10 Lynden Close, Holyport, Berks, SL6 2LB
Copy for the June issue of St. Michael's News to the Editor please, by Thursday 17 May.
|aged 79 years
aged 84 years
THE FOLLOWING IS THE SERMON PREACHED BY THE REVD ALAN DIBDEN ON EASTER DAY
“So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
I ought to begin by saying “Happy Easter” And, as clergy will be saying in so many places today, this is the most important day of the year for Christians – the day when we recall most particularly that which is at the centre of the Christian faith.
But I am sure you have noticed – this year today is also “All Fools Day”. How appropriate. So, another Biblical quotation for you – St Paul to the Corinthians:
“The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”
Holy Week and Easter don’t have quite the same impact on people at large as does Christmas. I managed to avoid going out anywhere on Good Friday, but some who did go out and about tell me that the shops were crowded – so much of it just like any other day.
Holy Week and Easter don’t have the same impact on people at large as Christmas. I think there are two things which contribute to that. The story of Christmas is one which lends itself to understanding – it can tap all the emotions which mean a lot to most people – the birth of a baby. As a symbol of God’s love and care it is obvious and clear. And all the trappings of the story are ones which are easy to tell and easy to get hold of. It is all very appealing.
Holy Week and Easter are different, however. It is a much more complex tale. It concerns triumph and failure, betrayal and fear, death and disaster, and then forward once more into hope. Not an easy tale to grasp, not so instantly appealing, much more complex and difficult.
Over the centuries Christians have tried to lighten the tale, to make it more appealing. And so the association with new life and springtime, with Easter Eggs and fluffy bunny rabbits – and all that sort of stuff – it is interesting that that is the side of it that the commercial world takes hold of, because that is the side of the tale which has the same sort of appeal as does Christmas.
For the second difficulty is understanding what it all means – what’s the point of it all – what’s it all about? And it is because of that difficulty for us in understanding what it is all about that I rather like St Mark’s account of the resurrection. It is the account which most powerfully captures the bewilderment and puzzlement and fear which was felt by those closest to Jesus in those first moments. They had great problems making sense of things. Even nigh on two thousand years on we often have the same problems.
There are some people for whom the simplicity of the old reasoning for the events of Good Friday and Easter still holds some power. I can’t say, though, that I am one of them. The reasoning takes the Old Testament concept that human failure needed to be expiated by sacrifice. As the Jewish High Priest offered sacrifice in the Temple in Jerusalem year by year for the people’s failures to follow God’s will he did so to appease God’s anger, in the thinking of the time. A traditional way of expressing the meaning of this last few days was to say that Good Friday and the death on the Cross was the ultimate sacrifice by God of his own Son as a final, full and complete offering to wipe out human failure once and for all.
We can find language which reminds us of that both in the New Testament, and also in some of the services we use Sunday by Sunday. But I don’t find that communicates well with me.
Rather I want to think not of Good Friday and Easter Day as isolated events, but as part of a total picture. It is all part and parcel of the whole story of Jesus and of what he did and said, what he stood for and taught. It is the ultimate summary of his teaching and of his very being.
Jesus certainly built on a lot of the understanding of God which permeates the Old Testament – the realisation of his seeking after certain standards of behaviour, of attitude, of approach to life: the sorts of things that are summarized in so much of what he said, and not least in the Sermon on the Mount. But Jesus stood out against a legalistic, vengeful God. He spoke of God’s love and care for the least of his creation, and also for the most offending (sinful, if you like) of his creation.
And, above all, he spoke of the human response to this God, not as one of completing rituals or of fulfilling religious obligations only, but of the human response in the attitude to other people as well as to God. He saw the truly religious person as one who took religious observation seriously – as Jesus himself did – but who took that out into everyday life and into that person’s conduct in everyday life.
And the ultimate in Jesus’ vision of God and of the religious person – the ultimate was the preparedness to place others before oneself even to the extent of one’s own life. “He who loses his life will save it.” The ultimately Godly person, in Jesus’ teaching, was the one who did this.
If we see Jesus’ approach to his death in that light we begin to see precisely the ultimate godly person. And Easter Day becomes God’s affirmation of this.
