02 April 2023

Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby:
William Butterfield’s most highly
refined work in ‘Butterfieldtown’

Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby, is a fine example of the work of the Victorian architect William Butterfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

Saint Andrew’s Church, the parish church in the centre of Rugby, is one finest examples of the work of the Victorian architect William Butterfield (1814-1900). It is an impressive, large church and was designed by Butterfield in the high Tractarian style.

The church has two towers and claims to be the only parish church in the world with two sets of ringable bells, hung in separate towers.

The first record of a church at the site is in 1140. The first mention of a parish church was in 1140. The church was named Saint Andrew ‘Castle,’ and may have been built near Regent Place by Sir Henry de Rokeby. The castle was demolished in 1157 on the orders of Henry II.

Inside Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby, looking east (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

The early church was a chapel of the parish church in Clifton-upon-Dunsmore, and Rugby only became a parish in 1221, when there is the first record of a priest, Simon the Deacon. The church was re-dedicated to Pope Nicholas IV in 1298, possibly when the town became an independent parish.

Nothing remains of the original church, which was rebuilt in the 13th or 14th century.

The oldest surviving part of the church is the west tower, which rises to a height of 22 metre (72 ft). This tower is unusual in appearance and looks more like a castle tower. This may indicate it was built to serve a defensive as well as religious role. But local legend says the tower was built with stones from the castle at Rugby that was demolished on the orders of Henry II. The west tower is usually dated to the 14th century, but if it was built during the reign of Henry III (1216-1272) it is Rugby’s oldest building.

The church has other mediaeval artefacts, including the 13th-century parish chest, and a mediaeval font.

Inside Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby, looking west (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Saint Andrew’s had become badly neglected by 1652, and following complaints about its dangerous condition it was renovated and enlarged. With the rapid growth of the population of Rugby in the 19th century, it again became necessary to enlarge and improve the church.

When the Revd John Murray was the Rector of Rugby, the decision was taken to entirely rebuild it. It was extensively rebuilt on a much larger footprint in the 19th century, to the designs of the Gothic Revival architect William Butterfield between 1877 and 1879.

Butterfield is particularly associated with the Oxford Movement or Tractarian Movement. He was strongly influenced by both AWN Pugin and John Ruskin, and is noted for his use of polychromy, which is brash in his buildings at Rugby School in 1868-1872. Other significant buildings by Butterfield include All Saints’ Church, Margaret Street, London; Keble College, Oxford; Saint Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne; Saint Mark’s Church, Dundela, Belfast, which is associated with CS Lewis’s childhood; and the renovation of Saint Mary and Saint Michael Church in Trumpington, near Cambridge.

Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby, claims to be the only parish church with two sets of ringable bells, hung in separate towers (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

The architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner described Rugby as ‘Butterfieldtown’ because of the number of buildings in the town designed by William Butterfield in the 19th century, including much of Rugby School and the rebuilding of Saint Andrew’s Church.

Some architectural critics consider the interior of Saint Andrew’s to be the pinnacle of Butterfield’s most highly refined work. It has been described as representing ‘a competent Victorian design with distinctive elements and style strongly influenced by early mediaeval English architecture.’

The foundation stone for Butterfield’s rebuilt church was laid on 16 June 1877 by Dr Frederick Temple, Bishop of Exeter, former headmaster of Rugby School and later Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Chancel and High Altar in Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Over the next three years, the architect William Butterfield and builders Parnell and Son were commissioned to complete the work costing over £20,000. The only parts of the mediaeval church retained by Butterfield were the West Tower and nave arcade.

The church is built of Bath stone with some detailing in red Alton stone, and is set under a grey slate roof.

The Reredos behind the High Altar is a painting by Alec Millar (1909), based on Fra Angelico’s painting of the Transfiguration (1441). The original of this is in Saint Mark’s Monastery in Florence.

