Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

29th November 2018

Dear Friends

Once more we come to the end of another Church year and we look forward to the inauguration of a new year this Advent Sunday with the admission of Amber, Poppy, Edward, Ivie and Sapphira to Holy Communion and we welcome Alexander and Annabel into the life of the Church through baptism. Please don’t forget our 6pm evening service of Advent carols, readings and music, it is a great way to begin our Advent pilgrimage. It is also something of a meditative contrast to the commercial whirlwind which is the secular prelude to the Christmas feast. In order to prepare our church for the next few weeks we meet on Saturday from 10am onward to do a bit of church and graveyard cleaning. Cleaning materials will be provided, but if you want to work in the church yard, please bring along some gardening implements. There’s also sausage sandwiches to help us along. Our Wednesday lunch club, meets on Saturday for their annual Christmas party 3-5pm do come along. Next Sunday, the Children’s Church are going to the panto and on Wednesday 12 December we are going carol singing along Chiswick Mall. We meet at the parish hall at 7.30pm and afterwards will gather back at the Vicarage for some food and refreshments. It’s a great evening and we sing to raise money for the Church of England Children’s Society.

Simon

P.S Please take a look at this film clip on Youtube showing a previous curate of St Nicks who was also a biker! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yed2Qk3fAlM


Dear Friends

As we approach the Church’s season of Advent this Sunday I was asked today about the symbolism of the Advent wreath. So here follows a very brief explanation.

The Advent wreath is traditionally made of evergreen foliage, signifying the eternity of God.  Where possible this includes some holly leaves, reminding us of Jesus’ crown of thorns, and his subsequent victory over sin and death. The wreath has four candles round its circumference – three purple (this is the liturgical colour for Advent, representing a time of preparation and penance) and one pink, which are lit consecutively on each of the four Sundays in Advent. A white candle is placed in the centre of the wreath.

The first purple candle – to be lit this Sunday – represents the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) who trusted that God would fulfil His promises to them. The second purple candle represents the prophets, who longed for the Messiah to bring peace to the world.  On the third Sunday in Advent, also known as Gaudete Sunday (from the Latin, meaning rejoice), the mood lightens. We light the pink candle and remember John the Baptist as he leapt for joy in his mother’s womb at the presence of Jesus and Mary. On the fourth Sunday the final purple candle is lit, representing Mary as she awaits the birth of Jesus. The white candle at the centre of the wreath is lit on Christmas Day, reminding us that Jesus Christ the Messiah is the light of the world, fulfilling the hopes of all those awaiting His coming.

Wishing you every blessing during the season of Advent

Mother Eileen

22nd November 2018

Dear Friends

It’s difficult to believe that on Monday morning I was walking around Herod the Great’s palace on the banks of the Mediterranean in full sunshine and enjoying 26 degrees of heat!

My week in the Holy Land was an amazing experience. To walk the narrow streets of the Old City, Jerusalem, to place my hands and head against the foundation wall of Solomon’s temple in prayer, in fact just to be present at such an important place in Jewish and Christian and Muslim history was quite breathtaking. For the great monotheistic religions of the world Jerusalem is really the centre of the world – it feels like it. To walk the streets Jesus walked, the steps he ascended to enter the city, the sea he sailed on, taught from, the shore he cooked on, is incredible. At each and every site we visited I was brought back to a Gospel passage I have considered, or read aloud in church. Yes, the bible came to life in a way I have never experienced before. I recommend the experience.

Simon

  


Dear Friends

Last week I wrote to you from Jerusalem, where I was on pilgrimage with a group from churches in Chiswick and Bristol. We are now all safely home again after continuing our journey, visiting many well-known Biblical sites in Bethlehem, Samaria and Galilee. But the purpose of a visit to the Holy Land is primarily to deepen our understanding of the incarnation. The Holy Land is a place where Jesus is present, not past. We are reminded that the birth of Christ is more than just a historical event: in the life of the Church it’s a contemporary reality.  So it’s good to remember that Jesus walked along this road, and taught on this particular beach, but only if it reminds us that Jesus still walks, still teaches and still locates himself amongst the poorest and most oppressed. The dead stones are dumb without the living stones, the hard-pressed Christian communities of the Middle East. Last Sunday we celebrated the Eucharist with the congregation of Christ Church, the Anglican church in Nazareth, using a combination of Arabic and English liturgies, which for many of us was a very moving experience.

