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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.

Plague Rag: Easter IV, 3 May, 2020

A person in a red lit room

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The Plague Rag

Faith, and its practice, is an ongoing struggle for Christians. To live in the world and to live as a Christian has been an ongoing struggle since the start of the Church.

At the time of Jesus’s death, the Jewish faith was quite broad, and centred on the Temple worship. But some forty years after Our Lord’s death the Temple was destroyed by the Romans during the revolt of Judea, and it lost its centre as the heart of Jewish worship. Henceforth synagogues would become increasingly the place of what defined a Jew, and as a result, the broadness of Jewish belief narrowed as the Jewish religious leaders struggled to preserve their faith.

Consider the problem for a Christian who was also a practising Jew. You have been regular in going to the synagogue, kept the commandments, and yet also believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the fulfilment of the Jewish hope. The belief in Christ is not a conflict, but a joyful fulfilment of the Jewish hope. But now you have to make choices: you cannot be a practising Jew and a practising Christian – what do you choose?

Then you are expelled from the synagogue, and also from your community, the people with whom you have shared a lifetime in faith. Your old ways of worship are now impossible, you can no longer worship in the temple or in the community of the synagogue. Instead you have to struggle to adapt the life of the synagogue into new ways and a new community, following the call of the Messiah, Jesus, who gave his life in the service of all.

Well, the Church evolved in the pagan world and developed a richness of life that has fulfilled Christians for centuries. Around Judea we think many Jewish Christians continued in a synagogue life and followed the Jewish Law while at the same time holding to their Christian beliefs, but as time passed, they increasingly became a minority.

It was this background that caused so many of the problems that St Paul deals with in his letters. These letters have remained useful to Christians, as there is always a struggle between the way faith has been expressed in the world, with competing demands.

We are now also living with one of those struggles. For the past months the churches have been closed, a situation unique in our Western history. We have lived through many plagues and pandemics, in the past we have had to resort to outside services, but never have we closed our churches for such a prolonged period. In the times of plagues in centuries past the Church would be there giving the last rites and comforting the sick, or leading processions pleading for God’s mercy on the sick. Not anymore. Our churches are closed. Some bishops have even forbidden the clergy to use their churches for private prayer. We struggle with these restrictions.

This raises the question: what are we here for? Does the Church have a role in this world?

I have watched a few streaming services over the last few weeks. Some have been excellently done with good resources – many of you have mentioned the ones done by Christ Church St Lawrence in Sydney in particular. I have also seen some awful ones done by a priest with a handheld camera: I commend the intent but deplore the result. It also strikes me as odd to see people preaching to an empty space, as if it does not matter that no one is there, that the hidden viewers from online streaming are the equivalent of a living congregation. Have our congregations become so passive it does not matter if they are physically or electronically present? Is this our role now, electronic streaming to a passive market?

So why come to Church?

If we come to church just for the social event, then we lack the spiritual depth the Church offers. But our tradition holds that we come to take part in the eternal sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and receive from this inclusion in his very body and blood.

That is why we have mass at St George’s not just on Sunday, but every day we can. That is why the mass has continued throughout this crisis. Our church here at Goodwood is not shuttered and silent. Every morning the mass is said, and we intercede for the needs of the world and the parish: for healing, comfort and the salvation of each and every soul.

The Church is there to touch and tend the wounds of the world. For the first time in our history this has not been possible, physically. We cannot sit and pray by the side of the dying. We cannot even leave our churches open for prayer. But we can know that our church, here at Goodwood, continues Our Lord’s command to take and eat this in memory of he who died and rose again for us.

I have been touched by the attendance at our daily witness at our outside shrine of Our Lady every day at noon. It is a service designed to allow minimal contact and minimal time to allow our public witness to continue. I know that for many of you it has not been possible because of distance or health issues. But others have been able, and thank you for your witness.

Here at St George’s we lost an old friend on Friday morning – the kurrajong tree at the front of the church blew over in the rain and wind. One of the former students of the school here remembered it being planted in the 1930s, so it’s given 90 years of pleasure to us.