The East window by Clayton and Bell in Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Above the reredos and High Altar, the East Window is by Clayton and Bell and is probably the richest window in the church in terms of colour. It depicts Christ in Glory and a picture of heaven as described in Revelation 4.

Christ is seated on a throne as a king surrounded by elders. The sea contains eight crowns. Christ holds an orb that represents the world and his rule over it. The five lamps of the sanctuary represent God’s Temple in Heaven, the four creatures the four evangelists and the Lamb of God is carrying a flag with a red cross, representing the cross of Christ and his defeat of death in the Resurrection.

The West Window by Clayton and Bell in Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

The equally impressive West Window is also by Clayton and Bell and depicts the account of the Crucifixion in John 19. The focus is on Christ and the subdued colours contrast with the beauty of the window. The two criminals are on crosses on either side of Christ, with Saint John, the Virgin Mary, Saint Mary Magdalene and Mary Cleophas at the foot of the cross. A jar on the ground contained the vinegar offered to Christ when he was thirsty. The soldiers are shown casting lots for his clothing.

The lower series of illustrations represent major events in Christ’s life. The sequence follows a mediaeval pattern reading from the bottom up and left to right. In sequence are shown the Annunciation, Christ’s birth, his Baptism, his teaching in the Temple, the Last Supper with the disciples – Judas is shown leaving with his 30 pieces of silver – his trial by Pilate, Christ being placed in the tomb by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, Christ risen with the two angels who were present at the tomb, Christ appearing to Saint Mary Magdalene, and Christ with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

The internal features designed by William Butterfield for Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby, include the font (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

The internal features designed by Butterfield for Saint Andrew’s include the font, pulpit, pews, choir stalls, organ case, the large embossed lion-based brass candlesticks, the altar rails and the reredos candlesticks.

A mosaic near the organ is the work of the famous Italian company of Antonio Salviati of Murano, Venice.

Ewan Christian made further additions to Butterfield’s original designs in 1895-1896, including a new east tower, added in 1895, with a spire that is 55 metres (182 ft) high. The design of the east tower and spire are said to resemble other works by Butterfield, including Adelaide Cathedral.

The mediaeval font, in which Lawrence Sheriff, the founder of Rugby School, was baptised, was replaced in 1743 and moved to the courtyard of the Eagle Hotel. There it served as a trough for the pump until it was rescued by the Rugby historian Matthew Bloxam. It was taken to the Percival Guildhouse garden until the 1950s, when it was finally restored to Saint Andrew’s.

The mediaeval artefacts in Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby, include a 13th-century parish chest (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Very unusually, both church towers at Saint Andrew’s have ringable bells. The main peal of bells, cast in 1896 by Mears and Stainbank of Whitechapel Foundry, London, are in the east tower. The old peal, all cast in 1711 by Joseph Smith of Edgbaston, are in the west tower.

The Revd John Moultrie, Rector of Rugby in 1825-1875, was the father of the hymnwriter the Revd Gerard Moultrie (1829-1895), who was born in Rugby Rectory and who translated the Greek hymn ‘Let all mortal flesh keep silence.’

Other clergy of note in Saint Andrew’s include the Revd Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy (1883-1926), known as ‘Woodbine Willie,’ who was a curate there in 1908-1912, and the theologian Professor Robin Gill, known for his work in the field of ethics, who was a curate there in 1968-1971.

‘Woodbine Willie’ became a national hero during World War I when he served as an army chaplain, and earned his nickname from his habit of distributing cigarettes to soldiers. When he came back to Rugby to preach in the church on 30 May 1926, so many people came to listen that many were unable to get in.

The Lady Chapel in Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Saint Andrew’s is in the Diocese of Coventry and stands in the Liberal Catholic tradition of the Church of England. It is part of the Major Churches Network, which includes non-cathedral churches such as Bath Abbey, Saint Mary the Great, Cambridge, Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, London, Saint Martin in the Bull Ring, Birmingham, and Saint Mary the Virgin, Saffron Walden.

