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Holy Communion For The Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost

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The Lord is our beloved. He calls to us. He runs to meet us, leaping upon the mountains and bounding over the hills like a young stag. He embraces us as we embrace him in holy communion.

At Saint Laika's everyone is welcome to take communion and be in communion, with each other and with God. There are no exceptions. If you want to physically partake of communion you will require a small piece of bread and a small amount of drink (preferably made from grapes and containing alcohol). How you view the nature of this part of the service is completely up to you.

CLICK HERE to access the podcast via iTunes.

Join in with us as we worship God by CLICKING HERE for the order of service, credits and details of the music featured. The words in bold type are the ones we say together.

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Sermon: The Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost 2015

The manifestations of evil have been tediously the same from age to age. When it comes to wickedness, nothing ever changes. It's the same ole, same ole. The list of things not to do listed in the ten commandments were, no doubt, well known as causes of human suffering well before God dictated them to Moses. If a modern day Moses was to climb a mountain to get an update, other than the word "donkey" being replaced with the word "car," I very much doubt that God would bother making any changes. There would be no need. Most evil is caused by greed and always has been (greed for wealth, greed for power and greed for pleasure). Whether it's an office worker prepared to bad mouth her colleagues to get a promotion or the CEO of a multi-national company prepared to deny future generations a world to live in for profits today, its greed that rules. The military empires and religious leaders of Saint Paul's day may have been replaced by the employers of child labour and exploiters of the earth's mineral wealth who top the list of evil authorities and rulers today, but it's the same cause and effect. You would think by now that we would have learned to recognise evil in its limited guises and would routinely avoid it for the sake of fellow human beings and future generations. But, of course, although we are all well aware of just how much our lives are dominated by the greed of the wicked, great and small, we are not prepared to do anything constructive about it, probably because we are the wicked, great and small, ourselves. At the end of the day people are unwilling to tear down the rich and powerful from their thrones, which, considering how many of us there are would be quite easy to do, as long as there is even the remotest of possibilities that they might get to sit on those lofty thrones themselves. It would appear that although human beings are capable of great acts of altruism, on the whole we choose self-interest to be our main motivator in our daily lives.

Of course, greed is not the only cause of wicked deeds, there are others. Sadism, extreme hatred, anger spring to mind. But these are out of the ordinary, possibly pathological, motives for doing evil. And herein lies the big problem with evil - most of it is just normal behaviour. Greed, self-interest, selfishness, betrayal, all are hard wired into the psyche of everyone of us, even the most holy saint is prone to put himself first. It is human nature.

Which is why following Jesus is not an easy path to take. The selflessness that is demanded of a true Christian is attainable, as it is in our natures just as selfishness is, unless we are sociopathic which is a rare condition. But it is very difficult to maintain because it exists within our natures well below our capability to do just about anything to satisfy our lusts and our desire for self-preservation and self aggrandisement.

The truth is that we need help if we truly want to be disciples of Christ and his witnesses by our actions in the world today and the only person who can help us to be Christlike is Christ himself. Furthermore, it is not just a matter of imitating Christ (an idea which is rendered risible by our human weakness), we actually have to take Christ into ourselves, to consume him, to become one with him, to allow ourselves to be filled with his spirit if we want to achieve that state of being in which we will possess the strength to overcome our tendency to selfishness and allow our capability to be selfless come to the fore.

Our selfishness leads to us hurting other people to get what we want and that is evil. It is exactly the opposite of the selflessness that should be the pursuit of all Christians, which is the putting of the welfare of others before our own even if that means that harm may come to us in doing so. The ultimate paradigm of such a Godly life is Jesus Christ himself who allowed himself to be brutally tortured and killed by routinely evil men so that we might live.

We are given a choice. We are not compelled, we are not forced to follow the same path that Jesus trod. We are always free to walk away. But there is no alternative, easy path to salvation. As Simon Peter realised, there is nobody else for us to go to, only the teaching of Jesus leads to eternal life. Therefore, let us, like Peter and those of his companions who remained loyal to Christ, renounce evil and all its pettiness, choosing instead to believe in Christ, the Holy One of God, the only one who can make us holy and good and fit for the Kingdom of God.

