Category Archives: News Bulletin

25th April 2019

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Dear Friends

How wonderful it was to celebrate Easter together at St Nick’s on Sunday. It was good to see the church so full at 10.30 and to enjoy such wonderful singing from the choir. How fortunate we were to be able to worship together without fear. But how shocking it was to learn of the Easter Day massacres in Sri Lanka. Gerald and I had a wonderful holiday in Sri Lanka in January this year and it was particularly sad for us to learn of this devastation in places we had visited so recently. How shocking that Christians should have been attacked on the day they were celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The country’s economy is also very dependent on tourism and so many of their people need our continuing financial support just to maintain their very modest everyday lives.

These events were a timely reminder that many Christians are being persecuted worldwide. The Times newspaper leader column on Monday reminded us that ‘Christians are imprisoned in North Korea, are driven underground by the Chinese authorities, and are victims of blasphemy laws in Pakistan. In India they are attacked by ultra-nationalists. In 73 countries they face peril’.

The Bishop of Leeds reminds us that ‘The Christian faith must not be reduced to merely a private security system – a sort of safe spirituality that tries to keep me going and fulfilled while the world around me can go to hell. We live in times when the need to challenge corrupt-but-dominant world views has never been greater in our lifetime’.  There is much food for thought here.    

On a lighter note, the best Easter joke I have seen to date is that ‘Surrexit means Surrexit’.  

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

18th April 2019

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Dear Friends

Last evening Hilary, Ian and I sang Beethoven’s Mass in D otherwise known as Missa Solemnis at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank. I have to say it was one of the most difficult pieces I have ever sung. The notes are not too bad, but you have got to count, because it feels like Beethoven changes the time signature every other bar. Still, if you don’t at first succeed… as the saying goes. In the end I was reasonably pleased with my performance, accepting the fact that in the Credo there is a passage I would defy any amateur singer to get right!  For those in the know it’s the Amen fugue after ‘Et vitam venturi saeculi’ -what a nightmare! Still you come to expect that kind of mania from Beethoven, it is why he is so amazing – he wears his humanity on his sleeve. This week we enter into the drama of our Lord’s last days on earth. Jesus’ humanity is there for all to see. He knows what lies ahead – he might wish it otherwise – but he is willing to fulfil his God given mission to proclaim a new way of living, a new way of loving. From this action of self-offering our relationship with God changed for ever. It also changes the way we relate to ourselves and our neighbours. We are all made in the image of God and you know what that means.

I hope you can join us for this week’s liturgies, by doing so you will enter in a deep and profound way the journey of our Lord to life. This journey is also ours if we are willing to participate.

Pax

Simon

P.S
Believing that we are all made in God’s image has consequences for the way we view our fellow human beings. In the E-bulletin you will find a simple app which helps us to decide if those who are washing our cars are trapped in modern day slavery, I hope you will use it.  


Dear Friends

At Mass yesterday evening our gospel reading was the story of Mary
anointing Jesus with precious ointment at Bethany. In my address I talked about the important role that smell plays in our lives. As I approach St Nick’s I am reminded of beer brewing by the smell coming from Fullers brewery. As I enter the church I smell incense, reminding me of all the prayers offered there.

As we were worshipping yesterday at St Nick’s crowds of people were gathered in Paris experiencing the dreadful smell of smoke, coming from the fire at Notre Dame cathedral. Some in the crowds were watching in stunned silence, others begin singing hymns and praying. Thankfully it seems that
nobody was seriously injured, but the event has left people in France and beyond devastated at this terrible event. We join with others around the world in offering our thoughts and prayers for all those affected by this tragic event, especially at the beginning of Holy Week.

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

11th April 2019

Dear Friends

On Thursday mornings we have both morning prayer and the mass so there is the opportunity to hear lots of scripture. I was particularly struck by two readings this morning and both of them were from John’s Gospel. The first, read at morning prayer, was John’s version of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, it is never read on Palm Sunday, always replaced by one of the stories from the Synoptic Gospels. John’s version is much more direct, much more matter of fact, The Pharisees’ insecurity is there for all to see, Jesus is a direct threat, John 12:19 “Look, the world has gone after him.” He has to be disposed of. 

