Alive again!

Touch Base April 2021: Alive again!

Editor: The Revd Canon Derek Earis



Dear friends,

The theme for this issue of Touchbase is Alive Again. What are we talking about? It’s springtime so the earth is bringing forth all the usual abundance of plant-life, having been dormant over the winter. There are obvious references to Easter, where the heart of the Christian message is that Jesus is alive again, bringing hope for the future to everyone. I wonder how you feel about “alive again” in reference to the Church? I’ve heard various comments in the course of the past year that imply that the Church has gone to ground, gone dormant, disappeared from view. It is as if closing the doors of the building means that all the work of the Church stops. As we know, this is far from the truth – we were here all along, finding a new shape and way of being.

As we begin to move forward out of this latest lockdown, I think we are all hoping for many things to be alive again. These last months have been a struggle for me, and I think for most of you too. Keeping to all the lockdown rules often leaves me feeling held back and constrained – although undoubtedly in a good cause. I’m looking forward to the day when I can feel fully alive again, can walk through the streets maskless and smiling, can see all the shops and businesses re-opening and the life of the city returning. We are not there yet, but we can begin to see the possibility.

It puts me in mind of a line from the musical Captain Noah and his Floating Zoo. Towards the end, when Noah, his family and the animals are released from the ark:
“Gaze about us, blinking in the sunlight. All the earth around is dry.”
What will we discover when we can go out again? What will have changed and what will remain the same? What will it mean for us to be alive again?

With best wishes and prayers for a joyful Easter season,
Revd Liz


One of the many consequences of the Pandemic meant that Touch Base became an “online” parish magazine.  We were very fortunate in that the technical online hosting and presentation was performed by Tina Sanderson, a stalwart of St Olave’s and an expert in this field.  I assumed the editorship in June 2020 at a time when no one else seemed available. 

We developed a themed strategy with an overriding topic for the month and commissioned articles with a request that, wherever possible, they were of a chatty magazine style rather than simply factual.  The various Church websites seemed to be a better vehicle for purely factual information.  At the same time there was to be a continued commitment to using Touch Base to create and foster a sense of identity and mutual support between our various churches.  Contributors should be drawn from all the Churches, giving them sufficient notice.  Each church should be featured at an appropriate time. 

With my retirement at the end of May the position of Editor becomes vacant.  The purpose of this brief article is to see if there is anyone out there who is excited by the possibility of becoming Editor and suggesting monthly topics as well as commissioning articles from people across the churches and more widely still. 

Dear Editor

The Editor will work with Liz, the Priest in Charge, who is co-editor and will discuss forthcoming issues and advise but leaves the day to day work to whoever is appointed.  Are you interested?  If so do get in touch with Liz and let her know.

Derek Earis


This is a collection of meditations and artworks about the Easter characters, mostly written in the first person, for reflection over the Easter period.
Derek Earis


Alive again! Peter
The Denial of St Peter by Carvaggio (1610)

Dear friend,

What a week this has been! It started well enough with the people coming out to welcome their saviour. Everyone had high hopes that this would be the start of the rebellion to overthrow those cursed Romans. Then everything went wrong. He started talking about being betrayed and that I would deny being one of his followers. Of course, we thought he was talking rubbish, there was no way he was going to be betrayed and I certainly would never deny knowing him. How wrong we all were!

Within days he was dead and I had skulked in the shadows and when accused of being one of his followers vehemently denied it. I was racked with guilt. Being, along with my brother Andrew, his first followers and having seen so many miracles and heard so many beautiful words and actually acknowledged that He was the Son of God, how could I have disowned him when he needed a friend? I even hid away on the day he was crucified leaving it to John and the women to witness his awful death.

On the Sunday we were informed by Mary that he was not in the tomb that Joseph of Arimathea had provided. John and I ran down to see for ourselves and it was true, he had gone. Later, when we were all gathered, he came to visit and eat with us. He had truly returned from the dead. I know you will not believe this but it is true; despite all the wrongs I have done him over the course of this week he has returned to us.

As I said at the beginning of this letter, what a week it has been! Every emotion a person is capable of has passed through me. I have witnessed joy at the triumphant entry of our saviour in to Jerusalem, I have lied and hidden away to save myself like a coward, I have suffered grief at the loss of a loved friend and I have experienced ecstatic joy at the resurrection of Him. I go now to do His work and spread the Good News.

