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Plague Rag: Pentecost, 31 May, 2020

This Sunday we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, or Whitsunday. This looks back to the birth of the church, when the disciples were gathered in the locked room for fear of the authorities, and the gift of the Holy Spirit came down upon them, and they went forth in courage and preached the gospel. It changed a group of frightened people into the greatest missionary endeavour the world has seen. That’s why we call it the birthday of the church – it was then that the church started, with its mission to go and proclaim the good news to all people.

It’s also the anniversary of another date – the introduction of the first Book of Common Prayer into the English Church in 1549 in the reign of Henry VIII’s son, Edward VI. From Pentecost of that year the old Latin Mass was put aside and a new English rite was set as a standard for all of England. It was a radical move by a central government to standardise church usage. It was initially not particularly popular, especially in the countryside. Three years later another more Protestant version was put out, and yet another series of changes were enforced, leading to further discontent, before the death of Edward led to the restoration of the Latin Mass under Mary I. Five years later she died, and another English Book of Common Prayer was issued by Elizabeth I. It was an expensive time for parishes, with continual changes in books and liturgy.

However, the use of English was eventually accepted, partly because of the beauty of the prose used by its main author, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer. He was a brilliant wordsmith, and his translations of the Latin prayers capture the metre of the Latin in the English. Every time we say prayers such as “We do not presume to come to your table, merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your manifold and great mercies” or “Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden”, we are saying the measured beat of his prose, with its balance of phrases and rhythm. The Anglican Church, in the Book of Common Prayer and its structure, retained its catholic heritage with its ordained ministry and solemn liturgy, yet reformed at the same time. Parishes throughout England used a common liturgy, hence the name “A Book of Common Prayer”, showing their joint common membership of one church. It was also all in one book, and generations of Anglicans became used to having one prayer book that was the source of their devotions. Many of you will probably have received a copy of the book for your confirmation, often in small print that now defies reading. Sadly, one of the effects of the last few decades has been the abandonment of a common liturgy throughout our Anglican church – I dread some of the services that pass as Sunday worship when I travel.

Things are slowly returning to a steady pattern in our lives, with the reopening of shops and services. We will be allowed twenty people per mass from next Sunday. At the moment I am having four masses on Sunday morning as well as the weekday masses to try and provide opportunity for everyone. It is perhaps a good time to look at mass times as well. I propose from next week to change to three masses. I request your feedback as to what suits most people: masses at 89.30 and 11 am or instead 810 and 11.30am. The second mass would be the sung mass of the day. I know many of you who usually go to the second mass have already said they prefer a later time in winter, so that’s my first preference, but do let me know. We are back to having mass on Tuesday at 10 am and Thursday at 12 noon as well, but unless there is a particular reason, I would like to keep the Friday mass at 8 am. Remember, you need to book a time for the Sunday mass. I will have an attendance sheet at the back of the church as well as a booking sheet for the next Sunday. At the moment there is no problem with overcrowding at the weekday masses.

As things snap back to life, it’s also interesting to consider to what we are snapping back. Many governments have enforced their decrees by public announcements, and let the law catch up later. This has led to some interesting confusion in England, for example, where in some places the police were enforcing Welsh lockdown restrictions instead of the English by mistake. There have been similar questions about some of the enforcements of fines in some states in Australia for breaches of legally dubious announcements. Here we are seeing a questioning of some rules like border shutdowns – by what authority does the government restrict border movement and trade. Even for us Anglicans there is an interesting question: we are restricted in offering the chalice at the moment in clear violation of Article 30 of the Articles of Religion, which are part of the foundation documents of our church. Now all these restrictions may be a good thing, but the questioning of the means is an important part of our democratic system. Are we going to snap back to a way of life with higher restrictions and control in the future?

Regarding parish finances we are fortunate in that I am on the government job keeper scheme at the moment. We will be facing a significant reduction in our investment income this year. However, people have been wonderful in donations and in setting up bank transfers for regular offerings. We do ask that you use the word ‘offering’ preferably in your transfer, and your name, as it helps our treasurer work out the reason for the money. 

As our churches slowly re-open it is good to note this week the resumption of one of our small groups. This Saturday the Benedictine Oblates will meet again. Oblates are lay people who affiliate with a Benedictine community, to follow the Rule of that order, insofar as their lives allow. Before coming to Adelaide, I was chaplain to a Benedictine Community, the Community of Christ the King, in Wangaratta, and after moving here I took on the responsibility of being a chaplain to the oblates in South Australia. Another of our small groups, our Gregorian Chant Group, resumes next month as well. Owing to the dispersed nature of our parish it has always been hard to nourish small groups in our parish, as distance makes a commitment harder.

We are blessed in that despite our financial problems over many years we have preserved our large grounds and the gardens are a credit to the many gardeners over the years. I have included a few photos of the gardens for your enjoyment in this issue. The gardens have been a bonus for many a parish lunch, when the weather allowed it. I have always hoped we could develop a garden group to take on the vegetable garden for the parish.

