Sunday, 27 February 2022

St John the Evangelist, Burgess Hill Pre-Lent Sunday 27 February 2022

And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white…(and) a cloud came and overshadowed them Luke 9 

Years back when I was a student at Oxford a coach taking pilgrims from my church, St Mary Magdalene’s, to the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham crashed and someone died. The Sunday afterwards the parish priest preached his sermon with reference to this Gospel and I will never forget Fr Hooper’s sermon.

He presented to us, as I now present to you, how the mystery of the glorious Transfiguration is set under the dark cloud.  After Our Lord’s clothes became dazzling white… St Luke records a cloud came and overshadowed them.

As we gathered in St Mary Mags that Sunday we were reminded how God’s glory can shine brightest of all through the cloud of bereavement. We gather Sunday by Sunday to celebrate the glory of the risen Lord with pain, the pains of the church and its divisions, of the world in its godforsakenness, especially with the invasion of Ukraine and the pains of those of in our circle which are most inscribed on our hearts. Then - the glory of the Lord shines over us as we take, bless, break and share bread!

Christianity is about suffering and the supernatural - these are the two things that keep us close to Christ - the two things Lent reminds us of.

We the baptised are a dying and rising people of a dying and rising Lord.

We are a people losing ourselves to gain the Holy Spirit.

Paul expresses this beautifully in the second reading: ‘All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit’ (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Made in his image we are being transformed into his selfless likeness …from glory to glory.

Made to know ourselves, love ourselves and forget ourselves - a good motto for Lent! Know yourself, love yourself, forget yourself’ 

Know yourself - for that is the other side of the coin to knowing God. 

Love yourself - as you recognise again and again how much you are loved by God who made you. Then - and here is the struggle - forget yourself as Christ forgot himself on Calvary so he could die and rise and give us the Holy Spirit!

Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people unprepared to forget themselves, people wanting instead to be important as seems the case with President Putin. 

As Raniero Cantalamessa writes: ‘70% of the human body is made up of water, but perhaps even more than 70% of man’s spirit is made up of pride...We all long to be noticed. If we could visualise the whole of humankind as it appears in the eyes of God, we would see the spectacle of an immense crowd of people all standing on tiptoe, all pushing one another in the attempt to make themselves seen and all shouting, ‘I’m here too, I’m here in the world too!’. All this pride is, of course, just smoke that death dissipates day by day. ‘Vanity of vanities’...but its consequences are...dreadful’.

There is so much wastage in life and that does not exclude the Christian life. So much of our energy, even though we be Christians, gets dissipated in the instinctive serving of our desires or attending to our fears. The energy we put into this subtracts from all we are able to offer the Lord for building his kingdom. Our Lord needs more of our energies directed to his ends and not our own, our wills more and more directing our lives to his praise and his service.

Self-forgetfulness is a real gift of God which balances self-worth and self knowledge. I find that juggling around with these three is what the deepening of spirituality is all about. The supernatural and suffering play their part as well from God’s side…

Sometimes we need to know ourselves better, sometimes to pay attention, to be kind and loving to ourselves. There are times to concentrate and affirm the self. There are many other times when we are best off getting to work on forgetting ourselves.

As we approach Lent the Church presents to us in today’s scripture the radiant and transfigured humanity of Christ illuminated and filled right through with the life of God coupled to the invitation to be transformed likewise into a heavenly new creation. 

The Transfiguration of Christ preceding his death and resurrection provides disciples then and now insight into the beauty, glory and wondrous life of the world to come and courage to keep heading there. We are not there yet but rather in the vale of tears yet sufferings in that vale are destined to be lost in the ultimate praise and glory of heaven. 

We are the dying and rising people of a dying and rising Lord, a people losing ourselves to gain the Holy Spirit, made in his image to be transformed into his selfless likeness …from glory to glory, made to know ourselves, love ourselves and forget ourselves…so Christ may shine in us now and always! 

A happy and holy Lent!

Saturday, 26 February 2022

Revd Eve Wiseman College of St Barnabas, Lingfield 1130am 20-2-22

Introduction to Requiem 

We are gathered in Chapel to give thanks to God and to pray for Eve Wiseman. We have come from near and far to salute a friend and priest whose passing leaves us all the poorer. Weeks back I was at the altar with Eve and many of you to pray for Derek Goodrich and months back, again with Eve, for our mutual friend and former resident Allan Buik. Now for this eucharist Eve herself is on the other side in this celebration as her picture by the Paschal Candle reminds us. In penitence and faith therefore let us prepare to celebrate the sacred mysteries central to our life as Christians, central to Eve’s life and ministry, welcoming through them a pledge of the glory which is to come.

