Cathedral Reflections

Week Beginning 26th November

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with groanings too deep for words.

When we walk through the Cathedral Close what do we see? The New Testament gives us a view of the world that is not based on appearances but on the action of God. It tells us that when Jesus died, rose again and ascended he was completing the long plan to save the world that was contained in promises to Abraham 2000 years earlier. It tells us that the power of evil has been broken as Jesus has triumphed over it. It also tells us that we must wait to see this victory fully revealed and that in the meantime we should pray about and lament the evil in the world along with the Holy Spirit who utters groanings too deep for words.

Canon Graham Bennett

On November 30th the church remembers Saint Andrew. He was the brother of the more prominent Saint Peter. Scripture suggests that he was more spiritually sensitive than his brother. Andrew is a Greek, not a Hebrew name, so he came from a family open to influence from other cultures and he seems to have been an open-minded person himself. He joined the new movement that followed John the Baptist (John 1:40) but he listened to John’s message that he was preparing the way for someone else and did not settle down into the Baptist’s group, unwilling to move on, as some did. Was Andrew present when John baptised Jesus? Something must have prepared him because, when he heard Jesus speak ,he knew that he had to move on from John’s group (John 1:35-40) to follow Jesus. He was so convinced that he went to his brother Peter with the early insight “We have found the Messiah”(John 1:41).May God grant us the grace to move on with Him and not settle comfortably in the familiar.

Canon Graham Bennett

This week the church holds a Day of Intercession and Thanksgiving for the Missionary Work of the Church. We don't know exactly when the first Christian missionaries arrived in Britain. But England's first church historian, the Venerable Bede reports in his History of the English Church and People that in156, during the reign of Roman emperor Marcus Antoninus, a British king named Lucius wrote to Pope Eleutherus in Rome requesting instruction in the Christian faith. Although this account is disputed, it does indicate how quickly the Good News spread from Jerusalem to Britain because Christianity is a missionary faith that must be shared. Lord God, we pray for those from all over the world who in this day leave their home culture to take the Good News to another country. We ask that today they may be strengthened for the task Youhave given them and be supported in all their needs. Give them wisdom to make good contacts and sensitivity to share the faith in appropriate ways.

Canon Graham Bennett

Week Beginning 19th November

Members of the Cathedral community are busy knitting angels whose presence in the Cathedral will become apparent during Advent! Angels are God’s messengers, pointing us towards God, reminding us of the spiritual dimension of our lives. What does that mean?

 “The spiritual life does not mean a mere cultivation of one’s own soul, poking about our interior life with a torch. It is also intensely social; for it is a life shared with all others…all are linked together in one single response to…God…Here all intermingle, and all, however humble and obscure their lives may seem, can and do , affect each other. Only when we recognise all this, and act on it, are we fully awake and taking our place in the connectedness of the spiritual realm.” Evelyn Underhill.

Janet Bellamy

Today the church commemorates the life and work of Isaac Watts (1674-1748). A Congregationalist minister and theologian, he is best remembered for his prolific hymn writing, including Joy to the World and Oh God our help in Ages Past. Perhaps one of his most loved and powerful hymns like this:

When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of Glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,

Save in he death of Christ my God;

All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them to his blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down;

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were an offering far too small:

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life , my all.

Janet Bellamy

This week people in the USA celebrated Thanksgiving. Originally a harvest thanksgiving it has become a major holiday and a special time for families to get together to share a traditional meal (including turkey and pumpkin pie) in thanksgiving for all the blessings they enjoy.

Here is a traditional Thanksgiving prayer, in words which cross the boundaries of time and place:

We thank thee for food and remember the hungry.

We thank thee for health and remember the sick.

We thank thee for friends and remember the friendless.

We thank thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.

May these remembrances stir us to service

that thy gifts to is may be used for others.


