Making God's Love Known In Windsor
Please get in touch if you would like any further information or if you would like to join our mailing list which contains news and information about forthcoming services. We hold a Sung Eucharist at 10am on Sundays which rotates around our churches in Central Windsor (details can be found on noticeboards, on the calendar and in our parish magazine and Keeping Us in Touch leaflet above).
Face coverings are mandatory in places of worship until Thursday 27 January, after that time it is advisable that you continue to wear one whilst inside the church building. Please ensure you wear your mask correctly, covering both your mouth and nose. Please sanitise your hands as you enter the building. We will continue to arrange our churches such that 'social distancing' remains in place. We ask that you continue to observe social distancing from those outside your household when entering and leaving the building. Please stay at home if you are suffering from any of the symptoms of Covid-19.
I just heard on the news that a pregnant woman and three children were among those twenty seven who died in the English Channel just the other day. I thought about that pregnant woman and the dreams and hopes she had for her life in a new country as well as that of her baby. Much died in those icy unforgiving waters that day. I wonder what pushed her from her homeland? What motivated her? What drew her to the Uk, what did she imagine and desire? A woman, pregnant, on a journey . It is a foundational story in the Christian mind. A woman, travelling not knowing how she will be received, or what will become of her son. The refugee motiff looms large in the life of Mary, Joseph and Jesus as it does in foundational moments within the bible. An individual, for example Moses, or a people, The Hebrews who then become The People of Israel, The People of God.
At the heart of all these journeys is a profound vulnerability, a willingness to relinquish control as the journey and its outcome lie beyond our ability to grasp. This vulnerability, this lack of knowing is a in fact a necessary openness to the grace and movement of God, for vulnerability is a quintessential characteristic of God. When we look at the drama in the Garden as portrayed by Genesis we hear Adam and Eve questioned by God "Who told you you were naked". If we take a step backwards in the narrative and remember that humanity is created in the image and likeness of God, I believe we are being invited to see the all powerful creator as a naked God. This God is not clothed in fine armour, impenetrable, rather the glory is that of naked, a loving intimate friend of life. God is naked and vulnerable from the beginning of the scripture. At the beginning of revelation,God's skin can be seen and touched.
And so to Bethlehem. The journey in a time of occupation, where life felt under threat, precarious. The journey with the donkey is an outward sign of an inward journey. We are called to place one foot in front of the other with radical trust. We don't know who or what we will encounter but it is fundamentally important that we sojourn, that we go to the place that God will show us, that God will be our stay and protection, even when we feel like we are walking in the shadow of death. The Bethlehem drama mirrors the drama of Eden, in both cases the naked God is revealed. Of the first things spoken of Jesus in Luke's Gospel is that of Christ as Saviour. The saviour though is to be found in an animal feeding trough, the sign is of a naked baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. Nakedness and salvation, bare skin and divinity. These are some of the first words used to describe the character and nature of our God in the life and journey of Jesus. When we then look to the last words describing Jesus as the Christ we need to look to the drama of the cross on Golgotha. When he is naked and bleeding, crowned and suffering he is derided 'If you are The Christ come down and save yourself'. In Luke the Christ is naked and vulnerable at the beginning and end of his early life. This is God's glory in John's Gospel when we look at the cross. When Jesus is lifted up in Glory he is lifted up naked and vulnerable to the intentions of the crowd, the political system, he is like a lamb in front of a shearer.
I believe we are being invited to see God's power as being made manifest in powerlessness. Jesus' life is bookmarked between the reality of powerlessness, he is held as a baby in Mary's arms and then his own arms are outstretched held by the cross. Underneath this reality, or rather within it, Jesus is upheld by the love of his Abba. His vulnerability is the gateway to being loved, his openness to being led by his Abba into places unknown is key to his being possessed and led by The Spirit, The Giver of Life. In his own imagination Jesus saw little children as the icon for entry into the Kingdom of God, and their iconic quality lies in their belief that they are loved by their parents. This is what it is to be a little child, it is to be one who has the expectancy of being loved, of being protected, cared for and nourished. When running to their parents arms they expect to be picked up, when hurting they expect their injury to be kissed, when fearful they expect to be consoled, to be held. This stance in life is the prerequisite to a life in and under the reign of God. Independence and self-sufficiency are not what God is looking for, rather God is looking for our willingness to let go, inviting us to fall into an eternal, loving embrace. And this will not be easy, for our culture, our education, our society encourages us to make our way in the world, to leave our mark, and indeed there is a truth in this, however, it is not our deepest call. Our deepest call is caught up in the story of Eden, Bethlehem and Golgotha.
I'm thinking about the icy waters of the English Channel as it begins to become a graveyard to so many dreams and soulful longings. What does the story of today's refugees reveal to us? What does their journey reveal about how we treat our neighbour? What would it be like to consider God dying with each and every person who lost their life in the channel, with the vulnerable, the outcast, the persecuted, the disregarded, the powerless? Does God die over and over again, if such is God's utter commitment to each one of us? Does God continue to suffer with us in our wounded and glorious journey? Is the world's suffering in fact the one singular suffering of God, revealed in the story of Jesus? Our response to such reflections may reveal how we see God in the drama of human living. What would it be like to reimagine our creed professed each Sunday with the words " I believe in one God, the Naked, the all vulnerable."
May this Advent season with its Christmas consummation hold before us the naked baby, the naked crucified, the naked God.
Come join us!
You are welcome to join us at St Stephen and St Agnes, regardless of race or gender or sexuality. We are part of the Church of England and our worship style is modern catholic: this means the service uses contemporary English, but still has ritual and incense (‘smells and bells’).
There are areas in the church that make it easy for parents with prams or people in wheelchairs to join the worship. Our congregation age ranges from babies to 98-year-olds. Study and discussion groups are available throughout the year with special courses run during Advent and Lent.
St Stephen and St Agnes Church is part of a benefice (group) of four churches in central Windsor in the Diocese of Oxford, which includes Holy Trinity Parish & Garrison Church, Windsor Parish Church of St John the Baptist, and All Saints' Church.
We are committed to safeguarding children, young people, and vulnerable adults. The parochial church council has adopted the Church of England’s policies and best practice on safeguarding which may be found on the Church of England’s website. Our Parish Safeguarding Representative is Laura Betteridge and she may be contacted at church or by email.