Online Worship: 24 May 2020, Last Sunday of Easter

This Sunday is the 24th of May 2020, the seventh and final Sunday of Easter season.

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Welcome to our Online Worship for this week. As we mentioned in the notices last week, Rev David is taking a week off at present to recharge his batteries after this most extraordinary couple of months since the lockdown began. You will see him ‘top and tail’ the video today through the wonderful ability to pre-record his contributions, but in David taking a step back, we are pleased to welcome Bishop James, our Bishop of Rochester, who has kindly agreed to join us in our worship and preach for us today.

We’re delighted to welcome Bishop James. His participation with us is another reason to be thankful for the way in which technology, during this lockdown, has enabled us to come together more with our link mission partners overseas and with our leaders and overseers in Christ. Of course, it also helps to give David a little break too!

There’s the usual mix of hymns to sing and prayers to pray, please pay due to regard to the notices, and our thanks to Nick and Gail for reading the Scriptures and to Bishop James as he preaches.

Notices

There are a number of things to be aware of at the moment. This page will tell you more.

Songs to sing today

Crown Him with many crowns

10,000 reasons (Bless the Lord, O my soul)

Children’s song: Let your light shine
This is a new song that we haven’t sung before but have a go at learning it, kids,
and perhaps we can sing it one day soon at All-Age Worship.

Family Worship @ Home

Families seeking to support their children may also like to know about the Diocese of Rochester’s update for this week with resources for children and families. This week the focus is on Ascension Day, which took place last Thursday. You can download this week’s PDF sheets to use if you wish to do so. (PDF file)

https://www.rochester.anglican.org/under18s/ministryhome/family-worship-in-the-home/

Bishop James’ video sermon for this Sunday

01:52 Thy Kingdom Come advert, 02:50 the Bible Reading with Nick Crutchfield, 04:32 onwards the Sermon with Bishop James.

Prayers for today

A Litany for Ascensiontide

Let us join our prayers with those of our Saviour Christ,
seeking the Father’s blessing and the gifts of the Spirit.

Jesus Christ, great high priest,
living for ever to intercede for us,
pray for the Church, your broken body in the world …
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Jesus Christ, king of righteousness,
enthroned at the right hand of the majesty on high,
pray for the world, and make it subject to your gentle rule …
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Jesus Christ, Son of Man,
drawing humanity into the life of God,
pray for your brothers and sisters in need, distress or sorrow …
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Jesus Christ, pioneer of our salvation,
bringing us to glory through your death and resurrection, surround with your saints and angels
those who have died trusting your promises …
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Jesus Christ,
keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit
and in the bond of peace,
and bring the whole created order to worship at your feet;
for you are alive and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

A prayer about the COVID-19 pandemic

Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen.

The Collect for this Sunday

Risen, ascended Lord,
as we rejoice at your triumph,
fill your Church on earth with power and compassion,
that all who are estranged by sin
may find forgiveness and know your peace,
to the glory of God the Father.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Blessing

The Spirit of truth lead you into all truth,
give you grace to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
and strengthen you to proclaim the word and works of God;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

Waiting expectantly for the promised Holy Spirit,
stay at home in the peace of Christ. Alleluia, alleluia.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia.

