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Partners is the name of our weekly newsletter.

You can pick up a paper copy of Partners at any of our Churches, and it will give you all the information you need for the coming week. Alternatively you can download a copy of this weeks edition here.

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A sermon preached on the feast of Pentecost at St. Giles Church, Godshill 2017 by the Reverend John Towler

Tante agurri! Happy Birthday. Pentecost, Whitsunday is traditionally a day when we reflect on new life, on birth. The writer of Genesis reflects on the meaning of creation when he writes,

“…and the Spirit of God was moving over (or was hovering over) the face of the waters”.

St.Luke in his gospel story in announcing the birth of Jesus through the words of the angel writes,

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you”.

And again St Luke in the book of the Acts of the Apostles records his version of the birth of the church, a community of followers of Jesus of Nazareth when he writes,

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance”.

The anticipation of births is exciting and full of apprehension for the child bearer and those who stand by to witness the miracle. Births are painful processes producing considerable discomfort, sometimes anxiety as the mother prepares to bring to life the new born within her. Each birth is different. Each birth signifies a new life to be lived, a new person joining and searching to belong to the human race. Each birth is so normal and so special that we set aside a day in which we seek hold on to the significance of the miracle of life. St Luke paints a vivid picture for us in metaphor of the first Christians awareness of the Spirit. The word ‘wind’ is the same word as ‘breath’. God in Christ is as present to them as close as breathing. The Greek translation is ‘pneuma’ reminiscent of pneumonia and a pneumatic drill and the considerable power unleashed by it. Why ‘tongues of fire’? One explanation is found in a rare book in the Apocrypha, the Book of Enoch where ’tongues of fire’ refer to the indwelling of God in his temple-hence, tongues of flame representing the indwelling of God in his people.

As Jean Vanier writes, “There is a universal I hidden in the depths of every human soul, an I who gathers all together….fragile, secret, silent like the flame of a candle. And that is the true God.”

So it is right that today we as a Christian Community here should celebrate its birth once again. As we celebrate the Church birthday in today’s complex cosmopolitan world what have we to offer? Are we a dying institution or are we a spirit-filled community?

The spirit of truth is constantly prodding us to renew our perception of truth, cleansing our vision. We must confuse words as truth. We bring to words our experience and this makes it our truth. I use the word ‘prod’ advisedly. How much do we examine what we do and what we are for? What are we hanging on to which needs pruning? What questions are too difficult to ask? The message of the early church is that they found a new freedom from fear of others to boldly live by a set of values, kingdom values. How can we free up our Churches from encumbrances which tie us to old and worn out traditions and language? For me the Church is in danger of becoming too identified with a business model so that we are losing our spirit led freedom to respond in more spontaneous ways. Business like we must be as we are good stewards of our inheritance, but we are primarily ambassadors of the kingdom of God a way of being in the world and worshippers of Almighty God.

Hear the words of Martyn  Percy , Dean of Christ’s College, Oxford:

“Only when the church is free of impose ideologies and agendas, can it begin to reclaim an identity as an institution that radically speaks of and embodies God-rather than being consumed by shallower mission and management targets.”

If we give some time to contemplation and meditation we shall find that the Spirit will bring to birth in us riches beyond our imagining. One of the daily times I treasure is in the practice of contemplation, meditation call it what you will. I am talking about a conscious effort to allow yourself to be aware of the mystery of God present within you. This requires few if any words. We can fill our God time with so many words that if we are not careful we shall miss a sense of his presence. Yes, it requires an act of faith on your part to allow yourself to rest in him, to let him take over you rather than you trying to badger him. And you have to keep at it even when you feel empty, knowing that his spirit will never abandon us.

To be aware of God’s Spirit within us is to seek to connect with a power, a dynamism, an evolutionary force of love which alone will transform people’s lives. Allow him to bring to your awareness all the things you are grateful for, all the people who have enriched and continue to enrich your life and that of his church. “He will bring to mind all of which I have told you”.

That is a great gift for our world. Many will never know the source of their capacity to love and serve. They may never know loves name. But that does not matter. Your being there in the presence of God on their behalf is a way of being Christ for the world. John Taylor a former Bishop of Winchester put it like this,

“Love for life, love for the world, love for little things, love for people you have never met is actually brought to birth as you meditate on what you have known and experienced. It is the bread of our love that is produced by this quiet milling over, which is also the work of the Holy Spirit”.

The celebration of Pentecost alerts us to the disturbing nature of the God we worship. We are to be renewed, transformed ourselves and be renewing and transforming agents of the lives of others. We are Spirit bearers and as such we live by a set of values which some will find odd. We shall be tempted not to believe it is the Spirit.