Same Old Tricks

I see the BBC has cancelled the long running series, "New Tricks." They say that this is because recent series have not been watched by as many people as watched the earlier series. However that reasoning is only reasonable if the BBC has a new drama series up its sleeves that can pull in more viewers than the later series of "New Tricks." Judging by the insubstantial piffle being aired on Sunday nights entitled "Partners In Crime" I very much doubt that they have. Not since "Jonathan Creek" has there been a more perfect example of why stand-up comedians should not be given proper acting jobs no matter how popular they are with the "right on" brigade. Anyway, if "New Tricks" is so unpopular why is the BBC still showing repeats of the recent series on prime time television?

File under "Do they think we're stupid?"

The MadGang Visit Seaton Delaval Hall

When I first moved to Northumbria, twenty years ago, I worked as a curate in a parish that you could easily see from Seaton Delaval Hall. At that time it was still in private hands. In 2008, wonderfully exhorbitant death duties forced the sale of the estate and the National Trust managed to get the money raised to buy it. They have been working flat out ever since to bring the dilapidated old pile back to life and the results of their endeavour are spectacular. A couple of weekends back we visited the house and gardens for the first time and had a lovely afternoon there in the pleasantly warm, English summer sunshine. It was sad that we could not get into the church due to health and safety reasons (see below) as I had once celebrated communion there, which I remember to have been a really cool experience.

Seaton Delaval Hall is a Grade I listed country house in Northumberland, England. It is near the coast just north of Newcastle upon Tyne. Located between Seaton Sluice and Seaton Delaval, it was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh in 1718 for Admiral George Delaval and is now owned by the National Trust. Since completion of the house in 1728, it has had an unfortunate history. Neither architect nor patron lived to see its completion; it then passed through a succession of heirs, being lived in only intermittently. Most damagingly of all, in 1822 the central block was gutted by fire, and has remained an empty shell ever since.

The little, nine hundred year old Church of Our Lady, tucked away behind Seaton Delaval Hall, has several features which make it a rarity, perhaps unique. Despite its age (it was built by Hubert de Laval and dedicated in 1102 by Bishop Flambard, of Durham), it has only been a parish church since 1891. Before that it was a private chapel for nearly eight hundred years. Its chancel, choir and nave are separated by superb Norman arches and to have two in a building of this size is very unusual. A blocked up window and stonework in the north wall of the nave and the top section of the font suggest pre-Norman origins but the nave also has a classical eighteenth century ceiling. So we have an Anglo-Saxon/Norman church with a Georgian ceiling! Unfortunately, the church is not open at present as the building is subsiding due to some idiot in the past allowing the digging of graves into the soak away. The church members have applied for a one hundred thousand pound National Lottery grant which they hope will cover enough work to be carried out to, at least, allow the church to be opened for worship and visitors again.

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Should Airshows Be Banned?

The Shoreham Air Crash is more than just a tragic accident, it's a crime. At least, morally it should be. If a person, of their own accord, attends an event where there is an element of danger and gets killed in an accident at the event then that person has tacitly beforehand accepted the possibility of such an outcome. I am not one of those people who would ban everything that is dangerous. God gave us free will. I think we should respect that and not treat everyone like babies. However, if you are not at the event you have every right to expect to remain unaffected by the event. If it is inherent in a particular type of event that such a risk cannot be ruled out completely then that type of event should be prohibited by law. We have the right to endanger our own lives for our own pleasure but we do not have the right to endanger the lives of others for our own pleasure.

What This Labourer Deserves He Does Not Get

Over the last four years, with the help of my friends, I have built up the Saint Laika ministry to the point at which, in the last week alone, our FACEBOOK page was visited by 17,987 people and liked by 65 people. One of our posts was liked by 1016 people. On top of this the Saint Laika Holy Communion Podcast was downloaded by 577 people.