This week’s hymn is the great Veni Creator Spiritus, translated by John Cosin. The original hymn, which we have sung in our chant group, was by Rabanus Maurus (c. 776-856), a German monk, then abbot, at the Benedictine Abbey at Fulda, and later archbishop of Mainz. One of his predecessors, an Englishman Boniface, or Wynfrith of Crediton, we commemorate this week. England supplied many of the missionaries to Germany and Holland, owing to their common language at that time (and the Germans did not like the Franks then either). The hymn was translated by John Cosin, a high clergyman in the time of the English Civil War, who suffered much and returned with the King in 1660, eventually becoming Bishop of Durham. His “Collection of Private Devotions for the Hours of Prayer,” much offended the Puritans, who styled it “a book of Cozening Devotions.” The hymn is significant in that it is traditionally said by the priest on the way to the altar, a custom that I adhere to. It was one of the few insertions into the Book of Common Prayer when it was restored in 1662 as the standard worship in England.

1 Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire

and lighten with celestial fire;

thou the anointing Spirit art,

who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.

2 Thy blessed unction from above

is comfort, life, and fire of love;

enable with perpetual light

the dullness of our mortal sight.

3 Teach us to know the Father, Son,

and thee, of both, to be but one;

that through the ages all along

this may be our endless song:

4 Praise to thine eternal merit,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Amen.

John Cosin 1594-1672

God bless

Fr Scott 

Online Resources

Father Scott has reminded us of the importance of gardens in reminding us of God’s creation.  Here are some links; next week, we’ll continue another of his themes – Benedict and his contemporary followers:

  1. Medieval Cloisters and their role in the day-to-day life of monks and nuns:
  2. A short introduction to the cloister with links to beautiful contemporary examples.
  3. Gardens and belonging for refugees in Davoren Park. 
  4. Simple and contemporary landscaping ideas
  5. 800 year old gardens at Lambeth Place, home of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
  6. https://www.medievalists.net/2018/04/tiny-edens-what-can-you-find-in-a-medieval-monasterys-garden/
  7. http://www.thegoodgarden.com/cloister-garden-history.
  8. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-05-06/refugee-community-garden-growing-rare-vegetables-in-adelaide/12217592.
  9. https://homeguides.sfgate.com/landscaping-ideas-churches-48328.html
  10. https://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/lambeth-palace/about-lambeth-palace/lambeth-palace-garden

If you’re having any difficulty accessing these resources, please contact Tim Hender at timothy.hender@mac.com.

Plague Rag: Easter VII, Sunday after Ascension; 24 May, 2020

In the Lady Chapel at St George’s there are two large pictures. One is of Our Lady of the Rosary, the other is of St Joan of Arc. Both of these date from the time of World War I and its aftermath, a time of great worry and concern, as so many went off to war, putting their lives at risk. They were saints chosen for their time. The war against Germany and the Axis powers was portrayed as a war for civilisation against barbarians. Part of France was occupied, so Joan of Arc was seen as a symbol of France struggling for its freedom (the inconvenience of her original struggles being against the English were politely ignored). Our Lady of the Rosary was seen as the patron of the victory of the great defeat against the Ottoman navy at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, a victory that saved the Christian nations of Western Europe. This Saturday we will commemorate the feast of St Joan. St Joan was burnt at the stake for heresy in 1471, aged only 19, after leading a spectacular military campaign against the English forces. Her visions, gender and determination to wear male armour to fight made her highly suspect, and led to her death. These pictures both reflect a time of great worry at our Parish during the war, a period of four long years that makes our present troubles much smaller.

But small as they may be, they have been hard. It has been wonderful to see a gradual easing, people out on the streets again, and even sitting down for a coffee with friends.

The last months have taken their toll on many people, short though it is compared to the wars of last century. We have had friends die and been unable to go to their funerals. The need of human contact, even a hug from a grandchild, has been impossible. Gyms and the companionship of sport has been forbidden. A bus trip has become a thing of worry from contagion and not a pleasant and easy trip into the city. Living in close confines without our support circles is stressful. Many of you I know have struggled with depression at this time. Finding hope is an important part of dealing with depression, and the hope that we obtain from a life of faith has been shut off with the shuttered doors of our church. We may have saved our physical health, but there is a price we are paying with our mental health still.

Like you, I was frustrated by the prohibition to have our church open for mass. But this is what we signed up for by being a Christian. We must not lose our peace over it. Our Lord often expects us to fight, and fight hard, for victory when this is possible. At other times Our Lord simply wishes us to endure. In this case we endure, for the time being, thankful that we at least have been spared the ravages we have seen overseas. St Theresa of Avila (a place where I had planned to be at this time for my holidays) puts it this way:

Let nothing disturb you,

Let nothing frighten you,

All things are passing;

God only is changeless.

Patience gains all things.

Who has God wants nothing.

God alone suffices.

So, it is with great joy that I will see so many of you again as our church slowly re-opens this Sunday. Alas, at this time it can only be for ten at a time, so please email me to book a time. Remember that we must practise the dreaded social distancing, which should not be a problem in a building our size.