We are in danger of becoming a busy church, a money raising church, a local tribe only concerned with its own life and continuity. Jesus challenged us with much weightier questions, questions that a coming Election we could well ponder on.

Who expects us to forgive those who offend us? Who expects us to place the marginalised and the poor of the world before the respectable of society? Who expects all races and religions to treated with respect and tolerance? Who expects us to go the extra mile? The church is seen by many as an odd community. Believing in the power of the Spirit will cost us. As we celebrate the church’s birthday let us reaffirm our commitment to those spirit led values which make us fearless, believing, peaceable, loving and accepting and spirit bearers for all God’s people. It is by the tongues of fire at Pentecost alone that we can have life and have it more abundantly. T. S. Eliot in his Four Quartets gives the reason:

“Love is the unfamiliar Name

Behind the hands that wove

The intolerable shirt of flame

Which human power cannot remove”.




Dear All in Christchurch Deanery:

We’ve had distressing news of the continuing drought in Kinkiizi, Uganda – see pictures overleaf and the message from the Diocesan Secretary below.

People have been very generous with the Hymnathon recently, and Gill Tybjerg from the Deanery will be taking some extra money from Deanery funds specifically for the drought with her when she goes next month.

However, if anyone would like to make an extra donation, we would need to know by Monday, July 3rd, so that she can take it with her on Friday 7th.

Please also remember Kinkiizi Diocese in your prayers.

Canon Gary Philbrick, Area Dean

From the Diocesan Secretary of Kinkiizi Diocese:

To all our development partners and well wishers

Christian love and greetings from the Diocese of Kinkiizi in Kanungu District, Uganda, East Africa to all our development partners and well wishers.

We thank you for your continued support for our Ministry to God’s people.

We are writing to bring to your kind attention the adverse effect that the prolonged drought has seriously caused to our people in Uganda and Kanungu District in particular some people have already started dying as a result of hunger. We fear that if nothing is done urgently, many more people are going to die. Schools may not operate up to the scheduled time of second term because of lack of food.

There are very many families affected but we would like to provide support to the most needy families with beans, posho and rice.

Each of these items is estimated at the cost of Ugx 3,000= (Three thousand shillings only) per kilogram today. We do not know what the cost will be tomorrow as it is changing every other day. As a church, we feel we cannot sit back while our people are facing this great challenge.

We will appreciate any kind of support towards our efforts to mitigate this challenge facing us today.

We have attached photos showing the extent of the effect of the drought on our crops.

We thank you for your positive response to our appeal.

Yours in Christ’s service.

Rev.Can.Bernard Bagaba

Diocesan  Secretary. Diocese of Kinkiizi


Our sufficiency comes from God (2Cor.3:5)


BORN IN SONG -Trinity 1, June 18th, 2017

A Sermon preach by Canon Gary Philbrick at St Mary’s Fordingbridge on the First Sunday after Trinity, Music Sunday, and at a joint Service with Fordingbridge and Sandleheath Methodist Churches.

‘As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near” ’ [Matt 10:7]. 

We have entered the season of Trinity, that part of the Church’s Year known as ‘Ordinary Time’, which stretches from Trinity Sunday to All Saints’ Sunday at the beginning of November – something over a third of the year.  The liturgical colour is green – green for growth – and our readings follow through pretty sequentially – we concentrate mainly on Romans and Philippians for the first readings, and then hear Gospel Readings from Matthew right the way through until the end of October.

In his famous poem, After Trinity, John Meade Falkner puts it like this:

We have done with dogma and divinity,
Easter and Whitsun past,
The long, long Sundays after Trinity
Are with us at last;
The passionless Sundays after Trinity,
Neither feast-day nor fast.

But I don’t think he’s entirely right.  Trinity is certainly a ‘long, long season’ – and by the time we get to Trinity 19 in October it’s difficult to remember what number we are up to.  But surely, it shouldn’t be ‘passionless’.  It should a time of steady growth, of exploration, of thinking about new ideas, of moving forwards in our relationship with God.

The very name can do this season something of a dis-service.  We live in a culture where ‘ordinary’ is often seen as something substandard, mundane or mediocre – on a par with satisfactory: it’s okay, but nothing to write home about.  In fact, the term Ordinary here comes from the Latin word ordinalis, which refers to numbers in a series, ordinal numbers, and stems from the Latin word ordo, from which we get the English word order.  So, Ordinary Time is the ordered life of the Church—the period in which we live our lives neither in fasting (as Advent and Lent) nor in feasting, (as in Christmas and Easter).

