Magazine on line

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.

May 2020 – Magazine on-line

Prayer for today

Time of distress

Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference


Those of you old enough, will remember the television series of that title, which ran from 1958 to 1964, about a pair of private detectives who operated from the address 77 Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles – colloquially known as ‘Sunset Strip’.  And, if you are a bingo player, then you will know that even to this day when the caller calls out the number ‘77’, players respond by calling back ‘Sunset Strip’!

The reason the number 77 is on my mind is because I am writing this just a few days before I reach my 77th Birthday – but I don’t think I’m ready to go off into the sunset just yet!

Nevertheless, the Coronvavirus/Covid-19 Pandemic has caused all of us – whatever age we are, to contemplate our own mortality, and that of those whom we love.  These thoughts made me turn to a beautiful little book which I haven’t looked at for a long time.  It was given to me by Canon Martin Baddeley, Principal of the Southwark Ordination Course, way back in July 1994, at the end of my final year of training for ordination.

The book is Tides and Seasons : Modern prayers in the Celtic tradition, by David Adam, who was Vicar of Holy Island at the time.  In the preface, the author writes:

‘Everything in this life is visited by its tides and seasons.  This world is in a state of constant flux; all is flowing, changing.  The more alive and alert the creature is, the more likely it is to be changing regularly.  All of us are caught up in the pull of the ebb and flow of the whole of creation.  In each of us there are many strong currents at work.  We are a very small and frail craft in a mighty ocean.  Yet we may be privileged to discover, in the ebb and flow, that nothing is lost, only changed.  As the tide ebbs on one shore it flows on another.  In the ebbing, the sea is not diminished: as one area decreases, another is increasing.  The end of one thing always heralds the beginning of something new.  In the same way the beginning of something marks the end of an old order.

Within this pattern, we need to see that we are not just a single sequence of tides: we do not begin with the one flowing and end on the ebb.  We are more than an ocean with its ebbings and many flowings, many different seas and currents.  We are a whole world of tides with many oceans, and at different levels at the same time.  In times of diminishment especially, we need to be made aware of other shores, even of eternal reaches.  For all of us, as long as we are alive there are always new horizons…….  But the Christian doesn’t stop there…we believe in Jesus risen, and the eternal shore.

In this book I have attempted to look at the different tides of life, believing that for most of the time all of the tides are at work in us.  There is no doubt that we are caught up in cosmic, if not universal tides and seasons.  We cannot control them all, nor can we stand apart, but we can seek to be more receptive and aware.  We can affirm that we are influencing the whole of our world, as it is influencing us.  We can also affirm that God is deeply concerned, for he loves his world.  In looking at every tide it might make us face reality a little better………….’

The author then divides his book into sections representing the different tides at different stages of our lives:

Incoming Tide
Full Tide
Ebb Tide
Low Tide
Each containing appropriate prayers and meditations.
  In these times, I would just like to share with you one such piece, from the ‘Low Tide’ section:

In light defeating darkness,
In wisdom conquering foolishness,
In trust overcoming fearfulness,
Jesus Lives.

In strength coming to weakness,
In health rescuing from sickness,
In hope saving from despair,
Jesus Lives.

In love victorious over hatred,
In forgiveness dispelling anger,
In glory dispersing drabness,
Jesus Lives.

In joy growing from sorrow,
In life rising from death,
In God giving the victory,
Jesus Lives.

He holds the keys of love
Of peace
He holds the keys of life
Of death
He holds the keys of heaven
Of earth
He holds the keys of now
Of eternity.

Whatever tide we might be on, however many ebbs and flows might lie before us, these truths, I believe, can give us all the strength, hope and comfort we need when we do face the Sunset.