However, we were not merely religious tourists. We visited the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation, founded in 1960 as a Leonard Cheshire home, where we met Mary, a wonderfully articulate Palestinian Christian. The notorious Security Wall, adjacent to the hospital, means that she cannot expand the vital work undertaken by her team. This is a great frustration for them in that desperately poor city where increasing numbers of people are seeking medical care. It is people such as Mary who brought to life for us the real Bethlehem, where God’s grace meets human need. Such meetings are difficult to experience, but that’s the point. It’s this tough, sinful, broken world that the incarnate Christ touches and changes, not one dreamed up in our Western imaginations. Jesus was born in an occupied nation, amongst an oppressed people, so it’s no surprise that this is where we find him.

I can heartily commend a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, It’s a wonderful experience and we receive different insights and experiences on each visit. But it’s not a trip down Memory Lane, it’s a place where we encounter the Risen Christ amongst the living stones.

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

13th November 2018

Greetings from Jerusalem!

Dear Friends

Our group of pilgrims from Chiswick and Bristol arrived in Jerusalem late on Monday night. We are staying in an Arab Christian hotel overlooking the old city walls. On Tuesday we were up bright and early for a marvellous tour of places outside the walls. Starting at the Dome of the Ascension, we walked down the Mount of Olives, along the route that Jesus took on Palm Sunday, stopping for prayer and reflection at several churches and spending time in the Garden of Gethsemane.

We travelled on to the ‘Church of the Cockcrow’, reminding us of Peter’s three-fold denial of Jesus. Many believe this to be the site of Caiaphas’ house, where Jesus was imprisoned in an underground dungeon. We then travelled on again to the western side of Jerusalem, which is traditionally associated with the home of Zachariah and Elizabeth, where Mary sang the Magnificat. We finished our travels for that day at the village of Emmaus, where the risen Jesus was said to have had a meal with two of his disciples after the Resurrection.

We are now looking forward to spending Wednesday visiting sites within the Old City walls, including walking the Via Dolorosa, visiting the Upper Room and the Western (‘Wailing’) Wall.

As we journey on we pray for all those whom we have left behind, including the parishioners of St Nick’s, and ask that you pray for us too.

With every blessing

Mother Eileen


Dear Friends,

There was a wonderful moment at 11 o’clock on Remembrance Sunday as our bugler started playing the last post; standing outside the west wall of church by the war memorial we could clearly hear the sound of the guns in Horse Guards firing a salute as part of the ceremonies at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. The noise of distant artillery fire seemed a very fitting accompaniment to a commemoration of the end of the First World War.

It may now be a century since the armistice, but that did not mark the end of people’s suffering and sadness. Many must have had a similar experience to the artist Stanley Spencer, who returned safely to Britain in December 1918 after serving in the Balkans and rejoiced at getting back home, only to learn his elder brother Sydney had been killed in September. And of course the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-20 saw further millions die.

Fortunately we have not seen any more outbreaks of disease like that since then; but we are very much at risk of making the same mistakes which ensured the peace settlement after the Great War was a failure. French politicians demanded terms of revenge, some in Germany created the claim that they had been “stabbed in the back”. Everyone was out for their own short-term interests, and not only did the results lead to war again just over 20 years later, but some of the suffering in places like the Middle East today is directly due to decisions taken then.