A large brick building with grass and trees

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Now for a good and rousing hymn, to finish in true Anglican style. On our last Sunday that we had a public mass we used St Patrick’s breastplate. It derives from a prayer that St Patrick is meant to have used to ask for protection against his enemies, hence the invocations in it. The great Mrs Alexander, a wife of an Irish Anglican bishop, set it to the prose we know now in 1889. She also wrote All Things bright and Beautiful and Once in Royal David’s City. The music to the hymn was originally set in 1902 by the noted composer Charles Villiers Stanford for chorus and organ, using two traditional Irish tunes. It is unusual in that the tunes change during the hymn. Here is a version by Keble College, Oxford, that great College founded in memory of John Keble, one of the leaders of the Catholic Renewal whom we commemorate every year on Catholic Renewal Sunday, the anniversary of his great sermon. There are different versions of the hymn, here is one. The English Hymnal has a longer version, which I am rather fond of as well.

1 I bind unto myself today

the strong name of the Trinity

by invocation of the same,

the Three in One and One in Three.

2 I bind this day to me forever,

by power of faith, Christ’s incarnation,

his baptism in the Jordan river,

his death on cross for my salvation,

his bursting from the spiced tomb,

his riding up the heavenly way,

his coming at the day of doom,

I bind unto myself today.

3 I bind unto myself today

the virtues of the starlit heaven,

the glorious sun’s life-giving ray,

the whiteness of the moon at even,

the flashing of the lightning free,

the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,

the stable earth, the deep salt sea

around the old eternal rocks.

4 I bind unto myself today

the power of God to hold and lead,

God’s eye to watch, God’s might to stay,

God’s ear to hearken to my need,

the wisdom of my God to teach,

God’s hand to guide, God’s shield to ward,

the word of God to give me speech,

God’s heavenly host to be my guard.

5 Christ be with me, Christ within me, 

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

6 I bind unto myself the name,

the strong name of the Trinity

by invocation of the same,

the Three in One and One in Three,

of whom all nature has creation,

eternal Father, Spirit, Word.

Praise to the Lord of my salvation;

salvation is of Christ the Lord!

God bless

Fr Scott 

Online Resources

Hello!  Here are two quick links to start the day with:

  • Bishop Philip North offers a short but valuable meditation on the ‘new normal’ and life after Covid 19 – it is full of hope: https://youtu.be/xY6_fCoYJFQ.
  • Following our recent links on the liturgical arts, here is another site – this time for the Orthodox.  It includes articles on structural engineering, acoustics and the like for the technically minded.  https://orthodoxartsjournal.org

../../../../../../../Downloads/PNG-pic2.jpgSeveral years ago, three of us were stranded in Mt Hagen, awaiting a scheduled flight to either Simbai or Madang.  After several days Bishop Nathan Ingan, an old friend of St George’s, found seats for us on plane ferrying aid personnel down to the coast.  As the other passengers clambered into the back of the five-seat aircraft, I took the seat next to the pilot.  Showing considerably ingenuity, he unfolded his Australian Army ordnance maps from the early seventies, cut through the first pass into the adjoining valley, then checked the weather and the map before choosing the next pass and so on until we made it down to Madang.  The total descent was over 1,600M and the peaks in the Hagen Range – which we flew between, not over – reach 3,000M.

Since that day I’ve been an avid fan of Mission Aviation Fellowship – https://maf.org.au.  MAF Australia’s fleet of small aircraft and highly capable aircrew can take-off and land on rough, crude airstrips that commercial aviation can’t even contemplate, and to access parts of the world that can’t be reached by road due to either geographic isolation or natural disaster.   Please take a look at their introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joGNDqr8COA&feature=youtu.be.  

../../../../../../../Downloads/49475044_132552877776287_2857780636909809658_n.jpgIn Northern Australia, PNG and East Africa MAF support over two thousand organisations such as World Vision, Habitat for Humanity and UNICEF by providing reliable and timely delivery of emergency supplies and personnel. Food arrives in time to alleviate hunger, medicines and emergency medical evacuations save lives, and goods and supplies improve living conditions.

As this short list of agencies illustrates, MAF does support secular aid organisations. Its specifically Christian mission is through supporting missionaries, local evangelists, indigenous church workers and church capacity building.

In case you miss it, MAF has a great story on women and flying – a problem right up to the present day.  https://maf.org.au/miles-for-mothers-day/.

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

Plague Rag Easter 3: 26 April

The Gospel readings in the season of Easter concentrate on the resurrection stories. Last week we had the story of doubting Thomas, this week the Road to Emmaus.

