COVID-19 · From The Rector's Desk

From the Rectors Desk – 9 April 2020

Maundy Thursday.

Today is Maundy Thursday – derived from the Latin ‘mandatum’ which means commandment. It is from the closing words of The Gospel “A new Commandment I give unto you.” (John 13:34)

Traditionally today has two Eucharist services – at the Morning Eucharist the Priests renew their vows and the oils for healing and for consecrating the ordained, is blessed.  At the Evening Eucharist which I will send you a reflection on later today, we commence the Triduum (The Good Friday through Resurrection Sunday event).

Today no Chrism Eucharist at the Cathedral will take place, and so it is a sad day in a sense for the clergy, who cannot corporately celebrate and reaffirm their vows.

I sat quietly in my study in the early hours of this morning and renewed my vows to God and to you the people that He ordained me to serve. I commit myself anew to the ‘trust and responsibility of the priesthood to which I am called’. It is not an easy commitment as it is a commitment to do a new thing, an unfamiliar thing a thing of great uncertainty; as I know that the way that I have ministered in the past, to you and to the world has changed and I am experiencing the challenge of developing an entirely different methodology. But the message uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures is the same, even though we know the end is near and that we have much uncertainty to face, it is not uncertainty in the outcome of our faith, we know that God will lead us into eternal salvation, but the uncertainty lies on the road which is filled with many obstacles and challenges and temptations and so many of our certainties are held in our traditions and customs, that with them being challenged, there is uncertainty in the way we “do church” teach the faith, hold the community together, celebrate the Sacraments and the way we lead the church.

But this I know, that with God’s help through the power of the Holy Spirit, ‘I will continue to banish error in doctrine and provide sound teaching based on the Holy Scriptures’.

“I will accept the discipline of this church and reverently obey the Bishop and other ministers set over me.’  Our current leadership crisis makes this a challenge, I’ll be honest, and we need to reform much, in our church. But this challenge to our leadership will not be a rebellion, but a reformation.

‘I will be diligent in prayer and in the reading of the Holy Scriptures and in my studies.’

‘I will endeavour to minister the word of God and His sacraments with reverence and joy’

 I realize that the sacramental nature of our Church is under pressure. But God will show us how to worship him and participate in Christ – our celebration of the Eucharist is central to sustaining our faith and we have to hold onto the theology of the Eucharist even if we express it differently.

‘I will help those in my care to discover their gifts and use them’ – this is possibly the most important part of the work of the future. Each one of us must use our gifts to serve and empower the part of the world that we are given dominion over. In our families and in the world as we re-create a new way of living. After every collapse of civilisation, Christians have played a role in rebuilding society, not from the top, not from positions of power, but everyday Christians, living out their hope in the world. As St Peter has said, “Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you” (1 Peter 3:15 GNB)

With God’s help!

I will strive to fashion my life and that of my household according to the way of Christ”

‘I will promote unity and peace and love among God’s people’

On the 1st of July 2006 I was made a Deacon and on the 23rd of June 2007 I was Ordained Priest, and I have strived to fulfil these vows all those years. For where I have failed, I ask your and God’s forgiveness. And I ask you to pray for me as I seek to fulfil what is mine to do in the Kingdom among you.

I walk as a servant of God among you and it is God who is at work in you, and I have the privilege of walking in your holy space. It is a privilege that I do not take lightly and one which I am humbled by.

Pray for me and pray for your Church and seek the Lord for he is your salvation.       

God is our refuge and our strength. (Ps 46)



Maundy Thursday Reflection based on John 13: 1-17; 31b-35

Earlier this week, I listened to a piece of music based on the Last Supper. The piece is called “In Remembrance of Me,” by Marcus Hummon. The song tries to capture the emotions that were present in the upper room that night when Jesus shared the Passover meal with the twelve.  