In the love and peace of the Messiah,

ALIVE AGAIN! THE TWO DISCIPLES AT THE SEA OF TIBERIUS (John 21) by Revd Kingsley Boulton, Deacon

Alive again! Miraculous Catch of Fishes
The Miraculous Draught of Fishes by Konrad Witz (1444)

So much has happened in the last few days. We thought we had lost our Lord. We were all very distressed and totally confused. But then yes, we saw the Lord. He came to us twice in the house in which we had come together. What a great joy that was, to have him with us again. That was not the end of the story, though.

Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James and John, and the two of us were at the Sea of Tiberias. Peter told us he was going fishing and we agreed to go with him. We didn’t catch anything that night but just after dawn someone shouted from the shore that we should cast our net on the right side of the boat and we would find some fish.  We did so and lo and behold we caught so many fish that we were not able to haul it in. We don’t know why we did not recognize him but Peter did realise that the man on the shore was none other than the Lord himself. He jumped into the lake and swam to the shore but we came in our boat, dragging the net full of fish.

When we got there we saw that a fire had already been lit and the Lord invited us to have breakfast with him. By then we really knew that it was him and did not have to ask. The way he took the bread and the fish was just so typical of him. It was like old times. But would he stay with us? Yes, and no, it turned out. After a rather strange conversation with Peter, this was the last we saw of him as such. But in another sense we were always aware of his presence. We always felt he was with us. This experience of our risen Lord certainly changed our lives for ever and we were so eager to pass on the Good News to others.


Alive again! Cleopas' Journey
The Road to Emmaus by Altobello Melone (1516)

I always find that a good walk helps to clear my head, so I wasn’t sorry to set out on the seven miles home to Emmaus.  We left soon after things had calmed down a bit among our fellow followers after the astounding news about His body not being in the tomb and the reported vision of angels saying that He wasn’t dead at all.  I mean, its three days since we saw Him handed over to the authorities by our chief priests and leaders and saw Him crucified.

The walk would help us sort things out a bit, make some sense of what was going on so we were a bit surprised when, just as we got out of Jerusalem, we were joined by a chap who didn’t seem to have a clue about what had been going on.  It stopped us in our tracks and brought the whole dreadful situation back before us.  I told him about Jesus and all that had happened, about our hopes for the future and our deep disappointment and grief.

Well, he began to take us to task in no uncertain terms and to lead us through a theology lesson that began with Moses and followed up with the rest of the prophets and he certainly knew his stuff.

As we were getting near to home we persuaded him to come and stay with us, at least to eat with us.  That was when it happened – at the table. He picked up the bread, blessed it and broke it. That was the moment.  We knew Him.  He was with us again. Allelujah!

Suddenly everything He had said on our walk together made sense.  How could we not have realised who He was? It’s true we could no longer see Him but we knew He was with us.  Our hearts burned with joy and we were off back to Jerusalem immediately to tell the others. The blessing and breaking of the bread to share took on a glorious meaning for us. It meant hope, understanding and a vision for the future.  May it be that this simple action will carry the same meaning through generations to come.


Alive again! the Three Mary's
The Three Marys by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1910)

We had to get up so early that morning, well before dawn, to collect all the herbs and spices that we needed.  We’d hardly slept that night anyway for the pain of the loss of the Lord we had all loved and served:  the memories of his terrible suffering and death two days before were still so fresh in our minds.  So while it was still dark, Mary, the one from Magdala, and I and several others had gathered what we needed to tend to his cruelly damaged body and hurried to the garden where he had been buried. 

In that early dim light, we weren’t sure what we were seeing until we were right up to the tomb, but when we reached it, we couldn’t believe our eyes – the stone wasn’t in place and when we went inside, the Lord’s body wasn’t there.  You can imagine our shock and our confusion.   And then we saw the angels; they told us that he had risen from the dead.  He was alive!  Our beloved Lord had conquered death and was now really alive.  How we rejoiced!

