Category Archives: News Bulletin

11th July 2019

Dear Friends

It was wonderful to welcome the Bishop of Angola, Bishop Andre, to our Saturday evening gathering celebrating our link with the parish of St Simon and St Jude, Namacunde. As part of our welcome the children sang a short hymn of praise, even managing to do so in Kwanyama. A huge thank you to Hilary, Nick, Susan, Heather and Harriet for arranging everything, for cooking such delicious food and decorating the church with banners purchased from the town of Okahanya, just a couple hours drive North from Windhoek.

Over the years we have achieved so much. Following our first visit to Namacunde in 2009 we helped the parish purchase enough land to be able to build a church. We have supported Fr Elias in his ministry, specifically by helping him to repair his rather old 4×4. In partnership with the Dioceses of New Hampshire in the US we have supported the training of local volunteers to help spot malnutrition in young children and to be able to take appropriate action, this programme operates alongside the local malaria programme, begun in Namibia, so we have also been supporting this vital area of work. Finally we have provided enough funds for the parish to build its longed for church. It was such a joy to be able to visit the parish again, to celebrate with them in this new church building. As for the future who knows. I know the parish would like to build some classrooms in the bush to support the education of children who live in isolated rural communities without access to schooling.

However, as amazing as this all is, the real reason for our link with Namacunde is the developing fellowship of two pilgrim Christian communities learning what it means to be disciples of Christ in very different parts of the world, with very different outlooks on life. The soon to be Saint John Henry Newman’s personal motto chosen when he became a cardinal is appropriate here. “Heart speaks unto heart”  I pray that our link may continue to foster such love and community that we may all grow in the Love of God made visible in Jesus our redeemer.

Simon

3rd July 2019

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Dear Friends

It was wonderful to welcome Francis Ames-Lewis as a guest at last Sundays ‘In Conversation’ evensong. For those of us who were able to attend the evening it was a truly memorable occasion. A huge thank you to Francis for agreeing to participate.

I’m afraid Mother Eileen and I will not be around in the parish this week and are bidden to attend an Area Clergy Conference at the Hayes Conference Centre, in Swanwick, Derbyshire. The conference begins later today and ends on Friday. We should be home for 5pm – London traffic permitting. This is something like the fifth conference I have had the pleasure of attending, always at Swanwick. I remember my first conference, it was in 1988 and our key note speaker was the brilliant German theologian Jurgen Moltmann. He began his first lecture by explaining that this was the second time he had had the pleasure of staying at Swanwick. The first time was when he was a prisoner of war!  I rest my case.

Simon

27th June 2019

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Dear Friends

Last evening I joined many others for a wonderful evening singing through Ralph Vaughan William’s amazing Sea Symphony. It was R.V.W’s first and longest symphony, composed between 1903 and 1909, putting to music the words of Walt Whitman. I first sang it in 2011 at the Royal Albert Hall. I don’t think there there is a piece of music composed that evokes so completely the majesty of the sea, than the first movement of this symphony.  Later in the symphony we sing –

“We too take ship O Soul;,
Joyous we too launch out on trackless seas,
Fearless for unknown shores on waves of ecstasy to sail,
Amid the wafting winds (thou pressing me to thee, I thee to me, O soul).
Caroling free, singing our song of God,
Chanting our chant of pleasant exploration.”

The whole piece was still in my head when upon returning home I watched on Catch Up TV Prof Brian Cox remarkable series of programmes on the planets of our solar system. Incidentally Prof Cox’s parents lived in my last parish so I saw them and him occasionally in our local watering hole. That we have visited every planet in the last 50 years is an amazing achievement. When people ask why we do it, our answer must always be because they are there. As a race we are born to explore, to discover, to move beyond the confines of our comfort zones into the unknown and by our exploration grow and develop. The day we stop exploring is the day it all stops.

‘Sail forth – steer for the deep waters only.
reckless O Soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me,
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.
O my brave soul!
O father, father sail!
O darling joy, but safe! are they not all seas of God?
O father, father, father sail!’

Simon


Dear Friends

This Saturday the Church celebrates the Feast of St Peter and St Paul and in our Diocese of London on that day 49 ordinands will be ordained as deacons in St Paul’s Cathedral.  We pray for them, their families, and the parishes in which they will serve.

