Sermon for the Seventh Sunday of Easter (Ascension)
Posted on the 24th May 2020 in the category Sermons


Easter 7 (Ascension) Sermon 2020

 

“The glory of God is the living Man; the life of Man is the Vision of God”.

                                                                                                               Archbishop Michael Ramsey.

 

After the six Sundays of Easter, in which we have encountered the risen Lord with the disciples in so many ways, our observance of this Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord takes us in another direction. Actually, it takes us to another dimension – heavenward.  And for The Church this heavenly dimension is a quite natural way of regarding the life of God the Creator in relation to us his creatures. This dimension is expressed most fully in John’s Gospel where Jesus’ life is the one which has come from God and goes back to God. And again for the Church, to speak of Christ is to speak of the holiness and the glory of that freedom of movement he has brought about between the heavenly and the earthly places. We have, over past weeks witnessed the trial, suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ. In the weeks following Easter we have witnessed the Christ who comes to the disciples to reassure them and point their lives and their faltering faith every forward. He provides hope in the present and the promise of glory for the future. He promises the gift of the Holy Spirit. And now he goes back to the Father as he ascends into heaven. One of the Psalms express this poetically and joyfully – (Psalm 19.1-4):

 

The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;

night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language

where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,

their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun…

 

 

In this meeting and mixing of the heavenly and the earthly there is the hope that is held out for us in Christ. Why is a belief in heaven so much a part of Christian Faith?  How are we to believe in heaven in a way that is not as has been said cynically “pie in the sky when you die”?  To speak of the Ascension of Jesus is to speak of the glory which emerges out of his own self offering, which is one of humility and self-giving, even unto death. It is best expressed in the 1662 Prayer Book’s Eucharistic Rite:

 

O God our Heavenly Father, who of thy tender mercy didst give thine only son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption, who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world, and did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death, until his coming again…

 

We are reminded in Ephesians 4.6 that Jesus “ascended on high and led captivity captive”. And we, who are on this earth as captive exiles, are also as Christians those who follow where Jesus Christ has gone before. And we are promised that what emerges out of the pattern of his and our struggle and in his life is the glory which is the hope of heaven to come. Like him we come from God and go back to God.  Christianity is above all else a hopeful and heaven directed faith. Our living out of this life in the pattern and likeness of Christ is a kind of suffering unto self, but again, after the pattern of Christ’s own being, the promise made to us is to the glory which is yet to be revealed to us:

 

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18.

 

Archbishop Michael Ramsey was one who constantly proclaimed the Christian glory in terms of the life of Man to its fullest potential. He wishes that these words, from Irenaeus, a Second Century Theologian and Saint be placed on his gravestone: 

 

The glory of God is the living Man; the life of Man is the Vision of God.

 

Some time ago I was in Salisbury Cathedral. It is perhaps the finest example of a complete Medieval Gothic Cathedral that we have, with its spire rising to over 400’ the tallest spire in England, and the inside the vaulting which carries you mind and heart heavenward. Heavenward not just because the vaults are high and beautiful but because they speak to the heart and the souI. The architecture is spiritual architecture. It is uplifting. I attended Evensong there at which Psalm 18 was sung “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament proclaims his handiwork” and I began to see the cathedral around me in a new light and even a new dimension. It was no longer just a glorious great church building but a piece of living sculpture, full of space and light, and arches and shapes which took the eye in this or that direction. And then, too, the music and the choir themselves declared further this glory of which the psalmist wrote and of the many ways in which the Glory of God may be expressed in the lives of us all. The glory of God lies all around us and the Christian is the one who has open eyes to express this same glory in all we are and in all we do for God’s sake…

 

And this is where we come down from heaven and into this earth. The Incarnation of Jesus Christ, his coming to birth as both Man and Son of God is one complete action. It is one which gifts the glory of God to each one of us in our own lives. It is the promise of his presence and of the potential in our own existences in the promise of glory gifted to us by the One Lord Jesus Christ who has ascended to that place where God is. This is the place where we are headed, too, and there is glory in that, too.