What struck me as I listened to the music was the love that filled the room that night. Love – Jesus’ deep affection for his friends; his love for us that radiates from that upper room through the centuries into our gathering tonight. Of all the different emotions that were present in the room that night, it is love that the Gospel emphasizes: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” 

I imagine the day went something like this: Thursday was a busy day. The disciples were hastily gathering the food and supplies necessary for the seder meal, not to mention trying to secure a room for the dinner. All was in order when they gathered on Mount Zion that fateful evening. And then they got into an argument, right there at the table. About what? Who of them would be the greatest in the coming kingdom Jesus had promised!  

At this point the greatest among them became the servant of all of them. Jesus arose from the table, girded Himself with a towel, and knelt before each of them to wash their feet.  

Whose feet needed washing the most that night? Whose feet in a matter of hours would be nailed fast to a Roman cross. And His were the only feet that left that night unwashed. Why? Jesus took all our sins to the cross with Him and washed our sins away with his blood on the cross.  

It is easy to overlook the love, because our attention is naturally drawn to all the other dynamics present in the drama that unfolds before us. We know that Judas is about to betray the Lord and that Peter is about to deny him. We know of the painful, bitter ordeal that awaits Jesus only hours after the meal is over. Because these dynamics are often at the forefront of our minds, the Last Supper has come to have a tragic dimension to it. We associate Maundy Thursday with the painful events that it portends, and it takes on a distinct heaviness. 

Of course, the atmosphere in the room that night was charged because of all these conflicts and emotions. But if we were to ask any of the 12 who were present that night to tell us what it was like – “What did you experience?” – I am confident that they would answer: We knew that we were loved. 

I would like for you to think for a minute about those occasions when you knew that you were loved. In these moments, we may be acutely aware that the love we experience is somehow undeserving. We may very well have the sense that I am loved, not for what I have accomplished or for what I deserve, but because of the love that emanates from the person who loves me. The embarrassment that we sometimes feel in such a moment comes from the recognition that I do not deserve to be loved this way. We sense that there is a surplus of love and affection that spills out from the person and that covers our flaws. 

Let’s return to the upper room for a moment. How does Jesus communicate his love to the twelve – and to us – in this moment? 

For one thing, the Lord lets them know that he values their companionship. He values it so much that he wants to spend his last hours with them. “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover meal with you,” he says. I imagine that meal had many of the same joys that Jesus and his followers shared in countless other meals over the years. There was good food. Wine to make the heart glad. Meaningful conversation. There was probably some laughter. In this intimate moment, Jesus can let his guard down for a while. Think about how satisfying it is to linger over a good meal with the people you care most about – and you can appreciate the love that filled that upper room. 

Second, Jesus is completely there for his friends. He is focused on their needs rather than his own. One clear indication that a person loves us is when the person can forget himself or herself long enough to concentrate on us and on our needs. In the upper room, Jesus is thinking about what life will be like for the disciples after he is gone. So, he focuses on their need to feel close to him. For that reason, he gives them a concrete way of remembering him: “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you remember my death, you bear witness to my resurrection, and you look forward to my coming in glory.” At the moment when Jesus could have been consumed with the events that await him, he is able to be there for them utterly, completely. 

Third, Jesus expresses his love for his friends – and for us – concretely and visibly. He washes their feet – such an intimate, personal touch, and such an expression of humility. We know that we are truly loved when the person who loves us expresses that love – verbally or with some gesture. And in this gesture, Jesus lets his friends know that he forgives them. He knows that Judas is about to betray him, that Peter is about to deny him, and that before long, all of them will abandon him. And with this knowledge, he enfolds them with his love.  

I hope that these reflections register the deep love that radiates from the Last Supper, so that we feel loved by the Lord in this service. We experience love most powerfully when we can love in return. And so tonight, we love and honour the Lord Jesus Christ as we remember him. 

Let us pray: 

Gracious God, 
As those who strive to follow Jesus in our living and to trust your power in our dying, we gather to reflect upon the life that ended on a cross. 
We recognize in ourselves the strengths and weaknesses of Jesus’ disciples: 
although they loved him, they disappointed and failed him. And yet, gathering with these imperfect friends at this last meal Jesus washed their feet in service, and then extended the bread and cup to each. Jesus called them to love one another, and invited them to share in his very life and in his acceptance of the road ahead. We are humbled, honoured and inspired 
by the deep love Christ extended to the world, and we take seriously the calling to be the body of Christ today. Forgive us when we disappoint and fail you, and guide us back to a place of trust and faithful living. Grant us the vision to see the world as you see it, with love and compassion for each creature and all of your creation. Though Jesus Christ our Lord. 

