Reflections and Prayers

Eighth Sunday after Trinity-30th July, 2023

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52


Grace and peace to you today and always.

My thanks to Rev’d David Scott for his reflection this week.


August- Travel and Tears!

I remember going to Gatwick to meet some family members who had been abroad at a wedding. As the folk poured out into the arrivals  lounge, a woman was sobbing as she clutched the arm of her friend, with whom she had presumably been on holiday. ‘I’m sorry, she sniffed. I just get so attached to my holidays.’

For many people, the summer is a time they look forward to eagerly each year, especially for that week or two spent somewhere far away. On arrival home, deep feelings of regret and sadness sweep over them that the longed-for time is now over. For some, the fifty weeks surrounding the next holiday begin again. I think it’s easy to identify with these powerful emotions: the opportunity to leave everything behind, to ‘escape’ to new scenes, sunshine, fun and relaxation, but when feelings distort into over-investment into this little island of time away they cast a shadow over the rest of the year.

 It is never healthy to ‘wish away’ our time, or to feverishly plan and plan and plan for a short time away when most of our lives are spent at ‘home’.


Holidays are wonderful (not everyone can afford to go away and some people dislike holidays so choose not to go away), but we should try to see our usual life pattern as a daily opportunity to enjoy the best of life as much as we can: take a few minutes out each day to do something you love to do; book in a morning or evening with a good friend to have quality time with them; find out what’s in your local area and make new discoveries about where you live; try new cuisines now and then by cooking a meal from a culture or country you love or have never been to-the fragrance of certain spices and seasonings can fill the kitchen with the scents of far-off lands.

If you are going away this summer I hope you have a lovely time, but I also pray that you will be pleased to return home.



Another quick reminder of the change to our worship pattern in August:

Sundays and Wednesdays Eucharist as usual, but there is no:

Wednesday Morning Prayer

Night Prayer



Readings for the Week:

Monday 31st July Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) Exodus 32:15-24,30-34 Psalm 106:19-23 Matthew 13;31-35 Tuesday Exodus 33:7-11, 34:5-9,28 Ps 103:8-12 Matthew 13:36-43 Wednesday Exodus 34:29-end Ps 99 Matthew 13:44-46 Thursday Exodus 40:16-21,34-end Ps 84:1-6 Matthew 13:47-53 Friday Jean-Baptiste Vianney, Spiritual Guide Leviticus 23:1,4-11,15-16,27,34-37 Ps 81:1-8 Matthew 13:54-end Saturday Oswald, Martyr 1 Peter 4:12-end Ps 144:1-5 John 16:29-end




For those affected by the war in Ukraine

For the promotion of women’s football and other sports

For those on holiday


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of Central America


For those who have died recently, and those whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory.

This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Parable after parable after…you get the drift. Matthew in his gospel wrote like that – a group of miracles, a group of parables, e.g. The Sermon on the Mount – a collection of the teachings of Jesus, 3 chapters in fact. We are in a parable journey over three Sundays including this one, through some gems that came from the Master’s mouth i.e. the parable of the sower, the parable of the weeds, the parable of the mustard seed, the parable of yeast, of treasure in a field, of a pearl of great price and the parable of the net. What inspired teaching!

The Mustard Seed and Yeast are about growth. The Treasure in a Field and the Pearl of Great Price are about values. The Weeds and the Net are about the Last Judgement.


GROWTH: The Good News is that, just like a seed in the ground and just like a piece of yeast in dough, the Kingdom of God is destined to grow – inevitably and most certainly. There is a steady number of people entering into the church, sometimes in large numbers as at Pentecost and similar revivals down the ages and sometimes just a steady flow of new members. There can be decline as well for a time like now in the secular age when secular values reign supreme and when God is relegated to a mythical belief. But revival will come. It always doess and even before it, the faith and love of Christians in Britain and Europe will continue to draw people into the Kingdom.


VALUES: The treasure in a field and the pearl of great price. There is one marked difference in the two. In the first, the treasure is discovered by accident and when the man realised its value and went all out to own it. In the other, the merchant was dealing in pearls and chanced on one of great value causing him to sell all he had so as to buy said pearl. People should ask themselves a very important question, i.e. what do I see as my greatest treasure, the thing I cannot live without? What are my aims? Winning the lottery, owning my own business, being promoted to top positions, ambitions for my family, owning a nice country house surrounded by peaceful countryside, being a “miwwionaire” like a certain comedian or whatever? These are not wrong necessarily but none of these should be THE treasure, i.e. aspiring to life with God for ever. What on earth, limited to under 100 years, compares with eternal joy, life with God for ever? Make sure you have that treasure in the field of your life and that you OWN IT.



JUDGEMENT: The parable of the net and of the weeds remind us about the final things of our lives. The weeds get separated from the intended crop and the weeds are burned. The good fish from the catch are kept, the useless ones are thrown away. The ideas of the final judgement and hell are often downplayed today. Some believe that there is no such place as hell – it’s nice to think so. Even Archbishop Tutu is said to have believed that EVERYONE goes to Heaven because God is too loving to reject anyone. (“Welcome, Adolph, we’ve been missing you”). That belief does cast aside a considerable portion of Jesus’ teaching although one commentator said that for every parable about judgement He tells 5 about joy, abundance and uncounted treasure. Instead of scaring the hell out of people, He encouraged people to see Heaven close at hand. However, as one commentator said: If there is no hell, even if we just see it as separation from God instead of literal fire and brimstone, then we have to ask: What is salvation? From what are we needing to be saved?


The word “LISTEN” is used 15 times in this chapter and the word “UNDERSTAND” 6 times.


Rev’d David Scott


Sixth Sunday after Trinity-16th July, 2023

Matthew 13:1-9,18-23; Romans 8:1-11

Peace and every greeting to you in the Name of the One who pours love into our hearts.

My thanks this week to Peter for his reflection.


End of Term!

For many schools, the Summer Term comes to an end this week. In my role as a school governor locally, I know how tough this last year has been for teachers; since Covid I don’t think we have had a ‘normal’ school year what with one sort of disruption after another, but also the ongoing reverberations of the school closures during the pandemic are still making themselves felt: teachers at primary and secondary level are still working hard to establish routines and expectations with a generation of children who had their education disrupted seriously. Attendance at school has taken quite a hit nationally as some young people struggle to recover the resilience needed to regularly attend as a matter of course. Sadly, some teachers have found the pressures of the job too much: over the past year, 40,000 teachers have left the profession before the age of retirement- an eye-watering number, and teacher training courses have gaps for  the first time in years. This means that schools are struggling to recruit and retain teachers. People sometimes cynically joke that ‘teachers will have to come back from their six week holiday to go on strike’ but the reality is that many teachers look at what their non-teacher friends are doing and find them working flexible hours with better holiday options and much higher pay. This leaves many saying, ‘so why on earth would you be a teacher?’ Well, I counter that it is a vital profession. Many of society’s agencies of social cohesion, including health care, the police, social workers and community charities are at a low ebb-schools are increasingly expected to pick up the slack and provide more and more care for young people and their families; we need schools more than ever before (and school governors, by the way!), so I encourage you to pray for all our local teachers as they look to a well-earned break.


Readings for the Week

Monday 17th July Exodus 1:8-14,22 Psalm 124 Matthew 10:34-11:1 Tuesday Exodus 2:1-15 Ps 69:1-2,31-end Matthew 11:20-24 Wednesday Gregory and Macrina, Teachers of the Faith 1 Cor 2:-13 Ps 27:8-10,13-17 John 17:6,18-24 Thursday Margaret of Antioch, Martyr Exodus 3:13-20 Ps 105:1,2,23 Matthew 11: 28-end Friday Exodus 11:10-12:14 Ps 116:10-end Matthew 12:1-8 Saturday Mary Magdelene 2 Cor 5:14-17 Ps 42:1-10 John 20:1-2,11-18



For General Synod

For an end to deforestation

For our Deanery


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of Canada


For those who have died recently, and those whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory.

This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael

A Reflection on Romans 8:1-11

The book of Romans may not be every one’s proverbial cup of tea, but it really ought to be. It is in the first eight chapters that we find a formal exposition of the Gospel without which all people will be condemned to separation from God. ‘The righteous by faith shall live’ is its theme-text. Paul’s message is that there is nothing that anyone can do to achieve his/her salvation for it is God’s gift-if it is received-made possible only by the death and resurrection of Jesus. Perhaps Romans is not tasteful because it so vividly depicts humanity’s sinful condition. Indeed, Paul’s descriptions of the depravities of human nature are deeply unsettling reading, particularly when a person can see his or her sins listed, but perhaps that is a good sign, for disquiet over sin comes not from a prideful heart, but from a conscience that is alive, quickened by the Holy Spirit who is the subject of this chosen reading today.

During last Sunday’s sermon, Father Michael spoke about Paul’s despair, as described in Romans 7, over the continuing ability of his sinful nature to cause him to do that which he knew he ought not to do and to omit to do that which he knew he ought to do: sins of commission and omission if you like. For any Christian who is following Jesus, to realise that his or her propensity to sin has not gone away, but lives on, that temptation can at times feel overwhelming and that old patterns of wrong-doing reassert themselves after going into abeyance due to conversion, is enough to question whether s/he is redeemed at all. But there is very good news and it comes in chapter eight’s assurance that it is the Holy Spirit that makes believers alive.

It is often forgotten, or not known just how radically challenging Christianity was and is to some aspects of the Jewish faith of which it is the fulfilment. Although Jesus is the completion of the Old Testament’s law and prophecy, he was not the Messiah his generation were anticipating. Rather than a victorious military leader, Jesus was God’s sacrificial lamb. Instead of rising from the dead in the Jewish eschaton, Jesus rose from the dead three days after his death and burial. In terms of the Holy Spirit, whose sanctifying work is the subject of this reading, Judaism taught and continues to teach that the Spirit has left the earth and will return when the Messiah establishes his everlasting kingdom. The Church knew and knows that the Spirit of God was poured out at Pentecost and lives inside every believer whose body is the temple of the Spirit. It is in the outpouring of the Spirit that is seen the anticipation of the life and power of God’s kingdom which has come, but not in it fullness.

Romans 8 crowns the first half of the epistle and verses 1-11 present the solution to humanity’s greatest problem, which is sin. If Jesus’ death and resurrection pay the price of sin and assure believers that they will rise to everlasting life, it is life through the Holy Spirit expounded by these verses which is the antidote to everyone’s sinful nature. The solution of 8:1-11 to the despair over sin of chapter seven is the direct, symmetrical and total solution to it, summed up by the concluding discourse marker ‘therefore’ that overrides the somewhat artificial chapter division by linking 8:1 to 7:25. Paul’s assertion combined in these two verses is this: although in my mind I am a slave of God’s law, I am in my old nature a slave to the law of sin; nevertheless (therefore), none who are in Jesus is condemned.

It is important to understand what Paul means when he refers to God’s law, the law of sin and death and the law of the Spirit. The law is a body of commands to do certain things judged to be good and to avoid certain things judged to be wrong. Verse two does not refer to God’s law, but chapter seven does and so does 8:3, 4. It is an essential part of Paul’s analysis of the power of sin and the greater power of God’s Spirit. God’s law is the Torah which is found in the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. This law, of course, is good, but with regards to sinners, it has limitations. It can identify right and wrong, but humans, because of their sinful nature (which Paul refers to as the ‘flesh’ and which is not to be confused with the human body), will transgress the law and bring themselves under God’s judgement (v. 3). It is this propensity to sin that Paul calls the law of sin and death. If God’s law possesses penalties and is an appeal to conscience that ensures incomplete compliance with it, the sinful nature also feels like a law that compels us to sin, the consequences of which are physical and spiritual death.

Verse two teaches that what makes possible freedom from the law of sin and death is what has been done ‘through Christ Jesus’. This refers to Jesus’ atoning death for sin. He kept God’s law perfectly, and therefore could take the penalty sin deserves (v. 3), for if he had sinned, he could only have paid the price of his sin, not anyone else’s. Now that believers are declared innocent and righteous by God, they are now able to live according to the Spirit (v. 4). What does that mean?

It means that believers no longer live their lives dominated by their impulse to do wrong, but because God’s Spirit inhabits them, they are focused on doing what the Spirit desires, which is to do God’s will in all circumstances and be Christ-like as mediated by their personalities. It is the law of the Spirit that exhorts believers to do what is good and gives them the power to resist the law of sin’s temptation. Verse six assures that a mind set on what the Spirit desires is charactered by life and peace. The Spirit-filled believer lives authentically for it is his/her true nature that flourishes rather than the sin-nature. There is a sense of peace too, for the believer lives in peace with God and the fear of judgement has gone.

Verses seven and eight issue a warning: the mind that is submitted to fleshly or sinful desires makes that person an enemy of God and one who cannot please God. Of course, being a Christian does not mean, as I have already stated above, that temptation ceases and wrong-doing disappears. No Christian will be perfect in this life. However, the desire to please God will characterise the believer and over a lifetime, s/he will notice that the power of sin will weaken and the impulse towards holiness will augment.

Verses nine, ten and eleven promise excellent things. Verse nine states that those who do not have Jesus’ Spirit do not belong to Jesus, therefore those who have His Spirit do. Believers age, grow weaker and die, yet according to verse ten, their everlasting life has already begun. Verse eleven demonstrates how important human bodies are to Paul’s theology. Bodies are God’s creation and therefore the bodies of the redeemed, who have the Spirit of Christ, will be resurrected. Embodiment is God’s gift to humanity, not a curse as the Platonists and Gnostics preached.

In summary then, if Jesus’ death has liberated believers from sin’s penalty, which is separation from God, it is the Holy Spirit which empowers believers’ minds to be set on doing what the Spirit desires and not what the sinful nature desires. Those who have God’s Spirit, though they die, will be resurrected to everlasting life. This is the conclusion of Romans 1-8. What is there not to like?

Dr Peter Harris






Bible Sunday-23rd October, 2022

Luke 4:16-24


Blessings and peace to you in the name of the Lord, who caused all Scriptures to be written. My thanks to Mavis for her reflection this week.


Bible Sunday

Some years ago, the Church of Scotland set about reviving its liturgies and embarked on a period of research into what other denominations ‘did’ in worship. One of the things that struck the working group who undertook this research was the carrying-in of the Bible at the entrance of ministers in Eastern Orthodox worship. Now, in some Church of Scotland services, the Bible is carried in at the start of the service. This performs two functions for that Church’s worship- on the one hand, as a Presbyterian church, the Bible is absolutely at the heart of everything they do, and to physically ‘elevate’ the Bible makes a clear statement to those gathered for worship. Secondly, it speaks of a need to include traditional elements in worship, such as procession, which create an atmosphere of reverence, dignity and expectation.

At St Aidan’s on Bible Sunday, we process with the Bible, using the large edition we have, in line with every Anglican church in England. The reasons for doing this mirror those of the Orthodox and Scottish Kirk- the importance and centrality of the Bible, and a sense of event and importance as worship begins.


Bible Study

From time to time we hold Bible Study courses here at St Aidan’s and it is probably time to hold another- I am looking at Advent, with sessions taking place in church following the Wednesday morning Eucharist. For those unable to make that, I usually do an online course via Zoom in the evening. More details to follow on the content, but if you would be interested in attending, please email me (details below) or speak to me at church making clear whether you would attend in person or online. 


Black History Association Thanksgiving Service

Today at 3pm we are happily hosting this year’s Thanksgiving service held by the Kent branch of the Black History Association. The Association seeks to improve opportunities for people from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, particularly young people. All donations made will go to this work.

The service is always joyful and vibrant, and anyone can come. The mayor of Gravesham, Cllr Peter Scollard will be attending. There is a meal afterwards in the hall.


Readings for the Week

Monday 24th October Ephesians 4:32:5-8 Psalm 1 Luke 13:10-17 Tuesday Crispin and Crispinian, Martyrs Ephesians 5:21-end Ps 128 Luke 13:18-21 Wednesday Cedd, Abbot. 2 Samuel 23:1-5 Ps 21:1-7,13 John 18:33-37 Thursday Ephesians 6:10-20 Ps 144:1-2,9-11 Luke 13:31-end Friday Simon and Jude, Apostles Isaiah 28:14-16 Ps 119:89-96 John 15:17-27 Saturday James Harrington, Martyr Isaiah 43:1-7 Ps 124 Matthew 10:28-39


Crispin and Crispinian were brothers who were martyred for their faith under Diocletian’s persecution in Rome. Nothing certain is known of their lives, but Shakespeare mentions them in Henry V as part of a speech about courage. Cedd was pupil of our own patron, Aidan.  He was sent by the king to Essex and was eventually made bishop of the East Saxons (from where ‘Essex’ gets its name) and you can still visit the chapel he had built at Bradwell on Sea, one of the oldest stone churches in Britain. Simon and Jude were companions of Christ, among the twelve apostles. James Harrington was a Victorian priest who volunteered for missionary work in Africa. Eventually he grew a reputation for constancy and care of the clergy and was made a bishop. A change of king in the country (now Uganda) doomed Harrington, as the new king was no friend of European missionaries and he was martyred alongside companions in 1885.




For all who promote and encourage reading of the Bible, including the Bible Reading Fellowship and the Gideon’s organisation.

For all Black History Month events this month

For Missionaries.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of the Congo.


For those who have died recently, and those whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Romans 15: 1-6 and Luke 4: 16-24

Today, the last Sunday after Trinity is often referred to as Bible Sunday – a day in the year when we especially give thought and reflect upon the importance and meaning of the Bible. It usually comes in the form of a book, though for some these days it may be online or some other digital form. The special prayer that will be used in many of our churches today is probably one of the best remembered in the whole year and I think perhaps it will be a good base upon which to begin our reflection.

“Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, help us to hear them, to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them, that through patience and the comfort of your holy word, we may embrace for ever and hold fast the hope of eternal life, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

We are so fortunate, aren’t we, to live at a time and in a country where we can read our Bible in translations which we can understand, and without fear of anti-Christian authorities hounding us out of our homes. I have just counted nine different translations on the bookshelf here at home. But do we really, I wonder, fully appreciate our Bible – do we really realise how many people even had to die in order that it may be available to us in the English language?

John Wycliffe was one of the pioneers of the translations into English from the original Greek and Latin. When he was alive in the mid thirteen hundreds, people could not follow the services in church – let alone read the Bible – for they were in Latin. Fair enough, maybe, for scholars and the rich who may have had a certain amount of education – but totally incomprehensible to the ordinary people.

Wycliffe began the laborious task of writing out the New Testament by hand – no printing presses in those days. Each copy took about 10 months to complete – amazingly some 170 copies still survive. It was, however, dangerous to possess or even be found reading these new translations – the church vented its bitter hatred on Wycliffe and his followers. Many were arrested and their Bibles burned. Some were themselves burned, with their Bibles around their necks. Wycliffe was declared a heretic and though he died naturally, his body was dug up and burned.

William Tyndale was another early translator of the Bible. About 100 years had passed since Wycliffe and in those intervening years, printing had been invented. There was now scope for producing many hundreds of copies in a fraction of the time. Tyndale went back to the original Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament to make his translation. But the church was still bitterly opposed to an English Bible and England became far too dangerous a place for Tyndale, so he fled to the continent. His enemies were constantly tracking him – on one occasion, he managed to snatch up the precious manuscripts only just in time when the place he kept his papers was set on fire as a result of someone informing on him.

Once the printing was done, New Testaments had somehow to be shipped to England. All kinds of ingenious ways were thought of – wine cases with false bottoms, copies tucked inside bales of cloth, some sympathetic merchants smuggled copies in with their wares. Tyndale had once said that the time would come when a boy who drives the plough in England would know more of the Bible than many priests! His prophecy could be coming true.

Sadly, although copies of Tyndale’s New Testament were arriving thick and fast in England, many were falling into the hands of his opponents and were burned in public places – only one complete copy of his first edition of his New Testament has survived. But undefeated, Tyndale kept moving his hiding place to avoid arrest. At last his enemies found him when he was betrayed in Antwerp by a priest he had befriended. After months of torture in prison he was condemned to death by strangulation. But in spite of seeming failure, his dying prayer was answered. He prayed “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes” and when the first complete Bible was printed in England, it had Henry VIII’s blessing.

So, as we have seen, despite tremendous opposition, copies of the Bible in the English language were becoming available – though not easily for everyone. Many of us will be aware of the struggle that young Mary Jones had back in the 1780’s when she wanted a copy in her Welsh language – doing jobs to raise the money and then walking miles across the mountains to Bala in order to obtain her precious book. It was Mary’s struggle which gave inspiration to found the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804. Today the need for copies of the scriptures is as great as ever, and grows every year as more people learn to read and write. More people become Christian and need copies of the Bible in their own language

As well as having so many different versions of the Bible in our own tongue, we are also very fortunate to have help in understanding the more difficult passages. Various study Bibles, concordances and Bible reading notes are readily available, giving insights and ideas that we may not have previously thought about. All help us – in the words of the prayer I used at the beginning of these reflections – to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the words of our precious Holy Scriptures.

As is so often the case when things in everyday use are now easily available for us, we tend to give no thought as to what happened in the past to allow this to be so. I reckon this is certainly the case so far as our Bible is concerned – so here we must give thanks to God for all those who gave their lives so that we may have translations that we can readily understand. But we must also realise that still today the Bible is not available to all who so desperately want a copy – those who live in countries where to confess a Christian faith is forbidden. We must regularly remember them in our prayers and give thanks for the work of the Barnabas Trust and other charities which support them.

So on this Bible Sunday, let us give thanks to God for the insights it gives us – for its inspiring and challenging stories: for the people of faith and courage who have translated it for us. But Lord, we confess that so often we do not always make the time to read it – do not make the effort to find its meaning for us today. Forgive our failures Lord. We pray that the Bible will be a lamp to our feet, a light to our path, inspiring our words and deeds to bring your love and your care to those we meet day by day.


Mavis Prater – Reader Emeritus


Vicar-The Rev’d Michael Payne 01474 352500/

Churchwarden- Dennis Ashurst 01474 567300

Anna Chaplain- (ministry with the elderly) Sylvia Munns- 01474 356941

Lay Minister- (Preaching, study and faith) Dr Peter Harris-

Reader Emeritus- (also distribution of these reflections) Mavis Prater 01474 812330

Sunday School- Ann Ashurst 01474 567300, Amy Payne

Parish Safeguarding Officer-01474 352230/




Our Services

Sunday-10am Parish Eucharist. 1st Sunday: All Age. 3rd: Sunday School. 5th: Healing and Wholeness (with laying-on of hands and anointing)

Wednesday-8.30am Morning Prayer. 9.30 am Short said Eucharist

Friday- 9.00am Holy Rosary (first Friday of the month)


Online worship- our Sunday service is live streamed on Facebook (

Also on Facebook: Sunday-Wednesday 8pm Night Prayer



Our Services

Sunday-10am Parish Eucharist. 1st Sunday: All Age. 3rd: Sunday School. 5th: Healing and Wholeness (with laying-on of hands and anointing)

Wednesday-8.30am Morning Prayer. 9.30 am Short said Eucharist

Friday- 9.00am Holy Rosary (first Friday of the month)


Online worship- our Sunday service is live streamed on Facebook (

Also on Facebook: Sunday-Wednesday 8pm Night Prayer



First Sunday after Trinity- 19th June, 2022

Luke 8:26-39


Grace and Peace to you in the name of the Holy Trinity.


My thanks to Peter Harris for his reflection this week.


Fathers’ Day

Although Fathers’ Day has no religious roots-unlike Mothering Sunday-there is no reason for Christians to avoid marking the day, after all, last week we celebrated God as ‘Father’ so perhaps after all today does have Christian connotations!

I always make a point of mentioning ‘father figures’ (just as I did on Mothering Sunday with mother figures); there are two reasons for this. One is that society is the way it is and some children do not know their father, or we might think of grown-up children who have become estranged from their father for all sorts of reasons. In these situations, sometimes another man becomes a source of love, care, guidance and strength; it might be a grandfather, even an older sibling, a relative or a friend of the family; in other cases, the person may not even be male, but may still exhibit the care one might expect from a father.

The other reason to mention father figures is the example of St Joseph, who cared for the child Jesus and brought him up as his own son with nothing but love, gentleness and humility. So I invite you to give thanks today for all those who care for children in this way, and indeed for our own fathers today.

 If you are a father of any kind, I hope you get to put your feet up today!

Readings for the Week

Monday 20th June 2 Kings 17:5-8, 13-15,18, Psalm 60:1-5,11-end, Matthew 7:1-5 Tuesday 2 Kings 19: 9-11,14-21,31-36, Ps 48:1-2,8-end Wednesday Alban, First Martyr of Britain 2 Timothy 2:3-13, Ps 68:3-8, John 12:24-26 Thursday Etheldreda, Abbess of Ely Acts 4:32-35, Ps 34:1-8, Matthew 25:1-13 Friday Numbers 27:15-end Ps 122, Luke 4:16-21 Saturday Lamentation 2:2,10-14,18-19 Ps 74:1-3,21-end, Matthew 8:5-17.


St Alban was a Romano-British pagan living in what is now St Alban’s in Hertfordshire, around the AD 200s. He is said to have sheltered a Christian priest who was fleeing persecution. Over time Alban got to know the priest and was so struck by his way of life that he became Christian. When soldiers burst in Alban pretended to be the priest, was arrested and executed (the priest was also martyred at a later date).

Etheldreda was a Christian Anglo Saxon princess in East Anglia in the 7th Century. She became a nun and was based at Coldingham for some years until she became abbess of a monastery for both monks and nuns at Ely. The present cathedral of Ely is on the site of her monastery. Etheldreda was an outstanding example of a woman leading a Christian community during a time of great change, with grace and strength.


Morning Prayers

I have been thinking for some time that the chance to pray in the morning should be available. Looking at my various commitments across the week I know that it would be hard at present to open St Aidan’s each morning, but could manage Wednesdays (see below). I am also looking at ways in which we can benefit from our membership of the East Gravesend Group of churches. To that end, I am suggesting that we join Christ Church, Milton (the church near Echo Square) for morning prayer. There are two ways to do this- in person, at 8.30 am. Enter through the smaller door to the right of the main entrance. Currently we pray in the St Faith chapel, which is the chapel past the main altar. Cross the nave and you will fund us there, on the right. Alternatively, the prayers are live streamed on Zoom ( use this address or go to the ‘Coming Soon’ section of the Christ Church website

Morning Prayer happens Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and is led by the vicar, Rev’d Andrew Davey. I usually attend in person on Tuesdays and on Zoom on other days when I can.


Morning Prayer will happen in St Aidan’s on Wednesday mornings at 8.30am, ending by 9am. The Eucharist follows at 9.30 for anyone who would like to stay.

So, for ease of reference, the week would be:


Tue-Christ Church

Wed-St Aidan’s

Thu-Christ Church

Fri-Christ Church


Why not give it a try? Come on any days you can manage. We Use Common Worship morning prayer. If you have a smartphone and use apps, there is a Daily Prayer app from the Church of England which has everything you need to follow the service each day. Alternatively, there are some spare copies of the book in church.



For the Bible Reading Fellowship, and their resources and activities with fathers.

For those exploring a vocation to the religious life (monk, friar or nun), and for the Anglican Sisters at West Malling

For our neighbours and colleagues.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan.


For those who have died recently, and those whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year.

May they rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Reflections on Galatians 3:23-end.

Before I begin, may I thank those people who were kind enough to give me very positive feedback on my sermon on the Trinity last Sunday. You have been very kind and encouraging as I seek to glorify God through my teaching. My prayer is that this reflection will be just as edifying to you all and that God will take all the credit as he so thoroughly deserves to do.

This week’s choice of text is Galatians 3:23-end. Yes, more doctrine for you! And in exploring this section of a fascinating epistle, we are continuing to honour the truth and therefore love God with our minds, who is the truth.

Some background knowledge to the Epistle is important in understanding its theology and how this can be applied to our lives. The Galatians were Gentile converts to Christianity living in the territory of Asia Minor called Galatia. They were the fruit of Paul’s mission work. However, after Paul’s last visit to them (Acts 18:23), itinerant Jewish-Christian missionaries had come to Galatia to ‘correct’ Paul’s teachings and had won the Galatians over. These false missionaries had stated that if the Gentiles were to be saved, they had to become members of the Jewish people and for male Gentiles, circumcision was necessary as a sign of that membership. Additionally, Jewish calendar observance was required if Gentiles converts were to be ‘full’ Christians and receive the blessings as sons of Abraham (Galatians 4:10). The Epistle to the Galatians is Paul’s refutation of this false teaching. He performs this in two broad ways:


He defends his preaching by declaring that he did not receive it from a human source but from Christ by revelation. Therefore, his apostolate is genuine (1:13-2:21).

He assures the Galatians that a person is justified before God by faith, not through circumcision, the observation of religious festivals and righteous deeds according to the Jewish law (3:1-5:12). In explicating this, Paul, through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, is providing teaching that supplements what he teaches in his Epistle to the Romans: that salvation is not the result of an accumulation of good works that outweigh the bad in a person’s life, but is the consequence of repentance from sin and belief that Jesus has taken our sins’ punishment. Our verses lie within this second section of the Epistle.

In 3:23 and 24, Paul describes the purpose of the Jewish law. It was that which governed the Jews’ behaviour severely with the threat of harsh penalties if the law was not observed strictly. The law made it clear to the Jewish people (and all peoples) that they were sinners because they could not keep the law perfectly and therefore was intended to convince them of their need for a Saviour who would provide salvation by another means (2:19-22). Moreover, it was the law that obliged the Jews to make sacrifices of animals which though they did not take away their sins, but merely covered them over, were typical of Christ, and of the great sacrifice which he was to offer up for sin’s expiation. But now, according to verse 25, faith in Christ has been revealed as the means to salvation, and so Jewish and Gentile Christians are no longer under the law’s condemnation, but are justified and reconciled by Christ to God.

Let us pray: Father, thank you that we are considered righteous because Christ died the death we deserve for our sins. Though we are no longer under the control of the law, may our lives

please you through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

What sort of relationship do believers have with God? In verse 26 Paul describes believers as children of God. We are God’s servants indeed. We are also his sheep. But we are also children who enjoy free access and closeness to God. Having accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour, and relying on him alone for justification and salvation, Christians are admitted into this happy relation to God, and are entitled to the privileges it brings. As John’s Gospel explains: God gives believers the power to become sons of God (John 1 12).

Let us pray: Father, thank you that you are our Father and that we have a close relationship with you. We pray for those who do not know you that they too will be rescued from darkness and brought into the light. Amen.

The ritual through which Christians proclaim their faith in Christ is baptism (v. 27). Through this proclamation of faith, the baptism candidate repents of sin, rejects the kingdom of darkness and declares his/her allegiance to Christ. Baptism is now the solemn rite of our admission into the Christian church, as circumcision was for the Jews. Christ appointed baptism to be so in the commission he gave to his apostles (Matt 28 19). When believers are baptised, they are baptised into Christ’s death and resurrection; therefore, it is a sign that we have died to sin and risen again to new life (Rom 6 3, 4) as God’s children, knowing his love and therefore seeking to please him.

Verse 28 was utterly revolutionary within the ancient world when it was written and in any society with its divisive hierarchies. In Paul’s time, it was Roman male citizens who were the dominant group and women and slaves were at the bottom of the social pile. Jewish men considered themselves to be superior to Gentiles because as they were Jews, they were participants in God’s covenant with Abraham. In Christ, none of those distinctions matter any more since all believers are one and equal through their relationship with Christ. A slave who was a Christian was as much a son of God as any Roman aristocrat or Jewish theocrat. It is in this verse (and in many others) where we find the basis for our civilisation’s belief that all people are of equal value and that all people have human rights. Though the fair treatment of all people certainly does not describe reality at all times, it is an ideal to which democratic societies aim and in that they reveal their Christian heritage. Within liturgical Christian traditions, this equality of value before God is revealed through the fact that when people speak the liturgy, they all say the same words, regardless of their status. A millionaire and a pauper stand equally before God.

Let us pray: Father, thank you that though the world often fails to protect people’s rights and dignity, in Christ we are equally loved and valued by you. Amen.

How then is it possible, as verse twenty-nine teaches, that Christians are the offspring of Abraham? Paul’s logic is as follows: if Christians are Christ’s by reason of regeneration in baptism, and if Christ is Abraham’s seed (or descendant), it follows of necessity that believers who are the body of Christ are also the seed of Abraham and destined to be uncountably numerous. Herein lies a powerful reason why Christians must never be anti-Semites: they are the spiritual descendants of Abraham, the father of Israel!

In these verses we see the purpose of the law, the means of salvation which are the works of

Christ, the parent-child relationship between God and his people, baptism as a sign of a believer’s entering the body of Christ, the equality of all believers before God and the connection of believers to Abraham through Christ. Paul has packed a lot of theology into a few verses which is typical of his writing style. If anyone is not a believer, these verses are an invitation to be so; they are also compelling reasons to share the Good News with others in the hope that they too will become children of God and live eternally.

Let us pray: help us Father to understand as well as we can these ideas and that they will be lived realities for us. Amen. 

Dr Peter Harris


Day of Pentecost-5th June, 2022

Acts 2:1-21


May we tell of the glory of God, who fulfils the promises of Easter.

Blessings and greetings to you as we celebrate the ‘birth of the Church’ today, at Pentecost.

My thanks to the Rev’d David Scott for his reflection today.


We are also marking the Platinum Jubilee of HM the Queen today, as part of the Jubilee Weekend. 

After what has seemed a couple of years of pretty much constant gloomy news, it is a welcome break to have cause for celebration over these days, and indeed across the year as we ponder with wonderment the length of the Queen’s reign; it is awe-inspiring.


However, there has been much in the news of late that has plunged our government into controversy; beyond that, the pervading ‘Westminster culture’ has also made the news for all the wrong reasons, with sexism and boorishness given free reign. We would be naive to think that this has only been happening very recently; it seems that this culture is well-rooted in over many decades. It is only because of the fast pace of social media and other methods of spreading news that these things have been exposed so fully. We would like to celebrate the Queen’s reign feeling confident about our country and its leaders, but there has been much that has come to light that has made that difficult. Thankfully, in the Queen, we have an example of quiet, Godly duty our politicians would do well to learn from. Let’s pray for the life of our nation as we move through this Jubilee year.


Trinity Sunday

This week we begin the great stretch of the Church’s year which we call ‘ordinary time’. This will take us right through to Advent.  Next Sunday is Trinity Sunday and we will be using the Book of Common Prayer liturgy next and Peter Harris will be our preacher. I have received some positive comments following our first try with the BCP on Sunday a few months ago; if you attend church, do let me know what you think about using the BCP on Sundays  so I get a sense of whether this is something we would like to do from time to time.


Readings for the Week

Monday 6th June 1 Kings 17:1-6, Psalm 121, Matthew 5: 1-12 Tuesday 1 Kings 17:7-16, Ps 4, Matthew 5:13-16 Wednesday 1 Kings 18:20-39, Ps 16:1,6-end, Matthew 5:17-19 Thursday Columba, Abbot and Missionary Isaiah 61:1-3, Ps 34:1-8, Luke 12:32-37 Friday 1 Kings 19:9,11-16, Ps 27:8-16, Matthew 5:27-32 Saturday Barnabas, Apostle Job 29:11-16, Ps 112, John 15:12-17


On Thursday we commemorate St Columba, Abbot of Iona, one of the principal saints in the Celtic Christian tradition. In the parish, we pray for the residents of St Columba’s Close.



For the worldwide Church, for all new Christians, for those exploring vocation to ministry.

For HM the Queen, the Royal Family and our nation’s civic life.

For our parish.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.


For those who have died recently, and those whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory.

 This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, CHAPTER 2: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them”.


“Pentecost” is a word which relates to the Greek for five. “Pentekoste” is the Greek word for 50th. The word “pentagon” refers to a 5-sided well known building. The feast of Pentecost is 50 days after Easter, the Ascension 40 days after Easter. The Festival of Weeks is a Jewish Harvest Festival or the Festival of Firstfruits which, if you think about it, has a strong relationship with the Pentecost Harvest, In Acts 2, we read:

41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three

thousand were added to their number that day.”

Now THAT is a harvest, a harvest produced by the Spirit-filled, Spirit-inspired preaching of St Peter and by the signs that accompanied the gift of the Holy Spirit. Years ago I heard a preacher say that, when Jesus ascended to Heaven, the angel Gabriel asked Jesus how He was going to carry on His work. He replied that He had left 12 men to carry on. “Oh,” said Gabriel, “you mean a crooked tax collector, a bunch of simple fisher men, a terrorist (zealot – hopefully reformed), 2 brothers trying to get top positions in Your Kingdom, the lot who ran away when the soldiers came for you, one who denied you when the crunch came, the bunch that locked themselves away for fear of the authorities, let alone one who betrayed you and did himself in. THAT 12? The preacher didn’t go on to speak about how the coming of the Holy Spirit turned the situation upside down. NO LONGER WAS JESUS RELYING ON A RATHER SHAKY, SOMETIMES SHADY BUNCH OF MEN, BUT RATHER A BUNCH OF MEN, THE NUMBER OF WHICH HAD GROWN TO AROUND 120 PEOPLE, FILLED WITH THE POWER OF GOD AND WHO WERE EMPOWERED TO GO OUT AND SPREAD THE WONDERFUL GOOD NEWS OF THE GOSPEL – FORGIVENESS OF SINS THROUGH FAITH IN THE GRACE OF GOD AND ADOPTION AS GOD’S CHILDREN.

What a phenomenal difference!

The word “COME” occurs in many songs/hymns about the Holy Spirit. I remember my first bishop, Natal’s Bishop Inman, introducing the Confirmation hymn rather tunelessly “Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire” before we joined in with “and lighten with celestial fire”. “Come down, o love divine, seek Thou this soul of mine and visit it with Thine own ardour glowing. O Comforter, draw near; within my heart appear and kindle it, Your holy flame bestowing.” We used to sing a song called “Come, Holy Spirit, live Your life in me that I may love You more and more…..” and “Holy Spirit, come, make my eyes to see, make my ears to hear, make my mouth to speak, make my heart to sing and my hands to reach out and touch

the world with Your love.”

So COME is definitely a part of prayer at Pentecost. Pray for the Holy Spirit to COME more and more into your life, to fill you with the life of the Trinity so that you become an effective instrument of God’s love and healing power. When the Holy Spirit fills you, He magnifies your gifts and adds to them, inspiring you to use your gifts for God, His Church and world. He also develops the “fruit of the Spirit” (the word is singular), in you, fruit such as love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. {Galatians 5/22-23} Wouldn’t we be wonderful people if we had all those qualities in abundance?



Your Mighty Power within Us Prayer

Holy Spirit, we give all glory to You, for through Your mighty power at work within us, You are able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Help us not to grieve You, dear Spirit, but to submit to You and allow Your power to have full sway in us. We thank You for Your gracious presence dwelling within us. Glory to You in the Church and in Christ Jesus. Amen.


Almighty God,

whose Son Jesus Christ exchanged the glory of a heavenly throne for the form of a servant,

we thank you that you have given Elizabeth our Queen a heart to serve her people,

and have kept her devoted in this service beyond all who were before her:

encourage us by her example to serve one another, and to seek the common good,

until you call us all to reign with Christ in your eternal kingdom.



Rev’d David Scott


First Sunday of Lent-6th March 2022

Luke 4:1-13


Grace and peace to you-may your heart be made new this Lent.


My thanks to the Rev’d David Scott for his reflection this week.



I don’t think anybody expected the invasion of Ukraine to have ground along so slowly and horribly. The world has somehow nurtured a belief that the Russian military is a sort of unstoppable machine, and that despite the bravery of Ukrainians, the assumption was that Kyiv would fall quickly. This has not happened. In the blizzard of accounts, reports, and flashes of grainy footage on the internet, we see a rather ragged Russian army; badly trained, poorly provided for. Social media has shared images of a young Russian soldier who surrendered. Ukrainians gave him tea and food, and someone let him use their camera phone so he could call his mother and let know he was safe. Our modern world is not set up for this kind of old-style European warfare. We haved ‘moved on’ socially,  and if we can say a good thing about the internet, it has allowed people to see much more of what is actually going on, rather than hearing what governments, the military and the media want us to know.

Please continue to pray for Ukraine and for Russia.

If you want to donate items to Ukraine, such as blankets, warm clothes and so on, there are local centres where things may be taken. I do not have great detail at the time of writing but I know that North Kent College on Chalk Road is a donation centre. I believe St John’s primary is also taking donations. I have held off from offering St Aidan’s as a donation point because I was not certain of what and how donations would be managed and I know I don’t have the capacity at present to manage this.  If things become clearer and it seems ‘do-able’ I will let you know. However, a useful contact is one of our local councillors, Aaron Elliott. He is co-ordinating some local efforts and may be emailed on


The attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church is troubling; church authorities seem to be discouraging orthodox Christians in Russia from watching the news and have not referred to the acts of the military as an invasion. The Church and State in Russia have, since Soviet times, enjoyed an uneasy but often intertwined relationship. There is also deep animosity towards the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which broke away from the Russian church a few years ago. The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church is Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. Please pray for him and for all Orthodox Christians in those lands at this time.



Gosh, even writing the lines above I am struck by how much we are ‘carrying’ at the moment, what with Covid and the recent scandals in government. It has been non-stop and I know some folk are plain fed up with the news!

Lent offers us a breath of fresh air and a chance to focus on things that give us life and grace: the love of God in Christ.

We might think, ‘on top of everything else, it’s Lent- I am not in the mood for more doom and gloom’, but Lent is not a time of gloom (it is a solemn time, especially in Holy Week, but even this is enlivened with the knowledge of what’s coming at Easter); rather it is about the coming of Christ’s death which became for us the very gate to life.

Remember that Lent means ‘lengthening’ in relation to the day- we are getting more light. This is significant for our wellbeing and our spiritual health as it gives us a foretaste of the greater Light to come- Christ’s victory over death and darkness. So as we look out at our darkened world, know that the forces of darkness are already defeated; the current troubles are but passing shadows, fleeing from Christ’s glory. May we each spread that Light further each day.


Readings for the Week

Monday 7th March Perpetua, Felicity and companions, Martyrs Revelation 12:10-12a, Psalm 54:1-4,6 Matthew 24:9-13 Tuesday Felix, Bishop Ezekiel 34:11-16, Ps 111:1-4,9-10 Matthew 5:10-12 Wednesday Jonah 3, Ps 51: 5, 17-18 Luke 11:29-32 Thursday Esther 14:1-5, 12-14 Ps 138, Matthew 7:7-12 Friday Ezekiel 18:21-28, Ps 130, Matthew 5:20-26 Saturday Deuteronomy 26: 16-end, Ps 119:1-8, Matthew 5:43-end



For all Christians observing Lent

For those working to safeguard the environment

For newly trained doctors, nurses and healthcare chaplains


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of Korea.


For those who have recently died, and those whose anniversary of death comes at this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Luke 4:1-13

Do you know why you are here, what your purpose is, your calling? If it is a noble calling, has the devil in the past or is he now tempting you away from that calling, perhaps trying to persuade you that you have good reason to be upset, diverted etc.?

E.g. People take me for granted/ never say thank you for what I am doing;

I am taken for granted;

I don’t always feel like doing it. Etc., etc.

Jesus has just come away from His amazing experience in the waters of baptism when the Father affirmed Him as His beloved Son. Fine! But what does that mean? What does this imply for my life? Clearly it will mean a high profile status, popularity and fame.

However, Jesus, wisely guided by the Holy Spirit, went into the wilderness for a very important check-up examining the meaning of His calling.

STONES INTO BREAD: Some interpret this temptation to be guiding Jesus into being a famous social worker. He may well not be popular with the bakeries in the nation but would make Him very popular amongst the general population. FREE BREAD? BRING IT ON! Plus Jesus would become a champion for social justice., a “what about the workers?” type Messiah. Well, when He miraculously fed a huge crowd with bread and fish, it is said that “they wanted to make Him King”. However Jesus, perhaps remembering this temptation in the wilderness, slipped away into the hills. (John 6/15).

HIS RESPONSE: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Deuteronomy 8/3). [Note that Jesus could not google His responses; He did not have a concordance to look it up; He did not carry a pocket Bible in His tunic pocket. No, the Word of God was established in His heart and mind by nearly 30 years of study and meditation. It was the “sword of the Spirit” ready to be used when occasion demanded.]