Janet Bellamy

Week Beginning 5th November 
Today the church commemorates the Christian mystic Margery Kempe who was born in King’s Lynn, Norfolk in the late 14th century and was a contemporary of Julian of Norwich. She was a mother of 14 children and throughout her life there was always the tension between being a wife and mother with her domestic chores and her life with God. She received many visions, several of them with the Holy Family, the most regular being of the crucifixion. She seems to have been favoured with a consciousness of close communion with Christ for long periods. She was blessed with the gift of tears and in later life she went on several pilgrimages to many holy places including Walsingham, Canterbury, Compostela, Rome and Jerusalem.
She recalls her life in her autobiography “The Book of Margery Kempe” considered by some to be the first autobiography written by a woman. The book relates everyday life in the late 14th and early 15th centuries.
A prayer
Almighty Father, you have built up your Church through the love and devotion of your saints: inspire us to follow the example of Margery Kempe whom we commemorate today, that we in our generation may rejoice with her in the vision of your glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
(From Exciting Holiness- the collect for Holy Men and Women.)
Jill Talbot - Ponsonby
Week Beginning 29th October
Today the Church celebrates All Saints Day, a day to give thanks to God for the countless lives through the ages, recognised and unrecognised, which have reflected Gospel values and in doing so brought not only hope but love, truth and faith into the lives of others.
Richard Rohr writes of hope:
“Hope is not primarily for the future, it’s for now! …Hope gives us the capacity to enter into the future on a new way…it takes seriously the many possibilities that fill the moment. Hope sees all the alternatives; it recognises and creates an alternative consciousness. The person who can see the moment fully is never hopeless. Hopelessness is an experience whereby a person’s sight is set in one direction only…we don’t recognise the fullness and possibilities of the moment. We collapse if our one way is taken away from us. That’s the power of the prophets - to recognise that there is always another way for the promise to be fulfilled, another way for Divine Love to reach us.”
That is the experience of the saints; we pray that we too may find hope in the different possibilities God offers.
Janet Bellamy
A prayer for peace in the Holy Land, sacred to the the three Abrahamic faiths, here represented by a Jewish, a Muslim and a Christian boy.
Two peoples, one land.
Three faiths, one root.
One earth, one mother.
One sky, one beginning, one destiny.
One broken heart, one God.
We pray to you: grant us a vision of unity;
May we see the many in the one and the one in the many.
May you, Life of all the worlds, Source of all amazing differences,
help us to see clearly.
Guide us gently and firmly towards each other and towards peace.
(Rabbi Sheila Weinberg)
Janet Bellamy
Week Beginning 22nd October
The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open wide your hand
and fill all things living with plenty.
Psalm 145:16-17
Jo Bennett
Today's reflection on the theme of Harvest is provided by Jo Bennett.
Since in a land not barren still
(Because Thou dost Thy grace distill)
My lot is fallen, blest be Thy will!
And since these biting frosts but kill
Some tares in me which choke or spill
That seed Thou sow'st, blest be Thy skill!
Blest be Thy dew, and blest Thy frost,
And happy I to be so crossed,
And cured by crosses at Thy cost.
The dew doth cheer what is distressed,
The frosts ill weeds nip and molest;
In both Thou work'st unto the best.
Thus while Thy several mercies plot,
And work on me now cold, now hot,
The work goes on and slacketh not;
For as Thy hand the weather steers,
So thrive I best, 'twixt joys and tears,
And all the year have some green ears.
Love and Discipline, Henry Vaughan 1621-1695
Jo Bennett
There are more than 500 historic battlefields in England. Although we can visit many of these sites, (now green and peaceful) where British people have fought and died, at present our country lives in a relatively calm era, so these battles are just part of our history.
In an interview in The Guardian recently, BBC war reporter Fergal Keane quotes a line from the film Apocalypse Now, “Someday this war’s gonna end”, adding “ – it’s true, and it needs to end in such a way that it doesn’t become the seed of future conflicts.”
Lord, day after day we pray for peace in Ukraine, in the Sudan and now in the recent flaring of violence in the Israel-Hamas war. We ask not simply for an end to these wars, but we dare to ask for them to end in such a way that they don’t become the seed of future conflicts. This is a huge demand, and only you can make it happen.
We ask in the name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Jo Bennett
Week Beginning 5th October
God our saviour, who sent Paulinus to preach and to baptise, and so to build up your Church in this land: grant that, inspired by his example, we may tell all the world of your truth, that with him we may receive the reward you prepare for all your faithful servants. Amen
Bridget Swan
On of the stained glass windows in Hereford Cathedral shows the journey into Egypt, but it is only part of the story. Stained glass windows were used as teaching aids for those who could not read. Today perhaps they're useful if your mind drifts off during the sermon! What you don't get from one image is the whole story. Is this about the life of Christ, or about Mary? We really need to see more.
Dear Lord, show us the way in. Help us to use illustrations to understand things that are bigger than we know. Guide us on our way to know you better. Amen
Bridget Swan
Some gardeners rather like the colours of dead plants. I would leave seed heads for the birds, but I don't like to look at plants that are past it, they make me sad. These are destined to be replaced. "The flowers wither and the grass fades" are words from Isaiah to remind us of the opposite. God doesn't wither and fade. Neither does his word. We understand about plants going over, but how can we grasp God's everlastingness? Impossible.
Dear Lord, help us to see the invisible, to understand what cannot be understood, and to know the unknowable. We want to know you and worship you for ever. Amen
Bridget Swan

Week Beginning 1st October

Thomas Cantilupe 1218-1282

Hereford’s own saint was our bishop from 1275 to 1282. He was an academic and university lecturer and twice Chancellor of Oxford University during which time he led according to his own upright personal morality. He supported Simon de Montfort in his attempts to regulate the rule of Henry III but does not seem to have suffered much for this in the eyes of the King or his successor Edward I ashe became a trusted advisor to both.

As Bishop of Hereford, he was not afraid to enter into a dispute with the Archbishop of Canterbury and stand his ground so firmly that he was excommunicated. His determination to obtain a just outcome took him on a journey to Italy where he was reinstated by the Pope but then, sadly, died. 

Lord God, supreme over the powers of this world, help us to recognise the areas where we need to be involved in working for change and in striving to encourage righteousness in our society .

Francis of Assisi 1181-1226

Verses 1-5 of the Canticle of Brother Sun are our prayer of praise this week

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, Yours are the praises, the glory, the honour, and all blessing. To You alone, Most High, do they belong, and no man is worthy to mention Your name. Praised be You, my Lord, with all your creatures, especially Sir Brother Sun, Who is the day and through whom You give us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour; and bears a likeness of You, Most High One. Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

William Tyndale 1494-1536

William Tyndale believed it was his Christian calling to translate the Bible into the English language so that it was accessible to all who could read or hear it read. He did this in the face of great opposition from the Church.

John Wycliffe had produced an English Bible in the late C14th but this caused such a religious foment that the death penalty was imposed on anyone found guilty of unlicensed possession of an English translation of the Bible. As is the way with translations, Wycliffe’s work was now out of date due to changes in the English language, so Tyndale set about making a new translation from the original Greek and Hebrew texts which had only recently been re-introduced to the West after centuries of neglect. Failing to obtain permission to translate in England, he moved to the continent and issued his first printed New Testament in 1526. Copies were smuggled into England. Any copies found by the church authorities were publicly burned.

Canon Graham Bennett