News from the Diocese of Worcester

Diocese of Worcester

Sermon podcast: Presentation of Christ

Press the play button to listen to the recording or click on the Download link to download a .mp3 file to your computer.

Note: Many churches will be keeping the Feast of the Presentation / Candlemas on this Sunday, rather than on Friday 2 February. Today’s sermon podcast follows those readings rather than the 4th Sunday of Epiphany. These readings are: Malachi 3:1-5, Hebrews 2:14-18, and Luke 2:22-40. If your church is only using two readings with this podcast, it will fit best with the Old Testament and Gospel readings.

A few years ago, the then American Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, famously spoke of the different scenarios the military had to plan for, known knowns (the things you know), known unknowns (the things you know you don’t know but would like to find out), and unknown unknowns (things you haven’t thought of, and don’t realise you need to find out about).

The prophet Malachi is almost another category: an unknown known. We have and can read the book called Malachi, and one or two verses, such as today’s first reading, have been widely used by Christians. However, no-one knows when exactly Malachi prophesied, or even what his name is – the name Malachi simply means “my messenger”.

Not only is Malachi an unknown known, but he introduces another paradox: one which explains why this reading from Malachi 3 is chosen for today’s feast of Candlemas. God’s messenger is the unexpected expected one.

“The Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.” God, or possibly God’s messenger, is looked for and expected. But his arrival is so sudden and unexpected that it catches nearly everyone on the hop. St Luke takes up this theme in his gospel, especially near the end, when the adult Jesus makes his Palm Sunday entry, and begins driving out the money changers. But that later sudden appearance in the temple is foreshadowed by this first unexpected one.

The people do seek God, many expect God to send a messenger who will fulfil a range of the prophecies in the Bible, but different people have different expectations. Many seem to expect a full-blown war leader of some kind. Even John the Baptist seemed baffled by the sort of person Jesus was, sending his disciples to ask him “Are the one we were expecting?”

Given that most days there would be parents bringing children to the temple to complete rites of postnatal purification, it’s hardly surprising that Jesus, Mary and Joseph slip under the radar. Yet Malachi’s prophecy is being fulfilled, and the Lord has suddenly come to his temple in the most obscure and down-to-earth disguise: a forty-day-old baby. As the poet George Herbert said of prayer, this is “Heaven in ordinary.” Jesus, God in the flesh, the infinite in a tightly-swaddled tiny bundle of finitude. No wonder hardly anyone recognised that God had come to his temple.

The only two people who do recognise the Holy Family, who respond to the Holy Child, are two people nearing the end of their lives. First old Simeon, who comes guided by the Spirit, to prophesy the child’s true nature: a light to lighten the Gentiles, and glory for God’s people Israel. It will be his last vision as he departs in peace. Then there is old Anna. Having been bereaved in early adulthood, she seems to have been dependent on the charity of the temple for food and shelter ever since. Yet she has never become bitter, but has stayed faithful in prayer and worship: a character and a discipline which allows her to see God in action.

In a church increasingly obsessed with the age of its worshippers, Simeon and Anna are good reminders of the value the gospel places on older people as valued witnesses and people of spiritual insight.

But most people, young, old, and in-between, don’t notice the Lord has come to his temple. He remains the expected one who somehow turns up entirely unexpected. That pattern crops up throughout Jesus’ ministry, from his birth to his crucifixion. He is the unexpected expected one. Many of his followers find that same pattern in their lives – down history and today. God makes Godself known to human beings in unlooked-for ways, an encounter with the living Jesus happens when it’s least expected, the Holy Spirit speaks in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Simeon and Anna are reminders of the value of long, patient and unexciting lives of prayer, service and faithfulness. But they are also pointers to the need, as Jesus warns his disciples, to “be alert”. Christ is found in the unlooked-for moment, and the extraordinary is revealed in the ordinary.

Ahead of us this year there will be a good mix of known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns. For some people that will be exciting, and for some quite scary. May Jesus give us all grace to be faithful in the boring parts of life, and ready and open to recognise the work of his Spirit in the most unlikely and unexpected situations.

“The Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple.” – Help your church, Lord, not only to wait for you patiently, but to recognise you when you arrive in unexpected ways.

Questions

If you want some questions for reflection or discussion, then here are a couple.

  1. Can you think of an unexpected change or event which either renewed your experience of God, or refreshed or altered your understanding of your faith?
  2. Some people naturally value routine, and regular practices or habits in their faith, others emphasise the value of new and different experiences and people. Simeon and Anna show how both combine. If you’re someone who values routine over change, what might help you appreciate newer things? If you’re someone who loves the new and different, how might you find value in routine and regular habit?



​Glasshampton Monastery

For Brother Nicholas, the Guardian, and all the brothers of the Society of Saint Francis at Glasshampton Monastery, in their ministry of prayer and hospitality. 


New Priest for Dudley

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge has announced that the Revd James Treasure will be moving to Dudley to lead the new Resourcing Church based at St Thomas and St Luke, ‘Top Church’.

James is currently a curate in the Kidderminster West Team and will take up his post in June 2018. He will spend the first year preparing for the launch of a new congregation in Top Church in September 2019, working alongside the Revd Robert Barlow, Interim Team Rector, as well as the other clergy and lay people in Dudley.

Bishop John said: “James is a very gifted priest and I’m delighted with this appointment. He will come to Dudley with a brief to build a team for this ground breaking project, building relationships in the town and prayerfully discerning the right way forward as the building is made ready for new forms of worship and outreach. It’s a really exciting time for both Top Church and the Church of England in Dudley generally.”

