10th June 2021
Next Monday 14th June marks the fourth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire. This was a major event in the recent history of London and the entire nation. St Nick’s will be joining with other churches across the country to remember this tragedy by ringing our church bell 72 times at 7pm, once for each victim of the fire. At 7.03pm there will be two minutes’ silence, as we remember those who died, and pray for all those still affected by the fire, four years on. There will then be four more rings, one for each year since the fire itself.
Bishop Graham writes: ‘There is a sense that until some measure of justice and closure has been achieved through the Grenfell Public Enquiry, and particularly bearing in mind those who continue to be affected by the Cladding Crisis, it is important to keep the memory of Grenfell in the public consciousness, particularly as public acts of remembrance are still limited this year due to restrictions on gathering due to the pandemic.’.
On Sunday the liturgical colour in church will be green as we start that long stretch of the liturgical year known as ‘Ordinary Time’ which runs right through to the beginning of Advent. This follows the brief period of Ordinary Time we had between the end of Christmas and beginning of Lent. Our former Archdeacon Stephan preached on the subject of Ordinary Time at my licensing service at St Nick’s some five years ago last week. He reminded us that, far from being a ‘filler’ between other liturgical seasons, it has its own meaning signified by its own colour. Derived from Latin, ‘ordinary’ means to rise up, to be stirred up and to grow. Green is a colour that evokes life and growth. Following the pandemic, this new season of Ordinary Time will be particularly important for us a church to stir up our faith and our spiritual life, to identify the new growth that has occurred during lockdown, and to revive all the good things we used to do that have been dormant during lockdown. It has been wonderful to see many of our congregation now back in church and I am looking forward to our first concert of the year at the end of this month!
With every blessing
3rd June 2021
As if on cue, 1 June, the first day of Summer – well according to the meteorologists – it was our hottest day so far. Alleluia, keep it coming, I’ve had enough of the cold and rain, but I bet you that if it gets warmer, or continues for more than a few weeks, I’ll start moaning that it’s all a bit too hot!
I remember when I lived for a few months in Namibia, I became really bored with the constant sun and its setting, within a matter of minutes, always at 6pm. I remember sitting in a garden well up in the North of Namibia and looking out over the veldt. You could see for miles, suddenly a few back clouds appeared as if out of nowhere, then the wind and finally upon the wind came the glorious smell of rain. I don’t think I had ever really been conscious of the smell of rain before, it was quite overwhelming. We sat transfixed, watching the rain getting closer, finally getting drenched with a torrent of life giving and life enhancing rain water. It was joyous and in that moment I began to understand something about hope.
At morning prayer this morning (Wednesday) I was reading a passage from Saint Paul’s great letter to the emerging, and a bit beleaguered, Christian community in Rome, chapter 5 verses 1-11. Paul is talking about our access to the Fathers forgiving love (grace) made possible through the action of Jesus on the cross. Paul talks a lot about hope. “Hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us”. It is Jesus’ self offering to the Father that gives us hope and gains our reconciliation with the Father and as a result we can be filled with joyful trust.
Life over the last 16 months has sometimes felt a bit bleak, it’s been manageable because in the end we have all hoped for something better. As the sun eventually emerges from the cold and the rain and as the rain eventually emerges from the drought and dust, so we will emerge from this pandemic. If through all of our experiences over the last few months our faith feels a little dry and dusty, remember – we are loved, we know this because of Jesus’ life and self offering to the Father and so we have hope and as St Pauls says Hope is not deceptive.
(I’m sure you realise that when I write this stuff, I am writing as much to myself as I am to you.!)
Following the recent conflicts and ongoing tension in the Holy Land, Archbishop Hosam, recently installed as Archbishop in Jerusalem, has asked churches within the Anglican Communion to join in offering this prayer:
Almighty and Everliving God: our days are in your hands. We lift up all those in the Holy Land who are victims of violence and injustice, that you might empower your Church to bring healing to the wounded, relief to the suffering and comfort to those who mourn. We pray also that you would soften the hearts of all those involved in the recent conflicts that they would be led to work for justice and lasting peace in the land where your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ first came to give hope and abundant life to all people. We ask this in His holy name. Amen
With every blessing
27th May 2021
At last the weather people tell us that there is a possibility of some warm weather arriving at the end of this week. I must say I don’t think I have ever known a colder April and May. Since the first lockdown a few of us have been meeting either virtually, or in person, on Friday for drinks. Talk about mad dogs and Englishmen going out in the midday sun. I don’t think mad dogs would have contemplated going out on some of the Friday evenings we have braved the cold. Still, it was worth it for the ability to meet together. The garden has suffered a bit as well, everything is a couple of weeks behind, even with a greenhouse. But there are green shoots developing and alongside all the rain that we have had when the heat arrives the garden will explode into life. It’s been a long hard Winter and Spring at church, but like the garden I do detect some green shoots. It was wonderful to be at the Friends AGM last Sunday evening. Such a delight to be with people again and we even managed a socially distanced glass of wine. All of a sudden we got a glimpse of what it was like pre-COVID and the possibility of a new future. For those of you who are around at weekends, please remember our Family Mass on the first Sunday of the month, the next mass will be on Sunday 6 June at 10.30am. Also in June we have our first Sunday afternoon concert and tea, it’s on Sunday 27 June and details are in this e-bulletin. Finally a date for your diary. I want to make Sunday the 5th September at 10.30am a ‘Back to Church’ Sunday. I’m having some invitations and posters printed, which I will hand out to you all. The idea is to use the invitation card to invite anybody you know to church on that Sunday morning. I hope we will be able to use Sunday 5th September as a relaunch Sunday as we look to the future and we look forward to our renewed life together as a parish community.