The material included from this magazine is offered in good faith. Any opinions or views are not necessarily those of the Incumbent or the PCC. Some material may be copyright, every effort has been made to find and acknowledge copyright holders. Material from this magazine should not be reproduced without the permission of S. Michaels PCC.
June 2020 – Magazine on-line
Jan Gallehawk asked me to print this lovely piece in the magazine in memory of her husband Dave. I will print it again in the next magazine we produce, hopefully August.
ALL TOGETHER NOW: ONE, TWO, THREE!
Like many thousands of other people, due to the ongoing Coronavirus/Covid-19 situation, Sue and I have just had to cancel our Summer holiday.
OK, nothing special or noteworthy about that, you might think. But, as some readers know, Sue and I are ‘creatures of habit’, and for many, many years, we have been going to the same holiday destination – a picturesque village on the shores of a northern Italian lake, where we stay in a small family-run lakeside hotel. And the thing we shall miss out on most is not the glorious scenery, nor the amazing weather, the fantastic food and wine; the mini-cruises up and down and around the huge lake, hopping on and off at villages, islands, gardens; and not even that incomparable ‘continental buzz’ you get just from being on the European mainland.
No, wonderful as all of these things are, what we shall miss most is the enriched and enriching community which gathers there regularly, year by year, at the same time. In that tiny corner of the southern Alps, we have met and made friends with people from all over the UK and the rest of Europe – including people from places as diverse as Edinburgh, Paris, Salzburg, Shrewsbury, Amsterdam, Nuremburg, Zurich, Brussels, Florence, York ......and so on (even Bexley!)
And, of course, because we human beings are essentially ‘social animals’, it is missing ‘community’, in its many different forms, which is affecting us most, in these strange times. There may be individuals who are called to live the life of a hermit, but such are very few and far between. For most of us, community (from the Latin communitatem, meaning ‘with unity’ – or ‘togetherness’) is the thing!
Whether it be the community of our immediate family, our circle of friends, our workplace colleagues, neighbours, the pub, sporting fraternities, clubs and societies we belong to, classes, and many more. Technology has wonderful, inventive and innovative ways of keeping us in touch (unless you are technologically challenged, like me!), but it’s just not the same as really being there, being physically together.
And of course, for those of us who are Christians, we are desperately missing the community of the Church.
I am writing this as we approach Trinity Sunday, when Christians celebrate the revelation and mystery of the nature of God – who is One, and yet is ‘Three in One’, a community of love, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The very essence of God himself is community.
It is significant that, in these times, our nation and the world are re-discovering aspects of community, of ‘being in this together’, which is being manifested in so many ways – one example being the new neighbourliness which has emerged during lockdown.
And we must hope and pray that this will not fade away when things return to some kind of ‘normality’. We must hope and pray that people will have learned that we are one, that man-made barriers to community – and not least the ugly face of narrow nationalism such as has prevailed in our own nation’s politics, must be overcome.
In the First Letter of St. John we read that ‘God is love, and whoever lives in love lives in union with God and God lives in union with them. Love is made perfect in us.’ (1 John 4 : 16b-17a). Within these powerful and beautiful words is held the primary energy and underlying wisdom of any authentic restoration of community. Or, to put it another way, can we reach out to others without a recognition that Christ is continually reaching out to us, in love and acceptance.
We can be greatly strengthened in our search for a more generous and life-giving understanding of our neighbour, whether next door or far away, when we recognise in her or him the face of Christ. Such a perception of ‘the other’ propels us out of our often self-absorbed, rather privatised life-styles. It underlines the fact that we are not really in a position to understand even a fragment of the mystery of God’s love if we have not walked in companionship with our sisters and brothers. And it is this kind of deep-rooted solidarity which will be present within re-energised communities.
Peter W Millar, a former Warden of Iona Abbey, in Scotland, writes: ‘Perhaps that is why I have always been touched by an old African saying which has contemporary relevance:
and drink together;
Talk and laugh together;
Enjoy life together;
But never call it friendship
Until we have wept together.’
In Old Testament times there was a Hebrew concept of ‘corporate personality’ in which people were not thought of as separate individuals, totally independent of others; rather, they belonged to a community, and shared their characteristics and talents with one another. If one member of the community committed an offence, then they were all guilty, and conversely if one had cause for rejoicing, all shared that joy. St. Paul makes beautiful use of this concept in his First Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 12:1-26).
And as we at St. Michael’s begin to grapple with the rebuilding of our Church Community in the wake of the pandemic, let us remember that we are bound together in Christ: enfolded as a pilgrim people with many questions and many uncertainties, in the light and forgiving love of the One who walks with us. And it is in this amazing hope that we can begin to find community, not as an abstract philosophy or a warm word, but rather as a vibrant reality revealing many surprises.
Peter W Millar, whom I quoted earlier, also writes:
‘The last word must not be left with those who believe that individual self-enhancement regardless of others, is the ultimate goal of the human journey. Our times are revealing more clearly than ever, just how interconnected we all are on this small, yet amazingly diverse, planet.’
(from the book ‘WISDOM IS CALLING – An anthology of hope: an agenda for change)
So let’s finish with a prayer, by a man called Michael McCoy:
‘Holy, loving, inviting God
In Jesus you call us to yourself
And make us into a holy, loving and inviting people.
