Carol Kidd

4 posts

“Glory to God in the highest, for you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father!”

Preached by Carol Kidd on 16 June 2019: Trinity Sunday
Psalm 8, Romans 5:1-5, John 16:12-15

May I speak in the name of God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit: Amen

Glory to God in the highest, for you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father!

A thanksgiving to God for forgiving and freeing us from our sins. Words that in our liturgy follow prayer to the God of love and power to heal and strengthen us by his Spirit, and raise us to new life in Christ.

Trinity Sunday is set aside in the church calendar as a time to celebrate and give praise and glory to God: Father, Son and Spirit each unique yet equal, working in unity.

We have been greeted in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, soon we will be invited to declare our faith in the triune God in the words of the Creed, and at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer the Trinity will be praised for:

“Through Christ, and with Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory are yours, O loving Father, for ever and ever, Amen”

As Christians we will encounter, question and wonder about various Holy Mysteries as we deepen our understanding of God. It is not necessary to be experts in theology and doctrine or to know for certain everything about God, for having hope in what we do not yet fully understand is part of the journey of faith.

Jesus, as his trial and crucifixion drew near, understood it was all too much for the disciples to understand, the time would come when it would make sense and they would form new communities in his name.

As Easter people we are part of the world-wide Christian community who hold fast in faith to the everlasting hope that God has given because, as Paul explained, the Holy Spirit pours God’s love into our hearts which will surely help us to bear all things.

There is the well-known saying, “two’s company, three’s a crowd”. That may be so in a close one to one relationship where a third person is seeking inclusion and feeling excluded – but that is not the structure of the Trinity. Rather than being in a competitive relationship Father, Son and Holy Spirit make up a perfect united, inclusive community.

I wonder how many communities are represented here? Many of us belong to several communities. Here we are part of the church community. We also belong to communities where we live or work and various groups or clubs where we claim membership.

Relational communities exist through unity in diversity where all who wish to be a part can find a sense of belonging despite differences. An important part of the Collation Service on 25 June will be the opportunity for representatives from different community groups to introduce themselves to Rev’d Vicky. Some will be people who we will recognise, others may never have been in St James’ Church before. What is important is the invitation and the response, a time for relation building as here in West End we welcome our new Vicar whose responsibility is relational to all who live in this parish not just those of us who attend services.

The whole of Christian life, how we relate to God, is defined by the Trinity and determined by God’s invitation through his Son and by his Spirit and how we respond to his call.

Christian life must be loving and inclusive because God in Trinity is loving and invites all; Christian life should be communal, transparent, humble and joyful, because God in Trinity is communal, transparent, humble and joyful. Within the community of the Trinity there’s no jealousy, no conflict, no disrespect. There’s no lying or hiding, and no blaming. Within the community of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit there’s just love: perfect love, perfect unity and communication.

As a church we need to ask how we can move towards a greater expression and experience of community following the example of the Trinity. To do so we need to consider how we think of the three ‘persons’ of the Trinity: God the Father is the creator and sustainer of all things, God the Son redeems, restores and reconciles all that is broken, the Holy Spirit empowers, comforts, guides and inspires revealing the Father and the Son’s quest for loving renewal.

It would be wrong to dismember the Trinity. If we only speak of God’s concern for creation, it can leave God powerful but remote. If we focus only on God as Christ the Redeemer we rightly speak of his salvation, healing and forgiveness; but the danger is that we lose sight of the larger picture that God blesses not only individuals or groups who praise his name, but also that God wishes to bless and draw to himself all communities and indeed the whole world. And if we focus solely on the effects of the Holy Spirit by which God’s grace is shared and our lives are filled with inspiration as God’s love is revealed, then we risk forgetting that God as Trinity reminds us that creation, redemption and renewal belong together!

God as Trinity demonstrates and teaches us that in order to build bridges between the wider community and the community of faith evangelism, prayer and contemplation belong together. The very nature of our Triune God calls us to live lives of mutual care, giving and receiving.

If God is a community of ‘persons’, then we too are called to the community-building task – and the nurture of family, friendships, communities of faith, partnerships in the workplace and hospitality in our neighbourhoods is the creative and demanding task to which all are invited.

