Sung evensong in Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity Guildford

Holy Trinity Guildford

There is a passage in The Valkyries by Paulo Coelho, where something happens, causing a delay. Why has this happened? It is a cause for reflection, in the same way as synchronicity is a cause for refection.

We have been jolted out of our time frame, we are on a different path. There was a reason for it.

On my way to Guildford, the man at the station had a problem issuing with me with a ticket, which meant I missed my train and had a 40 minute wait in the cold for the next train. My whole day was out of kilter.

I made use of the wait to call a friend, the times thus passed quickly.

I was late having my lunch. I did though as a consequent meet a lady who was organising an art exhibition of works by veterans who were suffering war trauma. The exhibition ‘Having the Courage’ (11 January – 8 March 2011) was mounted by Combat Stress.

Founded in 1919, Combat Stress provides specialist help to ex-Service men and women who suffer from Service related psychological injury. The title for the exhibition is from an observation made by one veteran about the challenges of engaging in a creative pursuit. ‘Having the courage to give it a go’ can open up a whole range of new possibilities. Apart from gaining a sense of achievement, art-making also provides an important and pleasant distraction from intrusive memories of past trauma.

This made me later than I meant to be visiting a local market in Guildford. I was buying some lovely yellow tomatoes, a voice in my ear, the wife of my friend who I had spoken to earlier. We had a wander and a chat.

I could then have gone home, caught a train, before everyone finished shopping and left work and the trains are horribly overcrowded, but I decided no, I would climb back up to the top of the town to hopefully see a lady who had broken her wrist. I had with me Chinese balls and I had suggested the previous week she used them as fairly non-strenuous exercise. She was not there, had gone home early.

I walked further up to the Oxfam Bookshop. Overpriced but that is another story. The previous week I had had an interesting conversation with the guy in the shop about Orhan Pamuk and Paulo Coelho. He told me he had liked Veronika Decides to Die and I recommended he read My Name is Red which was sitting on the shelves.

Synchronicity: Paulo Coelho posted on his blog Veronika as his Character of the Week.

Sychronicity: Whilst we were talking a young guy walked to the counter with a pile of books in his hand. One if which was My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk.

Sychronicity: The guy I was talking to in the bookshop had until recently been living in Istanbul. Istanbul is where Paulo Coelho will hold his St Joseph Party this year (19 March).

Sychronicity: Paulo Coelho had a few days earlier posted on his blog the significance of vespers.

Walking back down the town I noticed the lights were on in Holy Trinity and it looked like there were some people in the church. It is sadly so rare these days to find any church open, that you takes the opportunity when you can.

I had stumbled upon sung evensong by the choir from Guildford Cathedral, which was due to start in ten minutes time. This was the second time I had stumbled upon. The previous occasion was summer 2010. I decided to stay.

The format appears to be fairly fixed, singing interspersed with two readings, the first from the Old Testament, the second from the New Testament. It may even be more prescriptive than that as when I asked later of the Rector for chapter and verse he looked it up in his diary.

God’s Covenant With Noah – Genesis 9:8-19

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you – the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you – every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the earth.

Man has a Covenant with God. He broke that Covenant. Man is the Custodian of Gaia. Man despoiled the environment around him. He laid waste to the Earth and Civilisations collapsed. Now he lays waste to the Planet. The End of Days? [see Christian Theology and Gaia]

The parable of the Talents – Matthew 25:14-30

Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Note: a talent was worth about 20 years of a day labourer’s wage.

