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Displaying items by tag: Celebrating At Home

Friday, 15 April 2022 06:40

Celebrating At Home - Easter Sunday

An empty tomb, lives changed for ever, 
enduring presence
(John 20:1-9)

When someone dies, one of the things we often feel is their absence. The rooms where they lived with us, the places where they sat are now empty and our hearts ache.

Its not hard for us to share Mary’s sense of emptiness and bewilderment when she arrives at the tomb. This is an Easter like we have never had before. Without our usual celebrations with family and friends it can feel very empty indeed.

If we were to read the next few verses from John’s Gospel, we would read a story of overwhelming joy as Mary Magdalen meets the risen Jesus. When Jesus speaks her name, Mary recognises him and sadness and emptiness give way to joyful reunion.

It’s a story of transformation - how things can change when we meet the risen Jesus.

In a way, we are all caught in tombs which hold loved ones, our experiences of hurt and harm, our fears and anxieties, especially now.

What we seem to need above all at this time is presence. Yet, this is the time when we experience absence most of all - being apart from loved ones, family and friends.

The practice of the presence of God can help us - just frequently reminding ourselves that we always in the presence of God, that we can talk to God as one friend to another, that God is in this moment with us, that God is on our side no matter what comes our way, that God is our constant companion.

Eventually, we will begin to feel more deeply God’s presence, not just beside us, but within us.

Eventually, the fears and anxieties, the past hurts, and disrupted relationships begin to melt away. Where once there was only absence, now there is calm, loving, healing Presence and we know we are not alone. Our tombs begin to empty and joy becomes possible again.

Resurrection is all about death giving way to life, the impossible becoming possible, absence becoming presence.

May all your tombs be empty!

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Thursday, 14 April 2022 08:41

Celebrating At Home - Good Friday

Love revealed in the passion
(John 18:1 - 19:42)


The Lord is here, present among us.
We are gathered with the whole Church in this moment of prayer.

Preparing to hear the Word

Now the hour has come

for the Son of Man to be glorified.

“I tell you solemnly:

unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,

it remains only a single grain;

but if it dies,

it yields a rich harvest.”

Eternal God,

we are the harvest

yielded by the death of your Son.
As we gather around the cross of Jesus,

remembering his great love for us,

bring us to new life in Christ

for he is Lord for ever and ever.


The Passion of Jesus according to John

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Wednesday, 13 April 2022 13:22

Celebrating At Home - Holy Thursday

Washing feet, sharing bread and wine:

Love poured out in service

On this night we recall Jesus’ commandment to love one another, his washing of the disciples’ feet and the breaking of the bread of his own life, not just at table, but also on the altar of the Cross, for the healing and nourishment of the world.
The liturgy on Holy Thursday is a meditation on the essential connection between the Eucharist and Christian love expressed in serving one another.
Christ is not only present in the Eucharist but also in the deeds of loving kindness offered to others through us.
We are the ones who make ‘real’ the presence of Jesus in every smile, kind word and loving action.

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Friday, 08 April 2022 13:15

Celebrating At Home - Palm Sunday

Love revealed
(Luke 23:1-49)

The Passion of Jesus according to Luke

Reader 1 The elders of the people and the chief priests and scribes rose, and they brought Jesus before Pilate.
They began their accusation, ‘We found this man inciting our people to revolt, opposing payment of tribute to Caesar, and claiming to be Christ, a king.’ Pilate put to him this question, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ ‘It is you who say it’.
Pilate then said to the chief priests and the crowd, ‘I find no case against this man.’ ‘He is inflaming the people with his teaching all over Judea; it has come all the way from Galilee, where he started, down to here.’ When Pilate heard this, he asked if the man were a Galilean; and finding that he came under Herod’s jurisdiction he passed him over to Herod who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
Reader 2 Herod was delighted to see Jesus; he had heard about him and had been wanting for a long time to set eyes on him; moreover, he was hoping to see some miracle worked by him. So he questioned him at some length; but without getting any reply. Meanwhile the chief priests and scribes were there, violently pressing their accusations.
Then Herod, together with his guards, treated him with contempt and made fun of him; he put a rich cloak on him and sent him back to Pilate. And though Herod and Pilate had been enemies before, they were reconciled that same day.
Reader 3 Pilate then summoned the chief priests and the leading men and the people. ‘You brought this man before me as a political agitator. Now I have gone into the matter myself in your presence and found no case against the man in respect of all the charges you bring against him. Nor has Herod either, since he has sent him back to us. As you can see, the man has done nothing that deserves death, so I shall have him flogged and then let go’.
But as one they howled, ‘Away with him! Give us Barabbas!’ (This man had been thrown into prison for causing a riot in the city and for murder.)