The second reading came again from John’s Gospel but read at mass. In this reading Jesus says to the crowd “Before Abraham was I Am.’  The crowd would have been aware of the quote from Exodus chapter 3 vs 14, God says to Moses ” I Am who I Am”. Jesus is claiming a link, a relationship with God that nobody had ever dared to do before, no wonder they try to stone him. This is the heart of our faith, it is Jesus’ relationship with the Father. So when God seems remote, incomprehensible, remember look to Jesus, for in his life, his love, his witness we meet with God.

This next week is the most important week in the life of the Church. We reenact in our liturgies the saving acts of God in Jesus, please make these liturgies a priority. There are times and dates in this e-bulletin. 

In Christ

Simon


Dear Friends

Next week is Holy Week and on Maundy Thursday morning, as usual, there will be a Sung Eucharist at St Paul’s cathedral. It is a great occasion, when clergy and people from all over the diocese of London gather to renew their vows. The Bishop of London also blesses the holy oils which are then distributed to all the churches for use during the coming year. The service is open to everyone and no tickets are needed. It starts at 10.30, but if you plan to come I suggest you arrive early to get a seat with a good view of the proceedings.

Many of you will know of the Passion plays performed every ten years in the Bavarian village of Oberammergau. This is to fulfil their vow to God, made in 1634, in thanksgiving for deliverance from the plague that was ravaging Europe. The plays now attract people from all over the world who bear witness that seeing it is an overwhelmingly powerful experience. Father Kevin Morris, vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Bedford Park is leading a pilgrimage to Austria and Oberammergau in September next year and a few of us from St Nick’s have already signed up to go. There are a few places still left so if anyone reading this is interested is joining us please let me know as soon as possible and I can give you further details.

With every blessing 

Mother Eileen  

3rd April 2019

Dear Friends

It was good to have Lord Malloch-Brown as our guest in conversation on Sunday. Good conversation is vital for our mutual flourishing. We might not all agree, but to be able to sit down with one another is important. I hope our politicians can, through conversation, negotiate this impasse we have reached as a nation. It is obvious that we need a mechanism to hear each other, as politicians, individuals and as a nation – there are a lot of very entrenched views out there and some very angry people. Sitting down together with a cup of tea, as our Archbishops have suggested, is moving in the right direction, however personally I think we will need something a bit more formal, a truth and reconciliation commission might sound a bit dramatic, but we will certainly need a mechanism for reconciliation once this is all over. 

Reconciliation in a Christian context is not just about saying sorry, it is much more than that. It is applying the brakes, stopping, considering and sometimes in response to our thoughtful consideration changing direction. Hospitality in a Christian context is recognising the inherent value in each individual. We are called to value people not because of who they are, where they have been or what they do, but simply because they are…made in the image of God and God loves that which he has created. You don’t need to like everybody you meet on life’s journey, but you must recognise that in God’s eyes they do have value.

I’m sure the Church will have a part to play in facilitating our national conversation, when it comes. In the meantime let us pray for ourselves, our nation and those we struggle, or find it impossible to agree with.

Simon


Dear Friends

A few Sundays ago Fr Simon drew our attention to a talk entitled ‘Jesus Christ: The Unanswered Questions’ being given at St Paul’s Cathedral by Rowan Williams. This is one of the many excellent talks organised by St Paul’s and open, free of charge, to anyone who wishes to attend. It is not always easy to give up a whole evening to travel there and listen to these speakers so the cathedral usually uploads onto its website a video of the event within a few days of its taking place.  The talk by Rowan Williams is now available on the cathedral’s website. I commend it to you and you can watch it by following the following link:  

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

27th March 2019

Dear Friends

We are fast approaching Holy Week and Easter, here are a few reminders of services and events which are on the horizon.

DON’T FORGET THE CLOCKS GO FORWARD ON SATURDAY EVENING

The children have been working hard rehearsing their parts for this Sunday’s Mothering Sunday mass at 10.30am. It’s going to be a great occasion and I do hope you will be able to attend to offer your support.

In the evening of Sunday 31st Lord Mark Malloch-Brown KCMG PC will be with me in conversation. Lord Malloch-Brown’s career has been in international relations specifically work at the United Nations. I’m sure it is going to be a fascinating evening, especially when you consider the times we are living in.

