Sunday, 21 October 2018

Two fonts, two children,
and Baptism in Askeaton

The Baptism font in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick

Sunday 21 October 2018

2.30 p.m., Holy Baptism.

Readings:
Acts 9: 1-20; Matthew 28: 16-20.

May I speak to you in the name of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Baptism is a family event, and how wonderful it is that two first cousins, Beatrice and Chloe, are being baptised together, in the same church, on the same day.

You may have noticed on your way in here this afternoon that we have two fonts here in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeston.

No, we are not planning to use one font for each baptism, one for each child. One font is an old, historical font, moved into the porch many years ago from the church in Shanagolden, close to the Langford family home. The other, the one we are using for this afternoon’s Baptism, is just inside the Church door.

The position of both these fonts is important. They are not there by accident, or for convenience, as though the back of the church is a good place to store them when they are not in use.

As we come into Church, they are reminders in that position that Baptism is our entry into the Church.

Baptism is not a naming ceremony. Beatrice and Chloe are already well-known by the names their parents have given them. Nor is it a ceremony of welcome into the family. Chloe and Beatrice are well-loved for many months now in a wider circle family and friends.

Baptism is our entrance into the Church, we are incorporated into the Body of Christ. That is why the font is at the point where people enter the church, where people are welcomed into the Church.

There are eight sides to this font, reminding us of the family of Noah, all eight of them, who were saved from the waters of the flood in the ark. They were not a select group but represent the whole of humanity.

Sometimes, the inside of a church looks like an up-turned boat, the inside of an ark. That is why this part of the church is called the nave. In Baptism, we are all in the one boat together, we are all formed into one new extended family, we are all in this together, equals because we are one in Christ.

In the waters of Baptism, we are saved by being incorporated into the Body of Christ. We are in Christ, and Christ is in us.

Think of how the waters of creation are at the beginning of the Creation story; the slaves are brought from slavery to freedom through the waters of the Red Sea; Christ lets the Samaritan woman at the well know that he is the Living Water – as the lettering in the Sanctuary remind us, he is the Fountain of Life.

Water pours from his side at the Crucifixion, at the end of his Passion. And the Disciples know he is Risen when they met him in the morning by the waters of the lake.

With his baptism, Saul becomes Paul, in our very dramatic reading from the Acts of the Apostles. He moves from breathing threats and murder, to becoming a great Apostle himself.

He moves from his old ways of hatred and violence to proclaiming, not once, not twice, but on three occasions:

‘… for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law’ (Romans 13: 9); ‘love is the fulfilling of the law’ (Romans 13: 10); and, ‘For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself”’ (Galatian 5: 14).

There is one water of Baptism. And, in time, when Beatrice and Chloe come to receive Holy Communion, they will be showing how they are part of this Body of Christ, this one family, and sharing in its mission into the wide, wonderful, beautiful world out there.

And so, as members of the Body of Christ, we share the water of the Baptism of Chloe and Beatrice, and we must keep them in our prayers constantly after this day.

To paraphrase the words of the Post-Communion Prayer today, we pray:

Father of light,
in whom is no change or shadow of turning,
you give us every good and perfect gift
and have brought us to birth by your word of truth.
May Beatrice and Chloe – and all of us – be a living sign of that kingdom,
where your whole creation will be made perfect
in Jesus Christ our Lord.

And so may all we think, say and do be to the praise, honour and glory of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

The Collect:

Merciful Lord,
Grant to your faithful people pardon and peace,
that we may be cleansed from all our sins
and serve you with a quiet mind;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hymns:

658, One more step along the world I go (CD 38).
25, All things bright and beautiful (CD 2).

Acts 9: 1-20:

1 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. 8 Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16 I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, 20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”

Matthew 28:16-20:

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

‘With thee is the fountain of life’ … a panel in the sanctuary in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2017)

(Revd Canon Professor) Patrick Comerford is Priest-in-Charge, the Rathkeale and Kilnaughtin Group of Parishes. This reflection was shared at a Baptism in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick, on Sunday 21 October 2018.

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

‘Whoever wishes to become great
among you must be your servant’

‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? … Who determined its measurements – surely you know!’ (Job 38: 4-5) … a window in the parish church in Moyvane, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

Sunday 21 October 2018,

The Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity (Trinity XXI), Proper 24.