Charles Ringma (contemplative and spiritual writer)

The Trinity can be understood as an Icon of what it means to be community. God invites us to be community-builders. God the Father desires that we offer a loving, diverse, fully inclusive welcome in his name in this place and beyond. God the Son desires that all are invited to share in the bread and wine of the Eucharist or a blessing and to enter into relationship with him. God the Spirit desires that by his strength the love of the Father and the Son will be known throughout the world.

This Sunday and every Sunday, today and every day, may we boldly seek to reflect the wonder of the Trinity, to strive to be the community we are called to emulate and give praise and thanks to God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit: Glory to God in the highest, for you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father! Amen

The light of Christ is strong, life-giving, healing, leading and redeeming

Preached by Carol Kidd on 20 April 2019: Easter Vigil

We began this evening in darkness before gathering around an ordinary fire which through blessing became sacred and provided the momentum for our return into the church building. Fire plays such an important part in the history of humankind. For wandering tribes, hot ashes were carried as smouldering fire; when they stopped they kindled it, and afterwards they shared a meal; they warmed themselves and around the fire made their home.

As humankind evolved, primitive round huts had a central space for the fire used for cooking, heating and for providing light. In the wilderness desert Moses was drawn to speak with Yahweh by the amazing spectacle of the burning bush. His Lord heard his people’s cry for food, provided manna and sent a pillar of fire to guide them by day and protect them by night. Jesus lit a fire on the shore at daybreak to guide his disciples that they might return to him and be nourished, fed and prepared for the task ahead.

Fire to attract attention, fire associated with gathering people together in unity. Fire is a great provider: it is necessary for preparing food to satisfy our physical hunger, flames are associated with candles used in our spiritual lives, and of course tongues of flames appeared at the coming of the Holy Spirit.

This Holy Saturday we have gathered around while the fire was blessed, and followed the light taken from the blaze as we walked behind the sacred flame which lit the way as our steps trod in the light of the new Paschal Candle from which our individual candles sprang to life. Soon we will come to the Eucharistic banquet at the centre of our worship – the sacred meal that is for all who wish to come, taste and see.

We are invited to receive the elements of Holy Communion, the Blessed Sacraments of bread and wine that are to us Jesus’ body and blood, prepared as he instructed in remembrance that he lived and died and rose again, to take away not just our sin but the sins of all the world.

Jesus came to be an eternal flame always in our midst, a fire at the centre of our lives, bringing light for dark times, filling us with the warmth of his Holy Spirit dwelling within. Out of darkness he came with his most marvelous light. From the darkness of death itself he came, and he is life itself to us. To those of us who have often found ourselves bruised and weary from day to day living, he brings light and new life. He came of his infinite love to gather our complicated lives for himself, and to give them back to us newly refreshed and restored. In his light all human life and love become immortal, undying and enduring, because Jesus Christ our Lord has vanquished death – and death being vanquished, what other evil can we ever really fear?

The feast of Easter is above all things a feast of hope and of courage. Christ the victor, risen from the dead, is a conqueror of death. The journey ends not in death, but life. Indeed our Christian journey has no ending if we think of death as the door to new life – with the light of Christ close at hand, we find he has taken the horror out of death, and if we invite him in we must be prepared to carry his light, not just into the midst of the people but also out into the world.

Are we ready to share Christ’s resurrection light? His message of good news?

Maybe we still – quite naturally for we are only human – have times when we are not quite sure what it all means and, like the women and Peter that very first Easter morning and Thomas at his first encounter with his risen Lord, we can find ourselves wondering about what really happened, trying to piece together the mystery of the resurrection.

Luke’s version of the story places Mary Magdelene, Mary the mother of Jesus and Joanna as the bearers of the light of God as they tell others the great news. Interestingly they do not appear frightened at the beginning of the story. They saw the stone rolled away and went in. When they entered they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus yet they did not hesitate; they only expressed fear at the dazzling appearance of the two messengers. Frightened by the presence of the two men in clothes that gleamed like lightening, the women heard the resurrection message: ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here he has risen!’

It is in the light of the knowledge of the resurrection that we come to understand that God has promised that he will grant us the greatness to start again if at first we fail. Out of darkness to us who so often live in darkness, he still comes with his marvelous light. He desires for us to do as the women did and tell others, even if at first we find that those we speak to about our faith seem to treat our testimony as nonsense. We are called to share the wonderful Easter message so others will wonder what truly happened, seek answers and come to know Jesus for themselves.