When Jesus met people he listened to them. Again and again the Gospels show how he got to the heart of people’s true concerns when he engaged with them. If we don’t listen to the people we disagree with and try to understand their concerns, we risk losing sight of the fact that they too are children of God, our brothers and sisters, even if they did vote on the opposite side of Brexit to us or for a different US president than we might have preferred. Treating people as different, the other, the enemy is on the way towards dehumanising them. It also means we are in danger of losing the ability to distinguish truth from lies because we listen out for what we want to hear rather than what we need to hear.

So let’s not lock ourselves up in little groups of like-minded people and define ourselves by who we don’t like. The history of continental Europe between the wars shows where that leads. True peace on earth will come from listening and showing respect for our fellow creatures of God. As we start looking towards Advent and the birth of the Prince of Peace, let’s remember that what we have in common is greater than what separates us.

Fr Alan

7th November 2018

Dear Friends

As many of you know a group of us from St Nicholas are on pilgrimage next week. I’ve never been to the Holy Land before. In preparation for my trip I’ve revisited Simon Sebag-Montefiore’s wonderful work on Jerusalem. If I’m honest, I’ve always been a bit indifferent towards visiting the Holy Land. There are elements of the political landscape that have disturbed me and even among the Christian community a level of rivalry and intolerance which seemed a little incomprehensible. Yet for all the challenges it is still the Holy Land. Revisiting Montefiore has afforded me the opportunity to reflect on the chaos of this land and place. If Rome is about the Church, and I think it is, then Jerusalem is about God. Where the Church in Rome is organised and controlled, Jerusalem is a melting pot of ideas and religions, as the meeting point of the world’s three great Abrahamic faiths, it is bound to be chaotic. Where Rome seems to have pinned God down through doctrine and creed, Jerusalem represents a place where God cannot be pinned down at all. I love the idea that God cannot be pinned down – it’s messy, it’s dangerous, it’s chaotic,  but it prevents us human beings getting ideas above out station…

Simon

Namacunde Update

I just thought you would like to see a photograph of progress. As you can see the roof is on. If you would like to make a donation, however large or small towards the final instalment of £5,000 which we are due to pay by the end of the year please see me or one of our churchwardens.

 


Dear Friends

As we approach Remembrance Sunday this year, the hundredth anniversary of the ending of the Great War, we are reminded of so much very moving poetry and prose that has been written on the subject, mostly by men. There has been far less published by women authors and poets, one of the better-known books being Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain.

I recently came across the poetry and prose of the American author, heiress, suffragette and nurse Mary Borden, written while she was running a field hospital close to the battlefront.  I reproduce below one of her less well-known sonnets which reminds us of the loneliness and helplessness of the women awaiting the fate of their beloved menfolk.

High on the dreadful mount of solitude
Upon the eve of the stupendous day,
High where the agonies of heaven brood
Above the vast invisible array
Of spellbound armies crouching in the dark,
Watching the licking lurid light that runs,
Along the wounded earth, I stand and hark
To the gigantic prelude of the guns.
Somewhere out in the breathless throbbing night
Under the palpitating stars, you wait
The awful dawning of this pallid light
That will decide a panting nation’s fate.
And you will go to death or victory
While I attend upon our destiny.

In our parish mass this Sunday we shall be hearing the background stories of some of those brave people who lived in our parish and lost their lives during the Great War.

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

1st November 2018

Dear Friends

Eric Hobsbawm whose book Age of Extremes I’m reading at the moment complains that most people grow up “In a sort of permanent present lacking any organic relation to the public past of the times they live in. This makes historians, whose business it is to remember what others forget, more essential than ever before.” He’s talking, of course, about the late twentieth century, but I suspect it could equally be applied to today.

November is a month of remembrance, an important corrective, to our lives of permanent present. We remember and give thanks for the Saints who, going before us, give us a glimpse of the possibility of God’s potential action, purpose and influence in our lives. Ordinary people, who, by leading extraordinary lives of principle, bravery, or simple humility, transform the situations and people they encounter. We celebrate All Souls’ Day, of family and friends who have been such an important source of stability, love and direction. We are who we are because of the people we encounter on our journey through life. All Souls is an opportunity to commit them to God, in thanksgiving and hope. Finally we remember the fallen, brave men and women who followed a call and gave their lives for our freedom. Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends. Living as we are at a time of great flux, it is important to ground ourselves in the past, not to stifle the present, or prevent the future, but to to enable us not waste time repeating past mistakes.