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

20th June 2019

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Dear Friends

It will not surprise you to know that I loved my visit to Chicago. It was great to stay with Rev’d Jackie, to see her and worship in her church. There is some history to the city, all of course from the 19th Century. There was a great fire, and following the fire the opportunity to rebuild, but unlike London where the medieval street system was retained, the good people of Chicago decided to modernise the city, which was an inspired decision. Apparently some of its older skyscrapers were used in the Batman films – certainly some of the city’s buildings do look quite Gotham City like, especially the old Chicago Tribune building which is now being converted into apartments – see the photo – now I would love to live there! There is another aspect of the city which is Gotham like and that is its streets. When you walk along many of Chicago’s main avenues you get the impression that you are walking at ground level, but in fact you are not and there is a complete, other subterranean city beneath your feet. It’s darker, a bit more edgy and certainly not a place you would want to be visiting at night. Often in life we can be blinded by the charade of the bright and exciting, only to miss the dark underbelly, the real terra firma. Chicago taught me to look with more inquisitive eyes, to be prepared to look beyond the obvious. 

Simon

Incidentally, we really could do with more volunteers to help with serving at the 10.30am Parish Mass. If you would like to be involved in this important ministry, please talk to me. You will be well trained and there is a great group of dedicated servers who will support you.

12th June 2019

Dear Friends

It was a great joy to have Children’s Church remain in our 10.30 Mass all the way through the service last Sunday. We were grateful to them for reading our first lesson and leading our intercessions, celebrating the great Feast of Pentecost. In my homily I invited the congregation to reflect on symbols associated with the day. To follow up on this I reproduce below, with his permission, a sonnet entitled ‘Our Mother-tongue is love’ by that wonderful priest and poet Malcolm Guite. It is taken from his book of poetry ‘Sounding the Seasons’ and reflects on the four themes of fire, air, water and earth. 

Today we feel the wind beneath our wings
Today  the hidden fountain flows and plays
Today the church draws breath at last and sings
As every flame becomes a Tongue of praise.
This is the feast of fire,air, and water
Poured out and breathed and kindled into earth.
The earth herself awakens to her maker
And is translated out of death to birth.
The right words come today in their right order
And every word spells freedom and release
Today the gospel crosses every border
All tongues are loosened by the Prince of Peace
Today the lost are found in His translation.
Whose mother-tongue is Love, in every nation.

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

6th June 2019

Dear Friends

On Tuesday evening Fr Alan and I took part in the service at St Paul’s cathedral to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ordination of women to the sacred priesthood. It was good to see some members of St Nick’s in the congregation to support us. The service was moving, with several women describing briefly their varying experiences of serving as priests in the London diocese.

At Morning Prayer on Wednesday our New Testament reading included the following verses from the First Letter of John:  ‘How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses to help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action’. This Sunday there will be Christian Aid envelopes in church. If you were not able to make a contribution during Christian Aid week you might like to do so this Sunday.  

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

28th May 2019

Dear Friends

We are fast approaching the season of Pentecost. On Sunday 9 June we celebrate the gift of God’s empowering love. The Holy Spirit transformed this small and beleaguered group of men and women into a powerful, outgoing, and transforming community.  It wasn’t long before this community profoundly challenged the traditional understanding of God lived and preached in their local synagogues and as a consequence they were thrown out, so began a long period of persecution. If you ever find yourselves in Rome, I do recommend a visit to one of the many catacombs just outside the City, in them you get a glimpse of the early Christian communities life and just how difficult a lived faith could be. Christians became a convenient scapegoat for societies ills.

At Morning prayer today I was reading a passage from Deuteronomy 28:1-14 usefully headed “Warnings against Disobedience”  I suppose we could summarise chapter 28 as Obey the Lord your God – or else! So began a relationship with the Law that Paul so fundamentally challenged. For Paul the Law meant servitude, whereas life in Christ meant freedom. Freedom of course, comes with a health warning – to grow through freedom means approaching life with a maturity of self-knowledge which some frankly do not possess. So do we apply a cost benefit analysis to the situation? Is freedom worth the risk? For Paul – Yes! His belief in the transforming power of God’s love trumps all concerns about appropriate outcomes. Over the years, I fear, others have not been so sure. The question for the Church today living in these sometimes difficult times is: Do we trust in the transforming power of God’s love, or do we require ever more measurable outcomes as proof that God is really working his purpose out? Can we be that secure?

Simon

23rd May 2019

Dear Friends

It’s a glorious morning – thank God for some sunshine and heat, I was beginning to think that Spring had been forgotten. It’s also Chelsea this week, so I hope you are all finding inspiration for your gardens and getting into them for a bit of judicious pruning.

We will be working in the church yard doing a bit of pruning and weeding on Saturday 25 May 10am – 1pm, I do hope you can join us. It’s good to give Hounslow a helping hand and it is a sign of our commitment to the local area, it’s good to be able to keep Old Chiswick clean and tidy.

