The community at Saint Giles seeks to glorify God by beautiful and fitting worship, centered on the Sunday Sung Eucharist. If you have children, please ask about Godly Play, the Fun Club and Family services. Adults young and old are invited to join the Meditation Group, or come to our contemplative service 'Breathing Space' on the 4th Sunday at 6:30pm as well as (or instead of) the usual services.
In the anthems that the Prayer Book provides for Easter Day are Saint Pauls wonderful words: Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more: death hath no more dominion over him. Easter, as the Churchs main festival, does not just last one day or even a week but fifty days. Tertullian at the start of the third century refers to Easter as a fifty day long Sunday. Athanasius in the fourth century calls it the great Sunday during which neither fasting nor kneeling were allowed.
We joyfully observe the forty days of the Lords appearances and then the ten days of waiting for the Holy Spirit until Pentecost. Just as we have spent forty days preparing for Easter, so we now spend fifty days celebrating this feast of feasts.
Together with Easter and Christmas, Pentecost is one of the three main festivals of the Christian year. Unfortunately, Pentecost or Whitsun has suffered something of an eclipse in recent decades since the decision to replace the Whitsun bank holiday by the late spring bank holiday. This should not, however, stop believers appreciating it for what it is, one of the principal holy days of the year, and by being at the Eucharist that morning.
Pentecost is the commemoration of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and the church. The word Pentecost refers to the fiftieth day after the Passover when the disciples were waiting in Jerusalem in obedience to Christs direction and when they received the Holy Spirit.
The Eucharist is at the centre of our worship. It sustains us in times of joy and sadness, faith and doubt, light and darkness. Holy Communion is a food which holds us up during our pilgrimage through life. It is so precious to believers that on Maundy Thursday, the day our Lord instituted the Blessed Sacrament, it is difficult to give it due celebration and recognition. Maundy Thursday is overshadowed by good Friday and so we cannot celebrate on that day in quite the way we would wish for so precious a gift.
Since the thirteenth century, therefore, a special day has been laid aside to celebrate the Institution of Holy Communion. This is the Thursday after Trinity Sunday: the feast of Corpus Christi. At Saint Giles, it is customary to do this with a Sung Eucharist, a procession and Benediction. All Saints congregation will be joining us for that on 30th May at 7.30pm. It is a beautiful service with very moving hymns and music.
What I need to see is that the Cross shows the ultimately destructive effects of my self-regard both upon others and upon myself. It shows that God himself suffers because of what I do. It is not the shedding of blood or the physical death that is important, it is what those things express. And what they express is the obedient surrender of self, even to the uttermost, and that no cost is too great for God as he seeks to redeem humanity, to buy it back from the realm of sin.
The Living God
Formerly Regius Professor of Divinity
at the University of Oxford
With every good wish from Mark Crowther-Alwyn