Simon


Dear Friends

The weather during the past week has been somewhat mixed, but on the days when the sun has been shining the colours of the trees and the sunsets have been glorious. I came across the following quotation this week by Fr Kallistos Ware, Bishop in the Eastern Orthodox Church, which sums up for me the glory of creation:

‘Nature is sacred. The world is a sacrament of the divine preserve, a means of communication with God. The environment consists not in dead matter, but in living relationships. The entire cosmos is one vast burning bush, permeated by the fire of the divine power and glory’. 

What a marvellous description!

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

25th October 2018

Dear Friends

Last week’s retreat at the Friary of the Society of Saint Francis at Alnmouth, Northumberland was an amazing experience, notwithstanding my rather unconventional travelling companion for the return journey home. It’s often remarked how little time clergy have, or set aside for the kind of prayer and meditation which takes time and is so fruitful for our ministry and relationship with God. I know how hard it is to settle down and pray in this way, I say the prayers required in the morning and evening and I spend the day shooting arrow prayers to God in a kind of hurried conversation, but simply to be still and know, well that is a different matter, that’s why Alnmouth is so important. Apart from spending time being still and silent, I can walk and for me walking is like saying the rosary, or the Jesus prayer, I am engaged in a physical activity which frees my mind for God. I’m also walking in an area of outstanding natural beauty. If beauty, together with goodness and truth are things which help us make sense of God, then I want to share two encounters with you. As I was walking along St Ostwald Way towards the coastal village of Bulmer I met a little hedgehog walking across the path in front of me towards the safety of some bramble bushes. I’ve never seen a hedgehog at such close proximity before and I was stunned by its beauty, its innocence and fragility, the encounter was so overwhelming I began to cry. Perhaps I was subconsciously overwhelmed by the fragility of all life, mine included, all I wanted to do was to protect that beautiful little creature. It was a warm and sunny day and I certainly didn’t feel any rain, but when I looked up from the ground, before me in a perfect arc was a fully formed rainbow, stretching from the fields right into the sea. In the Old Testament the rainbow was a sign of God’s covenant.  It’s at moments like these that God feels very close, it was a privilege to be there.

Simon

I have just confirmed with the Funeral Directors that Jane Watson’s funeral will be st St Nicholas on Thursday 8 November at 11 am followed by internment in Chiswick Old Cemetery at 12 noon


Dear Friends

I hope those of you with school-age children in your families are enjoying a relaxing week over half-term and are able to have time to spend doing things together. For those of us driving or walking round Chiswick the roads have been eerily quiet this week!

In the latest London Diocesan Treasurers’ Newsletter they reproduce a reflection written by the Stewardship Officer of Lincoln Diocese which I am copying below as food for thought this week:

Ifs – A Reflection on Christian Giving

If I give nothing
I vote to close my church

If I give only to local support
I vote to stop missionary activity in the world

If I give proportionately
I give something even if out of necessity it is only small

If I give systematically
I allow my church to plan ahead

If I give sacrificially
I place a high value on Christian Ministry in the World.

With every blessing
Mother Eileen

17th October 2018

Dear Friends

On Monday of this week the Church remembered St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), Spanish mystic and founder of the religious community known as Discalced Carmelites (discalced meaning going barefoot or shod only in sandals). She persevered in prayer, enjoyed many mystical experiences and her spiritual writings are still influential today. I have reproduced two of them below, favourites of mine:

Christ has no body now on earth but yours;
no hands but yours; no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world.
Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good.
Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people.