Last Thursday we celebrated the feast of the Ascension, when we celebrate Our Lord’s ascension bodily into heaven. This is the complement of Christmas. At Christmas, God became human, accepting our human condition, at Ascension, he takes our human condition into heaven, showing us that humanity is understood and accepted by God, and loved. All our worries, our concerns are known by the God who lived as one of us, and takes them all into heaven.

Back on parish news, if anyone can help pay the school fees for the Sua family in the Solomons, our former parishioners and now part of our extended family, please get in contact with me. Charlyn has AU$300 and Reece is about AU$540 (outstanding).

For a hymn this week I have chosen a modern hymn, Lord of the Dance by Sydney Carter. He wrote this hymn in 1963. This is his story about it:

I see Christ as the incarnation of the piper who is calling us. He dances that shape and pattern which is at the heart of our reality. By Christ I mean not only Jesus; in other times and places, other planets, there may be other Lords of the Dance. But Jesus is the one I know of first and best. I sing of the dancing pattern in the life and words of Jesus.

Whether Jesus ever leaped in Galilee to the rhythm of a pipe or drum I do not know. We are told that David danced (and as an act of worship too), so it is not impossible. The fact that many Christians have regarded dancing as a bit ungodly (in a church, at any rate) does not mean that Jesus did.

The Shakers didn’t. This sect flourished in the United States in the nineteenth century, but the first Shakers came from Manchester in England, where they were sometimes called the “Shaking Quakers”. They hived off to America in 1774, under the leadership of Mother Anne. They established celibate communities – men at one end, women at the other; though they met for work and worship. Dancing, for them, was a spiritual activity. They also made furniture of a functional, lyrical simplicity. Even the cloaks and bonnets that the women wore were distinctly stylish, in a sober and forbidding way.

Their hymns were odd, but sometimes of great beauty: from one of these (“Simple Gifts”) I adapted this melody. I could have written another for the words of “Lord of the Dance” (some people have), but this was so appropriate that it seemed a waste of time to do so. Also, I wanted to salute the Shakers.

I remember hearing a beautiful version of this sung when the fourth verse, about Jesus dying, was sung slowly and deeply, before speeding up again at the words “but I am the dance and I still go on.” Here is an organ version by All Saints’ Church, Oystermouth, Swansea for those who love organ music, here is another one from Swansea as well; I liked it just because it came from the wonderfully named Mumbles Methodist Church there, and here is a splendidly sung version by the students of Christ’s Hospital in England, which I know will appeal to one member of our parish who is an alumna of that school.

1 I danced in the morning

when the world was begun,

and I danced in the moon

and the stars and the sun,

and I came down from heaven

and I danced on the earth,

at Bethlehem

I had my birth.

Dance, then, wherever you may be,

I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,

and I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be,

and I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

2 I danced for the scribe

and the pharisee,

but they would not dance

and they wouldn’t follow me.

I danced for the fishermen,

for James and John –

they came with me

and the dance went on.

Dance, then, wherever you may be,

I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,

and I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be,

and I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

3 I danced on the Sabbath

and I cured the lame;

the holy people

said it was a shame.

they whipped and they stripped

and they hung me on high,

and they left me there

on a Cross to die.

Dance, then, wherever you may be,

I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,

and I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be,

and I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

4 I danced on a Friday

when the sky turned black;

it’s hard to dance

with the devil on your back.

They buried my body

and they thought I’d gone,

but I am the Dance,

and I still go on.

Dance, then, wherever you may be,

I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,

and I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be,

and I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

5 They cut me down

and I leapt up high;

I am the life

that’ll never, never die;

I’ll live in you

if you’ll live in me –

I am the Lord

of the Dance, said he.

Dance, then, wherever you may be,

I am the Lord of the Dance, said he,

and I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be,

and I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

God bless

Fr Scott

Online Resources

This week, we’ll continue to look at Contemporary Christian Art – last week we took a look at DaeWha Kang’s intervention at St Andrew’s Holborn in London – part of a thorough renovation to a Christopher Wren church. https://www.artandchristianity.org/award-daewha-kang.

Here are three more:

  1. Egbert Modderman of the Netherlands. Richly detailed depictions of biblical scenes that tend towards photo-realistic portraiture – yet free of the cloying sentimentality that often accompanies this genre.  https://www.moddermanbiblicalart.com
  2. John Nava and the tapestries at the new Cathedral of our Lady of Angels in, you guessed it, Los Angeles. Remarkable work in a very contemporary building – the Diocese placed great trust in Mr Nava given the importance of the tapestries to the interior. http://www.johnnava.com/COLA/COS.html
  3. The Meszaros Family. The large medallion of Christ Before Pilate in the St George’s oratory is by Andor Mészáros, a prolific Hungarian-born Australian sculptor of the post war period famous for, amongst other things, the 1956 Melbourne Olympics medals.  Our piece is part of a larger series depicting the Stations of the Cross; I had thought that the only complete sets were at Trinity College Melbourne, St George’s Cathedral Perth and Church of the Resurrection in Loxton – however, this article from the Museum of Victoria hints at a Canterbury connection. He also designed a life-sized sculpture, picture below, of Christ Accepting his Cross at our sister shrine church of All Saints Wickham Terrace in Brisbane and a number of other pieces were made for one of our sister churches, St Peter’s Eastern Hill in Melbourne.  Andor’s son, Michael, continues to work in a similar vein and while he doesn’t adopt a particularly Christian perspective, his work his worth a look.  A third generation, Anna Meszaros, designed the 14 Stations of the Cross that are located by churches in the eastern end of the Melbourne CBD.  The grandfather’s heritage is easy to see!  I can’t locate an online guide all 14 stations, but here’s a link to the St Patrick’s cathedral page as a starting point for your google hunt!