This reply asserts that the Messiah is not just about everyday physical well-being, but about bringing God’s message of love and challenge to the human race.


A HIGH MOUNTAIN: The devil then takes Jesus to a high mountain and gave Him a vision of a conquering Messiah. Imagine the appeal to the popular Jewish mind. Judah, having been thoroughly bashed by Egypt, Babylonia, Persia, Greece and now Rome, could take control of

its own destiny as Yahweh’s special nation and people and, at last, not only gain independence but itself become a conquering nation led by a charismatic commander. What a blissful picture. Was this what Jesus, as the Messiah was meant to be doing?

HIS RESPONSE: Once again, scripture is the weapon of counter-attack, this time Jesus reminding the devil that the Messiah’s obedience is only to God (Deuteronomy 30/10) and that using the devil’s methods are anathema to the Messiah. A conquering hero? Yes, but not a military one.


THE PINNACLE OF THE TEMPLE: (Note: This temptation is last in Luke’s version whereas in Matthew the last two temptations are the other way round. I wonder if Luke, knowing that the final test would come in Jerusalem, thought it fitting that the final challenge in the desert should be in the same city). Let’s imagine the devil saying: “Think of it! Posters all over the country saying: ‘Come to the temple in Jerusalem! Come and see the amazing Messiah of Judah leap off the high point of the temple and, carried by angels, land safely below. Come and meet Miracle Man who will cure all your ills and give you a happy life!”

How tempting! The miracles would project His fame into the stratosphere. Surely this is what the Messiah should be doing. After all, we will be ailment free in eternity, so this is a wonderful message for the Messiah to bring. The devil even used Jesus’ weapon, scripture, to tempt Him.

HIS RESONSE: Scripture again: “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test”. (Deuteronomy 6/16). Remember the number of times when, after a miracle, He asked the people not to broadcast the event. I believe that was designed to keep the publicity at a reasonable level thus preventing miracles becoming what the Messiah was all about.







O LORD, who for our sake fasted forty days and forty nights: Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may ever obey Your godly motions in righteousness and true holiness, to Your honour and glory, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.


Rev’d David Scott.

Second Sunday before Lent

20th February, 2022

Luke 8: 22-25


Grace and peace to you in the name of the creator of heaven and earth.

My thanks to Peter Harris for his reflection today, on the reading from Genesis.


Ministry Team Update

I am delighted to announce that Sylvia Munns has been commissioned as an Anna Chaplain- she will minister in our parish (and further afield as appropriate), focussing on ministry with and to the elderly. This could mean organising an act of worship in a nursing home, visiting the housebound, arranging events and activities at church for the elderly, and many other things we don’t know about yet!

People often lament that congregations are ageing, but we need to guard against dismissing older people as a worry or a problem, or as being ineffective in getting church work done. This is to do ‘old age’ a great disservice: one’s latter years should be a time of dignity, wisdom and detachment from the business of the world (although not an inactive time); the wealth of wisdom, common sense, experience and humour that older people have to offer the Church and wider community is incalculable. Yes, one’s ‘third age’ can bring with it privations and struggles of mind and body; this can be frustrating, exasperating and isolating. Into these highs and lows of older age comes the ministry of people like Sylvia; please pray for her as she answers God’s call.

Data Protection Consent Forms

Please complete an online GDPR consent form (or paper copy from church)- this allows you to say if you are happy to be contacted by St Aidan’s, and if you consent to photography and filming to capture your image. This is a legal detail that we should observe. The online form can be found in the GDPR section of the St Aidan’s website (, or, if you are reading this reflection online, you can jump to the section you need by clicking here the form you want is the ‘GDPR Consent Form’, there are also other documents in the section which explain how your data is used by us, so you are encouraged to read these first.


Sunday School

I am very grateful to Amy, Ann and Sylvia for helping to deliver Sunday School- currently we offer this once a month. In time we aim to have Sunday School more often but we will need more volunteers who are happy to help, say once a month. Please contact me if you are interested ( 352500). A basic course in safeguarding awareness is required for this role, and can be done online.


Readings for the Week

Monday, 21st February James 3:13-end, Psalm 19:7-end, Mark 9:14-29 Tuesday James 4:1-10, Ps 55:7-9,24 Mark 9:30-37 Wednesday Polycarp, Martyr Revelation 2:8-11, Ps 34:1-9, John 15:1-8 Thursday James 5:1-6, Ps 49:12-20, Mark 9:41-end Friday James 5:9-12, Ps 103:1-4, 8-13 Mark 10:1-12 Saturday James 5:13-end, Ps 141:1-4, Mark 10:13-16



For our Digital Skills courses, the tutors and clients.

For diplomacy in the current tensions in Ukraine

For all chaplains


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East.


For those who have died recently, and whose anniversary of death occurs around this time of year. May they rest in peace. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Reflections on Genesis 2:4b-9, 15-end.


For this week’s cogitations, I have selected the reading from Genesis for this book, particularly the creation narratives, have the reputation of being hard to interpret, particularly in the light of Darwinist evolution. Is it history as 2:4 asserts, or is it myth, or is it something of both? In other words, I like a challenge, and I hope you do too! There is much to evaluate in such a long passage in Scripture, so I shall focus on how Genesis, rather than being scientifically naïve, is in fact scientifically accurate in terms of physics, anthropology and biology and through such accuracy, teaches us much about who humans are, their intended relationship to the natural world and, of course, to God.

Genesis 2:4 asserts what modern physics has only recently come to accept which is that the universe has a beginning. It was the Belgian priest and physicist (yes, you read that rightly) Georges Lemaitre (1894-1966) who introduced into science the idea of the universe having a beginning by hypothesising in 1931 that the universe was the product of the explosion of a primeval atom. Lemaitre died not long after hearing of the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation which was evidence for the universe having a beginning. Before Lemaitre’s hypothesis and the evidence that turned it into a theory, science adhered to the steady-state theory that had been proposed by Aristotle (384-322 BC) which argued for a universe that had always been there.


Fascinatingly, theology also pre-dated science in its view that the universe had come from nothing. This was an idea already being taught by the early church in the third century! Now modern mathematical models tell us this is the case and no one can explain how something, or everything, came from nothing or ex nihilo! Now, if you believe there is an all-powerful Creator, then it is not a problem and that is exactly what Genesis teaches.


Verse seven is a fascinating account of the origin of humans. According to the writer (traditionally seen as Moses, but this is not a unanimous view), God makes the first human from the soil of the ground and breathes life into him. Darwinism would argue that humans are a species that has emerged by chance through the process of random gene mutation and natural selection. This verse, which is so simple to read, yet so nuanced theologically, reveals another story: that humans were intended to be because their Creator chose to make them.

This sense of being created sometimes is felt intuitively. The French, atheist philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), declared not long before his death that he had a strong sense that he was a created being. Sometimes it is the conclusion of reason. Antony Flew, an English, atheist philosopher, decided that there was a Creator on the basis of what science can and cannot tell us about the universe. That is important to emphasise since the popular and totally erroneous view is that science has disproved God and no scientist has religious belief. Our being created for something tallies also with the drive to find purpose for our lives which goes way beyond the aim to survive and pass on our genes which is all that Darwinism says we are for. Humans seek all kinds of purposes which have nothing to do with survival and reproduction and which suggests that we are creations for something, even Someone, and not contingent bundles of matter absurdly living out our lives in a universe that neither knows nor cares about us.

The description of the first human as having been made out of the soil and having life breathed into him by God himself is symbolic of the duality of human nature. We are physical, material

beings who are rooted in the natural world and yet we are spirit who can know and love God. This accounts for our pivotal role as the nexus between God and nature. We live in the world, are sustained by it and eventually our bodies return to the dust. Yet we have a decisive effect on the natural world through our industrial activities and scientific knowledge. We can transcend the universe by thinking about it and describing its regularities with mathematics. We can touch God with our prayers. God the Son has even been able to become one of us. This is something of what it means to be made in the image of God (1:28).

In this narrative lies the origins of the ecological crisis, caused by our failure to supervise and nourish the world in the way that God delegated to us. Adam and Eve were given the task of subduing and having dominion over creation (1:28). In chapter two, the task is more modest: Adam is to tend and keep a part of creation, which was the Garden of Eden (2:15). Only in partnership with Eve was Adam able to supervise the world whereas on his own, the Garden was enough. Yes, they were the first ‘power-couple’!

Those who charge Christianity as the worldview that has led to the exploitation of the earth point to the words ‘subdue’ and ‘dominion’ as the problem’s root. Yet, these words do not necessarily imply exploitation and domination, but can refer to bringing order and good government, things that we all desire to experience. What must also be emphasised is that Adam and Eve were given this governmental role within the context of being described as being made in God’s image (1:28). We are bearers of the divine image to creation if we treat it rationally, morally and lovingly as its Creator does. Therefore, there is no Judaeo-Christian warrant for selfish exploitation of the earth; what is required is loving management. It is our sinfulness, however, that has disrupted our benevolent rule and turned it into despoliation.


We also see in the verses an early example of the biological discipline of taxonomy. Here is what I write in my next book which is about Coronavirus and the pandemic (yes, I know, a cheap plug on my part!):


‘According to Genesis 2:19, God creates all the animals out of the ground and then brings them to Adam to see what he will call them. Whatever Adam calls the animals becomes their names. Adam’s names probably were the consequence of the characteristics that he observed in each creature. This is a kind of biology. Names are also an essential part of the classification of animals which is known as taxonomy. Adam is therefore thinking empirically which is characteristic of scientific methodology.’


What is particularly noteworthy is that God accepts as the official names the names that Adam comes up with. God is encouraging Adam’s intellectual independence used in a righteous way: he is encouraging Adam to be a scientist!

Who would have imagined that all of these ideas can be found in one chapter of Genesis, a text that is relegated to myth by its critics? It is important for us to know these things about Genesis in an age when Christianity and science are seen by many, particularly those influenced by Richard Dawkins and the New Atheists, as enemies. We Christians do not need to be embarrassed by Genesis, but rather ought to see it as God’s words to us, not only about the origins of the world and life, but also about human nature and purpose which are related closely to God.


Let us pray


Thank you for the book of Genesis. Thank you that it reveals so much about the world we live in, about the substance of human nature and the relationship between God, humanity and nature. We pray that we will live as you intended us, bearing rightly the image of God to the rest of creation through our rationality, conscience and love. We look forward to the day when the sons of God are revealed and nature is released from decay and corruption, and we are living in your kingdom forever with you.


Dr Peter Harris


Third Sunday before Lent- 13th February, 2022

Luke 6:17-26


Grace and blessings to you in the name of the Risen One.


In our New Testament reading today (1 Corinthians 15:12-20), Paul writes with vigour on belief in the resurrection of Jesus. He is quite blunt: ‘If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile’. Paul is using a writer’s ‘trick’ here, by presenting a case that shows the opposite of what the reader believes to be right or true. In this way, Paul tests his readers (and hearers) by goading them with a vision of a dead faith, based on something that might not have happened. Except that Christians believe that the resurrection of Jesus did happen. You might say, ‘well, yes, that is the basis of our faith’ and you would be quite right! But it is worth pausing to ask why do Christians believe this to be true? It is after all, an astonishing claim to make; it is against nature, against logic and reason, isn’t it? In our very logical and reason-driven culture, such a belief marks Christians out as counter-cultural (one could argue!). Others may say ‘no; our society and culture is founded on Christian principles- the current secularism is just part of modern life; our faith will endure’ again, you would be right! And yet, the reasons to believe in the resurrection are often given in a soft-focus, dare I say ‘woolly’ way, revolving around things like ‘we trust that it is so’ or ‘the point of having a faith is just that- we have faith that Jesus rose’ and, once again, this is right!!! But there is more going on under the surface of thought and ideas in this area than we might at first think.


I am indebted to Dr Peter Harris for some of what follows, which is loosely taken from the resources Peter prepared for his excellent seminar on ‘the case for the resurrection’ some good time ago now.



We can see that, actually, there is a reasonable case to be made for the resurrection of Jesus as fact and not ‘only’ an article of faith (but I want to say straight away that I believe there is much more to our faith than facts, but they can be helpful!).


Eye witness accounts

Some have tried to say that the resurrection story was fabricated some many decades after the events described, yet we have Paul writing in the AD 50s about people seeing the risen Christ (Paul himself encounters Christ in his own conversion, of course). These are just a few years after the events telling of the end of Jesus’ life and his subsequent resurrection, pointing to a rich tradition of eye-witness accounts which Paul drew on in his writings (and those of Luke, who wrote Acts, where much of this is described) the ‘raw material’ for these writings would have been circulating very soon after Jesus’ life by the time they reached Paul. This straight away makes the resurrection feasible at least. We must already dispense with any idea that the resurrection was ‘probably’ false.


‘Unnecessary’ accounts

Some ancient writers had absolutely no reason to write about the crucifixion and the resurrection- it was unnecessary due to their own point of view which was quite anti-Christian; and yet we find historians like Josephus, who was no friend of the Church (and who could have done with the movement vanishing away), writing about Jesus’ crucifixion; this doesn’t make sense unless there is a genuine reason to believe that the resurrection is plausible, and  Josephus gives his take on Jesus of Nazareth. 

Elsewhere, the gospels attest to the witness of women seeing the risen Jesus. This risked mockery as women in the ancient world were (largely) not listened to in the same way as men (remember how the apostles refuse to believe Mary Magdalene until they see for themselves!). There was no reason to risk imperilling the new faith by releasing apparently serious writings based on the testimony of ‘mere’ women unless there was a deeply-held conviction that these things were true.


Logical conclusions

There is no reason why so many Christians died for their beliefs if they did not believe, beyond doubt, that the resurrection happened. Further, alternative explanations for the resurrection do not hold up to even basic enquiry, including, Jesus only fainted on the cross. He awoke in the tomb, somehow broke out and people thought he had risen to new life; the authorities removed Jesus’ body from the tomb and dumped it in an unmarked grave as a sign of disrespect to the ‘failed king’, people mistook one of Jesus’ followers for Jesus (or even that Jesus had a twin!!) and so on. We come to the conclusion that the explanations which attempt to explain away the resurrection are weaker than the testimony that Jesus died and rose again. In the final analysis, the belief that Jesus did die, was buried and rose to new life is the best explanation among the many available. When we look at the resurrection in this way, we see that the resurrection is based on fact, is feasible and plausible, and indeed is the most convincing explanation behind the New Testament writings we have. This, then, shows how we can take something that at first glance seems shrouded in mystery, that can only be argued for as a point of faith, and actually present it as something convincing, resulting from the analysis of facts and the application of logic.

So when Paul asks you, through the pages of the New Testament, whether you believe in the resurrection, you have logical, reasonable and spiritual and instinctive reasons to say ‘yes!’ Our faith is not futile; it is real. Thanks be to God.


Readings for the Week

Monday 14th February Cyril and Methodius, Missionaries, also, Valentine, Martyr Isaiah 49:1-6 Psalm 24:1-7, Luke 9:1-6 Tuesday Sigfrid, Bishop, also, Thomas Bray, founder of Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) James 1:12-18, Ps 94:12-18, Mark 8:14-21 Wednesday James 1:19-1nd, Ps 15, Mark 8:22-26 Thursday Janani Luwum, martyr 2 Timothy 4:1-8, Ps 119:41, 43-48, John 12:24-32 Friday James 2:14-24,26, Ps 112, Mark 8:34-9:1 Saturday James 3:1-10, Ps 12:1-7, Mark 9:2-13



For Bishop Simon as he continues to provide episcopal oversight in our diocese; for those responsible for appointing a Bishop of Rochester


For all who defend the Christian faith in secular society


For our Sunday School


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of Japan (Nippon Sei Ko Kai)


For those who have died recently and those whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.  


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Fourth Sunday before Lent 

Accession of Queen Elizabeth II

Luke 5:1-11


Grace and peace to you in Christ’s name.

My thanks to the Rev’d David Scott for his reflection this week.


This Sunday marks the Accession of HM the Queen-and in this jubilee year we are encouraged to consider both the length of the monarch’s reign and, by dint of that, the vast changes in the world, in society (and the Church) that she has witnessed.

One of the things that marks out the Church of England as distinctive as a Church within the apostolic tradition is that a layperson is at the head of the Church. In the other churches that identify as catholic and apostolic, the headship is conferred upon a pope, metropolitan, patriarch or archbishop; we can see straight away that there is a different character to a Church headed by a layperson, albeit a monarch- it places the defence and propagation of the faith as we have received it into the people’s care. This is, after all, a defining characteristic of the Reformed church, that all believers- lay and ordained- are part of a priesthood dedicated to serving God in Christ. Naturally, in a ‘day to day’ sense, the oversight of ecclesiastical matters both spiritual, social and legal, is given to General Synod, the Church’s governing body. And whilst the bishops take a lead on many matters of our Church’s life, we should keep in mind that a third of General Synod is made up of lay members. As we give thanks for the Accession today, let’s also be grateful for our Church of England, and the invitation it extends to each of us to join the Queen in the service of Christ each day and in all our communities.


Filming/Live Streaming worship

For a few weeks we have not been live streaming the Sunday Eucharist following some safeguarding training I attended-we need to put in place procedures to allow people to consent to the service being filmed, and very shortly these procedures will be ready for people to follow and we can once again resume live streaming the service which I know is popular with a good number of people. All that will be required is for a simple form to be completed and submitted to church, but further details will follow once I have finalised matters.


Sunday School

Remember that Sunday School takes place on the third Sunday of the month- our next session is 20th February.


Anna Chaplain Commissioning- Sylvia

I am delighted that our ministry team has grown with the addition of Sylvia Munns as an Anna Chaplain (this is a ministry for and with older people). Sylvia will be commissioned by Bishop Simon at Stone St Mary church at 2pm on 15th February. Please do come if you can, to support Sylvia (travel together as much as possible as parking is limited near the church). Refreshments will be served afterwards. The service is being held there because there is another Anna Chaplain to be licensed to that parish and it made sense to go to one place rather than ‘book’ the bishop to come here separately. 


Readings for the Week

Monday 7th February 1 Kings 8:1-7, 9-13, Psalm 132: 1-9, Mark 6:53-end Tuesday 1 Kings 8:22-23,27-30 Ps 84:1-10, Mark 7:1-13 Wednesday 1 Kings 10:1-10, Ps 37:3-6,30-32, Mark 7:14-23 Thursday Scholastica, Abbess, sister of St Benedict 1 Kings 11:4-13, Ps 106:3,35-41, Mark 7:24-30 Friday 1 Kings 11:29-32, 12:19 Ps 81:8-14, Mark 7:31-end Saturday 1 Kings 12:26-32, 13:33-end, Ps 106:6-7, 2–23, Mark 8:1-10



For HM the Queen, in  thanksgiving for her Accession.

Lord, guard and strengthen your servant Elizabeth our Queen,

That she may put her trust in you, and seek your honour and glory.



For the Church of England, our diocese and deanery.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Church of Ireland.


For those who have died recently and those whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


1 Corinthians 15:  Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance……..



Yes, the Good News must indeed be passed on – or die out!


ROMANS 1014  “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”’


How can they believe if they have not heard? 

1 Peter 3/15 says: 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.


Are we prepared for such? In secular England, you probably wouldn’t be asked very often to give the reason as to why you are a Christian, but it says we must always be ready to give an answer about why we believe.  I think we should try and improve on “’Cos I do”.

Understanding our faith is very important for each one of us.  Here is one summary.


Using the THUMB!  When I was a student, I used to travel thought South Africa from University to home by standing at the side of the road and, folding my fingers and waving with my thumb pointing to the road ahead, I would signal to passing cars that I would appreciate being given a lift to ?.  If a car stopped, I was taken all the way or part of the way to my destination.  I didn’t pay for the car, no one asked me to pay for petrol.  I was, in fact, given a FREE LIFT.  This reminds me that HEAVEN IS A FREE GIFT.  IT IS NOT EARNED OR DESERVED.


FINGER NEXT TO THE THUMB – THE POINTING FINGER:  The pointed finger reminds us that when I am pointing a finger at somebody else, I have 3 fingers pointing back at me, reminding me that I myself have failings that need forgiveness as much or more than the person at whom you are pointing.  Romans 3/23 says: “ALL HAVE SINNED AND FALLEN SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD.”


NEXT FINGER: This is the longest finger and it can represent God.  We know that, as John’s epistle tells us that “GOD IS LOVE”.  Yes, God is love and wants us to part of His Family, His Kingdom.  But God is also JUST.  He is a judge and there is condemnation of sin on God’s part.  So how does God bring these two parts of His character together?


THE WEDDING FINGER:  JOHN 3/16: “GOD LOVED THE WORLD SO MUCH THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON SO THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT PERISH BUT WILL HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE.”  Yes, when God sent His Son to teach us about Him and then to die to bring us forgiveness, it shows us that God’s love is able

to overcome His justice when we…….


LITTLE FINGER:  …..truly confess our sins – regularly – God’s love in Jesus Christ accepts us into His Family and makes us His children in His Kingdom.  Hallelujah!

Little old me (little finger) has to trust in the grace and love of God to KNOW that by grace we have been saved through faith, not by works lest we should boast.  No, it is the gift of God’s love to us. (See Ephesians 2/8-9).  Little old me is being saved.


Aha! Paul was questioned something like this: Paul, if you are saved by free grace, then why not sin as much as you like?  Just say sorry to God and get that free forgiveness.  Paul did mention that problem in Romans 6.  Some might say, he said, that the more we sin the more grace we receive and more thanks goes to God.  “Shall we sin in order that grace may abound?”  Much to some people’s disappointment, Paul added “of course not”.  He then went on to remind us that in baptism we died to sin; so how can we go on living in it?  After all, if you receive a wonderful life-changing gift from somebody, don’t you want to love and please the giver?  So it is the same with God’s.  God loves us so much that we should want to please and serve Him and living in His way.  Plus, the more that we feel indebted to God’s grace, the greater will be our thankful response.



Lord, I need Your grace in me, right deep inside me. Show me, Lord, how I can be the sort of person I need to be. Help me to develop the right sort of relationship with all the people in my life. And also Lord, I ask that You would show me the right way to react when things start of get me down and I feel frustrated. Thank You that You really do care about me, and thank You, for I know that in the power of Your Holy Spirit, I can become the person You would want me to be. In Jesus' name, 



just as I am without one plea,

but that thy blood was shed for me,

and that thou bidst me come to thee,

o lamb of god, I come!


Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,

Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;

Because Thy promise I believe,

O Lamb of God, I come!                      (Verses 1 & 5).

David Scott.





St Stephen’s Day- 26th December, 2021

Matthew 23:34-end


Christmas Blessings to you today, and thanksgivings for the life of Stephen, deacon and first martyr of the Church.


My thanks to Mavis for her reflection today.


Naturally, Boxing Day does not fall on a Sunday for several years at a time, and it is always rather a mild shock when it does- it gives the Christmas season an added dimension of liturgy with the addition of dear St Stephen, martyred whilst Saul (latterly St Paul) looked on.

In secular society, today is about sport, fresh air and communal activity after the festivities of Christmas (traditionally anyway, for many it’s having a more relaxed day after the storm of Christmas Day, or a chance to go to the sales!), whilst in the Church, the focus is on the persecuted Church- hardly a cheery theme after the celebrations of the birth of Christ marked yesterday, but nonetheless a necessary one, for the reality of Emmanuel- God with us- is that God is indeed with us here on earth, in all our complexity and stumbling. 

Please pray for the Church today, wherever it suffers, and for those Christians facing death for their witness to Christ.


Readings for the Week

Monday 27th December John, Apostle and Evangelist Exodus 33:7-11, Psalm 117, John 21:19-25 Tuesday The Holy Innocents Jeremiah 31:15-17, Ps 124, Matthew 2:13-18 Wednesday Thomas Beckett, Martyr Hebrews 13:10-16, Ps 54:1-4,6-7, Matthew 10:28-33 Thursday 1 John 2:12-17, Ps 96-7-10, Luke 2:36-40 Friday John Wyclif, Reformer 1 John 2:18-21, Ps 96 1:11-end, John 1:1-18 Saturday Naming and Circumcision of Jesus Numbers 6:22-27, Ps 8, Luke 2:15-21


Please note there is no service this Wednesday (29th). We are back on the 2nd January for Epiphany.



For the persecuted Church

For all deacons, the newly ordained, and for St Stephen’s House theology College, Oxford

For our ministry team


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of Central America.


For those who have died recently and those whose anniversary of death occurs around this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael



Acts 7:55-end and Matthew 23:34-end


Boxing Day got its name when Queen Victoria was on the throne in the 1800’s – not surprisingly it doesn’t have anything to do with the sport of boxing!  The day after Christmas Day was traditionally a day off for servants and a day when they received a special Christmas box from their master.  The servants would then go home and take the Christmas boxes to share with their families.


Churches also played a part in the creation of Boxing Day.  Throughout the year, they would collect money from church-goers and store it in a box which would then be opened on Christmas Day.   The contents were then handed out to the poor the following day – Boxing Day.  Such traditions have basically died out now – however, some people like to make a gift to those who have given them good service throughout the year – may be those who regularly deliver the post or the newspapers, those who collect our refuse – it’s just a thoughtful way of saying ‘thankyou’ to those whose service we can so easily take for granted.


In the Christian calendar, 26th December is dedicated to St Stephen, the first martyr.  He is thought to have been a Greek Jew who converted to Christianity. 


One way God trains his servants is to place them in significant positions where they can use the abilities he has given them to help others – this certainly seems to have been the case for Stephen.  He was an efficient administrator and was one of the seven deacons appointed by the Apostles to relieve them of the routine duties of delivering food to the needy.  Long before violent persecution broke out against the early Christians, many were already becoming socially ostracised.  Jews who accepted Jesus as Messiah were often cut off from their families – as a result they had to depend on each other for support.  The sharing of homes, food and resources became essential – Stephen was chosen to manage this vital work. It is interesting to

see the link between Stephen’s care for the needy and the origins of Boxing Day.


As well as being a good administrator, Stephen was also a very powerful speaker.  His preaching brought him into conflict with those who argued with him, but his logic in responding to them was convincing and they were unable to counter his wisdom and strength of argument.   He was taken before the Sanhedrin and accused of prophesying the destruction of the temple. In his defence, he made a passionate and eloquent speech in which he presented a summary of the Jews’ own history enabling him to categorically show how it all led to the birth of Jesus – the long-expected Messiah.  He pleads that all may hear the good news of Jesus.   This stung his listeners!    Stephen must have known he was speaking his own death sentence!


Scripture tells us that he looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at his right hand.  There was uproar and Stephen was dragged out of the city, where he was stoned to death while he knelt to pray for their forgiveness. His last words show how much like Jesus he had become in such a short time. 


There was, however, one amazing legacy from Stephen’s martyrdom.  His death had a lasting impact on a young man named Saul who witnessed this horrendous episode – Saul (Paul) of Tarsus – who encountered Jesus on the Damascus Road.  He moved from being a violent persecutor of Christians to being one of the greatest champions of the gospel the church has ever known. Stephen’s story can be found in the Acts of the Apostles 6:3 – 8:2.  If you find you have a quiet few minutes after the busy run-up to Christmas, I would urge you to look at it – it makes fascinating reading.


Our gospel reading for today – Matthew 23:34-39 – comes towards the end of Jesus’ life.  It may seem strange to read it at this time, as we have so recently celebrated his birth, but in many ways Jesus’ speech is similar to the speech of Stephen before the Sanhedrin.  Verse 34 certainly resonates with the death of Stephen, so these two

readings are far from being disconnected. Verses 37-39 are a very moving lament for the city of Jerusalem.  Jerusalem held a very special place in the history of Israel as it was founded by David and the temple was there.  Jesus now recalls its appalling rejection of countless prophets down the ages – those who sought to warn its rulers and people of the dangers of ignoring the word of God.  Now, however, its most grievous rejection was at hand – it was about to reject the very Messiah for whom its people had longed and prayed.


Before the words of judgement, there come words of poignant longing.  The image of a hen gathering its chicks under its wings – in a wonderful gesture of maternal care, is a lovely one and can be imagined by most of us.  It is interesting that, at this point, Jesus saw himself in that motherly role of gentle protection – “How often have I desired to gather your children”.    However, the protection he offered was rudely rejected, perhaps because it didn’t come with armies or swords, but with words of peace and love.  It is typical of Jesus that words of love and longing are matched with words of solemn warning.  The consequence of his protection being rejected would be disaster.  The next time that they would see God’s deliverer would be at the coming of the Son of Man in judgement. 


If we want to find the protective wing of God then we need to ‘come in the name of the Lord’ (v. 39).  In other words, commit ourselves to serving him.  “If he is not Lord of all, then he is not Lord at all” runs the old saying.  He will then teach us about how God looks after his sons and daughters, and being God’s only son, he should know!


As I close, let us meditate on the words of a hymn by Timothy Dudley-Smith:  “Safe in the shadow of the Lord, possessed by love divine.  I trust in him, I trust in him and meet his love with mine”.


Mavis Prater – Licensed Reader.


Christ the King- 21st November 2021

Daniel 7:9-10,13-14

John 18:33-37


Grace and peace to you in the name of Christ, ruler of all things.

My thanks to Peter Harris for his thoughtful and absorbing reflection of the reading from Daniel.


Today we welcome the Venerable Andy Wooding-Jones as celebrant and preacher. Andy is the Archdeacon of Rochester and also now a resident of Gravesend Deanery, having very recently moved into the rectory at Greenhithe (the vicar of that parish now lives in Swanscombe).  I know that Andy is looking forward to being with you today.


Christmas Fair

Our fair is nearly here- next Saturday (27th) between 10-1pm. It is shaping up to be a great community event and I hope that many of you that live nearby will come along. We are setting up on Friday evening in the Hall and Scout Hut from 5pm; if you can lend a hand that would be brilliant, and my thanks to those who have been working hard on this event for some time. Please see the News Sheet for items we would still love to have donated (you can view this online here if you are reading this on screen, or by visiting and clicking the ‘About Us’ tab at the top.


Advent and Christmas

Next Sunday is Advent Sunday. We will keep our service of Advent carols and lessons with Holy Communion at the 10am service. A reminder that our Christmas pattern of services is:


19th December, 10am- Nine Lessons and Carols

Christmas Eve: 4pm -Crib and Christingle

11.30pm- Midnight Mass

Christmas Day: 10am- Holy Communion

St Stephen’s Day (Boxing Day), 10am- Holy Communion (BCP).


We will be singing carols outside Tesco on Valley Drive on Christmas Eve at 2pm, raising money for Ellenor hospice- why not join us- it is good fun and local folk love to see and hear us (I think!!)


Readings for the Week

Monday 22nd November Cecilia, Martyr. Daniel 1:1-6,8-20, Psalm 92, Luke 21:1-4 Tuesday Clement, bishop and martyr. Proverbs 15:1-4, Ps 78:1-5,7, Luke 14:7-11 Wednesday Daniel 5:1-6,13-14,16-17,23-28, Ps 110, Luke 21: 12-19 Thursday Catherine of Alexandria Daniel 6:12-end, Ps 125, Luke 21:2028 Friday Daniel 7:2-14, Ps 139, Luke 21:29-33 Saturday Daniel 7:15-27, Ps 145, Luke 21:34-36.



That the reign of Christ be known in our lives more fully, and in the world in all its need.


For migrants risking all to seek a new life, and for an end to the trade in human trafficking.


For Archdeacon Andy and the life of our archdeaconry and deanery.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Church of Bangladesh.


For the repose of the souls of those who have died recently, and whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

Before we begin, let us pray: Lord, help us to understand the obscure texts we shall be considering this week. We trust that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. Amen.


My reflection for this week is on Daniel 7:9, 10, 13, 14. To gain some understanding of this challenging book and these verses that sit within it, we need to consider some historical facts that gave rise to its writing.

The kingdom of Israel that had under Solomon been united and prosperous, even a power of regional importance, divided violently into two kingdoms after his death. Rehoboam, who had succeeded his father Solomon, caused a rebellion through ruling tyrannically and Jeroboam, the rebel leader, took control of the ten Hebrew tribes in the north whereas Rehoboam retained the loyalty of two southern tribes: his own tribe of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin. The northern kingdom was named Israel and the southern was called Judah. Thus divided, the two nations became more vulnerable to the expansionist aims of greater, imperial powers. Never again was either nation able to reach the zenith of Israelite power that had existed under David and Solomon’s rule. Israel was the first to succumb to a foreign state, that of Assyria, which from the mid-eighth century BC had enjoyed great military success and had stretched its borders from the Persian Gulf to the frontiers of Egypt. Around 722 BC Israel suffered the inevitable assault of the Assyrians looking to add more territory to their burgeoning empire. Thousands of Jews were killed or taken into exile and Israel disappeared from the map. Judah continued a precarious independent existence until it too was seized by a new superpower, Babylon, in 586 BC. Jerusalem was sacked and the most able and talented of the Jewish population were taken into exile to serve the Babylonian imperial administration. Daniel was one of those exiles.


Let us pray: Lord, we thank you that we live in a nation that is at peace and for whom there is no fear of being driven into exile. May that always be the case. We look forward to that time when your kingdom will be established and there will be no more wars, conquests, invasions and genocides. Until that time, help us to be generous to those who seek asylum in Britain. Amen.


The book that bears Daniel’s name is regarded as one of the more peculiar and difficult books in the Hebrew canon. There appears to be a broad consensus among scholars about the primary matters of the book but there is much that is enigmatic and beyond present understanding. Chapters one to six present Daniel as a faithful Jew whose trust in God is not corrupted by the fact that he is a senior politician at the court of the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel is therefore a Jewish hero whose example is being held up for later Jews who remained in exile under Persian rule. When thrown to lions for praying to God rather than the new ruler, the Persian emperor Darius the Mede, Daniel trusts in God and is unharmed. Supplementing the theme of Daniel’s heroism are his fellow exiles Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (they were given by Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian names of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego) who refuse to worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar has set up in the plain of Dura and who are thrown into a burning furnace as a punishment and from which God rescues them. Daniel’s counterpart is the patriarch Joseph who, according to Genesis, was enslaved and then imprisoned in Egypt, but who rose to the position of viceroy because, like Daniel, he was very wise and could interpret dreams. Another Jew who distinguished herself in exile was Esther who became the favourite wife of the Persian emperor Ahasuerus (generally believed to be Xerxes I) and whose plea for help to the emperor saved her people from genocide at the hands of Ahasuerus’ favourite minister Haman. Ruth was not a Jew but a Moabite who left her native land after she was widowed to follow her also widowed mother-in-law Naomi as she returns to Israel. Through her humility and piety, Ruth attracts a wealthy Jewish husband called Boaz and  

both she and he can be found in Christ’s genealogy. Ruth too is in a kind of exile, though she made the reverse journey from a land foreign to Jews to live in Israel, and yet she prospered like Daniel.


Let us pray: help us too, Lord, to be faithful to you, your truth and your word in a time of secularisation and moral corruption. Amen. 


The first section of Daniel is therefore concerned to narrate the story of his exile and his fidelity to God during that time. Daniel is not only an interpreter of dreams but also a prophet who has visions which feature in the second section of the book constituted by chapters seven to twelve. Our foci-7:9, 10, 13, 14-are situated within the book’s second section. Here we find a series of visions of the future and the fullest articulation of apocalyptic literature in the Old Testament. The message of this visionary data is the sovereignty of God, a significant feature of divine kingship which is the theme of this week’s set of readings, and God’s ability to intervene decisively in the course of history. The emphasis of these visions is the inbreaking of divine power which is unimpeded by the realities of human power structures and which generates an entirely new beginning for those faithful to God. Such a hopeful message about God’s kingship would later help the Jews living in Israel when they were ruled by the Seleucid king Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) who sought and failed between 167 and 164 BC to expunge the Jewish religion as a threat to his authority. Daniel’s faithfulness to God and his visions of God’s greatness also steeled the resolve of the Jews to remain faithful under Roman occupation and after their nation was dispersed by the Romans in AD 70 as the result of an unsuccessful Jewish rebellion. Today, observant Jews living outside of Israel look to Daniel as their model of devotion to God in the midst of pressures to abandon their faith because of anti-Semitism.

For Christians, Daniel’s example is significant too. Though we live on earth, have national, cultural and ethnic identities, a name, an abode, a personal identity through our family line, our autobiography and occupation, nevertheless, our citizenship is above all in heaven. We are sojourners in this world, even pilgrims travelling through, whose spiritual beliefs and moral values are often at odds with the culture around us. There is the temptation to compromise our convictions such as the belief that Jesus is both God and a man and ethical precepts such as the forgiveness of enemies. Now with the approach of Christmas we may feel the pressure to overspend and overeat to the detriment of our bank balance, our cholesterol levels and our spiritual health rather than turn in awe and witness the incarnation of the divine. The same thing happens at Easter: sometimes strong is the temptation to ignore the grisly death of an innocent man and weird gothic stories of his resurrection without which our faith is useless and instead see it all in terms of chocolate eggs and bunnies.

So how might we understand what Daniel sees in his visions as described in 7:9, 10, 13 and 14? To do so, we need to explore what Daniel saw before he saw what he did in 7:9, 10, 13 and 14, for those are reactions to the previous visions.

In 7:1-8, Daniel sees the four winds set the sea in turmoil, so rousing four lurid beasts from its troubled depths. Within ancient thought, the sea symbolised chaos and many of its creatures were associated with disorder. These beasts represent four kingdoms. The first is like a lion and has been interpreted to be the Babylonian Empire. The second is like a bear and is reckoned to be the Persian Empire. The leopard like beast has been regarded as either Cyrus the Persian emperor or Alexander the Great who from his home nation of Macedonia conquered territory from Greece to India. The fourth beast is the most terrible of all. It has been suggested that this beast represents the Roman Empire but commentators do not agree as to whether this is true. What is clear is that this fourth kingdom’s arrogance breaks beyond divine limits and so

judgement has to be pronounced on it. Until judgement comes, the beast is persecuting the saints, or followers of God, and it is that that cannot be allowed.

At this point, Daniel’s attention is turned from the fourth beast and its horns to the splendour of the heavenly court. How relieved Daniel must be to witness the sublime and ineffable beauty of the divine after observing such hideous beasts symbolising brute human power. There sits one Ancient of Days, venerable, entirely pure and a purging, consuming fire. He is the high, transcendent God who is the judge and slayer of the fourth beast and who takes away the power of the three preceding beasts. Divine sovereignty to raise and bring low nations, kingdoms and empires is affirmed, a power that God continues to exercise today.

Interpretative interest has focused upon the phrase ‘Son of Man’. The juxtaposition of the Ancient of Days with the Son of Man is a promise that the high transcendent God whose sovereignty is completely sure will have dominion and kingship established in the earth through a human agent. Interpretation, however, has struggled to identify who the Son of Man is. Sibley Towner, on the belief that the book of Daniel was written many centuries after the events it describes, interprets the saints who are persecuted by the fourth beast as the Jews suffering under the rule of Antiochus IV and for whom Daniel was written. He interprets the Son of Man not as an individual, but as a collective name for all these persecuted Jews who if faithful will inherit an everlasting dominion, or the kingdom of God.

However, the Christian interpretation is quite different. It is clear that in order to proclaim the kingdom and Jesus is the bringer of that kingdom, the Church has linked Daniel’s vision to a historical moment, the movement of Jesus through whom the kingdom is ‘at hand’ (Mark 1:14, 15). The Son of Man is a person not a people-group. Jesus himself is recorded as referring to himself as the Son of Man when on trial before the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:64) which inculpates him before his judges for they rightly understand that he is claiming to be the divine Son of Man of Daniel’s vision. It is to the Son of Man that everlasting dominion is given over all peoples, nations and languages (Daniel 7:14, 15), a fact that is repeated in the New Testament (see 1 Timothy 1:17).

The importance of Daniel’s vision and Christ’s self-appellation before the Sanhedrin as the Son of Man is a reminder of the humanity of Christ. A son of man is one born as a man. This is a welcome corrective to any excessive attention on Christ’s divinity at the expense of his humanity. Both the human and the divine natures co-exist in Christ which leads to the fascinating realisation that as he expired on the cross, Christ was also upholding the universe by his power!

Christ is many things to us. He describes himself as our brother, our saviour, our friend. He is our shepherd, our mediator, our lord. Yet he is also a king. Even as a baby he attracts the worship of angels, shepherds and wise men. It is through the image of kingship that we see the divinity and humanity of Christ intersect. A king is a title for a human ruler and yet Christ is the King of Kings whose government, unlike those of human sovereigns, will never end (remember Ozymandias?) As we prepare for Christmas, it is this astonishing fact that ought to grip our spiritual imaginations: that God became also a man, living not as a potentate but as a carpenter and a rabbi who was subjected to the death of a slave. It was not the cult of Emperor Augustus as a god that won the Roman Empire but the cult of Jesus as God-the truth. The rest has been our history and is our present and future.



Let us pray: Lord Jesus, there are not enough words to thank you for your incarnation, your death and resurrection. Christmas is always celebrated in the shadows and light of Easter. May  

our lives be testimony to your willingness to set aside the prerogatives of majesty and enter our world. Amen.   


Dr Peter Harris 

Harvest Thanksgiving- 3rd October, 2021

John 7:37-39


Harvest blessings to you in the name of him who created all things.


My thanks to the  Rev’d David Scott for his reflection on Harvest this week.

This year we made our first real effort to grow vegetables in the garden- I know some of you are experienced ‘growers’ and I gather that this year has been a ‘bad’ year for certain fruits and vegetables owing to the amount of rain, and at times lack of sun, that we had this year. Perhaps this just about sums up many people’s feelings about this year- a bit of a ‘wash-out’! Yet there have been many good things, not least being able to worship more freely in church and enjoying an easing of social restrictions in wider society. Yes, the year has been a challenging one, and the longed-for ‘end’  to Covid-19 has never come, leading to an ongoing, misty anxiety which has left people a bit drained and jaded. However, a quick look beyond our shores shows that our life here is not so bad; for most, we enjoy electricity at the touch of a button, clean water on tap, free education and health care, an extremely low likelihood of military invasion or revolution and very little natural disaster. There is much to pray about as we look outwards to a suffering world.


31st October-All Souls (Hallowe’en)

This falls on a Sunday this year, and church will be busy: we have our 10am All Saints service, the annual service of remembrance and thanksgiving for the departed at 3.30pm, and the craft and cafe activity for children and families at 6pm (as an alternative to the customary Hallowe’en atmosphere of ghosts, ghouls and mock-horror). We will be writing to families for whom we have held a funeral in the last year, but we will also read the names of the departed from our own memorial book and garden of Remembrance. If you would like the name of a departed loved one remembered, please record their name clearly on the sheet at the back of church.


Advent and Christmas

Naturally we will monitor the winter season closely in regard to any upsurge in Covid cases locally and nationally, and we will respond as necessary if we feel our worship and services in general need to be changed to account for increased risk. However, looking ahead, you may be interested to know our plans for Advent and Christmas this year:

28th November- Advent carols and lessons (10am)

19th December- Nine Lessons and Carols (10am)

24th december- Carols outside Tesco, Valley Drive (tbc-awaiting permission); Crib and Christingle service (4pm), Midnight Mass (11.30pm)

25th December- Holy Communion (10am)

26th September (Sunday this year)- Holy Communion (10am)-Book of Common Prayer


Christmas Fair

We are aiming to hold a fair alongside the 31st St Aidan’s Scouts at the church hall on Saturday 27th November 10am-1pm. More info and requests for help to follow.


Archdeacon’s visit

The Ven. Andy Wooding-Jones, Archdeacon of Rochester, is visiting St Aidan’s on Sunday 21st November (Christ the King) as our celebrant and preacher. I am away that Sunday.



For those working to maintain the supply chain during challenging times and for those in essential services often overlooked.


For the earth, that it may be healed by our actions rather than harmed.


For those who struggle for enough to eat.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Church in Wales.


For  the recently departed and those whose anniversary of death occurs around this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.



11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.