11.30 a.m.: the Parish Eucharist (Holy Communion 2), Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin, Tarbert, Co Kerry.

Readings: Job 38: 1-7; Psalm 104: 1-10, 26, 37c; Hebrews 5: 1-10; Mark 10: 35-45.

May I speak to you in the name of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

We all come to God with our own bundle of questions, our own requests, our own expectations. And the answers sometimes take us aback not only in content but also in form and experience.

Job has had deep and searching questions. But when the response comes Job’s experience is very unlike that of Elijah who finds the Lord is not in the wind, in the earthquake, or in the fire, but in the ‘still small voice’ (I Kings 19: 11-13).

Job answers God out of the whirlwind, and he puts very real questions to God. Where Job hears the voice of God has many resonances with the presence of God found in the Psalm.

In our Epistle reading, we are also reminded that the saving presence of God can be found too in suffering and sacrifice … God who responds gently to the ignorant and wayward through the suffering and sacrifice of Christ who is the great high priest.

Do we understand the place of suffering and challenge in being Christians, in being disciples? Certainly, James and John show little understanding about what lies before them as disciples as they come to Christ with their own questions and expectations. But once again, we find how God answers our questions in ways that we might never expect.

Earlier in Saint Mark’s Gospel (Mark 9: 33-34), the disciples argued about which of them is the greatest. Now two members of the inner circle ask a favour of Jesus: they seek positions of special dignity at the heavenly banquet at the end of time (verse 37).

Now in this morning’s Gospel reading (Mark 10: 35-45), unlike some other Gospel accounts, Saint Mark dismisses the idea that these ‘Sons of Thunder’ needed their mother’s help to ask for a special place for them. According to Saint Mark, these two go straight to Jesus themselves. They have a special request, a special demand, a special favour to ask for.

They want one to sit at his right hand, and the other at his left hand.

In my own way, I can identify with James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Whenever I read this Gospel story, I think back to my childhood days. I remember all those preparations for football matches, or beach cricket, as we lined up to pick sides. And how we all wanted to be among the first to be picked for a team.

Everyone wanted to be picked first, everyone wanted to line up there beside one of the two captains, no-one wanted to be picked last, even when there were enough places for everyone to get a game.

I can still see us: 9- or 10-year-old boys, jumping up and down on the grass, waving our hands or pointing at our chests, and pleading: ‘Me, me, please pick me, I’m your friend.’

‘Me, me, please pick me.’

And then, when we were picked, oh how we wanted the glory. Slow at passing the ball, in case I might not score the goal. Better to lose that ball in a tackle than to pass it to someone else and risk that someone else scoring the opening goal or, worse still, the winning goal.

And that is who James and John remind me of: wanting to be picked first, wanting to be the first to line up beside the team captain, being glory seekers rather than team players.

No wonder the other ten were upset when they heard this. But they were upset, not because they wanted to take on the servant model of priesthood and ministry. They were upset not because James and John had not yet grasped the point of it all. They were upset because they might have been counted out, because they might have missed out being on the first team, on the first XI.

And their upset actually turns to anger.

Did James and John think that opting to follow Jesus, becoming disciples, was a good career move?

And what did James and John want, really, really want?

They wanted that one would sit on Christ’s right hand and the other on his left.

Now, even that might not have been too bad an ambition. The man who stood at the right hand of the Emperor in the Byzantine court was the Emperor’s voice. What he said was the emperor’s word. And so, in the creed, when we declare our belief that Christ sits at the right hand of the Father, we mean not that there is some heavenly couch on which all three are seated, comfy and cosy, as if waiting to watch their favourite television sit-com.

When we say that Christ ‘is seated at the right hand of the Father,’ we mean that Christ is the Word of God. In some way, I suppose, this is what Andrei Rublev was trying to convey in his icon of the Visitation of Abraham, his icon of the Holy Trinity in the Old Testament.

In that icon, the Father and the Holy Spirit are seated to the right and left of the Son. Indeed, in that icon, Christ is wearing not the elaborate high-priestly stole of a bishop, but the simple stole of a deacon at the table.

For James and John to want to be seated at the right and left of Christ in his glory – not when they were sitting down to a snack, or travelling on the bus or the train, or even at the Last Supper, but in his glory (see verse 37) – they were expressing an ambition to take the place of, to replace God.

