Church Services for Eastertide

Easter Day, April 12 to Pentecost, May 31, 2020

Click or tap on the image below to go to the service on YouTube.
The YouTube Live Chat opens from 10:15. There is music from 10:23 and the service starts at 10:30. If viewing on replay, please move the video forward 7-15 minutes to the start.

Eucharist for Pentecost

Celebrant:

The Revd Sue Rushton

Preacher:

The Revd Dr Gwynne Wright

If you have your own bread, you are invited to break and share it as a gesture of fellowship and agape.

Music before the service

If you tune in at about 10.23am you will hear

  • Komm, heiliger Geist (BuxWV 200) Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707) – played by Keith Wright
  • Veni creator spiritus (from St Wilfrid’s Suite) Andrew Carter (born 1939) – played by Max Elliott

Music during the service

  • If ye love me Thomas Tallis (c1505-1585) – sung by members of St Olave’s Choir

Music after the service

  • Komm, heiliger Geist (BuxWV 199) Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707) – played by Keith Wright

Your collection can be put in the virtual collection bag here.

June’s Issue of Touch Base is available to ‘take away’ and read after church today! We can’t leave a copy in the pews for you, but you can find it here.

Easter 7, 24 May 2020

Click or tap on the image below to go to the service on YouTube.
The YouTube Live Chat opens from 10:15. There is music from 10:23 and the service starts at 10:30. If viewing on replay, please move the video forward 7-15 minutes to the start.

Click on the image to go to the service on YouTube

Celebrant and Preacher:

The Revd Canon Derek Earis

If you have your own bread, you are invited to break and share it as a gesture of fellowship and agape.

Music before the service

If you tune in at about 10:23 you will hear
• Majesté du Christ demandant sa gloire à son Père (movement I from L’ascension) Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) – played by Keith Wright

Music during the service

• O thou, the central orb Charles Wood (1866-1926) – Sung by St Olave’s Virtual Choir

Music after the service

Organ Voluntary
• Te Deum Jean Langlais (1907-1991) – Played by Keith Wright

 The “Hand of God” – The Sermon for the Sunday after Ascension

by The Revd Canon Derek Earis

What does your blank blank God think he is blank well playing at?” So asked a stranger in York the other day on seeing me walking and wearing a clerical collar. He didn’t really wait for an answer but went off muttering, clearly very angry. The lockdown had got to him and I was a convenient target.

Now I’m sure the doctrine of the Ascension was far from this chap’s mind but it has struck me that he was proclaiming one crude but traditional view of it. That God is seated in majesty in heaven, Christ restored to his right hand. And that God is in control of all things. The other day on my walk, this time without my clerical collar, I ended up near the railway station and in the car park was a large transport police van with the words emblazoned on it’s side ”Command and Control”. That’s how my unknown protagonist saw God. In heaven exercising “Command and Control” over the whole world. In his rage he thought of God as saying “I know what I’ll do, I’ll send them a really nasty virus, one that especially attacks the elderly, the vulnerable and those in care homes. That will sort them out.” If he thought that then no wonder he was angry. So would I be. I could not worship a God like that. Neither could you.

So if God does not command and control like that, what is the Ascension really about? That’s what today’s readings for the Sunday after Ascension are trying to help us with.

For a start the disciples misunderstood, yet again. They asked him “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” Is this the end of all things? The story concluding? No Jesus reminded them. It is not for them to know the end but rather to be his witnesses, to receive the Holy Spirit. Then follows a moment of great awe as Jesus was lifted up. What is this new relationship as Jesus returns to the Father? How is this to be expressed? What does it mean for us? Let’s turn to see if the artists can help us.

Rembrandt "The Ascension"

Rembrandt’s “The Ascension” concentrates on the awe of the disciples as Jesus parts from them. They are in the shadows at the bottom of the picture but partially illuminated by his great light. What a master at using the light Rembrandt is – how effective it is here. So Jesus is glowing in purity and surrounded by the innocence of cherubs. But as far as the relationship between earth and heaven Rembrandt did not find this composition easy and indeed he changed his mind after painting it. Originally he showed God the Father in the top of the picture receiving Jesus with outstretched arms, but x-rays show that he eventually removed this and placed a dove. Instead the link between heaven and earth is expressed by the giant palm tree on the left – a symbol of God’s people from earth to heaven.

