Sharing through time and space

A man leading a camel along the top of a hill in the arid landscape between Jerusalem and Jericho.

З Новим роком i З Різдвом Христовим! That’s Ukrainian for Happy New Year and Happy Christmas!  

Our twelve days of Christmas came to an end on Friday but in Ukraine’s Christmas has just started!  There Christmas Day is celebrated on 7th January, although since 2017, Ukraine has had a public holiday on 25th December to celebrate Christmas then too — it reflects the shared culture and faith of Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Western European Christianity in Ukraine.

I’ve been reflecting on the sharing of cultures, faith and presents a lot this past week and, perhaps because today is Epiphany, the Magi have been prominent in my thoughts.

Epiphany is the day when we remember and celebrate them arriving in Bethlehem to give their gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold to Jesus.  Which is why, for some, it is only now that these astronomers from the East are placed in their nativity sets to complete the picture.  But arriving as most Christmas decorations are packed away feels, to me at least, somewhat anticlimactic. Their arrival to the party though, brings to mind the sharing of life — not least the long and challenging journey that the Magi share with Ukrainians who traveled to find safety and shelter here in Somerset. 

Christmas and Epiphany share the celebration of Emmanuel: God sharing His life and love not just with the Magi but with us in Somerset, Ukraine and beyond.  God also shared the experience of tough journeys through time and space with all of us too — Jesus, Mary and Joseph became refugees themselves as they fled from a tyrant bent on their destruction.

Reflecting on that has left me thankful that God shares His love and hope on our journeys through life, whether they are journeys of sorrow or joy.  But it also makes me thankful for the sharing of life and love between Somerset and Ukraine too.  And it feeds my prayers that we all will be blessed with sharing hope, peace and justice in the year ahead.

This reflection was originally broadcasted on BBC Radio Somerset on 8th January 2002 (2 hours 12 minutes into the programme).

An exercise in brevity and thanks

I was asked to give a short homily for a service the Chaplaincy of my local hospital produces for hospital and local radio. For various reasons it needed to be short, but also be helpful and meaningful to the hospital patients lives in particular, but also to those who might listen in from further afield. It became my own little act of thanks for Queen Elizabeth II. Here it is.

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Light into and out of the darkness

Image: The body of a Ukrainian civilian is lifted out of a mass grave near Bucha, Ukraine. Photo © Alex Kent:

Like many I have been haunted by the atrocities, the evil and the darkness that has come from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, both that which began on 24th February 2022 and that which began in 2014. When we are experiencing moments of pain and darkness it can be difficult to see the blessings, the hope and the joy of Jesus. This Easter I preached the sermon below looking at how Jesus took His light into the darkness but brought it out too. I hope you find it helpful.

Rev’d Andrew Avramenko, 17th April 2022

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Undermining the Devil’s Foothold

A sermon inspired, in part, by the Lectionary readings for 8th August 2021: John 6:35, 41-51 and Ephesians 4:25-5:2

In August the lectionary presents a series of Bible readings Jesus as the bread of life, something that immediately brings to mind some knowledge my father once passed onto me.

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Hope from the silence

This is my sermon for Easter Day on Sunday, 4th April 2021 for my curacy churches, both online and in-the-garden. A link to the digital service containing this sermon is at the bottom of the page.

Mary Magdalene sees the Empty Tomb of Jesus is a photograph by George Pedro

“They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”  

Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!  Now don’t tell anyone about it.  Does that sound strange or familiar to you?

Up until this point in Christ’s story, Jesus had instructed people not to tell anyone of His miracles.  They had done the opposite.  Finally, at the empty tomb, people are told to tell of a miracle, Jesus resurrected, and they again do the opposite!  Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, and Salome fled and were silent.

This Easter we could be forgiven for remaining in the shock, silence and isolation of the pandemic.  We could be excused for finding ourselves rooted to the pain of Good Friday.  We could be excused for remaining in the numbness, comfortable or not, of Easter Eve — remaining in our grief for who and what we have lost.  But this year we need the realised hope of Easter, the hope that fills the silence, the hope of our resurrected life that Christ gave and gives us.  Hope.

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God is a DJ – an ‘alternative’ playlist for Lent

updated every day in Lent

I love music, particularly like finding songs that unintentionally steer me towards God, whether that be through a comforting or provoking title, lyric or tune. And in 2021 I decided to use my love of music to explore Lent as a musical and spiritual devotional exercise.