 

As we give our lives more fully to God, and as we dedicate ourselves in the service of Christ, let us then declare not only in our lips but with our hearts:

 

“The glory of God is the living Man; the life of Man is the Vision of God”.

 

 

 

 

 

 



Sermon for the Fifth Sunday of Easter 2020
Posted on the 10th May 2020 in the category Sermons


EASTER 5 SERMON YEAR A 2020

 

 

It’s strange but true that at this time of Coronavirus the Church is being called upon to embrace the real contrast between lock down and resurrection. As we pass through the Sundays of Eastertide, each Sunday sets before us ever newer evidences for the Resurrection life. We discover along the way that the Resurrection of Jesus was not an isolated incident’. Rather it relates to all who have ever responded to Christ and to us too in the here and now.

 

St Paul reminds us in this morning’s letter to Peter that

 

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. 1 Peter 2.9

 

The resurrection confers a new kind of identity and new purpose. We give thanks those who have proclaimed the resurrection hope through their own commitment to the greater good. We have this past week celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day and in the Queen’s address to the nation she paid tribute to past human sacrifice whilst affirming the hopeful legacy that emerges out of it:

 

Many people laid down their lives in that terrible conflict.

They fought so we could live in peace, at home and abroad.

They died so we could live as free people in a world of free nations.

They risked all so our families and neighbourhoods could be safe.

 

These words are, like St Pauls words, profoundly life-affirming and inspirational. They are part of a deeper consciousness which commands our understanding of past sacrifice in the need for present courage. Much of the language of hope and assurance refers us back to times when, amidst great challenge, individuals and communities have remained steadfast and faithful. They have responded to the call to the ordinary life of ‘doing one’s job’ or ‘doing one’s duty’. As the WW2 caption says on so many biscuit tins and tea towels “Keep Going and Carry On”. That will remain true of all of us : that our best attempts to keep things going will make up the hope we need to ‘come through’ this time of great challenge. It is also a time which makes many demands upon us and may well one day find us changed for the better. The resurrection life will have worked itself out through the creative use of time and the reaching out in positive and joyful hope even while we are, so to speak, ‘shut in’. We will remain a community of prayer. The spiritual refreshment and perspective it offers is the sure antidote to stir craziness.

 

As with the populace at times of emergency, so too for individuals who have stood out at times of crisis to put new heart into the lives of the many. Captain Tom Moore was first seen by us barely a month ago as just another fundraiser for another charity -  albeit his age and military background made his little walk particularly moving. But the raising of £32 million pounds for the NHS charities sector was no small matter. It revealed both the very old man who was simply ‘doing his ordinary thing’ alongside the fact of his inspiring and moving and cheering all of us as he approached his 100th birthday. Likewise, our NHS workers have come into their own in extraordinary ways.  Boris Johnson’s two carers, Jenny McGee and Luis Pitarma saved the leader’s life and this provided us with a picture of the realities of life and death being waged on the front line. Through their care, the nation has witnessed the astonishing recovery from death of our PM, unprecedented in our history. The applause offered on Thursday evenings for our NHS workers  is a moving and joyful tribute to their brave and sacrificial work. For Christians the resurrection is always about the transformation of ordinary human circumstances and the possibility that lies within each one of us for the renewal of hope and the emergence of new understanding. This time of apparent dislocation urges the appearance of a new social terrain with the strong need for the re-wiring of the old circuitry in the old way of doing things and the challenging of pre pandemic priorities.

 

This week, on Thursday we observe the 200 year anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, and as we remember her we might pause following all the great phrases which surround her career. And in pausing, we might thank God that she was not primarily a nurse but a statistician, and that she believed that the right use of statistics could give legislators and politicians the tools to transform situations where bad practice had resulted in unnecessary suffering and death. It is to the founder of modern nursing rather than as the ‘Lady of the Lamp’ that her true fame is due. She was the first to popularise the use of statistical ‘pie charts’ and the right use of statistics is going to play a large part in the future overseeing of our nation’s governance. It would be marvellous for some of us to applaud her this Thursday as we celebrate her birth in 1820.