Reader 1 Pilate was anxious to set Jesus free and addressed them again, but they shouted back, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ ‘But why? What harm has this man done? I have found no case against him that deserves death, so I shall have him punished and then let him go.’ But they kept on shouting at the top of their voices, demanding that he should be crucified. And their shouts were growing louder.
Pilate then gave his verdict: their demand was to be granted. He released the man they asked for, who had been imprisoned for rioting and murder, and handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they pleased.
Reader 2 As they were leading him away they seized on a man, Simon from Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and made him shoulder the cross and carry it behind Jesus. Large numbers of people followed him, and of women too, who mourned and lamented for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children. For the days will surely come when people will say, ‘Happy are those who are barren, the wombs that have never borne, the breasts that have never suckled!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’, to the hills, ‘Cover us!’ for if you use the green wood like this, what will happen when it is dry?’ Now with him there were also leading out two other criminals to be executed.
Reader 3 When they reached the place called the Skull, they crucified him there and the two criminals also, one on the right, the other on the left. Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.’ Then they cast lots to share out his clothing.
Reader 1 The people stayed there watching him. As for the leaders, they jeered at him. ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers mocked him too and when they approached to offer him vinegar they said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’ Above him there was an inscription: ‘This is the King of the Jews.’ Reader 2 One of the criminals hanging there abused him. ‘Are you not the Christ?’ he said. ‘Save yourself and us as well.’ But the other spoke up and rebuked him. ‘Have you no fear of God at all? You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it; we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus, Remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ ‘Indeed, I promise you, today you will be with me in paradise.’ Reader 3 It was now about the sixth hour and, with the sun eclipsed, a darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. The veil of the Temple was torn right down the middle; and when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, he said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ With these words he breathed his last. [All pause for a moment] Reader 1 When the centurion saw what had taken place, he gave praise to God and said, ‘This was a great and good man.’ And when all the people who had gathered for the spectacle saw what had happened, they went home beating their breasts. All his friends stood at a distance, so also did the women who had accompanied him from Galilee, and they saw all this happen.

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Friday, 01 April 2022 07:30

Celebrating At Home - 5th Sunday in Lent

Freedom & forgiveness
(John 8:1-11)

We know the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery so well that we usually miss the fact that it is not only the woman who experiences God’s forgiveness through Jesus in this story.

The scribes and Pharisees, out to trap Jesus, parade a hapless woman before the crowd gathered to hear Jesus teaching. We can only imagine her embarrassment as they publicly accuse her of adultery. Noting that the law of Moses says that they should stone the woman to death, they ask what Jesus thinks.

Jesus, already seated, bends lower and writes on the ground. What he writes we do not know, but from his ‘lowly’ position Jesus quietly manages to turn the whole situation around.

At first he says nothing. When the scribes and Pharisees persist with their question, Jesus simply says, ‘Let the one without sin be the first to throw a stone at her’, and goes back to his writing.

We sense that an awkward silence followed before the once threatening scribes and Pharisees seem to just melt away. Jesus’ words seem to touch them deeply and melt away both their harsh attitude towards the woman and their desire to entrap him.

Like the woman, they are not condemned by Jesus but restored to right relationship with him and the woman – they no longer want to trap Jesus or harm the woman. They quietly leave. Jesus pronounces forgiveness for the woman and tells her not to sin anymore.

The Gospels of the last two Sundays were parables about God’s forgiveness and tender care in nurturing us back to life. In today’s Gospel we see God’s lavish forgiveness in action as Jesus deals with a concrete human situation of life-threatening judgement and condemnation.

We are called, not to be judges over others, but practitioners of God’s lavish compassion and mercy.

Quiet time for reflection

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Friday, 25 March 2022 07:38

Celebrating At Home - 4th Sunday in Lent

The forgiving father
(Luke 15:1-3, 11-32)

This Sunday’s Gospel is a parable of lavish and unexpected forgiveness and reconciliation. It is one of three parables in which God’s mercy breaks through all human and religious restrictions about how God should act toward sinners.

A wealthy father has two sons. Very cheekily, the younger son asks for his share of the estate which would come to him on his father’s death. This is a young man who has places to go and things to see!

Remarkably, the father gives him half of his estate, not the one-third to which the son was entitled.

No wonder the older son is put out. The younger son goes off and has a great time until the money runs out. Financially ruined he has to earn his keep feeding pigs. He decides to return home, beg forgiveness and ask to be only a servant in his father’s household.

The father is anxiously waiting for the son when he returns. He runs to embrace him. The son begins his confession, but the father takes no notice. He does not chastise or lecture. He refuses to treat

his son as a servant and immediately sets about restoring him to his rightful place in the household with the ring, the robe and sandals. He orders a feast to celebrate the fact that his son is alive and has returned. No wonder the older son is angry and resentful. But the father sets about reassuring him that his place in the household and in the father’s affection is secure and urging him to be reconciled with his brother. We are left wondering about what eventually happened.

The Gospel offers not just the hope of God’s forgiveness but the certainty of it.

The message today is: Rejoice in God’s abiding mercy!

Quiet time for reflection

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Thursday, 17 March 2022 14:37

Celebrating At Home - 3rd Sunday in Lent

The patient gardener
(Luke 13:1-9)

If the Gospels of the first two Sundays of Lent (temptation and transfiguration) are a parable about Christian life (a journey out of and away from temptation and into being transfigured by God’s grace), the Gospels of this Sunday and next give us the ‘road map’.

How do we get from temptation to transfiguration? Only with repentance and God’s forgiveness. That’s the road map for our Christian journey.