As you will see in this bulletin we have a list of times and dates for our Holy Week services. Please do try to make them a priority, our worship and attendance during Holy Week enables us to enter as fully as possible into the mystery of the faith we profess. If you are attending the meal on Maundy Thursday at 8pm please bring along a salad, hot food will be provided.

Our preacher for Holy Week and Easter Day is Fr Bill Wilson. Bill is the retired Vicar of St James Sussex Gardens and an excellent preacher.

Our Annual Parochial meeting will be on Sunday 28 April after the parish mass, this is where we vote for our Churchwardens and PCC members and also hear something of the life of St Nicholas. We will also approve our new electoral roll. The electoral roll is the list of people who are connected to St Nicholas. If you haven’t already done so, please fill in an electoral roll form, or let the office know of your desire to join the roll. 

Please also make a date in your diary for our amazing concert of piano and voice on Friday 26 April. Tickets are selling fast.

Simon


Dear Friends

This week saw the fourth and final week of our Mindfulness course run by Fr Fabrizio Pesce from St Peter’s, Acton Green church. Our course has been well attended and much appreciated by participants. Fr Fabrizio will be running an eight week, more in-depth, follow on course starting in May at St Peter’s and is encouraging us to join. However, if a sufficient number of people sign up, he is willing to run this course for us separately at St Nick’s. Please let me know if you would be interested in attending so that we can get an idea of numbers.

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

20th March 2019

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Dear Friends

Last evening at our Mindfulness class we were asked to consider and practise Mindful Wisdom. The ability to pause, step back, consider and get a bit of perspective before making a difficult decision.  
A very long time ago, when I was 26 years old, I had a difficult decision to make. Did I become a chaplain in the Royal Navy, or did I accept the offer via 10 Downing Street, from HM the Queen, to become the youngest Rector in the Diocese of Manchester. I was struggling, both offers were appealing, both were something of an honour – how to proceed? I went to visit a wise old clerical friend for advice, for another perspective, but also to be helped to stand back from the situation, to pause and put a bit of distance between my thoughts and the decision I needed to make. One of the most troubling aspects of this decision making was how to discern the will of God, what did God want? How would I know his will for me? My wise friend smiled and asked “Normally, how do you know something is right?” I replied “I just get a feeling in the pit of my stomach.”  Well he said “Have you ever considered that this just might be how God communicates decisions to you?” It was something of a revelation, instantly the cycle of ‘should I do this, or should I do that’ stopped. I chose to become the Rector of St John’s Longsight and have never regretted my decision.  I even got invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace, so I could go in my black Levi 501s – under my cassock of course and wander up to a politician I recognised and boldly say to him “I bet there’s only you and me who voted Labour here!” Oh the joys of youth.

God after all has a sense of humour.

Simon


Dear Friends

Last week Father Simon and I joined a group of others from St Michael & All Angels, Bedford Park in a Week of Guided Prayer, which we found fruitful.

I was reminded of this when I came across an extract from an article (shown below) about Etty Hillesum which describes how she gradually developed her relationship with God. 

Etty Hillesum, who died in Auschwitz in 1943, and whose diary was published in a book titled “The Interrupted Life”, tells her story about her gradual discovery about where God resides. In her! She recalls being in Westerbork, which was a camp where 10,000 Jewish people were waiting to be taken away, and she says some incredible words. “It isn’t that I need God; God needs me!” She explains that God needs me to open my heart so that I can receive God into my being and then begin to radiate the presence of God which is the presence of peace, the presence of forgiveness, the presence of compassion.

I hope that some of you are following the Lent readings and reflections that are available at the back of church and are finding them helpful in your own prayer life.

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

13th March 2019

Dear Friends

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We have now embarked on our pilgrimage through Lent. I hope you are finding that material we have made available useful. Our mindfulness course is particularly well attended. Mother Eileen and I are participating this week in a week of directed prayer. It’s a bit like a retreat but at home and in the context of work. Each day we meet with our prayer guide, who supports us with ideas and techniques for prayer. A classic method of prayer is using scripture. It might be useful for those of you using our daily bible studies, who want to take the exercise a little further.
Read the text and read it again slowly. Try to put yourself into the scene, try to notice the characters and the place, what might the scene look like, what might be being said, what might be going on?  Imagine where you might be in the scene? Ask for the grace to encounter Jesus more intimately, to understand his presence in your life more fully. There is no right way to do this, just the way that works for you. 