Ordinary time provides the opportunity to dwell on all that we have celebrated in the last six months and ask, ‘What was that all about?’, and ‘What difference does it make to our lives and to our world?’  Ordinary Time is not so much dull as necessary.  After six months of a full and often intensive liturgical calendar, Ordinary Time provides contrast, variety and relief.  Just as the disciples couldn’t stay on the mountaintop with Christ after the Transfiguration, but had to come back down to the everyday world below, so we need Ordinary Time to provide a sense of balance in our lives – we need both routine and excitement, the everyday and the adventure, stress and ease, nights in as well as nights out.  There would be no rainbow without the rain, no extraordinary without the ordinary.  Both are valid and both are vital in our development as disciples.

So, it’s very good that we are worshipping together, Fordingbridge and Sandleheath Methodists, along with those from the congregation here, celebrating our life in Christ together.  And it’s actually rather long overdue.

I’m not sure when we last worshipped together as Anglicans and Methodists in Fordingbridge – we do it all the time in Sandleheath, of course.  Not only are we very near neighbours here, but also the Methodist Church and the Church of England are in Covenant with each other.  It was signed in 2003, and amongst many other things, we have covenanted: ‘to realise more deeply our common life and mission and to share the distinctive contributions of our traditions, taking steps to bring about closer collaboration in all areas of witness and service in our needy world’ [An Anglican-Methodist Covenant, 2003, Commitment 2].

And the Final Report on the Covenanting Process, from October 2014, begins, ‘An Anglican Methodist Covenant between the Church of England and the Methodist Church of Great Britain was signed in November 2003.  It established a new relationship between those churches, based on mutual affirmations and commitments to grow together in mission and holiness and make the unity of Christ’s Church visible between them’ [See both documents at http://www.anglican-methodist.org.uk/]. You can easily find both reports by searching for Anglican-Methodist Covenant – they make interesting and thought-provoking reading.

So, as Anna and Rachel and I have met from time-to-time to discuss our working together, it seemed like a good idea to take some practical steps to develop the already good relationships we have between the three Churches gathered here this morning.

And how appropriate the Gospel Reading for today is.  Mathew 9:35 – ‘Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness.’  And Matthew 10:1 – ‘Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.’  Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God, and then instructed his disciples to imitate him, and sent them out to do it – and we are his disciples.  ‘As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near” ’ [Matt 10:7].

And it’s not a Methodist Kingdom we are proclaiming; it’s not a Church of England or even an Anglican Kingdom; it’s the Good News that the Kingdom of God has come near.  It’s very easy for us to become so immersed in our own comfortable, little bubbles, that we forget that the rest of the world is out there, and in dire need of God’s love.  We get so set in our ways, so comfortable with our traditions, so concerned that things should stay the way we like them, that we forget that we are called to ‘proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near” ’.

We forget, as Tim Dearborn has written, that ‘It is not the Church of God that has a mission in the world, but the God of mission who has a Church in the world’ [Beyond Duty: A Passion for Christ, a Heart for Mission by Tim Dearborn, p. 2].

‘As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near” ’.

And it’s also very appropriate that we should happen to be gathering on Music Sunday – as music is one of the important facets of worship in both of our Church traditions.  Music Sunday is promoted by the Royal School of Church Music – for whom Tim, one of our Directors of Music, works – and is to celebrate and reflect on the gift of music in worship, as well as to remember the work that the RSCM does in supporting music across the Churches and across the world.

At the Offertory, we’re going to be singing a hymn from the Methodist Hymn Book, Singing the Faith, called ‘Born in Song’.  I’m pretty certain that it’s going to be new for us here, and I have a feeling that it may not be used all that much in the Methodist Church either – which is shame, because it’s a great hymn, with wonderful words and a soaring tune, both by Brian Hoare, a Methodist hymn writer and composer.

Born in song!

         God’s people have always been singing.

Born in song!  Hearts and voices raised.

So today we worship together;

God alone is worthy to be praised [V. 1].

It was on a train journey from London to Chesterfield in 1979 that the Revd Brian Hoare wrote this hymn.  Inspired by the opening sentence of the preface to the 1933 Methodist Hymn Book (“Methodism was born in song”), Brian traces the connection between worshipping together and the task of spreading the Gospel story: verse 5 begins. ‘Tell the world! All power to Jesus is given… Spread the word, that all may receive him; every tongue confess and sing his praise.’

