Ash Wednesday - 14th of Feb. 2018. Fr. Simon Stephen, Pastor Wolfgang Heldt-Meyerding,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
BISHOP’S ADVENT APPEAL 2017
This year’s Advent Appeal aims to support homeless refugees and asylum seekers in Rome with humanitarian assistance (a daily, cooked breakfast and essential items for personal dignity and warmth) for 6 months. We are doing this through a well-established and well-run project established by our Episcopal sister church of St. Paul’s Within the Walls.
The Joel Nafuma Refugee Center is the major outreach ministry of St Paul's Within the Walls Episcopal Church in Rome. The center assists approximately 17,000 people per year, and is the only day center open to receive homeless asylum seekers and refugees in Rome. Every day, JNRC welcomes 200-250 guests. The guests come from many different nations, including Mali, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Pakistan, Guinea and the Ivory Coast. Half of them are homeless, sleeping in parks or on the pavement outside train stations.
Many are vulnerable, depressed and traumatized. They are sometimes completely alone. They can be as young as 18 or 19. 70% have come to Italy to flee active conflict, political or religious persecution. Approximately 85% are men, and 15% are women or accompanied by a child.
While they wait for shelter, they are welcomed at JNRC, given a nutritious, cooked breakfast, as well as items for their personal dignity (toiletries, second-hand shoes, clothes and blankets), and offered legal advice. If they wish, they can join a language lesson, learn to use a computer or simply watch the news on the TV. JNRC has a multi-faith prayer space where guests can meditate and pray.
JNRC is the only place in Rome that takes in homeless and dormitory-housed refugees during the day, giving them a safe refuge from the streets. Often, once they have a dorm bed, they return to take classes, write a CV in Italian and begin the search for employment. Some guests attend music and art therapy or see a counsellor for individual sessions. JNRC prides itself on being able to track the progress of many young people who transition from humanitarian assistance, to being able to fend for themselves in Rome.
Under the terms of the Dublin Regulation, refugees who entered Italy first in Europe must receive and renew refugee status documents in Italy. This means that in 2017, JNRC has seen a rise in guest numbers due to the increased number of people journeying across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya, the closure of the Calais “Jungle” camp in France, and increased deportations from Scandinavia.
We aim to raise enough money to support the breakfast programme and to provide basic supplies and sleeping bags for JNRC guests for 6 months:
For 6 months supply of:
Amount in Euro
Cleaning supplies and costs
Underwear, toiletries and socks
100 Sleeping bags for January - March
As usual, you can give money to this appeal through your church treasurer, who will forward your gift to the diocesan office. Funds will then be transmitted direct to JNRC (http://jnrc.it/).
Please do consider how you can support my Advent appeal this year.
With every blessing,
+Robert Gibraltar in Europe
Fr.Alan.M.Cole, SSC, as Locum offers a special welcome to all staffs, families and friends of English speaking Embassies, Consulates, commercial & business offices to service of worship as listed below. The Anglican / Episcopal Diocese of Europe in all European capitals authorizes a priestly ministry to all baptized persons availing themselves of Christian friendship. Our Sunday services are Eucharistic (Mass & Communion) in a liturgy accessible to Anglican, Orthodox, Roman, Lutheran, Reformed or Evangelical Christians. All comers may express their religious faith with in our sociable & Joyful ambience. Offerings are received but no charge for attendance.
All Anglican worship is held at St.Catherine’s Lutheran Church, at 22, Luthernskaya street, Kyiv.
The Chaplin is personally available for spiritual care, confessions or Blessings. Do feel welcome to attend services or studies or speak with Fr.Alan.
ADVENT, NATIVITY, EPIPHANY DATES:
Sundays at 15.00 hrs : Dec 4,11,18,25Jan 1,8,15,22
Holy Eucharist - Mass & Holy Communion
Tuesday’s Study Groups at 19.00hrs Dec 6,13,20,27Jan 3,10,17
Christmas ServiceSunday at 15.00 hrs, 25 December 2016
The next bank holiday in England and Wales is
3 AprilGood Friday
The promises to Abram/Abraham
Do you have any promises that you are waiting to see completed?
Spouse, children, boss
What about promises from God?
Is there anything that God has promised, that you are waiting to see fulfilled?
Isn’t it exhausting?