James said: “I am thrilled to take up this role at such an exciting time for Top Church and Dudley. Esther and I are really looking forward to getting 'stuck in' and playing our role as God's Kingdom people in Dudley.”

Resourcing Churches bring resources into an area to fund intentional mission – planting new churches and supporting and revitalising others. They have been very successful across the Church of England in bringing more people to faith. With the help of funding from the Church Commissioners, it is an opportunity to establish a congregation in Dudley, which will be very different from the other Church of England congregations currently in the town. Top Church will be redeveloped and improved and James will work with the existing community there to bring new life to this iconic church to enable it to best serve the needs of the local area.

About James Treasure:

James is married to Esther and they have three boys, Irenaeus (14), Wesley (12) and Atticus (9). James is a Franciscan tertiary and formerly a minister in the free church tradition leading vibrant churches in London and Stourbridge. Esther has worked for a number of years with those on the margins of society, most recently for Hope into Action that enables churches to create homes for those who have none.


A ​Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

This year’s week of prayer for Christian Unity runs from 18 – 25 January. 

Praying for the unity of the Church involves a recognition not only of the brokenness of Christian relationships but also how injustice in the world at large separates Christian communities and impedes our participation in God’s mission. History too plays a part, casting a shadow over how we live our lives together in community. 

All of these issues emerge from the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity materials for 2018. The churches of the Caribbean region describe their own context, how the hand of God was active in ending slavery, and how God’s mission in the world is a call to us all to unite together in ending injustice, that which casts a shadow from the past and current forms of injustice such as poverty, trafficking and discrimination. 

This particular Caribbean experience is a challenge to us in our context to reflect more deeply on the injustices in our own nations in Britain and Ireland which create the divisions that impede our participation in God’s mission, with the call to actively work to end all division. 

Barrier-breaking God,
You embrace all cultures and lands,
But keep a special place in your heart
For the stranger, the widow and the orphan.
Grant us the gift of your Spirit
That we may become as You are,
Welcoming all as brothers and sisters,
Your cherished children,
Citizens together in Christ’s kingdom of justice and peace.
Amen 

Stourport Deanery – Rural Dean: Mark Turner; Lay Chair: Andrew Quinn



​Retired clergy in Stourport Deanery

We ask God’s blessing on the retired clergy who live and worship in Stourport Deanery, giving thanks or their vocation and ministry over the years. We give thanks too for the continuing ministry some are able to offer in our parishes. For Paul Brothwell, Robin Walters, Sally Jones.


Hallow, St Philip and St James

Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015

Hallow, Hallow, St Philip and St James

An application has been made to the Worcester Consistory Court for a faculty to authorise the Installation of replacement accessible toilet and servery facility to include removal and disposal of north aisle pews

Copies of the relevant documents may be inspected at the Diocesan Registry.

If you wish to object to the proposal you should write giving reasons for your objections to me at:

8 Sansome Walk
Worcester

WR1 1LW

Please ensure your objection reaches the Registry not later than 9 February 2018

You should give your name and postal address and state the capacity in which you write.

S C Ness

Diocesan Registrar 


Hampton, St Andrew

Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015

Hampton, St Andrew

An application has been made to the Worcester Consistory Court for a faculty to authorise the restoration of the Preaching Cross in the Churchyard.

Copies of the relevant documents may be inspected at the Diocesan Registry.

If you wish to object to the proposal you should write giving reasons for your objections to me at:

8 Sansome Walk
Worcester

WR1 1LW

Please ensure your objection reaches the Registry not later than 9 February 2018

You should give your name and postal address and state the capacity in which you write.

S C Ness

Diocesan Registrar 


Kidderminster, St Mary and All Saints

Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015

Kidderminster, St Mary and All Saints

An application has been made to the Worcester Consistory Court for a faculty to authorise the replacement of stolen lead flashings in Ubiflex and stonework repairs.

Copies of the relevant documents may be inspected at the Diocesan Registry.

If you wish to object to the proposal you should write giving reasons for your objections to me at:

8 Sansome Walk
Worcester

WR1 1LW

Please ensure your objection reaches the Registry not later than 9 February 2018

You should give your name and postal address and state the capacity in which you write.

S C Ness

Diocesan Registrar 


Worcester Cathedral shortlisted to host Tim Peake’s Soyuz Spacecraft

Worcester Cathedral has been short listed as one of five potential venues for Tim Peake’s Soyuz Spacecraft to be exhibited later this year. It is an exciting prospect to be able to host such a significant piece of modern national history in a vastly contrasting historic setting. It would facilitate a unique opportunity for members of the general public from all over the Midlands and further afield, who have watched the story of space travel unfold or for younger people whose imaginations were captured by Tim Peake’s voyage to the International Space Station, to experience and savour for many years to come.

Peter Atkinson, the Dean of Worcester, said he was 'delighted' at the 'exciting prospect'. He added: 

'It would facilitate a unique opportunity for members of the general public from all over the Midlands and further afield, who have watched the story of space travel unfold or for younger people whose imaginations were captured by Tim Peake's voyage to the International Space Station, to experience and savour for many years to come.

'The Cathedral Nave, where Soyuz could be on display, dates back to the 12th and 14th centuries and is a testament to the ambition of people in this period to push the boundaries around aspiration and excellence. It has magnificent high soaring gothic architecture and an impressive Victorian marbled floor and would be a superb backdrop for this exciting display.'