Fr. Derek

[The book Tides and Seasons by David Adam, was originally published by Triangle SPCK in 1989, ISBN number 0-281-04408-2.  I don’t know if it is still in print, but it is certainly worth seeking out]



‘Give me neither poverty nor riches, grant me only my share of food.’  (Proverbs 30:8 New Jerusalem Bible translation)

I am writing this just after having eaten some delicious buttered toast made with bread baked by one of my neighbours, who is a professional cook.  She has been having lockdown baking sessions, and distributing the fruits of her labours to neighbours – for free!  We have so far enjoyed delicious date and walnut bread, white bloomer loaf, and chocolate brownies…….

For many people, food is an important consideration at this time, whether it means relying on foodbanks, the generosity of neighbours, friends or family shopping for us, or ourselves joining the queues at supermarkets – which look horrendously long because of the 2 metre distancing rule.  Another of my neighbours told me that he queued for over an hour at a branch of Sainsburys.  On the other hand, Sue and I are making do with our little local Co‑op, and are actually doing quite well out of it.  What it doesn’t stock, we don’t have.  In fact, most of us can’t always get what we usually buy, and we are all having to be inventive with what is available – there’s certainly no shortage of cookery advice and recipes on TV and social media!

From my bookshelves I pulled down a book which was given to me a long time ago by a clergy friend who was into food and wine, and who was himself an excellent cook – he enjoyed hosting little dinner parties in his vicarage.  The book is called Loaves & Fishes – Food from Bible Times, by two American ladies, Malvina Kinard and Janet Crisler.

The frontispiece asks:

‘What did Noah and his family eat on the Ark?  What did manna taste like to the Children of Israel?  Did King Solomon serve as lavish a banquet to the Queen of Sheba as Pharaoh, Caesar Augustus or Nero set forth for their guests?  What sort of dinner might Martha have been cooking while her sister Mary “chose the better part” and listened to Jesus’ teachings?

Whether you have asked yourself these questions as you read the Bible or have ever wondered about the “daily bread” of the ancients, this unique cookbook and commentary will give you new and immediate kinship with the people of those times, through preparing and eating the foods (or their equivalents) which sustained them……..”

And so it goes on.

The book focuses on characters from both the Old Testament and the New Testament, such as Noah, Moses, David, Solomon, Caesar Augustus, Herod the Great, John the Baptist, Bethlehem Shepherds, Wise Men of the East, Tiberius Caesar, Archelaus, Disciples on the Galilean Shore, Antipas, Mary and Martha, Young Saul of Tarsus, Lydia – Seller of Purple, Paul in Greece, Agrippa, Nero…….’  Each brief chapter is introduced by a biblical passage, commentary and a suggested related menu commensurate with the status of the person in the chosen story.  It really is great fun!

To give you a ‘taste’, here’s a simple recipe for a ‘starter’ from the section on Martha and Mary:

‘Bethany Omelette with Vegetables

One and a half tablespoons of butter
One tablespoon of minced onion
Half a cup of minced lamb
Quarter of a pound of mushrooms, chopped
Six eggs
Half a cup of cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Two tablespoons of grated hard cheese

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet.  Sauté the onion, then add lamb and mushrooms, and cook. Combine eggs with cream and seasonings; pour over mixture in skillet.  Heat slowly, then add cheese and glaze in the oven.  Serve at once.’

The book’s inside back flap reads:

‘Whether read for new insight on an often-overlooked aspect of the Bible, or used to prepare meals which will put your family in closer touch with the life it depicts, Loaves & Fishes is a loving affirmation of thanksgiving to God for the blessing of the bounty of the earth and our grateful enjoyment of it.’

Amen to that!

Fr. Derek

PS Loaves & Fishes was an American publication, way back in 1975, by Keats Publishing Inc, of New Canaan, Connecticut.  Its ISBN number was 87983-110-3. I don’t know if it would still be available to buy.

But all is not lost!  Don’t forget the little cookbook we ourselves at St. Michael’s produced back in 2009, for sale in aid of the church heating fund!