If you’re having any difficulty accessing these resources, please contact Tim Hender at timothy.hender@mac.com.

Collect

O God, the King of glory, you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: we pray you, leave us not comfortless, but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, and exult us to the same place where our Saviour Christ has gone before; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First reading                                                                                                                          Acts 1:6-14

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’

Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

Hear the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Responsorial Psalm

Ps 26: 1,4,7-8. R.v. 13

Response: I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

The Lord is my light and my help;

whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life;

before whom shall I shrink? R.

There is one thing I ask of the Lord,

for this I long,

to live in the house of the Lord,

all the days of my life. R.

O Lord, hear my voice when I call;

have mercy and answer.

Of you my heart has spoken;

‘Seek his face.’ R.

Second reading

1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11

A reading from the first Letter of St Peter.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves; keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Hear the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Gospel                                                                                                                                 John 17:1-11

 A reading from the holy gospel according to St John.

Glory to you Lord Jesus Christ.

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.’

This is the gospel of the Lord. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

Public Mass has resumed

My Dear Brothers and Sisters of St George’s

Grace and Peace in Jesus Christ our Risen Lord!

Some two months ago, the public celebration of the mass was suspended, and our beautiful church was shut. Day by day, Sunday by Sunday, it tore at all of us, the faithful people of God, to be deprived of the presence of Our Lord in this way. We continued to celebrate Holy Mass in private, behind locked doors, certain in its need to bring the prayers of the world before the throne of heaven. We celebrated the Sacred Triduum of our Lord Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection without you in the pews. Day by day we gathered in the garden to pray the midday prayers in public as a witness and a sign of hope. We knew your faith was strong. We knew you believed with all your heart. These last two months have shown that love and faith. Thank you for bearing with us as we tried our best to nurture your faith with devotions and teachings.

This evening we have received good news: the Archbishop has permitted us to say mass in public again. As you know, over a week ago religious gatherings of up to ten were permitted, but the Archbishop wished to have further clarifications, hence the long delay. There are conditions: only ten people at each mass, the social distancing must be observed, people must sign an attendance book and communion is only to be with the consecrated bread. Furthermore, we are not allowed to offer refreshments, but, of course, we will have the hall open to allow people to use the facilities.

So, from this Sunday, there will be mass at 8, 9, 10 and 11 am. Each mass will be a short, said mass of only around 35 minutes. You need to book, as only ten people are permitted in the congregation, so please email to do so. I will retain, this week, the outside prayers at 12 noon for those who prefer the bracing open air. Masses will resume for the weekdays for Tuesday at 10 am and Thursday at noon. The rest of the masses, including the Friday mass, will be at 8 am. 

I would like to remind everyone that if you are ill, do not come to Church. Any parishioners who are uncomfortable about attending mass need not. Please be aware of the risk to yourself and others should you choose to come to mass.

Be at peace. St. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, through prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your request known to God. Then the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” St Theresa of Avila also wrote so beautifully,

Let nothing disturb you,

All things are passing;

God only is changeless.

Patience gains all things.

Who has God wants nothing.

God alone suffices.

God is in control and we are God’s children.

We continue our prayers for all those who are at risk, especially our friends and family overseas. May Our Lady protect them all.

May the Lord Jesus bless you and your loved ones and keep you all safe. With prayers for each of you, I am,

In the love of Our Lord,

Fr Scott Moncrieff

Your Parish Priest.

Plague Rag: Easter VI Rogation; 17 May, 2020

The big news, to start off with, is that there is no big news. We are as yet unable to celebrate the mass again even with limited numbers. The Archbishop has told us that we cannot have the mass until he gets further clearance from the Department of Health. The church may be open for ten people at a time but that is the extent of the relaxing of restrictions that the Archbishop thinks is proper.

As we gradually move into reopening our society, there have been more reflections about our time in solitude and, interestingly for me, its impact on the Church. I have had a huge range of comments about how the solitude has impacted different people. Ignoring economic issues for the moment, which are devastating for many, some have loved the solitude, especially for those of a more introvert nature. Others have struggled with depression from lack of contact, especially from family. Others have found it has caused them to question some of their habits, such as impulse shopping, and others have enjoyed the time to cook properly and slowly. There isn’t one response, but for all of us it has made us question the different ways we have done things.