Oh, how we love a good story about disaster befalling someone else! The strength of Jesus reply to those who told him about the crucified Galileans seems to indicate that they shared this news with some delight.

Jesus reply tells us not to assume that bad things happen only to bad people and not to think that disasters are some kind of punishment for sin; stop thinking about the guilt of others and put your energy into repentance – turning back towards God.

The parable of the Fig Tree which follows answers the question, ‘If we do repent, what sort of reception will we get from God?’ God will work with us like the gardener in the parable. He will treat us with kindness and tenderness and nurture us back to life so that we can produce good fruit.

Quiet time for reflection

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Friday, 11 March 2022 08:59

Celebrating At Home - 2nd Sunday in Lent

(Luke 9:28-36)

This Sunday’s Gospel of the Transfiguration completes the ‘little parable’ formed by the Gospels of the first two Sundays of Lent.

These Gospels tell us what Lent is about and what Christian life is about: a journey from temptation and doubt to transfiguration and faith. A journey away from allowing ourselves to be tempted to evil, and towards allowing ourselves to be tempted to good by the action of God’s Holy Spirit within us.

As the ‘Chosen One’ Jesus will let God’s glory be fully seen in the resurrection. On the one hand, this Gospel looks forward to the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. On the other, it invites us to reflect on our journey from temptation to transfiguration.
The journey Jesus undertakes does not end in death, but in life. Through prayer we remain in contact with the heart of God which allows God’s love to transform and transfigure us and to ‘burst forth’ in goodness. That’s how we allow the glory of God to be seen in us and through us.

Transfiguration means to be shot-through with the presence of God. Being transfigured is about allowing the presence of God to completely transform us; it’s a revolution of mind and heart driven by God’s Spirit and enabled by our open heartedness.
Our life as Christians is about being transfigured by the Spirit of God so that God is seen in, and experienced through, us.
It takes faith and perseverance to dare to allow ourselves to be tempted by the passion, hope and vision of God rather than our own desires and wants. It takes great faith to trust in God’s word to us. But if we do, the living word of the Chosen One forms in us the heart of God.

Quiet time for reflection

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Friday, 04 March 2022 21:24

Celebrating At Home - 1st Sunday in Lent

Temptation to transfiguration (Luke 4:1-13)

Our great Lenten journey has begun. It’s a journey which begins in ash and ends in water. Fire is a profound part of our experience. We know its power to destroy, blacken and reduce to ash.

We know that evil can do the same - destroy our wholeness of spirit, blacken our lives and reduce the beauty of human life to so much dust.

We begin Lent in the ash of acknowledging our own part in harbouring, creating and doing evil - those places in our hearts where the fire of anger, bitterness, selfishness or narrowness of mind and heart has left nothing but cold ash.

The ash is a reminder that our true life is not found in mortal things which eventually turn to dust, but in eternal things. We also know that out of ash new life can bud, grow strong, bloom into fullness - that’s the Easter miracle.

As always, the Gospels of the first two Sundays in Lent provide a road map for our Lenten journey from temptation (this Sunday) to transfiguration (next Sunday).
We allow ourselves to be tempted out of the ash of selfishness and narrowness of heart and into a life of open-hearted goodness. We celebrate God’s graciousness to us by sharing what we have with those in need whether it be food, wealth, time, love, friendship or compassion. That’s what it means to ‘repent and believe the Good News’.

In these days when we are so conscious of the impact of human life on God’s creation, perhaps we could think about some permanent fasting from our excessive consumption of power, food and petrol in order to allow our earth to heal, to breathe and to continue to be a source of nourishment and life for the whole human family.

Quiet time for reflection

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Friday, 25 February 2022 21:52

Celebrating At Home - 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sound tree, good fruit
(Luke 6:39-45)

We live in a world of words thanks to modern mass media and, particularly, social media. We have seen the extremely harmful way in which words can be used in harsh judgement against other people, and the sheer vitriol of some on social media gives us pause for thought. It begs us to ask the question, implied in the first reading for today (Eccl 27:4-7), ‘What do my words reveal about who I am?’

Today’s Gospel is our final reading from Luke’s Sermon on the Plain. This week, Jesus’ radical teaching continues to focus on lavish generosity in our dealings with one another.

The Gospel opens with a parable about one blind person leading another and both falling into a pit. The disciples, like ourselves, are on a lifelong journey with Jesus, our teacher. On this journey there is always more to discover, greater depths to be plumbed, new insights to be gained as we grow to be more like Jesus; as we move from being ‘blind’ to ‘seeing’ with the eyes of Jesus.

We gradually learn to let go of our self-righteous inclination to judge small faults in others while never noticing our own larger, more destructive, blind spots (the story of the splinter and the plank).

When we learn God’s way of mercy and generosity we refrain from the kinds of judgements which would otherwise limit God’s generosity, mercy and kindness at work in us. Our hearts are being built in goodness.
Like trees that are known by their fruit, so will the disciples be known by their words and actions, their values and attitudes, by who they truly are, by what is in their heart.

Our journey of learning with Jesus gradually builds God’s heart within our own so that we live, speak and act, more and more, out of that great store of mercy and generosity.

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