But to be like God means to take on Christ’s humility, as we are reminded in this morning’s reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 5: 1-10).

We are made in the image and likeness of God, and then God asks us, invites us, to return to that image and likeness when Christ comes in our image and likeness – not as a Byzantine emperor or a Roman tyrant, but just as one of us.

Wanting to be first, wanting to be noticed by those who have power and privilege, is not a model for discipleship or for ministry.

The word liturgy (λειτουργία, leitourgía) means the work for and of the people. But in its truest sense this is not the work of nice people, good people, people like us, but in its crudest use in Greek the work of the many, the service of riff-raff, even the beggars.

I was reminded in Crete a few years ago that The Beggars’ Opera translates into Greek as Η λαϊκή όπερα (laikí ópera), the work of the laity. The true laity are the needy with outstretched arms.

The liturgy of the Church only becomes a true service when we also serve the oppressed, when we become God’s ears that hear the cry of the poor, and act on that, when through the Church Christ hears that cry of the bruised and broken.

People who stretch out their hands in begging stretch out their hands just as we do when we beg to receive Christ in the Holy Communion, the Eucharist.

And the Eucharist, the Liturgy, become true sacrament when it becomes, when we make it, a taste, a sign, a token of the promise of, a thirsting for the Kingdom of God.

To do this great task, as the ambitious pair in this Gospel reading, James and John, are reminded, we must first be deacons, servants, waiters at the table to meet the needs of the needy outside the doors of the church, in the streets and the laneways.

To be a great Church, we must be a Servant Church, ‘For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for [the] many’ (Mark 10: 45).

All of us in the Church as disciples are called first and foremost to serve. And when we serve the people, when in obedience we meet them in their suffering, then we can hear their cries and their prayers and truly serve them in the services of the Church and in the Divine Liturgy (see Hebrews 5: 1-10).

Christ asks us that in this Gospel reading. Are we willing to drink the cup that he drinks, or to be baptised with his baptism (see verses 38 and 40)?

Of course, James and John were willing to drink that cup. See how this hot-headed pair, the sons of Zebedee, went on to serve the community of the baptised and the community that shared in the one bread and the one cup, the community that is the Church, the community that in baptism and in the shared meal is the Body of Christ.

Saint James – not Saint James the Brother of the Lord, whom we remember on Tuesday (23 October 2018), but Saint James the Great – was executed by the sword and became one of the first Christian martyrs (see Acts 12: 1-12).

Saint John too lived a life of service to the Church: he was exiled on Patmos, and although he died in old age in Ephesus, there were numerous attempts to make him a martyr. And, of course, he gave his name to in the Johannine writings in the New Testament: the Fourth Gospel, three epistles and the Book of Revelation.

Martyrdom comes in many forms. In essence, the word martyr means witness. But the first step in martyrdom is dying to self, to self-ambition, to self-seeking, to self-serving. Our lives must be lives that are testimony or witness to your most cherished beliefs, testimony to Christ himself.

‘For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many’ (Mark 10: 45).

And so, may all we think, say and do be to the praise, honour and glory of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

I was reminded in Rethymnon in Crete recently that ‘The Beggars’ Opera’ translates into Greek as Η λαϊκή όπερα, the work of the laity (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Mark 10: 35-45 (NRSV):

35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ 36 And he said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ 37 And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ 38 But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ 39 They replied, ‘We are able.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’

41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’

In Andrei Rublev’s icon of the Holy Trinity, the Christ-figure is wearing a simple deacon’s stole, and is seated with the Father and the Holy Spirit to his left and to his right

Liturgical Colour: Green

The Collect:

Merciful Lord,
Grant to your faithful people pardon and peace,
that we may be cleansed from all our sins
and serve you with a quiet mind;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Post Communion Prayer:

Father of light,
in whom is no change or shadow of turning,
you give us every good and perfect gift
and have brought us to birth by your word of truth.
May we be a living sign of that kingdom,
where your whole creation will be made perfect
in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hymns:

34, O worship the King (CD 2)
226, It is a thing most wonderful (CD 14)
366, Praise my soul, the king of heaven (CD 22)

Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptised with?’ (Mark 10: 38) … an icon of Christ in an antique shop in Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

‘For the Son of Man came not
to be served but to serve’

Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptised with?’ (Mark 10: 38) … an icon of Christ in an antique shop in Thessaloniki (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Sunday 21 October 2018,

The Twenty-first Sunday after Trinity (Trinity XXI), Proper 24.