What is missing for us in Adelaide is the impact of death from the pandemic. We have been blessed with a remarkably low death rate. Our population has been spared the ravages seen in some parts of the world. At the start of the shutdown I was talking to some members of our parish who were impacted by the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1919. Some lost family members that caused struggle and grief for generations. I’ve included today a photo of my great aunt Isobel, sitting in this photo in her nurse’s uniform. She was a young Irish girl of only 18, who became a nurse in London and died from contracting the flu, away from family. Her parents had already died, leaving only her older sister, my grandmother, and her brother. She was one of the countless number who died in that pandemic and are now barely remembered. But my grandmother always remembered. This was the only photo she ever had of her – Isobel is seated in the chair.

I read an interesting article this week talking about weird Christians from the New York Times. Here is the link for those interested. This is part of the article:

The coronavirus has led many people to seek solace from and engage more seriously with religion. But these particular expressions of faith, with their anachronistic language and sense of historical pageantry, are part of a wider trend, one that predates the pandemic, and yet which this crisis makes all the clearer.

More and more young Christians, disillusioned by the political binaries, economic uncertainties and spiritual emptiness that have come to define modern America, are finding solace in a decidedly anti-modern vision of faith. As the coronavirus and the subsequent lockdowns throw the failures of the current social order into stark relief, old forms of religiosity offer a glimpse of the transcendent beyond the present.

Many of us call ourselves “Weird Christians,” albeit partly in jest. What we have in common is that we see a return to old-school forms of worship as a way of escaping from the crisis of modernity and the liberal-capitalist faith in individualism.

Weird Christians reject as overly accommodationist those churches, primarily mainline Protestant denominations like Episcopalianism and Lutheranism, that have watered down the stranger and more supernatural elements of the faith (like miracles, say, or the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ). But they reject, too, the fusion of ethnonationalism, unfettered capitalism and Republican Party politics that has come to define the modern white evangelical movement. (Ed. Note – Episcopalians are US Anglicans).

They are finding that ancient theology can better answer contemporary problems than any of the modern secular world’s solutions.

In so doing, these Weird Christians are breaking with the rest of their generation.

It’s a good read, and perhaps when we return, it would be a good discussion for one of our study groups on the last Sunday of the month. We had just started these studies before the shutdown, and I’m keen to get back to them with a range of one-off subjects and also reflections on topics, like this one here. But I do like the term weird Christian. It’s very St George’s, we have always been the odd ball parish in Adelaide Diocese.

News from PNG is that the Archbishop Allan Migi has retired, and our good friend Bishop Nathan Ingen of Aipo Rongo is now acting Archbishop until the election of a replacement. We have been supporting him in his diocese for many years, and he has visited us once, many years ago. We pray daily for his diocese here at St George’s. This week we also had the death of Elsie Manley. I knew Elsie from my Wangaratta days, and she was the last secretary of the famous Bishop Strong of PNG: our own Mabel Trenordan, who appears in the first photo, was also his secretary in the 1950s. Bishop Strong was the famous and controversial bishop in PNG during the WWII, and a great missionary bishop there.

in the garden the kurrajong stump has now been removed. The stumper turned up with a little dog, Matilda, which enjoyed the work. I always like animals here, we have had a long history of them.

This Sunday is Rogation Sunday. Rogation comes from the Latin, rogare, to ask. This is the day when traditionally we ask for the blessing of crops. Originally, the Christian observance of Rogation was taken over from Graeco-Roman religion, where an annual procession invoked divine favour to protect crops against mildew. The tradition grew of using processional litanies, often around the parish boundaries, for the blessing of the land. These processions concluded with a mass. The poet George Herbert interpreted the procession as a means of asking for God’s blessing on the land, of preserving boundaries, of encouraging fellowship between neighbours with the reconciling of differences, and of charitable giving to the poor. The tradition of ‘beating the bounds’ has been preserved in some communities, while others maintain the traditional use of the Litany within worship. Beating the bounds can be a very colourful exercise, and anciently parish boundaries were important in England for legal purposes, so the community’s knowledge of where the boundaries were was important. It was said they used to beat the boys at certain spots to make sure they remembered. We don’t beat the bounds here in this parish (but perhaps next year we could do an afternoon stroll around the boundaries as an exercise – anyone interested?) but we do have a blessing in the gardens, as we pray particularly for farmers planting crops at this time in Australia. We will have this blessing after the prayers at noon on Sunday.

Seeing we are having Rogation Sunday this Sunday I conclude with the great old harvest hymn, We plough the Fields and Scatter. It was originally a German hymn written by the Lutheran pastor Matthias Claudius, who died in 1815. It was translated into English by Jane Campbell in 1861. Here is a version with the words complete with horses ploughing. Enjoy.

We plough the fields and scatter

The good seed on the land,

But it is fed and watered

By God’s almighty hand:

He sends the snow in winter,

The warmth to swell the grain,

The breezes and the sunshine,

And soft, refreshing rain.