Whether you treat the opening chapters of the Bible as literal or allegorical, the truth that it claims is that creation is of divine origin and we have a responsibility for that creation:

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”


That is why a Harvest Festival  is so important!  We are told that “The church festival that is the most common harvest celebration still held today originated in Morwenstow, Cornwall in 1843, when Reverend Robert Hawker invited the parishioners of his church into his home to receive the Sacrament in “the bread of the new corn.”  However, such celebrations can be found in all religions and societies because, instinctively, people know that what we eat comes from divine creation.  Hence the main emphasis at Harvest is, of course, on:


THANKSGIVING:  It reminds us to be THANKFUL for what feeds and sustains our earthly bodies.  Do you pause – always? often? – before a meal to say thank you to God for what we are about to eat? – thank you for the hands that have prepared it, thankful for all who have had a part in getting the meal before you – farmers, packers, transporters, shops, cook(s) etc.?  Saying Grace can be said quietly to oneself or, even better, with those who are about to eat what is set before them.  As a well-known hymn says in verse 3:

We thank you, then, O Father,

for all things bright and good,

the seed time and the harvest,

our life, our health, our food:

accept the gifts we offer

for all your love imparts;

and that which you most welcome,

our humble, thankful hearts.                          And the chorus:

All good gifts around us

are sent from heaven above,

then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord

for all his love.

Then there is:

SHARING:  Harvest time clearly challenges us again about the need to share our abundance with the less fortunate.  The PM in a speech thanked the churches and other institutions of our land for the way they stepped up to establish foodbanks, ministry to the homeless etc.  Let us never stop challenging ourselves prayerfully about our part in sharing with others.


Then there is:

FIGHTING WASTE:  I watched a short video on how, during covid,

MILLIONS of tons of food were just ploughed back into the fields because of shut down and lack of transport.  We seem to be in a transport crisis now, but on a much smaller scale.  We need to challenge ourselves to cut down on food that we throw away, if we do.  By buying and planning carefully, we can keep this down to a minimum.  DON’T OVERBUY! I am checking myself about this now.


Then there is:

THE ENVIRONMENT:  I reckon there must be about a dozen programmes or news items each day on television about gardens, the environment, debris thrown in the streets, recycling, green transport, protestors (e.g. individuals glueing themselves to the road or some other fixed object), destruction of animal and plant life, etc., etc.  Today the subject of genetically modified crops and animals turned up on the television; I watched a little of it.  And these programmes all spring from the truths of Genesis 1 and all related scripture to that beginning.

E.g. Psalm 24:1.

The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains,

The world, and those who dwell in it.


Psalm 95:4-5

In whose hand are the depths of the earth,

The peaks of the mountains are His also.

The sea is His, for it was He who made it,

And His hands formed the dry land.


Exodus 9:29

Moses said to him, “As soon as I go out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease and there will be hail no longer, that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.


Yes, we are all called to do our little bit for the environment.  The story is told of a father and son walking on the beach when they came across hundreds of little starfish washed up on the beach dying in the sun.  The father began throwing some back one by one.  “Father”, said the lad, “why are you doing that?  There are so many of them.”  The father said, as he threw a starfish back into the water, “True! But it made a difference to that one.”  No! We can’t heal creation on our own, but if ALL picked up a starfish or a dozen, collectively we can help halt the death of our beautiful world.


Heavenly Father,

You have taught us, through your servant St Francis that all creation is your handiwork.

Grant us your grace that we may exercise wise stewardship of this earth, tread lightly upon it and cherish its resources and cherish its resources;

That our children may enjoy its riches, throughout all generations,

And your name be glorified through all that you have made.



Rev’d David Scott






Tenth Sunday after Trinity- 8th August 2021

John 6:35, 41-51


Greetings to you in Jesus’ name.

The readings in church at this time of year often revolve around bread- what ‘feeds’ you spiritually, emotionally, intellectually? As the summer continues, I hope you can find some ‘down time’ to both relax and refresh, but also to reflect on the the things that sustain you. 


It is heartening to hear that the vaccination program seems to be keeping the virus from spreading as much as was feared after the 19th July, but with this sense of optimism comes a temptation to jump back in to familiar frames of life and activity which at first may feel a welcome return to normality but could soon remind us of the things that actually drain us! If you have made discoveries about yourself and what gives you life during the lockdown months, I encourage you to nurture those things, and defend yourself against the pressures to keep pace with wider society. Christians have an important role to play in modelling a creative and positive response to Covid, rather than simply ‘returning to normal’.


Summer Fete 14th August 1-3pm

The fete will soon be here and my thanks to those who have so far offered to help in a range of ways. We are aiming to have a cake stall (these are always popular!)- if you are a baker, and are willing to bake a cake or two, please let me know, also, if you are able to lend a hand on stalls so other stall holders can have a break and a look round, please let me know and simply turn up to help.

In terms of setting up, the hall will be open from 6-7pm on Friday to set up tables and to start setting out some of the stalls. If you can lend a hand for a short while it would be much appreciated. Similarly, we will be there from 10am on Saturday itself. Donations of cakes, bric a brac, tombola items etc can be brought either on the Friday evening or Saturday morning but please bring donations by noon on the day at the latest so we know what we have got before the fete opens at 1pm. 



For Afghanistan, as fighting continues to trouble the country.

For our parish and all who live and work here, for those heading off for a break away.

For the 31st St Aidan’s Scouts, Cubs and Beavers, their leaders, volunteers and families.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the United Church of South India.


For the repose of the souls of those who have died recently and those whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. May they rest in peace.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


John 6:35, 41-51


47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.  This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.




1. I AM.

The frequent use of “I am” in John’s Gospel is well known – claims by Jesus to divine status.  Here they are: 

I am the Bread of Life (John 6:35) *

I am the Light of the World (John 8:12)

I am the Door (John 10:9)

I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11,14)

I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)

I am the Way and the Truth and the Life (John 14:6)

I am the Vine (John 15:1,5)

In the calling of Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt (Ex 3:1–4:18), the divine presence has three different names: Elohim (God), YHWH (LORD), and Ehyeh.

You may well know the name “Jehovah” or “Yahweh”. We are

not sure how to pronounce it because, for the Jews, the name of God is SO holy that they will not utter it.  In addition, Hebrew doesn’t write vowels, only consonants.  So we are not even sure how to pronounce the four consonants of God’s name:

YHWH!  It is as if we wrote God’s name as G-D. Gad, gid, gud?? etc.?

YHWH is translated in many ways.  For this purpose, I quote one which goes “I AM WHO I AM”.  This is often extended into “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE” and “I WAS WHAT I WAS”.


To me that says that God was with us in whatever we were going through; God is with us in whatever we are going through now and God will be with us whatever we will be going through.  One of the “I am” sayings which is not on the previous list is:

“Before Abraham was, I am.”  Jesus is saying that He is eternal.  He was there at creation, He was with Abraham; He was God in flesh in His lifetime; He is God here now through His Holy Spirit. 

No wonder St John is depicted with the symbol of an eagle. (Many lecterns are shaped like an eagle). John takes our image of Jesus soaring in the heights of Heaven, the exalted, divine Jesus who is to be worshipped and adored, the great I AM! 




According to one source, there are 29 different sorts of bread around

the world.  I am sure that bread takes a lot higher number of shapes in which bread is presented at meals.  Whatever the number, one thing is certain: Bread makes a wonderful symbol of something that is both central and important in life. 

Just as bread is an essential part in feeding our bodies, Jesus is saying that feeding on Him is an essential part of our spiritual health.  We not only feed from Jesus at the Eucharist.

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. (John 6/53).

Not only the Eucharist, but we also need to feed on Jesus regularly by praying, reading and meditating on the Word of God:

Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Mt.4/4)

Jesus knew His scriptures and used a verse from Deuteronomy to rebuke the devil’s temptations.  We need to be armed as well.


Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Rev’d David Scott

James the Apostle- 25th July, 2021

Matthew 20:20-28


Grace and peace to you in the name of the one who calls us to loving service, Jesus Christ.


My thanks to Mavis for her thorough and rewarding reflection on St James, whose feast day falls today. 


New Worship Procedures

In the light of the lifting of restrictions on 19th July, but mindful of the rise in infections recently, the PCC have had to find a ‘way through’ that enables us to enjoy some freedoms whilst looking to maintain public health. From today, then, we will observe the following:

Entrance/Exit via the main doors. Sanitise hands on arrival.

No booking system applies. You may now sit in any pew and not only in ‘bubbles’.

Face coverings are not required but are recommended, particularly when moving around the building.

The Peace may now be shared with words only- no handshakes or physical contact. Only share the Peace with those who are immediately near you. We will no longer leave our pews ans greet everyone.

Holy Communion will still be administered in one kind (bread). Please observe social distancing when approaching. The words of distribution will now be said (“the Body of Christ”) and you may now respond as you customarily do if you wish.

Singing. From today we may now sing, but have agreed with the choirmaster that we will sing just two hymns- entrance and exit- and no further singing until further notice. You may sing behind a face covering if you prefer. Thank you for observing these new developments. Today’s hymns are All People Who on Earth Do Dwell and Thine be the Glory. I hope you enjoy singing them again if you are with us in church.


St Aidan’s Patronal Festival 2021

The date of this year’s service is Sunday 5th September, at 10am. It is my hope that we will use this service to resume Sunday School, sing more and reinstate the chalice at Holy Communion. I also hope that we may be able to offer refreshments after the service. I think this will be a good way to celebrate our patron saint, but, as ever, I will update on progress. If the picture becomes more worrying, we may have to limit or change these plans.



 Mavis now has the final details of Christian Aid fundraising in our area:

The total raised in the Gravesend and District area this year was £3,184.69. Of which £1,046.60. was donated by St Aidan’s. The contribution made by members of St Mary Chalk at the plant sale must be gratefully acknowledged.


A huge thankyou to all who helped in any way.


Dr Peter Harris- Lay Ministry training

Every congratulation to Peter, who has been accepted for training in Licensed Lay Ministry in this diocese. Peter is currently studying for the preliminary Bishop’s Certificate in ministry which will then open out into the LLM training ‘proper’. It is a demanding course and one of the best in the country. Please pray for Peter as he begins this phase of his life and ministry.


Items for Summer Fete

We are still in need of chocolate, bottles of soft drinks, saleable bric a brac for the summer fete on Saturday August 14th 1-3pm in the church hall and outside areas. We are also in need of more helpers to lend a hand on the day on stalls. Please speak to me. 01474 352500/ The fete is a joint venture with the Scouts and all proceeds will be split between us.


For those in Europe still dealing with the effects of the recent flooding.

For those working hard to safeguard the environment-may we all play our part.

For all churches, places and institutions dedicated to St James.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Scottish Episcopal Church.


For those who have died recently and whose anniversary of death occurs around this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.

This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Acts 11: 27-12:2 and Matthew 20:20-28

Our lectionary readings today commemorate the life of James, sometimes called ‘the Great’.   He was the son of Zebedee and Salome and, with his brother John, was one of the first apostles to be called by Jesus to follow him.  The two brothers, with Peter, were with Jesus at his Transfiguration and were with him again in the garden of Gethsemane, perhaps giving the three a certain precedence among the twelve apostles.  About fourteen years after the crucifixion, James became the first of the Apostles to be martyred, being beheaded by the order of Herod Agrippa I, to appease the Jewish opponents of Christianity.  He was buried in Jerusalem but his remains were taken to Galicia and later to Compostela, where, in the Middle Ages, his shrine became a famous place of pilgrimage.  He became the patron saint of Spain and was believed to have appeared on many occasions mounted on a white horse, leading the Spanish armies to victory against the Moors.  In artwork, St James is often represented with a sword and sometimes with a pilgrim’s staff and scallop shells.  He is the patron saint of pilgrims.

- - - - - - - - - - -


Parents love to see their children do well.  It is a natural desire and this support can encourage a young person to develop their gifts and confidence, but occasionally a parent’s ambition can do more harm than good – and that seems to be the case in the verses we are looking at in our gospel reading today.


To help our understanding of them, we need to look at the few verses before and put them into context.  Jesus and his disciples had begun their final journey to Jerusalem where Jesus knew he would be put to death.  He had tried to explain to them what would happen to him – that God would hand him over to evil men, who would crucify him, but after three days, God would raise him up.  But the disciples could not understand what he meant.  Instead of showing concern for Jesus, Salome is encouraging them to argue amongst themselves as

to who would be the leader when he died.  Salome asks Jesus if her sons, James and John, can sit one at his right hand and the other at his left.  How hard it must have been for Jesus when they failed to understand what he was saying.  They had heard him talking about his death, yet they were still thinking in terms of power and rule. In response to Jesus’s gentle questioning when he spoke about a cup, perhaps they had in mind the status-rich drinking vessel of a powerful leader. They could not understand what sort of Messiah Jesus is – they could only think in earthly terms.  Their thoughts were on getting, rather than giving, on success rather than sacrifice.  Only after the crucifixion would they see in a different way. 


We can assume that Salome was very ambitious for her sons – and it could be that James and John shared her thoughts, as on more than one occasion, Jesus made them part of his inner circle of friends – with Peter the chosen three.  May be they were better off financially than the other disciples.  We can read in the first chapter of Mark’s gospel that their father was able to employ hired servants.  It could be that, encouraged by Salome, the brothers rather snobbishly thought that their social superiority entitled them to the first places – we shall never know. 


But what we do know, misguided though James and John might have been, the fact remains that their hearts were in the right place.  We can read in Acts 11:28-29 how the apostles, working in the church at Antioch, helped the church in Jerusalem to supply much needed food during a drought that had existed for many years. James and John went on to show tremendous confidence and loyalty as both boldly stated that they would be prepared to face any trial for Jesus.  Indeed, later they did suffer for their faith.  James was a prominent member of the very early church and as I mentioned earlier was the first apostle to be martyred (Acts 12:2).  John was sent into exile to Patmos, a small rocky island in the Aegean Sea, but did live to a ripe old age, leaving behind some of the most treasured and profound writings in the New Testament.


Even if James and John were prepared to suffer and die for the sake

of their Lord and master, Jesus pointed out that it was not his place to say who would be at his right hand or his left.  God himself will give each person (including you and me) their proper place in the kingdom of heaven.  He will show no favouritism – he will give us a place in his heaven according to our faith and according to our love for him.  It is perhaps ironic to realise that the places given at Jesus’ right hand and his left at the time of the crucifixion were taken by a couple of thieves.  Doubtless this wasn’t quite what Salome had in mind when she made her request to him.


Sadly the disciples could only see the rule of Jesus and his kingdom in earthly terms of force and power.  But Jesus wanted them to understand that he was about to fulfil the role of the suffering servant as prophesied by Isaiah centuries before.  Yes, there may well be a triumphal entry, but soon the road would lead to the cross.


Jesus demonstrated very powerfully his calling to be a servant.  It was never beneath his dignity to perform any act of practical service.  My thoughts go to the incident when he took on the role of a servant as he washed the feet of his disciples.  It was an act of great hospitality and courtesy.  In hot and dusty Palestine, it was not possible to be comfortable with sweaty, dirty feet.  But you will remember how Peter was indignant with Jesus for taking on this servant role.  The fact that his master should wear a slave’s garment and perform such a menial task as washing feet was totally offensive to him.  His master should not be the one who gets down on the floor and clean off the dirt from the journey.


Every society has its people who it delegates to deal with its bodily dirt and they always come to the bottom of the social scale – low wages – often dishonoured – sometimes referred to as “untouchables”.  And here was Jesus doing this work.  Peter and the other disciples had to learn that there is no untouchable area for God.  Nothing will keep Jesus away. 


The last verse of our reading today is perhaps the most important in the whole of the gospels, for here Jesus explains why he came to

earth.  It reads “just as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many”.


So, as we have looked more deeply into our readings today, we have found how James and John discovered their own greatness in the kingdom of God.  They had to follow Jesus in service, in giving and in suffering.


We must discover our place in Christ’s kingdom too.  The contribution we make will be uniquely ours.  We must not try to copy someone else we admire, or try to fulfil a rigid predetermined role without going to our Lord in prayer to seek his will.  We must learn to serve and to give ourselves for others, using the gifts and resources that God has chosen to give us.  God has a place for you and for me in his kingdom – a place which will give us scope for service and which belongs specifically us.


Please join me in the words of the ancient prayer of Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) –

 Teach us, good Lord, to serve thee as thou deservest;

 to give and not to count the cost;

 to fight and not to heed the wounds;

 to toil and not to seek for rest;

 to labour and not to ask for any reward save that of knowing we

 do thy will.        Amen


Mavis Prater

Licensed Reader



Fifth Sunday after Trinity-4th July, 2021

Mark 6:1-13


Grace and peace to you in the name of the Lord Jesus.


Update on worship

We continue to monitor guidance from government and the Church of England. Nobody can say exactly what the proposed lifting of restrictions will mean for churches and the current restrictions on capacity, face coverings and singing still apply.

However, having scrutunised an updated CofE document on communal worship I think that we will be able to resume having weekly notice sheets on the pews for folk to take home. There has not been time to organise this in time for this week, but from Sunday 11th July we will restore pew bibles and news sheets. This means that it will be possible to read along with the readings which I know many of you have missed very much, and I know that having a Bible to hand is a great comfort and inspiration to many. Please take the notice sheet away with you and leave the Bible on the pew. These will be left alone until the Wednesday service which is within guidelines on cleaning.



There are boxes at the back of church for chocolate and bottles for the Scouts/Church fete on 14th August. A list of stalls will be finalised soon for folk to sign up to help on. Thank you.


Away giving

I am pleased to announce the dates for Away Giving Sundays this year, in which we support the work of important causes from your giving. 

Sunday August 1st- Water Aid

12th September- Hope Gardens India

17th October- Anglican Diocese of Bo, Sierra Leone

The Diocese’s Poverty and Hope collection day is Sunday 3rd October.


Work afternoon

There are various bits of light work that need doing around church, including basic DIY (light repair to a door, polyfiller work, etc) and clearing out items which are broken and taking up space. A proposed date is Wednesday 14th July from 1-3pm. Please let me know if you are willing to lend a hand. I will advise on exact jobs and any tools needed.  Many thanks!


Mark 6:1-13

Today is Independence Day in the United States. What a momentous day it must have been on 4th July 1776 when independence from Britain was formally announced. Yet Britain and the US continue to enjoy a generally affectionate relationship (this is aside form the ‘Special Relationship’ mentioned by grinning politicians), in which Americans love the history and heritage of Britain whilst British people have long admired the vastness of America’s landscapes, the huge, shining cars and, of course, Mickey Mouse, Hamburgers and Rock n Roll!


Gravesend has its own link with America through Princess Pocahontas of course, and this link reaches into America as it was before colonisation from Europe; our link being with the Native American people who lived (and continue to live) in what is now Virginia (named after the Virgin Mary).

It is hard to imagine just what it must have been like for those first arrivals from ‘old’ Europe, stepping onto American soil. There was, of course, a ‘rush’ to secure good land for settlement, but that sense of wonderment at this new land, that feeling of creating something new, must have been awe-inspiring. Unfortunately, history teaches us the great cost that this settlement placed on the Native American nations, particularly in the way in which land was taken from them, and promises of alternatively good land were repeatedly broken.

For the first Christian settlers there, many of whom were missionaries who tried to bring the gospel to the Native Americans, their experience may have been similar to that of the first apostles which we read about in today’s reading from Mark. They are told to travel light, to stay where they are welcomed and to leave where they are not. This is sensible advice that served the apostles-and those missionaries well. A key difference between them is that Jesus gave the apostles authority to drive out demons; the missionaries would have no such direct authority. They would have faced many hardships and many of them paid with their lives. Eventually though, Christian communities were established in America and in Canada they have recently ordained the first Native American bishop.


It is rather difficult for us to imagine that sense of vastness, of newness, of danger but also promise that those early settlers encountered so long ago. Much of our lives and our society seems quite settled, regulated, well rooted in. Yet change is never far away. The pandemic has, in a way, opened up vast, unknown spaces in our lives and society which we now have to ‘re-settle’. A hope that many shared during the first long lockdown was that when we emerged into this new world, we would settle it differently. We would be more careful and caring, focusing on the things that matter. Many marvelled at the way nature quickly reasserted itself in places where human activity had receded (such as the amazing sight of dolphins swimming in the canals of Venice!). Do these feelings still endure? I am not sure. A new hardness has entered national dialogues. The second lockdown and the stop-start nature of lifting restrictions has left folk impatient and eager to ‘rush’ like those first settlers to ‘grab’ the most they can, and quickly.


I hope and pray that Christians everywhere can model a different approach- one based on the apostles, in which we go lightly and humbly, seeking only the merest of our needs and stepping out joyfully in Christ’s name. I think we have a golden opportunity to be a different sort of missionary. No longer bent on ‘conquering’ the New World for Christ, but pointing through our own lives and witness the way to God’s kingdom. May we do so bravely, safely and gently.

Fr Michael



For the United States of America, for its role in the wider world.


For all those hoping to go on holiday this summer and those who work in the hospitality and tourism industries.


For our parish, schools and the residents of St Gregory’s Court.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for The Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea


For those who have died recently and whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise in glory. This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Third Sunday after Trinity- 20th June, 2021

Mark 4:35-end


Grace and peace to you in Christ’s name.

My thanks to Peter Harris for this week’s reflection.


Well, what we suspected came to pass, did it not? The hoped-for 21st June lifting of restrictions has been paused until 19th July. This means that we will continue ‘as we are’ until the picture changes, so please continue to ‘book.’ My own feeling is that the wearing of face coverings in churches will still be required even after this date and there may still be some social distancing- we need to wait and see. The voracity of the Delta variant is obviously a cause for concern but we await more analysis of what its effects are before we can really plan ahead. However…


Clubs and Groups

I am looking at gradually re-introducing some of our activities, taking precautions as necessary and hope to have more details by next week; I am beginning to discuss with those who lead groups and clubs what precautions we need to make.  One arrangement that has been made is the restarting of the Pastoral Team who are meeting on Monday afternoon. We will discuss what we see as the pastoral needs of our parish and congregation and start to plan what support we can provide as well as committing to prayer. Remember that a list of members of the Team, with a contact number, is displayed in the vestibule at church. In due course we will resume having members of the team in the Medicata (prayer corner) at church after services who are there to listen and pray with you.


Other activities we hope to restart at some point are the coffee morning, CAMEO (afternoon tea for senior citizens who are lonely), craft group, Aidan Ladies (women’s fellowship group). I think that the coffee morning and CAMEO will be particularly important moving out of the pandemic as there is a lot of loneliness locally and churches have a brilliant opportunity to reach out well. We will definitely need more help with providing this (both on the day and in baking/making). Please let me know if you would be prepared to help- coffee morning Wednesday mornings, CAMEO Thursday afternoons. More details to follow but a good team of helpers is vital-folk of all ages are welcome to help.


St Aidan’s Scouts, Cubs and Beavers fete- 14th August 1-3pm

Our Scout troop is hoping to hold a small but fun and friendly summer fair in August this year, making use of the green space around the scout hut on St Benedict’s Avenue. They have asked if we would like to link up with them and be part of it. This could involve us offering the green spaces around church, too. I will be meeting the Scout leader on Tuesday next week to plan what we could do- if you would be interested in having a stall or helping on a stall, please let me know as soon as you can- sorry that this is short notice, but it would be helpful to know what interest there is. I hope that the fete can happen and that if it does, that it will be a success- it would be a really good way for St Aidan’s to be seen at the heart of the community, it would give us access to a summer fete after many years without, and would strengthen our links with the 31st St Aidan’s Scouts.


I hope you can see that there are hopeful and positive things on the horizon for us as a church and community.



For our parish, PCC, schools and local businesses and organisations.


For those preparing for ordination this summer.


For families bringing children for baptism in the coming weeks, and for couples looking to get married.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Church of North India.


For those who have died recently and whose anniversary of death occurs around this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Mark 4:35-end


Jesus Stills a Storm

As someone who once experienced very bad weather whilst sailing over the English Channel, this portion of Scripture was a natural choice for me to discuss with you this week!

A long day of preaching is the context to this miracle of Jesus stilling a storm whilst sailing with his disciples at night over the Sea of Galilee. Jesus has taught the people some remarkable lessons through parables such as the famous Parable of the Sower (4:1-9). Now it is time to leave that side of Galilee and cross to the other side, for Jesus has work to do there too (v. 35)-and dangerous and distressing work it is. In chapter five, Jesus is confronted by the Gerasene

Demoniac who is possessed by a legion of evil spirits and is self-destructive and insane (5:1-20). The text does not make it clear whether Jesus knows in advance what he is required to do by the Father once he arrives on the other side of Galilee. 


However, Jesus has a sense of urgency, so possibly he does. As far as

we can tell, Jesus’ deliverance of this man from the iron grip of evil is the only miracle Jesus performed on that side of the Sea on that occasion. Jesus therefore appears to have crossed the Sea specifically for this man’s sake, which demonstrates Jesus’ unremitting compassion for the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve.


Whilst the fishermen among his disciples operate the boat, Jesus takes the opportunity to sleep (v.38). In contemporary idiom, Jesus is taking a ‘power- nap’. He was tired and needed to be alert and energetic to be able to face and drive out the evil powers that held the Demoniac captive. There is an important lesson here for us all: it is not super-spiritual to deny ourselves rest whilst serving God. The institution of the Sabbath as the climax of creation

demonstrates that God has built into his world the principle of rest (Genesis2:2). It is not clever to overwork therefore, although hard work, if aimed at right goals, is appropriate and can be very enjoyable. 


To protect ourselves from overwork, there will be times when we will need to say no to others’ requests and demands. How we decide what to say no to depends on our needs weighed against the needs of others considered within the context of the consequences of

either responding to or denying the other. Parents must deny themselves sleep to feed hungry babies in the night. However, a child’s request for a second

shopping expedition of the week to buy toys and enjoy fast food can, without too much damage to the conscience, be refused!


Jesus’ need to sleep demonstrates his human nature. His divine nature, of course, does not need to sleep. Omnipotence never fatigues. The divine nature in Jesus, coterminous to his human nature, does not interfere with that nature and vice versa. The two interrelate in perfect harmony and exist in their fullness proximately. Therefore, as Jesus is a man, he is fully a man and therefore needed to rest from his full day of teaching (something I know a little about myself). He sleeps whilst his divine nature continues to hold the universe

together (Colossians 1:17).

The reason Jesus put out to sea at night is to avoid losing time. The case of the Demoniac is an emergency for the man needs release from his myriad demons.

Quick, decisive action can be as ‘spiritual’ as slow, quiet reflection when a person is acting in accordance with God’s will. Jesus leaves the crowds behind, although some who have boats follow him (verse 36). He is able to leave them as he has given them much in terms of teaching. Now another one needs him and Jesus responds to the call. Those who follow Jesus in their boats risk a night crossing to be with him and run into the same storm as he does. Following Jesus

is therefore costly and will mean we will share the same suffering as he did whilst on earth. It will also mean experiencing the same deliverance from troubles as those who were in the boat with him and in the boats that followed experienced.


The great storm that blows up and threatens Jesus and his disciples and followers has been interpreted as a satanic ploy to get rid of Jesus. The text gives no indication either way. Jesus’ life is threatened on other occasions (Luke 4:28-30), so it is reasonable to argue that the storm is aroused by evil powers. On the other hand, the Sea of Galilee is renowned for sudden, violent squalls and so this event may have been a natural phenomenon.

Whatever the origin of the storm, it is so dangerous (v. 37) it terrifies the seasoned fishermen and their fellow disciples who are struggling to keep themselves and Jesus alive. Yet Jesus, so tired and so secure in the protection of the Father, sleeps deeply. The disciples wake Jesus with the accusatory question: ‘“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”’ (v. 38). Clearly, they are astonished that someone could sleep in a boat that is being swamped and are offended by his seemingly uncaring attitude. Yet Jesus is unwilling that

any should perish (Matthew 18:14). They wake him perhaps to have his help in keeping the boat afloat. It is unlikely that they expect a miracle from him because of their great surprise when he stilled the storm (v. 41).

Jesus shows no fear. He knows that the storm does not mean the end of him or his followers and that he has the power to dissipate it. He rebukes the wind and speaks peace to the water and immediately all is quiet and still (v. 39). Again, the fact that Jesus rebukes the wind is seen as evidence that this wind is a demonic scheme against him, for Jesus rebukes demons on other occasions (Luke 4:35). Whatever the source of the storm, Jesus demonstrates God’s sovereignty over creation because it is his creation (Genesis 1:1). By such power, Jesus proves he is God. Jesus’ command to the wind and waves is a

word of command to us: when our wicked hearts are like the troubled sea which cannot rest (Isaiah 57:20) or when our fears have grown so great, we are panicking and running like terrified, wide-eyed sheep, we are to be still and know he is God (Psalm 37:7).


Jesus corrects his disciples for the magnitude of their fear and their little faith (v. 40). This seems harsh. Surely the disciples had every right to be consumed with terror? A storm at sea is indeed a horrifying phenomenon. Yet, Jesus would not have corrected them unless it was justified. So how is it justified?

The disciples have already witnessed Jesus’ healing miracles (3:1-12) and his victories over demons, for the Pharisees accuse Jesus of using the Devil’s power to exorcise (vv.20-27). The disciples are right to fear a tempest but within such a context of miracles, they ought not to fear so much. Moreover, notice Jesus’ questions: ‘“Why are you so afraid?”’ and ‘“Do you still have no faith?”’ Jesus

does not expect them not to have any fear, but not to have so much! 


With regards to faith, all Jesus requires is faith the miniscule size of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). Jesus therefore is not asking much of them and so what he is asking is reasonable.

Lastly, the impression this miracle makes upon the disciples causes them to fear greatly (v. 41). What they feared-the tempest-is replaced by a healthy fear of, or respect and awe for, Jesus. In this there is a parallel with the story of Jonah. As you remember, Jonah refuses to go to Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrians whom the Jews revile and fear, to preach the news of repentance. He flees God by paying the fare for a boat sailing to Tarshish. God causes a severe storm that

nearly breaks the ship up, and yet despite this, Jonah (like Jesus) is in a deep sleep and is woken by the ship’s captain who wants Jonah to pray to his God for help. Jonah eventually admits that the storm is the consequence of his sin of running away from God’s command to preach to the Ninevites and tells the crew to throw him overboard and the storm will cease. The crew do not do this as they are reluctant to take a man’s life but eventually do it when their attempts to row into a harbour fail. As soon as Jonah is thrown overboard, the storm

ceases and the crew are struck with fear and are converted into believers in Jonah’s God (and our God too) (Jonah 1:1-17).

Jonah is a type of Jesus who gives up his life to save the lives of others. 


Jesus does not end up in the water but his crucifixion is his substitution of himself in our place under God’s wrath incited by sin (Romans 1:25). Jonah spends three days and nights in the sea creature’s belly, something which Jesus uses to refer

metaphorically to his death and resurrection (Matthew 12:38-40). Jonah’s self-sacrifice saves a group of men’s lives and on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus does the same thing. But Jesus’ self-sacrifice is the means to the salvation of the whole world (1 John 2:2) and his resurrection is not that of one man from the belly of a sea monster, but the defeat of death and the promise of resurrection to life of all believers (1 Corinthians 15:20-22).


Please join with me in prayer:


Dear Lord, We too are amazed at your power over creation and at your compassion for those imprisoned by wicked forces. Thank you that in all difficult and frightening situations we see your saving hand at work. Sometimes you take us around and over problems. Sometimes you take us through them. But we never have any need to go under if we are holding on to you. Help us too not to fear too much. Help us to have faith the size of mustard seeds, which is the minute amount you require. Help us to act decisively to minister to others whilst also being able to be still and know that you alone are God! 




Dr Peter Harris


Second Sunday after Trinity- 13th June, 2021

Ezekiel 17:22-end, Mark 4:26-34


Christian Aid fundraising total-Thank you!

On behalf of Mavis, let me thank all those who contributed in any way towards this year’s fundraising for Christian Aid- we have raised a staggering £1,046. this amazing figure is made up of:

Appeal envelopes and donations £465.00.

Sale on 29th May:

Bric-a-brac and refreshments 102.10.

Plants both bought on the day and pre-ordered 418.00.

Plants sold by St Mary Chalk after their service on 30 th May 61.50.




This is a brilliant outcome. £275 of this total has been gift aided, which means that a further 25% will be

given to Christian Aid.

We acknowledge the help so readily given by Janet and Michael Munson from St Mary Chalk who provided the bulk of the perennial plants that were sold. Thank you again!


Looking ahead

There is no new information from the Church of England regarding exactly how the proposed lifting of restrictions later this month will affect church worship, for example, singing. However, I think everyone is now bracing themselves for news that the original date of 21st June will be postponed by a couple of weeks or so due to the effects of this new variant- certainly in our own area we have seen a rise in cases in schools- but let us continue as we are until we learn differently. Please continue to be vigilant in observing our Covid precautions in church, particularly in wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing.


One thing that we can do is have different readers each Sunday to take us through the readings. If you are normally on the rota and would be happy to read on a given Sunday, please let me know. It will be good to have more voices! If you have not given a reading before but would like to, again, please let me know. Thank you.



For the health and wellbeing of our parish, for our nursery and for the local schools.


For our church’s role in the local community.


For all healthcare professionals and hospital chaplains, including the Rev’d Tony Green, senior chaplain at Darent Valley.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Church of Nigeria.


For those who have died recently and whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. May they rest in peace.


Ezekiel 17:22-end

I have chosen to write about today’s Old Testament reading, which comes from that part of the story during which the Israelites were in exile in Babylon (modern-day Iraq). Ezekial is a dramatic and imaginative book, written by someone with real command of language and its effects. It seems likely that Ezekiel himself was the son of a priest and may have ministered as such himself- he certainly is au fait with the kind of legal-religious language we find in ‘priestly’ writings in the Old Testament (such as Leviticus). He was also a visionary- some of the most dramatic visions in the Bible are to be found in this book, but Ezekiel was first and foremost a prophet, a ‘seer’. Like many of the prophets, Ezekiel was active during a time of great crisis-the people who considered themselves to be God’s chosen were now living in a ‘foreign’ land- they were separate from the Temple at Jerusalem, the place where they believed God verily dwelt- how could they function as a people whilst being cut off from God? Did God care for them still, or where they forgotten, left to die in exile? Who will free them from Babylon? These were some of the many fevered questions which wracked the hearts and minds of the exiles. Into this atmosphere Ezekiel writes, sometimes in parables, and often in rich language.

In today’s example, Ezekiel uses the imagery of a tree to explain what God will do about his people’s concerns. God says that he will take a sprig of a cedar tree and replant it on a ‘high and lofty mountain’ (Jerusalem) where it will ‘produce boughs and bear fruit’. It will become a ‘noble cedar’ and under this tree, all kinds of creatures will shelter and live.


God says ‘I myself, will do it.’ The god whom the people worry has forgotten them will himself replant this new tree. It is a strong message of reassurance that not only is God still there, but that he will intervene and create something new and good. But what is this new tree all about? What does it mean? 

There are over three hundred references to forests and trees in the Bible. Then, as now, trees were valued for their properties, but probably in a much more practical as well as spiritual way, than today. Trees obviously produced wood, but in the ancient world wood was needed for a vast number of items and purposes from boats and ships to weapon handles and musical instruments. On top of that, the fruit and nuts of trees were staple foods. The oils and resins from trees were used in numerous ways including food, medicine, worship. When the Romans felled great tracts of forest in Palestine, the environmental impact was disastrous- whole areas became a wasteland, something we are all too sadly familiar with in our own time.

It’s unsurprising then, that much ‘tree lore’ made its way into biblical writings. We see in the creation story from Genesis how trees are used to symbolise both the plenty of creation but also wisdom; after the flood, it is a sprig from a tree brought to Noah by a dove that shows the land is appearing once more and freedom is near. In the New Testament, palm branches are laid down as Jesus enters Jerusalem; Christ’s crucifixion is sometimes described as taking place ‘on a tree’, but trees are also useful in everyday situations- Zacchaeus, who is not tall enough to see Jesus in a crowd, climbs a tree to get a better look!


In the Ezekiel reading, the  sprig of the ‘Cedar’ is the nation of Israel. In fact much of this reading uses trees to symbolise nations and empires: ‘All the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord’ makes sense when we take it that the ‘high tree’ God will ‘bring low’ is probably Egypt or Babylon, and the ‘green tree’ being dried up whilst the dry tree flourishing speaks of how powerful nations, like great green trees, are not everlasting- their destruction will come, whilst what seems a dry, dying remnant- the exiled people- will in time flourish and spring into new life in Jerusalem, the loft mountain- which itself suggests powerfully that their exile will come to and end.


Jesus, too, uses tree imagery in the gospel reading today. In the well-known ‘mustard seed’ parable, Jesus speaks of how a tiny seed grows to a huge tree in which birds build their nests- an echo here of Ezekiel’s image of Israel becoming a tree in which creatures will live and shelter.

But what of us? Are we exiles? Are we part of a way of life in the rich West that will one day be brought low and dried up? Our hope, always, rests in Jesus. It was from ‘the root of the stump of Jesse’  that Jesus grew, through his ancestry as a distant relative of David. Jesus links us to those original ‘chosen’ people of God in his salvation of the whole world- in him do we shelter and have life. Like a tree giving of its wood, oil, resin and leaves, all our needs are met in Jesus, who gives his very self for us. But yes, to an extent we are indeed exiles, or at least pilgrims, until we attain oneness with God and all things are redeemed in him.

May you know the shelter of Christ, may you feel your faith growing in its roots and may you be willing to give of yourself in his name.


Fr Michael


20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his
disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family [a]  heard about this, they went to
take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed
by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
23 So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can
Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot
stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan
opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. 27 In fact, no one
can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the
strong man’s house. 28 Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every
slander they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be
forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
30 He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.”
Jesus is using plain common sense in this passage. He logically states that if
Beelzebul is casting out demons through the ministry of Jesus, then it is bound
to make Jesus’ calling to defeat the devil VERY much easier. He is saying that if
the powers of Hell are in civil war, then all the better for His cause and
ministry. This is clearly a sensible answer to a stupid accusation. Jesus adds
that people who “blaspheme against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven.” A
preacher I once heard said this comforting sentence: “If you wonder whether
you have sinned against the Holy Spirit, then you haven’t!” He went on to say
that the sin against the Holy Spirit comes from a life that has turned evil into
good and good into evil. In other words, a person or system that calls
everything that is good evil and everything that is evil good. How awful for
those who are working with this philosophy of life. How awful for those who
perpetrate a system that turns morality upside down. Then St Mark adds that
“He said this because they were saying that He has an impure spirit.” Well,
look at it this way: They are saying that the source, inspiration and teacher of
all that is good is actually possessed by evil. No, no!
The fact is: WE ARE AT WAR.
St Paul said:  “ 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.
On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up
against the knowledge of God, and we take captive
every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NIV)

We are at war: a. with ourselves – i.e. every part of us that is less than Christ-like
and b. with injustice and evil in the world around us.
EXORCISM: Let us have a word about this. Some excessive practices in this
ministry on the part of some extreme evangelical churches especially some African
groups has made the C of E more cautious. Parish clergy have to talk with a person

appointed by the Bishop before embarking on exorcism ministry. However the C of
E acknowledges that there are circumstances in which this ministry is appropriate.
Clergy are sometimes called in to bless a house where the occupant(s) feel that
strange, unexplained things are happening. I gladly prayed blessing on the house
using holy water to bless rooms especially those rooms which were worrying the
occupants. I had only positive feedback from residents in Swanscombe that had
requested such ministry. Cleansing prayer in the name of Jesus is powerful! I once
prayed in a house in Swanscombe but heard nothing back. I noticed that the house
was vacant soon after and thought that the lady must have moved out because the
problems continued. Many weeks later, she phoned me from London, to which she
had moved soon after the ministry. She said she had struggled to find my number
but wanted to say that the act of cleansing had left a remarkable change in
atmosphere in the house and that she wanted me to know that. Jesus is powerful!
We have a lovely family story about one of my adorable granddaughters. She felt a
bad feeling in her bedroom. Her mother asked me to pray over and bless the room,
which I did. She was pleased with the results. A few years later, at school in South
Africa, the class was discussing exorcism and my dear granddaughter told the class
about what grampa had done. However she wondered why the class burst into
laughter when she announced: “I called my grampa and he circumcised the spirit.”
HOUSE BLESSINGS: Let us close with this subject. In South Africa it was not
uncommon for families to ask the clergy person to come and bless their house when
moving in. Clergy, including Fr Michael are more than happy to exercise this
ministry – I am sure I am safe in saying this. Many people want to claim their house
for Jesus and enjoy a blessing on their dwelling.
Let me close with a very old song which was an old-time favourite. Some parts of
the household referred to are old-fashioned, but the sentiment is there. Does
anybody remember this?
Bless this house, O Lord we pray; make it safe by night and day.
Bless these walls so firm and stout, keeping want and trouble out
Bless the roof and chimneys tall. Let thy peace lie overall
Bless this door that it may prove ever open to joy and love
Bless these windows shining bright, letting in God's Heavenly light
Bless the hearth, ablazing there with smoke ascending like a prayer!
Bless the people here within'; keep them pure and free from sin
Bless us all that we may be fit O Lord to dwell with thee
Bless us all that one day we may dwell
O Lord! With Thee! With Thee.

Trinity Sunday-30th May, 2021

John 3:1-17


Greetings to you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit on this Trinity Sunday.

My thanks to Mavis for her carefully-written reflection on today’s themes, centering on the encounter Nicodemus has with Jesus, and the idea of being ‘born again’.


Christian Aid

Thank you to those who supported the plant sale on Saturday and especially to Mavis for co-ordinating this effort and indeed our Christian Aid fundraising this year. Envelopes may still be returned to church. Thank you for your generosity.


Wednesday Service

This coming Wednesday Dr Peter Harris is holding a Service of the Word at 9.30. This replaces the Eucharist this week and is part of Peter’s Lay Ministry training. Do please support Peter with your attendance if you can.



I am delighted that baptisms are now beginning again at St Aidan’s. Today at Noon Kayla, Harper and Alba will be the first children Christened here in many months! Please pray for them, their parents and godparents as they begging their baptismal journey today. We have a good number of baptisms coming up over the summer and it is wonderful to hold these joyful services.

Easing of Covid restrictions

We will all be aware that 21st June marks the proposed lifting of the remaining restrictions on social activity (although I expect face coverings will still be required for a while- I wait for updates).

What the lifting of restrictions means for churches is still not clear. The Rt Rev Sarah Mulally, Bishop of London, is co-ordinating with government on these matters and we hope to have updates soon. This may include news on when we can sing again, whether we can relax the 2m rule, resume bibles in the pews and so on. We will just have to wait and see. As ever, I will keep you updated. Obviously, another factor in play is the new variant of the virus. The Prime Minister has not ruled out delaying the releasing of restrictions if the number of cases continues to rise. Let’s hold this situation in our prayers.


Archdeacon of Tonbridge announcement

The Ven. Julie Conalty, Archdeacon of Tonbridge, is to be consecrated Bishop of Birkenhead in early July. This means Bishop Simon must now seek to appoint a new archdeacon. In the meantime our own Archdeacon, Andy, will share responsibility for Tonbridge with the Archdeacon of Bromley and Bexley. Please pray for Andy, and for Julie of course.


Half Term

Please note that Monday and Friday of this coming week I will be unavailable due to bank holiday and school half term.



For the emerging Covid situation globally and for all those working to prevail against it. May we learn more of the virus’ origins and work to prevent similar outbreaks in the future.


For Peter Harris as he seeks to move to the next stage of his Lay Ministry training, and for Mavis in her ongoing role as Reader.


For the East Gravesend Group of churches as Andrew and Ted commence their ministries at Christ Church, Holy Family and Ifield.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of Mexico.


For those who have died recently and whose anniversary of death occurs around this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.

 This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


John 3:1-17

Today is Trinity Sunday – every preacher’s nightmare! (though in my case ‘preparer of the reflection’!) I am sure we have all heard references to the three leaves on a stem of clover or steam, ice and water – all part of the same thing - as the speaker tried to explain the relationship between the Father, the Son and The Holy Spirit. I came across this different illustration included in a book by Revd. David Adam, a one-time member of the Iona Community, which

I found helpful, and I hope you do too.