9.30 a.m.: Morning Prayer, Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, Co Limerick.

Readings: Job 38: 1-7; Psalm 104: 1-10, 26, 37c; Hebrews 5: 1-10; Mark 10: 35-45.

May I speak to you in the name of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

We all come to God with our own bundle of questions, our own requests, our own expectations. And the answers sometimes take us aback not only in content but also in form and experience.

Job has had deep and searching questions. But when the response comes Job’s experience is very unlike that of Elijah who finds the Lord is not in the wind, in the earthquake, or in the fire, but in the ‘still small voice’ (I Kings 19: 11-13).

Job answers God out of the whirlwind, and he puts very real questions to God. Where Job hears the voice of God has many resonances with the presence of God found in the Psalm.

In our Epistle reading, we are also reminded that the saving presence of God can be found too in suffering and sacrifice … God who responds gently to the ignorant and wayward through the suffering and sacrifice of Christ who is the great high priest.

Do we understand the place of suffering and challenge in being Christians, in being disciples? Certainly, James and John show little understanding about what lies before them as disciples as they come to Christ with their own questions and expectations. But once again, we find how God answers our questions in ways that we might never expect.

Earlier in Saint Mark’s Gospel (Mark 9: 33-34), the disciples argued about which of them is the greatest. Now two members of the inner circle ask a favour of Jesus: they seek positions of special dignity at the heavenly banquet at the end of time (verse 37).

Now in this morning’s Gospel reading (Mark 10: 35-45), unlike some other Gospel accounts, Saint Mark dismisses the idea that these ‘Sons of Thunder’ needed their mother’s help to ask for a special place for them. According to Saint Mark, these two go straight to Jesus themselves. They have a special request, a special demand, a special favour to ask for.

They want one to sit at his right hand, and the other at his left hand.

In my own way, I can identify with James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Whenever I read this Gospel story, I think back to my childhood days. I remember all those preparations for football matches, or beach cricket, as we lined up to pick sides. And how we all wanted to be among the first to be picked for a team.

Everyone wanted to be picked first, everyone wanted to line up there beside one of the two captains, no-one wanted to be picked last, even when there were enough places for everyone to get a game.

I can still see us: 9- or 10-year-old boys, jumping up and down on the grass, waving our hands or pointing at our chests, and pleading: ‘Me, me, please pick me, I’m your friend.’

‘Me, me, please pick me.’

And then, when we were picked, oh how we wanted the glory. Slow at passing the ball, in case I might not score the goal. Better to lose that ball in a tackle than to pass it to someone else and risk that someone else scoring the opening goal or, worse still, the winning goal.

And that is who James and John remind me of: wanting to be picked first, wanting to be the first to line up beside the team captain, being glory seekers rather than team players.

No wonder the other ten were upset when they heard this. But they were upset, not because they wanted to take on the servant model of priesthood and ministry. They were upset not because James and John had not yet grasped the point of it all. They were upset because they might have been counted out, because they might have missed out being on the first team, on the first XI.

And their upset actually turns to anger.

Did James and John think that opting to follow Jesus, becoming disciples, was a good career move?

And what did James and John want, really, really want?

They wanted that one would sit on Christ’s right hand and the other on his left.

Now, even that might not have been too bad an ambition. The man who stood at the right hand of the Emperor in the Byzantine court was the Emperor’s voice. What he said was the emperor’s word. And so, in the creed, when we declare our belief that Christ sits at the right hand of the Father, we mean not that there is some heavenly couch on which all three are seated, comfy and cosy, as if waiting to watch their favourite television sit-com.

When we say that Christ ‘is seated at the right hand of the Father,’ we mean that Christ is the Word of God. In some way, I suppose, this is what Andrei Rublev was trying to convey in his icon of the Visitation of Abraham, his icon of the Holy Trinity in the Old Testament.

In that icon, the Father and the Holy Spirit are seated to the right and left of the Son. Indeed, in that icon, Christ is wearing not the elaborate high-priestly stole of a bishop, but the simple stole of a deacon at the table.