The Rector of Saint Andrew’s, the Revd Canon Dr Edmund Newey, is a former Sub Dean of Christ Church, Oxford.

Saint Andrew’s Church is open every day. The community café, the ‘Thirteen Bells Café’, is open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm.

The Sunday services are at 8 am (said Holy Communion, 10:30 am (the Parish Eucharist) and 6 pm. There is a Reflective Eucharist on Tuesdays at 9:30 am and Wednesdays at midday. There is a free classical music concert (sometimes jazz) every Tuesday lunchtime at 1 pm, and a series of community events on Saturday mornings.

Looking out into the world from the north porch in Saint Andrew’s Church, Rugby (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Praying at the Stations of the Cross in
Lent 2023: 2 April 2023 (Station 8)

‘The Women Weep for Jesus’ … Station 8 in the Stations of the Cross in Saint Dunstan and All Saints’ Church, Stepney (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

Theis final week in Lent is known as Holy Week, and this morning is the Sixth Sunday in Lent or Palm Sunday (2 April 2023). This Sunday’s Gospel reading (Matthew 26: 14 to 27: 66) is one of the longest, recalling the full Passion narrative. In many churches, the traditions include a Palm Sunday procession, with palms and sometimes even a donkey.

I have been invited to take part in a dramatised presentation of the Gospel reading at the Parish Eucharist in Holy Trinity Church, Old Wolverton. But, before today day begins, I am taking some time early this morning (2 April 2023) for prayer, reflection and reading.

In these two weeks of Passiontide, Passion Week and Holy Week, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, Short reflections on the Stations of the Cross, illustrated by images in Saint Dunstan’s and All Saints’ Church, the Church of England parish church in Stepney, in the East End of London, and the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Francis de Sales in Wolverton, which I visited for the first time last month;

2, the Gospel reading of the day in the lectionary adapted in the Church of England;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Station 8, Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem:

The Eighth Station in the Stations of the Cross has a traditional description such as ‘Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem.’ In this station in Stepney, two women meet Jesus on his way along the Via Dolorosa, and seem inconsolable. One holds onto the Cross with both hands as she to her face as she closes her eyes and weeps; the other women stands with a child in her arms, wondering in puzzlement what the future holds. This time, a soldier holds the Cross while Simon of Cyrene is shocked, perhaps being a father himself.

The words below read: ‘The Women Weep for Jesus’.

In this station in Wolverton, Jesus gently reaches out to a woman who has fallen to her knees, while a mother standing behind them who clasps her child closely, her hands covering her eyes in sorrow, fearful perhaps for the future for all children in a world of violence. A small child walks ahead with a placard bearing the initials INRI to be placed above the Crucified Christ on the Cross.

In this station, Christ often holds the cross with one hand and one arm, and raises his other hand, as if in a blessing. He tells the women of Jerusalem to weep not for him but for themselves and their children. His gesture and his words seem to make his burden less than their grief. The words beneath read: ‘Speaks to the Women.’

Next Sunday at the Resurrection, Christ is going to say to Mary Magdalene in the Garden, as she reaches out to touch him, ‘Noli Me Tangere,’ ‘Do not hold onto me,’ as it is translated so often in an insipid way. The original Greek, Μή μου ἅπτου, might be better translated as ‘stop holding onto me,’ or ‘stop clinging onto me.’

‘Speaks to the Women’ … Station 8 in the Stations of the Cross in Saint Francis de Sales Church, Wolverton (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Matthew 26: 14 to 27: 66 (NRSVA):

14 Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, ‘What will you give me if I betray him to you?’ They paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.

17 On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ 18 He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, “The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.”’ 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

20 When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; 21 and while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ 22 And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’ 23 He answered, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’ 25 Judas, who betrayed him, said, ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ He replied, ‘You have said so.’

26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’

30 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

31 Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,
“I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
32 But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’ 33 Peter said to him, ‘Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.’ 34 Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ 35 Peter said to him, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And so said all the disciples.