A child went to the beach and dug a hole in the sand, then went down to the sea with her bucket and brought back some water to fill the hole. In a moment, the water had disappeared. She went back several times to get more water but the same thing happened each time. The little girl became exhausted and began to cry. Meanwhile, the tide had been coming in. Her father showed her how to make a channel for the sea, so that it would flow naturally into the hole and fill it. We can become like that little girl, can’t we?


We try to fill our minds with ideas about God and can so often exhaust

ourselves. Instead we need to learn to wait upon God, knowing he will come to us. Trying to understand the Trinity is like trying to pour the whole sea into a small hole. We must learn to accept there are things we shall never understand – instead we can just rest in the Trinity and enjoy the love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Our gospel reading for today is the story of Nicodemus and is included only in the gospel of John. It is told in such a personal detailed way that some feel it could only have come from Nicodemus himself but that of course is not possible to verify. He was a well-educated Pharisee and a member of the supreme Jewish Council. At that time, peoples’ opinions of Jesus were divided. Some felt he was absolutely wonderful – a miracle worker and teacher, while others considered him to be nothing but a trouble maker. It would seem that

Nicodemus hadn’t quite made up his mind – he wanted to know more about this man called Jesus but he was aware that if it became known that he had contacted Jesus to learn more, then his position on the Council could well be compromised.

So, we are told he decided to visit Jesus under the cover of darkness. 


Put yourself in Nicodemus’ place – a respected but cautious religious leader. His first words to Jesus are “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God”. We might expect that Jesus, after an opening like that, would encourage him – lead him on step by step to a deeper understanding – perhaps opening the scriptures as Philip did to the eunuch (Acts 8:26-35), so that he could step easily from his existing somewhat shallow faith into this new firmer faith. Jesus, though, is not normally that kind of teacher. His way of

teaching is infinitely more daunting, more exciting, more challenging - breaking through the more normal ways of thinking to come to enlightenment. Jesus puts to Nicodemus the apparent nonsense of being born for a second time as the only way to see the kingdom of God. He uses the mysterious process of birth – not so much the ‘mechanics’ of it but the transformation from one kind

of existence to another. The baby leaves the warm, comfortable and secure world of the womb and is thrust into the noisy, anxious and dangerous world of human life – yes, pretty traumatic!

In order to ‘see the kingdom of God’ Nicodemus – or anyone else for that matter – will need to experience something so totally transforming and so completely new that it could only be described as being ‘born again’. Not surprisingly, Nicodemus cannot understand this image. ‘What do you mean’ he asks. ‘Do you want me to go back into the womb and start again’? But Jesus repeats his original statement, but now in negative terms. You can’t enter the kingdom of God unless you are ‘born of water and the Spirit’.


Kingdom-of-God people aren’t born the earthly way (of the flesh) but the heavenly way – through water (baptism perhaps) and the Spirit. It is a miracle of God, his gift, like life itself. Being a Christian is about starting a new life in a new environment, with new interests, a new family and new values.

Perhaps Jesus knew that Nicodemus would never be converted by intellectual argument and so took the conversation to another level – one where his usual intellectual skills were of no use. Sometimes God works through our strengths; sometimes he calls us to step out of them and be changed by confronting something which, on the face, appears to be total nonsense!


This idea of being born again has sadly caused difficulties for Christiansthrough the ages. Churches have become divided because members cannot agree on what rebirth or being spiritually reborn really means. The different methods of baptism of water, baptism in the Spirit and baptism of ‘fire’ have sadly led to off-shoot churches of varying denominations, causing much pain.

It is easy to get caught up with the mechanics rather than the symbolism of new birth. God wants us to be sure that the entry into the kingdom of heaven is not through race, circumcision, law keeping, acts of piety or scriptural knowledge, but through a personal faith in Jesus. The process of being born of the Spirit is supernatural, beyond human control or knowledge. It is like the wind, invisible and mysterious but with effects that can be readily felt.


John 3:16 – “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”: probably the best-known verse in the whole of the New Testament. It has been known for some super- stores to use this verse as part of their advertisements just before Christmas, reminding shoppers to take advantage of their special offers. The difference

between the offer contained in John 3:16 and the ‘special’ offers in the stores is that there is no catch. It is really free and is available to all.

The next verse – John 3:17 – is nowhere near as well known, but just as attractive: God didn’t send his Son into the world to condemn it! That is surely good news, isn’t it?  Sometimes Christians have given the impression that this is precisely what he did do! Often in the New Testament, the “world” is seen as God’s enemy – rejecting his ways. But this verse emphasises that God didn’t send his Son to condemn it, but to rescue it. That is the measure of his love.


We are not told in the verses we are looking at today how Nicodemus reacted to his conversation with Jesus, but it would seem that he did find what he had been looking for, and gradually his faith became stronger. In John 7:50-52 he is referred to as being part of the Jewish Council. As the group discussed ways of arresting Jesus, Nicodemus raises the question of justice. Although his objection was overruled, he had the courage to speak up – he was beginning to

change. Then in John 19:38-39, we hear how he boldly risked identification with Jesus and put himself in a very dangerous situation by joining Joseph of Arimathea in caring for Jesus’ body after the resurrection. By the very action of giving Jesus a dignified burial, Pontius Pilate would realise that they were friends of Jesus and may well suffer the same fate – the Spirit must surely have

given those two men great courage. What a tremendous privilege to be given that opportunity to perform such a task for God’s Son!


At the beginning of these reflections I quoted from an illustration by David Adam. He used the idea of allowing ourselves to be open to God, opening a channel for the Holy Spirit to enter and use us. Nicodemus certainly did that- let us pray that we will have the grace to do the same. 


Mavis Prater- Reader

Pentecost Sunday, 23rd May, 2021

Acts 2:1-21, John 15:26-27; 16:4-15


Grace and peace to you in the name of Christ, the ascended one, the coming one.

Today is Pentecost Sunday, the ‘birthday of the Church’, which may sound a little whimsical but is nevertheless as good a description as any for today. We remember and celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, sent by Christ as he had promised in the readings from John listed above. How does this birth the Church? In the reading from Acts we revisit that dramatic event when the Holy Spirit in ‘something like a rushing wind’ descended on the disciples and then, in a change of imagery, the Spirit danced like a flame above the head of them there gathered. In that moment- the story goes- each was gifted the ability to speak in many languages and their ‘apostleship’ began- they moved from being disciples (pupils) to being apostles (sent out). Strengthened and equipped by the Spirit they began the work which the Church of today in all its guises seeks to continue: to go out into the world speaking of Christ in many different ways, in different traditions, cultures and worship styles. Each of these is like a language and we can imagine that each type of Church (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, etc) has its own ‘flame’ above its head- each Church is given different gifts and abilities and each has its own ways of telling of Christ in the world. Of course we are well used now to the idea that churches are more than buildings and institutions; they are people, so let us pray today that each of us will receive our own flame, conscious of our own gifts and mannerisms, that these will be transformed anew by the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.

In John 16: 12-13, Jesus says ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes he will guide you into all the truth.’ This is an important bit of teaching on the importance and role of the Holy Spirit- the Spirit is a helper,a comforter,  one who enables us to understand something of the mystery of God in Christ, because, despite all Jesus’ humanity, there was always just too much that was beyond the grasp of the disciples and indeed of ourselves. Perhaps this is one reason why Jesus spoke in parables at times, or used imagery and at other times didn’t speak at all- much of what Jesus was about is beyond our understanding- we cannot ‘bear’ all that Jesus may have had to say- he is too holy and our earthbound minds and hearts are not ready to receive the weight of grace that Jesus brings to earth, but on his Ascension that weight is removed and instead a calming Spirit is sent to lead us perhaps more gently towards some of the truths of which Jesus speaks. What are these truths? Those we can understand are those Jesus speaks about in quite plain terms- that we are to love one another as we have been loved, that we are not to set too much store by money or by planning for the future, that we must ‘keep awake’ for the coming of the Lord, which will herald the end of time as we can understand it. These are ‘big’ themes and even these may at times seem too much for us- we must accept that, as the children’s hymn goes, our God is a great big God and as the Islamic phrase has it God is great, God is good. We must accept that God is and always will be somewhat out of our reach whilst we dwell on this earth but that, in an everyday way, we have the Spirit with us to prompt, challenge, guide and teach us to require only what we need for each day,as the Lord’s Prayer has it give us this day our daily bread.


Let us never doubt that God loves us. Jesus showed that very plainly; let us give thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit that we can feel God’s closeness even in his great majesty, and let us pray for our own dear St Aidan’s church, that it too may be renewed, challenged, inspired and encouraged by that same Spirit.

Fr Michael



Following on from the above, let us pray for our parish today as we meet for our annual meeting to give thanks for the year just past and to welcome the new PCC as it begins to look ahead. The meeting begins at 11am and should last around 30 minutes.


Christian Aid

Thank you to those who have already returned envelopes with donations for Christian Aid. There is still time to donate in this way. If you cannot get to church, we can bring an envelope to you! Please ring Mavis on 01474 812330. Our plant sale is next Saturday (29th) 10am-12 noon outside church. Refreshments served and all proceeds to Christian Aid. Please support this if you can.


Peter Harris- A Service of the Word

Peter is training for Licensed Lay Ministry in the diocese and part of his training is to lead an act of worship in church. Peter will lead a Service of the Word on Wednesday 2nd June at 9.30am. If you are able to attend this non Eucharistic service of readings and prayers, please do as it will greatly support Peter on this demanding and thorough course. If you intend to come, do please let me know so I can keep an eye on numbers due to covid capacity.



For the Church in the world that it may be enlivened by the Holy Spirit.

For our parish church of St Aidan and its mission in the parish. Please pray for our Called to Grow initiative which will restart soon.

For peace in the Holy Land.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of Melanesia (island group in the Pacific Ocean).


For those who have died recently and those whose anniversary of death occurs around this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael



Seventh Sunday after Easter-16th May, 2021

1 John 5:9-13; John 17:6-19


Grant, almighty God, that we may ascend with him and continually dwell in the heavens.


Last Thursday was Ascension Day- may you know the joy and glory of the ascended Lord. The above prayer is a contraction of the Collect for Ascension which I have included here simply to draw our minds to the idea that the Ascension is not an isolated event in history- it is not something that happened ‘to’ Jesus long ago which we merely remember year by year, but instead something that we are indeed bound up in. Our prayer is that we, too, may ascend to the heavenly kingdom and dwell with the Lord forever. Like so much in Christian life, we are never passive observers- we are involved in the work of salvation and redemption.


My thanks to Peter Harris for his reflection on this week’s New Testament letter- the First Letter of John.


Wednesday Eucharist returns

I am pleased that we can once again open St Aidan’s for midweek worship- we will resume our custom of a 9.30am said Eucharist on Wednesdays, beginning this coming Wednesday, the 19th. Please continue to book in with me if you intend to come.


Financial Management course from Black History Association

An online course about managing finance, planning for the future and much more is available for 18-24 year olds who self identify as black or of global majority heritage. It is an online course delivered across two Saturdays 22nd May and 3rd July. Booking is required on



The Annual Parochial Church Meeting takes place next Sunday at 11am in church. The aim of an annual meeting is really to celebrate the work of the parish and to give thanks to God for all that has been and for those things to which we look forward. Do stay after the service if you are able. If you cannot attend the service but are attending the meeting, please arrive by 10.55 so we can start promptly at 11 am. Please let me know if you are planning to come to the meeting only.


Rev’d Andrew Davey- new vicar of Christ Church

Christ Church’s new vicar will be installed this coming Thursday at 7.30pm by Bishop James and Archdeacon Andy. Please pray for Andrew and his family as he begins his ministry in our Deanery, and in the East Gravesend Group of churches. If you would like to view the service live online, there will be a link on the Christ Church website


Irene Morel RIP

The funeral of Irene is taking place at St Aidan’s on Wednesday 26th May at 1pm, followed by cremation at Eltham. There will be a limit on capacity in church and I will be able to update you further on available space in church should you wish to attend. However, the service at Eltham will be live streamed (details to follow) and will include a eulogy and readings, so you may wish to watch that. Please keep the family in your prayers.



That the world may know of the love of God in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.


For an end to the violence in Israel-Palestine and the resumption of dialogue.


For our parish as we prepare to hold our annual meeting.

In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of Korea.


For those who have died recently ad whose anniversary occurs around this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


1 John 5:9-13

I have chosen for our reflection this week a small portion of Scripture, but as is the case with Scripture, these small numbers of verses contain profound, interleaving truths that need careful elucidation if we are to perceive and believe in them.


It is perhaps the most well-known exegetical principle that verses and passages of Scripture are not to be interpreted out of context but should be examined within the chapter and books they inhabit. To understand the rich verses of 1 John 5:9-13, we must understand something about why the epistle was written.


Though some have argued that 1, 2 and 3 John were written by a group of disciples of John referred to as the Johannine School, I shall proceed on the basis that these letters were written by the Apostle John, a position adopted by prominent expositors such as R. W. Orr and F. F. Bruce.


John lived in Ephesus for the last decades of his life from where he wrote his epistles. It is likely that John moved to Ephesus in order to assert Christian orthodoxy in the face of two challenging movements that had arisen in the eastern part of the Roman Empire: emperor-worship and Gnosticism. Emperor-worship required people to regard the emperor as a god worthy of worship; Gnosticism was a heresy that denied the incarnation and bodily resurrection of Christ and advocated an antinomian (spiritually lawless) lifestyle on the basis that as God’s saves by grace, his moral law can be ignored. 1 John was John’s response to these two movements. It was not for Ephesian eyes only as like other epistles, 1 John was an encyclical which was passed around other churches in the region. 


As John is taking a stand against the falsities of emperor-worship and Gnosticism, he presents in our chosen passage the truth that we have firm grounds for believing in the veridicality of our Christian faith. At the heart of the Christian faith is Christ and his identity. God has testified that Jesus Christ is his Son, the Son of his love and the Son by office whose divine mission is to recover and redeem creation, both human and the natural world. He is not, as the emperor-deifiers would have believed, a rival to the divine emperor. He is not the bodiless emissary of a distant god as the Gnostics proposed. The veracity of God’s testimony is illustrated through John’s use of a form of argument

known to logicians as argumentum a minore ad maius. He moves from a weaker proposition to a stronger proposition that is entailed by the weaker proposition:


Weaker proposition: we believe in the testimony of human beings.

Stronger proposition: therefore, how much more ought we to believe the greater testimony of God.


Thus, Christians can have confidence in their knowledge of who Jesus is because that knowledge comes from God himself who cannot lie (v.9).


John introduces a further reason for Christians being confident about their belief in Jesus. Verse ten states that those who believe in the Son of God ‘have the testimony in their hearts.’ We not only have the external testimony of God as to who Jesus is, but we also can testify to what Jesus has done for us. We have felt the troubling presence of sin in our lives and the guilt and misery that accompanies that reality and we have felt the abundant need of a saviour. The glorious truth is that Jesus has released us from that condemnation through the pardon of our sins and has begun the transformation of our lives so that over time we have become more Christlike in a way that is reflected uniquely through our God-given personalities. These form our testimony as to whom Jesus is and protect us from the lure of false philosophies and theologies that have perennially challenged the universal church.


The second part of verse ten provides a stern warning to a specific kind of person. John is referring to people who reject the testimony of God as to who Jesus is. If God cannot be wrong about something, then to reject what he says about his Son is to charge him with deceit. Though those who deny that Jesus is the Son of God may not intend to call God a liar because they believe they have the truth from God, that is what they end up doing. The fantastic news is that such a sin is forgivable through the gracious mercy of God. We see this in the life of Paul who began as a persecutor of the Church and became one of the greatest advocates of the Gospel (Acts 9:1-30). We may see it in our own conversion. I do.


Verse eleven reveals that God testifies that he has given us eternal life. What does that mean? It is the sum of the Gospel: whereas once we were fit only for separation from a holy God, we are now reconciled  

with him through Jesus’ death and now will live eternally with God as his children, servants, co-heirs with Christ and as his friends. The Greek word used for this kind of life is zoe which can be translated as life in all its fulness. The Christian Gospel is about God giving sinners the fulness of life (John 10:10). This I understand to mean a life lived in true relationship to God, others and in which we are truly ourselves before sin and suffering marred and misshaped us. This life is so powerful not even death can destroy it; hence it is eternal life.


It has been objected by some philosophers that eternal life would end up eventually being boring. Surely there will come a point when worshipping God will become tedious? 


The question of whether living forever is desirable is demonstrated dramatically by the opera The Makropulos Case by Leos JanáĬćek. The central character, an opera singer called Emilia, is provided with an elixir by her father which extends her life if she keeps taking it. Emilia does this and ends up living three hundred years. Part of the effect of the elixir is that she retains her youthful appearance. She remains in the prime of life and therefore is best able to enjoy life. However, Emilia increasingly finds life intolerably dull. Singing and celebrity now bore her completely. All what she takes joy in has become tedious. There is nothing more she wants to achieve. Eventually, she chooses not to take the elixir and dies.


Christian eternal life, however, is not synonymous with Emilia’s predicament. Emilia lives out her three hundred years within a finite world of much suffering. Christians, on the other hand, will live forever in the New Jerusalem. It is a perfect environment which means that there will be no suffering (Revelation 21). Being bored is a type of suffering. It causes mental pain and can lead to some people doing self-destructive things to gain excitement such as illegal drug-use. Therefore, everlasting life in God’s presence cannot by definition be boring. How might God create such a ceaselessly satisfying life?


Everlasting life in the New Jerusalem will be the opposite of boring because it is characterized by an unending relationship of perfect love with God who is love (1 John 4:16). One of the objects of everlasting life in the presence of God is to know him more and more. Peter exhorts his fellow-Christians to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18), a process that happens in this life and there seems to be no reason for it not to

happen in the New Jerusalem. God is infinite: as Psalm 145:3 says, ‘Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.’ Therefore, there will be no end to God’s love and the process of coming to know God as he chooses to reveal himself.


Not only will there be unending novelty in the Christian’s relationship with God, but it is also possible that God could expand the universe so that it provides further stimulation and create additional worlds that provide alternative paradisiacal lifestyles on an unending basis. 


But would not endless novelty become excruciatingly dull? To avoid this, it is possible that God will provide us with a balance of novel experiences with the opportunities to enjoy regular interests and habits. Such a balance between fresh experiences and regularities would prevent boredom. However, might not such a balance also prove to be monotonous in the long run?


Perhaps the ultimate answer lies in how Christians will be constituted for everlasting life. To live everlastingly, Christians will be perfectly adapted for it. In 1 Corinthians 15: 51-55, Paul states that the dead whose bodies were perishable, and mortal will be raised imperishable and immortal. It is possible that along with an everlasting body comes an inability to be bored, not only because God cannot by nature be boring and cannot create an everlasting city that bores, but because his people will be unable to experience it. 


Returning now to our chosen passage, we read in verse eleven that the Apostle John assures his audience that they have this eternal life which has been made possible by Christ alone. Verse twelve repeats this affirmation and warns that those who are not in Christ will not inherit eternal life. Verse thirteen repeats the affirmation a third time. John appears to have several purposes at this point. He is encouraging believers to persevere in their faith. They have eternal life as their reward and so ought to remain faithful to God who is excited about living with his children forever. He is warning those who reject Christ that they will not share in eternal life. Nevertheless, there is grace in this warning for it includes the invitation to accept Christ! 


As a conclusion, shall we pray?




Thank you that we possess the truth through your sure testimony and our own that Jesus alone is Saviour and Lord. Help us to hold on to this truth for we too, like the Christians of John’s day, must contend with ideologies and doctrines contrary to Christian truth. Yet, we know you will build your Church, and nothing can prevent that. Thank you too for the scintillating prospect of eternal life with you. With such a hope, help us to tell others how they too can be in Christ and live in union with him forever. Amen


Dr Peter Harris


Fifth Sunday of Easter- 2nd May, 2021

John 15:1-8; 1 John 4:7-end


Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Grace and peace to you in Christ, the true vine.

We are now in the month of May and despite a rather chilly April, the early summer is not far from us, with its promise of longer days and gardens, woods and fields budding and flowering in earnest.

The gospel for today is taken from one of Jesus’s ‘I am’ sayings- in today’s example, Jesus is the ‘true vine’; as spring turns summerwards and nature seems to sing, it is a good analogy for our faith in Jesus to think in these agricultural and horticultural terms- we are in the business of tending and nourishing our faith for the purposes of not only our own benefit, but in order to bear fruit. May your own faith in Christ be tended, strengthened and may it flourish.


My thanks to the Rev’d David Scott for his reflection on the reading from 1 John, focussing on our self-image and encouraging a healthy form of self-love. May you know that you are loved always.



This year’s annual meeting is on 23rd May at 11am in church. If you intend to come, please book in advance, ideally booking to attend the service beforehand. The annual meeting is a valuable opportunity to hear about the life of the parish over the preceding year (although our most recent APCM was actually a few months ago!), to receive reports and to inaugurate the PCC and other officers.



This year’s Confirmation service is due to take place on 12th September at St George’s church at 6pm. If you would like to be confirmed, or to know more about what’s involved, speak to me as soon as you can. Confirmation follows a period of preparation usually in the form of a weekly session over a few weeks. In the past, these sessions have been shared between St Aidan’s, Holy Family/Ifield and Christ Church and normally happen in one of the churches on a Sunday afternoon. I am yet to speak with the clergy about this year’s preparations (Ted has only recently arrived at Holy Family and Ifield, and Andrew Davey is not licensed at Christ Church until late May) but more updates will follow.


Demelza fund raising

Many thanks to those who requested a Smartie tube and collected monies for the Demelza hospice- we raised just over £226.


Christian Aid

A reminder of the arrangements for Christian Aid this year:

Envelopes will be in pews for two Sundays (9 th and 16 th May) – please take them and return them to church when filled. If you are not attending worship but would like to take part, please contact Mavis on either 01474 812330 or email and she will deliver them to you.


We will also be having a plant sale in the church garden on Saturday 29th May from 10am to mid-day with refreshments and items for sale – please support this if you possibly can. It will be our first chance to socialise!

I pray that we can rely on your usual encouragement and generosity during these challenging times. Thank you.



For India during this time of great crisis due to Covid-19. Please also pray for the Indian community in Gravesend and for the efforts of the Gurdwara who are co-ordinating support (they are accepting donations towards this work)


For our society and government as lockdown restrictions are set to be lifted further later this month.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East.


For those who have died recently and whose anniversary of death occurs around this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael.


1 John 4:7-end


Part of the New Testament reading for Sunday:


1 John 4: 7  Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.

Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  8  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  9  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  10  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  11  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  12  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.


We’ve all heard sermons about LOVE, haven’t we? You know, the various Greek words for love - family love, friendship love, sexual attraction. You might well know that the word, AGAPE, rarely used in everyday Greek, is the word chosen to be used by New Testament writers to convey unconditional love. God loves us UNCONDITIONALLY. Romans 5/8: “God proves His love

for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly.”

SO YOU CANNOT OUTSIN GOD’S LOVE! How fantastic is that! How


1 John 4:16

(New International Version)

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”

So we have to love everybody, don’t we? I want to make a couple of points about this:

1). Firstly, God says we have to love our neighbours as we love OURSELVES.

I am sure you have come across, at school if not after, catty remarks about another person: “Ooh, listen to him/her; he/she really loves himself, doesn’t he/she?” “Ooh, he thinks the world revolves around him!” Yes there is a wrong way to love oneself in the sense that one thinks one is so grand and one doesn’t really need anyone else in one’s life. “I am the greatest” as the great showman Muhammad Ali used to say to juice up the boxing contest. No! Loving oneself means, in my opinion, having a mature knowledge of oneself, knowing in what areas one is gifted, knowing in what areas one is lacking in gifts and therefore needing others in one’s life. In other words:


If you have reached that level of self-security, then you are free to

acknowledge all that is good in others without being threatened.

In other words: Love what is wonderful in your neighbour as you love what is wonderful in you – and appreciate both.

I have seen marriages come under strain and even dissolve because one of the partners has an awful self-image and they try and restrict and discourage anything that might make the partner look taller, out of reach, superior. A low self-image can be caused by one’s character, by an over-strict or non- encouraging upbringing. Our children need to be secure in their self-image in order to be more free to love others in their lives.

So appreciate yourself! Love yourself in the right way! This will make you much freer to love others as you love yourself. Perhaps you are there already.


If so, thank God. Of course, let me add how important it is to encourage others to appreciate what is good in them.


2). Do you have to LIKE everybody? No!

Theologians would say that we are BODY. SOUL and SPIRIT. As I understand it, your SOUL is composed of your MIND, EMOTIONS AND WILL POWER. Emotions just happen. Your SPIRIT tried to know the mind of the Spirit, what the Spirit feels about a situation and helps you to will what God wants. You watch a tv programme, say, “Escape to the Country” and see a couple looking at a £550000 property which looks dreamy to you. The emotion of jealousy or envy might just spring up. However, you are also a spiritual person and your

spirit whispers: “You shall not covet” and your spirit brings your soul back into line. Or: A shop assistant treats you very insensitively or another lady throws a barbed insult in your direction. Your emotions in your soul cause anger to rise up in you. Your spirit remembers St Paul saying: “Be angry (soul) but sin not!(Spirit)” If somebody is nasty, your soul may react negatively, but your spirit fights against the soul’s tendencies. You may even confront the lady or shop assistant with a gentle but honest reaction and then seek, if you have time and space, to understand what is making the other

person behave and speak as she/he did, e.g. bad home life, tiredness, feeling unwell or (see earlier) an insecure background which causes them to attack.

So LIKE OR DISLIKE can be transformed into love, understanding and, where appropriate, forgiveness.


The more mature your love, the more the spirit, guided by the Holy Spirit, triumphs over the soul and its human weaknesses.

No, your soul cannot like everybody all the time. There could well be people in the church with whom you struggle to get on. Can I recommend that you listen to the song about Mrs Beamish – actually, there are two songs about Mrs Beamish, the second being a version from the covid era.

This can be found in YouTube at and/or the covid version at Enjoy the humour and then wonder what makes Mrs Beamish behave like she does. You may even have some sympathy with her views!


So, let God continue to work His love in you that enables you to love others just like you love yourself.

May the love of God, which passes our understanding, be in and around you.


Lord, thank you for teaching me to love myself even when others speak or think ill of me. Thank you for loving me even when I don’t love myself.

Help me to love the person I am created to be, not who others want to

see. I am one of a kind, designed to glorify You as only I can. In Jesus’



“Since you were precious in my sight, you have been honoured and you are precious in my sight and I have loved you.” (Isaiah 43/4).




Loving God, fill my heart with the love that you freely give.

Make love my first and last thoughts. May I love others and freely

give to them. Make my spirit a spirit of joy, happiness, and love for

both my friends and my enemies.

Rev’d David Scott

Third Sunday of Easter- 18th April, 2021

Luke 24:36-48


Grace and peace to you in the name of the Risen Lord- Alleluia!

My thanks to Peter Harris for his careful contemplation on a number of themes arising from this week’s reading from Luke. There is plenty here to consider and reflect upon.


HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, RIP

On Friday 17th April, Prince Philip’s funeral took place. In line with his own wishes, the Duke of Edinburgh did not lie in state beforehand and this illustrates something further about his character as an unfussy and unwavering support to HM the Queen. For all the bluster, bluff and banter for which he was sometimes known, at heart he knew not a little about humility and quietude. May he rest in peace.


Seeds of Hope

Morrisons at Gravesend are supporting ‘Seeds of Hope’ a charity which supports mental health recovery. As part of this, sunflower seeds are available free of charge (there is a donation pot), just past the checkouts. If you would like to plant sunflowers this year, why not support this worthwhile cause?


Christian Aid 2021

A reminder of the arrangements for Christian Aid this year:

Envelopes will be in pews for two Sundays (9 th and 16 th May) – please take them and return them to church when filled. If you are not attending worship but would like to take part, please contact Mavis on either 01474 812330 or email and she will deliver them to you.


We will also be having a plant sale in the church garden on Saturday 29 th May from 10am to mid-day with refreshments and items for sale – please support this if you possibly can.

I pray that we can rely on your usual encouragement and generosity during these challenging times. Thank you.


Elaine Walker- Hall Bookings Secretary

I would like to thank Elaine for many years excellent service to this parish as our bookings secretary for the church hall. Elaine is now stepping down from that role due to health reasons. Please pray for Elaine and her family and give thanks for the superb and professional manner in which she went about the role.

Elaine dealt with ‘one off’ bookings and I am grateful to Barbara for continuing to administer the regular bookings, which are our financial life blood. If you are interested in continuing Elaine’s role please speak to me or Barbara. 


Financial Literacy Training

Black History Association (Kent), in association with Kent County Council, are offering training in financial literacy (money management and other relevant financial issues) for young people aged 18-24 from black or minority ethnic backgrounds. The courses run fortnightly between 22nd May to 3rd July. Booking is essential and is available via See the website, for more information. 



For HM the Queen and the royal family during this time of mourning. May it also be a time of thanksgiving for Prince Philip’s life.


For our local schools- Thamesview, Tymberwood Academy, Westcourt School and Riverview as they prepare for a new term. Also for our nursery, for  the manager,Gayle, and the team.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Church of Ireland.


For those who have died recently and for those whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Luke 24:36-48

Within the Anglican Lectionary, six weeks are counted between the Principal Feast Day of Easter and the day of Jesus’ Ascension. What was happening during this time frame and why are those things so important to our understanding of the Resurrection?


My chosen text is Luke 24:36-48. It provides an insight into what was happening between the Resurrection and the Ascension within the Primitive Church. It does more than that: it reveals how God established in the minds of his first disciples and all disciples down the centuries certain truths about the Crucifixion and the Resurrection and their incalculably profound consequences. Luke 24:36-48 begins with the disciples ‘talking about this’. What is ‘this’? It is the claim that Jesus had risen and had appeared to some of the disciples. To understand more specifically how this discussion had arisen, we need to examine the reading’s context.


Luke’s resurrection narrative begins, as do all the Gospel resurrection narratives, with the women’s testimony that Jesus had risen (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Mark’s Longer Ending: 9-11; John 20:1, 2). Sceptics of the Gospels’ historicity have made much of the fact that the women’s names given by the Gospels are not all identical. Matthew refers to Mary Magdalene and ‘the other Mary’ (28:1); Mark refers to the same women but names the other Mary as ‘Mary mother of James and Salome (16:1), although in his Longer Ending, it is only Mary Magdalene who is referenced (vv. 9, 10); Luke describes a larger group of women consisting of Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and other women (v. 10; John only refers to Mary Magdalene (20:1, 2). This objection to the Gospels’ truth, however, fails.


First, all the Gospels refer to Mary Magdalene and the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) refer to Mary the mother of James and Salome also. John’s Gospel alone refers to one woman-Mary Magdalene. Thus, there is sufficient conformance between the Gospel accounts to suggest that a significant and perplexing event had happened. On the other hand, if there were perfect congruence between the Gospels, the charge no doubt would be made that there had been collusion in reporting falsely the Resurrection by con artists seeking to create a religion with themselves at its centre. (We cannot win with some people!) Moreover, the discrepancies can be reconciled if we take the view that the Gospel writers only wrote down who they and their oral sources were certain were there. Luke was more confident about recording that there was a group of named and unnamed women whereas John could only vouch for one. John was right to assert that Mary Magdalene was there, but Luke was right to assert that there were more female witnesses than just her. This is not a matter of contradiction but one of the amount of information each writer had. Finally, I remember a conversation with the minister who married my mother and stepfather during the wedding reception. He ran a weekly discussion group where the evidence was put for the truth of Christianity. Whilst discussing the Resurrection at one of this group’s meetings, one of the group members, a sceptical man who was by profession a coroner, said that one of the reasons why he was now tending towards believing in the Resurrection was because the way the different Gospels presented different bits of the picture mirrored the way in which witnesses to real events spoke when testifying in his court. Something, indeed, to think about.


So why am I labouring the point about the female witnesses? It is from them that the first reports of Jesus’ resurrection came and initially they were the source of the disciples’ discussion  

in Luke 24:36. This is significant because it was God’s way of recognising the equal status of women to men (Genesis 1:26, 27) and that they can be disciples of Jesus as much as men (Luke 8:1-3). Yet these women’s spiritual brethren had not yet caught up with God’s gender egalitarianism! According to Luke, when Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary told the men they had seen two angels that announced Jesus’ resurrection, the men dismissed their claim as ‘an idle tale’ (24:11). Women’s testimony in court was regarded as almost worthless in the ancient world; that they were female and proposing a miracle that neither they nor their spiritual brothers had expected made their witness appear more fantastical. The fact that it was women who heralded the post-Resurrection era (the second half of human history) suggests that Christianity was not a concocted religion. Who would establish a new religion on the basis of witnesses deemed unreliable because of their gender? In Luke’s account the male disciples appear to have taken more seriously the witness of the two male disciples who claimed to have encountered Jesus on the road to Emmaus, for they were prepared to discuss what they had said (vv. 13-36).


Scepticism about the Resurrection is a connecting theme in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. When the disciples saw Jesus on a mountain in Galilee, they worshipped him, ‘but some doubted’ (28:16, 17). The Longer Ending of Mark reports that Mary Magdalene and even the male Emmaus road disciples were greeted with disbelief; when Jesus appeared, he rebuked his disciples for this (16:11-14). John describes how Thomas was a stubborn disbeliever until Jesus appeared to him (20:24-29). In Like’s account, Jesus also appeared to dispel unbelief, but even after he had appeared, the disciples believed he was a ghost and were divided between the joy they felt at his return and incredulity (24:37-41). 


Scepticism certainly does not put a person beyond the mercy and grace of God. Luke 24:36 reveals that Jesus directly appeared to the sceptics to prove that he had risen indeed! He himself provided the evidence by his own appearance. This form of proof is common to all the post-Resurrection Gospel accounts (see Matthew 28:16, 17; Mark 16:14; John 20:19). We can therefore feel hope that God will reach us during those moments when we might have doubts about our faith, or we know those who have doubts or are seemingly intransigent sceptics. In my own life the writings of John Lennox, the Oxford mathematician and Christian, have played a decisive part in stabilising my faith through his evidential argument for the Faith, particularly when I went through a year of profound questioning and self-inquisition in 2008. John Lennox is not the equivalent of an appearance of Jesus, but I believe his writings were used by God to keep me on the narrow road of salvation!


Let us pray: dear God, sometimes we are caught in doubt. Questions arise about the truth of your existence and the trustworthiness of your word. We thank you that rather than rejecting us for our incredulity, you bear with us, affirming again and again that you are risen and that what cannot be fully understood is not therefore to be rejected as untrue.




Luke 21:39-43 enables us to explore another issue that has arisen in relation to how Jesus rose and unfortunately this issue is with us today. A rival of early Christianity was Gnosticism which Paul may have been warning the Colossian Christians to shun (Colossian 2:8). The Gnostics regarded the material world as debased and corrupt. This included the human body. For those Christians who were influenced by Gnosticism, God would never have incarnated

because he would have had to have assumed a human body that is evil. God therefore gave the impression that he had a body but in reality he did not.


The unbiblical notion that Jesus did not rise bodily but only spiritually has even been expounded by a number of Anglican theologians, ministers and even some bishops. Perhaps they think that by asserting a spiritual resurrection alone they are making the Resurrection more palatable to fashionable atheist materialists. However, such a tactic will not mollify critics who do not believe in spirits either. How they have the chutzpah to lead people in the recitation of the Nicene Creed on a Sunday which declares that Jesus was born of Mary-and therefore has a body-is beyond comprehension. How ought we to respond to this heterodoxy? 


Aside from the obvious retort that God is incapable of deceiving anyone into thinking he has a body when he did not because he is holy, our reading today gives us biblical reasons for asserting the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Not only did Jesus wish to prove he was alive, he proved also that his body was alive once more and that he was not a ghost (v.37). Jesus invited his disciples to touch him, showed them his nail-scarred hands and feet and ate a piece of broiled fish and some honeycomb in front of them (vv. 39-43). John backs up Luke’s assertion of a physical resurrection. He records how Jesus told Thomas to examine his hands and his side for evidence of the crucifixion (20:27) and narrates Jesus preparing a meal of fish and bread for the disciples and eating with them on the beach at the Sea of Tiberias (21:9-15). In fact, the whole of the New Testament testifies to Jesus’ physical being. Christ was not therefore an ethereal phantom wafting around Jerusalem and Galilee spooking his disciples but an amalgam of the divine with the human that includes a body which was the ‘first fruits’ (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23) of a new kind of human life: a life in which his body was made perfect, no longer subject to weakness, ageing or death, but able to live eternally.


Thus, Christianity is a faith that honours the body. Our bodies are God’s creations and Christians’ bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17). God the Son himself incarnated in a body (as Tertullian poetically writes, Jesus clothed himself in flesh. See also John 1:14), was born, went through childhood, puberty, adolescence, young adulthood and died in his early thirties. Jesus’ body was raised to everlasting life because of the Father’s love. The Eucharist is a remembrance of Jesus through the symbolic eating of his flesh and drinking of his blood through the consumption of wine and bread. To deny Christ’s body is a heresy that cuts across the witness of the New Testament.


More than ever the honouring of the body is an important Christian message to contemporary society. Viewing their bodies from a solely natural perspective and with the Media as their reference point rather than God their creator, many people are profoundly unhappy with their bodies or mistreat them. Cosmetic surgery, the use of anabolic steroids, dangerous dieting practices, overeating, undereating, unhealthy eating, excessive exercise, lack of exercise, binge drinking and alcoholism, smoking, illegal drug use, extreme physical risk-taking, avoiding medical care…all of these phenomena suggest people not at home in their God-given bodies or failing to see that they are God’s gift to them. As a faith at whose centre is the message of physical creation and God the Son’s everlasting incarnation, we have much to say to reassure people who have rejected their bodies or are failing to care for them.


In conclusion, it is important to reiterate the consequences of the Resurrection. First, it ensures our regeneration. Peter writes: ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his  

great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). Earlier, we noted that Jesus’ body after his resurrection was not subject to decay or death. Peter assures us that he shares this with his people. In his Resurrection, Jesus has earned for us a new life just like his. Second, Jesus’ Resurrection ensures our justification. Paul says that Jesus ‘was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification (Romans 4:25). When the Father raised Jesus, he declared he approved of Jesus dying for our sins. There is now no penalty for the sins of those who turn to Jesus as their Saviour and repent by making him their Lord. Finally, Jesus’ Resurrection ensures that God’s people will receive perfect resurrection bodies also. As 1 Corinthians 6:14 declares: ‘And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.’


That final point is particularly important to me at the moment and may very well be so for you too. A few weeks ago, I attended my stepfather’s funeral. My mother asked me to give his eulogy and in it I spoke of my stepfather’s Christian faith. Though his body laid nearby, enclosed in a shiny coffin and killed by dementia, the promise of bodily resurrection given to us gave me great hope. I shall see him again, fully restored and perfected, never to die again because of Jesus.


Let us pray one more time: Lord Jesus, thank you for dying and thank you Father for raising him from the dead. Without these deeds, we would be lost in our sin and death would be undefeated. Thank you that we and those who have died in you have the hope of resurrection and the prospect of living everlastingly with you in the New Jerusalem where there will be an end to our suffering.   




Dr Peter Harris


Third Sunday of Lent- 7th March, 2021

John 2: 13-22


Grace, mercy and peace to you.

My thanks to Rev’d David Scott for this week’s reflection in which he looks at the issue of use of holy places in the light of today’s gospel reading.

Speaking of holy places, it is still planned that we will open for worship on Palm Sunday (28th March) at 10am. Please book in with me if you would like to attend. I can be reached on 01474 352500/


If you attend, we will resume our former practices which are; entry via the powerhouse doors, hand washing, face coverings worn at all times in church, seating marked by orders of service. Hand sanitizer will continue to be provided. I must also ask that folk avoid remaining behind after services to chat. I know this goes against our most natural social instincts, but I hope that with the weather improving conversations can take place outside, either on the pavement or car park. Please do not stand and chat immediately outside church.


Services coming up

A reminder about upcoming services:

Palm Sunday 10am (no procession)

Good Friday 3pm

Easter Sunday 10am

Our pattern after Easter will, at least initially, to have services on Sundays only. I hope that Wednesday Eucharist will return in May.



For scientists and medics as they continue to work against the prevalence of the Covid-19 disease.


For the PCC, those who write reflections and those who extend pastoral support to those in the community.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of the Congo.


For the repose of the souls of those who have died recently and those whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


John 2:13-22. Jesus Clears the Temple Courts.


What this passage is NOT about – in my opinion:


How would you react if you came into the church to do the flowers and there were tennis tables laid out, say 4, across the nave and a group of teenagers sitting around chatting, some playing table tennis, some buying a drink – non-alcoholic, of course – through the hatchway at the back of the church and several of them with eyes glued to their phones or even chatting with a friend.  Would you throw up your hands in horror, resign and phone the Bishop, or would you think that, at last, we are becoming a truly community church?

Look, it is not my job to sit outside and tell St Aidan’s what it should be doing.  I just mention this as an example of the way the C of E and other denominations are starting to think in the UK?

I like the story I heard once of a churchwarden of a church in Yorkshire being interviewed on the radio.  Part of it went like this:

“So, Robert Young, just how long did you serve as Warden of St.X’s?

“Just over 40 years, it was.”

“Gosh, that is a long time.  You must have seen a lot of changes in your time, then?”

“I did that – and I am proud to say that I opposed every single one of them.”

Was there a relieved vicar at home listening and having a celebratory pint?

Here is a quotation from the Guardian:

“England’s biggest, most plentiful, most beautiful buildings are its churches. They are also its emptiest. There are some 16,000 churches in total, and every now and then their owner and janitor, the Church of England, utters a howl of pain. This month a church report points out that more than a quarter of churches have fewer than 20 worshippers on a Sunday – fewer than 10 in rural areas. Help, it cries, opening its mind (at last) to a future for local churches as everything from farmers’ markets to digital hubs, and even to naves as “champing” sites.”

“Champing” is apparently camping in ancient churches – no doubt a new word as indeed a new activity.


The Church of England is in a quandary.  The vast majority of the A1 listed buildings in the UK belong to the C of E.  Church authorities could lock the low attended churches and hand the

keys to the local Council.  On the other hand, the C of E, being the established church, is spiritually obliged to have a presence in every little settlement in England.  It would be very reluctant to just close them, though it does happen.  France and Germany use general taxes to maintain places of worship – not so the UK.  We are on our own, so to speak.

In the 1970s, Norwich sold off half its Medieval churches and they were transformed into shopping places etc.  York held on to its churches and has kept them open and accessible.

What will happen after covid?  Will the people come back in reasonable numbers – or even greater numbers – to church worship?  Will online services carry on helping those who are house-bound, shy or reluctant to be in public worship?  How will finances work if much giving will carry on remotely?

Post Offices, clubs, markets are opening in churches where they are closing on the street.

There are cafes, e-shopping collection points, wi-fi centres, creches, children’s parties, adult education events; even a bank can all be found in C of E churches now.  An internet firm asked our church in Swanscombe whether it could use the tower as a signal tower; it would have brought in a handy amount for the rent. (The scheme seems to have vanished because I heard no more).  Cathedrals have been/are being used as vaccination centres.  Food banks are running from churches, etc. One argument goes like this.  The original building of our beautiful worship places was financed by taxing the community - worshippers, non-worshippers, non-Anglican people, non-faith people.  Therefore it is argued that the buildings should be available to those who originally financed their erection, i.e. the general community.  This is actually not a new idea.  Cathedrals have historically been used for many community events using their large spaces.

I am only putting it out there – although it is well out there already – that the C of E has some serious thinking and praying to do.


What this passage IS about – in my opinion.

This story is in all four gospels.  One difference is that John puts this story at the start of Jesus’ ministry and the others at the end during Holy Week.  Since St John was less interested in historical sequence than in writing in themes, it is more than likely that this event took place in Holy Week as part of the final prophetic statement of Jesus the Messiah.  The theme in John’s gospel is that Jesus, from the start of His ministry, is challenging attitudes and corruption in the Temple precinct.  Artists LOVE to paint the scene of tables and birds sent flying, money being scattered etc.  One commentator says that it probably wasn’t as bad as the artists make out since it seems that neither the Temple Guard nor the Roman soldiers were called to the scene.  By the way, the money changers were there because the Temple tax was paid in Tyre currency which had a higher silver content and was recognised as a more reliable currency.  Now there’s a bit of useless information for you – and me.  However I think that the point that Jesus is making is the same point that prophets before Him made, e.g.