We wait on promises from God, sometimes a long time, and we get tired of waiting.
Abraham was 75 years old when he received the promise of God
1: Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the land that I will show thee:
2: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make they name great; and be thou a blessing:
3: and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
That is an amazing promise!
What one of us would not want God to say something like that to us!?
But…It took Abraham 25 years to see the promise of God fulfilled!
Who among us would want to wait that long to see a promise of God fulfilled?
Abrams father’s name was Terah (delay or wait a bit)
Abram name means (exalted father) – remember he had no children at that time
Abraham sojourned in Haran (parched land)
So the exalted father was sojourning in the parched land, with no children.
God says GO, and Abram goes, but 25 years go by before the promise is fulfilled.
Abraham was human, don’t think he wasn’t
Don’t give him superman powers. I’m sure there were many days he thought about the promise of God and how quickly time was slipping away.
He was tempted to “force the issue” – but that is rarely a good idea, usually it’s a very bad idea.
Sarai gives him her handmaiden, and Ishmael is born.
Ishmael – is the father of the Arab nations, the militant enemies of the Jewish nation
Not exactly the completion of God’s promise…
8: By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
9: By faith he became a sojourner in the land of promise, as in a land not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10: for he looked for the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11: By faith even Sarah herself received power to conceive seed when she was past age, since she counted him faithful who had promised:
12: wherefore also there sprang of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of heaven in multitude, and as the sand, which is by the sea-shore, innumerable.
Abraham is listed as a man of faith, one of the shining examples.
Sarah makes the list as well
They left not knowing where they were going. How many of you would do the same?
Men- try telling your wife you are moving the family, when she asks where, tell her you don’t know.
Don’t underestimate what is going on here:
Abraham goes, not knowing where he was going, walking in faith.
Leaving everything and every place that he knows. (Later, he sent back “home” for his son Isaac’s wife)
He gets a new name Abraham (which means father of nations) and he still doesn’t have any kids.
4: So Abram went, as Jehovah had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
5: And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
6: And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Shechem, unto the oak of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.
Do you think you have it hard?
Abraham shows up in the land that God has promised, and it’s already full of people!
Not just ordinary people, remember the Israelite spies – there were giants and such there.
“this is the land I am giving you” (uh God, is there an empty piece you can show me?)
20: yet, looking unto the promise of God, he wavered not through unbelief, but waxed strong through faith, giving glory to God,
21: and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform.
Ok God, no problem.
I’m old, no kids, no personal army, not entirely sure where I am. Sounds good, I’m just waiting on you God.
1: After these things the word of Jehovah came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
2: And Abram said, O Lord Jehovah, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and he that shall be possessor of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?
3: And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
4: And, behold, the word of Jehovah came unto him, saying, This man shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
5: And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and number the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
6: And he believed in Jehovah; and he reckoned it to him for righteousness.
God repeats His promise to Abraham, and you can sense a bit of frustration from Abraham.
-I am childless, what reward will you give, because I don’t have a proper heir to pass it on to.
But God speaks clearly to him, it will be a proper son
10: And he said, I will certainly return unto thee when the season cometh round; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard in the tent door, which was behind him.
11: Now Abraham and Sarah were old, and well stricken in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
12: And Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?
13: And Jehovah said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, who am old?
14: Is anything too hard for Jehovah? At the set time I will return unto thee, when the season cometh round, and Sarah shall have a son.
The Promises of God
His name - Ne’eman V’Yashar - Faithful and True (Rev 19:11)
We get fed up when God doesn’t conform to our ideas and time-frames
But, God always follows through
God often waits until it is impossible, to demonstrate that He can do the impossible.
So don’t get frustrated when it becomes impossible, that is when God is getting ready to act
Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.
Ash Wednesday Service
St. Catherine’s Lutheran Church, Kiev
18 February 2015
Today is Ash Wednesday. It marks the beginning of the season of Lent - the six-week period leading up to Easter. Lent is a time to make our hearts ready. Ready for remembering the death and burial of Jesus, and ready to celebrate his resurrection with a joyous Easter Sunday.
Many people think of Lent as a time to give up something. Chocolate, maybe. Or coffee, or wine, or meat. Some comfort or habit. And yes, Lent is traditionally a time of penitence – of being reminded of our sinfulness. Giving up something may be a way to express our desire for repentance and change. We want to turn away from old habits and sins to more fully embrace the new life that Christ offers to us.