We had a theft from the back of church on Sunday morning, so this is just a reminder to keep your belongings safe and with you at all times. 

As many of you will know Malcolm Smith will be leaving us in June, moving up to the Midlands to be closer to his family. I will be very sad to see Malcolm go. He has been an incredible support. I’m not sure where I, or this church community would be without Malcolm’s involvement. Malcolm was churchwarden for over six years following the untimely death of Francis Kinghorn. A PCC member, a member of the choir and serving team, a reader, intercessor and an amazingly urbane preacher at the 10.30am Parish Mass. It’s safe to say Malcolm has been involved in every aspect of our churches life and we thank him for his commitment, advice, and support. He goes to pastures new with our love and my blessing.

Pax

Simon 


Dear Friends

The June edition of ‘the Chiswick’ glossy magazine has just dropped through the letterbox of our home and I see on page 10 an article entitled ‘The Circle of Life’. It’s all about a ‘new family fun day at Mortlake Crematorium’ on Saturday 29th June, which apparently hopes to get us talking about death. Now the crematorium is not the first place I’d think of taking the family for a fun day out. We’re told that there will be a wide range of coffins and a selection of hearses on display. You can also have a tour and see what goes on ‘behind the scenes’. However, the emphasis will be on informality. ‘Visitors will have an opportunity to talk openly about death and dying, while sampling some delicious cakes at the pop-up Death Cafe’. Bereavement charities will also be on hand for those who might want to discuss the death of a loved one.    

 As part of my training for ordination I spent a whole day at Mortlake Crematorium, learning about how the systems and procedures work, and also observing a number of very different funeral rites. I found it very useful from a professional perspective. I can see some benefit from opening the crematorium to public view, which will be informative and dispel some myths about what goes on there. Sadly, however, there is no mention at all of any input from those who officiate at funerals, representatives of faith communities or those from a secular background, at this fun day out. So do take advantage of this open day if it interests you, but please also remember that your parish clergy are always willing to discuss matters related to death and bereavement with you. We are also very willing to help you prepare a draft your own funeral service, which experience tells us can be very helpful for whoever is dealing with your affairs when the time comes.

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

16th May 2019

Dear Friends

It was good to see a number of you at evensong on Sunday and for the subsequent Friends AGM after. Thanks to all of you who contributed to the pre-meeting hospitality.

The PCC and I are deeply grateful for the support and encouragement which the Friends offer. Without them, frankly much of our work over the past few years would have been difficult if not impossible. As we look to our next phase of development – the consolidation of our crumbling stone work we are all heartened and encouraged by the Friends’ support. 

As we have witnessed these last few weeks church buildings do not just fulfil a functional role in society, but a spiritual one as well, they literally lift our hearts and minds to higher things. A frequent comment I hear from visitors to St Nicholas is just how beautiful and peaceful it is. In our increasingly frenetic world offering a place where people can experience that ‘Peace which passeth all understanding’ is vital.  Church is open every day usually from 9am till about 4pm and we get on average about 20 visitors a day, amazing when you think how tucked away we are. Some will be new to St Nicholas, others returning, whatever their reason they have, through our open door policy, discovered A Treasure by the Thames, may it help to transform their lives.

Simon 


Dear Friends

This week is Christian Aid Week. There will be Gift Aid envelopes and plastic collection buckets in church all week, this coming Sunday, and probably for a while afterwards, to collect donations.

To quote from the Christian Aid website:

Our aims – We stand together. For dignity. For equality. For justice.

Everyone is equal in the sight of God. Yet we live in a world where poverty still persists.

Poverty is an outrage against humanity. It robs people of their dignity and lets injustice thrive. But together we have the power to transform lives. 

For over 70 years, we’ve been standing with the poorest of our neighbours. We work in 37 countries, with people of all faiths and none, to stand up for dignity, equality and justice.

Together we can create a world where everyone can live a full life, free from poverty.

Our voices and actions are stronger together. And with your help, we can make an even bigger difference.

We encourage you to give generously.

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

9th May 2019

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Dear Friends

It was sad to hear of the death of Jean Vanier this week, at the age of 90. He was a Canadian Catholic philosopher, theologian and humanitarian. In 1964 he founded L’Arche, an international organisation of communities for people with development disabilities and those who support them. He wrote some 30 books and over the years was given many awards and honours. I have found the theological books he has written particularly inspiring, especially the one on John’s gospel.

These are just two of the many short quotations from his works which I find very powerful:

‘We are not called by God to do extraordinary things but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love’.

‘When people love each other, they are content with very little. When we have light and joy in our hearts, we don’t need material wealth. The most loving communities are often the poorest.’

With every blessing

Mother Eileen