In all the appearances of the Risen Lord there is this strange inability to recognise him. He is seen by Mary Magdalene, and she thinks he is the gardener. In Sunday’s reading from St Luke, Cleopas and companion think he is a fellow traveller. Interestingly, St John has Mary of Cleopas present at the crucifixion, and identifies her as the sister of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. This has led some to speculate that what we have here is Cleopas and his wife, who were his relatives. However, St Luke seems to make it clear that the two were acquainted with Jesus and should have recognised him; yet did not. It was only in the breaking of the bread they finally saw him and recognised him.

This is the human blindness: to fail to see Jesus. He walks with us and teaches us, but we fail to see him as he truly is. St John has Mary recognising him when he calls her name; here St Luke has them recognising him in the breaking of the bread, a sacramental dimension. The Gospels are teaching us to learn to see Our Lord in new and different ways, to hear him call to us and to see Our Lord in the communion we take. 

As Christians we are continually challenged to see Jesus in the face of what seems to be the ordinary or even tragedy. By now we have been unable to gather and celebrate in our churches for several weeks: Passion, Palm, Easter and Low Sundays have passed by with our doors shut to the street. This time of enforced solitude helps us to ask the question: where do we see Jesus now? How is Our Lord speaking to us at this time? What do we miss about our gathering around the broken bread, to see the presence of Our Lord there?

Last week I recorded the feast of the Annotine Easter. This is the day one year past the last Easter. At Easter in particular, the early church administered the rite of baptism and confirmation, the giving of new life to candidates who had prepared themselves over the period of Lent. Then, at the Vigil service, they were baptised and received the new robes of white to symbolise their new life in Christ. One week later on the Saturday, they returned the white robes, so the day was known in Latin as in albis depositis or in albis deponendis (of removal of the white garments). Later the description in albis was applied also to the following Sunday, the octave day of Easter, Low Sunday. A year later their baptism was commemorated on the birthday, so to speak, of the last Easter, and that date is the Annotine Easter. So, on that date, we still pray for all those baptised or confirmed during the past year.

Every year there is a special Anglican Church Calendar printed. Next year’s will also feature our beautiful church. It is a recognition of the outstanding beauty of our parish church and the generations of care that have created and maintained it.

Finances are a difficult subject at this time, and my thanks for the support we have received. The diocese has applied for the Jobkeeper payment, and we should know soon if that is successful. The Archbishop believes we should be able to receive these payments. If so, that will help a lot.

One of the traditions we have here at St George’s is a restrained use of the organ over Lent as part of our penitential way. Hence, we never play the organ after the mass at 9.30. It’s always so much fun to hear the great postludes again in Eastertide, one of my favourites is Widor’s Toccata. Here is a lovely version from the Community of Jesus, an ecumenical Benedictine monastic Christian community located near Rock Harbor, in Orleans, Massachusetts, USA. Enjoy the music and the lovely pictures of the community.

God bless

Fr Scott 

Online Resources

First things first – there is a St Corona!  A first century martyr, she is venerated in Bavaria and Austria as the patron saint of treasure hunters and is invoked in times of epidemics and contagious diseases. I’m assured by the internet that her name is purely coincidental! https://zenit.org/articles/library-in-alexandria-egypt-offers-online-lessons-on-st-corona/

Last week we suggested that we’ll focus on mission and aid activities in PNG and the Solomon Islands.  We’ll still do that, but today we’ll take a detour and look at the Barnabas Fund.  Barnabas is a global organisation that provides ‘hope and aid for the persecuted church’ and assists Christians in non-Christian majority countries.  Of very real interest is Barnabas’ proactive role regarding the Covid 19 epidemic – this puts them ahead of many other agencies, and is the reason why we’ve chosen them today. 

Please note that when we review mission and aid organisations that we’re not recommending donations – instead it’s about exploring the Church in the world, and then allowing the reader to think about their own priorities.  There’s a lot of agencies out there looking for funds!

The Barnabas website is at https://barnabasfund.org.  Barnabas assists the persecuted Church by:

  • directing funds only to Christians, although they may indirectly help others;
  • sending funds, not people;
  • sending funds to existing structures (e.g. local churches or Christian organisations); and
  • using the money to fund projects which have been developed by local Christians in their own communities.