On Ash Wednesday we are marked with ashes. The ashes remind us that we are dust – we are mortal. We are destined for death. And these are the words we hear: "For dust you are and to dust you shall return". These are the words God spoke to Adam and Eve after they chose to turn away from God. Death came into the world when they chose to do things their own way.
Lent reminds us that mankind’s relationship with God is broken. As human beings, our relationship with God needs to be restored. We all need to be reconciled to God. We need to be forgiven by God. We cannot “fix” ourselves. And so, Lent is a time when we reflect on ourselves –our sinfulness and our need for repentance, our need to be rescued and reconciled to God.
But remember, the ashes are put on your forehead in the shape of the cross. It is by Jesus’ death on the cross, and his resurrection from death that our broken relationship with God is restored. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (II Corinthians 5:21) Or put in other words: “Christ never did anything wrong, but God put our wrong on Christ so that we could be put right with God.” (from The Message Bible translation)
This is the good news! By Jesus’ work on the cross, God takes the dust that we are made of and gives it life! He takes the death that we are marked with, and instead, offers us eternal life!
We see here that two things have happened through the cross. God has taken our sin, our rebellion, and put it on Christ, the One who had no sin. And he has taken Christ’s righteousness and put it on us. Easter is about the great exchange. Our sin was poured into Christ at his crucifixion, and his righteousness is poured into us when we receive him by faith. When we respond to his offer, when we receive his offer of life, we are given a new identity. We are made right with God. We are restored to his family.
So Lent is really a time to focus on what Jesus has done for us. Nothing we give up, no amount of regret or sorrow, no amount of being good or doing better or trying harder or punishing ourselves will ever restore us to God. We are reconciled to God by believing and receiving what he has done. If we truly embrace what he offers us by the cross, the way we think, the way we live, our way of being will begin to change.
Because, you see, God’s work of reconciling us to himself is also also an ongoing work. It’s a relationship, after all, and relationships grow as we trust the other with more of our true selves.
Maybe Lent is a good time to talk to God about where we are in our relationship with him. If you’re not sure you have been reconciled to God, I encourage you to receive the ashes as an act of faith -- to repent and receive his reconciling work for you this very day.
Or you may be so aware of your sinfulness that it is hard to see God’s love. Receive the ashes as his promise to you that you have been received as his beloved child. Look into his face and receive what he has done for you. Then let him begin to renew you.
For all of us, this receiving of ashes can be a welcoming of his ongoing work in our lives. All of us are in need of letting go those things that keep us from fully living in our identity as His reconciled children.
Let’s each of us ask God to show us how to live in this new identity – no longer marked by death, but by life. Let’s ask him where he wants to do a deeper work in our lives. Maybe that will mean giving up something. Or maybe it will mean taking up something life-giving. Ask him to show you what that might be. Let’s take a few minutes of quiet as we listen to what he may be speaking to each of us.
The nine lessons and carols service from King’s College Cambridge is listened to by millions of people all over the world. It is one of England’s most distinctive and successful religious exports! For me, the service has especial resonance, because this was the college where I studied as an undergraduate and so the distinctive sound of the treble voices and fulsome reed organ stops brings back happy memories of student life.
Eric Milner-White introduced the nine lessons and carol service in 1918. He had been appointed as Dean of King’s at the age of 34. He developed the carol service because his experience as an army chaplain during the war had convinced him that the Church of England needed to introduce more imaginative worship. The nine lessons and carols format quickly became popular (indeed – how quickly do innovations become ‘traditions’!) and is today widely copied and imitated. In our European chaplaincies ‘the carol service’ is now one of the best loved services in the whole year and delighted in by people of many different nationalities.
The beauty of our Christmas music has the ability to touch and soften the hearts of those who would not respond to a more prosaic declaration of Christian truth. But offering a delightful aesthetic experience is not enough. We long that people would encounter God! And if Milner-White were alive today, I am sure he would again be urging us always to be vigilant to the need imaginatively to portray the extraordinary story of the birth of the Saviour in a way that would impress upon its sceptical 21st century hearers the incomparable meekness and majesty, suffering and glory of the first Christmas.