All good gifts around us

Are sent from heaven above;

Then thank the Lord,

O thank the Lord,

For all his love.

He only is the maker

Of all things near and far;

He paints the wayside flower,

He lights the evening star;

The winds and waves obey him,

By him the birds are fed;

Much more to us, his children,

He gives our daily bread.

All good gifts around us

Are sent from heaven above;

Then thank the Lord,

O thank the Lord,

For all his love.

We thank thee then, O Father,

For all things bright and good,

The seed time and the harvest,

Our life, our health, our food.

Accept the gifts we offer

For all thy love imparts,

And what thou most desirest,

Our humble, thankful hearts.

All good gifts around us

Are sent from heaven above;

Then thank the Lord,

O thank the Lord,

For all his love.

God bless

Fr Scott 

Online Resources

Firstly, some quick links: 

Moving forward (eventually!): Father Scott speaks above about our planned studies.  In addition, we’re revamping how we make our reading material at the back of the church available and other ways and means of keeping us all engaged in our spiritual development.  In particular, could you please provide feedback to Father Scott or Tim Hender if you would find short videos like Fr Steve’s helpful, in addition to meeting formally? There are several options we can look at regarding this type of thing.

Our third and, for the moment, last aid agency – Anglican Aid Abroad (or the Missionaries of St Andrew).  AAA can be found at http://www.anglicanaidabroad.com.au and is remarkable for its complete reliance on volunteer staff, mostly from parishes like ours in Brisbane diocese, ensuring that every dollar donated reaches the recipients.  They work through a surprisingly large number of Anglican religious communities – groups similar to those we discussed last week, but located in places like Zambia and the Solomon Islands.  This means that we rely on trust to ensure that the funds are properly spent, as we do with our donations to Fr Nathan in Aipo Rongo.  AAA has recently completed a much needed upgrade of its communications – if you’ve drifted away because they went a little quiet, please revisit – and their latest newsletter is always at the back of the Church.

 

Contemporary Christian Art – I am researching sites with engaging contemporary art, as promised a few weeks back!  In the meantime, I’ve often found this work by DaeWha Kang at St Andrew’s Holborn in London – part of a thorough renovation to a Christopher Wren church – quite intriguing.  https://www.artandchristianity.org/award-daewha-kang.

If you’re having any difficulty accessing these resources, please contact Tim Hender at timothy.hender@mac.com.

Plague Rag 10 May

Glass half empty; glass half full: how we see things, as good or bad. I have been chatting with a few lately as the restrictions have ever so slowly been easing. For those interstate, they have been much greater. My sister had her 60th birthday last week, and owing to restrictions of gatherings, had for her birthday dinner a course in each of her two children’s homes, as she could not gather the family together. There are a lot of glass empty reflections. There are also good reflections. Neighbourhoods seem to have worked together, people have tended to shop more locally, and people have asked after their neighbours and helped out. That’s been the plus.

This week, on Tuesday, we celebrate in our calendar the monk Dom Gregory Dix, who died in 1952. Admittedly, we celebrate a lot of people in our Calendar at St George’s. The national Anglican calendar is rather bare, and tends to ignore most of Asia, but ours is based mainly on the current calendar from the Church of England, with a few extras thrown in.  A monk and priest of Nashdom Abbey, an Anglican Benedictine community, Dom Gregory Dix is one of the modern additions as a holy person from England. If you ever read through some of the devotional material included in our high mass booklet, I include a wonderful passage of his about the command of Our Lord, to do this sacrament in memory of him:

Was ever another command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every conceivable human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacle of earthly greatness to the refuge of fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth. Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church; for the proclamation of a dogma or for a good crop of wheat; for the wisdom of the Parliament of a mighty nation or for a sick old woman afraid to die; for a schoolboy sitting an examination or for Columbus setting out to discover America; for the famine of whole provinces or for the soul of a dead lover; in thankfulness because my father did not die of pneumonia; for a village headman much tempted to return to fetich because the yams had failed; because the Turk was at the gates of Vienna; for the repentance of Margaret; for the settlement of a strike; for a son for a barren woman; for Captain so-and-so wounded and prisoner of war; while the lions roared in the nearby amphitheatre; on the beach at Dunkirk; while the hiss of scythes in the thick June grass came faintly through the windows of the church; tremulously, by an old monk on the fiftieth anniversary of his vows; furtively, by an exiled bishop who had hewn timber all day in a prison camp near Murmansk; gorgeously, for the canonisation of S. Joan of Arc – one could fill many pages with the reasons why men have done this, and not tell a hundredth part of them. And best of all, week by week and month by month, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, unfailingly, across all the parishes of Christendom, the pastors have done this just to make the plebs sancta Dei – the holy common people of God.

Dom Gregory Dix from The Shape of the Liturgy

It’s a wonderful piece of prose. Here is a longer version of it.

