Thursday, 31 March 2011

Cancelled Pilgrimage?!

Of course there is no way that our Christian witness and pilgrimage can be cancelled. However there is sad news to report that this year's Glastonbury Pilgrimage has been cancelled as confirmed by a letter being sent out and signed by.....The Bishop of Plymouth. As a former member of the Council of the GPA I regret this very much and at such late notification too. It makes absolutely no specific reference to the departing brothers and sisters to the Ordinariate but only to "doubts about attendance" and that a service with the image of OLW taking place at Exeter Cathedral in May is the reason. I suppose that it was always going to be difficult as most of  the main supporters and all the flying Bishops and the former Chairman, Bp David Silk have been forced by the caring, sharing Church of England to make pilgrimage elsewhere. The future will be discussed at the AGM of the GPA in October; make sure you retain your membership until then if you want to vote.
Personally I think the future for the Anglican pilgrimage there and the future of the National Anglican Pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham lies as a joint ecumenical witness with the Roman Catholic Glastonbury Pilgrimage and Roman Catholic Walsingham one too. Whilst sacramental division remains each could have their own non- communicating Masses or separate prayers of consecration and then joint veneration of the Blessed Sacrament and sprinkling and healing services combined perhaps. There is no doubt that the full sacramental unity of Anglo Catholics with Rome will proceed apace as nothing much of any use will or can be offered by General Synod. And as a not very well focused extra remnant in the form of the Society of SS Hilda and Wilfred, it will struggle with the starkly reduced numbers and missing the most vibrant members of the former Anglo-Catholic wing of Anglicanism . We can but keep praying with and for each other that God's will may be done (as soon as possible!).

The Water of Life

Homily Lent 3. Yr. A
The Samaritan Woman at the Well

Sunday’s Gospel is full of a large number of meanings on a variety of levels. It begins with the account of the woman at the well. Although we don’t have the name of the Samaritan lady we do have the name of the well. Jacob’s well is named after the great Patriarch Jacob who was an absolutely key figure in Hebrew history. He was of course the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham. On his journey at Bethel he received a vision when he was promised blessing and posterity, which became true. There is by the way a legend that the stone pillow on which he laid his head during his vision at Bethel is the stone of destiny or the crowning stone of Scone on which all Scottish Kings and English ones, since 1296 when it was removed to Westminster Abbey, are crowned.
Jacobs well is, however a real and historical place, the setting for the account of Jesus’ journey from Judea to Galilee that traditionally passes through Samaria taking a symbolic three days. The well can be found at the fork in the road in a very precise place; that is at the fork which branches in one direction to Samaria and W. Galilee and in the other to Bethshan and Lake Genaseret half a mile from modern Askar. 
John’s Gospel is full of references to water. Here the human need to drink water is reference to its life giving qualities. We cannot live or exist without it. Jesus’ life and ministry often refers to water, as in new birth from the very beginning of life with water in the womb of the BVM, through baptism in the Jordan, water in cleansing and healing, blessing and at burial. The church uses water extensively in its sacraments and blessings from the cradle to the grave.
Jesus’ dialogue with the woman at Jacob’s well, as with his dialogue with us today in the sacrament of word and action and Eucharistic presence, is that not only is water a life giving and life saving commodity essential for our survival but he as living water is also essential for our well being and our spiritual life both here and in the life to come.
The woman is the first missionary in a sense, as she brings her community as she brings us to recognise Jesus as our Saviour and the Saviour of the world. Jesus shows us that he is the gift of God greater than Jacob, he is the living water on which we heavily rely. Hence his words “everyone who drinks this water will become thirsty again but he who drinks of the water that I shall give will never be thirsty… gushing up to eternal life”. Wine is made up largely of water, the same substance that through the mystery of the Eucharist becomes the blood of Christ, the water of spiritual and eternal life. One of the reasons Deacons at Mass mix water with wine in the chalice before its consecration is to make this connection between what Jesus did at the last supper using water in this way and remembering that at the crucifixion both blood and water came from his pierced side sacramentally embodied at every celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
So then, we have water of life to drink, the gift of God himself and the food of life which is Jesus his son who refreshes us with his words, comforts us as we thirst for the true meaning of life, food and drink beyond all understanding. Jesus is the water and food of our redemption and the deep source and well of all life, all knowledge, wisdom and truth. The physician and healer of our weakness, clears away our sins and doubts and fears like a great cleansing tide that washes over us leaving us pure and renewed to do his will. As we turn towards the cross we shall again hear the words of Christ hanging there for you and for me “ I thirst”. He thirsts not just for himself but he for us, he thirsts for our love above all he thirsts for our faith and our faithfulness. Will we hear his words to us and will we respond? May this Holy Lent reveal to us the great joy and meaning of the coming Pascal-tide. May we see more clearly the life giving Saviour in whom and to whom we owe everything and to whom all honour might majesty dominion and praise be given now and for ever, Amen. + M.E.Z.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Holy Lent

We'll be going as a family to the Mardi Gras arranged by some church stalwarts after school today. Pancakes of course on the menu! Not sure if the race will be on we'll let you know! If you want a good way to keep Lent for five minutes each day why not listen in to Fr. Z on his daily podcast from the USA? You can listen in here at

My photo today is of the "Pancake Greaze" which we used to celebrate when I was at Westminster Under (junior) School many moons ago! Westminster School adjoins The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, which is almost always referred to popularly and informally as Westminster Abbey or in London as "The Abbey"The tradition consists of the school chef tossing a horsehair pancake over quite a high ceiling bar after which there was a violent rugby type scrum with no rules. The winner being the one who had collected the most pancake, after The Dean blew his whistle, by usually stuffing as much as they could under their shirt. The reward was considerable, as the winner was presented with silver Maundy money no less! Health and safety nowhere to be seen in those days!