 Micah: “Will God be pleased with thousands of rams, with 10,000 rivers of oil…God has told you what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?”

 Amos challenged Israel with these words: “Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them,’ says God, ‘but let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.’”

 Jeremiah proclaimed: “Do not trust in the deceptive words, ‘This is the temple of the Lord’. But act justly. Do not oppress the alien, the orphan and the widow. Do not go after other gods. Then I will be with you in this place.”

 Micah knew, Amos knew, Jeremiah knew, and Jesus knew that true faith cannot ever be expressed through empty rituals but that the rituals we undertake must be an expression of the real worship of our lives: Justice, Kindness, Humility, Non-oppression, Care for the Marginalised, Faithfulness and Righteousness.

Through John we also have the words about the temple’s days being numbered. 

“Destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days”.  Wow, did that stir the prophetic pot!   Of course, the temple was seen as the House of God.  Jesus is saying that HE IS THE NEW HOUSE OF GOD, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, God’s message going out from Him.  They will try and destroy this new House of God but it will be rebuilt, resurrected three days later.    And don’t forget that Paul later described YOU as the TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, God living in and speaking through you living temples.  Whew!  That is a sobering thought.


Heavenly Father, I surrender my body to you, make it your home, make it your temple. Any ungodly thing you find there, cast it out by your power. I hold back nothing from you Lord, I give everything to you to be in charge. I don’t care what people say about my body, I don’t want to be carried by the comment of people because what is essential is for you to live in me.

Today Lord, let people see you in me and let your power start manifesting in me. Let my body be used for your glory alone. Amen.

Rain on Us Prayer

Holy Spirit, our Comforter, and our Friend, as we stand on Your Word, we ask that You rain down on us. Let Your power fall on us and change our hearts. Open heaven wide and pour out the rain of Your Holy Spirit over our church and our lives. Change us, renew us, empower us. We need Your touch again. Precious gift from heaven, send us Your cleansing rain. Amen. 


1 Revive your church, O Lord,

in grace and power draw near;

speak with the voice that wakes the dead,

and make your people hear!


2 Revive your church, O Lord,

disturb the sleep of death;

give life to smouldering embers now

by your almighty breath.


3 Revive your church, O Lord,

exalt your precious name;

and by your Holy Spirit come

and set our love aflame.


Rev’d David Scott


Second Sunday of Lent- 28th March, 2021

Mark 8:31-38


Grace and Peace to you in Christ’s name. May you plant your own steps in those of Jesus as we journey with him to the cross this Lent.


My thanks to Mavis for her reflection today which takes us through a dramatic and emotionally charged passage from Mark. I draw your attention particularly to Mavis’ prayer in which we ask for strength to face the realities of service to Christ. This is a powerful prayer for Lent and would be worth committing to memory for praying in daily situations.


Church Opening

It has been encouraging to see the success of the vaccination programme so far. I know that a good number of you in the (how can I put this?) ‘eligible age range’ (phew!) have received the vaccination and others who are eligible for other reasons, too (including myself).

Taking this into account, and noting the government’s plan for reopening society over the coming months, the PCC have considered very carefully what our own approach will be.

My intention, which the PCC have approved, is to open for a service on Palm Sunday at 10am. The date is the 28th March and we feel that by then, we would have had a few weeks since the schools have returned and will be able to see what impact that has had on infection rates. If things are looking positive, we will therefore open on that Sunday. I hope very much that this will happen and think that re entering church as Holy Week begins is a very good ‘landmark’ to look forward to. However, we will monitor the situation closely and church may not open if it is not safe.


Holy Week

My proposal for Holy Week this year is that we will offer a reduced programme of services, which will be:


Palm Sunday, 10am. Liturgy for Palm Sunday (no procession)

Good Friday, 3pm. Liturgy for Good Friday.

Easter Day, 10am Eucharist.

I will celebrate an online Eucharist on Maundy Thursday in the evening.


After Easter, we hope that St Aidan’s will be open for worship each Sunday at 10am, with Wednesday services probably starting up in May, and  certainly not straight after Easter.


Regulations around public worship

When we open for worship, Covid restrictions still apply as before:

-Enter through the Powerhouse doors and wash hands.

-Face coverings must be worn inside the church

-Attend alone or as part of a household or linked household

-Observe social distancing

-Avoid staying behind to chat after the service. This is counter intuitive I know, but conversations can be had outside as long as folk don’t gather in large groups, and do please move away from doorways, e.g go up onto the pavement or car park.


Some people have asked about singing hymns; I am afraid this is still not permitted, but let us hope that it will be before too long. I am confident that folk will continue to follow these regulations as well as we did before. It is vital that people in society don’t misread the situation and think we are pretty much out of danger; I see the role of churches to provide places of safety in communities so our good modelling of these procedures is all-important. With all that in mind, booking in for services is still necessary, so if you would like to attend on Palm Sunday, please let me know, and also for Good Friday and Easter Day. I can be reached on 01474 352500/



For our nation and for those countries only recently starting to receive vaccinations. For our link with Sierra Leone, and the diocese’s links with Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Estonia.


For our parish, nursery and all local schools as they prepare to return in early March.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of Central America.


For all those who have recently died, and whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.

This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Second Sunday of Lent – Mark 8:31-38


Today’s reading marks a turning point in the public life of Jesus.  His Galilean ministry is now all but over and the final fateful journey to Jerusalem is about to begin.   He moves north into Caesarea Philippi, noted for its worship of pagan gods such as Baal and Pan and a great temple to Caesar himself.  It is against this background of worldly religion and power that Jesus chooses to establish his identity and the kind of path that his followers will need to tread.


What this passage, paralleled in the other Gospels, tells us is that Jesus’ death on the cross is no accident.  He expects it, and he regards it as necessary.  ‘The Son of Man must undergo great suffering’.  If they had thought of him only as a prophet, the disciples might have suspected that persecution and even death were possible, ‘for they persecuted the prophets who were before you’ (Matthew 5:12) - but the Messiah was not supposed to die.  He was supposed to usher in the kingdom of God right away.


Have you ever played ‘Follow the leader’?  It’s great when the leader is doing fun things – safe things – but it ceases to be fun when the leader does something far outside our comfort zone and what we would consider to be downright dangerous!


Jesus called the disciples to follow him.  They left their homes, their families, their work – everything with which they were familiar – and went around the country with him.   It was a wonderful time of miracles and crowds following him.  Life with Jesus was a great adventure.   We can imagine them sitting round having a picnic on their way to Caesarea Philippi – happily chatting together, as doubtless a close bond had been forged between them.  But then the bombshell – their leader wasn’t doing fun things anymore!


Jesus had asked them if they knew who he really was.  Stoney silence!  Peter – always the spokesman – “You are the Messiah”!

Having made such a statement, Peter was excited.  He, like many Jews at that time anticipated that the Messiah would bring in a new

age of peace and prosperity, quite possibly by the violent overthrow of political opponents like the Romans.  Surely their hated rule would soon be a thing of the past!


Having brought the disciples to the stage of recognising his identity, Jesus begins to teach them what kind of Messiah he is – he needs to correct these glamorous ideas.   Their mood changes as he tells them he is the suffering Messiah anticipated in the psalms and by the prophet Isaiah.  The disciples are understandably shocked – this is revolutionary stuff!  Jesus warned them of the troubles that lie ahead – the elders, the chief priests and the scribes would reject him and he would be killed.  Being human, Jesus did not want to be killed but he knew if he continued to do God’s work, he would face opposition and he knew it was his Father’s will.  Though his nature was divine, this never prevented the dread of his imminent death nor its horror.


This was all getting a bit too much for Peter – he loved Jesus and couldn’t bear to think of him having to undergo such savage treatment.  He took him aside – tried to persuade him to run away or hide or go somewhere else.  However, Jesus could see that Satan was using Peter’s love to tempt him.   In the wilderness he had resisted Satan’s seductive alternatives and he knew he had to do the same now.  Jesus spoke very sternly to his friend “Get behind me Satan!  You are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things”.  Later, when reflecting on this, it must have greatly saddened Peter knowing that he should have been Satan’s mouthpiece at such a critical moment in his Lord’s ministry.


It is easy for us – with hindsight – to criticize Peter for arguing with Jesus.  We do not need to question the crucifixion; it is a fact of history.  But to Peter and the others it seemed totally unthinkable – they were shocked to the core.  They ignored the evidence of the Pharisees’ hostility, plain from the start of his public ministry.  They ignored the evidence of the prophets who had foretold the Messiah’s death.  Isaiah 53, for example uses phrases like “a man of sorrows ... familiar with suffering … a lamb to the slaughter … cut off from the

land of the living … assigned a grave”.  It seemed impossible that their beloved friend, whom they had just acknowledged as the Messiah, should leave them in such a barbaric way. 


The final words in our reading are among the most challenging that Jesus ever uttered.  Their purpose was clear then and it still is for us today.  The time had come to sift out those who acknowledged him in “word only” and those who were prepared to be fully committed to him – whatever the outcome. 


We began by thinking about the game of “follow the leader”.  Jesus is now emphasising most strongly if you want to follow him, you must be prepared to face up to the cost in terms of self, possessions and public opinion.   The self-denial that he calls for goes far beyond the denial of a favourite chocolate bar during Lent – it is the giving up of a life centred on self.   The faith commitment to Jesus demands a willingness, if need be, to lose our life for him.  As we know, the commitment that the disciples showed did indeed lead to their death and sadly still today many are martyred because of their refusal to renounce their faith. 


“Who do you say that I am?” Jesus continues to ask that question of you and me.  Fortunately, we in this country are unlikely to have to pay the ultimate price of our commitment.   But should he ask us, face to face, we must think carefully before we reply, because our answer will most definitely determine how we live the rest of our lives.  Are we prepared to make those necessary changes?


Just a thought:  Jesus did not lose his life – he gave it for us!


Let us pray:

Lord, if I’m honest, I like life to be comfortable.  But I want to follow you; so please help me to trust you to give me strength to cope with whatever pain and suffering you allow in my life and the courage to put my principles into practice.



Mavis Prater


Sunday next before Lent- 14th February, 2021

Mark 9:2-9


Warm greetings to you after a week of snow here in Gravesend!

Today is of course also St Valentine’s Day- my prayers and blessings for all your loved ones and for those whom you love but see no longer because of death. Let us praise God for the gift of love.


A new Vicar for Christ Church

I am delighted to announce that the Rev’d Andrew Davey is to be the new Vicar of Christ Church, Milton. Andrew is currently a priest in the Diocese of Southwark and before ordination was a church-based community worker. Andrew hopes to be instituted in May this year. Please pray for him, his wife Alison and their adult children.



Lent begins this Wednesday on Ash Wednesday, 17th February. I will be posting ashes to those who have requested them in time for Wednesday and will be celebrating a simple Eucharist on the day at 9.30am on the parish Facebook page. I know that not everyone is a ‘Facebook person’ but I am also aware that a few of you have recently mastered visiting the page, and you do not have to be registered with Facebook to view the page. If you go onto Google (or whatever search engine you use) and type ‘St Aidan’s Church Gravesend Facebook’ and the link will come up. Just click on that and the page will appear. If you visit the page a few moments before the service starts it will be begin playing. If you watch it later, just click on the ‘play’ arrow on the video. In any case, I pray that you will have a good and holy Lent. I recommend that you make some time to read the story of Jesus’ arrest, trial and death in one of the gospels, and  pray for those who suffer injustice and execution in our own time.

I will be emailing out the resources for the Lent course soon to those who have asked for them.


Peter Harris Seminar- Zoom session for conversation

For those of you who have received the resources for Peter’s seminar, there will be a Zoom session on Saturday 20th February at 10am. I will send out the link nearer the time. The session is there as a chance to talk over your responses to the seminar and to ask Peter any questions. My thanks again to Peter for providing such an interesting topic for us to think about. I will post the resources on the Faith and Spirituality section of the parish website for anyone who would like to read them over at leisure.


Mark 9:2-9

Today’s reading recounts the events on a mountaintop which are usually entitled the Transfiguration, a term which means to metamorph into something else. 

The story is well-known and is found in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Unusually, all three accounts very closely resemble each other (often the stories differ between gospels in varying ways) with only minor differences. This suggests to us that the three writers felt the importance of this story and its message.

What is that message? After all, it is a very dramatic story shrouded in mystery and a whole host of interpretations. In such a case as this, it is probably best to look at the ‘facts’ of the story: Jesus ascends a mountain with Peter, James and John. Whilst there, Jesus’ clothes become dazzling white and Moses and Elijah appear beside Jesus. The three figures speak with one another whilst the three disciples look on, astonished. Peter (always the first to spring into action) offers to set up ‘tents’ for Jesus, Moses and Elijah; presumably in reference to the Jewish feast of Tabernacles (tents), which recalled the time the Israelites lived in tents during the time of the Exodus, or to the time in Hebrew scripture when the ‘Name of the Lord’ dwelt in a Tabernacle. In any case, the gospel writers tell us that Peter offered to do this  because he didn’t know what to say-the disciples are afraid.

Then comes the cloud which overshadows the scene, and the voice of God is heard, commanding those present to listen to Jesus, who is God’s ‘beloved’ (in Luke, Jesus is ‘chosen’). In each version of the story, Jesus and the three disciples then return down the mountain, after Jesus forbids them to speak of what they have seen. After the Transfiguration experience, all four men are changed- Jesus, Peter, James and John. We could say, then, that the transfiguring does not apply to Jesus only; yes, Jesus’ physical form is changed on the mountain, but the very lives of the disciples are changed, too. They will never be the same again.

This part of the gospel narrative is charged with intense drama- Peter has just confessed that Jesus is the Messiah; the effects of this understanding would be reason enough for their heads to be spinning and their hearts pounding, but to see Jesus changed before them, glowing white- then to see two figures of enormous importance to Jewish tradition- Moses and Elijah- and then to hear the very voice of God- well, we can only wonder at what this did to them! Not only that, but with their hearts and minds bursting with all this, Jesus tells them not to tell a soul- how they must have longed to shout from the rooftops, or at least have a chance to talk it all over with the other disciples. 

These two aspects- the drama of the event and the forbidding of its broadcast ‘locate’ the event theologically.

The dramatic experience takes place on top of a ‘high mountain’ (probably Mt Hermon. Tradition has suggested Mt Tabor but this is too far away to fit the order of events within a realistic time scale).


The Old Testament often features mountains as places where people communicate with God. Moses himself received the Ten Commandments on Mt Sinai (and descended the mountain with his face ‘shining white’); Elijah met with God on Mt Horeb and received his commission to anoint kings and prophets (there, God spoke to Elijah in the ‘silence’ which followed a raging wind, earthquake and fire), the Temple was set upon a ‘mount’ in Jerusalem, marking mountains out as places of worship. They are also a sanctuary- Elijah sheltered from the earthquake in a  mountain cave, and, much earlier in the Old Testament, the ark  of Noah finally rested on a mountain top when the flood waters receded. The significance of the Transfiguration taking place in a mountain setting is not be understated, then. It represents the importance of what God is doing with Jesus- revealing him- in a changed state- so that the disciples may see who he ‘really is’.

Secondly, Jesus’ command not to speak of the event encapsulates it in time. Jesus is not content for his Messiahship to be known yet, so those who witnessed the Transfiguration don’t get to tell all and sundry. This also reveals that we ought not to envy Peter, James and John their experience, or wonder ‘why doesn’t God do dramatic things in my life?’ because the event itself is less important than what it signifies. Peter’s anxious reaction of offering to put up shelters for the three holy figures is a natural human response to ‘make a claim’ to experience, to plant something real in the ground that testifies to that experience; it is like Peter scrawling ‘Peter woz ere’ in marker pen on a rock on the mountain- but again- this is not what the incident is about. God reveals Jesus as the Messiah, as his Son and his Chosen. He exhorts those to ‘listen’ to Jesus, not to do anything else. 

This then, turns that exhortation to us- we can also listen to Jesus, and be open to joining with him in transfiguration, in consciously seeking to be changed spiritually and wholly. Pray then, that all people may quiet our tendency to ‘leave a mark’ of our witness to Christ and instead listen to divine promptings from Christ. We can receive these in visions and dramatic experiences (it does happen!), but also through one another, through our experiences of everyday life, through the pages of the Bible and other writings, and it is worth noting that since God has done these revelatory things then, in time, the whole of the world has been transfigured, and whilst there are many holy sites and special places in the world, we can commune with God anywhere- the mountaintop may well be your living room!



For all followers of Jesus Christ, that their journey of discovery will ever enrich and surprise them.


For the Church, that it may be a fitting place to encounter God, and for our homes that may be sanctuaries and places of worship and praise.


For our parish, its schools and businesses and for those who are housebound.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of Canada.


For the repose of the souls of the recently departed, and those whose anniversary occurs around this time. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Second Sunday before Lent- 7th February, 2021

John 1: 1-14


Grace and peace to you in the name of Christ the Lord.

Our gospel reading today is the powerful and arresting ‘prologue’ to John’s gospel which introduces us to the idea that Jesus is the ‘Word’ of God who was with God before creation. My thanks to the Rev’d David Scott for his bracing thoughts this week on that dramatic gospel, and on how we can listen to that Word.


Here are some reminders of things coming up:


Peter Harris Seminar

A number of you have asked for the materials for Peter’s seminar on the ‘finality of Christ among the gods’ These will be emailed to you in time for Saturday 13th February, the day when we would have met in church for the seminar. If you would like them, or a hard copy if you are not online, please let me know.

Ash Wednesday- 17th February

We will not be in church this year but I hope to provide as much as I can to enable you to begin Lent prayerfully. There will be a eucharist on our Facebook page at 9.30am on the day. I am also offering a pack with prayers and a small amount of ash for you to pray at home and mark yourselves or one another at home with the cross on the forehead. Please ask if you would like these dropped off to you.

Lent Course- 21st February-21st March

Again, we cannot meet in person for this course, but I have prepared a version that you can use at home whether you are an internet user or not. For those who are online, there will be a fifty minute session on each Sunday at 7pm on ‘Zoom’. Night Prayer will follow on Facebook at 8pm. I have made some adjustments to the course, and it will be focussing on making a journey with God through Lent, looking at God’s nature and seeing how that is shown in Jesus. We will be using prayers and readings from the Book of Common Prayer. A number of you have already asked for this but do let me know if you would like the resources.


Church opening and the Covid situation

St Aidan’s will remain closed throughout February and I cannot predict beyond that at this stage. It is encouraging to hear of developments in the effectiveness of vaccines and that the severity of the virus may have lessened a bit, but we must remain responsible and cautious.


The APCM -Annual Meeting

The diocese has asked parishes to hold this year’s annual meeting by the end of May. I have set a date of Sunday 23rd May (Pentecost) at 11.30am. I am hopeful that we will be able to meet in church as we did last year, observing social distancing. If that is not possible, we will hold the meeting online. People who do not have the internet can ‘dial in’ on a special number and hear the meeting. My thanks to Mike for the work he will now be doing to prepare for the meeting. Those of you who would normally write a report about various activities will not need to do so as we have not held these activities over the year. It will be a rather brief meeting I think! However, it is essential ( and a legal requirement) that we hold the meeting so that the PCC can be elected. We are still looking for a churchwarden to work alongside Dennis and myself. Please let me or Mike Welch know if you are interested.

Despite the closure of the church building, St Aidan’s has nonetheless been active in a range of ways and there is certainly a good deal of hope for the immediate future. I will update on this at the meeting. It is a way off yet, but if you intend to attend, please let me know so we can monitor capacity. I can be reached on 01474 352500/



For Biblical scholars and theological educators, that we may learn more of God through the scriptures.


For those who have felt their faith strengthened through online worship.


For our parish community, schools and nursery.

In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for The Anglican Church of Burundi.


For the souls of those who have died recently, and whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


John 1:1-14

L O R D  O F  A L L  C R E A T I O N :

John chapter 1:

“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

So begins the Gospel for the 2nd Sunday before Lent. 

Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels start with stables, shepherds, angels, wise men etc.  John starts with the Jesus who was around before creation began and even being part of the creation process.  That is quite a leap of faith.  Cute baby/Lord of all creation.  What a jump!  The epistle also gives us what is probably Paul’s most exalted picture of Jesus:  Colossians 1:

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 

18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Co-creator, Image of the invisible God, head of the Church and Jesus will be the agent through whom ALL THINGS IN HEAVEN AND EARTH will be reconciled to Himself.   Oh wow!  What a mighty Saviour and Lord we worship and honour!

The symbol of John’s Gospel is usually an eagle because John takes us to a soaring Jesus, hovering over creation and caring for all that goes on in the earth.  It is a challenging picture.


W O R D   M A D E   F L E S H !

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.  What would we do without words?  Words communicate.  I read somewhere that ladies use, on average, 3 times as many words a day as men do.  But I wouldn’t dare mention that here.  However, whoever we are, male or female, we all use words to give and receive information.  Even the famous Professor Stephen Hawkins had to find ways of communicating by using some brilliant technology. (RIP).

So God needs to communicate with us.  How should we hear God?



Psalm 19 begins:

“1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 

2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 

3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 

4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

David Attenborough is an atheist as far as I know, but you don’t have to believe in God to be a prophet.  He issues warning after warning about how humans are destroying the creation about which the Bible says that God looked on and said that He was very pleased.

Let us hear the Word of God through His creation.  Take time to appreciate it and even praise God through it, hearing His Word through earthly nature and the stars in the heavens.   Psalm 95:


3 For the Lord is the great God,

 the great King above all gods.

4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,

 and the mountain peaks belong to him.

5 The sea is his, for he made it,

 and his hands formed the dry land.

How privileged we are to have so many travel documentaries through a remote control.  Even if we can’t travel, we can see scenes from around the world and praise God for speaking to us through it all.


The Words of Jesus and Scripture.

Take great care to listen to God through Jesus and Word speaking to us in the Gospels – not just to read it but listen to the Word of God speaking through the words.  Even if people don’t worship Jesus as Lord and God, it is generally believed that He was the greatest teacher of ethics and morals who ever lived.

Take care to hear Jesus, not forgetting that Jesus the Word speaks to us right through the scriptures.


Words from others.

Take care to listen to those around you.  Sometimes God will speak to you through wise, comforting, challenging words from a friend, preacher or even a stranger.  Once, when still a teenager at work in Durban, people around me seemed to me to be avoiding me.  An older lady work colleague took me aside and gave me a little talk, the gist of which was: “You go around this place as if you own it.”  I wasn’t sure what she meant, but I adjusted my attitudes somehow and people began to relate to me better.

An American pastor was once asked how he got his teaching across to his congregation.  He said:  “First I tells ‘em what I’m going to tells ‘em; then I tells ‘em; then I tells ‘em what I told ‘em.”  If God is trying to tell us something, let the Word of God speak to us.  Don’t make Him keep repeating Himself!


Listening prayer


Heavenly Father,


I wait upon you.

I pause, still my mind and still my heart.

I wait upon you.

I stop, and listen beyond the everyday.

I wait upon you.

I rest, and allow my soul to have space.


I wait upon you.

Quiet, at rest, held.

I wait upon you.

And call Abba, Abba Father.

I know you have searched me, and you know me.

I know you are the beginning and the end.

I know you are the Redeemer.

I wait upon you,

Allowing your grace to penetrate my whole being.

And in this place, close, protected and eternal

I find that this grace renews my strength,

Wipes away my tears,

And promises new hope.


I wait upon you.


Listen to Jesus in the Garden

“I speak in the stillness of the morning. On a cool and quiet summer morning before the heat of the day and the hustle and bustle I speak words that refresh and give perspective.

“In my garden where flowers are blooming in my gentle rays of morning light to show forth my glory I speak words that beautify. In my garden where trees are standing tall in my sunshine and lifting their branches in

praise to me I speak words that enliven.

“The birds know my voice. I put the song in their mouths and they sing happily from branch to branch, each in its own beautiful voice. The butterflies know my garden. I put the flutter in their flight and they dance playfully from flower to flower, each in its own beautiful way.

“Come to me in my garden of delights. Don’t hurry into the day’s work. Don’t try to get a head start on your To Do List. Linger with me in my garden awhile. See how the birds and butterflies find refuge in my garden. Listen how they sing for me and for you. See how they play with me and with you.

“I am with you always but here in the garden I am present to you in a special way in the stillness of the morning. Join in with the birds and butterflies that delight to find refuge in the beauty of my garden. Sing and dance with me and many others will join our garden song.”

Rev’d David Scott


Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Candlemas)- 31st January, 2021


Luke 2: 22-40.


Blessings to you on this day of Candlemas- may you know  Christ the Light in your life now and always, and may the world, so often shrouded in darkness, be bathed in the light of Christ. 

My thanks to Mavis for this week’s wonderful reflection on Candlemas.


Well, a month ago, the 31st December, many said ‘goodbye’ to 2020 with something of a feverish sigh of relief and looked ahead to 2021 with some hope that there might be some hope this year. How are you feeling, a month on? Many unknowns open up before us but let us hope that some of those unknowns become opportunities to grow communities, strengthen friendship and spread encouragement. Whilst church remains closed for now, the online broadcast of the Eucharist will continue for the duration of our closure for those who wish to access that. The PCC will consider opening church when we feel it is safe to do so. That time is still a way off yet.


In the meantime…


Ash Wednesday-If you live in the parish,please let me know if you would like to receive a small packet of ashes for Ash Wednesday. These will come with a sheet with prayers and readings so you can observe the beginning of Lent at home in a traditional way. I will celebrate the eucharist at 9.30am on the parish Facebook page on Ash Wednesday. 


Parish giving-St Aidan’s is in need of any financial donations possible as we navigate the financial challenge of the pandemic in which the church hall is not in use. This is our main source of income and has been largely cut off for nearly a year. On behalf of our treasurer can I thank those of you who have generously continued to support St Aidan’s, and can I entreat those who have not, or not with regularity, to please resume if you possibly can. Currently the best way to donate is through a standing order via your bank. Payment details available from me ( Alternatively, there is a ‘donate to us’ link on the parish website with a very easy to use procedure. Gift Aid options are available. Cheques (St Aidan’s PCC) or cash can be posted through my door and will be processed as soon as we can. It is no exaggeration to say that the church is only just surviving financially, so thank you for anything that you can give.


Peter Harris’ Seminar-Peter’s seminar The finality of Christ is available in the form of an emailed presentation with audio of Peter talking. There is an accompanying write-up of the main points of the talk for those who would like to read that too or who are not online. The resources are available for use from the 13th February. Please let me know if you would like them. A chance to talk it all over afterwards via ‘Zoom’ is being planned. If you are not online but would like the resources in paper form, please ask and we will get them to you if you live in the parish. Having had a preview, I can say it is another very stimulating topic, put across in Peter’s thorough but clear manner. I recommend it to you.




For those rediscovering their faith during this pandemic, and for those finding their faith tested.


For families affected by the virus, for healthcare professionals, scientists and chaplains.


In thanksgiving for the coming Spring, the signs of which we see around us, and for the sense of hope this gives us.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of Brazil.


For the repose of the souls of those who have died recently. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Luke 2:22-40


God placed his son within a devout family.  These verses tell us that Mary and Joseph were doing what all Jewish parents were required to do.   By Jewish law, Mary could not enter a holy place or touch anything holy until she had given thanks to God for her first-born and offered the accustomed sacrifice.  Mary came to be purified, and with Joseph, to offer two doves.   The offering of two doves was known to be the “offering of the poor” – those who were well-off would have offered a lamb. 


This event would have been an everyday occurrence in the temple for couples and their child – there was nothing unusual about it.  That is, until Simeon comes on to the scene and now we realise that it is far from the “norm”.  I remember making the point in my reflections for the Sunday after Christmas, when we were thinking about the shepherds, that the most likely source of Luke’s information must have been Mary herself, and surely again in the detail given in these verses the source could only have been Mary.


In Simeon, we have the picture of an old man, a good man, a holy man, living each day in sure and certain hope that he would see the Messiah before he died.  That hope sustained him, day in and day out.  He knew that in God’s time the promise to him would be fulfilled and that was sufficient for him.   Guided by the Holy Spirit he was in the right place at the right time when that day came.  Through the insight of the Holy Spirit he recognised in that very ordinary looking family the one he was waiting for.  He held in his arms the child and experienced the promise fulfilled.  Now he could leave this life, content in peace and joy, as the Saviour, the light and glory of the world, began his life on earth.    Simeon praised God in the words which we know as the Nunc Dimittis (v.29-32).   This delightful prayer explains what Luke tells us about him at the beginning of our reading today – he was waiting for the consolation of Israel – a description of the Messiah.   But there is more.  The Jews looked upon the Christ as their Saviour – but Simeon describes him as a ‘light for the revelation to the Gentiles’.  Jesus would not be the exclusive property of one nation – he came to be the Saviour of the world. 


There are times in our lives when we urgently crave for consolation – probably none more so than now when many are feeling afraid, anxious, lonely, have suffered bereavement.  Simeon found that God’s consolation – his comfort – is to be found in a person – his son Jesus. 


So Simeon then, took the precious child into his arms and gave thanks for him.  This reminds us of the time when Jesus himself took bread and wine and gave thanks to God and said “Do this in remembrance of me”.  Let us pray it wont be too long before our churches are open again and we can take him – the Bread of life into our hands and bodies and feed upon him in our hearts with thanksgiving every time we go to Holy Communion.


But Simeon has surprising words for the mother of Jesus.  He looks to the future as he foresees that the one who brings comfort will also bring discomfort – his future teaching and ministry will shine a light on injustices and show things as they really are.   Yes, we know from the gospel stories that these prophetic words became a reality.  But we also know that because of his death and resurrection, we can experience his comfort most often, not as he helps us bypass anxiety and pain, but as he accompanies us through them.


Our focus is now turned to Anna.  In just three verses, we can learn a lot about this elderly widow.  She possessed divine insight into things not usually seen by others.  She recognised the holy child in the temple and was prepared to proclaim his significance to others.  Anna had been a widow for many years but instead of staying at home moping over her lot, she became a devoted worshipper in the temple, apparently attending services of both morning and evening prayer.   Like Simeon, her heart and mind were ready for the coming of Jesus, so she too welcomed the holy child.


There are, I would suggest, two kinds of widows.  Those who, having led busy lives, after the death of their partner, withdraw from life completely – becoming bitter and complaining.  Others, like Anna, find joy and comfort in their prayers and worship and in sharing their faith with others. 


Having had the experience of widowhood myself, I know how easy it is on an “off day” to try to withdraw from life – especially during “lockdown” and the long dark cold days of winter when even the thought of leaving the security of home to go for a solitary walk is far from inviting.   However, at times like these, I am so grateful to God for giving me a positive attitude to life – he makes me aware of my many blessings and gives me the incentive to get up and get going and I find his peace


Having a positive attitude is half the battle isn’t it.  It is always good to have something to look forward to as Simeon did.  Doubtless God still has many joyful surprises in store for us.  May I suggest we use the words of this well-known hymn as a prayer that the Holy Spirit will lead us to them at the right time.


Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us o’er the world’s tempestuous sea;

Guard us, guide us, keep us, feed us, for we have no help but thee.

Yet possessing every blessing if our God our Father be.


Mavis Prater





Third Sunday of Epiphany- 24th January, 2021

John 2:1-11


Grace and peace to you. I hope that you are coping as we move through the difficult beginning of 2021.

My thanks to Pastor Alfred Osinibe for his stimulating reflection on the Wedding at Cana which you can read below. I receive many comments asking me to pass on thanks to our reflection writers and I continue to be so grateful for the range and scope of these. Next week, Mavis Prater will be taking us through Candlemas

Lent 2021

Ash Wednesday falls on 17th February this year; I think it unlikely that we will be in church for the traditional Holy Communion with imposition of ashes but let’s wait and see. If we are not in church by then I will offer you the chance to receive the ashes at home along with readings and prayers. This will enable you to begin Lent prayerfully and, if you wish, to mark yourself on the forehead with the sign of the cross in ash (the ash is made by burning last year’s palm crosses). Alternatively you can sprinkle the ashes on the crown of your head. If you live with others at home then naturally you can mark one another in this way (including children if they want to).

If you live in the parish and would like to receive this, please email or ring me by Sunday 14th February so I can prepare the materials, which will be dropped off to you. On Ash Wednesday I will celebrate the eucharist at 9.30am on the Facebook page which can be viewed here


Lent Course

I am hoping to hold a five-week Lent course on Sunday evenings at 7pm from 21st February to 21st March. This course will consist of self reflection and meditation on God’s love for you. It will involve spending time reading and in prayer during the week, with the Sunday sessions as a time to consider and explore our discoveries. The sessions will be online as it will not be advisable to meet in person. Again, if you are interested in this, please email or phone me. I will produce a version for folk in the parish who are not online so that they can participate at home.


Peter Harris seminar

Many of you have enjoyed Peter’s ‘Saturday morning seminars’ (not least the French coffee and pastries which Peter tends to bring!) and he is preparing one ready for Saturday 13th February  on the topic of The Finality of Christ among the gods. This session will explore Christian ideas around living in a multi-faith world. Unfortunately we cannot meet in church (there go the coffee and pastries…) but Peter has kindly prepared materials which can be emailed for people to read at home. Peter has also recorded a talk which accompanies the resources but there is also a write-up of Peter’s talk for those who do not have audio or who are not online. Once again, please let me know if you would like the resources. I am very grateful to Peter for doing this for us- it is good to know we can exercise our brains a bit!

I am also delighted to report that Peter has been elected by the PCC to serve as a Deanery Synod rep. I thank him again for serving our deanery and parish in this way.


School Governance and theological teaching

Very sadly, the Chair of governors at St George’s secondary school has died. John Harding was a devoted servant of the school as a teacher, deputy head, governor and finally Chair. He will be missed. The current vice-chair has offered to be interim Chair for the remainder of this year and I have offered to be vice-chair (I am already a governor of the school). I have since been elected to this role, which  continues the presence of Anglican clergy in senior governance roles at the school. In addition to that I am also the community governor for Tymberwood Academy (formerly Raynehurst primary). I am soon to begin teaching a course at St Augustine’s College of Theology (based at West Malling) which stretches from March to June.  These are good roles for me to occupy in the community, deanery and wider church but I want to assure you that St Aidan’s remains my priority and I would not assume these other duties if they compromised my calling as a parish priest.  Clergy are, nowadays, expected to have areas of work outside of the parish and it seems like education is mine. Once a teacher always a teacher!


The Rev’d Lawrence Smith RIP

The former rector of Northfleet and my training incumbent, Fr Lawrence Smith, has died. Fr Lawrence had been unwell for some time and sadly never got to really enjoy the retirement he had longed for after a forty-year ministry spanning work in the dioceses of Canterbury and London and of course Rochester. Fr Lawrence had a missional heart, a love for those in deep need and insisted that everybody deserved a chance. He was a bachelor, but his elderly mother, his sister and all the family will surely appreciate your prayers.


Funeral of Joan Howard RIP

Many of you know Joan, who was dedicated to St Aidan’s over many years and who died before Christmas. Her funeral is to take place on the 12th February at the Thamesview Crematorium at 12 noon. Please do pray at that time if you can. The funeral will be ‘live streamed’ on the internet so that people not in attendance can still view the service. Further details on how to do this will follow.



For the United States of America following the inauguration of the new president, and for the relationship that nation has with the wider world.

For those affected by Covid-19, including those whose livelihoods are in peril, and for those isolating at home over many months.

For our parish, schools, nursery and the residents of St Gregory’s court.

In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Church of Bangladesh.

For those who have died recently or whose anniversary of death occurs at this time. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.

This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


John 2:1-11 Key Points

  • There was a wedding and Jesus was invited, the wine ran out, and Mary noticed the need and brought it to Jesus' attention.

  • Jesus said His hour has not yet come. Mary said they should do whatever Jesus asked them to do.

  • Where Jesus was going to bring the solution through was in six traditional pots in the temple, but He needed servants that will fill the jar and draw out to others.

  • The steward did not know how this wine came about, but the servants that filled the jars and drew out of these jars knew where it came from. This became the first miracle of Jesus.


Without any doubt, people are spiritually and emotionally thirsty, marriages are running out of ‘good wine’, domestic violence has been on the increase since Coronavirus, mental health issues have risen so much in our society; some nations have newly voted for legal abortion  causing much disruption in those societies; we are all longing for the end of the COVID19 pandemic, many social economy issues gave us little or no hope, and many other situations facing us and that may still face us. 

It seems we are in the situation they were in at this wedding in Cana in Galilee. And as hopeless as that wedding was becoming, hope was brought in because:

  1. Jesus was in the picture. The question that we sincerely need to ask is, is Jesus in the picture in our family lives today, is He in the picture in our personal decisions and interactions with the world? He is sometimes taken out of the picture in our schools and in many social economic issues faced in our world. For the wedding feast in Cana in Galilee, there was hope because Jesus was invited.

People often make new resolutions at the beginning of a year, some resolve to take up more religious activities, but do these often lead to Jesus being in the picture? What is behind the resolution? Is it genuine?

  1. Another key element for me is Mary the earthly mother of Jesus. She saw the state of the wedding and intervened to forestall a disaster. She had a heart and an eye for detail, she wasn't just enjoying herself at the wedding, but she was on the look out for the challenges that were posed at the wedding  and she could boast of her confidence in whatever Jesus said!

Could we be more like this as Christians this year, who do not only do Christianity for our own gain, but are also on the look out for those whose wine is running out?

  1. Then there were the traditional jars. For years, these jars served traditional purposes, but as the wedding ran out of good wine, these jars served noble purpose in Jesus' hands.

Sometimes, people think of the traditional church as lukewarm, not zealous, but could this be a time that God proves many wrong as He finds people who have Jesus in their lives who can make Him known to our needy world?

  1. Finally,  the servants. These servants filled the traditional jars with water and drew out of it to serve good wine. These servants brought clergy men and women to my heart, ordained and lay who are serving the Lord faithfully and still willing to serve Him faithfully regardless of the season the world is in just as our vicar has served faithfully thus far.

It seems through the faithful witness of such servants, God will give out the new wine to broken homes, disrupted families, disturbed individuals, and our world that mostly believe not in Christ. 

This meditation on today’s reading brought the consecration hymn "here I am Lord, it is I Lord" to mind.

Prayer and Resolution

Why not spend time in prayer and make the following resolution either aloud or silently?

It is I that will invite Jesus into all my affairs this year, it is I that will be the Mary that observes with love what is going on with others, it is I that will be the jars to fill, it is I that will be the servant that will fill and draw out the water to give to the world around me that seems to be running out of wine. It is I that will be the mirror of Jesus to the world in this year 2021 that through me many will taste the good wine that is in Jesus. 

As God longs to find us in union with Him this year,  He wants to respond to the cry of many around us and those far away. Will you be the one that allows Jesus to fully enter in your life? 


Pastor Alfred Osinibe



Second Sunday of Epiphany- 17th January, 2021

John 1:43-51


Epiphany blessings to you. My thanks to Peter Harris for his agile reflection on Sunday’s reading and its message of evangelism- the message of good news to all people.

The world is in need of good news. Any good news will do! I am holding on to the fact that my football team is doing only moderately badly and has so far managed to avoid their customary post-Christmas slump. I am sure you will have your own version of the good news you are cherishing. On a note more relevant than football, I am pleased to report that the presence St Aidan’s now has online, particularly through its Facebook page, is attracting a good number of folk regularly, from near and far. This is good news indeed and I have received some encouraging comments from people about what these services mean to them. Not everyone is an internet enthusiast (often with very good reason) but it must be acknowledged that the Church in general has done very well at being present online during the pandemic. It has also proved to be a vital life line for me to keep up to date with what is happening around the parish. Facebook has a number of local community pages and some of them are very good- I have been struck once again by the neighbourliness shown by people of all ages and backgrounds locally, who seem determined to help one another keep going. If you do not use the internet, you may be encouraged to know that these good things are happening.


Annual Meeting (APCM)

This year’s Annual Meeting is due to take place on the 21st March but I have yet to receive confirmation as to how these are intended to progress. Last time we managed to meet in church- it may be possible to do so by then but I will keep you informed. Obviously, those of you who write about our groups and activities will not be required to do so this year and we will probably break the record for our shortest meeting of all time!



As we move through Epiphany, let us pray that we will share in the courage and forbearance of the Wise Men as they journeyed through the darkness guided only by a small point of light. May we trust that in our own darkness we trust the true light, however diminished it may sometimes seem.

Pray for our healthcare professionals and scientists, hospital chaplains, care home and hospice staff at this demanding time.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of Australia.

We pray for the those who have died recently and whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


John 1:43-51

Our reading today is John 1:43-51. One of the most important purposes of John’s Gospel is to convince us that Jesus is the Son of God who became flesh and is the long-awaited Messiah of Jewish expectation. The Gospel begins with the identification of Jesus as the Eternal Word and Creator (1:1-5) and later in verse 14 affirms that the Word, or God the Son, became flesh in the form of Jesus of Nazareth. This is one of the distinctives of our Christian faith: that God incarnated as a man and died in our place for the forgiveness of our sins. Death could not hold him, and he rose again to conquer it and make possible everlasting life for those who trust in him. These truths were understood and faithfully preserved by ancient theologians, often in the face of terrible persecution. Our belief is their legacy. John also had no time for the heresies that were infiltrating the Church during his lifetime, such as the Arian view that Jesus was not divine. In this first chapter, John presents a series of people who testify to the truth of Jesus’ eternal, divine nature: himself, John the Baptist (vv. 29-34, 36), Andrew and Peter (vv. 40-42) and finally Philip and Nathanael (vv.43-51) whose conversions are part of our reflection today.

One thing you might notice about this passage and its context is how quickly people recognise who Jesus is. On two occasions in this chapter John the Baptist sees Jesus and cries immediately that Jesus is the ‘Lamb of God’ (vv. 29, 36). Two disciples of John the Baptist consequently follow Jesus. One of them is Andrew (v. 40).  He introduces Jesus to his brother Simon who is similarly impressed by Jesus to receive a new name from him-Cephas (or Peter) (v. 42). The same speed of conversion happens to Philip and Nathanael (vv. 43, 49). Not everyone recognises who Jesus is and are drawn to him. The people of Nazareth who try to throw Jesus off a cliff, the hostile Samaritan village that denies Jesus and his disciples entry, the religious experts who argue with him and plot his death, the Sanhedrin who accuse him to Pilate, the Roman guards who beat, mock and lead him to Golgotha, Herod Antipas who dismisses him as a holy fool and Pontius Pilate who at least sees an innocent man, are blind to Jesus the God-Man. Many do receive him as such, for their hearts are not hardened with religious pride and political hubris but are open to being guided by the Spirit of Truth (14:17). 

Another interesting feature of this passage is how the good news of Jesus’s identity is passed on. The two disciples learn from John the Baptist who Jesus is. One of them, Andrew, passes the news on to Peter. It is likely that Andrew and Peter tell Jesus about Philip for he was from the same city called Bethsaida. Jesus calls Philip to follow him; he does, and he calls Nathanael to meet Jesus and Nathanael believes too. So often we think that evangelism is something done by professionals like Billy Graham who hire theatres and football grounds to preach to crowds, or that is it the minister’s responsibility. These verses reveal that all who have friends and acquaintances who do not know Jesus as their Saviour can tell them about him! Is there a greater privilege than that of leading someone to Jesus? We should not be ashamed of how small an act an invitation might seem on our part. Often what is of great importance has a modest beginning. In these passages we see the beginning of the Church that has served God and humanity for more than two thousand years! And it began with individuals telling each other about Jesus. God is concerned not only for the multitudes but also the individual who is like a lost sheep or a misplaced coin or a prodigal son (or daughter) (Luke 15:1-32). 

What else might we exegete from this passage? Philip was directly called by Jesus, not as Andrew who was directed to Jesus by John, or Peter who was invited by his brother. God clearly has various ways of drawing people to him. Some come by way of another and some, like Philip and later Saul (the future Paul) (Acts 9:1-9) come by way of direct revelation of Jesus. God knows our hearts and knows therefore what will work with us. 