Life is triumphant. Life is eternal. The light Jesus brings will never from this time be extinguished and the life he brings us shall never die. The old are new, the new are old on Easter Day. In declaring Christ is risen indeed we preach the resurrection and join with Christians world-wide in celebrating not a dead hero but a living Saviour!

Alleluia  Amen

‘Do not be afraid; for see -I am bringing you good news of great joy!’

Preached by Carol Kidd on 25 December 2018: Christmas Day
Luke 2:1-20

Good News! We have arrived at Christmas Day!

At Church Alive we always start by asking if anyone has any news that they would like to share – usually it’s a birthday, or anniversary, something exciting, something to be thankful for, that we are not worried about sharing with everyone else. The person sharing their good news is invited to light a candle. Some of you may have been present when Abigail raised her hand high in the air really eager to be asked and so excited to tell Revd Linda in a ‘loud’ whisper of awe: ‘My mummy’s going to have a baby!’ Abigail was here at our crib service yesterday with mummy, daddy, her brother and her new baby sister.

For Abigail she was sharing good news of great joy, even mummy hadn’t been prepared to tell everyone just that soon – and we like surprises don’t we?

Good News indeed! Luke describes how first one angel then a whole host of angels appeared to the shepherds – very ordinary people whose job meant being with the sheep at all times, day and night – the ‘glory of the Lord shone around them… they were terrified’. No small wonder, for the sky was shining.

The message had three parts: ‘Do not be afraid’; ‘See, I am bringing you Good News of great joy’; and ‘For all the people’.

Most importantly the shepherds did three things. ‘They said to one another, let us go and see’ – in other words they worked together, by sharing what had just happened they helped each other. ‘They went with haste’ – they didn’t make excuses, didn’t hang back, they went as fast as they could. ‘They made known what had been told them’ – it was such good news it had to be shared!

How many of you have already shared Christmas wishes today? In person? By way of a phone call? Through a text or by social media? So many ways to send Christmas greetings. Who needs a heavenly host of angels when there are e-cards, the ability to skype and see and speak to loved ones far away, Instagram, Messenger, live stream video link and more?

Yet – how disappointed are you when you have great news to share and send out a message, wait eagerly for replies, expect others to respond with exclamations of happiness or a smiley emoji… and your phone remains silent, no ‘ping’ to indicate a notification has arrived, someone has responded – you wonder did the people you sent to get the message?

God knew then by the shepherds’ response that His message had been received. Sometimes – maybe often – 2000 years later when people are more interested in the social and commercial side of Christmas, does God sometimes wonder: are the people hearing the message today?

The angel told the shepherds ‘Do not be afraid. The baby born is the Messiah, the Lord’. They responded, they went, they shared. Their daily routine returned to normal, yet they would be forever changed by the experience. Nor would those with whom they shared the good news of great joy, for ‘all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them!’

God asks us to be like the shepherds: ‘to praise God for all we have seen and heard’. As it has been told to us by others, so we must pass it on and not be put off, not to be afraid if there is not an instant notification.

The Church of England ‘Follow the Star’ initiative this year has encouraged finding out more, deepening faith and sharing. They have used a new version of the famous Carol ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ by Will Todd. That Carol has the line ‘the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight’ – God takes all our hopes and fears and through the birth of Jesus he shares in our joys and sorrows. He is with us celebrating the good times, strengthening and comforting in the difficult days.

May we be ready to go out to share the Good News with the attitude of the shepherds: praising God for all we have seen and heard’.

Amen

‘Do not be alarmed… the end is still to come: This is but the beginning of the birth pangs!’

Preached by Carol Kidd on 18 November 2018: 2nd Sunday before Advent
Psalm 16; Hebrews 10:14,19-25; Mark 13:1-8

May I speak in the name of Jesus who delivers us into new life, Amen.

If you have come to church hoping to hear good news – today’s a good day!

Look again at the gospel reading…

Here is Jesus in resolute ‘tell it as it is’ mode – no parable or miracle, no love your neighbour, no gentle words of protection – instead of instant comfort we hear prophesy of destruction, wars, rumours of wars, natural disasters and by the way that’s only just the start! His sermon continues from verse 9 onwards – it is the last, longest and probably most difficult discourse to his disciples.