At the time, Brian was serving on the committee producing Hymns & Psalms, the predecessor to Singing the Faith.  He was also on the staff of Cliff College, an Evangelical Bible College in Derbyshire.  From his home nearby he could see, up on the hills of the Peak District, one of England’s finest stately homes, Chatsworth House, from which the hymn’s tune takes its name.  Brian says, ‘The melody includes some big ‘jumps’ or ‘octave leaps’, which are symbolic of the huge fountain in the historic house’s grounds.

Both the words and the music of “Born in Song!” were written in a couple of hours on the train.

Music is a powerful way expressing of our faith, of drawing others into the journey of faith, and of strengthening ourselves to go out into the world in faith.

It’s great to worship together this morning – but where will it lead us ‘As we go to proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near” ’?

It’s great to sing together, but will our singing equip us better to live the faith in our daily lives that we proclaim in our worship on Sundays?

It’s great to break bread and share wine together, but will that lead to service in the world, to love of our neighbour, to care for those in distress, to reaching out together to serve our local community and wider world?

Questions we all need to take seriously if we are to be God’s people in the world.

The hymn, ‘Born in Song’, will finish with the triumphant words:

Then the end!

        Christ Jesus shall reign in his glory.

Then the end of all earthly days.

Yet above the song will continue;

All his people still shall sing his praise [V. 6].

Let it be so.  AMEN.


Sermon preached at St. Mary’s Churches, Fordingbridge & Breamore on Trinity Sunday, 11th June 2017, Rachel Noël

May I speak in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit… Amen
So today is Trinity Sunday, one of the principal feast days in the Anglican Church, and it’s why we’ve gone white & gold today. We have several feasts in the church calendar, most of them are marking events in Jesus’ life, or other historical events.

I think today is really interesting, as it’s the only feast day in the church year that is purely about doctrine…so it’s a feast day about what we believe – and in particular it’s about our doctrine of the Trinity. Trinity Sunday, the Sunday after Pentecost has been celebrated since the tenth century… and in most church calendars, we count the rest of the weeks of the church year as the number of Sundays after today.

Trinity Sunday is also a well known Sunday for heresy… because as soon as we start trying to put into words exactly what it is that we think and believe about our God… it gets really difficult… and we can quickly end up in a muddle.

Now, don’t start yawning yet, or switching off. I think it’s really important… the Trinity is very short hand for what we are saying about who our God is. And it matters…
who we believe our God is matters greatly…
our God is who we are here to worship today,
our God is who we are praying to and with
Who we believe our God is affects how we think of ourselves, and how we think of ourselves in relation to God and to each other.
To see how much it matters, we only have to turn on our television sets and watch the news… what people believe about their God affects their actions. Distorted views of who God is can lead people to carry out horrendous acts.

So… the Trinity…
To find out what we believe about the Trinity, I decided that today we would think about our creeds. The word creed comes from the Latin meaning credo… ‘to believe’… so the creeds are our statements about what we believe.

Now we’re Anglican… so of course, we don’t just have one creed… there are three authorised creeds… and to understand where they come from we need to understand a bit of history.
We know Christianity came out of Judaism, as Jesus himself was a Jew. The temple of Jerusalem was destroyed in AD70, and after this time Christianity really found its feet as a new faith outside of Judaism. And as a new faith, it needed to work out what it is that it believed, ….

and so the arguments started about how to worship, how to pray, what the sacred documents are, and who or what we think God is.

There were many different ideas circulating about how to do things… and not everyone could agree…. some things don’t change!

Nowadays, we’re used to the Bible… and what books are contained in it… however, that all had to be negotiated.

In 144 AD, the first set of Christian books was circulated in Rome, by Marcion… except he’d used his scissors to chop out the bits he didn’t like…. and his books had the Christian God of love in violent war with the Jewish God of the Old Testament… This is different to what we have today, where we accept that Christianity has come from Judaism, and that we worship the same God.

But these things take a while to sort out, and it wasn’t until 367AD, another 200 years later for the list of books that we now know as the Bible, to first appear – put together by Athanasius who was bishop of Alexandria in Egypt.

But reading all the Bible, is quite long and complicated… so people needed, and still need a short hand… a summary of what it is that we actually believe.
And that’s where the creeds start to come in.

The first creed appears around AD 110, written by Ignatius of Antioch…

In the Second century the Roman creed started to circulate, which eventually became the Apostles Creed – although it took until 700 AD for the words to be finally agreed… because every phrase, every word is very carefully constructed, to be clear about what it is that we do and don’t believe…. That’s 600 years of deciding exactly on the words! The creed kept being refined to argue against other teachings that developed.
And so the Roman creed became the Apostles creed… which is one of our 3 Anglican creeds… I’m sure you’re familiar with it…. I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth… and so on…

These creeds were used to prepare people for baptism, to be accepted into the Christian faith – and the promises that we make at baptism and confirmation today are still based on these creeds – Do you believe in God, the Father almighty? Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?