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ 37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. 38 Then he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.’ 39 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’ 40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ 42 Again he went away for the second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.’ 43 Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.’

47 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.’ 49 At once he came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’ Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. 51 Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?’ 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. 56 But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.’ Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58 But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end. 59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, ‘This fellow said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.”’ 62 The high priest stood up and said, ‘Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?’ 63 But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, ‘I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’ 64 Jesus said to him, ‘You have said so. But I tell you,
From now on you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of Power
and coming on the clouds of heaven.’

65 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your verdict?’ They answered, ‘He deserves death.’ 67 Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him, 68 saying, ‘Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?’

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus the Galilean.’ 70 But he denied it before all of them, saying, ‘I do not know what you are talking about.’ 71 When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ 72 Again he denied it with an oath, ‘I do not know the man.’ 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.’ 74 Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know the man!’ At that moment the cock crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: ‘Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.

1 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. 2 They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

3 When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 He said, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ But they said, ‘What is that to us? See to it yourself.’ 5 Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, ‘It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.’ 7 After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. 8 For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.’

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus said, ‘You say so.’ 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, ‘Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?’ 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

15 Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. 17 So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, ‘Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ 18 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. 19 While he was sitting on the judgement seat, his wife sent word to him, ‘Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.’ 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. 21 The governor again said to them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release for you?’ And they said, ‘Barabbas.’ 22 Pilate said to them, ‘Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ All of them said, ‘Let him be crucified!’ 23 Then he asked, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Let him be crucified!’

24 So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ 25 Then the people as a whole answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ 26 So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ 30 They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

32 As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; 36 then they sat down there and kept watch over him. 37 Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’

38 Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ 41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, 42 ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, “I am God’s Son.”’ 44 The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.

45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ 47 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘This man is calling for Elijah.’ 48 At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.’ 50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’

55 Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, ‘Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, “After three days I will rise again.” 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, “He has been raised from the dead”, and the last deception would be worse than the first.’ 65 Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can. 66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

‘Who is Our Neighbour?’, a six-week study course for Lent 2023 produced by the Anglican mission agency USPG

Today’s Prayer:

The theme in this week’s prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘Good Neighbours in Times of War: a View from Europe.’ This theme is introduced this morning by the Ven Dr Leslie Nathaniel, Archdeacon of the East, Germany and Northern Europe, with an adaptation of his contribution to USPG’s Lent Course ‘Who is our neighbour,’ which I have edited for USPG. He writes:

At the time of writing, there are around seven million internally displaced people in Ukraine, who have moved mainly from the East to the West of the country. A further six million Ukrainians have been forced to flee the country since Russia invaded.

The Diocese in Europe has chaplaincies in both Ukraine and Russia, which presents a challenge. How do we approach chaplaincy in these places? We seek to respond with a theology of need, recognising that all churches and partners have something to give and also to receive. This interchange does not mean that one receives the same as one gives but simply that the gift corresponds to the need of the other.

One of the Diocese’s greatest strengths is the breadth of its connections, not just across Europe but across the world. In the earliest days of the war, this proved to be vital in dealing with a huge movement of people, while also preventing human trafficking.

The Diocese is able to offer a hospitality of welcome as people cross borders and move to new places. Chaplaincies in Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and the Czech Republic are providing Ukrainian refugees with ways to move forward in life, and places where they can relax.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (Sunday 2 April 2023, Palm Sunday) invites us to pray:

Christ in our darkness risen,
help all who long for light
to hold the hand of promise
till faith receives its light.
(Brian Wren, b. 1936).

The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God,
who in your tender love towards the human race
sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
to take upon him our flesh
and to suffer death upon the cross:
grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility,
and also be made partakers of his resurrection;
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.

Post Communion:

Lord Jesus Christ,
you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant,
and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation:
give us the mind to follow you
and to proclaim you as Lord and King,
to the glory of God the Father.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Stations of the Cross in Stepney, Wolverton and Stony Stratford (Photographs: 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