Quite honestly, even though I say so myself, these are not bad figures for this day and age especially as I'm a bog standard liberal catholic who doesn't promise immense wealth or replacement kidneys to my congregation.

I should be celebrating but, unfortunately, my joy is dampened by the fact that I am having to survive on just four fifths of what I had to live on four years ago (£400 a month rather than £500). The donations to my ministry are my only source of income as my (now far distant in the past) history of depression has led to the Church of England turning its hierarchical back on me (I keep applying for jobs but I am invariably ignored). But rather than applying for welfare I continue to pursue my vocation by working on the internet as a priest and missionary, relying of my friends to support me enough to, at least, pay my internet costs and feed my wife and myself. Unfortunately, "natural wastage" means that I lose supporters almost every month and I am not replacing them, not even in part. I am finding it increasingly difficult to get through each month financially and the stress is making me tetchy to say the least.

Please, if you can do so and do not do so already, please consider making a donation, regular if possible, towards my ministry and do your bit for the propagation of sensible and intelligent Christianity on the internet. Below are two widgets. The first enables you to make a regular monthly donation and the second is for making a one off donation. You do not need your own PayPal account to send your gift.







Thank you for listening to my woes. I know I keep going on about them but they really are worrying me terribly at the moment.

Holy Communion For The Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost

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It is difficult to be different, to stand out from the crowd, to do the right thing when all around do not care what they do as long as they end up getting what they want. Being a Christian is not the easy option. But there is companionship, as well as strength, in numbers especially when you are numbered among those who are followers of Christ. In the service of Holy Communion we are reminded that we are just that, a communion made holy by the spirit of Christ who is with us, here and now and through all eternity.

At Saint Laika's everyone is welcome to take communion and be in communion, with each other and with God. There are no exceptions. If you want to physically partake of communion you will require a small piece of bread and a small amount of drink (preferably made from grapes and containing alcohol). How you view the nature of this part of the service is completely up to you.

CLICK HERE to access the podcast via iTunes.

To stream the service direct from this page without having to use the iTunes' facility, click on the arrow on the left of the widget below.

Join in with us as we worship God by CLICKING HERE for the order of service, credits and details of the music featured. The words in bold type are the ones we say together.

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And Promenade!

Just watched Eric Whitacre conduct his composition,"Deep Field," at this year's Proms (on catch-up). Wow! It certainly does exactly what it says on the tin, as we say round these parts. Okay, Whitacre is not the most original composer in the world ever, but who gives a flying one about that? I mean where has originality taken classical music in the last century? Up its own arse, that's where. I'll take super-massive orchestras and mega-choirs clashing Holst with Pärt and blowing my mind in the process any day of the week, thank you very much.

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Passing Thoughts Of A Mad Priest

So, David Milliband is worried that if Jeremy Corbyn wins the Labour leadership election then Britain will become a one party, tory state for evermore. I assume that this will be instead of the two party, tory state that Britain will become for evermore if one of the two female candidates wins the contest.

Sermon: The Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost 2015

“Jesus said to them... 'my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.'”

The most persistent enemies of true Christianity are the heresies we call gnosticism and docetism. Gnosticism holds that the natural world is composed of two elements, the physical and the spiritual. These are separate elements, and gnostics believe that they are at war with each other. The spiritual is good and the physical is bad. Docetism holds that, because the physical is bad then Jesus must be solely spiritual, his physical nature being merely an illusion. Not only have these two heresies been tenacious they have also been responsible for much discrimination and self-hatred.

