17th February 2021
Lent is upon us once more and I am reminded of the sentence used by the priest as ash is placed on our foreheads. “Remember that dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return” It is such a powerful reminder of our mortality and of our place. These past twelve months have for some felt like a continual Lent . I have to admit I have found the last two months – post Christmas – very challenging – lonely, dark, frustrating and frightening. It has been difficult at times to see where God is in all of this, of course he has been in this right at its heart. What this pandemic has burst is the sometimes selfish arrogance of the human race. Arrogance breeds contempt as the writer to the first letter to Timothy, which was read at Morning Prayer this morning says “But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” 1 Timothy 6:6. The author is talking about money, but could equally apply to our way of life. Lent calls us in a gentle and mature way to a reassessment of our life in the context of our world, or societies, our families, ourselves and our God. This is not about beating ourselves up, but a mature reassessment of our way of life and our relationships, in order that we might grow and enjoy life to the full. So tonight when you watch our Mass on the parish Facebook page at 8pm remember that repentance is about an honest assessment of our life’s journey and if necessary a change of direction.
Ash Wednesday Mass is on Facebook tonight at 8pm
On Sunday we will be hosting Stations of the Cross at 6pm on Zoom. Please email for a link
On Tuesdays in Lent beginning on Tuesday 23 February at 6pm we will be studying our Lent book. Again this will be on Zoom, please email for a link, and we can also send you the information and reading material.
Peace be with you all.
As Lent begins on Ash Wednesday the Church marks this transition with a number of changes, for example the liturgical colour, used for clergy vestments, altar frontal etc, will change – from the green for ‘Ordinary Time’ we have been using – to purple to mark this season of self examination and preparation for Easter. There are also no flowers. Our liturgies also change during Lent, for example there are no ‘Glorias’ or ‘Alleluias’. At some churches banners with the word ‘Alleluia’ are ‘buried’ beneath the altar, accompanied by this ‘Prayer at the Burial of the Alleluia’:
It is our joy to sing and say Alleluia
As our response to your conquering of sin and death.
Now during the days of Lent
We say farewell to ‘Alleluia’,
So that we may take it up anew on Easter Day. Amen
As advertised last week, our St Nicholas Lent Course 2021 will start next Tuesday 23rd February at 6pm on Zoom. We shall be reflecting on a book by Paula Gooder, a highly-rated Biblical theologian and Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral entitled: A Way Through The Wilderness: Experiencing God’s Help in Times of Crisis. Attached here is the material for the first week. If you would like to join this group please email Hayley in the parish office so that she can send you the Zoom link.
You might also be interested in another online study course: ‘A River Through the Desert’. This video-course comes from St George’s College in Jerusalem and focuses on the physical features of the Holy Land to explore our faith through Lent. It will be posted each Sunday on St Michael & All Angels’ Bedford Park website and I will include the link in the following week’s St Nick’s bulletins. The subjects are as follows:
Week 1: The Desert
Week 2:The Water Well
Week 3: The Mountain
Week 4: The Sea
Week 5: The Road
Week 6: The Garden
With prayers that we may all keep a good and holy Lent
11th February 2021
This week our new cameras were installed in church. We hope they will provide more flexibility and contribute to a more professional presentation. One advantage is that the cameras are attached to the parish sound system, so not only will the picture be of better quality, we hope the sound will be too. We also hope our new cameras will provide us with opportunities to do more online, including concerts and other larger events. Like most modern technology, there are endless possibilities, the next few weeks will be a learning curve for us all. That said, this technology is new, and very different from what we have been used to, it might therefore take a couple of weeks to perfect our transmission. Please be patient if Sunday’s worship is not quite perfect. One avenue we are exploring is how to include people reading and leading intercessions, this might mean we change our platform from Facebook to YouTube. We will of course give you plenty of notice if we change platforms and we would still post a link on Facebook for those who prefer to access services from there.
Whilst I long to see you all again in church physically, I understand that this will not be possible for many months. Please be assured of my thoughts and prayers during this extremely difficult time as they say – Keep Watching!
Stay safe, take care.
P.S Advanced notice. We will be arranging a Zoom Sunday coffee morning and chat very soon. Please see next weeks e-bulletin for a date and Zoom link
On Wednesday morning this week at Morning Prayer we read a passage from Ecclesiastes chapter 8 in which it says ‘I commend enjoyment, for there is nothing better for people under the sun than to eat and drink and enjoy themselves.’ This was a reminder to me that we haven’t been able to do these things together for a very long time! The past year has felt to many of us like an extended period of Lent. So as we begin the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday next week how are we to mark this season of trying to develop better habits in our Christian lives? In a sermon on Ash Wednesday a couple of years ago I suggested that we consider addressing the following: self examination and repentance, prayer, fasting, giving money, and reading the Bible. All highly commendable practices, some of which we might have developed further during these times of lockdown. I wonder whether this year we might want to consider adding to these, by doing something different, namely glorying in God and God’s creation. This might be by developing a habit of really listening to a piece of music (as opposed to having it on as background), reading a poem, studying a painting (perhaps in a book or online), walking round our neighbourhood – or even just our back garden – and looking carefully at the plants and trees, and giving thanks to God for the glories of creation. We don’t have to do this every day, perhaps just once or twice a week, in the hope that it might enable us to find new enjoyment in our lives and enabling us to give thanks to God in new ways during these challenging times.
With every blessing
4th February 2021
At last there seems to be some good news, in what has been a relentless few months of bad news. Not only have over 9 million people been vaccinated but it looks like the vaccine reduces the possibility of transmission – alleluia. It’s far too soon to remove our present restrictions, but it really does look like there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thank God for all those who are administering the vaccine, testing people, nursing the hospitalised and putting their lives on the line. I hope that there will be some national recognition for those who over the last twelve months have faced danger every day supporting the sick and dying, driving public transport, delivering food and essentials, really just helping to keep society ticking along. They are all real heroes, it takes courage to face danger every day, despite the mental and physical exhaustion which all of them must experience.
It was a sad day yesterday when the news was announced of the death of Captain Sir Tom Moore. What an amazing gentleman, I have to say I shed a tear when I heard the news and went to church to light a candle. When we think ‘what can I do’, ‘what can I contribute’, perhaps it would be useful to look back and remember this gentleman who at the age of 99 years raised so much money and raised our national spirit. It really is never too late to have a go. May he rest in peace and rise in glory!
We continue on line during the lockdown and are planning our Lent course which will be offered on Zoom Tuesday 23 February – please watch this space for further news.
Take care. Stay safe
As the lockdown continues, and some of us become more used to taking part in the many events being offered online, there is one I’d like to bring to your attention. In Lent 2019 Father Fabrizio Pesce of St Peter’s Acton Green ran a Mindfulness Course for us at St Nicks, which was very well received. He is now planning to run a 21 day Meditation Challenge online which involves 15 minutes each day, starting later this month. If you are interested you can find further information here
As families continue to struggle with home schooling for their children there are still some who have no access to online facilities due to lack of appropriate hardware. Members of our local community have been running a collection point for unwanted laptops and tablets which can then be wiped of all data and given to children who still need them. The collection has gone very well so far, but more items are still needed. Please click here for further details. If anyone has a suitable item but is unable to deliver it to the collection point then please let me know and I can arrange collection from your location.
With every blessing