Services

Sunday Services

8.00 Eucharist

10.00 The Parish Eucharist

10.00 Junior Church

18.30 Evening Prayer

19.00 Benediction

Weekday Eucharists

Tuesday 10.00

Wednesday 19.00

Thursday 10.00

Friday 12.30

Saturday 18.00

Contact Details
Holy Trinity Church, Trinity Street, Taunton, Somerset, TA1 3JG.
01823 354800
Facebook:  Holy Trinity Taunton
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Tuesday
Jan222019

Fr Julian writes

FR JULIAN WRITES…

February begins with the Feast of Candlemass, which we will keep on Sunday 3rd, the day after the actual date.  It is a very special occasion with a whole range of meanings and layers of significance, but perhaps the most enduring and poignant remembrance we have is that of Simeon proclaiming the ‘Nunc Dimittis’.  This is the canticle which is used every Sunday at Evening Prayer (and also, I hope as part of our prayers at home) and usually also at funerals:  it is my custom to conclude the Committal with the moving words which are sadly becoming increasingly less well-known. ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.  For mine eyes have seen thy salvation…’

Simeon had been promised by God that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah.  As Christ was presented at the Temple, this promise was fulfilled, and Simeon knew now that he could die with the certain knowledge that God’s promises to him and to the all the nations had been kept:  ‘… which thou hast prepared before the face of all people. To be a light to enlighten the gentiles, and to be the glory of thy people Israel.’  Whether you are more familiar with the beautiful Prayer Book words or a more modern translation, the message is clear.

We have seen God’s salvation in the person and works of Christ.  Not just as a baby in his mother’s arms as did Simeon, but through his life, death and resurrection.  We are privileged to know more of the story; Simeon only read the title page.  Christ is the one to bring the light of hope into a world darkened by sin, and to be worshipped and adored – truly the glory of all seek after God (which is what Israel actually means).

However, if we to read further the accounts of the Presentation as told by St Luke in his gospel, we see that Simeon’s co-witness, the prophetess Anna also recognised Jesus as the Saviour, and went about immediately praising God and telling everyone.  At the Presentation we are offered three themes:  meeting, recognition and proclamation.  Simeon and Anna met the Christ; their meeting resulted in recognition expressed in different ways.  In Simeon we are given a natural human response; in Anna we are given the task.  Meeting, recognition and proclamation. 

There are many ways in which we can meet Christ, but sometimes it may be a case of remembering the face but forgetting the name – something which I’m sure happens to us all!  About this, I will simply say that we can uniquely meet Christ in the sacraments, especially in Holy Communion.  We meet Christ in the Holy Scriptures.  We meet Christ as a family coming together.  We meet Christ in the face of strangers.  But we have to move on further than merely meeting but go on to recognition.  – the acknowledgment of who Christ is to us and to the world.

The third theme I mentioned is proclamation.  How can people hear the word if it’s never spoken?  Following the example of Anna, our first duty is to praise God.  That means being faithful and regular in worship and spiritual discipline which cannot be separated from the way we live our lives.  Our faith is not like the proverbial Sunday best which we don as the occasion demands, and then return to jeans and T-shirts (or the equivalent!).  Our faith is something which is lived and the means by which we proclaim that the light has come to lighten the darkness.

The forty days after Christmas are days of Epiphany – revelation.  It is a time when we can refresh ourselves and attune our vision so that we can meet the promised Christ in all his works and wonders, ways and means.  It is a time when we can move off from meeting to recognising, and once we have recognised and accepted the truth before our eyes, we can then move on to proclamation, and be God’s glorious people.

Thursday
Dec272018

Fr Julian writes...

How many of you are already Christmas-ed out?!  It seems that the last few weeks have been like water going down a plughole – the nearer it gets, the more frantic the water gets…  It’s easy to get so involved with the preparations for Christmas that we don’t leave enough time to celebrate.  Yes, we may go through all the usual forms of celebration that we mark Christmas – too much food, perhaps too much drink and usually too much expense! – but do we actually celebrate what Christmas actually is, what Christmas actually means.

Those of us who start perhaps later than others, yet keep the twelve days of Christmas, still have much to look forward to.  My wife and I keep the decorations up until Twelfth Night, and we ensure that even if it’s only a simple evening meal for the two of us, we have crackers!  You may think we are…  But keeping the 12 days is not just an act of defiance in the face of the newly-bleak environment all around, but a positive way of reinforcing the fact that (to misuse a phrase) that Christ is for life, not just for Christmas.

At Christmas we celebrate the fact that God has become one with us.  He is born as a human child, so we can know that God fully understands what it is to be human; all the joys and sorrows, the hopes and the frustrations.  But that experience wasn’t just limited to a brief appearance as the Babe of Bethlehem, but continued well into adulthood.  Don’t be tempted to put Christ away with the tinsel!  Because what Christmas actually is, is a process rather than an event.

 

What this means for us all, is that at Christmas God begins his purpose of salvation.  In the person of Christ, his birth, death and resurrection, we are reconciled and made one with God just as in Christ God is made one with us.  And when I cheekily used a secular slogan, I intended it to have a double meaning:  Christ is for life – he came that we might have life in all its fullness.  Not merely a reason for a mid-winter binge, but so that we could share the life of God, and eternal and joyous life.

 

As we face the reality of winter with all that that can mean, life can seem a little less able to be enjoyed.  We have the climax of the year with Christmas and the beginning of 2019, and we could be forgiven to think that there’s little to look forward to.  Even Easter’s late – it’ll be on 21 April!  That is, if we don’t have the knowledge and certainty of the fact that we journey on not alone, but with the loving presence of God.

Knowing that he is our midst, as we celebrate at Christmas, means that we can have confidence to carry on plodding through the dull part of the year, or perhaps a dull part of our lives.  More than that, we have hope.  And hope is not that we have a form of insurance policy against the trials of life, but the belief that whatever befalls us, we can cope with it.  More than that, walking with God, growing closer to God, can mean that when our earthly lives come to an end, as they all shall, we can come to share that fullness of life that is only possible through the birth of Christ.  That’s why I say that Christmas is a process not an event, a beginning, not an end.

As we face the year to come, with the celebration of Epiphany soon, we remember that Christmas in the Church’s seasons, effectively continues to Candlemas on February 2nd, reinforcing the idea of God’s living amongst us in our daily lives, before we start to turn to the reason why Christ was born concluding with the greatest of all hope realised in his resurrection from the dead.

My hope and prayer is that the birth of Christ marks a new beginning in the life of the world and in the life of every single one of us.  A life which is characterised by a confident hope.