Dom Gregory is famous for his book, The Shape of the Liturgy. One of the puzzles of 19th and 20th C scholars was the way in which the mass was celebrated varied so much between the different early Christian communities and their inheritors. Was there a basic underlying order that came from the Apostles? If there was, could that be a basis to make a common order of the mass for the different Christian denominations.

Dom Gregory’s great insight was not to look at the words but to look at the actions. He believed that there was a common structure that was inherited in each rite, that (1) the offertory, bread and wine are taken and placed on the altar together, (2) the eucharistic prayer, the priest gives thanks to God over the bread and wine together, (3) the fraction, the bread is broken, (4) the communion, the bread and wine are distributed. The form of words was different, especially at how they were blessed, but the structure was the same.

This underlying understanding of the structure influenced the myriad of new rites that we have lived through from the second half of the twentieth century. Fr Willoughby was an enthusiastic embracer of the new rites when they came out, and many of you will have memories of the many different versions we have celebrated here, including a series that I had a few years ago when we worked our way through the different versions of the Book of Common Prayer.

There has been a lot of coverage this week about the outbreak in the nursing home in Sydney, Newmarch House. This is run by Sydney Anglicare. Anglicare is the welfare arm of the Anglican Church. In the 1990s, there was a move to bring all the different welfare organisations under one name. It was argued that although our church was responsible for a great amount of welfare work, it lacked public recognition owing to the variety of names under which we operated. With one name, Anglicare, we could raise our profile nationally. It was also part of the growing corporate movement that modelled the church on business corporate bodies. So, we all adopted the Anglicare branding in different dioceses. So Newmarch House became part of Sydney Anglicare, which was a separately run body from that in other dioceses.

However, this week has also seen the other side of having a national profile – the problems with Anglicare in Sydney has a flow on affect for Anglicare in Adelaide, even though they are separate legal entities. In Adelaide the growing corporate movement has seen many of our institutions lose their old names – All Hallows for example, at Cumberland Park, no longer has that name but just Anglicare. I am sorry for this loss. I think our institutions are better served under the patronage of a saint, like All Saints for All Hallows, or St Lawrence, rather than a corporate identity. We believe that a saintly patronage is part of the prayer life of the church, but a corporate name?

It’s also part of the loosening of parish ties to these bodies. Anglicare, and ABM, for example, are such huge institutions now they have lost many of the old connections with parishes. We don’t know these corporate bodies. We don’t raise money with fetes or money boxes as these institutions depend more and more on government grants than parish fund raisers. But we have also lost the prayer connections and personal touch as a result.

On parish news, many of you have asked me about the funeral for Steve Scovell. There will be a requiem for him with his ashes at a later time after the present restrictions. His funeral was last Thursday. Also, last Friday was the 18th anniversary of me becoming your parish priest – deo gratis.

The kurrajong has now been removed, with only its stump remaining. Unfortunately, it’s a very wet wood, and not suitable for burning, so it’s been turned into mulch for the garden. I’m thinking of replacing it with a gingko, but all suggestions are welcome.

We have now been informed that we can have the building open from Monday for no more than ten people at a time. However, the Archbishop is not certain that the permission for the religious gatherings allows us to have masses yet, and is writing to the government to have further clarification. Presumably we could be Quakers and sit there in sterile silence waiting on the Spirit. His direction at the moment is that “arrangements continue as they are currently” and he asks “that holy communion not be celebrated until we have a greater clarity.” I will let you know when we have been given further directions from the Archbishop. If we are allowed to have mass on Sunday, my intent is to have a short mass on Sunday morning at 8, 9, 10, 11 am and 12 noon. You will need to book in a time with me so we don’t have more than 10 people at any one time. The weekday masses will also then resume at the usual times. I will keep you posted. But at the moment, despite the government permission for having religious gatherings, we do not have the Archbishop’s permission to resume having mass.

Now for a hymn. One of the great Easter hymns is Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem. It was written by Fulbert of Chartres, in France, who was the Bishop there from 1006 to 1028 and a teacher at the Cathedral school there. He rebuilt the cathedral after a fire, it burnt again in the century after his death (cathedrals burning down have always been a problem, and why the mediaeval builders preferred stone, it was more fireproof) but for those of you who have been to that gem of a building, the crypt and part of the towers are his work that survived the later fire. He wrote this hymn that has been adapted and translated into English several times, this is the version we have in our hymn book. Here it is sung by the choir of King’s College Cambridge, the chapel for which is another great building.

.

1 Ye choirs of new Jerusalem,

Your sweetest notes employ,

The Paschal victory to hymn

In strains of holy joy.

2 For Judah’s Lion bursts His chains,

Crushing the serpent’s head;

And cries aloud through death’s domains

To wake the imprisoned dead.

3 From hell’s devouring jaws the prey

Alone our Leader bore;

His ransomed hosts pursue their way

Where Jesus goes before.

4 Triumphant in His glory now

To Him all power is given;

To Him in one communion bow

All saints in earth and heaven.

5 While we, His soldiers, praise our king,

His mercy we implore,

Within His palace bright to bring

And keep us evermore.