Sermon                                                            Romans 8:35-39

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth; and after my skin has been thus destroyed, then in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. Words dear to Eve from Job Chapter 19 verses 25 to 27

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Eve Wiseman died January 8 a few days after suffering a stroke. My wife Anne prayed with her just before she was taken from College to hospital. Eve is survived by her niece, Helen Clay of Caernarfon, Wales and nephew, Simon Clay of Vancouver.

Eve was born near here in Coulsdon, baptized at St. Francis Church and confirmed at St. Andrew’s Church. As a child, she was awarded a scholarship to Purley County Grammar School for Girls. She studied for her school certificate and higher school certificate at London University, and went on to obtain a Teaching Certificate from Cambridge’s Homerton College. Her main subjects were physical education and educational psychology. Eve taught for four years on Cable Street in Stepney, London, in the school in which “To Sir With Love” was based. 


Eve had a distinguished academic career. She obtained a Master of Education from Western Washington State College in Bellingham and a Master of Divinity from the Vancouver School of Theology. She lectured and taught at CF Mott Training College in Liverpool, the University of Birmingham’s Faculty of Education and was an associate professor at Western Washington University. In the 1970s she was considered one of the top ten experts in the field of movement education in the United States. Eve once said that “a child dancing is often worshipping God”. She also coached the women’s field hockey team at Western Washington University as well as being on the Senate there and later at Vancouver School of Theology. Eve spoke at conferences and seminars around the world.


She was ordained to the diaconate in 1984, and to the priesthood in 1985 by Archbishop Douglas Hambidge. Prior to ordination she had been active at St. James, Vancouver and St. John, Shaughnessy. In the late 1970s she served as a lay minister at Nooksack Indian United Methodist Church near Bellingham.  


As a student, deacon and priest Eve held positions in many parishes in the Canadian Diocese of New Westminster including St. Matthew, Abbotsford; St. Francis in-the-Wood, West Vancouver; St. Richard, Norgate; St. Mary, Galiano Island; St. Christopher, West Vancouver;  St. Thomas, Chilliwack and St. David, Tsawwassen. She was Rector of St. Anne, Steveston from 1988-1992. Eve was deeply involved in Healing Ministry. It was always a joy to pray with her, so warm and so convinced of the power of God.


After Eve’s retirement in 1996, she had a number of “House for Duty” appointments including Ullapool (Northwest Scotland) and Scotshouse (Irish Republic) and as interim priest at the Parish of Thurso and Wick in the Scottish Episcopal Church in 2000 and 2001. She then settled more permanently in England where she occasionally presided and preached at St. John the Baptist, Hove, at her local church, St. Peter, Henfield near Terry’s Cross, The Point and here at the College.


Eve was generous to many of us including Anne and I who enjoyed visiting her house near Corinth and discussing with her the ins and outs of deacon Phoebe. An avid gardener, a voracious reader, she loved music and loved to sing so it's good we can sing this morning as part of her Christian farewell. 

There is one thing and one alone that is stronger than death - the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

As St. Paul wrote in the passage Anne read, 'neither death, nor life...nor things present, nor things to come...nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’.

Christians believe God himself has entered our human condition to live and die, a man like us in all things but sin. 

We believe that by dying Christ destroyed the power of death, and by rising again opened up a new and imperishable life to all believers.

The love of God in Jesus - this and this alone is stronger than death. When the Spirit of Jesus comes into our lives we know this for sure. As the Lord said himself, the very hairs on our head are numbered - God, the very source of life, cares for us all with an infinite love, a love stronger than death.

We commend Eve to God with this faith, faith built upon the Risen Christ. There alone, in the love of Jesus, is a sure foundation that death cannot shake.

Yet we should not presume upon that love

As we come to say farewell to Eve purple vestments challenge us to remember our own mortality. As our friend has departed this life, so most certainly must we, and which of us knows the day or the hour the Lord has for them?

Scripture makes plain the need to prepare for that day. The surest preparation comes as we welcome the love of Jesus into our lives. This is the sure way to a purpose for living and a reason for dying.

Gathering with the Lord's people around the Lord's Table fits us to gather in our eternal homeland, in the house of the Lord for ever

Come close to God, scripture says, and he will come close to you!

