Dear Friends Tuesday 1 September
It’s thirteen years to the day today that I was inducted as Vicar of St Nicholas, Chiswick. It’s amazing how time has flown, youngsters who were still at primary school have now left university and are successfully making their way in the world. So many of those who were with me at my induction service have either been promoted to glory, or moved away from London to begin new lives all over the world.
Prior to my move down South, I had spent all my working life in Manchester, I was happy, confident, I knew my surroundings and was secure. I had never intended to move down South, but God had other plans. In considering my next move I rather arrogantly had a list of requirements which the next parish had to meet before I would consider applying. The parish profile of St Nicholas fell into my lap and it ticked every box! God it seems was throwing down a challenge, I had to apply. To change jobs is stressful enough, to move house, leave friends behind and to begin again was on another level. Looking back the first year was difficult, I’m not sure I ever want to do that again.
It seems to me that the Church does its thinking, its theology on the move. Movement, confronts us with new challenges, we need to adapt, so too with our understanding of God, when we move, when we are confronted with the new we grow. I now understand that that first year of my time at St Nicks was as difficult for the church community as it was for me. After over thirty years of Fr Patrick’s ministry, I was certainly a change, and I suspect for some, a real challenge, that is the nature of change. Thirteen years later we have got to know and trust one another, we have achieved some amazing things together, but we must never be complacent. We are now faced with a new challenge COVID19 has turned virtually everything upside down. As a church community we are going to have to re-build. It will take time and as I said at evensong on Sunday, we might not see the results of our efforts, the point is to trust God as we journey on. We are a pilgrim people and God accompanies us on our journeying, we need attentive eyes and ears as we try to discern God’s vision for us. However frightening the initial change might be let us trust God’s purpose for us.
P.S. Don’t forget that on Sunday 20 September we begin a new adventure. At 11.00am we will inaugurate a new family Mass/ Service, it’s designed to be fun, interactive and will last no longer that 45 minutes, sometimes a bit shorter. It’s for everybody and anybody, for children, parents and anybody to wants something a little bit different from what we have been used to at St Nicks, it will still retain our catholic liturgical identity, but will be less formal that our usual Parish Mass. Come along and give it a go. Above all please tell your neighbours, family and friends and invite them along.
This week in our prayers we remember particularly all the young people returning to school and college in the next week or two, also for the schools in our parish where, I’m told, staff have been working hard to ensure a smooth and safe return. Our eight year old grandson told us last week that he is feeling very anxious about this coming term. He longs to see his friends again but ‘what will it feel like?’ The beginning of a new academic year always carries with it anxieties for many children – going into a new class, with a new teacher, and probably a different classroom. And that’s before they have to think about the new Covid restrictions.
We remember too all those being encouraged to return to their places of work after many months of working from home, especially if they are anxious about their travel arrangements. What will it be like using public transport, particularly for those who haven’t ventured onto a bus or tube for months?
On a more positive note, I hope many of you will already be familiar with the Chiswick Book Festival. The organising team have worked incredibly hard, as usual, and put together a splendid programme online with many distinguished authors. Details can be viewed at www.chiswickbookfestival.net. It’s an amazing non-profit making community event that brings together writers and readers and benefits a number of related charities. I encourage you to look at what’s on offer, sign up for those you would like to watch and support them financially as generously as you are able.
With every blessing