That was an extraordinary day, and nothing was ever the same again after it.  Once I and his other disciples and followers had realised what it really meant, our lives were changed for ever.  We knew we had to share this amazing news with everyone, for it was too good to keep to ourselves.  He asked us to tell the world about him, and we have tried to do that ever since.

That is why I, Mary, mother of James and Salome, am telling you this today – so you, too can believe in him and know that he died and then rose from death for you.  The light that we saw dawn that day on the empty tomb, drove out the darkness of death and sin and brought light to the whole world, to me and to you.  How we rejoice!


Alive again! Mary Magdalene at the tomb
Christ and Mary Magdalene at the Tomb by Rembrandt van Rijn (1638)

We worried so much about him those last few months, and that last week. I had watch him move toward death. He kept irritating the officials, sometimes more so by his silence. Then he was arrested and killed. You can’t imagine… all that night we told our stories, how we’d met him and how he’d changed us… trying desperately, to understand how someone like Jesus could be dead. We talked and cried and sat in silence.

When first light touched the sky’s edges, we set off through the chill morning air, holding spices to anoint his body. It seemed like a lifetime since Friday.. could it have only been thirty–six hours ago??

As we entered the garden we remembered that the tomb was sealed with a huge rock.. a hundred pounds or so.. what were we going to do?? But we continued… maybe the soldiers take pity on us and help… but we might be associated as a criminal too… but we continued on… we were so weary with grief. All that seemed to matter was to once again be close to that dear body of the one that I loved… Walking through that gray dawn, each step closer towards him… that’s all I thought of…

A bird chirped in the distance. I heard my own breathing… I saw my breath in the morning chill… I heard my footsteps in the stillness, bring me closer to him…

Then we were there and it was all wrong… The stone was out of the way… he was gone!!! I ran sobbing… my tears blinding me… How could this happen?? How could they do this to my friend, my teacher, my beloved… First, the brutal murder… now this desecration! Was it too much to ask that I be able to touch his body, anoint him, and tell him I loved him?

Then the gardener, that silly gardener asks why I’m crying. Why indeed… but then “Mary!”. I know that voice, but he’s so different. And he doesn’t want me to touch him. It’s amazing! It’s awesome! It’s everything he’d told us!

I must run and tell the others… and then we must tell everyone — everyone this amazing miraculous story.


Alive again! Thomas the Apostle
Reassuring Thomas (fragment) by Duccio (1311)

Thomas the Apostle was also called Didymus (“twin”), was with the other disciples when they encounter Jesus by the Sea of Tiberias.

That day started with Simon Peter inviting the disciples to go fishing, fishing by night they caught nothing. By daybreak with nothing to show for their effort, they encounter Jesus as he stood on the beach but were not aware of who he was. He calls to them to go back and try again but this time to cast the net on the other side of the boat and when they did were not able to haul it in because of the large catch. All this happened post-resurrection and the amazing thing is that Thomas was there with the other disciples at the inviting of Simon Peter, who seen to had gone back to his profession as a fisherman. The richness of the images of the story of the empty net as the sun about to rise for the light of a new day and encounter of the Son of God who brings in the light a full overflowing net.

They have breakfast by the shore with the man they now recognize as Jesus.  As the sun rises above the horizon they gather around the fire for a meal, in that meal they talk among themselves.  For most of us, shared meals mean shared conversation, and Thomas most likely be listening to the conversation between Simon Peter and Jesus.  The conversation where Jesus asked Simon Peter if he loves him, free time three times he was asked this.  Maybe Thomas was wondering how he would answer that same question. 

Alive again! Jesus and the fishes

We know from John’s Gospel that Thomas was very devoted to Jesus to the point when the disciples warned Jesus of the Jew’s plan to stone him that Thomas made a bold statement that he was prepared to go with Jesus, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (Jn 11.16) He is a man who feels very deeply about following Jesus but as one who doesn’t like to be confused and needed a clear understanding of Jesus’ teaching, as happened at the Last Supper when Thomas question Jesus about knowing the way to the Father, “How can we know the way?” (Jn 14.5) The incredulous Thomas was a man who wanted not just to know but to see the physical presence of the resurrected Christ, to feel the wounds of the crucified Christ and on seeing, confess his faith, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20.28) 