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things pass away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

With every blessing
Mother Eileen

11th October 2018

Dear Friends

A few weeks ago Fr Simon and I mentioned in this bulletin that we are considering joining with other local parishes for a week of guided prayer in Lent next year. We sought your comments and questions.  To date there has been some interest, but I suspect other people would like to know more but perhaps have not yet found a convenient time to discuss this. Do have a word with us if this is so. Lent might seem a very long time ahead, but if we proceed with this suggestion we will need to undertake some forward planning, not least in identifying appropriate spiritual directors to work with us. I was reminded of this when I received my daily email from Jean Vanier, founder of l’Arche communities and author of many spiritual books. He writes as follows:

The more we become people of action and responsibility in our community, the more we must become people of contemplation. If we do not nurture our deep emotional life in prayer hidden in God, if we do not spend time in silence, and if we do not know how to take time to live from the presence and gentleness of our brothers and sisters, we risk becoming embittered.

It is good that our church community is involved in a range of activities but we do also need time for silence and prayer.

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

4th October2018

Dear Friends

This Sunday at 10.30 am we are giving thanks to God for the harvest. Although harvest celebrations might seem more appropriate in the Shropshire I so love, watching the combine harvesters cut and sort the crops in the fields, it is equally important in our urban and city locations to remember and to give thanks for God’s provision.  In an age when we are questioning the need for so much packaging and when it is difficult to visualise the source of our food, harvest brings home to us the reality of food production – just what it is we eat. It is good to be grounded in the reality of our food sources. Food production, takes time, energy expertise and commitment, for this we also give thanks.  When there is so much hunger, surely it is incumbent upon each of us to examine how we can reduce our food waste and use these limited resources more wisely. It is also vital to say Thank You, for as God gives so generously, we need to learn to distribute wisely.

On Sunday we will also give thanks for our Planned Giving campaign, for the time, energy and commitment of all those who have organised this campaign and for the pledges we will receive on Sunday and offer to God. If you want to support the life of the church and have not yet signed a pledge form there will be material for you to pick up and read at the back of church on Sunday. Can I also commend to you Mother Eileen’s excellent sermon which she preached last Sunday, you can find it by clicking here. Please take time to consider your contribution to support the life and mission of our St Nicholas family, we receive so much from God, this is our opportunity to say Thank You.

“Yours, Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the splendour, and the majesty; for everything in heaven and earth is yours. All things come from you, and of your own do we give you.” 1 Chronicles 29:11

The heart of the Christian faith is a relationship, with God our creator.  Like all good relationships it is strengthened through conversation and encounter. Prayer in all its forms is a vital component of faith. It is proposed that next year at the beginning of Lent we join with other local churches in a week of accompanied prayer. The idea is to help our prayer life grow and develop. Each person meets daily for a confidential conversation with a guide to reflect on their relationship with God and their experience of prayer. The guide’s role is to accompany and support, listening and helping the participant see how God is at work in their lives. This is a gentle exercise, there is no pressure. If you are interested please can you talk to one of the clergy.

At the same time I am interested in the possibility of holding a few sessions on the art and practice of Christian Mindfulness, it is a form of Christian meditation. If this is something that interests you please talk to me.

Simon


Dear Friends

One of the privileges of being a priest is to accompany people through the times of their greatest joys and their deepest sorrows. Not long after I arrived at St Nick’s I had some shocking news – a lovely young girl in a family I had known well when I worked in Fulham had died very suddenly in tragic circumstances. I was invited by her family to take part in her funeral, one of the most difficult I’ve ever had to do. Last week an inquest was held and the case of the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse as a result of eating food to which she had an extreme allergy received publicity in the national media. What saddened me particularly was the response of the vendor of the food who denied responsibility for not labelling the contents and blamed the inadequacy of food regulations. Do we really need to have laws before we will do things that are socially responsible?

Elsewhere in this bulletin Fr Simon mentions the possibility of holding a week of accompanied prayer. I took part in one some years ago, along with other members of the congregation at St Michael’s, Bedford Park. It might sound a little intimidating, but it was actually a very positive experience. Do have a chat to me if you’d like to know more about how it works.

With every blessing

Mother Eileen