We need again to feel the shocking reality of God becoming incarnate in conditions of extreme vulnerability and deprivation. For, as the evangelists tell us, God’s Son was born in a feeding trough far from home as the first child of an unmarried, and presumably very scared young mother. From his birth he was hunted down by a mad and bad tyrant. Whilst still small, he and his parents were forced to migrate into neighbouring Egypt where I suppose they lived as refugees. I always find it striking that in Matthew’s account of Christmas, the first half of chapter 2 which relates the adoration of new-born King by the magi, is counter-balanced by the second half which graphically relates the attempts by the hostile powers of his day to end this would be King’s young life before it has scarcely begun.
2014 has been marked for many of us by commemorations of the outbreak of World War 1. It may be significant that Milner-White composed his carol service after war-time service both in Italy and on the Western Front. He certainly knew how to reclaim beauty from brokenness.
In our own time, we are massively aware of the tragedy of war. It is reckoned that about 14 million people have been displaced by the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. In Lebanon, one in four of the population is now a refugee. We Christians, whose Saviour began life as a refugee, have particular responsibilities to do what we can to help and to urge our governments to act together to provide aid. And we pray earnestly for those many men, women and children who face a winter without adequate food or shelter.
It is in this sobering international context that this Christmas we celebrate in word and in song the great and wonderful mystery of the incarnation, the enfleshment, of God’s Son.
I am very aware that the Christmas season puts particular opportunities and pressures in the way of our chaplaincies. We are typically receiving lots of visitors who don’t normally darken the doors of our churches. At the same time, many regular church members are away at Christmas itself, visiting family or friends. So those that remain have to work especially hard to keep everything running and to provide a cheerful welcome. Whether we have the resources of a great church or cathedral or something far more modest, it is the authenticity of what we do and the warmth of our welcome that makes the biggest impact. So to all those who sustain and enable our worship over Christmas I give my warm and sincere thanks: to our clergy, lay readers and leaders, musicians, welcomers, wardens, caterers and cleaners.
And may the God whose message of peace was sung by the angels to herald the birth of his Son, bring his peace to our hearts, our homes, our families and our world over this Christmas time.
+Robert Gibraltar in Europe
Bishop David’s Easter Message 2014
On 17 March there was an unprecedented announcement from the Vatican and the Anglican Centre in Rome. For the first time ever, the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion and the Sunni Muslim Community (represented by the Grand Imam of Al Azhar in Cairo) have joined efforts in a project of "practical and spiritual action” to combat the modern slavery of human trafficking. Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby, when they first met last June, shared a vision to build a world-wide movement to eradicate this injustice which enslaves and affects over 27 million people who are forced into labour, sexual exploitation and even into being sources of human organs. The initiative is called the Global Freedom Network.
The Passion of our Lord which we read in Holy Week presents a world filled with so many forms of slavery. There is the slavery of money – thirty pieces of silver were able to corrupt and "buy" Judas' treachery. The slavery of injustice is seen in the weakness of Pontius Pilate, who knew Jesus was innocent but chose not to defend him. The slavery of brutal and gratuitous violence is seen in the scourging and torture of Christ at the hands of the soldiers. And then there is the slavery of hopelessness seen in the utter despair of the disciples at the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus.
Easter celebrates God's action to deliver us out of slavery to freedom, freedom from sin and all that holds us back from being the people that God created us to be. On the night of the Great Vigil of Easter worshippers gather in darkness, the hopeless darkness that descended upon the world on the first Good Friday. The Paschal candle is lit from a new fire and the light of Christ is spread from person to person, eventually filling the church with joyful brightness, and we proclaim "Christ is Risen!" The ancient song of Easter Eve, the Exultet resounds, “This is the night when Jesus Christ vanquished hell, broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave. This is the night when all who believe in him are freed from sin, restored to grace and holiness and share the victory of Christ”.
Our Resurrection faith declares that all the darkness around us, and even the darkness of sin within us, has been overcome by the Risen Christ. Thus our Resurrection witness is about working for all that sets people free from every kind of slavery. The Global Freedom Network is but one such effort. As Easter people it is our calling to proclaim forgiveness from sin. As Easter people we offer love, compassion and justice where hatred, pain and injustice persist. As Easter people we stand for the dignity and worth of every human being. This is a powerful message of Good News which the world needs and to which we can witness boldly, as we know that we ourselves are born again to new life in the Risen Christ.