So these creeds were and still are a way to teach about our faith, about the God that we believe in. By saying the creed every week within our worship, the teaching sinks into our consciousness, our understanding.

And because the creeds are so important, many people were involved in discussions over many centuries about what it is that the creeds say. Think PCC, but on a much larger scale, and even greater focus on the detail of specific words!

There were several significant councils of the worldwide churches that met to try and sort out what it is that Christians believe. The first one was called by the Roman Emperor Constantine, In May 325 AD, and so 230 bishops gathered at Nicaea in Turkey.

They met to discuss the matter of Jesus divinity, and to try and set the matter straight…
Was Jesus just a person, a bit lower than God,
or was Jesus totally God, and not properly human…

You might think this is a rather dull council, debating the technicalities…. but it really matters…

if you think Jesus was completely God and not really human… then what do we think happens at Christmas? at his crucifixion?…. if you’re not really human, how can you be born, how can you die?

On the other hand, if Jesus is just a person, and not divine… then what does his death have to do with the ongoing salvation of the world?

This council of Nicaea in 325 set the definition of Christ as being both fully human and fully God… this is still the belief of the churches across the world, to this day. And we had a new creed – the Nicene creed.

Arius, working in Alexandria disagreed. he felt that Jesus must have been created, he must have been made by God like everything else in creation… and therefore Arius says that Jesus couldn’t be fully God. As a creature, a created being, Jesus must therefore be subordinate to his Father.

This is something that the Jehovah’s Witnesses still believe, for them Jesus is not God, he is special as God’s son, but he is not divine himself.

Athanasius, who eventually became bishop of Alexandria, strongly opposed Arius… he said that ‘If Christ were not truly God, then he could not bestow life upon the repentant and free them from sin and death. Yet this work of salvation is at the heart of the biblical picture of Christ.’

It really does matter what we believe…. it’s like the questions the pharisees ask… does Jesus have the power to forgive sins? Is Jesus really divine and part of the salvation of the world? Does he really have the power to forgive?

And so the Nicene Creed sets out to be very clear about it… I’m sure you’re familiar with this creed too.

“We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made….”
The Creed is setting out very clearly that we do not accept the version of Christianity that Arius was proclaiming…

The third of the authorised Anglican creeds is the Athanasian creed – and this is the one that you have received this morning, and probably the one that you are least familiar with. Click here for BCP Athanasian Creed

This creed started floating round in about the sixth century. It’s the latest of the creeds to be developed. (maybe that’s why it’s the longest!)
And this is the first creed to be absolutely explicit about the equality of the three persons of the Trinity. In fact the whole of the first page – lines 1-28, are about the Trinity… and the second page follows with what we believe about Christ.

This creed spells out the three persons of the Trinity, making sure that we understand that each of the three parts of God are divine. each of them is uncreated… so God the Father didn’t create the other two, they are each limitless… or as the book of common prayer describes them – incomprehensible, (and incomprehensible it may seem as it tries to define exactly what we believe) each one is eternal, and each one is almighty.
But it also spells out the unity of the three as well.

The Book of Common Prayer tells us that this creed should be used instead of the Apostles Creed at 13 different feast days throughout the year, as well as on Trinity Sunday.
Given the length of it, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to realise that this has largely fallen out of fashion. It’s also the only creed that spells out concepts of eternal damnation

I’m being kind though… and giving you a diagram too… on the back of your handout you have a diagram with words in it.
This diagram summarises what the creed is saying, and thus summarises what it is that the church says it believes about God.
The whole diagram is God… it’s telling us that there is one God – not three separate Gods.
That our one God is both Father, Son and Spirit at the same time…. but the Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit and the Spirit is not the Father. They are both different and yet one.

I realise that’s a lot of words today, to try and help us think about who God is…
But however many words we use, to try and describe God, to try and understand…. eventually we run out of words…
However much we may want to capture, to contain, to specify God… he / she is beyond our wildest dreams.

