Category Archives: Uncategorized

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    

6th February 2019

Dear Friends

It has been wonderful to receive a steady stream of photos from our St Nick’s group visiting Namacunde (some pictures included in this bulletin), especially those of the consecration of their new building that we have helped to fund. We continue to pray for Father Simon and the group as they continue on their travels and look forward to hearing all about their trip when they return at the end of this week.

We continue to pray also for Father Elias and our Christian brothers and sisters in Namacunde during this exciting development in their parish life.

Closer to home, there are at least three parishes currently in interregnum in our neighbouring deanery of Hammersmith and Fulham and our clergy are continuing to support them by officiating on Sundays. This Sunday I shall be at St John’s, Walham Green, near Fulham Broadway and we pray for this congregation as they seek a new vicar.

With every blessing
Mother Eileen

31st January 2019

Dear Friends

As you read this there is a good chance we will be in Namibia preparing to travel up North to the Angolan border and our visit to the parish of St Simon and Jude. It’s an exciting time, we are all looking forward to our meeting and our visit to the new church building. I promise we will take lots of photographs and if we have decent WiFi I might even get some photographs to you before we return.

Sundays epistle was a good piece of scripture to hear as we begin our journey to Africa. St Paul uses the image of the body to describe the proper functioning of the Christian community emerging at Corinth. It is as valid today as it was 2,000 years ago. Our link parish helps us to realise that the church is larger, broader and more diverse than we can imagine. There will be times when we are in alignment with our sisters and brothers in Angola and times when frankly it seems like we speak a different theological and philosophical language, that is to be expected. The test is how we negotiate our relationship for the mutual flourishing of both communities. If this is true of the Church, it is true of society. We enjoyed an excellent evening in conversation with Dominic Grieve on Sunday. One of the key themes we explored was how we must engage, constructively, honestly and politely with those we disagree with, this is not an easy task, made more difficult by the stridency of our present national conversation, but it is essential. The image of the body so eloquently expressed by Saint Paul is as useful for Society as it is the Church. We all need each other.

See you in February.

Simon

P.S One of the first photos showing safe arrival in Windhoek

23rd January 2019

Dear Friends

Easter is about as late as it can possibly be this year, as a consequence we do not begin our Lenten pilgrimage until Wednesday 6 March.  I’m hoping we can use this Lenten period of reflection to explore as a church and as individuals how we pray. For the Christian, prayer is at the heart of everything we do, it is the means of conscious union with God our creator and it expresses the powerful bond between the two. Without prayer our faith and the faith of the Church withers. It is vital that we maintain a healthy prayer life,. We can all get stuck in familiar ruts, where relationships are taken for granted and neglected. I am hoping that we can use Lent 2019 to explore how our prayer life might deepen and grow. All of us live busy lives and the opportunity for silence and contemplation is limited.  After each 6pm Sunday service of Stations of the Cross we will use music to explore how we can be silent and attentive. We hope to be able to have a course running during Lent on the practice of Christian Mindfulness, which will be an opportunity to explore how we might benefit most from our use of silence, however limited that might be. Some of us have signed up for a weeks course of guided prayer, I know for many of you the demands of daily attendance for Spiritual Direction was just too difficult to manage. As an alternative we will be offering a six week course on guided prayer called Grit and Grace. Each week you will receive some material to use privately and there will be two weekly opportunities to meet in small groups, or individually, to talk with a facilitator about your weeks experience. If you do not want to meet with a facilitator that is also fine. I hope there will be something for everyone here, something we can all use to grow in grace.

Simon

16th January 2019

Dear Friends

I know this might be a strange question to begin the Vicar’s letter with but… we are missing quite a few wine glasses, has anybody got any church wine glasses at home? If you have, can you bring them back, we’re a bit desperate. Thanks.