Jesus says to Philip, ‘“Follow me.”’ In this invitation/instruction, we see the heart of what it means to be a Christian: it is following Jesus, devoting ourselves to him and treading in his steps. 

We also see the efficacy of God’s superabundant grace throughout this story. Philip, Peter and Andrew are from Bethsaida (v. 44), which was inhabited mainly by fishermen and their families and therefore without the ordinary advantages of education. Bethsaida was a wicked place (Matthew 11:21) and yet despite this, the grace of God is seen in his choosing these men. 

Nathanael is invited to see Jesus by Philip (v. 45). As Andrew before, so Philip here, having got some knowledge of Jesus himself, brings that knowledge to Nathanael, so certain is he that Jesus is the Messiah (v. 45). Philip is aware of the promises of the Old Testament that a Saviour would arise: promises couched in exciting metaphors and royal titles from Genesis right through to the Prophets. Jesus is named the Seed of the woman, the Seed of Abraham, Shiloh, the prophet like Moses, the Son of David, Emmanuel, the Man, the Branch, Messiah, the Prince. Yet Philip has a little humility to learn. It is not Peter, Andrew and he who have found Jesus; it is Jesus who has found them! Philip does not apprehend at this point, as Paul does (Philippians 3:12), that it is Jesus who has apprehended him. 

The objection which Nathanael makes against this is: ‘“Can any good come out of Nazareth?”’ (v. 46). There are a number of ways we can take this question. Nathanael might be teasing Philip with a rather prejudiced joke. He could also be showing caution about what Philip is saying because Israel had witnessed false Messiahs before claiming to be the Chosen One. If he means that the Messiah will not come out of Nazareth, he is right, for Bethlehem was the prophesied birthplace (Micah 5:2). Philip cannot give Nathanael an informed answer and rather than lose an argument with him, he does the next best thing: he invites him to come and make up his mind for himself (v. 46). Jesus himself is the best argument for faith, better than any apologetic a clever thinker might provide. 

So, Nathanael to his credit goes to meet Jesus and Jesus meets him with favourable encouragement: ‘"Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!"’ Jesus knows Nathanael’s heart well for indeed he created him! He is a genuine son of Abraham, not only of his seed, but of his spirit, a sincere professor of the faith of Israel. He is the Jew that is one inwardly (Romans 2:29) and so is saved by his faith. Secondly, he is not deceitful. He is honest before God about his sin. He is not a hypocrite like the scribes and Pharisees. 

Nathanael is astonished that Jesus knows him so well (v. 48), but God has complete knowledge of each one of us and loves us no less (Hebrews 4:12, 13). Jesus explains further: ‘“I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you”’ (v. 48). By saying this, Jesus is manifesting his divinity. He knows infallibly all that happens in his creation. Perhaps Jesus’ attention was caught by Nathanael’s praying under the tree and it was his devotion to private prayer rather than the egotistical public prayers of the Pharisees that caught the eye of Jesus. 


Nathanael’s response is adoration for Jesus: ‘“Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”’ (v. 49). If anyone wishes to have evidence that the New Testament regards Jesus as God and man at the same time, then this verse is one of many. Jesus is impressed with Nathanael’s faith, but he nevertheless promises him much greater help for the confirmation and increase of that faith. Jesus says, ‘“Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”’ Those who truly believe the gospel will find further evidence of its truth through witnessing miracles, visions and supernatural sights. 

A lot can be said about this passage and you probably think, if you have kindly read this far, that I have proven that point very well. I think we can summarise what we learn from this passage in two ways. First, we see John the Gospel writer going out of his way to emphasise that Jesus was God who came veiled in human form. If Jesus had not been God, his behaviour as a man would not have been perfect and he could only have died for his own sins, not ours. And then where would we be? I dare not think. Secondly, we see the Missio Dei or God’s mission in operation. Jesus has come with the good news of who he is and what he has done on the cross and an empty tomb. He works himself the salvation of others as he does here when he reveals himself to Philip. But he also expects people to participate in his mission by bringing others to him, as Andrew and Philip do. And all of this is the consequence of love which seeks the salvation of whosoever will believe (John 3:16).

With all this in mind, I wonder which person we could invite to come and find Jesus?

Dr Peter Harris


The Epiphany-Sunday 3rd January 2021

Isaiah 60:1-3, John 1:10-18


Every blessing and a very happy new year to you as we move into 2021. Perhaps New Year’s Eve came tinged with mixed emotions- 2020 was in many ways an unforgettable year despite a feeling amongst many in the country it seems, that ‘forgetting’ 2020 is the best response. Rather, I think it far healthier to give thanks for the good that we received in 2020-however it came to us-and to offer to God our prayers for those who have really suffered and those who died as a result of Covid-19.

Some of you may have joined me on our YouTube channel for the Watch Night service in which we saw in 2021 in prayer and commitment to God’s service. If you would like to view that service it is still available on the St Aidan’s Gravesend You Tube channel. The best way to find it is to ‘Google’ You Tube and, once on You Tube, type ‘St Aidan’s Church Gravesend’ into the search bar. Once the church page comes up you will see the video there. Just click on it to play.

Today is the Epiphany of Our Lord and my thanks to Rev’d David Scott for today’s reflection. May Christ’s guiding light guide you this year and give you joy, even in times of anxiety and darkness.


Church Opening

The PCC have agreed with my proposal to keep St Aidan’s closed for a while longer. This is due to the continued high prevalence of the Covid disease in our region and that we are in Tier Four where the message at the present time is ‘stay at home.’ Officially, places of worship may remain open in Tier Four, but, for now at least, we judge that the risk to the public of this new strain is too high for us to gather together in church despite our observance of measures to restrict transmission. Currently, the hope is to open for worship on Sunday 17th January at 10am and I will keep you updated on that. I will continue to broadcast a celebration of the Eucharist on Sundays at 10am during the time of closure on our Facebook page and Night Prayer returns on Facebook tonight at 8pm, resuming its pattern of Sunday-Wednesday at 8pm. The Church of England website has lots of links to online worship, too.


I realise that if you do not have the internet at home these resources do  not apply to you, but you may remember that the Church of England has free phone line called Daily Hope. A call to the number below gives hymns, reflections and prayers for each day. The number is 0800 804 8044.



Give thanks today for the arrival of the Magi from the East. May all who feel far from God be drawn to him.


Pray for the medics and scientists still working to prevail against Covid-19. We pray that populations will observe precautions and slow the spread of this disease.


Pray that 2021 can be a year of recovery and repair, and that we may grow in confidence that God is with us in times of trial.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican province of Alexandria in Egypt.


We pray for the repose of the souls of those who have died recently, and whose anniversary of death occurs around this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael



The Epiphany: 6th January.

ISAIAH 60/1-3:

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
 and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth
 and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
 and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light,
 and kings to the brightness of your dawn.


The other day, I saw part of a quiz on the television.  The question was:

Which one of these is in the Bible? 

  1. Mary rode on a donkey to Jerusalem.

  2. Jesus was born in a stable.

  1. An angel spoke to shepherds.

  1. Three kings came to visit Jesus in the manger.


The answer is number 3.  No! Not no.4.  3 gifts are mentioned, not  the number of people who brought them.  Isaiah speaks of “kings” coming; Matthew 2 mentions “magi from the east”.  I’ve even heard a representative of the empowerment of women say that there is nothing to say that women weren’t represented in this famous visit, although humourists added that they would have brought milk powder, baby blankets and nappies.

One new cartoon shows the three men approaching the nativity scene and whispering to one another: “Remember to say that we are from the same household.”


Humour aside, who were they?  Tradition has given them names. 

They have become known most commonly as Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar (or Casper – but isn’t he a friendly ghost?).

The wise men probably travelled from an area around southern Turkey.  A carol about them speaks of them travelling from “Persian lands afar”.   Scholars speak of them as Magi (from which we get our word “magic”, followers of Zoroastrianism.  Zoroaster was an ancient prophet who taught that there is ONE God.  The Magi would have been astrologers.  In those days astronomy and astrology were intermixed so that study of the stars included the effect they were having on our world, lives and history.  So it is not surprising that these highly intelligent, very important, rich men, priests of Zoroastrianism would have been studying the stars for signs of divine intervention into history.  So they would know very well the Old Testament prophecies about a coming King in the line of David and who would be born “in royal David’s city”.

Micah 5/2:

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
 though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
 one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
 from ancient times.”

So the feast of the visit of the Wise Men, celebrated on 6th January as the Epiphany, i.e. the showing forth, manifestation of the Messiah King to the Gentiles, marks the end of the 12 days of Christmas.  The first manifestation, as Mavis reminded us, was to humble, local shepherds.  This manifestation was to rich, important people.

So Jesus, from babyhood, is for all levels of society, for everyone, for you and me.   Praise God for the greatest Christmas gift of all – His Son, Jesus.


O God, who by the leading of a star manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth:  mercifully grant that we, who know you now by faith, may at last behold your glory face to face;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.


Creator of the heavens, who led the Magi by a star to worship the Christ-child:

guide and sustain us, that we may find our journey’s end in Jesus Christ our Lord.


Lord God, the bright splendour whom the nations seek:  may we who with the wise men have been drawn by your light discern the glory of your presence in your Son, the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord.


Rev’d David Scott

First Sunday of Christmas- 27th December

Luke 2:  8-21


Christmas blessings to you. My thanks to Mavis for this week’s reflection on Luke which I commend to you wholeheartedly.

I am delighted that those who have been writing these reflections are happy to continue, so as we journey into 2021 we shall continue to produce this weekly ministry which I know had been a support for many during many difficult months.


Thank you to the volunteers who delivered Christmas cards on behalf of those who would normally have collected them from church. I hope that sending and receiving cards from one another has helped to bring at least some familiarity into this year’s Christmas. Can I also thank you, on behalf of my family and I for the cards which we received.


I received a Christmas greeting from Bishop Solomon, of the Anglican Diocese of Bo, Sierra Leone, and I print it here:


Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those whom he favours. I bring you greetings from the Anglican Diocese of Bo. 

Christmas reminds us of the responsibilities to glorify and praise God, thanking Him for for the gift of His son.

As a Diocese you are in our prayers as the Covid 19 pandemic is still ravaging your country. We pray that God will protect you all from the pandemic. 

Wishing you and your  church family health, happiness, peace and prosperity this Christmas and in the coming New year.

Merry Christmas


+Solomon Bo 


New Year’s Eve service

Just a reminder that I will record a service for New Year’s Eve which will be on the St Aidan’s YouTube page (just go into YouTube via Google and in the YouTube Search bar type St Aidan’s Church Gravesend and the page will come up and the video will be there).

The video will be there from 11.30pm and is called a ‘Watch Night’ service. It is a kind of vigil service in which the people of God think of the year just past and look ahead to the new year with hope, but  also having made a promise to serve God. I thought that after the year we have had, some folk may like the chance to cross over into 2021 prayerfully and indeed to thank God for any blessings we have received in this strange 2020.

There is an order of service available if you would like to follow the service and I will email it to you should you request it. I can be emailed on




Pray for our country as the ‘Brexit’ process reaches its conclusion: pray for cohesion in our country, for neighbourliness and compassion. Pray also for our country as the Covid-19 pandemic continues its grip. For those working hard to vaccinate the vulnerable and many others in due time.


Give thanks to God for all the good that you have received in 2020.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for leaders of other denominations, including Pope Francis, Archbishop Bartholomew the Ecumenical Patriarch (leader of the Orthodox churches), and the leaders of the Methodist, URC, Baptist and other churches.


Pray for the repose of the souls of the faithful departed, for those who have died recently and those whose anniversary of death occurs around this time. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.

This comes with every blessing, and all prayers for a Happy New Year,


Fr Michael


Luke 2:8-21

Our gospel reading today is well known and well loved and describes how God is fulfilling the promises made by the Old Testament prophets. 


Luke is a fantastic story teller – he now introduces a surprise element to demand our attention – ‘And there were shepherds’.   Why suddenly shepherds?  A few verses earlier we were in the stable with Mary, Joseph and a new born baby – the Son of God no less.  The answer is, because the event needs witnesses.  The chosen witnesses are a group of scruffy, smelly shepherds bedding down with their sheep on the hills above Bethlehem.  Shepherds have an honourable role in the Bible, from shepherd boy David to the unforgettable claim of the psalmist that ‘The Lord is my shepherd’ (Psalm 23).  Despite the biblical imagery, however, shepherds were considered to be the lowest of the low – outcasts of society.  Because of their work, outside on the hillsides, they were unable to have access to washing facilities which prevented them from taking part in great religious feasts and ceremonies.  Their testimony was not accepted in a court of law.  Also, of course, from a social point of view, they may well have been a bit unsavoury to say the least!


How did the shepherds react to the heavenly vision?  They were absolutely terrified – that’s not surprising is it.  When the unexpected happens at night – when the phone rings – we automatically fear the worst, don’t we?  In the same way, the shepherds must have feared the worst when they saw God’s messenger in front of them.  Had he come to announce that it was judgement day – if so, were they ready to be judged?


But that’s not why the angel had come – far from it!  “Do not be afraid”, the angel said “I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.  To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour who is the Messiah, the Lord”.


It’s typical of the way God works throughout scripture that the most momentous announcement in history was made to a group of frightened men, living on the fringe of respectable society.   The angel makes it absolutely clear that the good news is for them “I bring YOU good news”.  They – lowly shepherds – were being entrusted with a message of joy for ALL people.  The news of the birth of the messiah was to be entrusted to them and to no one else. 


Just by listening to the angel’s message, the attitude of the shepherds changed.  Their fear was replaced with joy – the saviour had been born in Bethlehem just as the prophets said he would be – this baby was not just human – he was called “the Lord”!!


They weren’t content to hear the message and do nothing.  No – they wanted to learn more about this saviour, so without delay they went to Bethlehem.  It’s interesting isn’t it?  They didn’t debate whether or not they had time to go – whether it was convenient for them at this point – they didn’t worry about who would look after the sheep – no, they rushed off to find out more about this amazing baby.


And what a sight met their eyes!   There was the baby as the angels had told them, lying in an animal feeding trough for a crib.  Above the stable in the sky the angels sang that peace has come to mankind.  No doubt Mary’s thoughts went back to the time when she was first visited by the angel and was told that she would give birth to the messiah – now it had indeed happened – the angelic voices overhead confirmed it.   She would ‘ponder all these things in her heart’.   I suppose the shepherds could have declined to go to Bethlehem that night.  After all, it was a pretty bizarre instruction – they may even have wondered whether they were experiencing some mass hallucination!   But go they did, and their reward was to be the first people (other than Mary and Joseph) to see, with their own eyes, Jesus the Messiah. 


Did they I wonder, as the carol suggests, bring a lamb as a gift? We shall never know, but what we do know is that they were not content to keep the news to themselves – indeed no.   Luke tells us that they made known what they had been told and what they had seen concerning the child and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.  Just think, if the shepherds had kept the good news to themselves, there would be no Christmas celebrations.   Luke, who all through his Gospel has an eye for the downtrodden and the outcasts of society, must have enjoyed giving the shepherds the starring role on that first Christmas night.


Those first visitors to the stable and their story must have amazed Mary.  Pieces of the jigsaw were beginning to be put in place in her mind, but what of the final picture?  In the years to come, and as the cross cast its shadow across the life of the man who was born in Bethlehem, his mother would remember with joy the visit of the shepherds and what they had told her about her son.  It would give her strength and faith as she struggled to come to terms with his lifestyle, with her fears for him as well as her pride in him.  For now though, like any other baby, he needed warmth, protection, food and love.  Mary and Joseph made sure he received them.


So as you ponder upon the verses of our gospel reading, may I suggest you think back on some of those special moments when God spoke clearly to you, setting pieces of your life’s jigsaw firmly in place.  Enjoy the memory of them and have faith that all the other pieces will be provided at the right time.    As we enter the New Year, many are struggling as we look into the future, wondering what it may hold.  Lots of things are, of course, beyond our control.  Fear comes with being human in an unpredictable world.  But at the heart of the nativity story is the message that, in God’s care, we need not be afraid. 

Amen to that!


Mavis Prater




Third Sunday of Advent- 13th December, 2020

John 1:6-8;19-28


Advent blessings to you on this Third Sunday

This third Sunday is sometimes called Gaudete Sunday which means ‘rejoice!’ and- rather like the third Sunday in Lent (‘Refreshment Sunday’) which is usually kept as Mothering Sunday and is a welcome break from the austerity of Lent. Why, then, is there a ‘rejoice’ Sunday in Advent? Traditionally, Advent- like Lent- had a penitential character to it. By ‘penitential’, we mean ‘saying sorry’ or self-examination. In our contemporary society, with its anticipation of the Christmas Feast (in more ways than one!) there is perhaps less room for penitence, but the reason for this was (and is) that the anticipation we feel is not just for the coming of Christmas, but the second coming of Christ, when he will come as our saviour and judge. This is a good reason to prepare ourselves to receive Christ by self-examination and prayers that we may be made ready to receive his judgement.


This Sunday is also the week in which we think of John the Baptist and indeed the themes- rejoicing, penitence and John coincide today: John comes to call us to repentance- to make our paths straight, but the message he brings is ultimately one of joy. May you know that joy this day and always.

Church Opening

It is still our intention to open for public worship on Sunday 20th December at 10am. There are a few spaces left. Please book of you intend to come. The choir will be singing a few carols which will combine the Advent Carols we missed with some of the carols for today. I am very grateful to David our choirmaster and our choir for preparing these carols, and can I use this opportunity to again extend an invitation to you to join the choir? We really do need some more voices to augment what we already have and the choir is open to all ages if you enjoy singing. Remember that (in normal circumstances) the choir meets at around 9.30am on Sundays to run through the hymns for the day and anyone can join in this run through and sing with the choir on that day as a ‘taster’ and indeed as a way to sing when the choir from time to time. If you joined in this way you would not need to wear robes. If you wanted to join the choir more formally in time that would be wonderful. Choir members rehearse on Monday mornings at 10am in church. We have missed very greatly the gift of music in church, not having sung together since March. It would be a great joy to have some new voices in the choir for when we can all sing again.  Please speak to me or David if you would like to do this.


A reminder that Christingle packs can be collected from church on the 20th at around 11am (after the service) or from the vicarage from 12 noon until 3pm. Please request a pack from me (352500) or Jenny Rawlinson (352253) so we can have it ready.

There will be a short Christingle talk and story at 4pm on Christmas Eve on the St Aidan’s Facebook page.


Christmas services

Christmas Eve- 11.30pm Midnight Mass

Christmas Day-10am Holy Communion

Please book for these services.

Christmas Cards

Remember that cards for church friends with addresses within the parish can be brought to church and dropped in a bag. These will be delivered by volunteers. Please write names and addresses clearly on the envelopes.


John 1:6-8; 19-28


‘He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light’ writes John in his Gospel of the coming of John the Baptist. This is the ‘lot’ of John; to not ‘be’ the light, but to bear witness to it, to proclaim it. In fact, this is the lot of all the holy ones of God, the saints, the angels, the prophets of the old times-to proclaim and show the way, to praise and magnify his holy name.


In Medieval spirituality, St Mary was sometimes compared with the moon- the light she sent to the world was a reflection of the light of Christ and this is true of all the saints and of ourselves: We are not the light, but we are inheritors, or heirs of the light and we receive its inestimable benefits. We ‘glow’ with the light of Christ, like the moon glowing with the sun’s light, and like moonlight which has its own character, we too characterise Christ’s light with our own being. God loves each of us for who we are and we each seem to emit our own spiritual light.


John’s life was short and dramatic. His parents were told he would be a ‘nazarene’ nothing to do with Nazareth, but a rather obscure term that seems to be something to do with extreme religious observance. The later description of John wearing a coat of camel’s hair and eating ‘locusts and wild honey’ supports this image we have of John as a sort of ‘wild man’ of the desert (although the ‘locusts’ mentioned were possibly a type of wild bean called the locust bean, and not the insects or their grubs).


Nobody knows with any certainty how John the Baptist spent his life before emerging in the gospel story, but it is thought that he was a member of an ascetic (strict) Jewish sect that based itself in the desert of Judea. John had definitely drawn a large group of followers-disciples, really-some of whom may well have thought that he was the Messiah. He is quite clear in denying this and says elsewhere in John’s gospel that he is not worthy to tie the Messiah’s sandals. This, again, is true of us. We know that we are loved by Christ, but if we allow humility and penitence to shape our hearts, we can receive that love fully when we acknowledge our unworthiness. This is not to diminish our experience of life’s richness or to disrespect ourselves, but to testify to our longing for Christ and that our own strength will not save us in time of trial. This, when nourished in our hearts, produces joy and a lightness of spirit which we celebrate today.



Pray for all churches and places dedicated to John the Baptist today.

Pray that we may nourish the light which is in us through prayer, reading of scripture and Christian acts so that we may show Christ’s light to others.

Give thanks for all that gives us joy- even during these difficult times.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Church of the Falkland Islands.

Pray for the repose of the souls of the departed. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Advent Sunday- 29th November, 2020

Mark 13:24-end


Advent blessings to you today. My thanks to Mavis Prater for this week’s reflection, which you will find below. I am going to let Mavis ‘do the talking’ this week, so just a couple of quick notices from me first.


Church Opening

You will have learned by now that Gravesend has been placed in ‘Tier Three’ of the government’s new system for restrictions- the toughest level. This means that churches can open for public worship, but that people must only attend with those with whom they live, or are in a ‘bubble’ with. Regarding church opening at St Aidan’s, the PCC and I have decided that St Aidan’s will remain open for private prayer only through most of December. Our first opening for public worship will take place on Sunday 20th December, 10am. This is the ‘Nine Lessons and Carols’ service, which we hope will take place this year. If singing is allowed, it will be choir only I expect. If you intend to come to this service, please ‘book in.’ Thank you. Further updates will follow as and when.



Pray for a holy and blessed Advent as we await the coming of our Lord.


Please pray for our community, particularly those affected directly by Covid-19.

In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Lusitanian Church (Portugal).


We pray for the repose of the souls of those who have died recently and whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. Rest Eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Mark 13:24-end

Happy New Year!  No, don’t worry – I haven’t completely lost it!  Today is Advent Sunday – the first Sunday in the Church Year.  We would normally celebrate this New Year by lighting the tall Advent Candle in the sanctuary at the beginning of our Service of Advent Carols and Readings.  But sadly, because of Covid 19 restrictions, such celebrations are not possible this year. 


Advent simply means “coming”.  During the Advent season, Christians are called upon to reflect on probably the two most significant of all comings:  the one that happened 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem, and the one we are promised at the end of human history, when God’s purposes will be finally and gloriously revealed.  Our gospel reading today most definitely refers to the latter. 


It is remarkable in the light of verse 32 that so many throughout history have attempted to predict when Jesus will return.  I am old enough to remember the “End Time” rallies common in the 1950s and 60s.  Speakers would produce complex wall charts and do amazing things with numbers and Greek and Hebrew words ‘translated’ into numbers.  Using the Bible and current affairs, there would be confident predictions that the second coming was only a year or two away.   I am always amazed by the way that some can claim to know more about the end-times than Jesus himself.   Surely it shows such arrogance to think that our small human minds can grasp what God alone knows!   But the second coming is as certain as the budding of the fig tree announces the coming of summer (v.28).    During these difficult months of “lockdown” many have found solace in the wonders of nature – looking more carefully at signs of the seasons – perhaps noticing for the first time the beauty of the changing colours of the leaves of our trees as they prepare for the coming of winter. 


The teaching here does not mean to suggest that the second coming described in verses 26 and 27 would be immediate but is meant to stop us from becoming apathetic.   What is the difference between ignorance and apathy?  I don’t know and I don’t care!  That’s the way a lot of people feel about Christ’s return.  They don’t know and they don’t care!  Yet the Bible repeats this theme over and over again.  Whilst doing my research for this reflection, I found that there are over 1,800 references in the Old Testament to Christ’s second coming and more than 300 in the New Testament.  For every biblical prophecy concerning Christ’s first coming, there are eight prophesies about his second!  I found that quite amazing.


The thrust of our gospel reading today is to be alert - to be ready.  The command to be “on our guard” first appeared in verse 9 of this chapter 13.     This doesn’t mean a paralysing fear for the future but rather a sense of being more alert to the way we live our lives in the here and now.   The year 2020 has been far from easy for most of us – for some more challenging than others.   The days without any set routine to follow can have been dry and dull – often hard to “stay awake”.    Our faith journey can be a bit like that, can’t it?   Our relationship with God can become reduced to a sluggish routine. 


But our gospel reading emphatically tells us not to put off, or be put off, for the Son of Man will come.  Yes, the times may be full of trouble and distress – yet he still comes to us.  We should look for the signs of his coming and of his presence in our lives.    We have been left in charge of this world, each with our own responsibility.  At the beginning of this Advent season, we remember the first coming of the one who, as the familiar hymn reminds us “came from heaven as a helpless babe and entered our world – his glory veiled.”  Jesus, the “servant King calls us now to follow him and give our lives as a daily offering”.  As we serve him now, we must look forward – be alert to the day of his return in the full glory of his kingdom – and not be caught sleeping. 


I have found this story in a book compiled by Revd. David Adam which I feel says it all – it is perhaps a little long but I hope it “speaks” to you too.


 It was near Christmas in the Advent season and Peter waited for God to come.  He prayed every day “God show me your face and I shall be saved”.  Peter had tried to live a good life; he was now old and looked forward to the coming of God.  He continued to work in his paper shop where he had worked most of his life.  Here he heard all sorts of conversations and met many people.  A single mum was telling her friend how she did not have enough money to buy presents for her child.  When everyone else had gone, Peter said to her, “I heard what you said.  I have a few toys on the shelves – they are not selling very well – go and pick anything you would like”.  She could hardly believe it for there were some wonderful things on the shelves.  As she went away with her arms full, she thanked him.  Peter was delighted.  Her smile was his reward.

 Later that day, he caught a young lad stealing a magazine from the shelves.  He was on his way out with the magazine up his jumper when Peter stopped him.  He could have called the police or told the boy’s parents.  He saw the boy was poor and afraid and he felt sorry for him.  “If you want a magazine and have no money, tell with me” he said.  “Magazines are soon out of date; I can always find you one to give you but you must not just help yourself.  Take this magazine for free, but ask me another time”.  The boy’s face changed from a look of fear to a beaming smile.  He thanked Peter and ran from the shop.

 It was getting dark as the old man came into the shop.  He was saying how lonely he felt since his wife died and this would be his first Christmas on his own – he was not looking forward to it.  Peter said “We were expecting a friend to come for Christmas, but he can’t make it.  We have prepared for his coming – would you like to come instead?  We would love to share Christmas with you”.  The old man’s face lit up in a beautiful smile and he said “You have made me feel so wanted – I would love to come”.

 That night Peter prayed his Advent prayer; “Show me your face and I shall be saved”.  In a dream God spoke to him and said “Peter, today I came to you and three times you made me smile.  Grace and peace be with you”,


Having read this story, may I suggest you pause for a few moments to reflect on what you have been given – abilities, time, friendships, energy.  Then consciously and deliberately offer them and yourself to God – praying that the way you live your life in the here and now be a practical way of revealing God’s presence as we await his second coming.


I wish you all God’s richest blessings


Mavis Prater (Reader)


Second Sunday before Advent- 15th November 2020

Matthew 25:14-30


Grace and peace to you. Today’s reflection comes from the Venerable Andy Wooding-Jones, Archdeacon of Rochester. Andy was due to be with us today as our preacher and I am grateful to him for sending us  a ‘distilled’ version of his sermon this week. Andy hopes to be with us at St Aidan’s when circumstances allow and I know that many of you were keen to meet him.


Covid-19 update and local cases

There is no update to share this week- as far as we all know, churches may open again in early December which will mean a Parish Eucharist here on Sunday 6th December at 10am- but we watch and wait.

Unfortunately the vicar of Shorne, has contracted the virus and is in hospital. So do please keep him and the people of Shorne parish in your prayers. In addition, we have had a positive case at the church hall group of St Aidan’s Nursery, in line with measures, the Nursery is closed but will reopen next Thursday.  There have also been cases at Riverview Infants’ and Juniors. These cases underline that this disease is still very much on our doorstep and we must all remain careful and vigilant. If it transpires that cases locally are rising fast, the PCC will need to discuss whether it is right to open for worship on 6th December, even if we are authorised to do so. My hope is that the Church of England will again let incumbents and PCCs know that the decision lies with them. Please keep our community in your prayers.


Friends of the Holy Land (FHL)

One of the charities which St Aidan’s supports is the Friends of the Holy Land, who support Christians living in the West Bank of Israel-Palestine. Everyday life for Christians in Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem  and other holy sites is never easy, but with the onset of Covid-19 the pilgrimage and tourism industry has collapsed. There is no furlough scheme there and no state aid, so  for 80% of residents of Bethlehem, particularly busy at this time of year normally, their main source of income has stopped and many folk are laid off.  Donations will be used to provide emergency support via FHL’s Bethlehem office, and can be made online at or by cheque (payable to Friends of the Holy Land) to Friends of the Holy Land, Farmer Ward Road, Kenilworth, CV8 2DH. More information can be found online. 

Gospel Talks

A reminder that this Sunday at 7pm on the parish Facebook page we have the third of four talks on each of the gospels- this week it is Luke.


Many thanks to those who attended prayers last Sunday where we also marked Remembrance. Hopefully next year we can meet at the memorial to RAF Gravesend once again.


Matthew 25:14-30

I am so sorry that I cannot be with you in church this Sunday as planned and look forward to worshipping with you soon. 

Thank you for all you have been and done as a church community in the challenges and opportunities of these last weeks and months.


Today’s Gospel reading is the familiar parable of the talents, or loaned money, as some translations describe it.   A man, going on a journey entrusts his servants with different sums of money according to their ability.   The different values were not about favouritism but about what each could manage – being overwhelmed by responsibility would not be a legitimate excuse – laziness or a wrong attitude to the master could be more problematic.


The story


Two servants ‘put their money to work’ and double the value of the money lent to them.   Their actions are risky but they balance their sense of responsibility and the opportunity they are given.  They use both their abilities and the money entrusted to them.

The third servant was not ‘bad’ – the master trusted him with some of his wealth.    However, he is not willing to take risks, not prepared to use any of his ability and is fearful of his master.   Consequently, he buries the money entrusted to him and awaits the master’s return.

The master on his return affirms the first two servants: “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” 

The third servant is condemned for his wickedness and laziness – he should have known better – even depositing the money in the bank would have been a better course of action.


God entrusts us with Treasure (our money and possessions), Time and Talent (our ability).  The challenge that flows from this passage is how we steward the things that God has entrusted us with?    Do we live from a place of responsibly sharing and using all we have been entrusted with and spotting opportunities to serve?

Or are we more like the third servant burying, hiding, holding on to the things we have been given?


Maybe we need to ask God how we are stewards of our time – are there moments when, like the priest and pharisee in the story of the Good Samaritan, our agenda is more important that the opportunities  God may put before us?

In Philippians 2 we read how ‘Jesus does not cling to equality with God but becomes nothing’.    Do we ever cling to our treasures, our money or our possessions, rather than making them available to Godly opportunities?

What about our talents?   Psalm 139 reminds us that ‘we are fearfully and wonderfully made’.   Is our God-given ability used for Him – in our workplace, in our family or amongst our neighbours, in our church community?     Might God be asking you to use a talent or an ability as you respond to an opportunity in this strange season?


Yours, Lord, is the greatness, the power,

  the glory, the splendour, and the majesty;

  for everything in heaven and on earth is yours.

All things come from you,

  and of your own do we give you.

May we who have received treasure, talent and time from you 

be good stewards of all we have been given. 

Help us to see your opportunities and respond.

May we be your good and faithful servants.

Please strengthen and help us.


Ven Andy Wooding Jones



Please pray for the residents of Bethlehem as they face a difficult Christmas period.

Pray for our parish and community as we journey through these challenging days, and for those currently affected by the virus.

In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Church of Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

We pray for the repose of the souls of those who have died recently, and whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them. Amen.

This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael



All Saints’ Day- 1st November, 2020

Matthew 4:1-12; Revelation 7:9-end.


Greetings to you on this All Saints’ Day. Ordinarily we would have a 4pm Memorial service in thanksgiving for those people for whom the parish has arranged a funeral in the last year. Instead we will remember them this morning as we light the Baptism candle- symbol of Resurrection.

The Baptism Candle will be lit for a second time later today when Dollie Louise McNamara is baptised at noon. Please pray for her, her parents and godparents as she begins a new life in Christ.


My thanks to Rev’d David Scott for this week’s reflection on the reading from Revelation.


Black History Month Thanksgiving Service

Every congratulation to Dr Jellina Davies and the Executive team of Black History Association (Gravesham and Kent) for their excellent Thanksgiving service last Sunday afternoon, via ‘Zoom’. There were over eighty participants including those from Sierra Leone, Texas and several locations around the UK. The service was inspiring, interesting and joyful. St Aidan’s is a parish affiliated to the Association and I hope to share news of other events and activities in due course.


‘Happy’ Pumpkins

Many thanks to those who made cheerful pumpkin pictures, some with positive and inspiring messages, which are now decorating the church entrance. Let’s hope we can hold another ‘Light Cafe’ next year.



Pray for the bereaved, and those who comfort them.

Pray for the parish of All Saints, Perry Street.

Give thanks for our blessed patron, Aidan of Lindisfarne.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Church of the Province of West Africa.


We pray for the repose of the souls of the faithful departed, including those whose funeral was conducted this year, and those whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord, and Let light perpetual shine upon them. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.

This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Revelation 7:9-end


A Wikipedia site defines a saint as follows:  A saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness or likeness or closeness to God. However, the use of the term "saint" depends on the context and denomination. In Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran doctrine, all of their faithful deceased in Heaven are considered to be saints, but some are considered worthy of greater honour or emulation;[1] official ecclesiastical recognition, and consequently, veneration, is given to some saints through the process of canonization in the Catholic Church or glorification in the Eastern Orthodox Church.


But let’s go back to Sunday School where many Sunday School teachers have a way of saying that there are saints with a small “s” and Saints with a big “S”.

Romans 1:7:

Paul wrote: “to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 1:2:

“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours….”.

2 Corinthians 1:1:

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia:….”.


Colossians 1:2:

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father…..”.


There are more examples in Paul’s epistles.  These references definitely indicate that EVERYONE who believes and trusts in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour are saints of God.  I.e. that is you and me.  Fr. Michael could easily add the word “saints of St. Aidan’s” to his “Good morning…..”.  He probably won’t but he could. 

In history there are thousands and thousands who have been executed rather than deny the Lord Jesus.

In history there are millions who have stood firm in their faith when persecuted, refusing to deny the Lord Jesus.

On a north African beach, a line of Egyptian Christians and one from another African country died, having their throats cut by Isis members rather than deny Christ.

There are saints who are being arrested and put on trial in Iran.

There are saints who are suffering terribly in North Korea (the worst in the world) and North Vietnam.

Saints are being persecuted, some even languishing in jail for years, for being a Christian in China.

Saints are being persecuted in Burma (Myanmar) by extreme Buddhist forces for being Christian.

Saints in northern Nigeria and neighbouring states are losing their lives, family members, churches, crops, cattle because of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen.

The list could go on and on.

“In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”, said Jesus.  (John 16/33).

There are saints who care for the lonely, the ill, the worried, the despairing.

There are saints who volunteer at or contribute to food banks.

There are saints who faithfully intercede for the world and its needs.

There are saints who care for, clean, arrange flowers etc. for their church.

There are saints who care enough about the Body of Christ to be in attendance at church as often as they can.

All saints should be striving for perfection but all saints know they fall far short of it, say a sincere sorry and, with God’s help, move on.

The list could go on and on.


Thank You, dear Lord, for ALL the departed saints who now worship in white robes around the throne of God praising Him and interceding for our world.

Thank You, dear Lord, for ALL the living saints who suffer for and serve the Lord Jesus in every country of the world.

Thank you, dear Lord, for the saints of St Aidan’s who love God and serve their neighbours in every way they can.

God bless you,

Love from st. David, being saved by grace.


Thank you, God, for the tremendous sacrifices made by those who have gone before us. Bless the memories of your saints, O God. May we learn how to walk wisely from their examples of faith, dedication, worship, and love. 


How shining and splendid are your gifts, O Lord
which you give us for our eternal well-being
Your glory shines radiantly in your saints, O God
In the honour and noble victory of the martyrs.
The white-robed company follow you,
bright with their abundant faith;
They scorned the wicked words of those with this world's power.
For you they sustained fierce beatings, chains, and torments,
they were drained by cruel punishments.
They bore their holy witness to you
who were grounded deep within their hearts;
they were sustained by patience and constancy.
Endowed with your everlasting grace,
may we rejoice forever
with the martyrs in our bright fatherland.
O Christ, in your goodness,
grant to us the gracious heavenly realms of eternal life.



Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity (Harvest, Feast of St Francis of Assisi)

4th October, 2020


Matthew 21:33-end


Grace and peace to you. My thanks to Alfred Osinibe for his invigorating reflection on the parable of the ‘wicked tenants.’



Thank you for any donations left this week. We will ensure they go to where they are needed in our area. As noted in the prayers below, do please pray for all who work in the harvesting and production and distribution of food at this time. When ‘Brexit’ finally hits at the end of the year, nobody is quite sure what this will mean for food prices, availability of food and for freight traffic in Kent, but officials seem resigned to the reality that it may be an unstable transition for a time.

St Francis

Today is also St Francis’ Day and we thank God for calling Francis to serve him in such humility. Francis is also known for his wisdom on God’s activity in creation and the natural world, so it seems right to honour Francis today as we celebrate Harvest.


Bible Study


I have received a couple of enquiries about Bible study- I am happy to run a Bible study and I propose to do this in November, in two ways: an online bible study on Sundays from  1st-22nd November at 7pm on Facebook Live (St Aidan’s Church Gravesend page), and a ‘face to face’ study in the West Room on Wednesdays 4th-25th November following the morning Eucharist and ending at about 11am (numbers for this will need to be limited due to Covid. I will advise on capacity next week). The sessions would last around an hour and will cover the four gospels in order of writing (so, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John). We will look at the ‘picture’ of Jesus that emerges across the gospels and how this and each gospel affects our faith today. The same course will run in each format. It is likely that the online course will run in any case because enquiries have come from that source. The ‘in person’ course is mainly for those who cannot access the internet.


If you are interested in either, please let me know- 01474 352500/

Thank you.


Matthew 21:33-end

Things to think of

  • The atmosphere in which the parable was spoken was when Jesus’ authority was questioned by the chief priests and the elders of the people.

  • He told the parables of the two sons and then this parable of the tenants to point them to the matter of authority.

  • Some keywords to think of are Landowner, tenants, harvest. 

  • The vineyard was leased to tenants by the landowner while he went to another country.

  • Harvest time came

  • He sent slaves to collect the produce

  • The tenants were cruel, they seized, beat, killed and stoned the people the landowner sent to receive the product the vineyard has made.

  • He sent his Son with the hope that the Son will be respected

  • The tenants unanimously agreed to maltreat and kill the Son for the inheritance.

  • They then seized the Son, threw Him out of the vineyard and killed Him.

  • Jesus asked what will the owner of the vineyard should do, and they replied he will put them to a miserable death and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him produce at the harvest.

  • Jesus told them the Kingdom will be taken away from them and given to those who will produce fruit for the kingdom.


Meditation moment

First, let us concentrate on the Landowner: God the Maker and giver of life is the owner of our lives, homes and the world at large and all that lives therein.

Secondly, the vineyard of this landowner: The vineyard was fully cared for, and this vineyard could symbolise  our individual lives, homes and this world and those that live in it. Our world and everyone that lives here whether Christian or non-christian are fully catered for by God, He gave His rain and sunshine on all and above all gave breath to all living beings.

Thirdly, the tenants: The tenants were given the custody of the vineyard, showing trust from the landowner to the tenants  and the landowner did so with the expectation that they would care for the vineyard and ensure a good yield. 

In this parable that we are considering this Harvest Sunday, we see that the tenants represent each believer across the world. God gave us the custody of the earth, the custody of our neighbours, friends, children, spouses, He has much trust in His people to be His caretakers of this earth and its dwellers.

This brings the hymn “Lord of the Dance” to my mind, the Lord of the dance has drawn us into His dance at creation, redemption and even in entrusting His world into our care, He desires that we dance for Him wherever we may be! 

God expects us to sincerely labour over all He has put in our care. And thinking of the time that we are in across the world, God is depending on Christians to be His tenants, to bring hope to the hopeless. As we see the surge of the Covid-19 virus , I believe God is giving us Christians a great privilege to be responsible for caring for the souls of people as one that will bring Him a good yield.

The question to ask is how faithful am I over the vineyard of my life,? my spouse?, children?, grandchildren?, neighbours?,  and what produce do we intend to give back to the Lord when He comes at harvest time?

It was such an encouragement to see people within our parish asking the vicar for a Bible study, course!  these are ‘harvest, people’ that are seeking and thirsting to know God the more at this critical time. 

Fourthly let us look at  harvest time: It is clear that the landowner gave the vineyard to the tenants with the hope of receiving some produce at harvest time. Unfortunately, the landowner was met with disappointment, because the tenants were unreliable, undependable, untrustworthy.

Rather than give the landowner produce from the vineyard, they killed all whom He sent to them at harvest time. And we see that this step and action of theirs was not without consequence.

Before we look at the consequence of their action, let us speculate briefly what could be the precursor to this action of the tenants. I suggest that it could be that communication between the tenants and the landowner has declined, and instead they have grown in communication with themselves as tenants, and have ignored communication with the landowner before harvest time, the most crucial period.

Is declining to communicate not what usually makes  out of tune with each other and with the Lord Himself, the Landowner? When our time in His Word and  our personal prayer is abandoned, we start to be more self-centred and begin to lose cognisance of what He expects of us, forgetting that He is expecting fruit from our lives at harvest time.


What is the consequence?

The vineyard was taken from the tenants and given to others. It is as if the marvellous opportunity given to them was not well utilized.


Lesson for us

As Christians who have been entrusted with our lives, our children, spouses, neighbours, and the world at large,  are we living in constant communion with our Landowner, are we mindful of the fact that God, the landowner expects fruit from us? 

What has our individual life produced so far, particularly in this year 2020?

May the way we respond to neighbours, children, spouses, grandchildren etc show the world that we are indeed Christians who are tenants for the Lord. Amen

Pastor Alfred Osinibe

Next week’s reading: Matthew 22:1-14


Please pray that we may each receive the word of God for us, and help in his harvest of life, peace, justice and mercy in this world.


Pray for all those who work in food production, in agriculture and fishing, especially for those whose livelihoods are vulnerable due to Covid-19.

In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of Tanzania, and our own diocese’s link with the Tanzanian dioceses of Mpwapwa  and Kondoa.


We pray for the repose of the souls of the faithful departed, and those whose anniversary of death occurs around this time of year, among them 

May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory.

This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity- 27th September 2020


Matthew 21: 23-32


Grace and peace to you. 

We continue to journey through what seem to be rather thick, soupy waters as the national Covid-19 situation slowly unfolds, yet continues to change. At the time of writing, the capacity at weddings has been reduced to 15, funerals may remain at 30, but a baptism following on from worship may only have six. If you can identify the logic- or the science- behind those decisions then, as they used to say on TV, ‘answers on a postcard please’!


We had a good Annual Meeting last Sunday and it was lovely to thank David for some thirteen years in office as Churchwarden.




If you would like to bring a non-perishable offering for the foodbank next Sunday (4th October) please do. We will also look at other recipients who may appreciate a donation of food items. We will still keep Harvest next week, but not in its usual all-age format. Donations of food will go straight into the foodbank box rather than laid at the altar. Thank you. Please pray for those who grow and produce food and for those who have very little food to eat.


Matthew 21: 23-32


This passage comes after several dramatic scenes in the gospel narrative; Jesus has entered Jerusalem in triumph- people have lain palm leaves and cloaks on the ground and cried ‘Hosanna!’; Jesus has cleansed the temple of its vendors and peddlers and even cursed a fig tree. 

