The Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity
Date: September 27, 2020
Our online BCP service can be found here:
The recording of tomorrow’s service should be online tomorrow afternoon.
*Tomorrow – 27th Sept*
Tomorrow we shall celebrate Michaelmas – The Feast of St Michael and All
Angels – where we shall we give thanks that God ‘hast ordained and
constituted the services of angels and mortals in a wonderful order.’ I
have often felt that the end of summer has a feeling of a new start about
it – far more so than the horrors of early January. Therefore, we shall be
continuing my practise of asking God’s blessing upon the work of our hands
– in a socially distanced fashion, of course – so if you wish, please do
consider bringing a token of your work of your hands/trade for blessing.
*Next Sunday – 3rd Sept, Harvest*
Do consider bringing items for our Foodbank collection next week. They
already have enough pasta, and are especially looking for Chocolate,
Crisps, Cereal Bars etc; Sugar 1kg Bags; Squash Drink; Custard/ Rice
Pudding; and Tinned Soup.
*The Old Testament*
I have tried in recent months to concentrate on various important passages
of the Old Testament. Another cleric new to their first role decided in the
midst of Lockdown to preach through the great passages of the Old
Testament, *’to remind us of where we come from in a time of uncertainty.’*
I’ve attempted to do something similar sometimes on Sunday, and every day
in the online service of Morning Prayer. For those who find the Old
Testament more of a closed book, Chichester Cathedral are offering an
online course via Zoom, and this comes highly recommended.
*Books for the Season*
Since I have arrived a year ago, I’ve been able to recommend a good number
of worthy, pious tomes on theology and the Bible for people to read, and if
you’d like more, do let me know! However, I find that the approach of
autumn and winter to come puts me in a thoughtful mood. Furthermore, the
unsettled nature of the present-day makes me want to ponder things more
deeply than just the immediate, ever-changing news and government
guidelines, so I’ve been pondering a regular suggestion of books somewhat
beyond traditional theology?
My first suggestion is *When Breath Becomes Air* by Paul Kalanithi (2017).
This is a memoir by a young neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with inoperable
cancer at 36. Faith runs as a minor chord through the book, but I feel it
is a rather autumnal read. What brings meaning to life? How do we live with
tragedy? I stayed up all night to finish it. My wife described it as ‘a bit
of a weepy.’
*Rosie Reflects on Michaelmas*
*”Och you’re an angel hen*”, I was often told. Usually, by someone I’d
just delivered a cup of tea to, on my rounds of the ward as a student
nurse. It has never been a phrase I’ve felt comfortable with, and not just
because of the awkwardness with which my younger self received compliments.
As I meander through my relatively early career, almost a decade in, with a
number of decades to go, I continue to feel uncomfortable with the pedestal
on which workers of the NHS are often placed. Nurses are described as
‘angels of the NHS,’ referring to the work that has been done in the past
six months and beyond. There are ways in which that’s right…but not in
the way most of the world thinks.
Angels, by my vague biblical understanding, are not soft, gentle and
saccharine. Instead, they are fierce and powerful, they will defend the
people of God to the hilt and yes, they will also reassure, but the mental
picture is wildly different to the childhood picture books.
You can ask Stephen about the time, after his fairly significant surgery,
that I all but forced him – nay, tricked him, in his words – to get out
of bed for the first time and into a chair. It has become known as
“Chair-gate” and often I draw on this example when encouraging patients to
do that which seems immediately difficult, but is the right thing to do in
the long term. I’m sure Stephen won’t dimly recall a soft, gentle angelic
vision, but instead something fiercer, yet directed towards the greater
In the Collect tomorrow, we will be reminded that we, like angels, have
had our services ordained and constituted by God and isn’t that something
to wonder at and behold?
So as Stephen blesses the tools of our trade, I thank God for each of us
and the services we bring – to family, to business, to the community; in
paid, voluntary or expected circumstances. As we continue through this
year, perhaps we could ask ourselves “how is God calling me to serve?”
With kind regards,
Stephen & Rosie