The most live of all live-streaming

This week the techie people have been installing cameras and stuff for live-streaming in Christ the King. This is partly as a result of the importance given to communications in our Synod discussions. Over the next months we will notice changes also in the newsletter and on the website.

For Fr Andy and me it was a very strange experience back in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic to celebrate Mass on our own at St Brigid’s. Next it became possible through very helpful parishioners to stream Mass via a personal computer, and then we eventually bought a system for permanent live-streaming. At its busiest we were getting 500 to 600 viewings every Sunday. There were 200 for each Stations of the Cross that year.

Now, although Mass has resumed we still get a good number watching. This would be partly people who are housebound and partly people who do not yet feel comfortable in returning to Mass.

So, a message to each of these groups. First – to the housebound, please remember you are very much part of our communities. Whatever it is that prevents you being with us, you are indeed with us in spirit, and important to us. May we all improve our determination to keep in touch with this. Second to those who have not yet returned – we are missing you! Please be assured that we continue to follow guidelines for the celebration of Mass, that there are areas where those who wish to maintain some distancing can sit – and you can be sure of a warm welcome.

So we continue our Advent journey. The thought occurs to me that throughout the Old Testament God was kind of live-streaming his thought and words, not through cameras and computers but through prophets and kings etc. But eventually, it was clear that best of all was for God to appear “live” as it were, and so that is exactly what happened. It had been good for the people to read about God and study their books in the Bible, but now they could meet Him face to face – in a Baby at Bethlehem! They could eat and drink with Him, listen and talk with him, touch him and be touched by him. And so can we – in the Mass, the Eucharist. It is, after all, the most live of all live-streaming.

Fr Matthew

I thank him for you all…

Our American friends celebrated Thanksgiving this Thursday. It’s a huge deal there and the occasion for getting together as family and friends. Here in the UK we don’t, of course, have a day specially set aside for thanksgiving. Perhaps this is a shame, as saying thankyou is such an important part of being human.

This Sunday we start a new year in the Christian calendar. Advent is essentially a time for looking forward – to Christmas in particular, but also to look forward in general, and to do so with hope in our hearts as Christian believers. But before we focus on where we are going to, a little pause to reflect on where we have come from. And what a lot we have to think about in our recent journeys!

Please join me in giving thanks for the past year, whatever it may have held. Join poet Malcolm Guite in this thoughtful sonnet written for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving starts with thanks for mere survival, Just to have made it through another year
With everyone still breathing. But we share
So much beyond the outer roads we travel;

Our interweavings on a deeper level,
The modes of life embodied souls can share, The unguessed blessings of our being here, The warp and weft that no one can unravel.

So I give thanks for our deep coinherence Inwoven in the web of God’s own grace, Pulling us through the grave and gate of death. I thank him for the truth behind appearance,

I thank him for his light in every face,
I thank him for you all, with every breath.

Fr Matthew

Christ the King

Our 3 Churches celebrate the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year. It’s not been an easy year, for us as for everyone. Still coming out of Covid, we have all been hit by the effects of the situation in Ukraine and politics in our own country too.

So, against this background, what does this feast mean? The answer surely lies in asking ourselves another question – what kind of king was Jesus? A man of earthly power, of politics or of war? No, clearly not. A very different king emerges week by week as we watch and listen while the Gospel unfolds at Mass. He is at ease with everyone, has no earthly power, washes his followers’ feet, wears a crown of thorns and dies on a Cross.

What does it mean to you for Christ to be King? Here is a poem / prayer by Chris Thorpe from his 2019 book of liturgical ideas and prayers “Dancers and Wayfarers”

Christ the King,
You became poor that many might become rich; You emptied yourself of all power
That we might be empowered to choose.
You show us God’s kingdom in our midst
And invite us to kneel with you,
To humble ourselves, to serve those in need,
To find you here with us now.
As we gather in your name, fill us with your Spirit; Open our hearts to worship you,
Jesus the Servant King. Amen.

A happy feast day to our Christ the King community!

Fr Matthew