These episodes begin to clarify the picture of who Jesus of Nazareth really is. He is greeted as the Son of David, the true descendent of the great King and the new heir. He brings religious clarity to the temple, which had lapsed into indolence, and he demonstrates his mastery over the laws of nature. 


We then come to today’s reading where we find Jesus overturning the assumptions of the Law. We can clearly see how Jesus made enemies of powerful people and this has led some theologians to characterise Jesus as a ‘freedom fighter’, a liberator and a giver of justice. All of these contain some truth, of course- Jesus does offer true freedom from spiritual captivity, and from the snares of secular and earthly power, Jesus does question the assumptions of the ‘powers that be’ and of the passive acceptance of those powers by an indolent population, and we can, as ever, see these issues as prominent in our own time as they were two thousand years ago. However, it would confine our own spiritual development if we limit our view of Jesus as an earthly liberator. The social justice that Jesus demands comes from heaven. The stinging criticism of the religious authorities is in response to their lazy and selfish tarnishing of divine law, so in this ‘tension’ between earthly justice and heavenly laws we see again that extraordinary energy that comes from Christ as God-Man. It is an uncomfortable and discomfiting reality sometimes, to really try to absorb that Jesus is God, but the gospels each, in their own way, insist on this, and the teachings of the Church over time have borne this out.

Our task, then, is to strike a balance between worship of the one God in the persons of the Trinity, and in keeping our ‘feet on the ground’ by defending the rights of the vulnerable and contributing to the building up of human dignity.

All flesh may be weak, but it is also precious and our earthly lives do have meaning- they are not a melancholy trek towards death or an ineffective ‘dry run’ before our true lives begin after earthly death; we can live fully and eternally, now. We know quite well that human life is vulnerable, fragile and that our will is often to wander far from God, but God, in his love for us, has placed the custodianship of the world, and indeed our own lives, in our own hands. Through the life of Jesus of Nazareth- the Christ, the Son of David, we have a lifelong guide to humanity and earthly life, with the saints lighting our way.

I pray that you may make full use of the life God has given you, in the service of Him and one another.

As the Quakers say, ‘Live adventurously. Let your life speak’.


Next Week’s Reading: Matthew 21: 33-end




Please pray for all theologians, biblical scholars and teachers of the faith. For our bishops and theological educators, that we may always learn more about life in Christ. Help us to teach and learn from one another, and may we always be ready to learn of God from children and the young.


Pray for the government and all seeking to prevail against Covid-19.

In the Anglican Communion  we pray for the Episcopal Church of El Salvador.


We pray for the repose of  the souls of those who have died recently,and those whose anniversary of death occurs around this time, among them, Eric Hardy, Lilian Stewart, Peter Johnson, Shirley Robinson, Christopher Homden, Valerie Boyd, Paul Gethen, Leonard Giles, Audrey Bottomley, Stephen Akers. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael

Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity- 20th September 2020

Matthew 20:1-16


Blessings and peace to you today. This Sunday, St Aidan’s church holds its Annual Meeting after the Eucharist. It is an important meeting in which the church’s decision-making body, the PCC, is constituted for the coming twelve months. The activities of the church both inside the four walls and outside in the parish and wider community are looked at. It is a chance to ‘review’ the year and look ahead, but principally it is a celebration of the life of the parish and the work of the parish church. My thanks then, go to our PCC, especially the two churchwardens Dennis and Dave.

Churchwardens have a key role to play in the life of the parish church- with the vicar, they share responsibility for the church- both its physical, material safety and soundness, and also its worship, ministry and mission.

Many of you will know that Dave is stepping down from the role of churchwarden after (I think) 13 years of service. This is an unusually long period of service, and whilst we have all benefited from David’s calm, even-handed and careful approach, I know that David has ‘stayed on’ in the role for more years than he had planned for! We now have a vacancy for a churchwarden, who will work alongside Dennis and myself. Please consider stepping into this role if you want to further the life of the church in this way. It is a varied and interesting role, and two wardens are needed to spread the responsibilities fairly. I am very grateful to Dennis for being happy to continue as warden; could you be his new colleague? If you work or have many responsibilities and worry about time commitment but might otherwise be interested, please speak to me because we can ‘tailor’ the role around your availability to some extent. You would automatically become a member of the PCC and Standing Committee, so attendance at these meetings would be required alongside regular attendance on Sundays for worship.


Matthew 20:1-16


This reading challenges our innate sense of right and wrong- why should those who have done barely an hour’s work in the cool of the late afternoon be paid the same amount as those who have worked all day in the hot sun? We equate hard work with righteousness in our culture- how many of us have been to a social event of some kind, and fallen into conversation with someone we do not know, and found that after a few moments we are asked- or ask- the question, ‘so what do you do?’, meaning, ‘what is your line of work?’which also may mean ‘what is your worth to society?’, or ‘are you a proper person, or a layabout?’!!

It is worth keeping these kinds of judgements in check, because they risk reducing the value of the  human person to a ‘unit of production’- as much as we have an innate sense of right and wong, we also carry an innate sense of respect for humanity and the natural rights of each person; we balk at the idea of loneliness in old age or of neglect in childhood and this teaches us that those stages of life- at either end of one’s ‘working life’ are just as important as that middle, ‘active’ stage. We should not value ourselves or one another according to how much work we or others have done, but ought to enliven our belief in the sanctity and dignity of human life, and our connections with one another.

But what about laziness, indolence or indifference? Should these be discounted, then? No! If we truly are to be a human community then we all must play our part,  but at the root of this community is our spiritual connectedness. Silence, contemplation, peace and stillness are not signs of inaction and ineffectiveness, but are actually hallmarks of spiritual advancement- the balance to be struck is one between contemplation and action- and this is most clearly propounded in Ignatian spirituality, which seeks to encourage us to see ‘God in all things’, to see the world, the home, the workplace, the church, as our ‘monastery’, a place of prayer, study, stillness and activity. Who knows, maybe the ‘loafers’ in the marketplace may have been praying!

Fr Michael

Next week’s reading: Matthew 21:23-32

I am conscious that it is now some time since the pew bibles had to be removed. Should you wish to bring your own bible to church  so you can read along, please do so, remembering to take it home with you. 



Please pray for our wonderful parish of St Aidan, for all who live and work and go to school here. Pray for our church, our PCC and our nursery school.


Please pray and give thanks for Dave Rawlinson as he steps down as Churchwarden. Please pray that a new warden may be found soon, and explore whether that may in fact be you.


In the Anglican Communion, we pray for the Episcopal Church of South Sudan.


Please pray for all who are in any kind of need, particularly those affected by Covid-19.


Pray for the repose of the souls of those who have died in the night just passed, for the recently departed and those whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year, may they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory, amen.

This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael

Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity- 6th September 2020

Matthew 18:15-20


Blessings and peace to you all. My thanks to the Rev’d David Scott for this week’s reflection on Ezekiel and Matthew. David asks us to consider how we as individuals and as a Church ‘ought’ to respond to changes in attitudes in society, especially if what we see is troubling. Let us pray that we will always be prepared to ‘stand up’ for what is just.


Bishop Simon’s visit

Thank you to those who were able to attend our Patronal Eucharist last weekend at which Bishop Simon celebrated the Eucharist and preached. It was good to have the Bishop with us and he valued being among us.


Annual Meeting (APCM)

A reminder that the APCM is happening in church on 20th September at 11am, following the 10am service. It is recommended to attend both  the Eucharist and the meeting. There  are still some spaces. Please telephone or email to ‘book’. 01474 352500/


Sunday Worship

Our 10am Sunday Eucharist is going well but there has been no real demand for an 11am service so this will now be laid to one side. If the need for a second service arises, I will of course reinstate the 11am service.


Riverview Park Baptist Church (RVPBC)

The RVPBC are currently not meeting for worship at the Christopher Centre due to the Covid-19 situation. I have extended an invitation to them to worship with us subject to them ‘booking’ in. Please extend our usual warm welcome should any of our Baptist friends join us.



Please pray for our local schools and nursery as they journey into their new term.

For all who are in any kind of need at this time.

For our PCC.


We pray for the repose of the souls of those who have died recently, and for those whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year, including Vanessa McWilliams, Norman Judge, John Raisbeck and Denise Curtis. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael



EZEKIEL 33/7-12.


7 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for[a] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.

10 “Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of[b] them. How then can we live?”’ 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

Dealing With Sin in the Church – Matthew 18/15-20.

15 “If your brother or sister[a] sins,[b] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[c] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

If you are ever invited to a dinner, party or other social event by somebody, my advice is that you ask first whether Father Brown or Jessica Fletcher are one of the guests.  If they are, politely decline because you know that somebody will be murdered at said occasion.- and it might be you.

The actor Mark Williams (Fr Brown) apparently became a Christian through performing this role.  With the writers putting in a murder every episode, the police arresting the wrong person, Father Brown solving it and urging the perpetrator to repent and assuring them that, if they truly do so, God will forgive his/her sins……etc.

Of course, very few clergy have the chance to challenge a murderer to repent once a week but Ezekiel and Jesus are saying that we must be “watchmen” (watchpersons) warning people to turn from their sin. Wow!  How do you do that without seeming like a self-righteous prig?   Very difficult! We know how sometimes you get a very “righteous” person in a congregation who criticises so many others for their behaviour.  However that is less common these days as we have adopted new moralities – for better or for worse. 

These days it is virtually common practice to tolerate any shape of sexual relationship and sexuality that one can choose.  “It is my right.”  We have become a LOT more tolerant of individual choices of styles of living.    Perhaps it is right that we are living in a more tolerant age. Perhaps I am old and getting used to new things more slowly than the young.  Perhaps you have an opinion about it.? We’ve certainly come a long way since we locked up Oscar Wilde for being homosexual.  We’ve come a long way since we hanged a child for stealing bread. 

Of course I have used sexual identity as one example of changing attitudes.  What is the Church’s role in this? Can the Church speak out either in favour of, or in protest against, some of these changes when “Religion is a private business” is a common attitude in this country? Has faith become too individualised?  I only ask that we think about these things!

Just a word about Jesus’ words.  Obviously this refers to some quite serious sin, not criticising Mrs Jones’ flower arrangement.  The best person to confront another person is a good friend who has earned the right to confront because of a trusting relationship.  Then, hopefully, a criticism of behaviour can be discussed without threatening the friendship.  Sometimes, however, behaviour can be so serious that a person should be reported to the Vicar and Church Wardens.  Then will ensue a little group chat when support is offered to help change the behaviour.  “Tell it to two or three…”  However, if things get even more serious – and this doesn’t happen very often – the whole church could be told and the offender urged to repent, hopefully in as loving a way as possible (this would only really happen in particular types of church). Such a sad event is, as you know, quite rare today.  The main issue where this applies would be child abuse.  Here the church has become much more vigilant about offences in that area.  Other areas could be a person abusing his/her partner, stealing from the collection or charity box or even being overly critical of the Vicar or Wardens – OVERLY critical in a destructive, not constructive manner.  It is good that things like that are dealt with firmly but with as much love as possible.  May such cases in this church be very rare indeed.  And beware of self-righteousness!  That is a minefield.  We must remember: 

  1. that we ourselves fall far short of the glory of God and that

  2. we never hate a person even when we hate something bad that we think the person does.

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Prov. 27:5-6


Merciful Jesus, I need courage today for loving in sticky, broken, messy relationships. Sometimes the fear of making an even bigger mess makes it easier just to avoid or ignore certain people and issues. But that’s kind of like trying to ignore a compound fracture, skin cancer or a 102 temperature. The matter will only get worse. To say I’m conflict avoidant is not an excuse, but an acknowledgement of weakness and a confession of sin. Grant me, and others like me, the grace we need to love enough to confront.

Thank you for the stark frankness of your Word. When I multiply kisses but withhold life-giving rebukes from my friends, I’m living as their enemy—not merely as a poor lover, but as an enemy. When I’m not willing to offer a redemptive wounding, I’m a bad friend, not just someone suffering from busyness or a lack of priorities. Have mercy on me, Jesus. Grant me, and others like me, the courage and words that we need to love to your glory.

I bring to you my fear of man and love for relational placidity, which I know to be a snare. I confess it as sin and repent. I also acknowledge that I need the truth of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit for change. Jesus, it’s because of your open rebuke that my life is now hidden safely in you. It’s because you clearly revealed my need of your grace that I now rest in your love. It’s because you cared enough to confront me that I will eternally enjoy your comfort and peace.

Jesus, you took the ultimate unfriendly wounding of sin and evil on the cross that we might know your kisses to be those of a Saviour-Bridegroom. So very Hallelujah! No greater love can be found anywhere. In the coming days, help me to love well in messy stories among other messy people like me—help me and others like me. Bring the beauty of redemption, reconciliation and restoration. So very Amen we pray, in your compassionate and restorative name. 

Rev’d David Scott



Sixth Sunday after Trinity- 19th July 2020

Matthew 13:24-30,36-43


Latest updates on opening

My thanks to those who have helped me to open church for private prayer. We have had a few regular attenders and I am glad that they have found sanctuary in church in this way. We will continue with this pattern until Sunday 9th August, our proposed first Eucharist since churches closed in March.


‘Booking in’

It seems unpalatable to ask you to let me know if you intend to come to church! It is essential however. The spaces for 9th August are now full. I have kept a few ‘free’ for anyone from the community who may drop in. Once capacity is reached on the day, the door will be closed with a sign clearly stating that church is full. Please do not come in if you find the door closed. There will be another service at 11.30 am which I also require you to tell me about if you intend to come (phone or email). If necessary, we will have another service at 4pm. Church will be cleaned in between each service according to guidelines. Face coverings- at time of writing, the government is bringing in compulsory wearing of face coverings in all shops. This may in time extend to workplaces and places of worship. We must prepare for this, so if you will be coming to church if this directive is issued, you must bring a face covering with you.


The Eucharist

The service on 9th August and thereafter (until things change) will be a ‘said eucharist’ (no hymns or chanting). There will be no service books or pew bibles, but a sheet for the service which will be on the pew. Please leave it there and do not hand it in or take it home. Lines on the floor will mark out two metres’ distance. When it comes to receiving Holy Communion, please line up spaced by the lines. We will receive the Sacrament standing, and the wafer will be carefully dropped into your hand. Return to your seat by passing the choir stalls and font. We will not share the peace in the usual way. Any cash offerings may be left in the wooden plate by the font.  Thank you.


Rev’d Richard Martin- an announcement

Many of you will know Richard, who was sometime curate at St Aidan’s and is currently rector of Holy Family and St Margaret’s. Richard has accepted the offer of the post of Priest in Charge of the parishes of Hardwicke, Elmore and Longney in the Diocese of Gloucester. Richard’s final Sunday  will be 1st November. Please pray for Richard. We wish him well and I know many of you hold him in the highest regard. His sense of humour will be (maybe) missed. He has already joked that his new parish team don’t abbreviate their first letters (HEL)!! 

Richard’s wife Gill is a chaplain at a women’s prison in Bristol, so it is a good move for them both.


Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43- The parable of the weeds


This parable nestles among a series of stories Jesus tells in Matthew about the Kingdom of God. Last Sunday, Alfred wrote to us about the parable of the sower- how the ‘ground’ of our hearts can be so ordered as to be fruitful with the seed of God’s word. In today’s parable we are again in an agricultural setting- remember that Galilee, principally a fishing region (we come to the parable of the pearl of great price later in Matthew) was situated in a country rich with farmland. Think of the stories Jesus tells about vineyards, harvests, crops. Much has been written by Biblical scholars, preachers and theologians about how Jesus used the social, economic and cultural contexts of his own time to tell people about God’s kingdom- we have seen similar things happening during Lockdown with churches increasingly engaging with the internet and providing media-friendly worship well suited to the situation we have all been living through (for those online)-but whatever the time we are living in, and whatever our cultural contexts and so on, these parables speak clearly to us. We may be less familiar with farming lore than first-century Galileans, but most of us know the problem of weeds! If you have ever turned your hand to gardening, or visited someone who does, or visited public parks and gardens, you will know the constant battle to control weeds in order to allow what you want to grow to have a fighting chance. It is work that never ends and actually, we do end up having to live with weeds in the garden, in the park, wherever, and just do our best to control them.


The farmer in the parable is quick to tell his staff not to pull up all the weeds lest they damage his precious crop- he knows that he will get a reduced yield because the weeds will limit the growth of his crop, but better that than losing much more. In doing so he creates a job of work at harvest time- separating the weeds from the crop and burning what is unwanted. In this example, Jesus makes it clear that in the kingdom of God, much of the real ‘work’ of salvation takes place at a later time. For now, we must learn to live with those things which can imperil our spiritual growth: temptations, distractions, vanity, idleness, whatever. But these are things which we can easily conjure from within ourselves, and we know we ought to work on overcoming these in in our time. The weeds in the parable are planted by the ‘evil one’, and so we come to the ‘problem of evil’.

The best way to deal with evil is, actually, to pay very little attention to it. As with a child who has a had a nightmare we might soothe them and say ‘ it was only a bad dream’- the same is true of ourselves and evil- it is ‘only’ evil, and if we focus instead on the cross, on Christ, on light and living out our salvation in the here and now, evil will have very little effect on us. Evil is like the weeds in the parable, we just have to live with it, do our best to control it, but trust that it will be dealt with ‘later’.

Naturally, if we succumb to evil temptations and open our hearts to let the false whisperings in, the result may be that we will turn our thoughts into actions and spread evil acts in the world- this does need to be confronted- but with prayer and Christian activity- we do not need to bother ourselves with evil itself. The truth is that the devil isn’t interested in you. He doesn’t care for you and has no love for you- he hasn’t got time to waste on individual people- he works on a larger scale, trying to sow confusion, division and hatred, but the truth within the truth is that the devil knows that he has already lost the final battle- Christ won the victory on the Cross and it is only a matter of time before the forces of evil face the final reckoning. We can be confident that God has this quite in hand and it  is nothing much for us to worry about.  As I have said before from the pulpit, Christian teaching holds that after death, Jesus descended to Hell. There, he set free those who were in chains in that ghastly place, and his very presence sanctified Hell and gives each soul hope that even there, salvation is possible. Dare we hope that the Devil himself will repent when he faces Christ at the end? That is up to him, and Christ.  In the meantime, let’s say our prayers, care for one another, learn from holy scripture and weed the garden!




Lord, we know the end of the wicked. We believe that Christ has won the victory and we thank you with every fibre of our being for this truth. Help those who are lost in evil and destructive behaviours. Gently guide those who feel far from you, and those who feel they are not good enough for you. We trust in your mercy and compassion always.


We give thanks for the ministry of Rev’d Richard Martin. Bless him and the people of Holy Family and St Margaret’s as they prepare for his move to Gloucestershire, and we pray for the parishes in which he will serve.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Episcopal Church of the Philippines.


We pray for the repose of the souls of the departed, for those who have died recently and those whose anniversary of death occurs around this time, including Derek Edwards, Jessie Pinder, Marguerite Ledsham. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory.

This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


5th Sunday after Trinity- 12th July 2020

Matthew 13:19; 18-23


Blessings, grace and peace to you as we continue to journey together through the Christian year.

I am grateful to Pastor Alfred Osinibe for composing this week’s reflection. We are fortunate at St Aidan’s to have this chance to receive ministry from Alfred, who you will know worships with us alongside his family who also contribute much to the life of our church.

I pray that Alfred’s considered words on the parable of the sower will take root in our hearts and minds. My thanks also to Alfred’s wife Toyin for her help in bringing this about.


Church opening

We continue to aim for a first parish Eucharist on Sunday 9th August at We will then keep to our pattern of a midweek Eucharist at 9.30. Even though we will probably still be prohibited from singing, our organist David has offered to play at key points in the service on Sundays- this will greatly augment our worship and I am grateful to David for that. It is likely that social distancing will still be in place which means that our attendance capacity is sixteen  in the pews. To this end I ask you to let me know by phone or email if you intend to come on Sundays- this will help us to plan for capacity. We will have to allow ‘room’ for people who may come in from the community (although I will use social media and the website to encourage local people to ‘book’). If the number who intend to come nears our capacity, I will offer a second service on Sunday at 11.30 am. Because there are no hymns, Sunday School or refreshments, the service will be shorter than usual so we can hold another service in the late morning. I am happy to provide a further service in the afternoon if required, but let’s see how we go. In any case, please do remember to let me know each week  if you intend to attend church- We hope to not have to turn people away, but this may happen if you arrive unexpectedly. This is not an ideal situation I know, but it is the only way in which we can maintain our safety measures.


I am on annual leave between Saturday 25th July-Saturday 8th August.  With this in mind, I require you to inform me if you intend to come to church on the 9th August by Thursday 23rd July at the latest, so we can prepare properly for that first service before my leave begins.

During my annual leave, please contact the churchwardens during that time for any matter relating to the church or parish, and to Rev’d David Scott (248735) or Mavis Prater (812330) for any pastoral or spiritual matters. Thank you.


Dr Peter Harris- Training in Lay Ministry

I am delighted to announce that Peter has been accepted to study for the Bishop’s Certificate in Christian Ministry within the Diocese of Rochester. This comprehensive training will enable Peter to deepen and develop his emerging lay ministry and open up options to train further, for example for the ministry of Reader. I will be supporting Peter throughout his studies, which will be woven into Peter’s other commitments as a husband, father, teacher, writer, Sunday School teacher! Please pray for Peter as he begins this exciting stage. If you would like to know more about lay ministry training, please speak to me or Peter.


New artwork- standing cross


I am pleased to introduce you to this new piece of religious art which was commissioned for our Prayer Corner and has been made by a local artist, Matt McCloud. I had asked Matt to combine a number of elements including a reference to our historic link with St Mary, Chalk and our current patronage of Aidan which is shown in the two saints either side of Christ. I hope that the cross will be a good focus for devotion and it will be generally kept in that part of the church, but can be moved to other places. The stand is actually made from one of our broken choir stalls! There will be more on the Prayer Corner soon, as we are looking at giving it a new lease of life (including a new name). I hope that these changes will be in place by the time we can meet in church again in August.


The parable of the sower- Matthew 13:19;18-23- Alfred Osinibe

This parable will be very familiar to many of us, and features:


  • Multitudes came to Jesus as he sat by the sea.

  • Jesus told this parable to those multitudes of people- his ‘audience’ was growing!

  • The story centres around three themes: Sower, Seeds, Grounds. We will mainly be looking at the Grounds- the Sower is God and the seeds the Word of God.


Let us now look at those types of grounds:


  • Ground type 1: The wayside or the path: Seeds sown here were susceptible to fowls of the air

  • Ground type 2: Stony/Rocky ground: This ground type lacked deep soil, and since it has no depth, the seeds got withered as the sun rose.

  • Ground type 3: Thorny ground: Though the seed grew, the thorns outgrew and choked it up.

  • Ground type 4: Good soil: Seed sown on this ground grew well and brought forth abundantly. 



  • Our ears have a great role to play as to what comes into our hearts.

  • Our hearts also have a great deal to do in the outcome of the effect of God’s word in our lives.

  • Every word spoken is a seed that can germinate in our hearts, so the types of ‘ground’ in the story are really our hearts. 

Ground type 1: The wayside or the pathway ‘heart’ shows the effect of God’s word in our lives as a result of our individual  understanding, and many things can hinder our hearts from understanding the word of God, like events in our society, our personal challenges can all snatch away the effect that the word of God ought to have in our lives. Our hearts can become hard like  a pathway over which the world seems to trample. We must guard against this.

Ground type 2: Stony or Rocky ground: The word of God that comes to us can bear no fruit even though we received it joyfully initially, but we did not think further on it, we did not give it more room to sink deeper, so, when difficulties, persecution or challenges arose due to the word heard, one can easily give up and fall away, thereby giving no room for the seed of God’s word to grow. This is a great sadness, because the desire to grow the word is there, but the strength to endure difficulties is not. These difficulties are the stones which stop us from keeping with the word of God. When we commit to endurance in difficulty, the stones fall away.

Ground type 3: Thorny ground:  Again, we see that the effect God’s word can have upon our lives can also depend on our attitude to wealth, material things, the pursuit of  our personal care and that of others, and if not carefully sought, these can choke God’s word in our lives.

Ground type 4: Good soil: This good soil can be our truest hearts, though we do not gain this good soil  without personal challenges, difficulties, society events, global issues, but as we reflect regularly on the word of God, and gain understanding of God’s view and not just our personal or world view, then, the word of God can bear fruit bountifully despite our season of life, our circumstances, or the changes and chances of the world.


As we see a great change in our world in the past few months, we, the people of God,  still have the Seed of God’s Word that can grow into peace, assurance and calmness despite the impact of the pandemic, and the reality of our personal issues. For this to happen, we must prepare the ground of our hearts to receive the Word fully. We must listen with our hearts and watch for God’s view of the world, and not our own. Amen.


Lord, we magnify your holy name. We worship you and praise you now and for ever. We thank you for your Word, for your holy scriptures and for the example of the sower, God’s word coming into our hearts. We pray deeply, Lord, that we may prepare our hearts to receive your word. Amen


Lord, we see a world in turmoil. We see unrest and anxiety. Help us to see the world through your eyes and not only our own. May we conform our view to yours. Amen.

In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea.


We pray for those who are unwell, in hospital or recovering at home. We give thanks for the healthcare workers and chaplains at our local hospitals and hospices.


We pray for the response of the souls of the faithful departed, for those who have died recently, particularly those who have died as a result of Covid-19, and for those whose anniversary of death occurs around this time, among them, Emily Bird, Edwards Jarvis, Richard King, Jennifer Palmer, Robert Burns, Margaret Relf, Barbara Mitchell. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen.

This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Fourth Sunday after Trinity- 5th July 2020

Luke 10: 25-37


Greetings to you. My thanks to the Rev’d David Scott for his thoughts this week- David has chosen the parable of the Good Samaritan as his focus- perhaps more appropriate now than in many a year. David closes his writing this week with the wonderful prayer of St Francis- there was a saint who lived the truth of humility and service to others. May we all take to heart the words of this prayer.


Church Opening

My thanks to the PCC for their careful consideration and even-handed responses to my proposals regarding the opening of St Aidan’s for public worship.

We have agreed that it is still too soon to open. We prefer to wait a few more weeks to monitor the national and local situation regarding Coronavirus and also to allow our current pattern of prayer times to become established locally- those who have attended have found sanctuary at St Aidan’s.  We must prepare a detailed risk assessment and make decisions about the nature of the public worship we will offer. There is also the fact that I have some annual leave due at the end of July. So- taking all that into account we have decided to plan to open St Aidan’s on Sunday 9th August at 10am. 

This will be a service of Holy Communion with readings and a sermon. Currently, singing and chanting is prohibited so unless the situation changes by then, there will be no hymns or sung psalms until further notice.

I understand that for some of you, coming back into church after such a long break may still feel inadvisable. Should you prefer to wait until the Coronavirus situation has stabilised further, I completely understand. Only come to church when you are ready. When you do- you will be most welcome! More details will follow on exactly what will happen on the 9th August, but there will almost certainly still be a need for social distancing, hand washing on entry, and a limit on capacity. We will take each step as it comes, but at least we now have a date to move towards. Alleluia!


Online worship

It has been good to welcome some of you to Night Prayer at 8pm on Sundays-Wednesdays on the parish Facebook page. This is a live office of prayers for late evening, but after the live recording has ended, the video is then available on the Facebook page if you prefer to view it later in the evening, or earlier the following day. There is a pre-recorded Vigil Office on Saturdays from 5pm on the You Tube Channel- ‘St Aidan’s Church Gravesend’.



Please pray for our parish church, that it will be a safe space for people who come to worship God in word and sacrament.


Pray for our ministry team, PCC and those who hope to begin hiring our hall again soon.


Give thanks for all that we have received in lockdown, and commend to God anything that has been troublesome.


In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we pray for the United Church of Pakistan.


We pray for the repose of the souls of those who have died recently, and those whose anniversary of death occurs around this time of year. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael



Luke 10, verses 25 to37.

Jerusalem to Jericho is a 16 mile journey.  Jericho is 864 feet below sea level; Jerusalem is 2474 feet above sea level.  The road was known as the “Way of Blood.”


The so-called Good Samaritan’s Inn lies on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem.  It is so-called because we know that we are speaking about a PARABLE – a made-up story designed to teach a truth.  However, the existence of the road is very real and it was a very dangerous one on which to travel.  People would only journey in groups, definitely not alone as we hear in the story.  There were multiple places where thieves could hide and attack unsuspecting travellers.


The story is prompted by Jesus being asked “Who is my neighbour?”   Jesus, as He often, responded with a story which became one of the two best known parables of Jesus’ repertoire, the other being The Prodigal Son, both in Luke’s Gospel.

We all know the story.  A man – presumably a Jewish man – is attacked, stripped and robbed leaving him injured by the

roadside.  A priest and a Levite come past and both fail to help the man.  He is helped by a Samaritan man.

To cut a long story short, Samaritans and Jews did not get along at all.   Samaria was the northern neighbour of Judea

and north of that was Galilee.  People  journeying from one to the other often crossed  the Jordan to bypass Samaria – a 3 day extra journey.  The Jews felt that the Samaritans had deserted and compromised the Jewish faith and that they were God’s chosen ones.


What do we learn from this famous parable?

  1. It is often harder to love the neighbour nearest to you or, indeed, in your own family.

 Reports are saying that lockdown has magnified home tensions even leading to domestic violence.  Family life can often lead 

 to rifts in relationships.  We pray that,  with God’s guidance, we can keep closeness in our families and pray for those who

 who are struggling.  Do I have to do more to keep family relationships healthy?

  1. Your friends – close ones – are most likely to be those most like you, e.g. same religion, nationality etc.  You have much in common with them tending to think in similar ways and like similar things.  This parable challenges us to do our best to understand those who are different us, e.g. religion, nationality, race.  It is so easy to BOX people, i.e. dismiss a whole group with a single judgement, e.g. “Roman Catholics do what they like during the week, confess it at the weekend, get forgiven and then do what they fancy.”  Or: “Those happy clappies! It’s all emotion with them.  Religion is just a high and it is insulting to God.”  You can add countless examples to these whether it is religion, race, political beliefs.  Boxing is so common.

  2. Loving one’s neighbour has a very practical side to it.  How do I love my neighbour in practical ways?  Is God asking me to do more?  What are my motives?  I have to ask myself whether I am doing good in order to be liked more or because I want to help my neighbour genuinely?  If you are like me, it is probably about mixed motives.

  3. The Good Samaritan left money to care for the injured man.  Do I spend my money in a way that God approves?  Am I generous with my money giving away a good portion of my earnings to the church, to charities?  Do I pray about this asking for God’s guidance.




Let us pray:

O God of love, 

whose Son Jesus Christ taught us how to love our


teach us to do the same,

guiding us by Your ways  to be loving in our

 attitudes and actions,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.


The Prayer of St Francis.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offence, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.


O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.



Third Sunday after Trinity

Matthew 10:40-end


Blessings and greetings to you. My thanks to Mavis for this week’s reflection and prayers. I am very grateful to our growing team of ministers who are contributing to our spiritual life, and am pleased to add that we shall benefit from reflections from Wendy Giles who leads our All-Age worship in church, and also from Pastor Mduh, who is the minister at the Calvary Apostolic Assembly church who meet in our hall on Sunday afternoons (in normal times!) and also from Alfred Osinibe who worships with us and who is also a pastor.  These reflections will be appearing over the coming weeks alongside the words of Rev’d David Scott, Dr Peter Harris, Mavis and myself. I am pleased to hear many comments from people who appreciate these reflections.


Church Opening

My thanks to those who helped me to open church on the 24th for prayer- the first time St Aidan’s was open to the public since March. We had a few who came and prayed for a little while and we will continue to offer this pattern of prayer on Wednesdays 9am-11am and Sundays 10-12noon until further notice. Do please take note that it is not a service- church is simply open for you to come in and pray. Entrance is via the Powerhouse doors where hands are to be washed in the WC. Exit is via the main doors, having used the hand sanitizer provided. We also supply masks should anyone require one.


Public Worship

You will have seen that the government has now said that places of worship may open for public worship from the 4th July. In churches, this means that weddings and funerals can take place (max 30 people) in church again. Baptism is still in cessation. St Aidan’s will not be opening for public worship that soon.  We will be monitoring the situation carefully. The earliest likely date would be towards the end of July, or early August.


Many of you will be eager to know when Holy Communion can be shared again- we await guidance from the Church of England and I will let everyone know in due course. In essence, I think it likely that the following will apply: Communion will be in ‘one kind only’, i.e bread only (the priest must consume the wine); singing hymns and psalms will be prohibited until further notice; Communion will be distributed standing (not kneeling at the rail yet) and people will stand at least one metre apart in a line down the aisle (i.e like we do now, but with bigger gaps!), returning to pews by going round by the choir stalls. Effectively, I envision a Sunday service to be rather like our Wednesday Eucharist- a ‘said’ eucharist with readings, sermon, prayers and Holy Communion. We await guidance on what might happen regarding Sunday School. For the time being, we have had to clear the corner of toys and books for very young children.


In any case, these reflections will continue to be produced weekly for as long as they seem to be the right thing to do.

Online worship

If you have the internet at home, you can now access some more prayer services via the St Aidan’s Facebook page and the You Tube channel (both are entitled ‘St Aidan’s Church Gravesend’ and can be found easily).


 The current pattern is:

Night Prayer (Compline): Sunday-Wednesday 8pm on Facebook Live (you can watch them later if you cannot make 8pm)


Vigil Office: Saturday 5pm on You Tube (again, available to view anytime from 5pm).


It is not necessary to ‘follow’ the service but if you would like to, all Church of England worship liturgies are on the Church of England website:

Night Prayer


Vigil Office


The aim of these offices is to provide a sanctuary in a noisy, frantic time. Much online worship is also quite ‘noisy’ and ‘busy’ and I wanted to provide something more peaceful for the evening hours. I hope they are helpful as we each try to grow in Christ.


In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer, we pray for the United Church of North India.


We remember those who have died, and whose anniversary of death occurs at this time of year, including Winifred Martin, Cedric Carr, Patricia Cook. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory.

This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Greetings on this Third Sunday after Trinity

Gospel reading:  Matthew 10: 40-42


Jesus is still thinking about mission in these two short verses as he talks about the disciples being welcomed.  He has previously spoken about the hostility they will experience – now he is talks about hospitality.  If all had been hostile to the Gospel, the disciples would not have survived to tell the message and Christianity would not have grown.   But many people were longing for the “good news” and readily welcomed the disciples.


Hospitality was a characteristic of the Middle East.  Among the Jews, it was typified by Abraham and Sarah who welcomed the three strangers and found they had welcomed angels (Genesis 18).  This is referred to by the writer to the Hebrews when he says how we should be hospitable “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for in so doing, some have entertained angels without knowing it”. (Hebrews 13:2).

 In the verses we are thinking about this week, Jesus reassured his hearers that he would always be watching over them.   Nothing that they ever did for him would go unnoticed or unrewarded.  They (and we) are like ambassadors for him – representing him, his qualities, his values.

 Sadly, of course, over the past months, we have not had the opportunity to offer hospitality to even our close family and friends, much less to the stranger.

Mission in any shape or form has been pretty impossible for most of us.  However, we have witnessed, through the thoughtfulness and kindness of friends and neighbours who have ensured our safety and comfort, we have been well aware of the metaphorical “cup of water” (v. 42).

 The disciples are to go out in the name of God.  They are to be his representatives, his image, his icon to the world.  The Jews believed that to receive the envoy of the king was to receive the king himself.  To welcome a messenger of a friend is the same as welcoming the friend.  Not all doors are closed to Jesus – many still long to hear the good news.  We are his disciples and if we don’t take the message, how will people hear?

 Whilst doing my preparation for these reflections, I came across this story, which I think illustrates perfectly our theme for this week.

 The Selfish Giant banned the children from his garden.  He built a wall around it and put up a huge notice which read 



From that time, spring did not come to the giant’s garden – it remained in winter.  By keeping himself to himself, there was no warmth in the place.

Only when the children sneaked back did spring return with them.  It was then that the giant realised his hostility to the children had kept him in the cold.

(The full story of the Selfish Giant can be found in “The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde).


Hostility and selfishness brings about isolation – hospitality opens us to the warmth of relationships.


So as the “lock down” (the winter) begins to ease and the warmth of human contact begins to return, our prayer must be that we can begin to show how, through hospitality (when considered safe to do so), Christ can be proclaimed and accepted.


Until that time, the words of this prayer may be helpful.

After each phrase, the response is:  Guide and strengthen us, O Lord.

Lord, long ago you called ordinary people like us to be your disciples,

and we believe you are calling us to follow you today.

As we seek to be your faithful disciples …….

As we face up to life’s problems …….

When we are faced with important decisions ……

As we seek to do things of which you would approve ……

In choosing between what is good and what is best ……

In the choice of how we use our time ……

And above all, as we choose you to be our way, our truth and our life.



May God richly bless you all

Mavis (Licensed Reader)










21 June 2020: Second Sunday after Trinity


Matthew 10:24-39 


My thanks to Dr Peter Harris who has composed the reflection this week. I am pleased to announce that Peter has been accepted for training on the Bishop’s Certificate in Christian Ministry course. This course is part of a training program for those looking to enter Lay ministry, and Peter will be authorised to preach a number of times across each year. Those who attend St Aidan’s with some regularity will have benefitted from Peter’s emerging ministry as as a leader of seminars, as a Sunday School teacher and as a writer of challenging books in defence of Christian belief in our secular and increasingly agnostic culture. I am looking forward to supporting Peter during his training. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.


Church Opening

St Aidan’s will be opening for private prayer from Wednesday 24th and again on Sunday 28th. The times are:

Wednesdays: 9am-11am; Sundays 10am-12 noon.

We will monitor this situation very carefully. My thanks to the Standing Committee and PCC for their input.

Please do let me know my phone or email if you are intending to come to pray. This will help us to manage numbers if necessary, and to ensure that there is space for local people who may come in. At this point, it will not be possible for candles to be lit. Instead, a single candle will burn on the altar as a focus for prayer. The prayer sessions will take this form:

Entrance through Powerhouse doors. Wash your hands and enter church. Sit in a pew seat where a white laminated card is placed. Do not move the card along the pew or sit in another spot on the pew- this ensures distances are maintained. If you are coming as  a household, you can all sit together in a pew. Exit via the main doors, using the hand gel provided. Prayer ‘desks’ are placed by the altar rail in case you wish to kneel in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament (consecrated bread) which will also be on the altar, in a ciborium. The Lady Chapel may be used for prayer- use the plastic chairs only.

Church will be cleaned in between sessions.


St Aidan’s You Tube Channel

I have set up a You Tube channel, which you can find by going to You Tube online and searching for ‘St Aidan’s Church Gravesend’. You will find there a recorded service of the Vigil Office, an evening service of prayers and readings for the night before Sunday. They will appear each week, alongside some other recordings. I hope that if you choose to view the Vigil Office it will help you in your preparations for Sunday, and to keep Sunday special during these difficult times. I do appreciate that not everybody is on the internet, but I hope that those who are not can appreciate the importance of keeping people as connected as possible.



In the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer we are asked to prayer for the Anglican Church of Nigeria this week. Please also pray for Bishop Solomon and the Diocese of Bo.


Please pray for our parish church and people as we re-open the building for prayer.


We pray for the repose of the souls of those who have died recently, and for those whose anniversary of death occurs around this time, including Celia Skinner, Muriel Rayfield, John Northcott, George Spooner, Ronald Moore, Joshua Blanchard, Thomas Whitehead, Maureen Bentley, Abraham (Geordie) Alderson. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory. Amen

This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


From Dr Peter Harris

I remember once listening to a message preached by a rather naïve young man who asserted that as Christians, we were not meant to suffer in any way other than persecution. He used the Gospel reading for this week-Matthew 10:24-39- as his ‘proof’ text. Unfortunately, he did not consider the many parts of Scripture where a plethora of sufferings other than persecution are described as afflicting faithful believers. Indeed, the story of the bereavements and depredations that Job suddenly suffered for no apparent purpose is one, long, eloquent refutation of this man’s mis-teaching of God’s word. I came to the conclusion that as he continued on his life, he would realise his error, though I hoped that his spiritual mentors, if he had any, would take him to one side and gently and firmly correct him before life inevitably did it for him.

Let us pray: Father, enable us to understand your word so that we may rightly discern its truth and therefore may be a source of understanding to each other. Amen.

However, the young preacher was right in one thing: in Matthew 10:24-39 Jesus warned His apostles that they would suffer poor treatment at some point because they followed Him and did His work. The context is Jesus’ endowment of his twelve disciples with the power to drive out of people evil spirits and heal all manner of sickness and His commission to them to go to the Israelites and preach that the Kingdom is at hand (10:1-7). The blessings of the Kingdom were to be given freely for the disciples themselves had received them freely (v.8).

A person would be forgiven for thinking that the response to healings resurrections and deliverance would be universal gratitude. But Jesus warned his disciples that the response would include opposition such as rejection, arrest, floggings, betrayal and hatred (vv. 14-22). Jesus’ warnings are for us too for we also seek to tell others that the Kingdom is at hand: that the day of salvation is here. Though we live in a society that has been influenced by Christianity since the late 2nd Century A.D., and whose head of state is by law an Anglican, we too can feel the sharp edge of persecution, albeit unofficially, such as mockery or rejection by work colleagues, friends and family. Sometimes it happens officially, for example, when someone loses his/her job because they hold to a traditional Christian moral teaching which offends the politically-correct squadrista who are bent on circumscribing Britain’s tradition of free speech. 

What explanation did Jesus give for this? Well, this brings us back to the beginning of this week’s reading. As disciples and servants of Christ our teacher, we are not above Him, though we can aspire to be like Him in the same way that disciples and servants can aim to be like their teachers and masters (vv. 24, 25). But becoming Christ-like means also being persecuted as Christ was. The very same characteristics of Christ that threatened and angered His opponents, such as speaking the truth courageously, will unfortunately, when replicated in us, cause the same thing. Therefore, Christ warned that if He, the Master, had been called ‘Be-el'zebul’ or the Devil, so too will we, His followers, be slandered (v. 25).

None of this is at all attractive when we consider it purely from a human perspective. No one wants to be rejected, slandered or even beaten for their faith. But Christ’s powerful assurances are encouraging. Verse 28 reminds us that we are to fear God who has power over our souls and bodies and not humans who can only destroy our bodies. With the example of God’s care for sparrows, Christ deployed a logical argument known as argumentum a minore ad maius which presents a stronger proposition as true if a weaker proposition is first found to be true. Thus, Christ’s first proposition was that God the Father is deeply concerned about what happens to sparrows, despite their seeming near worthlessness from the human perspective. Based on this proposition, He moved to a logically entailed stronger proposition which is that if the Father cares that much about sparrows, then how much more does He care about humans (vv. 29-31)! Verse 32 presents another assurance: that if we acknowledge our allegiance to Christ before other people, Christ will acknowledge us as His before the Father. In other words, He will own up to us as His! 


Let us pray: Father, thank you that during persecution, or any other form of suffering, that you care deeply for us and that we are yours. We thank you too that the power to endure and overcome comes from you and never fails us. Amen.


Christ has one further warning for us. Verses 34 to 36 alert us to the fact that allegiance to Christ will bring conflict. Some critics of Christianity have argued that verse 34 with Christ’s promise of the ‘sword’ has given Christians the justification to start wars of religion. That may be the case for some Christians, or so-called Christians, but Christ was referring to conflict between His followers and members of their families. Even parents and children will be alienated from each other because one party to the relationship is a Christian. But Christ was emphatic: if we prefer our families to Christ, we are not worthy of Him (v. 37); and if we are not prepared to suffer, which Christ metaphorically described as taking up our cross, and to follow him, we also do not merit Him.


The climax is verse 39 and it takes the form of a paradox which is worth quoting to get the full force of its import: 


‘He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.’


What does this mean? I would suggest that the life we build for ourselves by our own lights will be no life at all, for it will be founded on our sinful natures. If we give up the life we envisage for ourselves and embrace the life He gives us, we will indeed find life in its highest form in this life and which will continue everlastingly in His presence in the next. We are to look beyond our present sufferings for they do not compare with the glories that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). 