Editor’s note.  Copies of the above mentioned cookbook are still available, either as a paper copy, or we can make it available as a pdf version if that is your preference.  Speak to Nigel or Penny Parsons.


A Cathedral Full Of Buzz!

The English Cathedrals Association has designated the year 2020 as Year of Cathedrals; Year of Pilgrimage.  In February, the General Synod had a discussion about cathedrals.  They are regional centres for mission, prayer and worship, often holding services a number of times during the day. Recently, the Bishop of Manchester wrote: -

“Cathedrals are a vital part of our church life, showcasing what the Church of England can do.”  Mary and I visited his Cathedral in 2018. Dozens of children were also visiting with their clipboards, following the city centre’s sculpture trail of giant-sized bees.  There was a considerable buzz of excitement inside!  Altogether, it is estimated that 30,000 people took part in the art trail.

Sadly, we were not able to stay for Evening Prayer but we did enjoy seeing the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She is wearing a thick headscarf to keep off the northerly breeze.  The model for the statue was a young factory worker employed by the local cotton mill.

The statue of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and Mother of God, is on the outside of the building, facing outwards.  Christians are able to turn to her and follow her example of fidelity, love and devotion.  “By her complete adherence to God’s Will, the Virgin Mary is the Church’s model of faith and charity.”  (CCC 967) Perhaps she is a model for us all!

Michael Speight

2020:  WHO’s Year of the Nurse  

When the WHO (World Health Organisation) decided to make 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, they based it on the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth on 12th May 1820.

But with the arrival of the coronavirus, it is a remarkably apt year to celebrate all that nurses do for us.

As the ICN (International Council of Nurses) says: “All around the world, nurses are working tirelessly to provide the care and attention people need, whenever and wherever they need it.  Nurses are central to the delivery of health care; nurses are making an invaluable contribution to the health of people globally.”

Nursing as a vocation goes back to the Early Church. When plague struck the Roman world in the third century, it was Christians who tended the sick and dying, often at great personal cost.  Their self-sacrifice made a huge impression on Roman society.  Centuries later, in medieval Europe, it was the monastic orders that provided health care.

Still centuries later, during the Crimean War (1853-56) Florence Nightingale saved thousands of lives when she transformed the field hospitals, hugely improving the standards of care for wounded and dying soldiers.

In fact, Florence Nightingale deserves the credit for establishing the modern profession of nursing and its structures of training.  Although of course medical science has advanced since her time, the basic ethos of nursing care remains today close to Nightingale’s vision.

Nursing is frequently described as a vocation, and it is one to which many Christians are called.  Nightingale wrote of being ‘called’ by God, after having had a vivid religious conversion as a teenager.  Writing in February 1837, she stated: “God has spoken to me and called me to His Service.”

Four years before going to Crimea, she studied at a Lutheran religious community in Germany which trained deaconesses in medical skills, nursing, and theology.  Many of the ideas that Nightingale adopted for her nurses came from that religious community.

Thus, Nightingale’s training programme was not solely devoted to secular medical sciences.  Her student nurses were required to attend chapel, and her nurses read prayers on the wards.

Nightingale wrote many letters of spiritual encouragement to her students.  To one, she wrote that Christ considered it an “honour to serve the poorest and the meanest… He will not give His crown except to those who have borne His cross… Enduring hardship is what He encourages and rewards.”

The Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally trained and worked as a nurse before being appointed to senior positions in the Health Service.  She was Chief Nursing Officer for England between 1999 to 2004.

She says: “I became a Christian as a teenager and wanted to follow Christ with my whole life.  Rather than having two careers, I have had one vocation: to follow Jesus Christ, to know Him, and to make Him known.”

Certainly, of all the professions, nursing has one of the strongest claims to being rooted in the Gospel.  Christian nurses implicitly witness to Christ in caring for others.