 

Christians have a duty to invest their imaginative energy and active effort in the spiritual and practical support of the greater good. The Coronavirus pandemic has not found the churches asleep or hidden away but alive and active and supportive of the care of those who are particularly vulnerable. We are learning new ways to disseminate and share the word of God. A colleague of mine who is Vicar of a so-called small church like ours has an online preaching and praying ministry which on Easter Day welcomed a congregation of 3,600. There have been many who have come to church in new ways and found the Christian lifeline and spiritual compass especially welcome in this time of uncertainty and dislocation.

 

For Christians, the resurrection hope provides the bridge which carries us across and through that which we would fear and dread even unto our own death. We traverse the bridge of faith in life as God’s resurrection people, spurred on by the life that has been set before us, even Jesus Christ our Lord whose example is our witness.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Sermon for the Fifth Sunday of Easter 2020
Posted on the 10th May 2020 in the category Sermons


EASTER 5 SERMON YEAR A 2020

 

 

It’s strange but true that at this time of Coronavirus the Church is being called upon to embrace the real contrast between lock down and resurrection. As we pass through the Sundays of Eastertide, each Sunday sets before us ever newer evidences for the Resurrection life. We discover along the way that the Resurrection of Jesus was not an isolated incident’. Rather it relates to all who have ever responded to Christ and to us too in the here and now.

 

St Paul reminds us in this morning’s letter to Peter that

 

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. 1 Peter 2.9

 

The resurrection confers a new kind of identity and new purpose. We give thanks those who have proclaimed the resurrection hope through their own commitment to the greater good. We have this past week celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day and in the Queen’s address to the nation she paid tribute to past human sacrifice whilst affirming the hopeful legacy that emerges out of it:

 

Many people laid down their lives in that terrible conflict.

They fought so we could live in peace, at home and abroad.

They died so we could live as free people in a world of free nations.

They risked all so our families and neighbourhoods could be safe.

 

These words are, like St Pauls words, profoundly life-affirming and inspirational. They are part of a deeper consciousness which commands our understanding of past sacrifice in the need for present courage. Much of the language of hope and assurance refers us back to times when, amidst great challenge, individuals and communities have remained steadfast and faithful. They have responded to the call to the ordinary life of ‘doing one’s job’ or ‘doing one’s duty’. As the WW2 caption says on so many biscuit tins and tea towels “Keep Going and Carry On”. That will remain true of all of us : that our best attempts to keep things going will make up the hope we need to ‘come through’ this time of great challenge. It is also a time which makes many demands upon us and may well one day find us changed for the better. The resurrection life will have worked itself out through the creative use of time and the reaching out in positive and joyful hope even while we are, so to speak, ‘shut in’. We will remain a community of prayer. The spiritual refreshment and perspective it offers is the sure antidote to stir craziness.

 

As with the populace at times of emergency, so too for individuals who have stood out at times of crisis to put new heart into the lives of the many. Captain Tom Moore was first seen by us barely a month ago as just another fundraiser for another charity -  albeit his age and military background made his little walk particularly moving. But the raising of £32 million pounds for the NHS charities sector was no small matter. It revealed both the very old man who was simply ‘doing his ordinary thing’ alongside the fact of his inspiring and moving and cheering all of us as he approached his 100th birthday. Likewise, our NHS workers have come into their own in extraordinary ways.  Boris Johnson’s two carers, Jenny McGee and Luis Pitarma saved the leader’s life and this provided us with a picture of the realities of life and death being waged on the front line. Through their care, the nation has witnessed the astonishing recovery from death of our PM, unprecedented in our history. The applause offered on Thursday evenings for our NHS workers  is a moving and joyful tribute to their brave and sacrificial work. For Christians the resurrection is always about the transformation of ordinary human circumstances and the possibility that lies within each one of us for the renewal of hope and the emergence of new understanding. This time of apparent dislocation urges the appearance of a new social terrain with the strong need for the re-wiring of the old circuitry in the old way of doing things and the challenging of pre pandemic priorities.