-Vanda Chittenden

(prayer written by Rev. Kelly Burd) 

From The Rector's Desk · Priest's Perspective

From The Rector’s Desk 7 April 2019

Greetings in Christ.

Two things before I share a reflection that I would like you to meditate on over the next three weeks.

One, our Parish is going through a very tough time financially and we at present are not managing to pay all the bills. We are working hard to resolve the problems, but it is only fair that I inform you of our situation. I pray that in these difficult financial times God will bless us and provide for us, I am very aware that it is because we are all struggling and that we, as a community, are having financial problems.

Two, over the next few weeks we will be having combined services of the Good Shepherd and St Mary’s, I ask you to please attend the services that are at the church that you are not usually at. Easter is a very intense time and trying to do double the services (as I have done in the past) is not a reasonable expectation of me. Please check the published dates and times and attend the services as per the roster. If needed, organize to travel together, parking at your usual church and car pooling to the other.

May God bless you abundantly.


An Easter Reflection on Walking with Jesus

Over the next three weeks we enter the most intense Liturgical journey of our Christian year.

Next Sunday we will cry Hosanna Hosanna as we “Walk with Jesus in His Passion.” A walk of courage and giving the clear message that He is the King of the Jews, the Messiah. We will walk along the road and lay down our palm branches, we will walk into the temple and see how sinful we have become , we will walk again in the Temple as Jesus claims it and clears it, fulfilling the expectations of the Messiah.

Then we will participate in a Passover meal – recalling the exodus from Egypt and how Jesus re-organized that festival to convey the message of His delivering of us from sin. On Thursday we will participate in a part of that occasion – the foot washing . St John wrote; “and now Jesus showed them the full extent of His love” , and washed their feet.

On Friday we will follow Jesus to the Cross and learn to carry the Cross of Jesus and that there were three crosses on Calvary, but only one saved us. We will journey with Jesus and in a great symbolic act renew our Baptismal promises on Saturday night. In the space so to speak – between the cross and the resurrection we will make our faith statement  – “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live” and then we will walk with Jesus in Resurrection – “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Throughout this lent we have learnt that Jesus was establishing a new Kingdom – on Palm Sunday we will see Him riding into Jerusalem on a Donkey –  A symbol that the king was coming in peace, not to destroy men’s lives but to save them!

Its not an easy walk. We have discovered that in Lent, often been challenged to “be transformed by the renewal of your minds.”  We share the sentiment of the original crowds who followed Jesus with the disciples being astonished and the crowds afraid.  Even though we have recalled this story annually all our lives we still marvel and in the words of William Barclay “ anyone who writes about the death of Jesus  ( in our case walks with Jesus) about the cross and its meaning is conscious that although it is the greatest thing in all the world , He is walking into a realm of controversy and a battle ground of opposing theologies. Barclay concludes and I concur that “ without disregarding and without attacking the beliefs of others , (we) must  witness to our own.

My prayer is that as we walk with Jesus you will deepen your understanding of Him and of His love for you. That the cross and Resurrection of Jesus will provide the context for your life and that you will find the true meaning of life in serving the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your strength.

As Isaiah writes   “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past, See I am doing a new thing,” he doesn’t mean ignore what has been but do not remain in the past – do not let Easter be a celebration of a past event, but see that God is working something new in you, this is your journey of death and resurrection, this is your journey of God delivering you from the Egypt of Sin into the promised land of salvation.

Many flee from the cross of Jesus and many hang around at a distance, but I pray that you will go all the way with Jesus! May this Easter be a time of great renewal in your life and may you walk in the joy of the Lord, for when we repent and return to the Lord our God, we once were dead but now we live, were lost but now we are found.

Be assured of my prayers

Fr. Andrew