I always have problems with this passage. Jesus, with one or two exceptions, associated with the poor not the rich. Was it not more difficult for a rich man to enter heaven, than a camel to pass through the eye of a needle? Are we not required to relinquish our earthly possessions, to help the poor and those in need? I see this as a refection on the ills of society, the widening gap between rich and poor. The rich get richer whilst the poor get poorer. The rich use their wealth to accrue more wealth, the poor struggle to make ends meet and get by with what little they have, they cannot afford to speculate, to take risks. Never has this been more true as it is today, and yet as Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank has shown and the Church Urban Fund, if the poor are given a little helping hand, they can be quite enterprising. [see Tackling poverty together]

I learnt that Holy Trinity (sister church of St Mary’s) are discussing the sale of Israeli so-called Peace Oil at St Mary’s. This can only be a good thing, and well done all those who raised its sale. Hopefully Holy Trinity will reach the right decision and not permit its sale. It should not be on sale on either moral or ethical grounds, and if the church does not set moral and ethical standards who does? It would also be contrary to the church’s own declaration that it is a Fairtrade Church! [see Peace Oil or taking the piss?]

I picked up two copies of Blessed Trinity – Music from Holy Trinity Guildford. Two copies because I did not have the right money for one copy!

On my way home, I met a lovely French girl on the train!

All what happened today would not have happened but for a series of delays, each of which, starting with my missing my train, led to the next delay.

Note: Vespers is the evening prayer in the Orthodox Church. Evensong is the equivalent in the Anglican Church.

Top story in The Prayer Daily (Saturday 22 January 2011).

St Nicolas: A Taste of Silence – An 11 week course on Christian Meditation starting at 8pm on Tuesday 1 February 2011.

The Good Book Tour: The Story of the Common Bible in English. The Millmead Centre, Guildford 7:30pm Saturday 12 Feb 2011.

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10 Responses to “Sung evensong in Holy Trinity”

  1. laineestreet Says:

    I hope you do not mind me relating some of my beliefs here, but I am compelled by the spirit to do so.

    When Jesus told the parable of the talents to his disciples, he meant talents. Inside the parable, he refers to money only as a metaphor. The following is the wisdom that has been given to me as I have multiplied my talents. I do hope it will calm the troubled heart that I’m perceiving in you after your recent adventure while waiting for your train.

    As we come to this world, we are endowed with qualities that make everyone of us a unique individual. Depending on how we lived in the life prior to our mortal one on this world, we are given talents and capacities to help us grow stronger in Universal wisdom as we strive to become one like God. Some beings we encounter while we are here are much stronger in Universal wisdom than others. I feel that they are “older spirits” who have experienced much prior to this life, and understand the parable of the talents Jesus related to his disciples.

    I will paste now the parable of the talents located in the King James version of the Bible… Matt. 25: 14-46….. and then post another comment after as to the relevance of this parable to today’s world.

    14¶For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
    15And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
    16Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
    17And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
    18But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money.
    19After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
    20And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
    21His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
    22He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
    23His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
    24Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
    25And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
    26His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
    27Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
    28Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
    29For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
    30And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
    31¶When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

  2. laineestreet Says:

    32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
    33And he shall set the sheep on his aright hand, but the goats on the left.
    34Then shall the King say unto them on his aright hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
    35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
    36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
    37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
    38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
    39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
    40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
    41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
    42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
    43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
    44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or thirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
    45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
    46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

  3. laineestreet Says:

    How Do We Obtain Other Talents?

    In the parable it is made clear to us that when we leave this mortal world, it is not good enough to just simply return the talent/s that God gave to us. We are to improve upon and add to our talent/s. Jesus promised that if we multiply our talents we will receive eternal joy. Some beings, because of the fear of man, hide their talents. We are not to idle away our time. We are not to bury our talent that it may not be known. By applying the teachings of this parable, we will have blessings in our lives when we multiply our talents. How do we recognize our talents? The following is what I share with young adults who are questioning their talents.

    Seek earnestly to discover the talents the Lord has given you. The talents God has given us first become apparent in the interests we pursue. If you are wondering about your talents, make a list of the things you like to do. Include all the activities you enjoy from different dimensions of your life—spiritual, musical, dramatic, academic, athletic, and so on. Consult family members, trusted friends, teachers, and leaders; others often can see in us what we find difficult to see in ourselves.