Drago Sacramentary

 

If Rembrandt was reticent in showing God at all so were the early artists of the Ascension. But they developed a rather creative way round the problem. For we see not a depiction of God but just the “hand of God”. Have a look at this 9th century prayer book called the Drago Sacramentary. Here the hand of God is physically hauling the ascending Christ up. The onlookers can scarcely see it – for it is not very obvious. WE have to look for it on the top right. But God’s influence is seen by his hand reaching out to his Son.

The hand of God became a popular fascination down the ages, particularly at this time of Ascension but also at the time of creation. We have this most famous painting of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel “The Creation of Adam”. Here the hand of God is just about to touch Adam and give him life. No reticence here about painting God but in it is symbolised the supernatural power of God giving life to his creation. The hands nearly touching at the centre of the picture.

Michelangelo "Creation of Adam"

The concept has strayed far…football fans will remember the so-called hand of God goal – that goal palmed into the net by Diego Maradonna in the 1986 world cup. Yet the concept of the “hand of God” is of great power and imagination not for footballers to win matches by breaking the rules, but for those who wish to involve the creator God in their everyday lives.

Here we start to get close to what for me is the true meaning of the Ascension. God wanting the best for us and wishing us to build his kingdom. For today’s Gospel in its own way illustrates that early ascension understanding of the hand of God. What is Jesus asking of the Father in his farewell discourse but to extend his hand to vulnerable and foolish humanity. Yes, Jesus is praying for his disciples and that means for us also. Far from wanting God to command and control all things and to send plagues upon us he wants him to help frail and vulnerable humanity. He pleads for his followers to the father asking that he will protect them, from themselves from others. That he will send them the light and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. This is the divine power coming close to us, seeking to touch us, enliven and inspire us. This is the hand of God reaching from heaven to earth.

How might this work, for we do not see supernatural hands except on artists canvas? It was left to St Teresa of Avila to remind us that the Ascension means that we must be God’s hands on earth now that Christ has left us. It is a message of supreme practicality made visible in the present challenges of today’s epidemic by so many.

And so let us look at St Teresa and let us say her prayer together.

Rubens "St Teresa of Avila"

“Christ has no body on earth now but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on the world; yours are the feet with which he walks to do good; yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.”

Amen.

Ascension Day, 21 May 2020, 8:05pm

Click or tap on the image below to start the recording of the service on YouTube.

Service for Ascension Day

Officiant and Preacher:

The Revd Stephen Griffith

We’re starting at 8:05PM to allow time for people to participate in the clap for the NHS & key workers & carers if you choose to.

You may like to have a candle to hand for the service.

Music before the service

If you tune in before 7.58pm you will hear
• Prière du Christ montant vers son Père (movement IV from L’ascension) by Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) – played by Keith Wright

Music during the service

• Prière by Jean Langlais (1907-1991) –  played by Keith Wright

Music after the service

• Heut’ triumphieret Gottes Sohn by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) – played by Max Elliott

Easter 6, 17 May 2020

Click or tap on the image below to start the recording of the service on YouTube. The YouTube Live Chat opens from 10:15. There is music from 10:25 and the service starts at 10:30. If viewing later, on replay, please move the video forward 10-15 minutes to the start.

Easter 4 Eucharist

Celebrant and Preacher:

The Revd Canon Dr Malcolm Grundy

If you have your own bread, you are invited to break and share it as a gesture of fellowship and agape.

Music before the service (from about 10.25)

• Canzonetta by William Mathias (1934-1992) – played by Max Elliott.

Music during the service

• Elevation (from the Mass for the Convents) by François Couperin (1668-1733) – played by Keith Wright.

Music after the service

Organ Voluntary
• Prelude on O Filii et Filiae by Healey Willan (1880-1968) – played by Max Elliott.

St Olave’s Virtual Choir

We are delighted to welcome the St Olave’s virtual choir back into a regular slot leading our singing of Thorne’s arrangement of the Sanctus and Benedictus. Thanks to Keith, Jude, Kat and all the members of the choir who took part!