Now Thomas would be wondering how the three years of following Jesus, the ups and downs, the lows, the highs, the crowds, the healings, the raising of people from the dead, the adventures of faith and mission, the torture, the betrayal, the death, the burial, the resurrection – after all this what next.   The amazing possibilities that he would be part of what Simon Peter been asked to do, to ‘Feed my sheep.’ There was nothing special or spectacular about Thomas, despite his doubt he did have unquestionable faith in Jesus in which people saw powerful evidence of life-transforming power. He was a man that was committed to God and willing to serve selflessly with compassion and that at the dispersal of the Apostles after Pentecost, Thomas went on to spread the gospel to the area east of Syria, and ultimately reaches India, carrying the faith to the Malabar coast, which still boasts a large native population calling themselves ‘Christians of St. Thomas.’  He is revered by the Christian church all over India and by Hindus and Moslems as well.



Click or tap on the Download button to download the colouring page so that you can print it at home and colour it in. Happy Easter!

He is Risen - Easter colouring page


Chocolate Nests
  • Add 100g of butter, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, 50g milk chocolate buttons and 75g of golden syrup in a bowl.
  • Microwave on high for 1.5mins and mix together.
  • Crumble 4 Shredded Wheat over the bowl and mix with rest of ingredients.
  • Place a generous spoonful in each of 12 bun case (the nests).
  • Press the centre of each nest down slightly to form a dip and place 3 chocolate mini eggs in each dip.
  • Chill for 30 minutes before serving.


City Centre Churches

City Centre Churches – An overview

One comment I have had from a few people over the last couple of months is about how little you know about what is happening at the other churches in the City Centre group. I hope that we can have a regular slot here with brief news from each church. Let’s begin by looking at how the most recent lockdown has been for the churches.

All the churches closed for congregational worship at the beginning of January, with each PCC taking the decision by correspondence. From that point onwards, each church had a different approach.

All Saints Pavement

We continued with online services from the church building, streaming to both YouTube and Facebook. Those watching from home were able to take part in services through pre-recording their readings or sermons. A four week series of evensong sermons on Great Preachers through the centuries during Lent proved popular. The congregation were welcomed back on Mothering Sunday.

St Denys

Church activity in lockdown focussed on the weekly email newsletter, along with a commitment that we should join in saying the Peace at the same time each week. A weekly zoom social also took place. Worship in church restarted on Mothering Sunday, following a couple of weeks of twice-weekly opening for private prayer.

St Helen

We continued recording services in the building with the minimum number of people and then uploaded the video later onto Facebook. Worship with a congregation present began again for Passiontide.

St Martin

A small but faithful group of us continued the weekly bible study on Zoom while the church was closed for congregational worship. Mid-week services restarted in the week before Holy Week.

St Olave

The weekly pre-recorded Sunday worship has just celebrated its first birthday. We record the service each week from the homes of various clergy and congregation members. The premiere is on YouTube each week at half past ten and there is usually a lively conversation in the comments section followed by a lengthy Zoom coffee. Zoom was also used for a very well-attended Lent course. Services restarted in the church building on Maundy Thursday.

As we look back on this last few months, I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to keeping the life of the Church going in these parishes. I especially thank our technical people who have given so much time and energy to ensuring that worship can be as accessible as possible and to  everyone who has braved a video camera to contribute. Thanks also to those who have hosted the regular Zoom calls and to PCC members who have coped with online meetings.

Revd Liz


In the coming months, we will be spending time in our PCCs and congregations looking at the materials from Archbishop Stephen and his team about the refreshed vision that we have as a diocese and what it means to live Christ’s story together.

In a nutshell:

As the church of Jesus Christ we have two stories to tell: the story of Jesus’s life, death and resurrection; and the continuing story of what Jesus has done through his church, including what he is doing in our lives now by the power of the Spirit. That’s Living Christ’s Story.

You can see more about what Archbishop Stephen has in mind here ( or watch a video that goes more deeply into how it will affect each of our churches here (

I do encourage all of you to look at these.

Archbishop Stephen

Revd Liz


Following my advertisement for knitters a couple of months ago, a few of us have made a blanket for a single bed.  It has now gone to a refugee family who have recently been rehoused in York. We still have some squares and willing knitters with their needles at the ready, so we have already started on our next edition.  Any offers to join the team would be very welcome!