Resources for the week ahead

Prayer pointers

  • Those who have asked for our prayers: Stewart Betts, Hilda Bodley, Valerie Crittenden, Lucy Clifford, Pam Hoskins, Robin & Rosemary Law, Ron Marchant, Cynthia & John Noble, Barbara & Graham Norton, Malcolm Scott, Eileen Vickers, Irina Walker, Janet & John Wincott, and Heather, William, Stephanie, Kate.
  • For the families of Jean Shepherd, Joyce (Joy) Cruttenden, Terry Frisby, Arthur (Tony) Cook, Trevor Fosberry, Bill Bruce and Margaret Brooker; all of whom have died recently.
  • For those in our congregation who are retired. For a sense of vocation and purpose, rest and family and life, and their witness to Christ.
  • Giving thanks for our PCC members, for the responsibilities they hold and decisions they must make, for all they do to lead our congregations, support our Ministers and care for the fabric of the churches.
  • Prayers for St Dunstan’s Church and the people of West Peckham.
  • For the UK and world authorities political, medical, scientific, civil and religious as we respond to the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • For HM Queen and our nation, for the Prime Minister and Government, for loving and respectful discourse, truth and integrity in political life.
  • For unity and reconciliation in our nation following our departure from the European Union.
  • For authorities and emergency services working in areas of war, humanitarian or ecological tragedy including all nations affected by Coronavirus. Especially Syria, Iraq, Turkey, for the Kurdish people, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and the Yemen.
  • For our link dioceses of Harare, Mpwapwa & Kondoa and Estonia.

Lectionary readings for Daily Prayer

Morning & Evening Prayer from the day after Ascension until Pentecost
Monday Morning – Psalm 93, Numbers 22.1-35, Luke 7.36-end
Monday Evening – Psalm 18, Deuteronomy 31.1-13, 1 John 2.18-end
Tuesday Morning – Psalms 99 and 100, Numbers 22.36-23.12, Luke 8.1-15
Tuesday Evening – Psalm 68, Deuteronomy 31.14-29, 1 John 3.1-10
Wednesday Morning – Psalm 2, Numbers 23.13-end, Luke 8.16-25
Wednesday Evening – Psalm 36, Deuteronomy 31.30-32.14, 1 John 3.11-end
Thursday Morning – Psalm 24, Numbers 24, Luke 8.26-39
Thursday Evening – Psalm 139, Deuteronomy 32.15-47, 1 John 4.1-6
Friday Morning – Psalm 28, Numbers 27.12-end, Luke 8.40-end
Friday Evening – Psalm 147, Deuteronomy 33, 1 John 4.7-end
Saturday Morning – Psalm 42, Numbers 32.1-27, Luke 9.1-17
Saturday Evening – Psalm 48, Deuteronomy 16.9-15, John 15.26 – 16.15 (Eve of Pentecost)

Online Worship: 17 May 2020, Sixth Sunday of Easter

This Sunday is the 17th of May 2020, the sixth Sunday of Easter.

Photo by Gavin Atkin, 2018

Alleluia! Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Welcome to our Online Worship for this week. We have just this Sunday and next Sunday left in the season of Easter. It will shortly be Ascension Day and then Pentecost, and so perhaps it’s no surprise that our reading today starts to point us in that direction as we consider Jesus’ promise of the coming Holy Spirit in John 14.15-21.

Once again we have been able to link up with one of our mission partners this week and we’re delighted to welcome Daniel and Sarah to our worship all the way from Brazil! They will be sharing our Gospel Reading with us. There’s the usual mix of hymns to sing and prayers to pray, lots of notices and things to be aware of, and Rev David is preaching today with his reflections on the Gospel Passage and the themes of hope and fear he spots within our current times and how it links to Jesus’ words.

Notices

There are a number of things to be aware of at the moment. This page will tell you more.

Songs to sing today

O Jesus I have promised (Wolvercote)

Faithful One, so unchanging

Children’s song: Heaven is in my heart

Family Worship @ Home

Families seeking to support their children may also like to know about the Diocese of Rochester’s update for this week with resources for children and families. This week the focus is John 14:15-21, the same reading as we’re using. You can download this week’s PDF sheets to use if you wish to do so. (PDF file)

https://www.rochester.anglican.org/under18s/ministryhome/family-worship-in-the-home/

David’s video sermon for this Sunday

01:47 Thy Kingdom Come advert, 02:40 greetings and the Bible Reading with Daniel & Sarah in Brazil, 07:48 onwards the Sermon.

Prayers for today

A Litany for Easter season

We pray to Jesus who is present with us to eternity.

