Trinity 19 2021
10 October 2021
Today’s Readings: Wisdom 7:7-11; Mark 10:17-30.
O God,

forasmuch as without you we are not able to please you;
mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.


A Reflection from Fr. Simon

Is there something in your life you simply could not live without? Some treasured possession or heirloom? Have the lockdowns caused you to acquire what you have always wanted, or been a time for clearing out clutter? I visited a friend the other week who inherited his late mother’s house a few years ago. He had been sifting through boxes containing childhood books and his old school reports; he was about to turn to the boxes with his student lecture notes in. A book was published in 2013 entitled Stuffication: Living more with Less and, mindful of this, a friend for her recent 60th birthday stated on the invitation “No presents please – I have already reached ‘peak stuff’!” It is quite easy to accumulate things.

People possessed by their possessions have also been fertile ground for novelists. In Our Mutual Friend, Dickens used the characters of Mr & Mrs Podsnap to portray the Victorian mania for acquiring things and in doing so believing it bolstered their status. (At the end of one dinner, Podsnap is ‘like a veritable cock of the walk literally pluming himself in the midst of his possessions’.) In The Spoils of Poynton by Henry James, Mrs Gereth is enchanted by her vast collection of tasteful things and distraught at having to pass them on to her boorish son and his philistine fiancée. The sting in the tail is that they all, at the end, have to live without them. Georges Perec’s 1965 novel Les Choses (‘The Things’) described items and articles with far greater care and attention than it did the characters, underlining how identity and personality can be completely subsumed by material desire.

Our gospel reading this weekend has inspired novelists too (the eye of the needle, the first shall be last) and we have a character who passes through briefly, but a lasting point is made. To inherit eternal life, Jesus tells him, he must sell all he owns, give the money to the poor, and then will have treasure in heaven – adding for good measure “then come, follow me” (Mk 10.21). But when he heard this, the man ‘was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions’. We do not know what happened to the man or what he did next. Jesus instead turns to the disciples and is clear that a camel will find it easier to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. It’s an entreaty that our reward is more valuable when shared, and the ultimate gift is ‘eternal life in the age to come’ (v.30). Living out this reality is more difficult than it seems.

A few years ago, Barbara introduced us to Mark Allan Powell’s book Giving to God and its blinding truth that rarely, if ever, do we regret the things we give away. When workplace questionnaires profile colleagues on social media and in newsletters, the answer to ‘What would you rescue from a burning house?’ is invariably my wife/partner/children/pets. Deep down we know that life is about others, our interconnectedness, and the promise of reunion in Christ. Inanimate things have little human value in spite of the manic and many ways in which people pursue the latest gadget, fashion, object or item. Do we really need it? Really?

“All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above,” runs a popular Harvest hymn. “So thank the Lord, o thank the Lord, for all his love.” And in the Eucharist we give thanks over the bread and wine with “all things come from you and of your own do we give you”. (Eucharist itself stems from the Greek word for thank you.) Gratitude means being thankful for the things we do have and not chasing after more for the sake of it. This also involves being aware of what we do with what we have, and how it is directed. When things are directed towards God and the building of the kingdom, there is change and transformation. The ordinary stuff of everyday life – bread, wine, ourselves – are taken up into the action of God and transformed. In part this entails becoming a ‘walking sacrament’ with the caution that the more baggage we have, the less effective we might be. In other words, the more our possessions and material attitudes weigh us down, the bigger the blocks on how might be better Christians; the more our mission is inhibited. In this context, what we need can start to look very, very different. Coming to church to take part in the Eucharist is so very similar to that man’s encounter with Jesus. Leave stuff at the door, come to be transformed, and walk towards the freedom of everlasting life. There is no greater gift.


Organ Voluntary

Fantasia con imitazione BWV 563– J.S. Bach.
Watch here

Today’s hymn

O Jesus, I have promised:
Watch here

Music from Matthew

Today Carola will sing two contrasting pieces reflecting nature. The first at the offertory is a Lied by Brahms which sets this atmospheric poem ‘In the Churchyard’ by the German lyric poet and novelist Baron Detlev von Liliencron (1844-1909). Listen out for Brahms’s dramatic piano part which introduces each verse. It paints a picture of the elements using an accompanimental texture called sturm und drang (storm and stress), typical of romantic-period Lieder.
Auf dem Kirchhofe by Johannes Brahms (1833-97)
The day was heavy with rain and storms,
I had stood by many a forgotten grave.
Weathered stones and crosses, faded wreaths,
The names overgrown, scarcely to be read.
The day was heavy with storms and rains,
On each grave froze the word: Deceased.
How the coffins slumbered, dead to the storm –
Silent dew on each grave proclaimed: Released.
Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), Jörg Demus (piano)
During Communion, something quite different: an arrangement of John Rutter’s choral setting ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’. His colourful and rhythmic accompaniment to the very lyrical vocal writing is difficult to get out of your head once you’ve heard it a few times! In this recording you can hear his mastery of orchestration.
For the Beauty of the Earth by John Rutter (1945-)
For the beauty of the earth... Lord of all, to thee we raise this our joyful hymn of praise.
The Cambridge Singers, City of London Sinfonia, John Rutter (conductor)

Gert van Hoef – Home concert

Broadcast on Thursday 7th October:
Watch here

Welcome to the Well

The next meeting of our monthly spirituality group will be on Friday 22nd October.
10.30am for coffee; meeting begins at 11am and finishes with lunch.

Etheridge/Rowe Concert

Many thanks to those of you supported this wonderful concert. Especial thanks go to Paul Maskell and James Price for all their work behind the scenes. As this mailout went to press over 110 advance tickets had been sold with many more promised on the door. Congratulations!

Songs of Praise at 60

Did you see Songs of Praise last Sunday? It was the 60th anniversary programme, recorded in Westminster Abbey. Fr Simon was there for it; you can read the article he wrote for the Church Times here, and see the BBC broadcast here (although he did stay well out of shot).

Daily Readings

Monday: Romans 1:1-7; Psalm 98; Luke 11:29-32.

Tuesday: Romans 1:16-25; Psalm 19:1-4; Luke 11:37-41.

Wednesday: Romans 2:1-11; Psalm 62:1-8; Luke 11:42-46.

Thursday: Romans 3:21-30; Psalm 130; Luke 11:47-end.

Friday: Romans 4:1-8; Psalm 32; Luke 12:1-7.

Saturday: Romans 4:13, 16-18; Psalm 105:6-10,41-44; Luke 12:8-12.

National Prisons Week

National Prisons Week this year runs from 10-16th October with the theme of ‘consider the ravens’. Please take a moment this week to pray for all those in custody, their families, and everyone who works with offenders both inside and outside the system. In the Church of England we think of our chaplains and the role they play in these lives.

Read more and see the video here:
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