6 All glory to the Father be,

All glory to the Son,

All glory, Holy Ghost, to Thee,

While endless ages run.

God bless

Fr Scott 

Online Resources

We’ll take Father Scott’s themes for our Online Resources this week.

Firstly, seeing light in the darkness, and the gradual re-emergence of hope:

Secondly, Dom Gregory Dix was an Anglican priest and monk of Nashdom Abbey in England.  The monastic spirit is alive and well in the Anglican Communion – at St George’s we actively support our local Benedictine oblates through worship, spiritual direction and general organisation. We also had a religious community living on site in the 1940s, running the school, and our statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was a gift from them. You will recall that several weeks ago we linked to a simple prayer book produced by the Church Union and The Society in the UK. This week they have released ‘Wisdom from the Cloister: Reflections from Anglican Religious to Help Us During These Times’.  It is both calming and thought provoking, and thoroughly recommended!  It can also be found at https://www.sswsh.com/RooT/uploads/WisdomformtheCloister.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1D3Zpgk9bMF8ViBuH7KgkwYxEjU20-MPki8dTuk6dYBwJjZ1t6HsLdsoA.

If you’re having any difficulty accessing these resources, please contact Tim Hender at timothy.hender@mac.com.

This Week

10 Sunday                                                                                                                                 EASTER 5

                         12.00 noon    Regina Caeli

11 Monday                                                                                                                         Fr Scott’s day off

12 Tuesday                                                                                       Gregory Dix, Priest, Monk, Scholar, 1952

                         12.00 noon    Regina Caeli

13 Wednesday

                         12.00 noon    Regina Caeli

14 Thursday

                         12.00 noon    Regina Caeli

15 Friday

                         12.00 noon    Regina Caeli

16 Saturday                                                                                      Caroline Chisholm, Social Reformer, 1877

                         12.00 noon    Regina Caeli

17 Sunday                                                                                            EASTER 6, ROGATION SUNDAY

                         12.00 noon    Regina Caeli

Collect

EVERLIVING GOD, whose Son Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life: give us grace to love one another, to follow in the way of his commandments, and to share his risen life; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

First reading                                                                                                                           Acts 6:1-7

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables.Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.” What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

Hear the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Psalm 33 vss 1 – 12

1 Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous:

         for it be|fits the just to praise him.

2 Give the Lord thanks up|on the harp:

         and sing his praise to the lute of ten strings.

3 O sing him a new song:

         make sweetest melody • with shouts of praise.

4 For the word of the Lord is true:

         and all his works are faithful.

5 He loves righteousness • and justice:

         the earth is filled with the loving kindness of the Lord.

6 By the word of the Lord were the heavens made:

         and their numberless stars • by the breath of • his mouth.

7 He gathered the waters of the sea as in a water-skin:

         and laid up the deep in his treasuries.

8 Let the whole earth fear the Lord:

and let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

9 For he spoke, and it was done:

         he commanded, and it stood fast.

10 The Lord frustrates the counsels • of the nations:

         he brings to nothing the de|vices of the peoples.

11 But the counsels of the Lord shall en|dure for ever:

         the purposes of his heart from gener|ation to gener|ation.

12 Blessed is that nation whose God • is the Lord:

         the people he chose to be his own pos|session.

Second reading                                                                                                                    1 Peter 2:4-9

A reading from the first Letter of St Peter. 

Come to the Lord, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight. Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

Hear the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Gospel                                                                                                                                 John 14:1-14

+  A reading from the holy gospel according to St John.

Glory to you Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”

This is the gospel of the Lord. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

We Pray Especially For

Fr Peter CARLSSON, Fr John EDWARDS, Pat LIND, Carla McMAHON, Michael OATES, John, Katie, Myia, Durham, Nicole, Rosalind, Rosie, Trish.

Others for Whom We Pray

John BROUGHAM, Ruth CAMPION, Susan JOHN, Geoff HARRINGTON, Dick LEESON, Bp David McCALL, Gwen MONCRIEFF, Joseph PERTL, Sue PUMPHREY, Linda SMITH, Anne SWEETAPPLE, Dorothy WILLIAMS, Charlie ZAMMIT, Abigail, Alan, Alex and Demitri, Anne, Georgia & Jacob, Joseph, Julie, Lolly, Rahul, Rochelle.

RIP Doug Coulter

Year’s Mind

10 Mifanway May Hilton 1929; 11 Arthur Robert Lungley 1935; Dorothy Sheerlock; John Martin Harrington; 12 Jessie Isobel Scrutton 1925; 13 Isobel May Todd; Frances Nelson 2008; 14 Ellen Harry 1941; Victor Rudolph Offe 1979; Wendy Carlsson 2012; 15 Elizabeth Hussey; Lorna James 2003; 16 Aileen Barbara Swan 1975; Rowland Cyril Bruce (Snr) 1974; Leslie Mark Norman Jolley 2003

The Midday Prayers (including the Regina Caeli) are said in the gardens at the outdoor shrine every day from Tuesday to Sunday at 12 noon.