 Speechmaking and Slogans – The Sermon for Easter 6

by The Revd Canon Dr Malcolm Grundy

Speechmaking has to be the theme which springs out from our readings today. We have speeches from St Paul given us by St Luke and by Jesus given to us by St John. We have all heard speeches that can be inspirational – or a great turn-off.  Just think of the ‘I have a dream’ speech by Martin Luther King. It was not only great but gave a much-needed vision. Slogans are also very much in the news – ‘Stay Home’ replaced by ‘Stay Alert’ meaning whatever our common sense tells us it means. In our current situation we can adapt another familiar slogan and say ‘A church which prays together stays together’ because that is just what we are doing in these very participative services at St Olaves.

We have come a long way together since Palm Sunday. Paul’s speech shows just how far these first believers had come since the discovery of the empty tomb. They too were trying to link the local events which they knew about to the bigger picture which they were only just beginning to understand about the nature of God’s Kingdom. 

Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on so many communities. People have lost grandparents, parents and children, uncles, aunts, sisters and brothers, friends and workmates. One journalist has written this interesting almost theological comment about our lock-down:

Freed from the need to talk about work, or sport, or where we’ve been out to eat, we can actually discuss things that matter, or enquire after each other’s welfare, or, heaven forbid, talk about our feelings.

The first church ‘historian’ was St Luke and it is his account of St Paul’s speech which we have as our epistle. In this speech – given in Greece at the Court of Areopagus – after a flattering introduction, Paul goes on to say that this intervening God lives not in human shrines which can trap our imagination but is the creator of the whole human race and we find Him deep within ourselves. That is what every grieving community needs to hear.

The events of Holy Week and this Easter season are the story of a grieving community which was just learning to talk about its feelings. St John gets it just right when he reminds us that Jesus said he would ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit who would plead as Advocate to the Father.  The word he uses is Advocate so that we can be sure God will hear our prayer. But he also calls it the Spirit of Truth. Meaning what we really need will be what is really asked for.

Critics say that Luke was writing in the style and shadow of classical historians. We know that it was far from unusual for them to write the speech which their heroes might have made! In this case I am sure that is only part of St Luke was doing. The events are too close in the community memory to permit over-imaginative reconstruction.  

The ideas which both writers share span the centuries. Bishop John Robinson in the liberating but controversial book Honest to God – highlights another memorable phrase – the theologian Paul Tillich said we know God now ‘in the depth of our being’. Such an important spiritual concept speak to us in a new way especially when we cannot find or worship God in our own buildings.

I have listened to a great number of sermons and speeches over the years. Like many of you, I have forgotten most of them. Relevant to our current situation as we await a new vicar, two come to mind for me.

At Induction or licencing services, I have encouraged bishops to use the Parish Profile as a basis for their sermon. My best memory of this is by Bishop Gordon Fallows at St Mark, Broomhill in Sheffield. He just said – ‘you have asked for at least seven impossible things in the profile. Here are three I think you and your new vicar can achieve’. In his speech afterwards the new vicar thanked the bishop, saying that in his sermon he had done his first year’s work for him!

My second ‘best speech’ comes from when, with others, I launched the new Foundation for Church Leadership at King’s College in London. Archbishop Rowan gave a brief lunchtime speech saying the good church leader will know their people. But he put it rather better than that. Drawing on St Augustine he said the church good leader must be able to ‘Listen to the heartbeat of the Body of Christ.’

Like those examples and the ‘I have a dream’ speech there has to be believable content alongside the oratory. The person delivering the speech has to be credible – to lift a slogan from my youth, from Marshall McLuhan, ‘The medium is the message’!

The forthcoming festivals of Ascension and Pentecost will unpack more of the experience of the early church for us. Today we have these two speeches. First the content of Paul’s speech; that in Jesus, God comes close to us especially in grieving or challenging times and is the care-taker of the whole human race. The second is no accident. St John and those who have known anxiety and failure through the centuries had a special name for the sense that God has come close. A new face of God emerges from them but for us – The Holy Spirit who St John also calls – the Comforter.

Click or tap on the image below to start the recording of the service on YouTube.

Service for Easter 5

Officiant and Preacher:

The Revd Stephen Griffith

If you have your own bread, you are invited to break and share it as a gesture of fellowship and agape.

The Revd Stephen Griffith

Music before the service

If you tune in before 10.30 you will hear
• Allegretto in B minor Gerrit Jan van Eyken (1832-1879), played by Max Elliott.
• Chant de mai Joseph Jongen (1873-1953), played by Keith Wright.

Music during the service

• Offertoire pour une messe de la Sainte Vierge AndréFleury (1903-1995), played by Max Elliott.