From Parish Pump


Loneliness at the Virtual Chelsea Flower Show, 19th – 23rd May

All sorts of themes are chosen for the Chelsea Flower Show, but this year’s theme turned out to be scarily appropriate for the Spring of 2020:  loneliness and mental health.

For, according to Sue Briggs, RHS Director General, “many feel they need gardening in their life now more than ever before, for their mental and physical wellbeing during this national emergency.”

Writing on RHS website (www.rhs.org.uk), Sue Briggs says: “This applies to everyone from those who are having to self-isolate to families planning, maybe for the first time, to grow their own food.”

And so, “for these reasons, and to do more to support the industry, the RHS will create a Virtual RHS Chelsea Flower Show, to celebrate our great horticultural industry and gardening heritage.”  The Virtual Show will run from Tuesday 19th May to Saturday 23rd May.

Guy Barker, chief horticulturalist at the RHS said: “Nurturing plants can make you less lonely and release you from troubles.”

From Parish Pump


The Perils of a Scout Camp

The Rectory
St James the Least of All

My dear Nephew Darren

It seems that the basics of parish ministry are no longer taught in theological colleges.  Don’t you know anything about consulting your diary in public?  When you are asked if you are free on a certain date, accepted practice is to open it so that the enquirer cannot quite see.  You then shake your head sadly, saying you are committed to blessing a new tea urn, or on some other vital ecclesiastical activity that day.  Then you regretfully give your apologies.  You do not open the thing in full view of your enquirer, so he can see the blank pages!  Really, it serves you right that you are now committed to going on Scout camp.

The last time I agreed to pay the Scouts a visit was when I found that there was a splendid restaurant only a mile away from their camp.  I arrived and parked my car by the side of the river where they were all canoeing, wound down the car window and made encouraging noises for some minutes before explaining I had to find a garage for petrol.

Several hours later, after an excellent lunch, I drove to where they were now rock climbing, wound down the car window and made encouraging noises for some minutes before explaining that I had a standing committee to return to that evening.  It was a splendid day.

You, however, will experience the charms of two days under canvas.  Whatever site for your tent you choose, it will be the one that floods first.  The early hours will undoubtedly find you wading about in water in the pitch dark, retrieving your sleeping bag and clothes – which you will then have to wear for the rest of the day.  Watch out for the food, as well: all camp food contains grass and usually sheep droppings.  This will make you ill, though for some reason Scouts thrive on it.

Whatever the weather and whatever activities you do each day, you will end up wet, chilled and bruised.  At least your evenings will be warm, for you are bound to spend them at Casualty, with youngsters suffering from sprained ankles or dislocated shoulders.

My only advice is to use those hours in Casualty to practise the art of opening your diary in a way that only YOU can see it.

Your loving uncle,


A little Quiz from the WI

(curtesy of Cliff Hurst)

These are all stations on the TFL (tube) system

1.         A good place for a Mediterranean Holiday?

2.        Station used by the Knights of St John?

3.        Seasick Cleric?

4.        Not a good place for a landslide?

5.        Not quite Kolkuta or Chennai?

6.        Seasick Magician?

7.        2 Ply or 3 ply or perhaps the other way round?

8.        Where to meet a Bear?

9.        Best not annoy a Monarch?

10.      Avoid the missiles at this destination?

11.       Get your fresh bread here?

12.      They’ve got more Rabbit than Sainsburys

13.      Two stations named for Victoria’s husband

14.      Ideal place for a wedding?

15.      Possibly Copper?

16.      Where to establish a High church?

17.      Stations designated North. South, East, West, Central, Town & Main Line

18.      Torn Shirt?

19.      A good place to find a handyman?

20.     The Fire Brigade arrived too late to save this tree!

21.      Tony Hancock lived at 23 Railway Cuttings here

22.     No tree ever produced leaves of this colour!

23.     Where to watch the horses jump!

24.     Not where Shakespeare lived!

25.     Abba’s first hit in U.K

We will give you the answers at a later date