“So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”
To grasp the vision that Jesus teaching and life and very being was bound up and summarized and emphasized in his death and resurrection is not something anyone grasps easily or quickly, and particularly not when you are amongst those closest to him, those who have just seen him die. The reaction of those who came first to the tomb is very understandable.
But the first reading we heard, from the Book of Acts, takes things on a while. Jesus’ disciples have begun to make sense of things, and so we hear Peter beginning to tell the story of Jesus to the people of his day.
Because that’s the other thing about Easter. It didn’t just stop at Good Friday with the ultimately godly one making that sacrifice of self. We talk about newness and new beginnings at Easter because I suppose for us that’s something we can grasp, but in reality it is a continuation. Peter in Acts continues what Jesus began. Easter Day asks us to carry on with that task.
We tend to use words nowadays like “mission” and “evangelism”, even “evangelization”, but I find them 24 carat words, they are very heavy words – for many folk they are words that can put us off. Rather, the crucial thing is to try to grasp the picture of what Jesus taught – his vision of the godly person, the religious person, but even they are fairly tough words. Perhaps we could say, ‘the person who is human as the creator envisages human beings to be’
Whatever words we use, if we can grasp the picture of what Jesus taught, then the continuation we need to seek (after Easter Day) is to try and to continue to try to make ourselves more in that image. Grasping the picture isn’t a one off task, it is a lifetime’s work. And striving to be more like that is also a lifetime’s work.
But recalling God’s love and welcome is also crucial. The person reported in Acts as preaching about Jesus was Peter. Last Friday, as we heard the story of Jesus’ arrest and trial we heard Peter’s denial that he even knew Jesus, yet he became one of the leaders of those who continued the work.
However slippery our grasp of the picture may sometimes be; however unsure we are of what we think; however often we feel we haven’t quite got it right; however much the pressures of everyday life seem to get in the way, to strive to live that life is what truly matters, and what Easter Day asks us to continue to do.
To adapt St Paul on this All Fools’ Day:
“The message about the cross [and Easter] is foolishness to ((most people)) but to ((those who strive to follow Jesus’ teaching)) it is the power of God”
So, maybe at last I can say, “Happy Easter”
GOOD FRIDAY POEM
David Gascoyne (1916-2001) is the author of the poem Ecce Homo which the Revd. Dibden used on Good Friday.. Wikkipedia is quite interesting about him.
Thank you to everyone who donated money to flowers in the church for Easter in memory of the following loved ones:
Jill Webster, parents of Anne Clare, Colin Frizzell
Geoffrey Sugden, Gordon and Marjorie Teeder and their son Stephen Teeder, Ric Fontaine, Michael Cunningham
Marjorie, Emily and Fred, Mary Pearson, David Taylor
Vera and Frank Dolphin, Joyce and Charles Olney
Also other anonymous donations.
LEST WE FORGET APRIL 1918 Jim Tucker
Two men from the parish lost their lives fighting for King and country during May 1918. Lewis Hughes was a native of Bray serving with the 5th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment on the Western Front. He was killed on 25 May in a daring raid on enemy lines near Arras, northern France. He has no known grave, and is remembered on the memorial nearby at Pozieres. Locally, his name appears on the triptych in St Michael’s church and the Bray village memorial.
John Leader, a married man aged 34 from Holyport, died on 31st of the month in an entirely different theatre of war. He was in Mesopotamia – modern day Iraq – with the Army Service Corps. His grave is in Baghdad (North Gate) cemetery. This cemetery is understood to have undergone a degree of restoration in 2012, but while security remains an issue in that region, the names of the fallen are displayed in a Book of Remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Marlow Road, Maidenhead. In the parish we remember him on the war memorials in Bray and Holyport, and in the book from Touchen End.
ST MICHAEL’S BELLRINGERS
On Easter Sunday we rang a quarter peal of Plain Bob Major - a first for Ben Gladwyn.
1 Wenda Fowles
2 Katharine Firman
3 Ben Gladwyn
4 Margaret Ross
5 Timothy Palmer
6 Michael Trimm
7 Graham Firman
8 John Payne
Conducted by Margaret Ross.
As well as for Easter, this was to commemorate Private James Simmonds, who died on 27th March 1918 aged 25. Private Simmonds was a ringer at Braywood.