Music after the service

Organ Voluntary
 • Christ lag in Todesbanden Georg Böhm (1661-1733), played by Max Elliott.

Easter 4, 3 May 2020

Click or tap on the image below to go to the service on YouTube.
The YouTube Live Chat opens from 10:15. There is music from 10:23 and the service starts at 10:30. If viewing on replay, please move the video forward 7-15 minutes to the start.

Easter 4 Eucharist

Celebrant:

The Revd Sue Rushton

Preacher:

Janet Fox, Reader

If you have your own bread, you are invited to break and share it as a gesture of fellowship and agape.

Before music before the service

As a bonus this week… to mark International Dawn Chorus Day (Sunday 3rd May) you can hear the sounds of an early(ish) spring morning in St Olave’s Church gardens.

Music before the service

If you tune in at about 10:23 you will hear
• Psalm-prelude, Set 1 No 3 (Psalm 23, v 4)  Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
performed by Keith Wright.

Music during the service

• Chanson de la Vierge Pensive: an aria for organ Andrew Carter (b 1939) played by Max Elliott.

Music after the service

Organ Voluntary
 • Prelude and Fugue in C minor, BWV 549 J S Bach (1685-1750)  performed by Max Elliott

Click or tap on the image below to start the recording of the service on YouTube.
The replayed YouTube video begins with silence while the congregation greeted each other using YouTube live chat – please move the video on by 10-15 minutes to reach the beginning of the service.

Eucharist for Easter 3

Celebrant:

The Revd Canon Derek Earis

Preacher:

The Right Revd Glyn Webster, Bishop of Beverley

If you have your own bread, you are invited to break and share it as a gesture of fellowship and agape.

Music before the service

If you tune around 10:25 you’ll hear –
• Adagio (from Symphony No 3) by Louis Vierne (1870-1937) performed by Keith Wright.

Louis Vierne was a blind organist and composer. A pupil of César Franck and Charles-Marie Widor, he served as Organist at Notre-Dame in Paris from 1900 until his death (at the organ console) in 1937. His six organ symphonies are monuments of the repertoire, but include some smaller-scale movements such as this, which evoke the sound-world of his contemporary, Claude Debussy.

Music after the service

Organ Voluntary –
• Agnus Dei I from the Mass for the Parishes by François Couperin performed by Keith Wright.

Couperin’s two ‘organ masses’ are rare written-out examples of an improvised musical form, in which phrases of the plainsong melodies for the ordinary of the mass were elaborated upon by the organist, and played instead of those phrases being sung. This piece is part of the concluding section of the mass, using the melody of the first petition of the Agnus Dei (heard in the tenor and then the bass), and probably played as recessional music in Couperin’s time.

Low Sunday, 19 April 2020

Click or tap on the image below to start the recording of the service on YouTube.
The replayed YouTube video begins with silence while the congregation greeted each other using YouTube live chat – please move the video on by 10-15 minutes to reach the beginning of the service.

Low Sunday Eucharist

Officiant and Preacher:

The Revd Stephen Griffith

If you have your own bread, you are invited to break and share it as a gesture of fellowship and agape.

The Revd Stephen Griffith

Music before the service

If you tune in just after 10:20 there will be harmonium music before the service, played by Maximillian Elliott –
• Petit Offertoire César Franck
• Voluntary II in F minor Maurice Greene
• Allegretto in B flat Samuel Wesley

The harmonium used in today’s service was constructed by George Richardson of York during the mid-nineteenth century. Andrew Carter purchased the instrument on 18 August 1971 from Ernest Crampton & Sons Ltd, Toft Green, York.

Music after the service

Fanfare Joyeuse by Andrew Carter was commissioned for Maximillian Elliott by his friend John Morley in July 2019 and completed on 01 March 2020. The piece is in ternary form with exuberant flourishes surrounding a more reflective middle section. Banks Music Publications have now published Fanfare Joyeuse and digital copies can be purchased from their website. Robin Peach kindly brought his excellent audio equipment to St Olave’s Church on 10 March, so that the piece could be recorded in the presence of its composer. By using this recording in our service, Max is able to give a virtual first performance of Fanfare Joyeuse.