Knitted blanket



The last full service in All Saints Pavement before the first lockdown was the annual Commemorative Service for Captain Lawrence Edward Grace Oates held on Sunday 15th March 2020.  Following the third lockdown, our first service back in Church with a congregation was held on Sunday 14th March 2021 and this was also the Captain Oates Service albeit on much reduced scale to normal.

All Saints Pavement is fortunate to be the Regimental Church of The Royal Dragoon Guards.  Captain Oates was an officer in the 6th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, one to the antecedent regiments that make up the present day Royal Dragoon Guards.  Oates was one of the members of Charles Falcon Scott’s expedition which reached the South Pole on 17th January 1912, being beaten by Amundsen by 5 weeks.  It was on St Patrick’s Day, 17th March 1912 that Oates sacrificed his own life in order that his comrades might have a better chance of surviving.  A moving extract from Scott’s Diary is read at the service and this year was read by the Regimental Second in Command, Major Charles Mackain-Bemner.  You can listen to the extract here:

The service was taken by Revd David Hobman who is the Chaplain to The Royal Dragoon Guards’ Association and the readings were read by Major Charles Mackain-Bemner and Major Graeme Green, Regimental Secretary.  This photograph shows the Association Standard being recovered at the conclusion of the service:

Royal Dragoon Guards procession

We hope that by St Patrick’s Day 2022 we will again be able to hold a full Captain Oates Service.



See the land, her Easter keeping,
Rises as her Maker rose.
Seeds, so long in darkness sleeping,
Burst at last from winter snows.
Earth with heaven above rejoices;
Fields and gardens hail the spring;
Shaughs and woodlands ring with voices,
While the wild birds build and sing.

You, to whom your Maker granted
Powers to those sweet birds unknown,
Use the craft by God implanted;
Use the reason not your own.
Here, while heaven and earth rejoices,
Each his Easter tribute bring-
Work of fingers, chant of voices,
Like the birds who build and sing.

Charles Kingsley

Sometimes you light upon a poem that speaks volumes in a couple of simple verses. It was as I was looking for something that illustrated ‘Resurrection’ that I came across this one. Not one that I knew at all, and I have to admit that my knowledge of Charles Kingsley went little further than ‘The Water-Babies’.

It initially appears to be purely descriptive evoking the glories of the new growth that comes with spring and drawing a parallel with the Resurrection of Christ from the darkness of the tomb. But when you think about it there are echoes of John 12:24 (the grain of wheat that dies unless buried) and Matthew 10:31 (having more value than many sparrows). However, it is the second verse that adds to the strength of the poem, encouraging us to use our God given gifts in whatever way we can to celebrate the season in whatever way we can – ‘Work of fingers, chant of voices’. But it also points out that we do not have to rely on just our own devices. The line ‘Use the reason not your own’ offers us amazing scope.

It is a simple seeming poem that I am glad I have discovered, which like a lot of verse says infinitely more than a first glance often seems to show. Linking the words to the idea of Resurrection adds to the pleasure of what is written. Read a poem, then read it again – you will be amazed by how much satisfaction this can bring!


TRUE RESURRECTION: BOOK REVIEW by Revd Canon Dr Malcolm Grundy

True Resurrection by H.R. Williams, Mitchell Beasley London, 1972

A spiritual classic revisited

Much of our thinking about the resurrection either takes the form of a discussion about the empty tomb and the events following its discovery or about what happens after we die, and the final judgement comes. So suggests Dr Harry Williams (1919-2006), a priest, Cambridge academic and member of the Community of the Resurrection whose main house is at Mirfield in West Yorkshire. In his provocative introduction he says that much thinking about resurrection, though important, misses a main point and leaves even believers feeling much the same in the weeks after the Easter celebrations as they did before. What he sets out to do is to demonstrate how experiences of resurrection can be – and are – a present reality.