How do you respond to change? If you are like me, who seems to hold contradictory responses, I am both excited by change and fearful of it. How I manage the tension between these seeming contradictions effects how I respond to the world around and my own mental well being. Of course, we are all effected by change in different ways, what I might joyfully embrace as change for the good, others might reject as a move too far. Over the years we have witnessed nationally and internationally aggressive and sometimes violent responses to the prospect of change. Fear seems a common motivational force in much of this response. Fear of a new ideology, or a dominant ideology taking over. Fear of a loss of national, local, or individual identity.  Anger at not being consulted, and a sense of helplessness also fuels our resentment.  Is this just a phase, a hiccup we have just got to ride out? Or are we heading towards some kind of world re-defining epoch such as an international confrontation? 

Perhaps a common element in all of the above is hope, or a desperate lack of it. People need to believe in a hopeful future. Of course there is much we as individuals can do to effect the course of our lives, but honestly for the majority, there is much we cannot effect on our own and we rely on others.St Paul tells us in his letter to the Church in Rome that hope is not deceptive because Christ died for us. This is such an important contribution to the debate. Christ died, St Paul says for us. he didn’t die for himself. Obedient to the Father he offers his life for the life of the world. Perhaps we need to stop looking only to ourselves and our own personal advancement and agendas and look rather to the other. Its only through good communication that security is advanced and good communication is dependent on our looking beyond ourselves to the others who surround us.

Simon

9th January 2019

Dear Friends

At the moment we are reading passages from 1 John during morning prayer. Yesterday we read that passage from 1 John chapter 4 so beloved by couples getting married. “Beloved let us love one another, because love is from God”  1 John 4:7 it goes on “Beloved, since God loved us so much, we ought to love one another”  1 John 4:11. If you read the news at the moment there is a depressing litany of stabbings, harassment of MPs and journalists going about their democratic business, and seemingly a country divided like never before. There doesn’t seem to be much love out there at the moment. One might be tempted to read such scripture passages with a degree of scepticism, but that would be to miss a foundation truth. We are loved – therefore this knowledge should be used to enable a proper and mature understanding of another; simply that our neighbours have value, dignity and worth. If another has no value, then their life has no value, their thoughts have no value, their hopes and fears have no value. We protect what we value, we discard what we don’t. Whilst it might be fashionable to dismiss faith, our sacred texts, our scripture and the community we call the Church, what they provide is a foundation for decent human interaction. Without that foundation we drift aimlessly, making it up as we go along – and we know where that leads us.

NAMACUNDE  UPDATE
As many of you know, we are fast approaching our departure date to visit our link parish of St Simon and St Jude, Namacunde in southern Angola. This visit has been entirely funded by the individuals involved. We leave London on Tuesday 28 January and travel overnight to Namibia where we will drive North to the border with Angola. We will meet Fr Elias and his people on Saturday morning 2 February spend Saturday with the community of St Simon and Jude, stay overnight and on Sunday morning celebrate with them the completion of their new church building. Because life in Southern Angola is a little difficult we will be back in Namibia on Sunday afternoon, where we will have the opportunity to reflect as a group on what we have seen and heard before travelling South and flying home via Johannesburg. We hope to be able to provide you with some photographs of our visit whilst we are there, but that is a little dependent on WiFi connectivity. We will of course bring home lots of memories and photographs for you to see.  Your prayers for our trip would be much appreciated. Please pray for the success of our visit, that we all get our Angolan visas on time (very important!), that we are kept safe and for the people of St Simon and Jude Namacunde.
Fr Simon
Ian Stephenson
Susan Marshall
Heather Johnson
Nick and Hilary Lines


Dear Friends

This week marks the first anniversary of the death of a very dear friend of mine who lived with Alzheimer’s disease for over eleven years. She was a highly intelligent woman and so, in the earlier stages of the disease, she developed some very clever strategies for managing her symptoms. Inevitably, however, as the disease progressed she found life increasingly difficult, frustrating and frightening. Her family and friends were very supportive, but we were not always sure as how best to support her. I was therefore very pleased to come across a book published last year entitled ‘Dementia from the Inside – a doctor’s personal journey of hope’.  It was written by Dr Jennifer Bute, a highly-qualified GP, also a very devout Christian, with the assistance of Louise Morse. Dr Bute herself lives with dementia which she regards as an opportunity as well as a challenge. She has written this book to help people living with dementia, but also to offer practical insights and observations to those supporting them. I have found it a very helpful read and would encourage others to read it, especially as so many of us now find ourselves knowing people living with dementia.

