Pilgrimpace's Blog

advent calendar 21
December 21, 2016, 6:56 pm
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One of the highlights of the season this morning with the Christmas Service at the Learning Disabilities Chaplaincy at Monyhull.  It is very good to have a long established link between Monyhull and St Bede’s.  When St Bede’s was being rebuilt 25 years ago, the two congregations worshipped together at St Francis.  Things at Monyhull change.  Not just physically with the new housing development, but Care in the Community and pressures on the NHS meaning a dispersal of residents, and sometimes the importance of the spiritual care and community of the Church being overlooked and pressured.

I and St Bede’s receive so much from this relationship.  If you are jaded or exhausted by Christmas, this is a place of deep renewal and love.


It can be tempting to think that the Lenten Journey has finished with the arrival of Easter.  Certainly there is a different tone as we meet the Risen Christ.  Yet, as George rightly points out in his comment on my previous post, suffering and injustice fall disproportionately on much of the world.  Here, on this freezing Easter Monday, we enter a time of shame on welfare where many of those with least (a good number of whom are in work) are hit by welfare cuts.

I am reminded this year very strongly that Easter commits us to a way of life, a way of Easter living.  We see some of this in the story we have been living through these past days.  On Thursday night I and many other priests and deacons washed our people’s feet following the pattern of love and service shown to us at the Last Supper.  We saw this very  beautifully in the action of Pope Francis washing the feet of young offenders.  The challenge and grace now is to go on living the same.  If Easter is to mean anything it must be to free us for a new way of living, a way that brings love and forgiveness into the world.  How can we do this practically?

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio washes feet of shelter residents during 2008 Mass at church in Buenos Aires

There is something of vital importance here too about small, vulnerable and broken things.  Love does not have to be (is not?) big and powerful.  When the disciples met the Risen Christ they recognised him by his wounds.


On Friday I had the privilege of being present at the Learning Disabilities Chaplaincy Easter Service at Monyhull.  One of the women there sang from her seat:

I will praise the Lord
I will praise the Lord
I will praise the Lord
With my whole life
With my whole life
I will praise the Lord
Let all God’s people
Praise the Lord
This was utterly beautiful, pure gift.  The Easter journey continues.  Let’s live some loving and practical compassion.

catch up on christmas

Two highlights of Christmas so far.  On Monday at St Gabriel’s we had, for the first time, the RSPCA Carol Service in Church and then at the Animal Centre.

As well as enjoying Christmas, with some very beautiful basset hounds inspecting the Crib, we were raising awareness of the RSPCA’s Leaps and Bounds Appeal for a new Animal Centre and Hospital.

Then, this morning, I travelled up the hill from St Bede’s to Monyhull Chapel for the Christmas Service with the Learning Disabilities Chaplaincy.  There have been strong links between St Bede’s and Monyhull, not least during the period after the fire when St Bede’s congregation worshipped with the folk with learning disabilities.  Since I have been Vicar, Rosemary and I have loved being a small part of the Chaplaincy Team, helping out when we are needed and sharing in services like today’s.  My Grandad was Head Porter in one of the old hospitals and it means a lot to me to have this link.  I learn as much about the nature of God and of love and community here as I do anywhere else.

I hope to post again over Christmas, although if I get lost in busyness, may I wish you all a Blessed Festival.

You are welcome to any of our services:

St Bede’s, Brandwood (B14 6NN)

Christmas Eve Children’s Carol Service 4pm; Midnight Eucharist 11.30pm; Christmas Morning Eucharist 11am.

St Gabriel’s, Weoley Castle (B29 5LT)

Christmas Eve Children’s Carol Service 2pm; Midnight Mass 11.30pm; Mass of Christmas Morning 9.30am.