Gnosticism has existed both outside the Church and within it, and this situation is still true today. Outside of the Church there were sects of Christian gnostics around at the time the Gospels were written. You can find passages in the Gospels, especially the Gospel of John, which were obviously written in response to gnostic heresy. Saint Iraneus wrote against the heresy in the Second Century, we still have many of his writings. In the third century the Manichaens became very powerful and their elaborate mythology very popular. Their religion was based on the ancient Persian faith of Zoroastrianism that taught that there were two powers, the Lord of Light who represented the spiritual world and the Lord of Darkness who represented the material world. Mani, the founder of the religion, taught that we were prisoners of the material world from which we needed to escape. In the Middle Ages gnosticism reappeared in the form of the Cathars and Bogomils, two, probably related, groups who taught that material and physical pleasures were the distractions of the Devil.

However, the most dangerous forms of gnosticism are those found within the Church. Again these have been around since the beginning. Saint Paul has so many ideas that could be gnostic in his letters that the theologian, Elaine Pagels, was able to write an important book arguing that Paul was, in fact, a gnostic himself. I don’t think she is right, but we should be wary of some of the things he says especially when he is advocating a dualistic view of life and life after death. At the end of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth centuries, Augustine of Hippo was  to enthusiastically denounce the flesh and his ideas had a huge influence on the philosophy of the scholastic schools of the Middle Ages. This has meant that the Roman Catholic Church has embraced to this day certain dualistic doctrines, which can be found in their teachings on sex and celibacy for example. In other denominations of Christianity, gnosticism tends to hide at the extremes, for example in Anglo-Catholicism (where women are often regarded as being dirty, especially during times of menstruation and childbirth) and Evangelicalism (where gay sex is regarded as dirty and unnatural).

So, dualistic philosophies, the belief that the material and the spiritual are separate and opposed to each other, have been with us a long time. But why are such views so dangerous? They are dangerous because they are contrary to our orthodox Christian teaching (the teaching of Christ) about our own nature, the nature of Creation and the nature of the Word made flesh.

Human beings are bodily creatures and were created good as such. God delighted in our bodies and God has promised that our resurrection, like that of Christ, will be a bodily one, our spirits will not leave leave our bodies to become ghosts somewhere. The Kingdom of God will be realised on earth. It will not be in the sky somewhere or on a different plane, in a different dimension. The New Jerusalem will be built here. The earth as created by God was originally good and this intrinsic goodness will be restored. The earth will not be replaced. The divine and the earthly will be as one a state of being that was prefigured by Jesus Christ who was truly God and truly human with no gap between the two natures. God and human were one in Jesus, which, when you think about it logically, has to be the case if salvation for humankind was achieved on the cross. And Jesus did not despise his human nature, he embraced it, because it was good, not sordid or evil. The Father saw that it was good.

The material world and the spiritual world are so closely entwined that they can be understood as one entity. That is why God can talk to us through the sacraments. In the sacraments physical reality and spiritual reality are as one. We may be part of a physical ritual whilst understanding that a spiritual event is taking place. For example in a christening we wash the babies head with water, but this washing with water, although very much a reality in the physical sense is also an iconic action through which we glimpse the spiritual washing away of human sin achieved by Christ on the cross.

Today’s Gospel reading is about the greatest of all the sacraments, the sacrament of the Eucharist. The evangelist, John, does not have the story about the institution of the Eucharist in his gospel and, so, many commentators believe that the chapter from which our reading this morning is taken, is John’s equivalent to the Last Supper scene. Certainly, at the time that John was writing, the Church would already be celebrating a primitive Eucharist in their regular worship. John’s readers would have known he was talking about Holy Communion.

In the reading Jesus tells the Jews that they have to eat his body and drink his blood if they want to have eternal life. Now, this sounds grotesque to us, to the Jews it must have sounded completely vile. Bear in mind that they were not even allowed to consume the blood of an animal.

In Leviticus God tells the Israelites, “If anyone of the house of Israel or of the aliens who reside among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood, and will cut that person off from the people.”

Yet Jesus, who was a practicing Jew himself, commands his followers to ignore this injunction in the most extreme way.

Why did Jesus tell his followers to eat his body and drink his blood? Did he really mean us to become cannibals, eaters of human flesh?

Yes he did but, on the other hand, no he didn't.