Easter Day, 12 April 2020

Click or tap on the image below to start the recording of the service on YouTube.
The replayed YouTube video begins with silence while the congregation greeted each other using YouTube live chat – please move the video on by 10-15 minutes to reach the beginning of the Eucharist service.

Eucharist for Easter Day

For the younger members of the Church Family…

(…or the ‘younger at heart’) Since we can’t enjoy our usual Easter egg hunt around the Church gardens, some eggs have snuck into the film of the service this morning. See how many different ones you can spot! Some of them are quite small! Good Luck!

Sermon for Easter Day

by the Revd Sue Rushton

There is one detail in John’s account of Jesus’ resurrection that has never struck me before in the same way as it has this year. It is that when Mary Magdalene first met the resurrected Jesus, she was on her own. She was separated from the other disciples – their fellowship seems to have fallen apart in the days since Jesus’ arrest and they were all over the place. They had all been at the Last Supper and in the Garden of Gethsemene, but in the three days after that there is no indication at all of them coming together. Their small community was, for the time being, apparently fractured and they are mentioned in the narrative only as individuals, or in small groups.

Now, of course I don’t want to push the parallels too far, but here we are, in 2020, celebrating the greatest day in our Christian calendar, a festival of joy and triumph and hope, with alleluias all over the place. But we are doing all of that fractured, separated, as individuals or in small groups. How strange it is without the real, physical presence of our church family around us. But this is where we are, and this is how we celebrate this year. For coronavirus or not, we do celebrate today – celebrate all the promise that God gives us through the glorious resurrection of his Son Our Lord. These difficult times will pass. We will get our bearings back and return to the relationships and communities that sustain us. And the joy of this day, despite the circumstances in which we celebrate it, is still real, for the new life given to us on this day by God is eternal, changeless, out of time and regardless of circumstance.

That’s not to say, of course, that we are uncaring about the tragedies that surround us. We are all holding in our prayers those affected by this terrible pandemic. It hardly needs saying, but we do remain aware as we celebrate, that our world is suffering on a vast scale. And as always, when our world suffers, our loving heavenly Father suffers too. We are his creation, his children, and in his love for us, our pain is his pain.

In the resurrection Gospel, we heard of Mary Magdalene at Jesus tomb, grieving the loss of the Lord she loved. But when she got to the tomb, the body wasn’t there. And in her shock and fear at finding the tomb empty, she ran back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples. They ran to the garden look for themselves, but not understanding what had happened, they went home, we are told, and left Mary weeping there, alone again.  When Jesus appeared in the garden, Mary didn’t recognise him at first – not until he called her by her name. And in her joy, she moved to touch him. A very natural impulse, but he stopped her ‘Do not hold on to me’, he said. It sounds harsh, but he had to make her understand that everything was different now. His earthly human life was over.

There is a temptation for us, too, to want to cling to the human Jesus. Through the Gospel accounts of him, we learn to love the Lord who lived as man. The familiar stories about his life tell us of one who healed the sick, who preached the good news of the love of God, who taught about the Kingdom in beautiful parables, who gave us a pattern of meekness and humility in the face of injustice and cruelty. But however much we know about the man Jesus, the human Jesus, that makes us love him, it is not enough, for it is still far too limited a view of him. There is more.

We would not, of course, be Christians without the Gospel stories about Jesus – they are vital to our faith – but we wouldn’t be Christians either if that was all we knew. We know more. As Christians, we know, worship and follow not a God of the past, of history, but one that through his Son is present to us now, now in the midst of all we are going through.  What our celebration today gives us is the security of knowing that our Lord is close beside us now as he always is. His ministry today is not limited by time or space or pandemic. By his resurrection, he shed the limitation of his ministry to first century Palestine and a small band of disciples.

Since then, he has been available to all men and women, in all time, free and unrestricted and his universal spiritual presence is no less close, no less real, no less loving that his human presence had been. On Easter morning, he appeared to Mary Magdalene to assure her of exactly that. She mustn’t cling to the past, just as we mustn’t. He is as available to us now in 2020 in York as he was then to her in the garden two thousand years ago. We cant see him, as she did, but we meet him in his spiritual presence – he comes to us, he calls us by name, he makes of us witnesses to his resurrection, witnesses that he is alive today, alive in us, alive in our church, alive in our faith, alive in our worship, alive in our love, alive in our lives, risen and alive in our hearts. Christ is risen, alleluia, alleluia.