Eventually we learn to live with the paradox that is God
We accept the mystery that is God, the wonderful, beautiful, incredible mystery, that is our amazing God,

We have to accept that at the heart of our faith, is loving relationship, the loving relationship that is God,…

and the invitation that is always there, for us to accept that love, and to enter into loving relationship with our God, three in one,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit

CHOOSE LOVE! – A Sermon at the Twinning Service on the Sunday after Ascension, May 28th, 2017

By Canon Gary Philbrick

(A Service for the 35th Anniversary of the Vimoutiers/Fordingbridge Twinning – See Sermon in French below)

Acts 1:6-14, John 17:1-11

May the words I speak and the words you hear be God’s alone, Au nom du Père et du Fils et du Saint-Esprit.  AMEN.

Gary, Louis (Junior Mayor of Vimoutiers) and Malcolm (Mayor of Fordingbridge) after the Service.

This time between Ascension Day last Thursday and Pentecost next Sunday is a time of waiting on the renewal of the Holy Spirit.  In the first chapter of Acts, which the Junior Mayor of Vimoutiers read for us a few moments ago, just before Jesus was lifted up into the heavens, he said to his Disciples, ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and … to the ends of the earth’.

The Holy, Creating, Life-Giving, Sustaining Spirit, which has been there since before the universe was created, is still at work in the Church, in individual Christians, and in the world.  The Spirit which brings life, which works for peace, and which fulfils Jesus’ prayer at the end of the Gospel reading which our own Mayor of Fordingbridge read for us, ‘That they may be one, as we are one’.

So, during these days, we continue to pray ‘Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your people, and kindle in us the fire of your love’.

This year, these 10 days have an added intensity, as we have been asked by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’, to pray for growth, in worship and service in the Church, to pray for our family and friends, to pray for our nation and our world.  Through the power of God’s Holy Spirit, we pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.  If you search for ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ you will find a wealth of material to explore different ways of praying, and we have copies of the Prayer Booklet on the table by the door.  And on Wednesday, at the 10.00 Communion, we will be praying for and with our partner Diocese of Kinkiizi in Uganda, with whom we have such a special link.  Everyone is encouraged to make some space in these days, and to try new ways of praying.

And there is much to pray about.

We are in the middle of a General Election, and we need to pray for good government for this country, to pray for all those standing for election, and for ourselves as the electorate.  And on Tuesday we’ll have the opportunity to hear what the candidates have to say when they come here for ‘Election Question Time’.

And in France, they are between the Presidential Election this month and the Legislative Elections next month.

And we are just beginning negotiations to leave the European Union, with many economic and relational uncertainties – what effect will it have on us, and on our European neighbours?

On Friday we heard of the terrible attack, part of a pattern in recent months, on Coptic Christians in Egypt.  Christians form about 10% of the population of Egypt, a sizeable minority, and the Coptic Orthodox Church, one of the family of Orthodox Churches of the East, is a very ancient and venerable Church.  It is one of the six denominations which has a place in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the site of both the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.  And, in fact, one of their chapels is a tiny one at the back of the empty tomb.

On Friday, a group from the Church was on a pilgrimage to the Monastery of St Samuel the Confessor, 85 miles south of Cairo, when their bus came under fire.  Way out in the desert, a group of Gunmen wearing military uniforms attacked the convoy with machine guns before fleeing across the sands in 4X4 vehicles.  At least 28 were killed, and another 25 injured.

And last Monday, there was the dreadful attack on the Manchester Arena, with horrific tales of injuries and deaths, especially of so many young people – who were clearly deliberately targeted.  22 dead, and 66 still in hospital, many of them critical.

I’ll come back to this in a moment, but all that I’ve said is a backdrop to why I think that anything which helps us to look outwards, to form links with other communities, here and across the world, must be a good thing.

For the past 35 years, the Fordingbridge and Vimoutiers Twinning Associations have worked to develop and maintain friendships between our two towns.  I’ve looked at Dennis Bailey’s video, produced in 2002 to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Twinning, and it has some wonderful images of friendship and partnership over those twenty years.  And I’m sure those involved in the Twinning will have many memories of the fifteen years since then.

The work of the Holy Spirit is to bring people together, and the Twinning Associations have done that very successfully for the past 35 years, and we want to thank them for that and wish them well for the next 35 years.

In the wake of the Manchester attack, there was a Vigil in Albert Square in the middle of the city on Tuesday evening.  Thousands of people gathered to mourn, to express solidarity, to thank the emergency services, and to remember those who had died.

Tony Walsh, the Manchester-based poet, also known as Longfella, read a remarkable poem, which seemed to encapsulate the feelings of all those who had gathered, and really spoke of the sense of community which was evident in Manchester in the aftermath of the attack.

The poem ended, ‘Always remember, never forget, forever Manchester’, and then, almost as an afterthought, he added perhaps the most important words of all, ‘Choose love’.