It would be good to see more of you at our Friday Eucharist and soup lunch.
The Eucharist starts at 12.30pm and the soup lunch, in the parish hall starts at 1pm. The soup is free, but feel free to make a donation towards Crosslight our debt counselling service.

Each Sunday evening in Lent at 6pm we will be praying the Stations of the Cross, it is a short service, whilst we travel with Jesus on his last journey on earth we place our thoughts and prayers in the context of our world and our daily lives.

Remember Lent means Springtime.

Simon


Dear Friends

At Mass last Sunday, when Fr Simon mentioned the fact that we don’t say the ‘A’ word during Lent there were several puzzled looks from members of the congregation (and choir!). This is what he was referring to: 
The omission of alleluia during Lent goes back at least to the fifth century in the western church. The association of alleluia with Easter led to the custom of intentionally omitting it from the liturgy during the season of Lent, a kind of verbal fast which has the effect of creating a sense of anticipation and even greater joy when the familiar word of praise returns. Some churches embrace the practice of physically “burying” the alleluia. This ritual practice is especially delightful and meaningful for children. At my previous church on the Sunday before Lent the children would make a large coloured banner with the word Alleluia on it. They would process it into church and bury it under the altar. Other churches will bury a fabric version in a container their grounds.  We resurrect the alleluia on Easter Day. Hearty congregational singing of multiple alleluias proclaims the resurrection, unleashing pure Easter joy! The Lenten fast has now ended.

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

6th March 2019

Dear Friends

Lent means Spring.  It’s a delightful phrase I came across when I once visited the community at Taize in France, it’s a bit less misery and a bit more joy. Lent is a time when we reaffirm our relationship with God our loving parent. It’s a time when we consider our relationship with God and our community, but always in maturity. We get things wrong, the joy of our faith is that there is always an opportunity for change and transformation. We are not crushed by our failure, but encouraged to look at our life and our relationships in the context of hope. So what ever we choose to do this Lent, let’s make it a source of joy.
Please use the resources we have available.
Our Lent course Grit and Grace is designed to deepen our prayer life, to help us make sense of prayer, even when things get difficult.
Our daily bible readings are available on line or from the back of church.
There are also materials at the back of church which you can use as a family.

Our Lent appeal this year is for Crosslight, our debt counselling service. Although the service relies on volunteers as assistants, it also requires a paid scheme manager which is Michele and we need to make a payments to the central Crosslight board of trustees to cover the cost of training and insurance. Michele has been lucky to source funding streams to help but the PCC has committed to make a contribution of £6,000 this year toward the cost of running the service, our Lent appeal will help towards this contribution.

Simon


Dear Friends

As we start the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday this week I came across this sonnet written by the poet priest Malcolm Guite which I would like to share. I find these words very poignant and worthy of reflection particularly during the coming 40 days..

Receive this cross of ash upon your brow,
Brought from the burning of Palm Sunday’s cross.
The forests of the world are burning now
And you make late repentance for the loss.
But all the trees of God would clap their hands
The very stones themselves would shout and sing
If you could covenant to love these lands
And recognise in Christ their Lord and king.

He sees the slow destruction of those trees,
He weeps to see the ancient places burn,
And still you make what purchases you please,
And still to dust and ashes you return.
But Hope could rise from ashes even now
Beginning with this sign upon your brow.

Wishing you a very blessed and holy Lent.
Mother Eileen

27th February 2019

Dear Friends

Lent is almost upon us, although looking out of the window at the sunshine and warmth and you would almost be fooled into believing we are in the middle of June with Lent and Easter well behind us. Our weather is full of surprises. Lent is full of paradoxes and surprises if you know where to look. Light from darkness, triumph from humiliation and pain. The Christian faith tells us we live by surprises, we increase through letting go, we live by dying, we achieve great things by denying to ourselves. We grow in Lent by following Jesus, in the silence of our contemplation, in the generosity of our almsgiving and in the determination to follow a course of action through. 
This year we have provided a myriad of materials and events to help you grow close to Jesus.

