25th March 2020
We live in fast moving times. One minute I can go into church to pray, now that is impossible and I/all clergy whose houses are not physically attached to the church are banned from entering their church buildings. So we will arrange for our service tomorrow morning and on Sunday to be broadcast from the Parish Hall (as I can access without leaving the Vicarage garden). I have attached a copy of the service sheets for Thursday and this Sunday at the end of my letter.
I know for many this lock down is a lonely time. You may already have a selection of prayers you use frequently, however, I thought I would offer you just a couple which you might find useful at this time.
In the Morning…
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your disciples,
‘I am with you always’.
Be with me today, as I offer myself to you.
Hear my prayers for others and for myself,
and keep me in your care. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Before going to sleep…
God our Father, by whose mercy
the world turns safely into darkness and returns again to light:
we place in your hands our unfinished tasks,
our unsolved problems, and our unfulfilled hopes,
knowing that only what you bless will prosper.
To your love and protection
we commit each other and all those we love,
knowing that you alone are our sure defender,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Take care and God bless.
In these extraordinary times people are responding to the crisis in so many different ways. Some are deeply fearful, others are flouting requests to stay safe, a few are behaving disgracefully in other ways, but the majority are demonstrating wonderful generosity of spirit and self denial. Not surprisingly, our food banks are experiencing a huge increase in demand for food. At St Nick’s we usually have a basket at the back of church into which people can leave donations, but now that the church building is closed this is no longer possible. However, there is an alternative way of supporting them by donating money online. They can use these gifts to buy whatever is most needed and the order is delivered directly to the foodbank locations. If you would like to donate in this way to our local foodbank just follow this link:
It works well, I have tried it already!
There is an American lady named Kitty O’Meara who has previously worked as a teacher and spiritual care provider in hospital and hospice settings. Her response to the current situation was a prose poem which I think is very inspiring. Many of you will have read it already as it has ‘gone viral’ (an unfortunate phrase) on social media, but for those who have not I quote it below:
“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”
Kitty O’Meara’s poem has become shorthand for a silver-linings perspective during the coronavirus outbreak in the hope that something good can come out of this collective state of ‘together apart’ and I think it is worthy of reflection.
With every blessing
18th March 2020
I’m sorry to bombard you with lots of messages, Hayley and I are attempting to get as much information out to you as it becomes available.
The London bishops wrote to all clergy yesterday, they began with a quote from Saint Paul’s second letter to Timothy, which I think kind of sums up our approach to this unique situation.
“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7)
It is going to take all of us some time to get used to this new situation. We are going to have to explore how we communicate with each other, and how we worship together. It is vital that we remain the family, the community of St Nicholas, our public worship might be suspended but the life of God’s Kingdom is inextinguishable.
So here goes…
If you are on Facebook you will see that I have just posted my first video. Thursdays 9.30am Mass will be live on the St Nicholas Facebook page. This is a bit of an experiment. We will, following this posting, arrange for a service to be broadcast on Sunday morning.. I’ll let you know the time tomorrow, It will be about 9.30am and will last for 30 minutes. I will also post some liturgies, readings and prayers you can use at home.
Watch this space!
Keep safe, and be assured of my prayers.
On Tuesday of this week my attention was drawn to an article in the Daily Mail by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, responding to the current Coronavirus crisis, and encouraging us to pray. They wrote as follows:
‘Three thousand years ago, a young king of shepherd background called David wrote a song. It was a hit in his day and has remained so ever since. The shepherd song is about real life, not an idealised picture. It speaks of suffering and of facing enemies. Whether we are confident and brave, or doubt-filled and fearful, God is the source of love and hope.’
They were, of course, referring to Psalm 23.
Unfortunately we have had to cancel our Lent groups from this week onwards, but as it happens I had chosen ‘Crimond’, one of the hymn versions of this psalm, as the hymn we were planning to reflect on this Thursday. I have therefore including the following link in order that you can read roughly what I had been planning to say. I hope you will find it a helpful form of reflection.
With every blessing
12th March 2020
Yesterday we received a communication from Lambeth Palace via the Bishop of London. The Archbishop has decided that for the foreseeable time the Church should offer communion in one kind only and so from today this is what St Nicholas will do. It goes without saying that we continue to be vigilant in our personal hygiene, hand washing is a vital weapon in our armoury to prevent the transmission of this virus. The Archbishop has also asked that we refrain from physical contact, so we will continue with our present arrangements.
Please pray for all those involved in this present situation for all health care professionals and those involved in promoting public health.
Some dates for your diary :-
The children will be leading our Mothering Sunday All-Age service on Sunday 22 March at 10.30am.
On Sunday 7 June we will be ‘beating the bounds’ – in other words walking round the boundary of our parish. It’s going to be an afternoon for all the family. We will be hosting a picnic in Chiswick House grounds and hope to have games and activities for everybody. There will also be a treasure trail as we walk around our parish. Please keep the date free in your diary, it should be a fun day.
Fr Simon and I attended the Kensington Clergy Quiet Day yesterday. We had three excellent talks on the three temptations of
Christ, given by the priest/poet Malcolm Guite. Each one was summarised by one of his sonnets. The second temptation, ‘All the kingdoms of the world’, is quoted below. He wrote it some ten years ago, and is even more appropriate for today I think.
‘So here’s the deal and this is what you get:
The penthouse suite with world-commanding views,
The banker’s bonus and the private jet
Control and ownership of all the news
An ‘in’ to that exclusive one percent,
Who know the score, who really run the show
With interest on every penny lent
And sweeteners for cronies in the know.
A straight arrangement between me and you
No hell below or heaven high above
You just admit it, and give me my due
And wake up from this foolish dream of love…’
But Jesus laughed, ‘You are not what you seem.
Love is the waking life, you are the dream.’
With every blessing