Jesus, light of the world,
bring the light and peace of your gospel to the nations …
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, bread of life,
give food to the hungry …
and nourish us all with your word.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, our way, our truth, our life,
be with us and all who follow you in the way …
Deepen our appreciation of your truth
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, Good Shepherd who gave your life for the sheep,
recover the straggler,
bind up the injured,
strengthen the sick
and lead the healthy and strong to new pastures.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, the resurrection and the life,
we give you thanks for all who have lived and believed in you …
Raise us with them to eternal life.
Jesus, Lord of life,
in your mercy, hear us,
accept our prayers, and be with us always.

Amen.

A prayer about the COVID-19 pandemic

God of healing and hope,
may this time of danger,
by your Holy Spirit, bring out the best and not the worst in us.
Show us the ways in which we can share faith and love,
while standing at a distance,
and honour our connection with one another,
and with you,
through Jesus Christ our Saviour,
Amen.

The Collect for this Sunday

Risen Christ,
by the lakeside you renewed your call to your disciples:
help your Church to obey your command
and draw the nations to the fire of your love,
to the glory of God the Father.
Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Before we go, did you see… ?

Having shared with you “The UK Blessing” last week, a very different but no less breathtaking music and technical achievement came from Stile Antico who have recorded a ‘socially distanced’ performance of Spem in Alium, Thomas Tallis’ amazing 40-part motet.

As they said when they published it online, we hope its beauty and confidence inspire you as we travel together through these uncertain times. Runtime approximately 9 minutes.

Blessing

May God,
who through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ
has given us the victory,
give you joy and peace in your faith;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

Stay at home in the peace of Christ. Alleluia, alleluia.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia.

Resources for the week ahead

Prayer pointers

  • Those who have asked for our prayers: Stewart Betts, Hilda Bodley, Bill Bruce, Valerie Crittenden, Lucy Clifford, Pam Hoskins, Robin & Rosemary Law, Ron Marchant, Cynthia & John Noble, Barbara & Graham Norton, Malcolm Scott, Eileen Vickers, Irina Walker, Grant Wilkinson, Janet & John Wincott, and Heather, William, Stephanie, Kate.
  • For the families of Jean Shepherd, Joyce (Joy) Cruttenden, Terry Frisby, Arthur (Tony) Cook and Trevor Fosberry, all of whom have died recently.
  • For those in our congregation who work in the arts or entertainment. For the creativity of God’s Spirit, economic favour, a prophetic voice and their witness at work.
  • Giving thanks for our Churchwardens, Stephen and Jane in Offham, John and Clare in West Malling, and all they do to lead our congregations, support our Ministers and care for the fabric of the churches.
  • Prayers for St Lawrence’s Church and the people of Mereworth.
  • For the UK and world authorities political, medical, scientific, civil and religious as we respond to the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • For HM Queen and our nation, for the Prime Minister and Government, for loving and respectful discourse, truth and integrity in political life.
  • For unity and reconciliation in our nation following our departure from the European Union.
  • For authorities and emergency services working in areas of war, humanitarian or ecological tragedy including all nations affected by Coronavirus. Especially Syria, Iraq, Turkey, for the Kurdish people, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and the Yemen.
  • For local mission partners at Pilsdon, Spadework and Kenward Trust.

Lectionary readings for Daily Prayer

Eastertide season continues
Monday – Psalm 104.21-30, Deuteronomy 8.1-10, Philippians 4.4-7, Matthew 6.1-15 (Rogation Day)*
Tuesday – Psalm 107.1-9, 1 Kings 8.35-40, 2 Thessalonians 3.6-13, Mark 11.22-24 (Rogation Day)*
Wednesday Morning – Psalm 121, Job 28.1-11, 1 John 5.12-15, Luke 11.5-13 (Rogation Day)*
Thursday Morning – Psalm 110, Isaiah 52.7-15, Hebrews 7.11-28 (Ascension Day)
Thursday Evening – Psalm 8, 2 Kings 2.1-15, Revelation 5 (Ascension Day)
Friday Morning – Psalm 20, Numbers 20.1-13, Luke 7.11-17
Friday Evening – Psalm 145, Deuteronomy 29.2-15, 1 John 1.1-2.6
Saturday Morning – Psalm 21, Numbers 21.4-9, Luke 7.18-35
Saturday Evening – Psalm 84, Deuteronomy 30, 1 John 2.7-17