So how can Jesus’ tough straight to the point speaking help us when there are so many alarming happenings reported day after day in the news?

At a time when many are facing uncertain futures can we like the psalmist truly have the confidence to declare that our fortune lies in the Lord’s hands?                            

The good news? Jesus said many will try to lead us astray but ‘Do not be alarmed’ at wars and rumours of wars, kingdoms against kingdoms, earthquakes and famines.

But it is not that simple is it? When we hear that Jesus says ‘do not be alarmed’ how does that work whilst threats of war are a reality and a fine line exists between nations respecting nations – when this very week, day after day, we have had before us the devastating effects of the Californian wildfires – the total destruction of the town named Paradise?

And yet – and yet – Jesus’ words can resonate as a positive message of God’s faithfulness, fully reflecting Jesus’ love and care for his disciples then – and us today.

Let me try to explain how I understand it:  

His message is clear: ‘don’t be troubled’… of course if we are concerned and told ‘not to worry’ more often than not we let it bother us a great deal – even scare us – and subsequently it can lead to our fear rubbing off on others.

Jesus says:
‘Do not be alarmed… the end is still to come:
This is but the beginning of the birth pangs!’

For over 35 years I had the privilege of walking alongside countless women and families, as a midwife I was a guest sharing their journeys of pregnancy and birth. An essential part of that role involved helping couples prepare for the ‘big day’ – providing information and choice so that rather than fearing what was to come there would be hopeful anticipation – a ‘looking forward to’ the birth process.

Any apprehension resulting from not knowing exactly how long or how painful the labour might be can be counterbalanced by the positive expectation of meeting and celebrating the new life coming into the world.

The name ‘midwife’ is relational and simply translates as ‘with woman’. Today’s readings very much follow the theme of ‘God with us’ sharing, teaching, warning, advising and reassuring. And he gives us choice – chooses us to be in a relationship with him – tells us clearly what to expect if we invite him as a guest into our lives.

Jesus had been teaching and healing in the courtyard of the Gentiles within the Temple compound. Herod’s Temple – immense in size and grandeur, majestic, visible for miles, clad with gold that reflected the sun’s rays. One of the disciples admired and drew attention to the stones of the incredible building – Jesus predicted its destruction and history tells us that within 40 years of Jesus’ death the Temple was trashed and burned by the Roman Army.

For the Jewish people the Temple represented the place where God dwelt separated from the ordinary people by the sanctuary curtain and only accessible to the High Priest. The time was fast approaching when Jesus would make the ultimate sacrifice and the curtain of the Temple would be torn in two. Mark records an eye witness account of Jesus privately meeting with Peter, James, John and Andrew: he gave them a warning – no not to frighten them but to prepare them for their future.

In labour early signs precede the active phase when the contractions are strong and there is hope that the labour will become established and lead to a birth. Applying this analogy can help us understand Jesus’ warning to the disciples then – and to us today: ‘Do not be alarmed’. There have always been and will be even more disasters resulting from forces of nature and tragedies of war caused by human error, greed and sin yet we can be assured that God’s kingdom will be established and the suffering and pain will end.

Jesus’ message for the disciples can strengthen us. When we see all the traumas of the world and cry out to be led safely through life’s difficulties, he will hear our worries and guide us in the way that leads to new birth as children of God. From personal times of trial and darkness, illness and loss, to world events of devastating proportions, it is when we are in a trusting relationship with Jesus that he will guide us, empower us, present us with choices and deliver us from pain and anguish and transform our lives.  God has promised to be faithful and asks us to hold fast to the hope we place in him as an encouragement to others.

‘Do not be alarmed… the end is still to come:
This is but the beginning of the birth pangs!’

The birth pangs should not frighten for they herald the incoming of God’s kingdom. When a labour reaches its fullness the baby is born – the new arrival is announced! With any new birth comes a sense that yes life will be changed with new journeys, new challenges ahead – so we are blessed with the offer of sharing in a loving relationship with Jesus confident in the new and living way he has opened up for us.

Even when warned by Jesus of turbulent times yet to come we can find assurance in his message and the words of today’s post Communion prayer summarize our desire:

‘Gracious Lord…..bring us at the last to that fullness of life for which we long.’ Amen