To deepen our prayer life we have our course Grit and Grace. It’s a course we can follow ourselves at our own pace. Through reflection on particular scriptural texts we can grow in prayer and in confidence. You can either have this course emailed to you, or just pick up a paper copy at the back of church.

We have our daily short bible studies which includes a few helpful notes and a couple of prayer pointers. Again we can either email this to you or you can pick up a hard copy at the back of church.
We are very lucky to be able to have Fr Fabrizio Pesce among us leading a course on Mindfulness and Christian Meditation. On Tuesdays in March 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th. In St Deny’s Hall 8pm till 9pm.

Our Lent appeal this year is directed towards Crosslight our own debt counselling service led by Michele Rooney.

Such a wealth of resources I do hope you will all participate in some way.

Simon


Dear Friends

Many of you will have read accounts of the meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England held last week in London. Amongst the various topics of discussion was, perhaps not surprisingly, the ongoing saga of Brexit and recognition of the anxiety being created by the lack of clarity regarding an outcome. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York tabled a motion which was passed by Synod almost unanimously, saying that the voices of the poor and marginalised must be put at the heart of the nation’s concerns. They also urged congregations to take part in five days of prayer as we approach the deadline for leaving the EU.

The Dean of Southwark Cathedral, the Very Reverend Andrew Nunn, has written a prayer for all the cathedrals to use. I have included it below in the hope that we might like to pray it as individuals too. 

God of reconciling hope,
as you guided your people in the past
guide us through the turmoil of the present time
and bring us to that place of flourishing
where our unity can be restored,
the common good served
and all shall be made well.
In the name of Jesus we pray.
Amen.

With every blessing
Mother Eileen

14th February 2019

Dear Friends

It was wonderful to go back to Africa and meet with Fr Elias and his congregation. I think I must have something of the pioneer in me, I just love the wide open spaces of Namibia, miles and miles of bush stretching out before you and the amazing sky, which seems to go on forever. We were very lucky to have Lloyd with us as our driver and guide, Lloyd is a Fourth generation Namibian and he knows the country, its landscape and its wildlife like the back of his hand. There aren’t very many corners on Namibian roads, in fact hardly any, so it’s impossible to say ’round every corner’ there is something new to discover, perhaps it’s better to say every half kilometre, there is a new discovery.  Perhaps we appreciate the vastness of this country because we live in such a crowded city, you can feel a bit lost in the vastness of the space, but once you open your heart and mind, fear turns into joy at the possibility of it all.

Being with Fr Elias again was a special privilege, he has done a remarkable job, he has used every penny we have given him wisely, well and to maximum effect, the exchange rate has helped, but it takes skill, vision and a great community behind you to create a church building out of nothing and frankly with so little money. Of course, Fr Elias would say it was all God’s work, indeed it is and to him we give the glory. Jesus said faith can move mountains, St Simon and Jude is proof positive of this teaching. In our micro managed society, such trust might seem foolish, but with the right vision and belief in the goodness of God, remarkable things can be achieved. Our visit to Namacunde has taught us much.

Simon


Dear Friends

Thursday of this week is February 14th, known to most people as Valentine’s Day. The shops have been reminding us of this for weeks with their offers galore of cards, chocolates, roses and much more besides. Very little is actually known about St Valentine except that he was said to have been martyred in Rome in the third century. The legends associated with this mysterious saint are as inconsistent as the identification of the man himself so he was ‘downgraded’ in the ecclesiastical calendar some fifty years ago.

On February 14th the Western Churches now prefer to keep the memorial of two Byzantine Christian brothers St Cyril (827-869) and St Methodius (825- 885) who were theologians and Christian missionaries. They created the Cyrillic alphabet (named after St Cyril), based on Greek characters, in order to translate the Bible and other texts into Slavic languages and to bring the written word to Christian converts in what is now Russia. The final Cyrillic form is still used as the alphabet for modern Russian and a number of other Slavic languages today. 

So if you are planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day this week perhaps you might also like to raise a glass to St Cyril and St Methodius.

With every blessing
Mother Eileen