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Advent Supper 1

If Jesus was born today, what sort of world would he find?

Advent began early this year in The Chase Benefice with me leading the first of our four Advent Suppers on Wednesday night (25 November).  Twenty-three of us gathered in Chadlington Hall for an excellent meal – it may be a penitential season, but hospitality and fellowship are never out of place! – and around it some stimulating talk on the topic of compassion.

Things got off to a good start with the viewing of an engaging online TED talk by Rabbi Jackie Tabick – ‘The Balancing Act of Compassion’ – this, together with some related suggestions for discussion, got us all talking over our meal.  [You can watch this TED talk and look at the questions we discussed at the end of this post]. Having cleared the dishes, we looked at the story of ‘The Good Samaritan’ and what it has to say about compassion.   On our table (there were four) we thought about what is meant by ‘our neighbours’, the difficulties of acting compassionately now compared to the difficulties in Jesus’ time, and what limits and checks there can be on our responses.  I’d have liked to eavesdrop on the conversations at other tables as well… but at least a short time of feedback at the end meant we had a flavour of what everyone else had been talking about, and out of it came the general agreement that compassion by itself is not enough.  Responding to someone else’s suffering or difficulty has to result in some kind of action on our part.

The next three Wednesday evenings will follow the same pattern of TED talk, meal and discussion, around the topics of empathy, community and welcome.  Next Wednesday Mark will lead with ‘A radical experiment in empathy’.  It will pick up from his sermon following the attacks in Paris.  It promises to be a really challenging and stimulating evening.   There is still time to sign up – don’t miss out! – you can book your place by clicking here.

Marian Needham


25 November 2015

TED Talk – The Balancing Act of Compassion


Some questions for discussion during our meal:-

  • What does having compassion mean for you?
  • Are you able to describe and share a situation when someone showed compassion to you?
  • What boundaries might having compassion lead us to cross?
  • What things stop us from acting on our compassion?

Biblical reflection

Luke 10. 25-37 – The ‘Good Samaritan’

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’

But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’

Questions to consider

  • What was Jesus trying to tell us by having a Samaritan as the hero of the story?
  • What was Jesus saying by having the priest and the Levi as the ones who failed to show compassion?
  • Who are our neighbours today?
  • What things can make it difficult for us to love our neighbours?
  • If Jesus were to be born today, would he find our compassion and love for others any different from 2,000 years ago?
  • Jesus said: ‘Go and do likewise’.  In this story, Jesus challenges our prejudices and encourages us to enlarge our idea of who our neighbour is, and to love in the generous, unconditional way that we have been loved by God regardless of the personal cost or inconvenience. How possible is that today?  How can we be the ‘hands of God’ today?

Advent Suppers 2015

Advent is traditionally regarded as a time of preparation. It presents us with the chance to pause in the increasingly commercialised run up to Christmas and to think about the true message of the Incarnation – of Jesus being born among us.

If the Incarnation happened today, what sort of world would Jesus be born into?  Would we make room for him and what sort of welcome would he get?

These are some of the questions that we will be addressing in our Advent Suppers this year.

The format will be slightly different than in previous years.  We will start at 7 pm [prompt start please!] with a short 18 minute video presentation. Then, over a delicious supper with a glass of wine, we will discuss some questions raised by the presentation. After the meal, there will be some reflection on a Biblical passage and a few further questions to open out the discussion.  The evening will draw to a close with a suggested action that people might want to want to take away and time for a plenary to share reactions.  We will be away by 9 pm.

The Suppers will be held in Chadlington Memorial Hall from 7 pm to 9 pm on the following Wednesday evenings:

November 25th
December 2nd, 9th and 16th

For catering purposes it is important that you book a place now – please do so by clicking here or leaving a message on 01608 676572.

Details of each of the talks will be posted each week – if you subscribe to this blog you will be sent an email to tell you when they are added.

We shall remember…

At our Remembrance Day service in Spelsbury Church today, we dedicated a ceramic poppy from the 2014 Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red commemoration installation at the Tower of London.  It was given to Caroline Williams by her son William who served in the First Gulf War and it was dedicated to the memory of Caroline’s grandfather, Major David Cuthbert, who was lost in action at the Battle of the Somme.

During the service it was placed on the Altar in front of 63 candles, representing the 63 men and boys from the village of Spelsbury who fought in the Great War – many of whom didn’t return.


Welcome Marian!

A new chapter in the life of the Chase Benefice opened today with the Licensing of the Revd. Marian Needham as our new Associate Priest.  St. Nicholas Church, Chadlington was full as members of the Benefice gathered with clergy and laity from the Deanery and some of Marian’s family and friends as she began her ministry amongst us.

The service was conducted by the Rt. Revd. Colin Fletcher, Bishop of Dorchester and Acting Bishop of Oxford, in the presence of Mr. Rod Walker, DL, representing the Lord-Lieutenant of Oxfordshire.  The Benefice Choir, directed by Rosy Nixon and accompanied by Jill Greer on organ and piano, helped to lead the worship with beautiful music and set the tone of the service with a prayerful Introit by Hildegard of Bingen, the Twelfth Century Abbess, whose Feast Day we remembered.

After Marian was Licensed, she led the congregation with the
following prayers:

Let us pray for each other, and for the world

Today we have celebrated the life of Abbess Hildegard, a woman renowned, and sought out in her own time, for her vision, spiritual gifts, and wisdom.As we begin a new stage of our own journeys in faith together, let’s remember those that have inspired us with their vision, encouraged us, and been our travel companions along the way.

We give thanks for the Christian ministry and witness in our lives that has brought us together at this time and place.  In a moment’s silence, let us remember the churches, and communities where we have worshipped in the past, and those special people whose faith and ministry inspired our growth as Christians.  (Pause)

Loving God, we thank you for the guidance of those who have accepted our questioning, helped us to learn from our reflections, and walked with us on our spiritual journey.  We pray for the gifts of wisdom and vision that we in turn may play our part in building up the body of Christ which is your Church.

Lord, in your mercy: Hear our Prayer

God of peace, we pray for those who undertake dangerous journeys in search of safety and peace because of war in their home countries.  We pray for innocent victims used by others in the pursuit of their own interests.  May there be a deep compassion and generosity of response within the wider community, and desire on the part of world leaders to seek lasting solutions.  May hearts that have been darkened by violence discover a different light and a new vision.

Lord, in your mercy: Hear our Prayer

We ask for your healing for all those who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, and again in a few moments of quiet we remember any individuals particularly on our hearts and minds tonight.  (Pause)

Lord, in your mercy: Hear our Prayer

Generous God, we look to the future and ask for your blessing on our Benefice and on our community.  Through your Holy Spirit inspire each of us in our individual ministries, encourage us to grow stronger in faith together, and to be a blessing to each other and to all our neighbours in Christ.

These things we ask in the name of your Son and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.   Amen

It was a truly wonderful occasion and the celebration continued after the service with some delicious canapés and a bottle or two of wine!

You can find a copy of the service booklet here.

Thank you to all those who made it such a special evening. Welcome to the Chase Benefice Marian and Chris!