Ministers' Blog

Occasional musings from one of our ministers or worship leaders

A Poem for Remembrance Day

Posted on 13th November 2021

A poem for Remembrance by Peter Cruse

[read the full A Poem for Remembrance Day post]

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A Reflection on Good Friday

Posted on 1st April 2021

As we make our way toward Easter we are considering the last words of Jesus.

In John’s gospel we read “when Jesus knew that there was no more that could be done, he said in order to fulfill scripture “I am thirsty”. A jar of sour wine was standing by his cross. So, they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it up to his mouth and Jesus accepted it”. (John 19:28-30)

The life of Jesus is seeping away. His wounds bleed. Sweat pours from his body.  He is dying of thirst. This is the cruel reality of human dying. A dying person becomes dehydrated.  We all die in some way – thirsty.

 

Thirsty for what we can no longer have.

Jesus cries out for our most basic need – water.

It is the cry of all humanity as life drains away.

‘Give me what gives life. I cannot live without it’.

 

But a point arrives when there is no more that can be done.

Death has to be lived through.

So, for Jesus:

He has no more stories to tell.

No more wonderful healings.

This is not the time to turn water into wine.

There is no well nearby with a woman ready to fetch water for him.

Once he had stood in Jerusalem and shouted like an old time prophet: “Come to me all who thirst and I will give a real drink”. Not now.

All that Jesus has to offer now is his thirst.

Death is closing in.

He has nothing more to give to us – except his death.

And it is his death on the cross which is his final invitation – to watch and follow.

 

I have been with many dying people. I watched them slowly withdraw.

I think of my mother. All I could do was wait until it was all finished.

All I could do was to look on death and learn what I had to learn.

 

Jesus said, “I am thirsty”.

And in this cry Jesus asks the same. No turning away; no keeping at a distance.

But to look on the cross and learn what we have to learn.

 

A friend and I had many a discussion about God and the suffering in the world. As she grew older, she became more infirm living her last days in a wheelchair.

Shortly before her death I received a letter from her. She told me she could not carry on the discussion. She could say no more. She wrote, “For me the Cross is the clue not the explanation as to the necessity of suffering in the world. It hints at the direction we have to take.  Jesus shows us that the path to wholeness is through suffering.

It is a suffering which acts like birth. Suffering is a birth which in the end is broken to pieces by death. And we die into a new way of existence”.

She was giving me a journey to take, and her words make me think and pray still.

 

On the cross Jesus is no beautiful Saviour.

He had no majesty.

He died ugly.

There was nothing in his appearance that would attract us.

But as we look upon the cross, he carries our diseases and by his bruises we are healed.

There is one last wonderful healing, and it is offered to us.

Revd John Rackley

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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Posted on 23rd January 2021

It has been the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I have observed this time of prayer at the beginning of each year since the early 1970s. This week I have been praying with J. Philip Newell’s book The New Harmony (St Andrew Press 2012) [read the full Week of Prayer for Christian Unity post]

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From the Past to the future

Posted on 11th January 2021

Thoughts on Luke 2: 21-33

I am held in my mother’s arms in the centre of the photograph. Around us are my father, grandparents and god-parents. I am draped in a christening gown which has been used for generations by my family for such occasions in the little parish church which stands rock-sure in the background. [read the full From the Past to the future post]

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New Year Affirmations

Posted on 2nd January 2021

I used to use these affirmations regularly in my prayers as a member of the Iona Community.

Whilst I no longer am a member they still stir my faith and explain what I am trying to believe.

I offer them to us all at Christchurch as we journey into a fresh year with many uncertainties ahead of us. May they comfort and guide us in 2021.

 

Rev John Rackley

 

With the whole Church

we affirm that we are made in God’s image

Befriended by Christ, empowered by the Spirit.

With people everywhere

we affirm God’s goodness at the heart of humanity,

planted more deeply than all that is wrong.

With all creation

we celebrate the miracle and wonder of life,

and the unfolding purposes of God

for ever at work in ourselves and the world.

 

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In the Midst of Uncertainty

Posted on 3rd December 2020

A sermon from Revd Debra Chidakwa Akue during the coronavirus lockdown, when no-one knows how long we have to endure, or how many more will suffer. [read the full In the Midst of Uncertainty post]

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Creation Time 2

Posted on 22nd September 2020

Continuing the September theme of creation, here is Rev john Rackley’s second sermon, preached on 20th September. [read the full Creation Time 2 post]

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Creation Time

Posted on 15th September 2020

During September our services are focusing on our stewardship of creation. This is Rev John Rackley’s sermon preached on 13th September. [read the full Creation Time post]

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Sunset, Sunrise, a brand new day

Posted on 2nd September 2020

This sermon was given by Rev John Rackley on 30th August at our first service with social distancing regulations and is posted here as many people are still unable or uncertain about coming to church services. [read the full Sunset, Sunrise, a brand new day post]

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Dangerous Prayer

Posted on 24th June 2020

‘Prayer is a marvellous and necessary supplement of our feeble efforts but it is a dangerous substitute’ Martin Luther King.

I do not know the original context of these words. The quotation turned up in the monthly mail-out of Contemplation and Action; a movement based on the ministry of Franciscan Richard Rohr. It was part of a series of comments on Black Lives Matter.

As a Baptist, King would have been brought up in an intense praying culture. In his time Baptist prayer meetings were signature events. They define the pattern of Baptist spirituality. Personal prayer is expected of each member of the congregation. So his comments have a back story.

“Let us pray about this” was a default response to any situation. King knew this could be a powerful force. Prayer has been called primal speech. It is an intrinsic part of human evolution. Whoever you might pray to and whatever you think will happen is not the point. Prayer like Soul describes the intrinsic mystery of our life. We are not alone.

But is prayer a substitute for action? King seems to be suggesting this. He knows action can be deeply influenced by prayer but prayer instead of action is in his words ‘dangerous’. What could he mean by this?

[read the full Dangerous Prayer post]

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