For James and John to want to be seated at the right and left of Christ in his glory – not when they were sitting down to a snack, or travelling on the bus or the train, or even at the Last Supper, but in his glory (see verse 37) – they were expressing an ambition to take the place of, to replace God.

But to be like God means to take on Christ’s humility, as we are reminded in this morning’s reading from the Letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 5: 1-10).

We are made in the image and likeness of God, and then God asks us, invites us, to return to that image and likeness when Christ comes in our image and likeness – not as a Byzantine emperor or a Roman tyrant, but just as one of us.

Wanting to be first, wanting to be noticed by those who have power and privilege, is not a model for discipleship or for ministry.

The word liturgy (λειτουργία, leitourgía) means the work for and of the people. But in its truest sense this is not the work of nice people, good people, people like us, but in its crudest use in Greek the work of the many, the service of riff-raff, even the beggars.

I was reminded in Crete a few years ago that The Beggars’ Opera translates into Greek as Η λαϊκή όπερα (laikí ópera), the work of the laity. The true laity are the needy with outstretched arms.

The liturgy of the Church only becomes a true service when we also serve the oppressed, when we become God’s ears that hear the cry of the poor, and act on that, when through the Church Christ hears that cry of the bruised and broken.

People who stretch out their hands in begging stretch out their hands just as we do when we beg to receive Christ in the Holy Communion, the Eucharist.

And the Eucharist, the Liturgy, become true sacrament when it becomes, when we make it, a taste, a sign, a token of the promise of, a thirsting for the Kingdom of God.

To do this great task, as the ambitious pair in this Gospel reading, James and John, are reminded, we must first be deacons, servants, waiters at the table to meet the needs of the needy outside the doors of the church, in the streets and the laneways.

To be a great Church, we must be a Servant Church, ‘For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for [the] many’ (Mark 10: 45).

All of us in the Church as disciples are called first and foremost to serve. And when we serve the people, when in obedience we meet them in their suffering, then we can hear their cries and their prayers and truly serve them in the services of the Church and in the Divine Liturgy (see Hebrews 5: 1-10).

Christ asks us that in this Gospel reading. Are we willing to drink the cup that he drinks, or to be baptised with his baptism (see verses 38 and 40)?

Of course, James and John were willing to drink that cup. See how this hot-headed pair, the sons of Zebedee, went on to serve the community of the baptised and the community that shared in the one bread and the one cup, the community that is the Church, the community that in baptism and in the shared meal is the Body of Christ.

Saint James – not Saint James the Brother of the Lord, whom we remember on Tuesday (23 October 2018), but Saint James the Great – was executed by the sword and became one of the first Christian martyrs (see Acts 12: 1-12).

Saint John too lived a life of service to the Church: he was exiled on Patmos, and although he died in old age in Ephesus, there were numerous attempts to make him a martyr. And, of course, he gave his name to in the Johannine writings in the New Testament: the Fourth Gospel, three epistles and the Book of Revelation.

Martyrdom comes in many forms. In essence, the word martyr means witness. But the first step in martyrdom is dying to self, to self-ambition, to self-seeking, to self-serving. Our lives must be lives that are testimony or witness to your most cherished beliefs, testimony to Christ himself.

‘For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many’ (Mark 10: 45).

And so, may all we think, say and do be to the praise, honour and glory of God, + Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

I was reminded in Rethymnon in Crete recently that ‘The Beggars’ Opera’ translates into Greek as Η λαϊκή όπερα, the work of the laity (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Mark 10: 35-45 (NRSV):

35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ 36 And he said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ 37 And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ 38 But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ 39 They replied, ‘We are able.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’

41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’

In Andrei Rublev’s icon of the Holy Trinity, the Christ-figure is wearing a simple deacon’s stole, and is seated with the Father and the Holy Spirit to his left and to his right

Liturgical Colour: Green

The Collect:

Merciful Lord,
Grant to your faithful people pardon and peace,
that we may be cleansed from all our sins
and serve you with a quiet mind;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hymns:

34, O worship the King (CD 2)
226, It is a thing most wonderful (CD 14)
366, Praise my soul, the king of heaven (CD 22)

‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? … Who determined its measurements – surely you know!’ (Job 38: 4-5) … a window in the parish church in Moyvane, Co Kerry (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org