Scourging (40 -1).  (My Choice)
  • 33 = Represents Christ’s earthly years (Tends to worn by RC priests or those too short to wear 39 who’ll then get evenly placed)

Pockets

  • J&M have the choice of a pen Pocket or Jackey type inside Pocket. (I chose neither).
  • You can have normal pockets or slit through or one of each.

Cuffs: I chose no cuffs but some like cuffs as useful for putting pew/ liturgy/hymn sheets in.  (cant’ see it myself).

 

 

Thanks to Twitter @PeterDaviesWorc, @maggidawn, @frsimon for info!

*May not be definitive.

Images from J&M Sewing.

Jesus Deck and Lectio Divina

About a month back I went to a workshop exploring the Lectio Divina.  It was led by Michael Woodward and was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.  Before we began Michael went around the group asking what experience we had of Lectio Divina.  I mentioned I heard it being used with the Jesus Deck.  He hadn’t heard of this and asked for more info. This post is to record research about using the Lectio Divina with the Jesus Deck.   Personally, although I have the deck I am not into using it.

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