With every blessing
Mother Eileen

3rd January 2019

Dear Friends

A very Happy New Year to you all

It was good to see so many people at our Christmas Services, it is always a nerve-wracking time, there are so many things going on, but at the same time it is so fulfilling. Christmas Day afternoon is a period of genuine joy and contentment. It’s good to rest, but time moves on and there is lots to do in 2019.

We welcome Dominic Grieve QC MP as a guest ‘In Conversation’ on Sunday 27 January at 6pm. Please do all you can to publicise this event, Facebook, Twitter and our local Chiswick websites.

On Tuesday 29 January six of us are flying to Africa, landing in Johannesburg, then Windhoek, Namibia on our way to Angola. Your prayers would be appreciated, true to form applying for a visa is quite a fraught process. Still, it will be good to meet with Fr Elias again and celebrate with him and his congregation the consecration of their new church.

We continue with our development project and I hope this year we are able to make significant progress in the restoration of our stone work.

Finally a huge thank you to everybody who made our Christmas celebrations so successful, and to everyone who work behind the scenes to ensure we are fit and able to make Christ know in this place.

Fr Simon


Dear Friends

I hope you have been able to enjoy these past days of the Christmas season.  For me they have been a time to enjoy reading, reflecting and spending time with my family. New Year’s Day is always a particularly special day as it was the day on which I gave birth to our daughter, who now has her own children.

Amongst my reading over the New Year I have enjoyed re-reading Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem entitled ‘In Memoriam’. Though it was written more than 125 years ago it is indeed a poem that could have been written for our times. I include a few verses below:

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

With every blessing for the coming year, whatever it might have in store for us all.

Mother Eileen

20th December 2018

Dear Friends

This e-bulletin will be our last for 2018 so can I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I do hope I will be able to see you over the festive period, the list of services is on this bulletin.

2018 has been again a busy year. We have had our fair share of goodbyes this year, new jobs, new lives lived elsewhere have necessitated many families moving away from Chiswick. We do seem to be making a significant contribution to the staffing of our diplomatic service around the world, I hope the Foreign Secretary appreciates our contribution. It’s good to know St Nicholas is well represented around the globe. It’s not all been good bye, we have said welcome and welcome back to many other church members.

We have much to be thankful for. We have made our final contribution to the Namacunde church building project. How many church communities can say that they have built a church in Africa, or anywhere for that matter.

We have continued our significant financial contribution to the Crosslight project. Michele and her team of volunteers are seeing more clients than ever, this is all possible because of your generosity.

Our planned giving campaign, championed by Mother Eileen, Susan Welsh and many others has been a great success. Thank you again for your generosity, your contributions literally keep the doors of our church open. Without your regular financial commitment there would be no St Nicholas. If you are still thinking of increasing you contribution, please speak to a member of the clergy, it’s never too late.

A huge thank you to Mother Eileen and Father Alan for all their hard work and commitment. To Hayley in the office, to our wardens Chris and Susan and our treasurer Clive. In fact thank you to everybody who has given so freely of their time and talents, that’s also a significant aspect of our planned giving.

We continue to ask God’s blessing on our work and our mission. I pray God’s blessing on you and your families this Holy Christmas Time.

With my commitment, love and prayers.

Simon


Dear Friends

Last month a group of us from St Nicks were on pilgrimage in the Holy Land and visited Bethlehem, where we celebrated Mass in the Shepherds’ Fields. It was difficult for us to hear the message of the angels when there was so much killing, both worldwide and closer to hand between the people of Gaza and the State of Israel. When the angels sang at the birth of Jesus they were rejoicing but they were also affirming what Christ came to do – bring peace to all who were alienated from God and one another. In some ways their song also issues us with a challenge to live lives of goodwill to all whom we encounter. We all need peace and quiet and I hope you can find some rest and refreshment during the coming days.

