The Civic and Parish Church of Bournemouth

A sermon for the Sixth Sunday After Trinity from the Rev’s Bryan Apps and a Message from the Rector – 19th July 2020

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                        

It has been so amazingly good to see very many of back at church again!  This past four months … !?

There is no reason at all why you should not set aside a bit of time each week to carry-on joining our video services, as well as coming to church in our holy buildings on Sunday.  Time spent with God is never wasted time.  Enjoy today’s service; you will find it by following this link:

I am delighted to welcome my colleague Bryan Apps to share a reflection with you this week.  Next week we welcome Paul Collins, and then Gareth Sherwood the week after.  We are richly blessed!

Rich blessings have also come to us to help us transform St Peter’s Churchyard. We are delighted that we have been successful in a bid from our Council (BCP) for £20K funding to support a project to transform St Peter’s churchyard to become an attractive asset to the centre of our town.  This will involve, as part of an inspirational and ambitious programme of landscaping, significant clearance of the churchyard, and then planting.   Given that, suddenly, as it feels, we have slipped from March to July, there is a need to get that clearance of churchyard, and planting, going whilst it is the right season.

Our vision is that homeless people will be engaged in this work voluntarily.  This will give them a purposeful and socially useful way of spending their time and energies, they will gain some marketable ‘back to work’ skills, and the outcome will be an achievement that tangibly enriches the centre of the town – one of which they can feel justly proud.

In this last week leaders of both BCHA (Bournemouth Churches Housing Association) and Bournemouth’s Health Bus have offered their help in suggesting to some homeless people that they might volunteer.  Further, Bournemouth Rotary Club have generously offered to help pay for Mark Richmond, who has valuable experience of similar supervision of a working party that transformed Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking, in Surrey. Mark has very kindly agreed to supervise the work parties, beginning on 11th August.  His presence, sharing in the vision, part of which is to justifiably enhance the self-esteem of those who volunteer, is essential to its success. It is all coming together!

What we need, please, is garden tools. You can, of course, have them back once this project is complete.  I’m sure you must have a few garden tools that you’re not using right at this moment. Would you, please, respond with offers of tools to Jane Styslinger, our Parish Warden, who is co-ordinating this project?  (or respond to this address and it will be forwarded to her.)

Praise God for this all coming together at just the right moment. Psalm 34 is an excellent hymn of praise, particularly as we re-gather ourselves from the upheaval and fears of the lockdown, and look towards the future with lively hope in God:

“I will always give thanks unto the Lord: his praise shall ever be in my mouth”.

The poet-priest, Malcolm Guite, whose poetry I have found helpful during those lockdown months, has written about Psalm 34:  “What man is he that lusteth to live: and would fain see good days? This is the central question of Psalm 34, and for the Christian praying this psalm we have an answer not only in the advice the psalmist gives, but much more fully in the life, the person, and example of Jesus Christ. For in Christ, the Lord whom the psalmist addressed has come into the world and shown us what it is to live life well and to the full, shown us, as St. Irenaeus said, that ‘the Gory of God is a Human Being fully  alive.’ 

Benedicam Domino

He raises and delivers us from death,

And even now he shows us how to live

That we might savour life with every breath,

That we might taste and see, might truly thrive

Might see the good days that he wants for us

And make the best of all he has to give.

And so he comes to live as one of us

And teaches us afresh the ways of peace.

He lives the fullest life in front of us

And shows us how to break the bonds, release

The captive, seek the truth that sets us free

To choose the right and do it, to increase

The reach of love, the possibility

Of fruitful life together, and to hear

The poor cry out and help them speedily.”

An inspiration and a challenge for this week ahead!

God bless you richly in His service,