What does it mean to be baptised, or confirmed? It means declaring our faith in a God who made himself visible in the person of Jesus Christ, who through his ministry, death and resurrection transformed our relationship with the Divine, ourselves and the world. I often say at baptism that when we emerge (metaphorically) from the waters of baptism we view ourselves, our world and our neighbours through the prism of God’s eyes. This impacts on how we think and act, what does it mean to say ‘Love your neighbour, as I (Jesus) love you’?
The PCC of St Nicholas has explored this question for a number of years, its response can be seen in our relationship with the parish of St Simon and Jude, Namacunde, in our setting up of a free parent and toddler group, the language course and in initiating our debt counselling service Crosslight, among other initiatives. All of these initiatives speak of our belief in the value, dignity and worth of every individual.
In Crosslight we have a concrete example of our response to this vision. We are lucky to have Michele as our centre manager and for the group of volunteers who support her. The Chiswick branch of Crosslight has grown significantly over the last three years, of those who visit with problems over 90% of them have left with a positive outcome, more than any other branch in London. Crosslight continues to evolve. Volunteers from other parishes have joined Michele and the service is now looking to become more independent from the parish by becoming a separate charity. This is good news because it will unlock further funding sources who might be unwilling to give to a church. Please keep Crosslight, Michele, all our volunteers and clients in your prayers. Please pray for the new trustees who will manage this service. If you would like to donate to the work of this important service please see me.
Finally a huge thank you to everyone involved with our amazingly successful Art Auction this weekend, what an incredible achievement, thank you and well done!
As I walk round Chiswick daily, wearing my clerical collar, I am frequently stopped by people for a chat, telling me their woes or anxieties, or asking me to pray for them. I am always very pleased that people feel able to approach me to have these conversations. Only occasionally do I get an earful about women priests!
I have had several conversations recently with individuals who are very anxious about the state of our country, our government and what might – or might not – happen at the end of this month. They have been somewhat distressed by the unpleasant tone and vindictive nature of so many of our public debates and pronouncements.
Bishop Sarah, Bishop of London, has responded to these concerns with a prayer I would like to share with you:
‘O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen’
With every blessing