* – Rogation Day. The word “rogation” is from the Latin rogare, “to ask.” Historically, the Rogation Days (the three days before Ascension Day) were a period of fasting and abstinence, asking for God’s blessing on the crops for a bountiful harvest. Less of us today directly derive our livelihood from the production of food, yet it is good to be reminded of our dependence upon those who do and our responsibility for the environment.

Age, mental health and isolation

In recent days I heard the tragic news that an elderly gentleman in my parish, someone I had the privilege to know, had killed himself.

Having lost his wife some years before and with little family to speak of, when I visited with him he would confide in me that he felt he had nothing left to live for.

While he had a clear Christian faith and understanding of life, he now considered himself nothing more than a burden on the taxpayer, he felt he had lasted too long, outlived those he loved, and, quoting St Paul, he said it would be best to “be with Christ” (Philippians 1:23).

In some ways, I sympathised with the predicament as he saw it. Modern medical science has run faster than our morality or the pace of our culture can maintain. Neither have we always handled deftly the unexpected outcomes of fundamentally good developments like longer life.

Such conversations are not that uncommon for me with very elderly people. But I never anticipated or expected that he was quietly making a plan to die. Given that many people knew him and cared for him, I don’t think anyone else saw it coming either.

I hope this doesn’t feel like I am betraying his confidence in saying this after his death, but when I sat and listened to him, my over-riding impression was that this man felt unbelievably isolated and alone.

He lived with others. There were people around him all the time. He was always happy to strike up a conversation. But nevertheless he felt alone.

Sensing his loneliness, I tried to engage him; the occasional visit, a chat in the churchyard and also writing letters or cards to know he wasn’t forgotten. I tried to invite him to attend various services or events St Mary’s hosted; mostly without success.

One thing I said to him several times was that I believe that we live and breathe and have our being by God’s design. “For such a time as this” are we called (Esther 4:14). So if we are here by God’s design, even if we would rather not be, it must mean the Lord has purposes for each of our lives. What is it he would have us contribute?

I do wish he could have seen that he had a contribution to make; that he wasn’t useless or a burden, and that there were many things that were worth living for.

I know too that, while suicide is not a mental health problem in itself, it is strongly linked with mental distress and 75% of the suicides in the UK last year were men. It seems that we blokes are particularly bad at expressing how we feel or seeking help when we are hurting.

As Easter approaches, I also know that while the night can feel very dark indeed, the sun will come in the morning. The Christian faith is hope made real, hope made flesh.

If you feel that you’ve nothing to live for, or that you are lonely, or that there is no purpose or joy for you in life, please don’t suffer in silence and don’t seek your death. Please come and talk to me or talk to someone you know who will listen carefully to you, phone the Samaritans on 116 123 for free or visit the Samaritans website. It doesn’t have to be this way.

I truly believe God loves you and he has good things for you.

Rev David Green

Holy Week and Easter services 2017

We thought you might like to take note of the Holy Week and Easter events and services taking place in Offham, Kings Hill and West Malling.

Sunday 9 April, Palm Sunday services
in all churches at the usual start times.