Enduring persecution does not sound at like something we can do, and that retaliation comes more easily. I remember when I worked for another school to the one I am at now, I had a colleague who despised my Christian faith and enjoyed using bad language and blasphemy whenever I was near to upset me. One day, my patience grew thin and I told him coldly that if he carried on with his mockery, he would ‘regret it’. As I was a lot larger than him and meant what I said, his behaviour stopped. But with my threat, I lost the opportunity then on to present to this man the Gospel of peace and the loving Saviour. My witness to him was undermined. Like the apostle Peter with his sword-flailing, ear-chopping antics when Christ was arrested, I was failing to conform the will of God which is that all should be saved and none should perish (2 Peter 3:) 


But our hope is in Christ the All-Sufficient One and not in our gritted-teeth, clenched-fist efforts at obedience which all too often end in failure. Romans 8:1-17 makes it clear that it is by His Spirit that we can put to death fleshly deeds and live in a Christ-like fashion. If we are children of God, His Spirit is dwelling in us and enabling us to want to live and actually to live supernaturally which in part means enduring persecution when it comes and blessing our enemies (Luke 6:27-36). Just as we cannot save ourselves from perdition, neither can we by our own strength improve ourselves in the direction of perfect holiness in the way God intends. 


Let us pray: Father, thank you that in losing a self-centred life we ought not to have and which in the end does us no good, we can enjoy a life of loving and serving you and people, which is the only satisfying way to live. May we as Christ-like people, by the power of the Holy Spirit, be part of the way you bring the unsaved to yourself, and for whose salvation our persecution is a price worth paying. Amen.


First Sunday after Trinity- 14th June, 2020

‘Green’ Greetings! Today begins the season of ‘Ordinary Time’ when the colour of the vestments and other liturgical items in churches are in the colour green, a ‘season’ which lasts all through the Summer, autumn and just into winter.  Does this feel like ‘ordinary time’? Probably not! However, there is some comfort in having marked Trinity Sunday and Corpus Christi and to now head out into Ordinary Time until November 1st- All Saints Day. What will the country and wider world look like by then? Will the ravages of this virus be largely behind us? Will we still be observing restrictions or will we be in the grip of a ‘second wave’? 

There is no doubt that these have been very worrying times. Westcourt has had one of the highest death rates in Kent from Covid-19 so we have been affected by this on our own doorstep. I also know that some members of our congregation have come down with the virus but thankfully have made a full recovery.


Church Opening

It is in this anxious atmosphere that the government has announced that places of worship can now open for ‘private, individual prayer’. This means that individuals or households can attend church to pray. Public worship is still ceased and no prayers will be led during this time.

I urge you to consider carefully whether you are content to come to St Aidan’s to pray in the current circumstances. 

The PCC have looked at my proposals for the ways in which we could open, and they have agreed that it is something which we would like to offer. My thanks to the PCC for their level-headed responses. We have decided to open twice a week, subject to the national situation regarding infection and loss of life.


The times of opening will be:

Wednesday 24th June- 9am to

Sunday 28th June- 10am to 12 noon


We intend to then open each Wednesday and Sunday at those times until further notice. Church will be cleaned and checked before each session and we are leaving 72 hours between each session which will mean that any virus in church will die away in between times. We have completed a risk assessment.

Like many clergy, I had hoped to open St Aidan’s under more relaxed and joyful circumstances than those in which we find ourselves. Instead, these are some of the things you can expect:

  • Entrance and exit through the second set of doors

  • Wash hands on entry and exit

  • Maintain social distancing at all times inside and outside church (please do not greet each other with hugs, etc, however much you may want to!)

  • Follow the directions of the stewards at all times

  • Capacity is sixteen- you will need to return another time if we are ‘full’ (*please see note below).

  • Sit in places marked with a laminated card and nowhere else

  • Children must be closely supervised at all times

  • Candles cannot be lit due to transmission risk- instead a single candle will burn on the altar as focus for prayer

  • The Blessed Sacrament (consecrated bread of Holy Communion) will be placed on the altar in a ciborium (special lidded vessel) to allow for some eucharistic devotion


* In order to ‘leave room’ for people coming in from the community to pray (ie not regular attenders) we will restrict regular attender capacity to 8 initially. It would be helpful if you would let me know by phone or email if you are intending to come to pray, stating which day and time (e.g for both hours, or just one). This will help us to manage capacity. We may ask you to attend at a different time if necessary. 01474 352500.


Those of you who are over 70 years must take extra care- please consider carefully the risks.

Those who should not attend church:

Anyone with symptoms of Coronavirus (high temperature, persistent dry cough, loss of usual sense of taste and smell);

Anyone who is shielding.


I write these words with a heavy heart- we were hoping for a celebration in church that the difficult days were over, but it does seem that we will be living with the virus for some time to come. Whilst myself and the PCC are very pleased to open St Aidan’s as a place of sanctuary and prayer, we are still some time away from ‘normal’ worship. I will keep you updated regarding any further changes but I must also add that if the rate of infection in the community starts to climb quickly and/or if the national picture becomes worrying, we will close St Aidan’s without delay. Our first priority must be public health.


Praying the Litany

Thank you to those who have been praying the Litany on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Do join in if you wish. The need for ‘communal’ prayer whilst we are apart is greater than ever.


Nursery and local schools

Please keep our Nursery manager (Gayle) and her staff in your prayers as they do an excellent job in opening nursery for those families who wish to send their children in. Tymberwood Academy, Westcourt Primary, Riverview Infants’ and Thamesview have all been gradually opening to the eligible year groups. Please keep them all in your prayers, and for those children who are still being schooled at home. For some families this will be a very long and difficult summer and I am looking at ways we can support them.


Today’s Reading- Matthew 9: 35- 10:8


Let’s turn our minds to the medicine of the Gospel and allow ourselves to be healed in mind, body and spirit.


This passage is marked by compassion, prayer and action- very relevant to our current times.

Jesus is moved by the sight of the people he encounters who are ‘harassed and helpless’, ‘like sheep without a shepherd’. He turns to his followers and laments the size of the task: an immense number of people in need of bringing to God (harvesting) but such a small body of labourers! He instructs them to ‘ask the Lord of the Harvest to send out labourers into his harvest’; Jesus is asking his followers to pray. Let us hear those words of Jesus as directed to each of us, let us ask the Lord of the Harvest to send out more workers who will join this task of bringing people to God- we are in greater need now than in recent times because many people will feel a need for God but will lack the confidence or the knowledge in how to find him- we must be ready as signs to God and we need others to join us in this work. Still others will feel far from God- some will doubt God or feel angry and frightened. This needs a pastoral response and again we should pray for readiness to model the Christian way which is welcoming, reasonable, hopeful and mystical. All these are needed to gain wholeness as a person.


We next turn to the apostles and the ‘roll call’ of the twelve- those who were deliberately named as the first labourers who Jesus had to hand and who he chose to go out and start work in his name. Who were the apostles? We have probably all heard sermons or read texts which tell us that they were ordinary people, humble people and this may be so, but they were named for a reason- we are meant to remember them not least because almost all of them died for their faith. Let us then give thanks for the apostles and see in ourselves the seeds of apostleship- may we be energised to ‘go out’ in Christ’s name in any way we can and help in the healing of the people who are most certainly harassed and helpless at this time (we are finding ways to ‘go out’ whilst staying in!).

Finally, we note that Jesus instructs the apostles to go ‘only to the house of Israel’. This is because Jesus is acutely aware that the greatest need is among those who are already close to God in the religious terms of Jesus’ day (ie  Jews)- once they are made whole, the circle can widen to include others.

What is the ‘house of Israel’ in your life? What needs attention from prayer and self-examination first? What in our society is the house of Israel? Which aspects of our community (local and wider) need apostleship? Pray for those areas of life and society that are in most need of wholeness and healing and send your compassion, your prayers and your action there. Keep praying for others to join us, and may Christ bless the work of your heart, mind and lips in his name. Amen.


Church opening- please pray over this situation both locally and further afield.

Social justice- Pray for true equality, justice and peace to prevail.

For those who have died recently including all who have died from Covid-19.

For those whose anniversary of death falls at this time. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Trinity Sunday- 7th June 2020


My thanks to Rev’d David Scott for this week’s invigorating reflection on the Holy Trinity. I am grateful that David has chosen not to explain the Trinity: many have tried but as the Irish monk St Columbanus wrote, the harder you try to understand or explain in logical terms the mystery of God, the further that knowledge will move from you! 

Thanksgiving for diversity


You will have seen and been troubled by the terrible scenes in the United states following the murder of African American George Floyd by a white police officer, and there have been demonstrations in the UK too, demanding that society recognises that ‘Black Lives Matter’. At St Aidan’s we are truly blessed with a very diverse congregation and I thank God for that daily. We have people from Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, the Caribbean, Sri Lanka, and we support Hope Gardens India and the Diocese of Bo.  This diversity is one of our greatest treasures and I want to assure all of you as Vicar, that those among us from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds (‘BAME’) are held in equal regard, esteem and respect by me. Yes, we have heard people counter that ‘all lives matter’ and this is true, too, but nobody can avoid the historical record which speaks of appalling treatment of BAME people by the ‘colonial’ powers in Europe in the past and into our own time, and in the Americas and elsewhere.  I remain hopeful that St Aidan’s will have some involvement in this year’s Black History Month service in October, which is less a lament about the past, but a thanksgiving for the contribution of BAME culture to our society. Let’s not wait for October to give thanks for this though, let’s give thanks to God for this now!


RAF Banner, Lady Chapel and Prayer Corner

I am pleased to update you that our banner depicting RAF Gravesend, our church and Chalk  St Mary is now once again on display in St Aidan’s (thanks to Barbara’s son in law!). The banner is on the south side (opposite the organ) and is on the wall above where the Lady Chapel altar used to be. I know many of you have not seen the interior of St Aidan’s since we reinstated the Lady Chapel- I must say that since we have taken down the projector screen, the chapel is now bathed in glorious light and I hope that it will be a place where you can sit and pray before or after the service, and at other times (whenever that will be…). 


Praying the Litany


We have introduced the  praying of the Litany (from Common Worship or the Book of Common Prayer on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays and those of you who are on the internet have received a copy. If you are not online, I shall be contacting you by telephone to see if you would like a copy of the prayer posted to you. If you do, please choose  one of those days (or all three if you wish) and pray the prayer through at a time of your choice when you know you can commit to it. Try to then keep to that day and time as much as you can. In this way we will create a ‘wave’ of prayer through the week at a time when it is desperately needed.


Corpus Christi

Thursday is the feast of Corpus Christi (‘the Body of Christ’) and I will celebrate the Eucharist in St Aidan’s on that day in thanksgiving for the gift of Holy Communion, which is the reason for the feast. If you would like to let me have anything else you would like to give thanks to God for, please email or ring me before then and I will include yours in the prayers.

I know that many of you will be missing Holy Communion badly and it is a great sadness to me that I am unable to bring Communion to the sick. I think it will be a long time yet  before we can gather together at a Eucharistic celebration in our customary way and this is also a sadness. 


However, the Blessed Sacrament is kept in St Aidan’s constantly, and the light burns above the aumbry night and day. This light signifies the presence of Christ in the sacrament, and because the sacrament is kept in the parish church, the parish itself is sanctified by the presence of Christ (it may be helpful to have in mind the image of the parish as the church and the church building as the aumbry of the parish). The reserved sacrament is not only kept for the sick, but is a powerful symbol of the care the Church extends to all who cannot be present in church, which at present is all of you! I am a member of an Anglican organisation called the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament  (CBS) which promotes Eucharistic devotion, and I join with other members in praying for all those Christians who are feeling separated from Holy Communion. However, do keep in mind that I celebrate a Eucharist in St Aidan’s each Sunday and pray for the parish and community.  You also have the important prayer for ‘spiritual communion’ in the home worship papers you have. For ease of use I include it again here, and encourage you to say this prayer on Corpus Christi and each Sunday.


Lord Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Holy Sacrament. I love you above all things and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot at present receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as being already there and unite myself wholly to you. Never permit me  to be separated from you. Amen.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


Thoughts on the Trinity- Rev’d David Scott


At theological college, when the preaching roster was put up, the first thing we looked up was who the poor chap was (only chaps in those days) who had to preach on Trinity Sunday. So now Fr Michael puts me right there on the lockdown roster. I forgive him. Or is there anything to forgive? 


Way back in College, I think we thought we had to give a brilliant exposition of the doctrine of the Trinity. Maybe at College but I haven’t been there for about 55 years. So I am NOT going to explain the Trinity. Someone said: If you get to understand the Trinity, stop and write a book about it and you will be famous. No! The doctrine of the Trinity arose out of Christians’ experience of God’s action in our lives and that experience led to the creeds we all recite. (See last page). 

If you think about the creed, you will realise that the first and last paragraphs are much shorter than the middle one. Who Jesus was caused centuries of debate and discussion, sometimes even violence as the church agonised its way towards understanding who Jesus was :God? Man? Half God and half man? More God than man? More man than God? But no! Listeners to Jesus concluded that what He said is what God would have said. He really was the Word of God. His actions and behaviour were God-like. Could He be more than the prophet Messiah they were expecting? Yes, He was divine in all aspects. But surely if He was divine, then He could hardly represent us ordinary humans. He couldn’t have suffered temptation, emotions, pain. That is unfair. However, apostles, scripture and theologians all concluded that, for Jesus to be the suffering servant, He had to be fully human. Conclusion: Jesus was both fully man and fully God – man so He could represent us in His suffering, man so that we can know that He shared our temptations, our problems, our illnesses, our tragedies. Yes, this could only be done by fully man. Meanwhile, surely the salvation of the world could only be won by God. The man Jesus and Jesus the Son of God carved out a covenant of love and forgiveness towards us all. If Jesus was merely a man, He would probably be read about in books depicting Him as one of the world’s greatest moral teachers, if not THE greatest. But we WORSHIP Him – rightly as far as I and millions of Christians believe and do. However, we do not worship a Saviour who left us at the Ascension. He promised “another Comforter”.


 A South African archbishop, Bill Burnett, used to teach that there were two words for “another” and that the one that Jesus used meant “another Person THE SAME AS I” rather than another who is different from me. He was, of course, talking about the Holy Spirit who would come on the apostles and the followers of Jesus. “The Father and I will come and make our home in you”, said Jesus. (John 14/23). Imagine that! God, through His Spirit, makes His HOME in you. Paul says we are temples of the Holy Spirit. That means that, even if not in the temple building (the Church), we are walking, talking temples, created by God, redeemed by the Saviour, taking God wherever we go and wherever we are. Jesus in flesh was confined to one place at one time. In the Spirit He is everywhere at all times. Great news! So rejoice in being children of the Trinity at this time and always. God the Trinity is with you. Hallelujah! 


Collect for Trinity Sunday


Almighty and everlasting God, you have given us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the Unity: keep us steadfast in this faith, that we may evermore be defended from all adversities; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. 


Prayers for Trinity Sunday


Through your efforts, blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we have been redeemed, created, and sanctified. Although we have never understood the fullness of the Trinity, you have granted us new life and have declared us innocent through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. For this we worship you in humble adoration. Keep us in the faith until we join the elect around your glorious throne. We ask this in your name, you who live and rule, ever one God, through all eternity. Amen. 

O God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in whose name we are baptized and into whose fellowship we have been received. We cling in faith to you, the only God. We praise you dear Father, for having loved us and sent your Son to die for our sins. We praise you dear Jesus, for having redeemed us from our sins by sacrificing yourself for us. We praise you, Holy Spirit, for having sanctified us for you gave us faith and through faith cleansed us from sin. 


O Triune God, graciously enable us always to believe and obey, and to worship and confess you; Creator, Redeemer and Sanctified, one God, eternal and all glorious forever. Amen. We bind unto ourselves today The strong name of the Trinity By invocation of the same, The Three in One, and One in Three. Of whom all nature has creation; Eternal Father, Spirit, Word. Praise to the Lord of our salvation. Salvation is of Christ the Lord. Amen.


The Nicene Creed


WE BELIEVE in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.



Day of Pentecost- 31st May, 2020

Acts 2:1-21


This comes to you with every blessing on Pentecost Sunday- when Christ made good his promise at the Ascension to send the Holy Spirit to the apostles. May each of us receive the grace of the Holy Spirit with eagerness and humility.


Church Opening

There is nothing definite to update you on since last week. There is some expectation that when churches do open, it will be for private prayer only (at least at first), but everything is still ‘up in the air’ so we continue to wait. I will liaise with relevant people in due course about finalising our ‘opening up’ plans. Please hold this situation in your prayers.


The account of the coming of the Holy Spirit in Acts is dramatic and well known- the sound of a high wind, the ‘tongues’ of flame appearing over the heads of the apostles and the gift of speaking in many languages is rich in powerful imagery about the might of God, the suddenness with which he sometimes brings things about, and the confusion which oftentimes greets these acts. The assumption from some bystanders that the apostles were drunk has inspired many a sermon over the years but it is reasonable that people would wonder what on earth was happening- these are strange, perhaps fearful events which suddenly take place, upsetting everything in their path. The apostles themselves must have been amazed and not a little afraid at the way in which the Spirit makes himself known to them.


However, Pentecost is often referred to as the ‘Birth of the Church’ because in that anointing of the apostles by the Holy Spirit, they received their commission to teach, heal, baptise in Christ’s name. The book of Acts is a ‘rollercoaster’ story of those heady first years of the followers of Jesus, who gradually became organised and formed the offices of bishop, priest and deacon (as they would become known). These first Christians and their leaders founded the Church, which, since those earliest of times, has always been about more than buildings (and which we are confronted with anew in our current times); obviously, the first followers did not have purpose-built gathering places and they had to find clever ways to distribute both spiritual writings and matters of organisation and administration to the various communities of Christians grouped around the Mediterranean. Remember that those first years were marked by persecution and martyrdom (all the apostles but John the Evangelist are said to have been martyred); it took over three hundred years for Christianity to largely find acceptance but by this time, the followers had formed a definite Church which was shaping and honing matters of theology (ideas about God), Christology (ideas about Christ) and ecclesiology (ideas about the Church) which have formed the bedrock of Anglicanism ,Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

As we celebrate the ‘Birth of the Church’ today during this time of cessation of public worship, we may feel separated from our churches, but it’s an excellent opportunity to remind ourselves anew that ‘Church’ means much more than a special building. 


The Church is the whole of our experience of life as Christians.

When we pray at home, we pray alongside millions of others. When we commit acts of charity we do so as part of a body of Christians living out gospel values of service.

When we read and reflect on the Bible or other religious writings we increase our faith.

When we spiritually receive Holy Communion through our love of Christ and our desire to lead a life shaped by Him, we take our place within the body of Christ in the world- the Church.

We are truly blessed by the Church in all these ways (and more) and today we give thanks to God for the sending of the Holy Spirit and the establishment of the Church.


What of the buildings? I know that you will not be thinking that church buildings do not matter- they do- and in ‘going to church’ we commit ourselves physically to our beliefs; when we  give of ourselves through time spent and other actions for the church building we honour Christ in the world- the church building becomes a sort of picture of Christ, a symbol, icon or emblem of Christ in the midst of our community. Church buildings are powerful testimonies to the gospel in our broken world, they are holy places set apart for Christian worship and the receiving of the sacraments and as such are very, very special. We treasure our St Aidan’s church and I invite you this week to give thanks to God for our church, and to pray that the building will be kept safe and secure during these coming weeks.


Please pray for:

Those who would have received the sacrament of Holy Baptism in recent weeks at St Aidan’s. May this happen soon so they may begin their adventure with Christ.

Those who have had funerals conducted hurriedly or very simply with no church service. May they rest in peace and rise with the saints in glory.

Those who long to receive Holy Communion. May they be comforted and enlivened by the Holy Spirit.


Please give thanks for:

The birth of the Church at Pentecost;

The graces you have received through the Holy Spirit;

The patronage of our church and parish by St Aidan, and the first patronage of our area by the Virgin Mary when the land was part of Chalk St Mary.


My continuing thanks to you for your kind pastoral care of one another and do be assured once again of my continuing prayers for you all. 


Fr Michael





Seventh Sunday of Easter, 24th May, 2020


My thanks to Mavis for composing this week’s reflection and prayers, which can be found below.


There is no clear progress yet as to how and when churches may be open again for public worship since the government suggested that places of worship may possibly open in certain ways from early July. Naturally I will update you. In the meantime the Archdeacons have asked clergy to begin planning how we may adapt any advice that comes to our own parish context, and I have been at work on this over recent days and I am grateful for the feedback I have received from the churchwardens, ministry team and other church office holders on my initial proposals.


In due course I will set out our finalised ‘plan’ for opening St Aidan’s but you will understand that the picture is subject to change so we will simply need to be patient and proceed carefully. In any case, I should like to say that the decision to attend church once it opens again rests entirely with each person and if you feel unsure or anxious about the risks involved do please keep yourselves safe. I hope that when my plan for opening is released it will offer some reassurance that we are doing all we possibly can, but I also understand that some will prefer to remain at home over the coming weeks and months. These reflections will continue to be published and delivered after church opens, for those who choose to remain at home for now, and I am pleased to hear from many of you about how much you appreciate what they contain. 


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael


From Mrs Mavis Prater


Greetings to you all on this Seventh Sunday of Easter


Our reflections this week are based on the Gospel reading:  John 17: 1-11


Last Thursday we celebrated Ascension Day.   Just before his Ascension, Jesus told his disciples what they were to do next – his instructions were clear.  “Wait in Jerusalem – you will be given the power of the Holy Spirit – this will enable you to become my witnesses in all Judea and Samaria and to all the ends of the earth”.


This period between the Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost must have been a very special time for the disciples.  They returned to Jerusalem as Jesus had told them and we can read in the first chapter of Acts that they were constantly in prayer – there must have been a great bond developing between them – a bond that would be such a source of strength and encouragement to each of them in the future.   They must have been fully aware of the risks they would be taking - after all, they had seen what had happened to their Lord and master.  They must have gained much strength from praying for one another. 


Knowing that you are being remembered in prayer by other people when you are going through a difficult period is such a wonderful source of strength and comfort, isn’t it.  In my funeral work I always tell the bereaved families that they will be remembered in prayer in our services for several weeks, and even though they often do not profess to have a Christian faith, they are genuinely grateful to be remembered in this way.


Prayer was obviously extremely important to Jesus.  He needed frequently to turn aside from his duties and his teachings to spend time with his Father.  There are many Biblical references to the times when he either got up early, or during the night-time, and went to find a quiet place where he could spend time in prayer – listening to his Father’s words of encouragement and guidance, as well as opening up to him his own thoughts, worries and cares. 


Today’s gospel reading contains what has become known as the High Priestly Prayer.    Prayer has been defined as having a conversation with the Lord.  In these verses we are invited to listen in on that conversation.  Jesus knew that his time on earth was coming to an end.  On the completion of the prayer, he went across to the Garden of Gethsemane so that Judas could meet him, and the betrayal could begin.


Jesus’s prayer, probably the most intimate and moving of all the times when we overhear him in communion with his Father, is for his disciples as he leaves them.  He is well aware that they will face many dangers after he has gone, so he commits them into the power of God’s name.  He prays too for all who will believe in him during the coming years and for the world that it may come to know the love of God.    It seems difficult to imagine that anyone present could have remembered with such clarity the precise words that were used, but John, the beloved disciple, drawing on his own closeness to Jesus, undoubtedly seems to capture here the very heart of his master’s prayer.


Although the opening five verses are often referred to as Jesus’s prayer for himself, there is no self-focus involved.  The cross remains central to his thinking.  It is there where he will be glorified, and he prays that he might be able to carry his ministry through to the glorious conclusion that his Father intended.


But what was this glory of which Jesus prayed.   For most of us, crucifixion - a particularly cruel form of execution - could be described as many things, but hardly glorious!   Yet in these verses that we are concentrating on today, it is Christ’s glorification that is focused upon.  Here, only hours from Golgotha, Jesus prays that his death will be the means by which the Father will glorify him, so that the Son may glorify the Father.   We may well ask ourselves how such a barbaric act can possibly end up by being glorious!  The answer surely is that only in that way can Jesus exercise his divine authority to give eternal life to those God has given him.  The Father will be glorified in the completion of the work which he has sent Jesus to do, which is nothing less than be the saviour of the world.  Perhaps that accounts for the triumphant final cry from the cross “It is finished”!  The task had been accomplished – only glory now lay ahead.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

So as we reflect upon these verses, let us consider how we can make them relevant to us today and find in them themes for our prayers.


(a)  As you “listen in” on that holy conversation, how might it change the things you “talk to God” about and which people you pray for?


(b)  Jesus prayed for protection for his disciples and for all believers in years to come.  During these difficult and worrying times, that protection could not be more relevant.  We must continue to pray for all who have been affected in any way by Covid 19 and for all who make decisions concerning our future as they begin to look towards lessening restrictions. 


(c)  Jesus prayed that all his disciples might be one.   He knew that Satan would attack them after he had gone and his main method of destroying them would be to divide them.   Please pray for unity amongst Christians – particularly thinking of the work of our local Churches Together (of which our Vicar is vice-chair).


(d)   Let us ponder the strength of Jesus’s companionship with the disciples over the three years while he was with them on earth.   Although it is difficult to have “social” companionship with those with whom we pray at this time, nevertheless, we must also continue to support them with phone conversations and other means of contact.   Pray for the plans being considered for re-entry into places of worship. 


(e)  Eternal life means knowing God.  Some people, even Christians, seem to think that “eternal life” simply means life after death.   But it doesn’t.  It is that of course, but it is also a life that begins here and now.  It is a quality of life more than a quantity.   What does “knowing God” mean to you and to me?  Make it a focus of thanksgiving.


(f)  In the Anglican Communion Service, the introduction to the confession describes Jesus as “our advocate in heaven”.  An advocate is someone who pleads our case, like a defence lawyer.  And in these verses, we see Jesus doing just that; praying for his disciples, both those who followed him then and those, like us, who would come after.  It’s a marvellous picture – Jesus is on our side and what-ever happens and at all times, Jesus is praying for us!  Alleluia!


Be assured of my thoughts and prayers

Mavis – Licensed Reader.




Fifth Sunday of Easter- 10th May 2020

John 14:1-14

Easter greetings and blessings as we continue to journey through this most wonderful of seasons together, in the best ways we can.

At the time of writing, the full social restrictions are still in place, but in the coming week that picture may change as the country awaits updates from the government on possible easing of some measures.

You may have learned by now that  the Bishop of Rochester, Bishop James, has developed symptoms of possible Covid-19 infection. He currently awaits a test. Having observed all the measures, he thinks the likely cause of infection was weekly shopping. With this in mind, and if restrictions ease somewhat in the coming days, please continue to be very vigilant in observing social distancing and hygiene routines. This is absolutely essential. It would be dreadful if there was a rise in infections. 

Bear in mind that the virus can survive on packaging for up to three days, so it is good practice to wipe all packaging with a damp cloth to destroy any virus that may linger on your shopping once you have brought it home. Wash hands afterwards, of course.

Clergy in this diocese now have authorisation to enter church alone (or with members of their household) to pray and celebrate the eucharist. I will be celebrating the eucharist in St Aidan’s this Sunday morning and each Sunday onwards. If you have requests for prayer which you would like me to offer at the altar, please telephone or email me with requests. Remember that you do not need to impart sensitive information unless you wish to, and intentions may be for yourself, others or concerns in society and the wider world. Please keep Bishop James, and all those who are ill, in your prayers.


John’s Gospel Reading


Today’s Gospel is John 14:1-14. This reading is very well known and includes the famous phrases of Jesus ‘In my father’s house there are many dwelling places’; ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ and ‘I am in the Father and the Father is in me’. 

It is a passage rich in meaning about who Jesus Christ is for the believing community. Remember that John’s  gospel was written last and the ‘picture’ of Christ has changed somewhat from that in Mark, the earliest gospel. By the time we get to John, we see Jesus as  a cosmic figure, in existence before the beginning of creation as the ‘Logos’, the ‘Word’ who was ‘with God’ and ‘without whom, not one thing came into being’ (John  Ch 1). 

We can see how the deliberations of the early Church over the divinity and humanity of Christ, across a number of ‘Ecumenical Councils’, were informed by these passages (and others). Many of the central doctrines of the Church were forged in these early centuries (the last major Church Council met in AD 451 by which time most of the great theological work had been done), and we have inherited the belief that Christ is and was timeless, that his nature is both truly human and truly divine. He is not a separate ‘Son of God’ but is fully God in the person of the Son- this is of course the foundation of the Trinity, the great doctrine of the faith held by the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches (and others).


During this season of restriction, distancing and disease, we have benefitted from these beliefs. Christ is at both and the same time with us and also with the Father in heaven. In this Easter season, we celebrate Christ’s victory over death. Christ enters, at that point, into his resurrection life, a life unlike human, earthbound life. We see this in his resurrection appearances in the gospels and Acts; how he is able to appear and disappear, how his appearance changes. This shows us that Jesus is no longer limited by time and space. The implications for the Church, and the local parish church are enormous during this current period.

We have long known and often talked about the ‘church beyond the walls’- well, we are encountering that now more than ever! The church has to be more like Jesus than ever before- unlimited by time and space, and able to adapt and change without compromising our essential nature. Surely, the internet has really allowed churches to transcend time and space by uploading worship and such ,which is accessible any time or anywhere; for those not ‘online’, the church has had to find ways to reach people and we continue to try our best to do that at St Aidan’s.

In any case, whether you are online or not, this is a time to really take to heart the transcendence of Jesus Christ- he is not limited to altar, pew and aumbry, but is with us in all times and all places. Likewise, it is a time to connect with the outreach of the church, and its possibilities for the future.

For me, though, despite the usefulness of the internet, there is no substitute for meeting together in church. Not only because we believe in incarnation- God with us in the flesh (as we are when we meet and never are though a computer screen)- but because church buildings, including our own dear St Aidan’s, are special places, they are holy places consecrated for worship and the sacraments. Let us pray that we may soon- when it is safe- gather again, and worship the divine Word together.


Please pray :


For those responsible for co ordinating the response to this pandemic- scientists, medics, politicians and other agencies.


For those suffering away from the glare of the media’s attention: For East Africa, as a second locust swarm continues to devastate crops, for tensions on the Korean peninsula, for refugees and victims of persecution.


For our parish of St Aidan, our borough of Gravesham and our Deanery of Gravesend, particularly those parishes in interregnum: Christ Church Milton, St Mary Greenhithe, Northfleet, Rosherville and Perry Street, and soon to be at Swanscombe.


This comes with every blessing,

Fr Michael

01474 352500



John 10/1-10. Gospel for 4th Sunday of Easter- 3rd May

This week's reflection comes from the Rev'd David Scott.

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

10 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.

  1. I AM!  The name of God, Jehovah/Yahweh, given to Moses by God, means I AM WHO I AM or I WAS WHO I WAS or I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE.  In other words, whatever we have or the world has gone through, God is here/there.  I AM!  In fact, 2 of the 7 famous I AM claims of Jesus are in this chapter: one, i.e. “I am the gate for the sheep” is in this passage; the other, i.e. “I am the good shepherd” comes a few verses later. So this is a real claim by Jesus to have that special relationship with the Father Creator- and hence to be the bridge between Heaven and earth, i.e, the bridge to Heaven for us.  “I AM THE GATE FOR THE SHEEP”, the gate through which His sheep, i.e. you and I can go safely into God’s sheepfold.  Hallelujah!

  2. Sometimes I watch for a while, before getting bored, those competitions where border collies have efficiency and obedience competitions as to which shepherd and dog herds the sheep into a pen better than others.  Perhaps, having owned a very intelligent border collie of our own, I have a special interest in those beautiful creatures.  The shepherds in Israel did NOT have border collies. No dogs! The shepherd would lead the sheep from pasture to pasture, the sheep trustingly following the shepherd to safe feeding areas or to a safe sheepfold.  “MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE”, said Jesus, the Good Shepherd.  Do we have a working knowledge of Jesus’ words in the Gospels?  They reflect the VOICE of Jesus.  We TRUST Him and follow Him through the trials and tests of life (“valley of the shadow of death” – this can be translated “the valley of deep shadows”) to the security of green pastures and fresh waters.  We trust and obey, as the spiritual song says in its chorus. 

  3. JOHN 10/11-14:  11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.  14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”

  4. We trust and obey because Jesus knows His sheep and we know Jesus.  When we, the flock, are attacked, as is happening at the moment, we know the true Shepherd is protecting and is even ready to die for the sheep.  Jesus is at the gate and we are safe inside His kingdom.

  5. Jesus, inspired by the Holy Spirit, taught eternal truths by using familiar objects and activities going on in society around Him.  Sheep were massively important over the centuries from the Patriarchs to Jesus’ time.  E.g. The large number of sheep in the land can be understood when it is realized that Job had fourteen thousand sheep (Job. 42:12), and that King Solomon at the Temple's dedication, sacrificed one hundred and twenty thousand sheep (1Kings 8:63).  An ex parishioner of mine living down at St Mary’s Bay area takes his dog out and counts the sheep for the farmer, keeping an eye on them for him.  The obvious Psalm for this Sunday is Psalm 23:

  6. 1.The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
    3 he refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths
     for his name’s sake.
    4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,[a]
      I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
      your rod and your staff, they comfort me.                               5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
      You anoint my head with oil;  my cup overflows.
    6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

  7. Father, I thank You for being the door of Your sheep. Lord, I adore You because You hear me, and through You I am saved! The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Lord You have come so that I may have life and have it more abundantly! Thank You for being the good shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep! You are not a hireling who sees His sheep as a job, but You are the good shepherd who sees His sheep as His children. So on this good shepherd Sunday, I thank You because, You know Your sheep and are known by Your own. Thank You Lord! Amen


Lord of the 23rd Psalm,
I have known death,
and you have refreshed my soul.
I have known fear,
and you have comforted me.
I have known hunger,
and you have set a feast before me.
In the darkest valley
no calamity of humankind or nature has separated us.

Teach me to walk as you walk
Beside those in mourning
so that they will know joy,
Beside those in fear
that they will know comfort,
Beside those in hunger
that they will feast until their cup overflows.

As your goodness and love follow me,
May mine follow my neighbour
That the threat of the worst terrors
May turn to the knowledge of the comforts of the house of the Lord,
Where you have invited us to dwell forever.

And so let me strive to help build on earth
What you have promised us in heaven.
In the face of all calamity, present and yet to come,
Let me lead my neighbour beside quiet waters,
The quiet waters of the Good Shepherd.



Third Sunday of Easter- 26th April 2020


Greetings and blessings to you on the Third Sunday of Easter.

I hope that you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well. 


Please continue to pray for the world and its needs as scientists, medics, governments and many others battle to prevail against the coronavirus. Let us remember, though that we are in Eastertide and despite the anxiety and strangeness of these days, we still cry ‘alleluia!’ at the great triumph of life over death, won for us by Christ. Be sure to give thanks and praise to Christ’s glorious name this week, and in the days and weeks ahead.


I am delighted that Mavis is providing our reflection this week and I thank her for her carefully prepared thoughts on the dynamic and invigorating story of the encounter with the risen Jesus on the road to Emmaus.


Also this week, we have an Easter message and prayers  from the Rt Rev’d Solomon Scott-Manga, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Bo, Sierra Leone. I am grateful to Bishop Solomon for agreeing to give us his reflections; please keep him and the diocese there in your prayers. Bishop Solomon is the brother of Janet, a member of our congregation.


In future weeks, we can look forward to writings from Dr Peter Harris and the Rev’d David Scott, who, alongside Mavis and myself, will be providing monthly reflections as we journey through ‘Lockdown’ together. I am hoping to include resources for families as we go forward.


Naturally, I am monitoring advice from the government and the Church of England, and when- eventually- a plan emerges for reopening churches, I will let you know how we will approach that at St Aidan’s.

In the meantime, this comes with every blessing,


Fr Michael


From Mavis Prater

Third Sunday of Easter:

Luke 24: 13-35 – “The Road to Emmaus”

What a beautiful, human story – one to which we can all relate.

In the afternoon of the first Easter, Cleopas and his companion are walking together to Emmaus, possibly returning home after having travelled to Jerusalem for Passover. They were trying to piece together what had happened, mulling over Jesus’s betrayal, arrest, trial and crucifixion, and then the strange tale of the women at the tomb. They are deeply saddened by

Jesus’s death – a dear friend – and together sharing the sorrow they feel as a result of the recent events. Life had now no meaning for them. To their surprise, a third person has joined them and starts to ask questions – the friends are irritated and express blunt surprise ‘Are you so much a stranger and

so isolated in the city that you have heard nothing about what has been happening’? “What things” the stranger asks.

The deep disappointment felt by the friends comes across clearly in their answer. How poignant are the words ‘we had hoped’ (v.21). After three days nothing had happened. I can imagine that Jesus must have had a twinkle in his eye as he gently chastised them for their lack of faith (v.25). He then goes on to give them the most wonderful Bible study – no wonder their hearts burn

within them (v.32) and they long to hear more.

By this time they had arrived at the edge of the village – the stranger went to go on ahead, but the friends urge him to stay and eat with them as it was getting late. He does, and it is then, at the “breaking of the bread”, that Cleopas and his companion recognise that the stranger who had been accompanying them along the road was none other than Jesus himself.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Let us now look at these verses a little more deeply, and see how we can relate them to our lives and use them in reflection and prayer.

(a) Many of us, I am sure, have experienced the sensation of a supportive figure alongside us in our darkest moments. (Think of the popularity of the Footprints story, printed on so many prayer cards). Just as these two friends walking along the Emmaus Road didn’t recognise Jesus, so we are often so caught up in our own problems and sadness that we do not realise that God

has been with us all the way. We sometimes look back and wonder ‘how on earth did I get through that?’ It is when we reach the later stage of our journey and look back that we can recognise that God was there with us all the way.


Lord God, you are with me, now and always, even when it seems hard to sense your presence. Help me to be open to you as I travel along. Amen.


(b) There is sheer despair in the simple phrase ‘we had hoped’ (v.21). Jesus’s followers were looking to him as their longed for Messiah – now all they had hoped for was gone. Think of your own personal disappointments – a job that didn’t materialise - a holiday you were looking forward to that was cancelled at

the last minute – a sudden bereavement. The long and excited period of anticipation was suddenly destroyed.

Have you ever said “we had hoped …..? What happened next? After a while, when things had died down and the dust had settled, could you look back and see a reason behind it, and be grateful for it?


(c) Jesus walked with the two friends. He opened the scriptures to them, reinforcing the continuity of prophecy, testimony and witness right from Moses to their times. During this period of “lock down”, we are all having the most unusual experience of finding time on our hands. Could this be an opportunity for us to take advantage of the many teaching aids that can be

found on the internet or may be read a book which would help us to study and have “our hearts burn within us”?


Thank you Lord, for the gift of the Scriptures. As I reflect on the Bible, give me the faith to receive your message; the wisdom to know what it means, and the courage to put it into practice. Amen

(a prayer from the New Zealand Prayer Book)


(d) At the end of their walk, the stranger was seemingly going on, but the friends then uttered what were probably the most important words of their lives – “stay with us”. Jesus always waits for an invitation – he never enters where he is not welcome. Think also of the Book of Revelation (3:20). Jesus

never forces himself upon us. Unless we invite him he will always be a stranger but once we invite him into our lives he will make himself fully known.

“Father of all, we give you thanks and praise, that when we were still far

off you met us in your Son and brought us home.”

(Alternative Service Book, post communion prayer)


(e) “You’ll never walk alone” from “Carousel” is now synonymous with the epic fund raising efforts made by Capt. Tom Moore. Those words are indeed true because God is always with us, but we must still be open to his presence

and alert to the stranger who comes near and walks with us.


Dear Jesus, walk with me until my eyes are opened. I want no other destination but the one your will has designed for me. Amen.


Just another point which I have pondered while preparing these reflections.

Why, I wonder, did Jesus reveal himself only to his disciples?

Why could he not have shown himself to those who judged him in the Sanhedrin or to Pilate to condemn him for his cowardly injustice?

My thoughts and prayers are with you all during these challenging times, and I am so grateful for the ways in which we can support one another either through telephone calls or the internet. Modern technology does indeed have its uses!!!


I wish you all God’s richest blessings


(Licensed Reader)



From: Rt. Rev’d. Solomon  Scott-Manga

Bishop,  Anglican Diocese of Bo

Text: 1Corinthians 12:26 – If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

Theme: “Coming together in pain and Joy”.

Today my Brothers and Sisters the entire world is sick because of this Covid – 19 ravaging the world.  We are totally confused why this is happening to humanity, but when we are down and out, and we cannot do it on our own we must turn our plans, our destinies and ourselves over to the Lord.  Our Lord and Saviour Jesus manifest his love for us in joy and pain.  He ate with sinners and wept with Mary and Martha when they reported their brother’s death.

What is your response when a fellow Christian is honoured? How do you respond when someone is suffering? We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.  (Romans 12:15).  Too often, unfortunately, we are jealous of those who rejoice and apathetic towards those who weep.  Believers are in the world together – there is no such thing as private or individualistic Christianity.  We shouldn’t stop with enjoying only our own relationship with God, we need to be involved in the lives of others.

Therefore, Paul stresses the importance of our relationships with each other and with God.  We must not love during good times only, but during difficult times as well.  The Covid – 19 has brought fear in our lives today.  But with Jesus in the Boat, the storm will be calm.  It is our responsibility today to accept Jesus as our personal Saviour. Jesus loves us unconditionally; therefore we must endeavor to do the same.

Constantly ask God to be your helper.  It happened for Fontella Bass.  After her hit record “Rescue me”, she went for 25years without any success in her carrier.  She was broke and helpless, until she decided to turn her life over to the Lord in prayer.  Soon after her acknowledgement of broken relationships with friends, family and God, she found that God could come to her rescue; she renewed relationships with God and with humanity.  Paul reminds us that faith looks up, and that we need each other in joy and in pain.

God through Christ rejoices with us but most of all ask that we bring our burden to Him and He will give us rest. Christians all over the world today are praying for God’s intervention in our situation.

Like the market day, that brings people together including farmers, clothing sellers, blacksmiths and even entertainers.  Each person brings something to the market that is essential for the community.  Like the market the functioning body of Christ is made up of people with many different skills and abilities.  These spiritual craftsmen includes apostles, prophets, teachers those who do miracles, provide healing and serve other ministries (1Cor. 12:28).  The services they provide to the Church include Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Discernment, Speaking and interpreting languages and other special services (1Cor. 12:8-10).

Practically everyone in the market brings something that will benefit others.  In a similar way every believer has been given some gift – some special ability by the Holy Spirit to expand, strengthen or encourage the Church. 

These talents may be exercised in many different ways.  For example, one having the gift of evangelism may evangelize through preaching, writing, speaking individually with people. 

All Christians must seek to discover what special gift or ability the Holy Spirit has given them.  They should seek to develop and use that ability just as each person brings some necessary item or service to the market, let us bring to the body of Christ the gift God has given to use so it will expand and mature. 

Finally brethren, if we lack the knowledge to know what our abilities and gifts are, then let us ask God to reveal them to us.  Let us use our gifts to rescue the suffering world.  Each of us has something to do. 

Let us Pray. 

Our God and our Father, maker and redeemer of the world we come before you today with heavy hearts.  Lord, we thank you for sparing our lives.  Abba Father, look upon us with Mercy, forgive us from our evil ways.  Lord do not punish us because of our wickedness; have mercy upon us,  Oh Lord. 

As a nations we commit our leaders both Political and Religious to you.  We pray for your wisdom, knowledge and understanding. 

Guide their paths as they lead their people, give them the courage to withstand this difficult moment in the world.  Lord manifest your power in their lives, thank you Lord for your faithfulness in keeping and protecting your people.  O Lord our God, I beseech you to preserve and protect the entire people in the world from this Pandemic Covid-19, let the Covid-19 Pandemic channeled against your people become obsolete and expire now in Jesus name.  O God arise, protect and preserve the entire world from this Pandemic.  Those who are hospitalized because of Covid-19 grant them your healing in the Name of Jesus.  Those who have died because of the Pandemic grant them eternal rest. 

Let the blood of Jesus and the Holy Ghost Fire build great walls roundabout everything and people.  Thank your Lord for answered prayer, for in Jesus Name I pray.  Amen. 

God bless you. 



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