Today as we come close we have the people of Ukraine on our hearts. Let us not doubt that God sees that concern and through the eucharist will impact that perilous situation as we come to him this morning.

Commit your way to him and he will act for you, in this life and the next!

God immerse you in his endless love through this eucharist, strengthen in you the hope of heaven and grant the soul of Eve Wiseman purification for the vision of himself. 

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord - and let light perpetual shine upon her!


Priest:    For our sister Eve, let us pray to the Lord Christ who said ‘I am the Resurrection and I am Life’.

Reader: Lord, you consoled Martha and Mary in their distress: draw near to us who mourn Eve and dry the tears of those who weep.

All    Hear us, Lord.

You wept at the grave of Lazarus, your friend, comfort us in our sorrow.

All    Hear us, Lord.

You raised the dead to life: raise our sister Eve, to eternal life

All    Hear us, Lord.

You promised paradise to the thief who repented: bring our sister Eve to the joys of heaven

All    Hear us, Lord.

Our sister Eve was washed in baptism and anointed with the Holy Spirit. Give her fellowship with all your saints.

All    Hear us, Lord.

Eve celebrated your mysteries and was nourished with your body and blood. Grant her a place at the table in your heavenly kingdom.

All    Hear us, Lord.

We pray your blessing upon the churches and communities dear to Eve: St. Francis and St. Andrew, Coulsdon; St. James, Vancouver and St. John, Shaughnessy; Nooksack Indian United Methodist Church; St. Matthew, Abbotsford; St. Francis in-the-Wood, West Vancouver; St. Richard, Norgate; St. Mary, Galiano Island; St. Christopher, West Vancouver;  St. Thomas, Chilliwack and St. David, Tsawwassen; St. Anne, Steveston;  Ullapool in Scotland and Scotshouse in the Irish Republic, the Parish of Thurso and Wick in Scotland; St. John the Baptist, Hove; St. Peter, Henfield; Terry’s Cross; The Point and we pray a blessing upon our life together here at the College.

All    Hear us, Lord

Let us commend Eve to the prayers of the holy Mother of God, St Barnabas, deacon Phoebe and all the saints as we pray in our own words keeping silence: 

Reader: Merciful Father,  

All        accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen 

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Wivelsfield Church Memoria of St Polycarp Mark 9:38-40 23.2.22

‘Anyone who is not against us is for us’ Mark 9:40

‘Does God confine the gift of his Spirit to authorised channels?’ is the question raised and answered in today’s Gospel. We read there how Our Lord’s disciples tried to stop someone casting out demons in his name because he was not an obvious, or should we say ‘legitimate’ follower of Jesus. ‘But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me’.

Our Lord in the Gospel, like Moses faced before him with the same question, disowns clerical arrogance which sees the Holy Spirit just flowing through the channels they have authorised. God is bigger than the institutions he sets up to help his people function right. God is bigger than the church and can make exceptions we should go along with, but - and it's a contentious ‘but’ - we are bound as a rule to expect the Holy Spirit to flow primarily through the channels he authorises. 

For us Anglicans the Holy Spirit is known as God’s grace and comes primarily through the church. ‘In what ways do you receive… God’s grace?’ Our Catechism asks and it gives this reply. ‘I receive… grace within the fellowship of the Church, when I worship and pray, when I read the Bible, when I receive the Sacraments, and as I live my daily life to his glory’.

Without bishops and priests we cannot have sacramental grace, making my visit this morning to cover for Fr Christopher a necessity. We need apostolic order, as today’s feast of St Polycarp reminds us - he worked within the 2nd century in immediate succession to the apostles - but apostolic order is no use without apostolic vitality. Through bishops and priests in apostolic succession we have authority to break Bread this morning pleading Christ’s Sacrifice for our community and our world and  receiving the grace of Holy Communion in Christ’s body and blood.

The eucharist is vital and vitalising, helping Christ dwell in us, but today’s Gospel invites us to keep on the look out for Christ’s presence and action outside the orbit of his Church. Though God commits to work through channels he has authorised like the eucharist - how wonderful to find him here as he has promised - we have surprises of the Spirit outside this orbit and need to be open to these.

The God we worship is deep in all things, working wherever goodness, truth and beauty are being built, inside and outside the fellowship of believers. We are his coworkers, sent out from here in the power of his Spirit to live and work to his praise and glory, alongside other unwitting servants of God.

‘Anyone who is not against us is for us’.