This is same basis on which St George’s donates to the Diocese of Aipo Rongo in PNG or through our parishioners in the Solomon Islands.  It’s very efficient, but the risk is – how do we know the money has been spent properly? For our small offerings it’s about relationships and trust, but for the larger organisations it comes down to their governance structures.  I was surprised to find little about these on the Barnabas webpage, but the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission reports that donations are managed through the Barnabas International Project Committee in the UK and otherwise highlights no issues.

Here are some Covid 19 relevant reports from Barnabas.

In addition, please take a look at the reports on the African locust plague that St George’s has been praying for.

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

Plague Rag Low Sunday 19 April

At the end of every high mass on Sunday, we stand and face the Walsingham shrine, to say the angelus, the devotions to Our Lady. At Easter we sing instead the Easter version, called the Regina Caeli, its name in Latin. It goes

Joy to you, O Queen of Heaven. Alleluia!

He whom you were meet to bear. Alleluia!

As He promised has arisen. Alleluia!

Pour for us to God your prayer. Alleluia!

Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.

For the Lord is risen indeed, alleluia.

Let us pray:

O GOD, who has given joy to the whole world through the resurrection of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, grant that through the prayers of his Virgin Mother Mary we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Never say the stories of the Church are not relevant. The legend from the 13th C, of this devotion, attributes it to St Gregory the Great from the 6th C – he was the pope who sent St Augustine, our first Archbishop of Canterbury, on his mission to England. In 590 a plague was decimating the population of Rome. In those days the Church, instead of locking the churches and hiding, used to have public penitential processions asking for God’s mercy. Gregory ordered that a newly arrived icon of Mary, said to been painted by St Luke, be carried in the procession. As it was being carried across the river Tiber, angels were heard singing the first three lines of this anthem, calling on Mary to rejoice because her son had risen. Gregory then completed the last line on the spot, and at that moment the Archangel Gabriel appeared above the mausoleum of the Emperor Hadrian nearby and sheathed his sword, a sign that the plague was ended. A chapel was then built on the monument, which was renamed Castel Sant’ Angelo, and that monument still exists. 

Well, the famous icon still exists as well, it is called the Salus Populi Romani and the present pope, Francis, had it on display as he gave his blessing to the city and world recently, over the sadly empty space in front of St Peter’s. History has a way of echoing through time.

So, it’s very appropriate indeed that we sing this hymn at this time. We use it at the moment every day at noon at the shrine by the door of the church as we pray for those in need, and ask the protection of Our Lord and the prayers of Our Lady at this difficult time. I am glad we have this public space to do this: our little witness to the world of the continuing place of prayer.

This Sunday is also called Low Sunday. It’s often a bit of a holiday for the church choir and servers, who just want a break after all the hard work over Easter. Sundays are often named after the special pieces of music for the day, usually the first music sung as the clergy entered, the introit, but this name comes from the sequence, the music sung before the gospel. The sequence for this day is in Latin Laudes Salvatatori, “Praise to Our Saviour”, and the Laudes was corrupted in English into Low, giving us the name of the Sunday.

Sad news on the parish front: Steve Scovell died on Thursday 16 April. He had been unwell for a while, and battling with cancer. Steve and Val lived in the present hall, when it was still a house, in Fr Willoughby’s time and have had a lifelong connection with our parish. We pray for the repose of his soul, and his widow Val and family. Pray particularly for Tom, in England, who has been infected.

Some people have asked me if we are going to try streaming any services. It’s not a technology I’m good at, but I will if there is enough interest, perhaps for a compline one night. Let me know.

This Thursday will also be the feast of our patron saint, St George. We usually have a lovely lunch together on the Sunday following this: but not this year. In earlier times people used to wear red roses for this day to our church, a custom that was a little difficult to fulfil as roses are usually a little hard to come by in April. However, the gardens are simply lovely at the moment and the roses are plentiful! I have included at the top of this issue one of the earliest photos we have of our beautiful statue of St George from around 1920. The face is particularly beautiful.

One of the hymns I love singing for St George’s Day, “For All the Saints,” was written by the Bishop of Wakefield, William Walsham How in 1864. How turned down many great Anglo Catholic parishes, such as All Saints Margaret Street, the great London Church, to remain working in poor parishes. The hymn was popularised particularly in the famous English Hymnal, in 1906 with a new setting by Ralph Vaughan Williams. It has been described as one of the finest hymn tunes of the 20th century. Here is a YouTube recording from King’s College, Cambridge for those who want to hear it. Enjoy.