True Resurrection cover

1 The first is the traditional theme of the Resurrection of the Body. He begins with St Paul who described the transformation of our bodies as being like that of a seed planted in the ground which returns and grows with a new body (I Corinthians 15:37). Williams thinks this is something like the difference between body and soul – understandings used from Plato to Freud. He argues that such dualism is unhealthy. He assumes we are one person renewed by allowing mental and physical actions to come together – the desire to win when playing a game, the creative artist or sculptor puts body and mind together in what is being created. The same he says it is for lovers. Williams describes this beautifully, ‘If, therefore the resurrection of the body requires a miracle of discovery – the miracle is that by which I find that I am both more and other than I had previously imagined’ (p. 52).

2 Williams enlarges on that idea with what he calls Resurrection and Mind. He says that we are more than ‘thinking machines’ which can be reduced to the equivalent of a computer. Nor should we consider our mind to be no more than something which produces rational excuses for our actions. His example here is about attending a concert as someone who knows about music. They can become drawn into the performance and be moved by it or they can become a music critic and stand back and analyse the performance. If this is done it would be he says separating parts of our consciousness. Resurrection would be to integrate the two and discover more about ourselves, the intention of the composer and the impact of the present performance on those around us. He uses an example with contemporary relevance in these ‘lock-down’ days. If we try to separate body and mind, or if we try to separate Christianity from everyday life ‘we are wearing germ-proof suits lest we be infected by some toxic quality emanating from what we observe’ (p. 77).

3 The third element of resurrection which Williams explores is Resurrection and Goodness. Here he asks what parts of our identity and beliefs we have to compromise in order to conform to the values and norms of society. Here in a far-sighted way Williams uses the illustration of the United Kingdom. Do we conform to a four-nations integrated and governed view or do we primarily opt for being Welsh, Northern Irish, Scottish or English? He asks in a similar way are we part of a world-wide Christian family before we interpret our beliefs and practices as primarily expressed only within the Church of England? Then he asks us to ask ourselves – are any of these loyalties an allegiance to a ‘dead past’.

4 The final parts of the book address Resurrection and Suffering and Resurrection and Death. Suffering he says can be ‘death-dealing’ and prevented or avoided wherever possible. Williams believes with a passion that body and mind should become integrated. He uses an example of a portrait of an old woman he has seen. It shows a face which has endured a life of hardship and suffering. But when looked at more reflectively shows a wisdom and serenity which no-one can take from her. He suggests that is how we would want to be at the end of our pilgrimage.

Here we have a book which takes contemporary questions and sets them in the context of the wisdom of the ages. He takes human experience and the traditions of society and religion and invites us to see them in new and different ways – to discover a God who has gone before us, who had a world-changing intention in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – and who can take dead traditions and life-sapping sufferings and give them a life full of much more meaning than we could ever have imagined.

I read this book first on its publication in 1972 Its impact has energised my spiritual journey, my social and political opinions, and my desire to encourage resurrection life in our church ever since. The Obituary notice in The Times reminded us that while Dean of Trinity College, Cambridge he was Tutor to Prince Charles. They remained lifelong friends and he named his second son after the disturbing but influential Harry Williams.




The villagers of Oberammergau have just re-started their period of preparation for the postponed production of their Passion Play, opening in May next year.  The barbers of the village have empty salons from now until the end of the play season – all the male members of the cast have stopped shaving and having their hair cut! 

Oberammergau beards
Prominent beards in Oberammergau!

This usually happens every ten years of course. After the 2020 production was cancelled, though, the village had to make the difficult adjustment to the two-year delay, but rehearsals of both actors and musicians are now well advanced and all preparations are in full swing again.

When it is ready, the play will be, as usual, huge.  Hundreds of people can fit on the stage, and sometimes do.  The Gospel story is retold in wonderfully vivid drama, music and images.  It is difficult to describe the power of the experience of seeing it.  It sweeps you up into the events that we all know so well from scripture, so that it feels as if you are there, experiencing them yourself.

Oberammergau Passion Play
The power of the Oberammergau Passion Play

David and I and a group of pilgrims from the City Centre churches and elsewhere, were booked to go in 2020.  Several of that group had to drop out, sadly, when it was postponed, so there are now some places available for next year and new bookings will be welcome.

The pilgrimage holiday, which includes time in a lovely mountainside hotel in Austria, is from 18th to 25th May 2022.  All the details are available in a brochure which I can email to you if you would like to see it.  Do be in touch if you are interested.


The Revd Sue Rushton