He enlisted in Windsor and served in the Royal Munster Fusiliers and is commemorated at Pozieres Memorial, France. Born in Bray during the first quarter of 1893, son of the late Charles Simmonds (died prior to 1899) and the late Sarah Collins (formerly Simmonds, died 1911); stepson of Richard Collins of 3 Red Lion Cottages, Oakley Green. At the time of the 1911 census he was working as a labourer. In 1962 Braywood bells were transferred to St. Michael’s, Beer, Devon.
James Simmonds also appears in Jim Tucker’s ‘Lest we Forget’ item in last month’s magazine.
HARVARD-RADCLIFFE COLLEGIUM MUSICUM Sunday 10th June at 3.00 p.m.
The Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum is the premier mixed chorus of Harvard University. Formed in 1971, the ensemble undertook its first international tour on the occasion of the US Bicentennial in 1976. On Sunday 10th June at 3 pm, the alumni from that tour will perform European, English and American choral music for Music at Bray. They will reprise the Collegium’s first appearance at St. Michael’s Church in Bray on June 21, 1976.
This summer’s performance at St. Michael’s Church marks the second reprisal tour for the Collegium 1976 tour alumni – the first occurring in 2014 with two successful concerts in Paris.
If anyone in St Michael’s community remembers their first appearance in 1976, please come along as the singers will be delighted to reconnect after forty years! It promises to be a delightful and somewhat nostalgic concert
Acquired on several different courses, with a brief On Thursday 12th April, our new President, Jen Razey welcomed us all and told us of the very sad news of Barbara Goodhew 's death. A relatively new member to our Institute, but she will be sadly missed by us all. One minute’s silence was observed by everyone. An envelope circulated for members to contribute towards Barbara's family's choosen charity, the Bray Parish Charities.
Janet told us about our next walk to Inky Down Wood to see the bluebells on the 30th April. This walk will also raise money for the ACWW the money raised will go towards "Women Empowerment Through Skill Training Programme." This will give women in Pakistan the opportunity to be able to purchase sewing machines with our contributions.
Janet brought in plants for sale for the members to buy for the ACWW 'Women walk the World" appeal on 30th April this will be in aid of 250 women and their families from Dalit in India. An envelope circulated around for all members to contribute £1 each for the "Women Empowerment Through Skill Training Programme."
After raising £102 at our last social event in February, members were asked if they would like to have another Summer Garden Party in August. A show of hands was taken and most people were in favour of this. Similarly a show of hands for a Quiz Evening also proved to be favourable and will go ahead in June. All the money raised will go towards our Institute funds.
Jen asked members if the proceeds from our cake stall at Holyport Fair could be donated to the Fair, and all had been in agreement to this.
The Group meeting on 24th May will be held at Sunningdale this year. Ann M reported back on the Spring Council Meeting in Reading. Ann had been our delegate and said all the speakers had been very interesting.
Val T requested more flannels for the hospital packs.
Being no other business Jen introduced us to our speaker Tracey Blaney who had come along to tell us about "The Age Old Craft of Millinery." Tracey had on display various hats she had made. She proceeded to give us a brief history of the hat industry which dates back to 1500. Hats had been worn in these days at church and also in the military. Tracey explained the training she had demonstration of how she makes the hats. She had been so proud when she obtained an order for one of her hats to be worn at the Garter Ceremony, and was duly invited to the event by her customer. Her hats have been featured on TV and at Ascot Races and she has managed to build a good number of customers. Pauline J gave Tracey a vote of thanks from us all
MEETINGS AND EVENTS FOR MAY
Thursday, 10th May at 7.45 p.m. in Holyport Memorial Hall.
1 Resolutions Meeting.
Monday, 28th May at 2.00 p.m. in Holyport Memorial Hall.
Music at Bray
Sunday, 13 May at 3.00 p.m.
HANDAL AND PURCELL
Arias and duets from two of the finest ‘English’ Baroque composers.
Rebecca van den Berg (soprano)
Alice de Ville (mezzo soprano)
Maidenhead Heritage Centre
18 Park Street, Maidenhead.
3rd and 24th May
||11.50 - 12.35
||2.40 - 3.00
||3.10 - 3.40