For all the saints, who from their labours rest,

Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,

Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;

Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;

Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,

Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,

And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!

We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;

Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,

Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,

And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;

Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;

Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;

The saints triumphant rise in bright array;

The King of glory passes on His way.

Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,

Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,

Singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:

Alleluia, Alleluia!

God bless

Fr Scott 

Plague Rag: Easter Day 12 April

We all know the date of Christmas, but who can tell straight away the date of Easter?

The reason is simple. Christmas is a solar festival, and we follow the solar calendar, with its 365 days per year. But Easter is a lunar festival, it is based on the full moon around the autumn equinox, and that just fries our brains trying to work it out.

Christmas is also the time when we celebrate a joyful event, we give each other presents and relax into summer. 

Easter, well, that’s tougher. It centres on Good Friday, which is hardly a happy story: betrayal, show trials, torture and death for Jesus.

There is a reflection on life there. Our good times are more often planned, often months ahead. The party is organised, the food and grog ordered, the guests invited.

Tragedy is an unexpected guest. We don’t plan a day for death, pain, cancer or pandemics. 

Good Friday and Easter are always unexpected, we can’t easily work out when they will occur. It’s the same for the difficult times in our lives, unexpected.

But Easter is not only the pain and death of Good Friday, it is the joy of Easter and new life. The best joy is highlighted by surprise – we enjoy because we know the cost, we have endured the pain and disappointment.

As we battle these dark weeks of uncertainty, we remember that Easter is the joy of resurrection, of change unexpected. Darkness passes, new life awaits. Jesus rose from death and lives.

But as a liturgical church, we pray through our liturgies to share the experience of these times. The notes for our Easter Vigil tell us:

The Easter Vigil marks the end of the emptiness of Holy Saturday, and leads into the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. The singing of the Exsultet, the ancient hymn of triumph and rejoicing, links this night of our Christian redemption to the Passover night of Israel’s redemption out of Egypt. Christian baptism is a participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, a dying to sin in order to be reborn in him, and the Easter Vigil was from early Christian times a preferred occasion for baptism. It is fittingly a time when those who are already Christians may repeat with renewed commitment the promises of their own baptism, and strengthen their sense of incorporation into the royal and priestly ministry of the whole people of God. The Easter Gospel is proclaimed with all the joy and splendour that the church can find.

All the resources of the church – music, flowers, bells, colours – are used to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. The ‘Alleluia’, which has been silent throughout Lent, returns.

This year we will not be able to have the masses of the day and communion. I invite you all to make what we call a spiritual communion, to reflect on our sins and failure, to ask for God’s forgiveness, then to ask for his presence from afar. One popular prayer for this is:

My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there, and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

I have started the habit of giving you a hymn for the week: I do miss our music here at St George’s. We are blessed with a choir, and we are blessed with a great inheritance of music, including the many wonderful chants. I shall miss this year particularly the wonderful planctus chant of the passion reading on Good Friday, with its falling notes at the end of each sentence, and the great chant of the exsultet at the Easter vigil. One of my favourite Easter hymns is “Thine Be the Glory.” Its magnificent tune was written by George Frederic Handel in 1747, it was intended for use in his Joshua oratorio; however, it was so popular that Handel reused for his Judas Maccabaeus. Ludwig Van Beethoven composed twelve variations on it for both piano and cello.

In 1884, Edmond Budry used Handel’s tune and wrote words for them, which he titled “A Toi la Gloire.” He was inspired to write it after the death of his first wife. The hymn was first translated from French into English by Richard B. Hoyle in 1923 Do enjoy it.

1 Thine be the glory, risen, conqu’ring Son:

endless is the vict’ry thou o’er death hast won;

angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,

kept the folded grave-clothes where thy body lay.

Thine be the glory, risen, conqu’ring Son;

endless is the vict’ry thou o’er death hast won.

2 Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;

lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;

let the church with gladness, hymns of triumph sing,

for her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting. [Refrain]

3 No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life;

life is naught without thee: aid us in our strife;

make us more than conqu’rors, thro’ thy deathless love:

bring us safe thro’ Jordan to thy home above. [Refrain]

God bless

Fr Scott