All are welcome to join us for our Advent Evensong service, being held at St Magnus’ Church, Lerwick, on Sunday 1st December at 6.30pm.

Saturday 30th November @ 10.30am – Crafty Church – Come along and help us make Christingles!

Sunday 1st December @ 2.45pm – Christingle Service

Sunday 15th December @ 2.45pm – Nine Lessons and Carols

Wednesday 25th December @ 9.30am – Christmas Day Service

All Welcome!

St. Magnus’ is ready for the All Souls Day ‘Fallen Leaves’ service tomorrow.

All are welcome to join us for a special service of quiet reflection to remember those who have died.

Saturday 2nd November – 4pm

St. Magnus’ Church
Greenfield Place
Lerwick
ZE1 0AQ

The Shetland Foodbank have sent out a big ‘thank you’ to those who made Harvest donations. Both St. Colman’s and St. Magnus’ gathered donations as part of our Harvest services which were taken to the Shetland Foodbank.

“As always we are extremely grateful for these and for all other donations both large and small which help us to support many people in our Shetland community who are facing a crisis situation.”

You can read the full post on their Facebook page here.

St Magnus…Climate Striking….and the Sun.

We’ve recently spent a few days on Orkney so it was only right and proper that we should pay a visit to St Magnus. From our campsite in Birsay we saw where he was born and where his early formation took place. It was also where his body was first taken after his death on Eglisay (which we didn’t get to), to Christ’s Kirk in  Birsay. And of course we visited St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, the shrine to his memory and resting place of his mortal remains.

The story of St Magnus is well known and often told. But the “so what” is perhaps made less explicit (but then the best stories stand on their own!) For me, the Magnus story is about self-sacrifice – very literally in this case. When his cousin Hakon tries to seize complete control of the kingdom and lures Magnus into a trap at the meeting on Eglisay, Magnus offers his own life rather than plunge the country into inter-neicene conflict. Famously, Magnus forgives the servant who is required to deliver the fatal blow.

Self-sacrifice, self-giving is right at the root of our Christian understanding. The death of Jesus was by no means inevitable. He could easily have kept his head down, been less provocative of the  religious authorities. But the glory of his death is that it was a willing act of self-giving, of self-sacrifice.

I don’t suppose it’s difficult for any of us to recall acts of self-giving, be they mundane or dramatic. The very act of parenting or the selfless care shown to a loved one with dependent needs. Moving stories of mothers going without so that their children might eat. Any occasion when we can declare, “She didn’t have to do that”. Invariably and almost by definition, these selfless acts are deeply, deeply moving – be they grand or unseen. Actions which go against our own self-interest.

And by contrast, we find ourselves repelled the obscenity of gross self-indulgence, the polar opposite of self-sacrifice.

Bonhoeffer The Cost of Discipleship. He himself was a famous example of Christian self-sacrifice. But it reminds us that to follow Jesus is both a joy and a burden, hopefully not in such an extreme way as Magnus or Bonhoeffer, but in countless smaller ways where we make deliberate choices and take specific actions – for Jesus’ sake – that cost us. It might be giving our time to someone else when we’re really pressed for time ourselves. It might mean financial support for a particular cause and doing without something ourselves. Or taking a less financially rewarding job working for a small charity. It might mean taking a moral stand which puts us at odds with family or colleagues. Actions that are costly in some way.

Which brings me to the Market Cross at midday on Friday as we mingled with the so-called Climate Strike. I think, well I certainly have the feeling, that the vast majority of “ordinary people” know that “something needs to be done”. We need to act to head off the catastrophic damage being done to our planet, to Mother Earth. We need to act in our personal choices and lifestyles; local communities need to act; nations need to act; the multi-national corporations that bestride the earth need to act; the world community needs to act. We need action at all these levels as well as the change of heart which needs to underpin our actions.

Putting things right will be costly. There will need to be some sacrifices at all levels. The choices we all need to make if we’re to live more sustainably may come at a price – and they may be inconvenient or unattractive. If we are to re-order our economy so that it cherishes rather than plunders the natural world  – there will need to be wholesale re-ordering and disruption. If our vast corporations work for the planet rather than mercilessly exploiting her, there will be a cost. The radical inversion of our priorities from profit to planet – well, the consequences are almost too vast to contemplate.