Tuesday 11 April, 7.30pm
Stations of the Cross
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Maundy Thursday, 13 April, 7 for 7.30 p.m. start
A Seder Meal to mark Maundy Thursday
St Lawrence’s Church, Mereworth

Good Friday, 14 April, 9.15 am
Morning Prayer
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Good Friday, 14 April, 10.00 am
Interactive Easter Family Service
St Gabriel’s Church, Kings Hill (Discovery School main hall)

Good Friday, 14 April, 11.00 am
Churches Together Good Friday Walk of Witness
Begins at St Thomas More RC Church, Lucks Hill, West Malling

Good Friday, 14 April, 2.00 pm
Quiet Hour
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Good Friday, 14 April, 3.30 pm
X-plore Easter – Children’s Easter craft activities
St Mary’s Church Centre, West Malling

Easter Sunday, 16 April, 6.15 am
Easter Dawn Service
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Easter Sunday, 16 April, 8.00 am
Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Easter Sunday, 27 March, 9.15 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Easter Sunday, 16 April, 10.00 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Gabriel’s Church, Kings Hill (Discovery School)

Easter Sunday, 16 April, 10.00 am
Easter Sunday Holy Communion
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Lent Course 2017

The Lent Course this year will be based around the film “Les Miserables”

Invite your friends to watch the film ahead of the course starting. Each week will focus on one of the characters in the film, and together we will reflect on our own lives as Christians following a calling to be more truly ourselves. In the past years, those attending have found the sessions to be relaxed open spaces, with great opportunities for discussion.

There is a book to accompany the Lent course that will be pre-ordered for you.

If you would like to host a session and have room for around 10 people around a TV (with DVD player), please contact Rev’d Pat Dickin.

Please register your interest with Rev Pat Dickin, Vicar for St Lawrence, Mereworth & St Dunstan, West Peckham.

Precious Easter tears

As I sit down to write this article, I have just completed the journey of Holy Week. Having started with the joyous entry of the King of Kings on Palm Sunday, we’ve descended to the depths on Maundy Thursday and known the desolation of Good Friday and the death of Jesus. Now, in four very different services today, I’ve led God’s people in the celebration of Easter joy.

Maurice Mikkers, tears under a microscopeAs I came home after the last service, my son showed me a picture from his National Geographic: Kids magazine (see picture). Dutch photographer Maurice Mikkers has made a study of what tears look like under a microscope. As they crystallised, imagine his surprise as he discovered that each tear is unique and different. ‘Reflex tears’, for example from chopping onions, look different to ‘basal tears’, for example from a cold wind blowing in your face. Emotional tears and tears of pain look different again.

With the emotions of Good Friday and Easter Sunday fresh in my mind, the photograph showing the amazing delicacy of God’s creation as it is to be found in human beings, has reminded me of a verse from the Psalms:

“You have written down my poem of sadness,
you have put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your record, O Lord.” Psalm 56.8

The Easter story is one of great joy and triumph, but it’s a triumph borne out of suffering and brokenness. As I said in my sermon today, we live with that question “what’s wrong with the world?” on a daily basis. Recent events in Belgium and before that in France, ongoing conflict in Syria, our own individual troubles and frailties, stories of abuse and power mis-used, relationships in difficulty and pain in our bodies. It’s all there and tears of all kinds are all too frequently shed.

But the thought that each tear is unique can, perhaps, encourage us. It was for those tears and brokenness that God entered into our world in the person of Jesus. Each tear is gathered into his bottle and not lost. He sees our pain in the broken world we have created for ourselves, and He loves us from all eternity in such a way that it drove him to take action and make that journey from the cross to the empty tomb and beyond.

It means that there are some more words we can say with the Psalmist:

“Those who go out sobbing as they carry seeds to plant
will come back singing. They will come home with shouts of joy.” Psalm 126.5-6

David Green

Holy Week and Easter events 2016

A photo of a chalkboard that reads 'Resurrection is making a comeback'We thought you might like to take note of the Holy Week and Easter events and services taking place in Offham, Kings Hill and West Malling.