Choose love.

The Bishop of Manchester, speaking on the radio a few days later, on Ascension Day, picked up on those words, and I’ve quoted them in Partners this week.

The Bishop said: ‘Tony Walsh, ended the verses he read at Tuesday’s Vigil with a loud cry of ‘Choose love, Manchester’.  Amen to that.  In the face of evil, choose love, Manchester; choose love, Britain; choose love, humanity’.

Choose love.

That’s a choice we can all make in the face of adversity, and in our everyday lives.

It’s the choice we make as we serve our family, neighbours and friends.  It’s the choice the Twinning Associations make as they draw our communities together.  It’s the choice we are urged to make by the Archbishops as we pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’.

And any authentic prayer for God to come into our lives has to be a prayer to choose love.  Any prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit is a prayer to choose love.

Choose love, Fordingbridge; choose love, Vimoutiers; let us all choose love.  

I’ll end with the Prayer for ‘Thy Kingdom Come’

Almighty God,
your ascended Son has sent us into the world
to preach the good news of your kingdom:
inspire us with your Spirit
and fill our hearts with the fire of your love,
that all who hear your Word
may be drawn to you,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.

La HOMILIE: CHOISIS L’AMOUR – Canon Gary Philbrick, Priest-in-Charge

28 / V / 17, Ascension 1, 10,30 Fordingbridge

(Service pour le 35e anniversaire du jumelage de Vimoutiers) 

Une traduction de google – excusez-vous pour toute erreur!

Actes 1: 6-14, Jean 17: 1-11

Que les mots que je parle et les mots que vous entendez soient les seuls de Dieu, Au nom du Père et du Fils et du Saint-Esprit. AMEN.

Cette fois, entre le jour de l’Ascension jeudi dernier et la Pentecôte du dimanche prochain, c’est un moment d’attente pour le renouvellement du Saint-Esprit. Dans le premier chapitre des Actes, que le maire junior de Vimoutiers nous a lus il y a quelques instants, juste avant que Jésus ne soit élevé dans les cieux, il a dit à ses disciples: “Vous recevrez le pouvoir lorsque le Saint-Esprit vous sera venu ; Et vous serez mes témoins à Jérusalem, et … aux extrémités de la terre ».

L’Esprit Saint, Créatif, Vivant et Soutenant, qui existe depuis l’origine de l’univers, est toujours au travail dans l’Église, dans les chrétiens individuels et dans le monde. L’Esprit qui apporte la vie, qui travaille pour la paix, et qui remplit la prière de Jésus à la fin de la lecture de l’Évangile que notre maire de Fordingbridge a lue pour nous: «Qu’ils soient un seul, comme nous sommes un».

Alors, ces jours-ci, nous continuons à prier: «Venez, Saint-Esprit, remplissez les cœurs de votre peuple et allumez en nous le feu de votre amour».

Cette année, ces 10 jours ont une intensité supplémentaire, comme nous l’ont demandé les Archevêques de Canterbury et York pour prier «Thy Kingdom Come», prier pour la croissance, le culte et le service dans l’Église, prier pour notre famille et Amis, prier pour notre nation et notre monde. Par le pouvoir du Saint-Esprit de Dieu, nous prions: «ton Royaume vient». Si vous recherchez «Thy Kingdom Come», vous trouverez de nombreux matériaux pour explorer différentes façons de prier, et nous avons des copies du livret de prière sur la table par la porte. Et mercredi, lors de la Communion 10h00, nous prions pour et avec notre partenaire Diocèse de Kinkiizi en Ouganda, avec qui nous avons un lien spécial. Tout le monde est encouragé à faire de l’espace en ces jours et à essayer de nouvelles façons de prier.

Et il y a beaucoup de choses à prier.

Nous sommes au milieu d’une élection générale, et nous devons prier pour un bon gouvernement pour ce pays, prier pour tous ceux qui sont éligibles et pour nous-mêmes en tant qu’électorat. Et mardi, nous aurons l’occasion d’entendre ce que les candidats doivent dire lorsqu’ils viennent ici pour «Heure des questions électorales».

Et en France, ils se situent entre les élections présidentielles ce mois-ci et les élections législatives le mois prochain.

Et nous commençons tout juste des négociations pour quitter l’Union européenne, avec de nombreuses incertitudes économiques et relationnelles – quel effet aura-t-il sur nous et sur nos voisins européens?