Jesus is referring to the Eucharist and to understand the sacrament of the Eucharist we have to accept what I was talking about earlier, that the physical and the spiritual are one.

Jesus wants us to be one with him as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one within the Holy Trinity. Such a unity is a unity of natures which is a spiritual reality. In the Holy Trinity the three persons, the three natures, the three actions of the Godhead have been consumed into each other so that they are perfectly one whilst perfectly three. If we are to experience a similar unity with Christ then we must consume Christ's nature, Christ's spirit. But we cannot consume the ephemeral, as we are material we have to consume the material. However, as Christ’s spirit and his body are one, by consuming his body we consume his spirit. The Eucharist is a spiritual event but it is also a physical event with no distance between the spiritual and the physical. The bread and the wine are there to make the action palatable, but the bread and the wine are the body and blood of Christ as Christ himself insisted.

But why do we need the Spirit of Christ within us? Why should we not be like adherents of other faiths with their distant gods?

The theologian, William Barclay, came up with this image. Try to imagine a man surrounded by well-stocked bookcases. Much knowledge is available to him in those books, but as long as they remain on the shelves unread all this array of knowledge is outside him, beyond him. But when he takes a book from the shelves, opens it and reads it, it becomes part of him. It fills his mind and his imagination; some parts fire his heart; others lift his spirits. Thereafter, whether the book is in his hand or on the shelves he is able to feed on it, on its wisdom, knowledge, inspiration.

So it is with Jesus. When we take him into our hearts, when we consume him like an avid bookworm consumes the words in a book, then he becomes part of us forever. When Jesus died on the cross the Father grabbed hold of him and dragged him out of the jaws of death. He was taken beyond death, beyond the cross, to new life, a life where, as his post-resurrection appearances to his disciples prove, the body and the spirit are perfectly one. All who eat and drink of him share this life, this everlasting life. So eat up and drink up. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Meet The New Pup In Town

This is Ellan Vannin Edric (Ed). He chose Mrs MP today and will be joining our pack in just less than four weeks' time. He is from the same breeder as my dog, Quiz, and by International Sheep Dog Society standards he is of royal blood.

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Holy Communion For The Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost

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God is One. God does not tear apart. God's hope is that all his creatures will live, one day, in peace and unity in the kingdom he is preparing for them. It is our foolishness, our failure to live according to the will of God, that keeps us from the togetherness God wills for us. When we come together in the eucharist our communion is made real and holy by the presence of Jesus Christ among us. As we eat the bread and drink the wine, the very body and blood of our Saviour, let us ask him to send the Spirit of wisdom into our lives to guide us towards the singularity of our eternal salvation.

At Saint Laika's everyone is welcome to take communion and be in communion, with each other and with God. There are no exceptions. If you want to physically partake of communion you will require a small piece of bread and a small amount of drink (preferably made from grapes and containing alcohol). How you view the nature of this part of the service is completely up to you.

CLICK HERE to access the podcast via iTunes.

To stream the service direct from this page without having to use the iTunes' facility, click on the arrow on the left of the widget below.

Join in with us as we worship God by CLICKING HERE for the order of service, credits and details of the music featured. The words in bold type are the ones we say together.

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Living With Being Dead Inside

Depression is a weird thing. Bad things happen, you get depressed. Good things happen, you get depressed. It seems to me that the only way to keep the black dog at bay is to avoid anything happening, good or bad. It's difficult to know whether it is the depression that deadens your emotions or whether you learn to deaden your emotions to stop the depression getting in.

My moment of something good happening, the celebrating of holy communion in an actual church, made me feel great for a while. But the nothingness that has followed it, the lack of any further contact from the diocese and any indication of a better future, has resulted in a bad mood getting hold that is far worse than the dull numbness of the limbo I've endured for the last five years. I am left with the question that haunts all who suffer from the unforgivable disease of mental illness - is a moment's happiness ever worth the soul-mangling disappointment that inevitably follows?

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