Tuesday 22 March, from 12.30pm
Easter Experience
(for children and parents)
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Maundy Thursday, 24 March, 1.30 p.m.
West Malling CEP School End-of-Term Service
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Thursday 24 March, 7.30 p.m.
A Seder Meal to mark Maundy Thursday
St Lawrence’s Church, Mereworth

Good Friday, 25 March, 9.15 am
Morning Prayer
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Good Friday, 25 March, 9.45 am
Interactive Easter Family Service
St Gabriel’s Church, Kings Hill (Discovery School main hall)

Good Friday, 25 March, 11.00 am
Churches Together Good Friday Walk of Witness
Begins at St Thomas More RC Church, Lucks Hill, West Malling

Good Friday, 25 March, 2.00 pm
Quiet Hour
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Good Friday, 25 March, 3.30 pm
X-plore Easter – Children’s Easter craft activities
St Mary’s Church Centre, West Malling

Please remember the clocks go forward on Easter Sunday morning!

Easter Sunday, 27 March, 6.00 am
Easter Dawn Service
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Easter Sunday, 27 March, 8.00 am
Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

Easter Sunday, 27 March, 9.15 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Michael’s Church, Offham

Easter Sunday, 27 March, 9.30 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Gabriel’s Church, Kings Hill (Discovery School)

Easter Sunday, 27 March, 11.00 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Mary’s Church, West Malling

The journey that goes via the cross

Within the walls of St Paul’s Cathedral, you will see two large white crosses that, viewed from a distance, seem somewhat uneven. As you move close to them, the reason for their irregular nature becomes clear.

Woven into the arms of the crosses are intricate models of settlements, both contemporary and historical, that have been decimated by conflict. The twin sculptures by London artist Gerry Judah (pictured) sit at the very head of the nave and, at more than six metres high, they are imposing; strikingly so.

The installations portray the brutal realities of war fixed upon an instrument of death. It’s a powerful image and one that reminds me, yet again, that the cross of Jesus is at once both a place of unspeakable brutality and a symbol of life and peace.

Judah’s twin sculptures were installed in 2014 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One. But in an attempt to bring the memorials up to date, Judah stuck townscapes, reminiscent of scenes from Syria and Afghanistan, on the cruciforms.

Those in charge of the cathedral have been thrilled with the end result. Canon Mark Oakley said the sculptures “provoke us into interrogating the present world and the landscapes we casually view on the news every day.”

As I write, we are still in the season of Lent but Easter comes early this year and we will soon face, once again, the realities of our Lord’s cross and all that it means for us in being a place of peace and reconciliation, forgiveness, freedom and new hope.

But our thoughts and reflections on the reality of the cross will count little if we leave them stuck two thousand years ago in 1st century Palestine. Like Judah’s crosses, the task each and every year, each and every day, is to re-imagine and re-appropriate the truth of the cross into our world and our own lives.

The empty cross is particularly symbolic of Easter Sunday and Jesus rising from the grave. The cross is empty because Christ is no longer dead but eternally risen.

So often the cross we might find in a church is smooth, plain and unmarked. Sanitised even. But the reality was that the empty cross of Christ would bear the puncture marks of the nails that had been driven through hands and feet into the rough wood. It would be stained by the blood and sweat of its victim. They were crudely and roughly made without much concern for their quality and no concern for comfort.

The Judah sculptures in St Paul’s Cathedral remind us once again that even if the world still hurts and bleeds on a daily basis, the answer to that pain takes its journey to eternal life through the cross, through suffering and death and only then do we reach the hope of new life and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

David Green

Easter events and services 2015

A photo of a chalkboard that reads 'Resurrection is making a comeback'We thought you might like to take note of the Holy Week and Easter events and services taking place in Offham, Kings Hill and West Malling.

Monday 30 March, from 3pm
Easter Experience
(for children and parents)
St Michael’s, Offham

Tuesday 31 March, from 3pm
Easter Experience
(for children and parents)
St Mary’s, West Malling

Wednesday 1 April, 7.30 p.m.
Brett Lecture 2015 with Rev David Green
“In what way, if any, did Christ ‘bear the judgement of God’ at the crucifixion?”