Vendredi, nous avons entendu parler de la terrible attaque, une partie du modèle de ces derniers mois, sur les chrétiens coptes en Egypte. Les chrétiens forment environ 10% de la population d’Égypte, une minorité importante, et l’Église copte orthodoxe, une des familles d’églises orthodoxes de l’est, est une église très ancienne et vénérable. C’est l’une des six dénominations qui a une place dans l’église du Saint-Sépulcre à Jérusalem, site de la crucifixion et de la résurrection. Et, en fait, une de leurs chapelles est une petite à l’arrière de la tombe vide.

Vendredi, un groupe de l’Église était en pèlerinage au monastère de Saint-Samuel, le Confesseur, à 85 milles au sud du Caire, lorsque leur bus a été incendié. Dans le désert, un groupe d’hommes armés portant des uniformes militaires a attaqué le convoi avec des mitrailleuses avant de fuir à travers les sables des véhicules 4X4. Au moins 28 ont été tués et 25 autres blessés.

Et le lundi dernier, il y a eu une terrible attaque contre le Manchester Arena, avec des histoires horribles de blessures et de décès, en particulier de tant de jeunes – qui étaient clairement ciblés. 22 morts et 66 encore à l’hôpital, dont beaucoup sont critiques.

Je reviendrai dans un instant, mais tout ce que j’ai dit est une toile de fond pour savoir pourquoi tout ce qui nous aide à regarder vers l’extérieur, pour former des liens avec d’autres communautés, ici et à travers le monde, doit être un bonne chose.

Au cours des 35 dernières années, les associations de jumelage Fordingbridge et Vimoutiers ont travaillé à développer et à maintenir des amitiés entre nos deux villes. J’ai regardé la vidéo de Dennis Bailey, produite en 2002 pour célébrer le 20ème anniversaire du jumelage, et il a des images merveilleuses d’amitié et de partenariat au cours de ces vingt ans. Et je suis sûr que les personnes impliquées dans le jumelage auront beaucoup de souvenirs des quinze ans qui ont suivi.

Le travail de l’Esprit Saint est de rassembler les gens, et les associations de jumelage l’ont fait avec succès depuis 35 ans, et nous voulons les remercier pour cela et leur souhaiter une bonne chance pour les 35 prochaines années.

À la suite de l’attaque de Manchester, il y avait une veille à Albert Square au milieu de la ville mardi soir. Des milliers de personnes se sont réunies pour pleurer, exprimer leur solidarité, remercier les services d’urgence et se souvenir de ceux qui sont morts.

ony Walsh, le poète basé à Manchester, également connu sous le nom de Longfella, a lu un poème remarquable, qui semblait encapsuler les sentiments de tous ceux qui s’étaient rassemblés et parlait vraiment du sens de la communauté qui était évident à Manchester à la suite de la attaque.

Le poème a fini: «Rappelez-vous toujours, n’oubliez jamais, pour toujours Manchester», puis, presque comme une réflexion ultérieure, il a ajouté peut-être les mots les plus importants de tous, «Choisir l’amour».

Choisis l’amour.  L’évêque de Manchester, qui parlait à la radio quelques jours plus tard, le jour de l’Ascension, a repris ces mots, et je les ai cités dans Partners cette semaine.  L’évêque a déclaré: «Tony Walsh, a mis fin aux vers qu’il a lus à la vigile de mardi avec un fort cri de« Choose love, Manchester ». Amen à cela. En face du mal, choisissez l’amour, Manchester; Choisissez l’amour, la Grande-Bretagne; Choisissez l’amour, l’humanité ».

Choisis l’amour.  C’est un choix que nous pouvons tous faire face à l’adversité et dans notre vie quotidienne.

C’est le choix que nous faisons lorsque nous servons notre famille, nos voisins et nos amis. C’est le choix que font les associations de jumelage en rassemblant nos communautés. C’est le choix que nous demandons de faire par les archevêques alors que nous prions «Thy Kingdom Come».

Et toute prière authentique pour que Dieu vienne dans nos vies doit être une prière pour choisir l’amour. Toute prière pour le don du Saint-Esprit est une prière pour choisir l’amour.

Choisissez l’amour, Fordingbridge; Choisissez l’amour, Vimoutiers; Laissons tous choisir l’amour.

Je terminerai avec la prière pour ‘Thy Kingdom Come’

Dieu Tout-Puissant, Votre fils monté nous a envoyé dans le monde Pour prêcher la bonne nouvelle de votre royaume: Nous inspirez votre Esprit Et remplissez nos cœurs du feu de votre amour, Que tous ceux qui entendent ta Parole Peut-être attiré par vous, Par Jésus-Christ notre Seigneur. AMEN.