 

This week, on Thursday we observe the 200 year anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, and as we remember her we might pause following all the great phrases which surround her career. And in pausing, we might thank God that she was not primarily a nurse but a statistician, and that she believed that the right use of statistics could give legislators and politicians the tools to transform situations where bad practice had resulted in unnecessary suffering and death. It is to the founder of modern nursing rather than as the ‘Lady of the Lamp’ that her true fame is due. She was the first to popularise the use of statistical ‘pie charts’ and the right use of statistics is going to play a large part in the future overseeing of our nation’s governance. It would be marvellous for some of us to applaud her this Thursday as we celebrate her birth in 1820.

 

Christians have a duty to invest their imaginative energy and active effort in the spiritual and practical support of the greater good. The Coronavirus pandemic has not found the churches asleep or hidden away but alive and active and supportive of the care of those who are particularly vulnerable. We are learning new ways to disseminate and share the word of God. A colleague of mine who is Vicar of a so-called small church like ours has an online preaching and praying ministry which on Easter Day welcomed a congregation of 3,600. There have been many who have come to church in new ways and found the Christian lifeline and spiritual compass especially welcome in this time of uncertainty and dislocation.

 

For Christians, the resurrection hope provides the bridge which carries us across and through that which we would fear and dread even unto our own death. We traverse the bridge of faith in life as God’s resurrection people, spurred on by the life that has been set before us, even Jesus Christ our Lord whose example is our witness.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Afternoon/Evening Prayer Every Wednesday at 4 pm
Posted on the 19th April 2020 in the category Latest News


JUST A BRIEF NOTE TO SAY THAT WE WE WILL NOW HOLD AFTERNOON PRAYER AND DISCUSSION

EACH WEDNESDAY DURING THE CORONAVIRUA PERIOD AT 4 PM VIA ZOOM

 

THANK YOU.

 



Easter Message in a Time of Coronavirus (Love from us all at Holy Cross Church)
Posted on the 12th April 2020 in the category Sermons


EASTER MESSAGE FROM THE WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES

AND FROM HOLY CROSS CHURCH CROMER STREET LONDON WC1H 8JU

 

 

 Dear sisters and brothers in the Crucified and Risen Lord,

 

As the days of celebrating Easter approach, we would like to convey to you the traditional Christian greeting, which affirms the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and its powerful liberating message, bringing joy and hope to the world, overcoming fear and uncertainty—

 

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

 

This year, we observe Easter in a challenging context amid painful situations. The COVID- 19 pandemic, which has affected the whole world, is also affecting the way Easter will be celebrated. To protect our own lives and those of others, we cannot fill the streets with processions, nor will churches resound with hymns and liturgies, expressing and sharing our Easter joy with one another. Instead, we will share the mystery of Easter and meet the Risen Lord in our homes, but through online presence we will nonetheless still gather and in joy and hope proclaim the Easter message as best we can! Many of our people are experiencing fear and uncertainty, as well as trauma, separation, isolation, loss of members or even death in their families or in their church communities.

 

Yet, despite these traumatic and painful situations, the message of Easter continues to be a joyful one of courage and hope.

 

The first experience of the disciples with the Risen Lord occurred in similar circumstances. Out of fear and to protect their lives, Jesus’ disciples gathered in a room, behind closed doors. And there the Risen Christ came among them, bringing his peace. As they were startled and terrified, “He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened?... See that it is I myself.’” (Luke 24:37-39).

 

The Risen Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Easter is a reminder and encouragement that God in Christ continues to love and care for the whole world, overcoming death with life, conquering fear and uncertainty with hope.

 

To those who may be tempted to explain the present situation as an expression of God’s punishment and wrath, the Easter message conveys that our God is a loving God, the source of life, not death, the God of life and love “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:16-17).

 

Dear sisters and brothers, throughout the centuries, the Easter greeting ”Christ is risen!” has always infused Christians with the power and courage to confront death, destruction, oppression end enslavement, fear, doubt and uncertainty. As we are confronted today with the challenges of COVID-19, we assure you that in these days we are united with you in prayers and in affirming together our common faith and hope in the Risen Lord: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55, 57).

 

 

 

 

Sent with love and prayers from Fr Christopher Cawrse,

Parish Priest,

Holy Cross Church, Cromer Street, London WC1H 8JU.



 

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