May we proclaim the good news of your reign
In all we say
In all we do
In all we are
(in this parish/congregation/ community).
And, in honour of the Most Holy Trinity:
God the Sending One, may your love transform us in
God the Sent One, may your grace liberate us in ministry
God our Strengthener as we go, may your power lead us
Gently in mission.
Why holding an Arts Festival in church is not a good idea
St James the Least of All
My dear Nephew Darren
Your decision to hold a Summer weekend Arts Festival in church, bringing culture to your inner-city streets, was most commendable. Pity, how it all turned out.
The Friday evening started well with the concert of Scott Joplin piano music. Obviously knowing that the pieces were originally played in seedy bars on pianos wildly out of tune with several notes missing, your committee must have gone to endless trouble to find precisely the right instrument. Your stage-hands, were, however, less careful and hadn’t noticed that the platform had a noticeable list to port. After each piece, the pianist had to relocate the piano stool closer to his nomadic piano, with the last piece being performed with both entirely out of sight behind the pulpit.
It created much innocent entertainment for the audience, but the fault really should have been remedied before the Saturday evening choir concert. Discarded kneelers and rotting hymn books do not form a stable base for a stage supporting an 80-strong choir. So when it came to the enthusiastic rendering of hits from ‘Oklahoma’, with copious hand movements, it came as something of a relief that the stage took this as the moment to signal defeat, tipping the tenors behind the altar. The audience’s thunderous applause, assuming this was a carefully choreographed part of the performance, was quite touching. I am sure all the compensation claims will soon be sorted out.
Your one great mistake was to take on responsibility for organising the refreshments afterwards. Church entertainments committees have centuries of collective experience in judging the numbers of ham sandwiches and bottles of milk required. I am forever proud that our own ladies – through years of experience – can now get five cups of tea from every tea bag and can butter bread so thinly that one pack can last several months.
What you now do with 29 surplus loaves of bread is a problem you have brought upon yourself. You could possibly use them for supporting the stage next year.
Your loving uncle,
Answers to ‘A little Quiz from the WI’
(courtesy of Cliff Hurst)
Here are the answers to the stations on the TFL (tube) system Quiz from last month
1. A good place for a Mediterranean Holiday? Cyprus
2. Station used by the Knights of St John? Temple
3. Seasick Cleric? Parsons Green
4. Not a good place for a landslide? Mudchute
5. Not quite Kolkuta or Chennai? East India
6. Seasick Magician? Greenwich
7. 2 Ply or 3 ply or perhaps the other way round? Woolwich
8. Where to meet a Bear? Paddington
9. Best not annoy a Monarch? King's Cross
10. Avoid the missiles at this destination? Cannon Street
11. Get your fresh bread here? Baker Street
12. They’ve got more Rabbit than Sainsburys Warren Street
13. Two stations named for Victoria’s husband Prince Regent and Royal Albert
14. Ideal place for a wedding? Whitechapel
15. Possibly Copper? Golders Green
16. Where to establish a High church? All Saints
17. Stations designated North. South, East, West, Central, Acton
Town & Main Line
18. Torn Shirt? Cutty Sark
19. A good place to find a handyman? Carpenters Park
20. The Fire Brigade arrived too late to save this tree! Burnt Oak
21. Tony Hancock lived at 23 Railway Cuttings here Cheam
22. No tree ever produced leaves of this colour! Whyteleafe
23. Where to watch the horses jump! Tattenham Corner
24. Not where Shakespeare lived! Stratford
25. Abba’s first hit in U.K Waterloo
David Pickup, a solicitor, considers possible saints for IT.
Lockdown, you and IT
How are you getting on with technology? The coronavirus pandemic has driven hundreds of millions of us to use it more than ever, as we sit at home in frustrated isolation.
If you are used to digital meetings and Zoom, it is not a problem, but for millions of grandparents wanting to see their families, or non-techie people wanting to see their friends, it has been quite a learning curve. So, is there a patron saint of computers and electronics and all the difficult stuff?
Some people say the patron saint of the internet should be Saint Isidore of Seville, a Bishop and scholar in the Seventh Century who wrote a book called Etymologies or The Origins, in which he tried to record everything that was known. That seems to be a good basis for sainthood, or at least for the internet.
Another candidate is Saint Eligius who lived about the same time. He is quite busy already as the patron saint of goldsmiths, metalworkers, vets, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), horses and those who work with them. His main qualification seems to have been his ability to make things.
My suggestion is Zebedee. No, not the character from The Magic Roundabout but the father of James and John. After all, consider this: “James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John…were in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them. (Matt. 4:21)
Ok, it is not the internet, but Zebedee knew about mending a net which would have had both good and bad stuff all over it.
Certainly, whenever I get in an IT muddle during this lockdown, I would welcome any patron saint that was willing to help me!
A prayer for Trinity Sunday…
O may God shield me, and
may God fill,
O may God watch me, and may God hold;
O may God bring me where peace is still,
To the King’s land, eternity’s fold.
Praise to the Father, praise to the Son,
Praise to the Spirit, the Three in One.
From The Creed Prayer, poems of the Western Highlanders