As a traditional blessing puts it:

Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; render to nobody evil for evil; strengthen the faint-hearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honour all people; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

And God bless you all over this Christmas season.

Mother Eileen

13th December 2018

Dear Friends

I hope some of you will have downloaded the free App ‘A Good Advent’, and been following the series of daily paintings and reflections. The reflections are extracts from the book ‘The Art of Advent’ by Jane Williams, which I can highly recommend.

The painting from last Sunday is ‘The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist’ by Leonardo da Vinci (seen here).
We are reminded in the reflection that ‘As Advent is a time of preparation for the birth of Jesus, there could be no better guide than John the Baptist. Leonardo’s sketch shows us a portrait of a happy family, but with clear signs that the two little boys have a destiny.’ This Sunday we shall be lighting the third candle on our Advent wreath to remind us of John the Baptist and his vital role in preparing the world for the Incarnation. We are asked to reflect on what we can do to point the way to Jesus.

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

5th December 2018

Dear Friends

It was good to see the church so full on Sunday morning as we welcomed Bishop Michael Colclough to baptise and admit members of Children’s Church to first communion. To continue the day our Advent Carol service was a wonderfully thoughtful meditation of music, carols and readings. On Sunday our children reminded us of the time and date of their nativity play. Please try to attend church on Sunday 16 December at 10.30am. The children are working hard rehearsing, what as always will be an amazing production. Other important dates for your diary are:

Wednesday 12 December – Carol singing along Chiswick Mall. We meet at the parish hall at 7.30pm
Sunday 16 December – Pop up Christmas fair in church after mass.
Sunday 23 December 6pm  – Our traditional carol service of 9 lessons and carols.

We still need your help for the following:
Monday 24th December Christmas Eve
4pm Crib Service  – two volunteers to act as narrators to lead the service (usually older                                                    children)
one volunteer to read the fourth reading

11.30pm Midnight Mass – two readers and one person to lead the intercessions (note this service follows directly after Carols & Readings before Midnight Mass at 11pm)

Tuesday 25th December Christmas Day
10.30 Christmas Day Mass – two readers

Please email office@stnicholaschiswick.org if you can help.

Thank you to everybody who turned up on Saturday morning to clean the church and churchyard, these periodic cleaning sessions really do keep the church looking in tip top condition.

It was good to see our restored weather vane re-established on a very wet Monday afternoon, do look up, with its new gold leaf it shines quite magnificently. You can see pictures of the restoration here on the Chiswick Calendar website.

Simon


Dear Friends

There is alleged to be a Chinese curse which says ‘may you live in interesting times’. I don’t think we can place responsibility for our current domestic situation on that country, but there is certainly much anxiety about possible developments over the coming days and weeks. To quote an extract from a speech made by Joseph Chamberlain in 1898 while he was Secretary of State for the Colonies:
‘I think that you will all agree that we are living in most interesting times… I never remember myself a time in which our history was so full, in which day by day brought us new objects of interest, and, let me say also, new objects for anxiety’.

This seems to describe our current situation well. During the course of his parliamentary career Joseph Chamberlain had the dubious distinction of managing to split both major parties!

So how should we as a Church respond today? Certainly by prayer. I came across the prayer below, written by the Bishop of Bristol, which I think is an excellent start.

A PRAYER FOR RECONCILIATION IN THE APPROACH TO AND AFTER THE BREXIT VOTE

Eternal God,in whose kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, and no strength known but the strength of love, we pray that your reconciling spirit may come among the peoples of the United Kingdom as decisions are made about our relationship with the European Union.
We pray for politicians charged with weighty decisions and for those who advise them.
Despite our differences, deliver us from the hardness of heart that keeps us locked in confrontation.
Grant us the wisdom to know the way to establish your kingdom and seek for the continued transformation of our lives, that we may make peace with our enemies and build communities of justice, love and peace.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

With every blessing

Mother Eileen