If we’re to be serious and realistic we mustn’t shy away from the cost (in the widest understanding  of that); sacrifices will be needed. Part of the challenge is sure to ensure that such “costs” do not fall disproportionately on those people and communities who are least able to bear them.

So finally, from St Magnus to Climate Strike to…..the Sun. Talk about sacrifice about self-giving, about cost  – is gloomy stuff. Not particularly attractive. No politician ever stood on a ticket of “Vote for me : you’ll be worse off”! I want to end with a fairly lengthy quote from Brian Swimme (a cosmologist but not necessarily a Christian) who puts our tales of sacrifice and self-giving in, well, a cosmic context. I hope you “get” it! If not, you can beat me up over coffee! (Copies at the back of church)

“The Sun, each second, transforms four million tons of itself into light. Each second a huge chunk of the Sun vanishes into radiant energy….In the case of the Sun we have a new understanding of the cosmological meaning of sacrifice. The Sun is, with each second, giving itself over to become energy that we, with every meal partake of….So for four million years, humans have been feasting on the Sun’s energy stored in the form of wheat or maize or reindeer…And every child of ours needs to learn the simple truth : she is the energy of the Sun….the Sun’s extravagant bestowal of energy can be regarded as a spectacular manifestation of an underlying impulse pervading the universe. In the human heart it is felt as the urge to devote one’s life to the wellbeing of the larger community…the Sun’s story will find its climax in a story from the human family of those women and men whose lives manifested the same generosity and whose sacrifice enabled others to reach fulfilment”.

(Brian Swimme The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos)

To spend our lives for others should be a joy.

Whoever wrote “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam” was more right than they could ever have known.

Amen.

Sunday 13th October 2019 – 10:45am

Followed by Harvest Lunch in the Church Hall.

All welcome!

Sermon For Trinity 10

Lerwick 2019 Yr C

Last week we were told to come to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith who disregarded the shame of the cross to be raised to God.

This week we are urged to come to Jesus the mediator of a new promise.

The writer to the epistle to the Hebrews seems to have in the background of all that he writes the Temple in Jerusalem and the sacrifice that took place there. A sacrifice that was seen to be repeated over and over.

The Temple in Jerusalem was seen to be the very gateway to God. It was nothing less than the dwelling place of God on earth. It is perhaps also worth reminding ourselves that this was the case for “all peoples”. Not just Jews, though of course it was the Temple for the Jewish nation too.

To enter the Temple was to come close to God himself.  To make this point we know it was a magnificent structure the likes of which were not seen in the known world. It was truly awesome and amazing.

For the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews writing after the destruction of thus Temple most likely, Jesus is seen to be the replacement of this Temple.

All the imagery in the Epistle is temple imagery and it is all associated with Jesus. Jesus is Temple High priest and sacrifice. As the epistle proceeds.

So today we stand not at the blazing fire found at mount Sinai in the story of Moses in the wilderness but at the holy Temple itself.. Holy city Zion the heavenly Jerusalem.

And here we find Jesus the mediator… the means for a new promise of God to his people.

So when we listen to our gospel words for today we encounter Jesus healing a nameless woman who could only be recognised by being bent double. It might appear she simply encountered Jesus, we are not told she was looking for him or seeking healing like we are with so many other people we encounter in the gospels. This encounter results in a complete change for her.

Despite the point about healing on the Sabbath, I think the more interesting connection is the encounter with Jesus.

A few verses later Jesus tells us about another woman who took yeast and mixed it with flour until it was all leavened….. could it be the same woman?

Our own encounters with Jesus come in so many mixed ways… some needless to say we may even miss.

How do you think you may have encountered Jesus this last week? When do you think your response to the encounter was to suddenly walk upright?

Sometimes we do spot these moments, and we all know when they have happened.

One of the more obvious (hopefully) places we encounter Jesus, well at least we put ourselves in his way at least… is the Eucharist.

