Whatever you and I are doing this summer, we might have been more attentive to the weather than we might have done in previous years. In my reckoning, this summer will not be memorable for being the sunniest or warmest in our region. Our attention may have been drawn to people in places that have been devastated by torrential rain and flooding, while others are ravaged by raging fires.
Internationationally, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change, has presented its urgent report with research from 284 authors in 66 countries. The North East Churches Acting Together is responding with an environment conference (9.30am – 1.30pm, Saturday 4th September) at which all of us are invited to participate online:
In recent newsletters I have mentioned our parishes’ intention to initiate a Care 4 Creation Club, where our churches seek to bring together efforts in our communities to address the climate crisis, to attend to our lifestyles, our ecological environment, our community and personal well-being.
The Archbishop of York has highlighted a Creation programme in Hull Minster:
- Wednesday 25th August 11am Professor Mark Jolly is leading a seminar on how technology can aid the survival of the planet
- Saturday 28th August 11am ‘A Rocha’ an international network of environmental organisations with a Christian ethos is presenting ‘Give Nature a Chance’
- Thursday 2nd September 7pm the Archbishop of York Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell is speaking about the Christian Response to Environmental Issues.
You will find details on the Hull minster Gaia webpage.
Our churches continue to be open for private prayer.
Please read the separate page outlining the church’s modified approach
Click for St Mary’s Coronavirus Information
Click for St Andrew’s Coronavirus Information
We have a new broadcast of TOGETHER ON SUNDAY that will go-live from 10am this Sunday 15th August 2021 and available from then onwards. We have recorded this from St Andrew’s, Winston, but I hope those who are unable to join us in church would find these broadcasts helpful. We are a church family whether we gather and see one another in person or are together online.
Our churches are open daily for private prayer. We are pleased to inform that our Food Bank Collection at St Mary’s, Gainford will resume from Sunday. Our congregations are now permitted to sing together in church! Provision for singing without face coverings is also available in both churches.
God is with us. May Christ, who by his incarnation, gathered into one, all things earthly and heavenly, fill you with joy and peace.
– Rev’d Eileen Harrop
- Funeral Service of Audrey Wallace at St Mary’s, Gainford on Wednesday 18th August, 1.15pm – please hold her family and loved ones in prayer.
- Youth and Young People’s Ministry and Mission (integrated programme for both parishes): everyone interested in co-leading or contributing to our plans is invited to meet at 12 noon on Sunday 22nd August 2021 (after the service) at St Mary’s Church, Gainford.
The Collect for the 11th Sunday after Trinity
God of glory,
the end of our searching,
help us to lay aside
all that prevents us from seeking your kingdom,
and to give all that we have
to gain the pearl beyond all price,
through our Saviour Jesus Christ.
The First Reading: Ephesians 5:15-20
15 Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20 giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ 53 So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’
10th after TRINITY SERMON (Rev’d Eileen Harrop)
Ephesians 4:25-5:2; John 6:35, 41-51
Our readings today could not be more contrasting: the first is very pithy with details of how we ought to live, while Jesus, in our Gospel reading, describes himself metaphorically ‘as the bread of life’.
Is there any connection between our passages?
Paul tells the early Christians in Ephesus: ‘be imitators of God… and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…’ ‘Be imitators of God’! That is a tall order, and that is also exactly what we are often told we should not be. When people say to us that we should not be ‘too holy’, might we be compelled to abandon our calling to ‘be imitators of God’?
I confess that I have fallen short and will continue to fall short of Paul’s list to the Ephesians. Paraphrasing them: ‘Never be found to be false’; ‘Speak only truth to my neighbour, that is to anyone I converse with’; ‘be angry but not so angry that I am still seething when the day is out’; ‘make sure I do not allow myself to be tempted or be deceived’; and ‘nothing I say should be inaccurate about anyone so that I malign them’; ‘always work to have something for the needy’; and so on.
My goodness, taking just one: are there not a great many things that make us angry? Sometimes we swallow our frustrations or annoyance like putting a penny into a bottle each time. But because these irritations happen repeatedly and often, the bottle soon overflows, and we topple over. People have wept when it seems unfair that they have fallen short when other persons continue to provoke them.
Parish Priests often tread a tight rope in our pastoral and mission conversations. It is easy to convince ourselves that compromising on the truth is justified because is it not necessary that we be popular with everyone? How are we to be found approachable if difficult truths, however kindly conveyed, turn people away? Is not withholding the truth even about Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit sometimes acceptable for the sake of keeping peace among people?
Well, that’s me, but did you find yourself in anything on that list from our Ephesians’ reading? There will be many more examples illustrating how we are not living as ‘imitators of God’.
I am guilty of all those. I also confess that I do not always pray for deliverance each time I know I have failed.
Well, here is the important connection between our 2 readings. Jesus spends the whole time in our Gospel reading reiterating the analogy: ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven’. Jesus is ‘the bread of life’. And Paul says, ‘be imitators of God… and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…’. The key is indeed Jesus Christ. What (or who) feeds us, our minds, our spirits, our hearts, and our souls, determines if we are able to live in love, as ‘imitators of God’. Jesus told the Jewish leaders who challenged him: ‘Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.’ Jesus is referring to actual food that God provided the Israelites during their exile through desert lands. Metaphorically, the moral and spiritual food that we are fed from the world in our earthly lives, whether culturally shaped or by our own intellect and discerning, will lead us astray, and we would not be living right.
In this sense, I die every day when I am far from living up to my calling as a child of God, as an imitator of God.
I have a set of books called ‘Feasting on the Word’, which help me to dwell on God’s Word, to take in what God is saying. But I find I cannot do that without the example of Jesus’ life, his words, and the way Jesus does not balk when conveying the truth to his many detractors. We are called to feed on the reality that Jesus’ earthly life ended cruelly and unfairly while speaking and living out God’s truth. We are also called to feed on the depth of Jesus’ love. Not only did he forgive those whose repentance is known, but he descended to hell to meet those who rejected him, who cursed him, who tortured him, who sold him; to plead in mercy for them.
In feeding on Jesus, I am/you are like a sick person whose body is being healed by the medicine or food that rebuilds and restores. I/we will surely also be cleansed from impediments, from hurt and my guilt.
Friends, ‘Imitating God’ is possible, not an absurd notion, when I feed on Jesus, when you feed on Jesus, ‘the bread of (my) life’, and ‘the bread of your life’. Amen