Thursday 2 April, 7.30 p.m.
A Seder Meal to mark Maundy Thursday
Kings Hill Vicarage, 19 Worcester Avenue, Kings Hill

Good Friday, 3 April, 9.15 am
Morning Prayer
St Michael’s, Offham

Good Friday, 3 April, 9.30 am
Morning Prayer
St Gabriel’s, Kings Hill (Discovery School main hall)

Good Friday, 3 April, 11.00 am
Churches Together Good Friday Walk of Witness
Begins at St Thomas More RC Church, Lucks Hill, West Malling

Good Friday, 3 April, 2.00 pm
Quiet Hour
St Mary’s, West Malling

Good Friday, 3 April, 3.30 pm
X-plore Easter – Children’s Easter craft activities
St Mary’s Church Centre, West Malling

Easter Sunday 5 April, 6.15 am
Easter Dawn Service
St Michael’s, Offham

Easter Sunday 5 April, 8.00 am
Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion
St Mary’s, West Malling

Easter Sunday 5 April, 9.15 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Michael’s, Offham

Easter Sunday 5 April, 9.30 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Gabriel’s, Kings Hill (Discovery School)

Easter Sunday 5 April, 11.00 am
Easter Sunday All-Age Holy Communion
St Mary’s, West Malling

Questions about the resurrection

A photograph of an artist's impression of the empty tombIt was my surprise and great pleasure to get an email from one of the fantastic teachers at West Malling CEP School last week. Her class had been thinking about the Easter story in their RE lesson and wanted to ask me some questions about Jesus’ resurrection.

‘How did Jesus get out of the tomb when Roman soldiers were around it?’
‘Was it really Jesus’ body on the cross?’
‘Why didn’t God stop the Roman soldiers killing Jesus?’
‘Was it a plan that Jesus was going to die?’
‘Was Jesus a ghost when he came back to life?’
‘Was the resurrection real?’

Fantastic questions unbidden from nine and ten year olds that cut to the absolute heart of the Easter story. For some of the answers, I was able to take them back to the texts we have in the gospels and read what was written. For others, we had to think and use our own powers of deduction. At the end of the day, I said to them, you have to decide what you believe happened to Jesus and such a decision is at the heart of the Christian faith.

As a 19 year old I read a book that outlined all the possible scenarios of what really happened at Easter and so I used the gist of that book with the children to look at some of the main options.

As the children explored, they decided that it didn’t make sense for the Romans to take the body and steal it. As soon as this apple-cart-upsetting new sect of Christians started to make waves, their revolution would have been easily quashed by the production of a corpse. Likewise, if the Religious Leaders had stolen the body of a man whose ideas they were so keen to destroy, it would have been sensible to bring it forth as soon as his friends, family and disciples began to disseminate those ideas even further.

If the disciples stole the body, it would seem to make sense. Until you consider that many of them were subsequently executed for refusing to recant their testimony that Jesus truly had risen from the dead. People don’t die for something they definitely know is an outrageous lie.

In the class, the children explored a few more theories; you can always trust a child’s imagination to come up with some alternatives and in my time I’ve heard plenty – Judas’ involvement, magic and alien abduction amongst others.

For myself, many years ago I concluded (in the words of Sherlock Holmes) that when you exhaust all the possibilities, what is left, however implausible that may seem to you, must be the truth. So I believe Jesus is risen. I don’t believe it’s a myth, I don’t believe it’s just a nice story, I don’t believe it needs to be turned into a metaphor. I believe he rose because if God is God, then such things would be possible and if it didn’t happen, then I can’t see why the disciples would be prepared to die for something they knew was not true.

If an Archaeologist produced a definitive grave and resting place for Jesus of Nazareth, I would resign my orders as a Priest tomorrow. It is that fundamental to me. If Jesus is not risen, then as St Paul wrote, ‘my faith is futile’ and ‘we are of all people most to be pitied’ (1 Cor 15.17,19). But if Jesus is alive, well then that’s a game-changer. That’s new life, hope, eternity, forgiveness, love, freedom and peace. Have a fabulous Easter, and may you know the power of the Risen Christ.

Rev David Green

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