Each day through Lent to Holy Week and Easter Monday of 2021, I posted on Twitter a link to song on, and using the character limit available to explain why I’ve chosen that song and what its connection is to Lent for me.

I set myself a few ground rules to encourage me to explore and find God in the musical world around me: it has to be music that I have and listen to; to try and avoid including an artist/musician/band more than once; to try not to use Christian worship songs explicitly written about Jesus, Lent, Easter, and so on (it’s not that I don’t like or listen to them, I do!).

The playlist is listed below with links to the songs and with explanations for why I think they are relevant to Lent, but if you want to listen to the whole playlist you can click on the video below to start playing it, or access it on YouTube via this link.

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Christmas is a flavour

A night sky with many stars visible
Travelling home under starlit skies once Christmas Eve had turned into Day.

Christmas has a very specific flavour and texture for me, it is that which comes from a Raspberry and Almond Pavlova (the fruit mixed into whipped cream on top of a soft and chewy meringue flavoured by an essence of the nut).

I don’t know who made it first in my family but it came into my life through my Granny. When she was unable to make them for Christmas anymore the mantle was passed onto my Mother. When she could no longer make them I took up the honour.

Today I took one to my mother and brother, then stood outside and wished them a happy Christmas through an open window. She might be imprisoned by an illness but her true self and beauty still called out, as did the love of my brother’s care for her.

The Light of the World didn’t come from the sun in the skies above my head but from the room beyond the window I spoke through. Amidst the darkness of this year, I was glad of that.

Midnight Communion, bridging the gap between Eve & Day, amplified the darkness through the absence of those unable to be present to hear the choir sing of the Light born into it. This morning the choir amplified the light brought by the new day, by this new day, by the birthday of Emmanuel. God was, God is, God will be with us in both the dark & the light. Our darkness might continue but we are not alone within it, we are with a Light it can’t overcome.

There is much wrong with the world right now but I am grateful for the Light illuminating the blessings that would otherwise be missed. Today it helped me notice the blessing of a flavour, of a memory, of people & of finally finding my place & purpose in life.

Today I’m thankful for the Light.

Ordination in a Pandemic

The 2020 Deacons of Diocese of Bath and Wells with Bishop Trevor outside Wells Cathedral

Amidst the many things to grieve and lament during the pandemic there have been some blessings to celebrate. One of these blessings has been seeing many churches embracing technology to broadcast services. These have enabled those who could not be in a church to be there. Some have been interactive and allowed people to participate fully within the service, some have enabled people to add comments to the service as it happens and afterwards, and some have been presented to be watched and used for worship at a time that suits the watcher. I reflect on this often on my Twitter account, and intend to write a blog post on it in the future.

The pandemic caused the ordinations of Priests and Deacons at Petertide (June/July) to be cancelled. There were rescheduled for Michaelmas (September/October) once ways of conducting them safely had been found. In the meantime those who had been due to start their curacies as Deacons were licensed to start them as Lay Workers until the ordinations could take place.

Both the licensing and ordination services were broadcasted online. It is fitting that they be included on this blog, a blog that has shared the journey from initial wonderings about a calling to ordination to being ordained with the online community.

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New Kid on the Block

On the sidelines

Standing on the wide open playing fields, amidst the markings of a football pitch, I realise something is amiss. For many such places are a source of joy: the source of cheers and whoops as the ball gets kicked from one goal to another. Yet as I stood there I felt the desolation beyond that which was brought on by the looming thick grey clouds above me. For me the football field is a place of sorrow, a place of hurt, a place of loneliness. 

Football was one of the main sports at school. It was also a sport I sort to find my way into a community as I moved from place to place. There were moments of joy: finding myself playing in my favourite position at right midfield, just like my football hero Kenny Daglish, collecting the ball from the defence and then delivering it to the striker near the goalmouth. But overwhelming the joy of football is the sadness associated with it: the memory of being left out in the cold of the sidelines.

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Would have, will have

Wells Cathedral, where I ‘would have’ been today.

Today was supposed to be when a time away from my family came to an end; a time when I would have finished a Retreat (a focused quiet time contemplating, praying and listening to God) and I would be walking from the Bishops’ Palace in Wells towards Wells Cathedral. I would have been wearing a cassock and a surplice, and carrying a stole in my hands as I walked through the doors of the cathedral to see my family sitting there, along with hundreds of other people. I would have taken a seat in view of the altar, and the service that would have see me ordained would have begun.

Would have.

The ordinations cannot happen today.

Today, the cathedral lies empty.

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