    At the age of eight, I had a Sunday School teacher who, many times invited me to read the scriptures in front of the class. She always commented on what a nice reading voice I had and how well I read. This help and encouragement helped me to gain confidence and realize a talent from the Lord at an early age. As a young adult, I was asked to be a Sunday School teacher and teach the six and seven year-old children. Although this calling was one of the scariest things I ever encountered, I began to realize a talent for teaching others.

    When we are going after our dream, as Paulo Coelho states in basically all of is books, we begin to recognize the talents with which we have been endowed. As we use these talents to help make this world a peaceful place for all beings to dwell, (aka, building up the Lord’s kingdom,) we start receiving other talents to help us grow in spirituality. As we start exercising our newly found talents, our first priority is to help those close to us in identifying and developing their talents. I am so grateful for the many people who have helped me to add to my talents. The successes in life of others we assist, sponsor, mentor, and lift as they go after and use their own talents can bring us some of the greatest joy and satisfaction we will ever feel.

    Focusing on using our talents to serve our Lord can guide us toward making better choices in our daily lives. By using this perspective throughout life helps us to be ready to do whatever our Lord may ask of us at any time and helps us to develop this important attitude: “My talents may not be great, but I can use them to bless the lives of others. I can be one who does his work with pride in that which comes from his hand and mind.” – Hinckley

    We should never forget or stop acknowledging that all talents and abilities come from God. Some were given to us before our birth on this world, while others have been acquired as we have developed wisdom. We will never stop growing and receiving new talents as long as we recognize the Lord’s hand in all things.

    I am so grateful for the knowledge that the Lord has bestowed upon me. Therefore I am more than willing to help by doing my best to magnify my talents to bless others and to help build his kingdom by uniting the beings of this world with unconditional love. I pray that we can all be brought back into His presence with extra talents filled with love thus hearing Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:21).

  4. keithpp Says:

    You are confused. It does not mean talent as you have a talent for acting, though I accept it could be play on words, but if you look in other translations it is money or gold.

    But I agree with you we should make use of our God given talents and not waste them, for example Paulo Coelho makes use of his talent as a writer.

  5. keithpp Says:

    You then have the separation of the sheep from the goats. Not how did you use your talents, but how did you treat your fellow man?

    I will check this out in the Gospel of Thomas. Something I meant to do last night but was too tired. I was very surprised when the Rector told me he had not heard of the Gospel of Thomas. I at first thought he was joking, but he was not. I explained a little of its origins, how it was found, and its importance.

  6. laineestreet Says:

    We could also look at it as money that….as we spread it around to help others grow (like Thornton Wilder refers to as manure in his play “The Matchmaker”)…it comes back three fold. I have found this to be true with money and talents.

    Either way, I will agree with you that what we freely give to others gives us joy and riches.


  7. laineestreet Says:

    My definition of rich is living comfortable and being able to enjoy every moment and being able to assist and educate those who are not so. There can be people with extreme amounts of money who are not rich. Also there are people who are monetarily poor who need assistance. I make sure to find ways to donate items and to educate to people who need assistance. Each month at least ten percent of my income is given to charity. Before giving of myself, (hours and money,) I found that I never had the time nor the money for my needs. Now there is always enough and I am happy in the service of others. The Universe truly smiles on those who care with their hearts.

    My question is: How can we help or fellow beings to see that an act like you taking the Chinese Balls to the lady with the broken wrist is of much more value to the riches of mankind than the all mighty euro, dollar, pound?

  8. keithpp Says:

    From the Gospel of Thomas (verse 41):

    Jesus said: Whoever possesses some, will be given more. Whoever possess virtually nothing will have what little he does posses taken away.

    Again: The rich get richer the poor get poorer. As we see in Santa Barabara, the local businesses are happy to spend $50,000 to flush the homeless of the street, those who have virtually nothing will have what little they do have taken away from them. The local busiensses want them fushed away so they can make more money. [see Shame on Santa Barbara]

  9. keithpp Says:

    Matthew 13:12

    Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

    Matthew 25:29

    For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

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