May the deep joy which comes from the liberation of Easter fill our lives and enliven our communities, for
Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!
The Suffragan Bishop
The Right Reverend David Hamid
Christ Church Kyiv
Sermon, December 8, 2013
A forest fire is a frightening thing. You may remember the fires in the summer of 2003 in Siberia. Satellites taking pictures of the earth found 157 fires burning at the same time. These fires covered 110,000 square kilometers. That would be an area, a square 331 kilometers on each side – about the size of Bulgaria. The smoke from the fires darkened the skies over Osaka, Japan, over 4,000 kilometers away. And soot – dust in the air from the smoke was found in Seattle, Washington. That is a vast fire.
Around the world, when forests have been destroyed by fires there is a pattern of recovery. This pattern is called “natural succession." This term describes the stages which the land, plants and animals go through as they return to their original state after they’ve been destroyed. The cycle of natural succession begins after a fire, or other natural disaster has destroyed an area's plant life.
“My people, who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians, who beat you with a rod and lift up a club against you . . . Very soon my anger against you will end and my wrath will be directed to their destruction.”
Israel would be punished for their sin, and Assyria would be destroyed for her sin. The Lord promised to cut down the forests with an ax. He would cut down Israel and Assyria.
Sermon, Dennis Bowen
To: Diocese in Europe Clergy, Readers, Church Secretaries and Churchwardens
From: Mission & Public Affairs chair, Diocese in Europe
Re: Centenary of the First World War
Date: Epiphany 2014
As we enter 2014, we approach the Centenary of WW1 1914-1918. Serving as Christians in Continental Europe gives us a special opportunity and indeed, a deep responsibility, to engage as a Diocese (and especially locally and ecumenically) in marking this important centenary. Prayerfully, thoughtfully, and with a clear focus on reconciliation and peace building.
At our Diocesan Synod in June at Cologne, I presented a series of questions to fellow Synod members which led in to lively group discussions:
A hundred years on, what does the First World War mean for:
- humanity’s self-understanding?
- Europe and its place in the world?
- our understanding of God?
I enclose a new leaflet from the Church of England with some useful web resources, and which encourages a prayer focus on the 100th anniversary of the start of WW1,Monday 4 August 2014. On this day there will be a special service at Glasgow Cathedral with Commonwealth Leaders(1000-1200 UK time) and a ‘Memorial Event’ at St Symphorien Mons Cemetery (1930 UK time), both with global TV coverage. I have also recently been to a meeting of the Liturgical Commission of the Church of England that is planning special liturgies for the Centenary. However, all the Church of England material (including this leaflet) so far produced, is very UK-centric, in my view.
Please can you help me by sending in your ideas, visions and thoughts for this Centenary, and any local plans or special prayers and liturgies you may be developing. I will then put these together for an update in The European Anglican and Diocesan website. I will also feed this information into the mainland Church of England planning group, so that their material can have more of a European perspective and to encourage networking and publicity.
Please can you send me this by email by the end of January.
BISHOP’S ADVENT APPEAL 2013
As one of my last duties as Bishop of the Diocese I write to commend the Bishop’s Advent Appeal to you all. This comes with the endorsement of Bishop David and the Archdeacons and Senior Staff of the Diocese.
The Diocese has a number of twinning links – with the Diocese of Visby and the Swedish Church Abroad, with the Diocese of Luweero in Uganda (linked particularly with the North-West Archdeaconry) and the Diocese of Peru (linked particularly with the Gibraltar Archdeaconry). Bishop Bill Godfrey of Peru, whom I know well, has visited the Gibraltar Archdeaconry Synod on a number of occasions, and this year’s Advent Appeal is for a project in his Diocese. It is focussed on the San Mateo Mission and School on the edge of a shanty town on the north-east of Lima. As you will see from the attached information this is a clearly practical project which will make a real and significant difference in a place of real need, and assist the educational and spiritual development of children. I need not say how important this is as part of Christian witness and service. As we prepare for Christmas, and remember with awe and wonder the love of God shown in his coming among us in the fragility and poverty of the child born in a cow-byre at Bethlehem, I commend this project to you for your support this Advent. Please give generously, and find imaginative ways of raising money for this.
With every blessing,