As Paul says every time we break the bread we proclaim the Lord,… we show the Lord.

One favourite prayer in the Eucharist which we sadly omit at the moment, is known as the prayer of humble access and I am inviting us to pray this together later.

The image of not being worthy may conjure in us the need to bow down indeed gathering crumbs under a table means bowing down … or be bent double maybe?

We approach Communion both humbly and yet expectantly. Jesus becomes for us the mediator of a wholly (holy) new promise of God life living in and through us. We pray that we may be living sacrifices to pick up the sacrificial images in the epistle to the Hebrews.

The Epistle to the Hebrews invites its readers to imagine the city of the living God being in their very midst. How much do we actually live like that? Or do we choose more often than not to slip back into the gloom of despair and complaint?

Our epistle continues.” Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe;”

Roman Catholics often refer to this service as “The Mass”. This is to focus on the very end of the service and the Latin  “Ite, missa est” (“Go, it is the sending [dismissal]” The identifying word “Mass” actually focuses on the people who are sent out from the receiving.

When we come to our dismissal today from this encounter with Jesus let us respond with positive intent to proclaim and show and to live a life of God.

So I think today I want to dwell on the encounter and what it means to us, and how it transforms who we are.

Sermon For Trinity 9

Lerwick and Yell 2019

Proper 15

I must confess one of the first things that jumped out at me from today’s readings was the question raised by the prophet Jeremiah: what has straw in common with wheat?

At first I thought I was just being stupid but then after checking it out … Straw and wheat are directly related. They are the same plant…!

I wonder what Jeremiah was saying when he raised the question.

A lot of the rest of our readings have to do with faithfulness, so maybe there is a clue here?

The rather curious list of names mentioned in Hebrews, and I am not going to repeat them! Lists people of many walks of life, some of them more known than others probably, who have had what can be described as a chequered lives, some more or less successful than others. (some may even be described as failed) It would appear God worked with both success and failure measured on a human level.

So to run the race with perseverance that is set before us means more than we might first imagine…. Failure seems to matter too here!

The phrase “A leap of faith” may be meaningful to many people. You may have used the phrase yourself either for yourselves or others. When I left Cambridge to move to Shetland I heard this a lot “you are making a leap of faith”.

Part of the problem however with the phrase is that it is given a “positive spin”.

When you think harder about it, a leap more often than not involves falling down too… it is usually not a simple case of continuing up. So when considering a leap of faith we ought to bare in mind the sense of fall and fail too. God it seems can use either in the grand scheme of things.

But of course this is difficult to bare, because we always want to measure success.

Let us bare in mind Christians are being called to follow a servant, not a winner. Jesus lead by not being dominant, but by serving.  His triumph came about in sacrifice and his throne is seen through the cross. And it was by through a death that life was restored.

I am reminded of that image that Jesus spoke about with the seed dying in the ground to bring a harvest.

Of course the message in today’s gospel is equally uncomfortable because we lay so much store on peace and tranquillity that the thought of Jesus bring a sword and division even in a family is uncomfortable.

Hebrews goes on after the various characters have been mentioned to speak about being surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, I have always found this part of the epistle to be helpful and encouraging, because as we look back we do see real people who have lived and often struggled in their faithfulness and in their faith to reach the rest of God.

If we are drawn to the being faithful part of our readings today we are reminded that faithful may not mean successful and faithful is not necessarily measured the way the world may want to measure it. Struggle is often part of faithful I feel.

So since we are indeed surrounded by so great a cloud of witness we run with perseverance looking to Jesus who is the pioneer and perfector who perfected us through a cross.

Prophets were often not popular and their words were often challenging. Jeremiah was no different and he spent many years in prison by his own people for being unpopular and speaking out word which they felt were simply wrong… we might want to add heretical.

Let us be reminded again today by Jeremiah that indeed God is close to us and not at all far away. He has drawn near to us and holds us close in our struggling faithfulness. In this we can rejoice.

When we leap in faith it may be to struggle but God is ever close and will not abandon us.

God is near not far away