Pastoral Letter - 23rd October
Dear Friends, Two texts from the scriptures as we await the Rededication of our beloved church this coming Sunday: "Surely the Lord is in this place, this is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of Heaven." Genesis, Chapter 28 verses 16 & 17. "God is doing a new thing." Isaiah 43 v 19. Long before detailed records exist of the people who congregated here on the banks of the Thames, in the year 1332 when there is a record of the first Vicar of Twickenham William Broun being installed, (Presented by the Prior and Convent of St. Valerie in Picardy on November 12th and presented by King Edward lll), it was decided to set aside a certain area of this growing community as a sacred site which celebrated the things of God. In so doing it expressed a central feature of the Gospel "And God made His home among us." John Chapter 1 v 14 (The Greek suggests "pitch His tent among us.") In other words, He sought to make Himself known to us, wanted our lives and His to be shared in sacred, life giving communion and companionship. Here, on this soil, children were born, decisions were needed to be reached, negotiations had to take place as to how one person related to another, people fell in love and wished to pledge their lives to one another, illnesses were endured, lives ceased, tears were shed, craftsmen fashioned things of beauty as well as use, music sounded, laughter was heard, people drank, people ate, people fought, people loved and yet more children were born and subsequently Baptised. At the heart of all those lives stood our church, actually a preceding church but on the same site, humbler, smaller, simpler, but no less sacred. A place where people could meet together, a place where people could meet with God. A place set aside for the specific use of the residents of Twickenham to do both of these significant things in sanctuary, in safety and surrounded by things of beauty. Over the centuries many people’s lives have been lived around this place, it has been the honoured location to bring children fresh from the womb to be prayed over, given thanks for, dedicated, Baptised into the Body of Christ. It has been the celebrated place where couples betrothed have been bound together for the rest of their lives in the commitment and contract of marriage. It has been the hallowed place where bodies have been brought when breath has left them, here again to be given thanks for and prayed into their journey to new life. Here it is that the scriptures have been read, re-read, reverenced and revered for hundreds of years. Here the Resurrection has been proclaimed, candles have been lit, anthems sung, in celebration of all that Christ, Incarnate, Crucified, Risen, has won for us. Here people have crept in silently, stealthily, to pray their private prayers, for love, for food, for a cure, for forgiveness, for a loved one, for a better harvest, for so many things craved for as people have longed for a life filled with a deeper sense of worth, wholeness and wonder. Here people have felt rejection, abandoned by God, and found it difficult to re-enter its doors. Here news has been relayed of wars lost, wars won, taxes imposed, withdrawn. Here a million different lives have experienced a trillion different moods and emotions and through it all the candle celebrating God`s abiding presence at the heart of this community has shone out strong, warm and radiant, welcoming and reassuring, with God`s essential message to humanity: It is I who made you live. It is I who look at you with a parent’s love. It is I who cries when you cry and Laughs when you laugh. It is I who rejoice when you turn to me When you are in need, That I may embrace you and assure you Of my presence and my love. It is I who will accompany you Throughout your life, From when you were homed In your mother’s womb Until you come home To me in Heaven. I, your creator God, invite you To celebrate and know the gift of life Through being creative in your Living, in your loving, In your work, in your worship, For to be creative is to feel The very vibrancy of being alive. It is I who call you to carry on My work in this world and help transform Darkness into light, Pain into peace, Injustice into freedom, Sadness into song. It is I who leave you, Not cut off from the energy of Heaven, But who implants within you A spark of the Divine to Light and guide your way, Inspire and inflect each action, Each desire, to help you to recognise Those in whom that light also burns, That you may warm each other’s souls And encourage greater things within each other. It is I who call you friends and Entrust to you the building of my Kingdom. It is I who made this a place centuries ago Where my spirit dwells, And here my presence continues to Rest, dwell, burn, be offered To all who look for me in this church; Ever fresh for each generation, To come to receive The strength and stimulation My Spirit alone can bring. And it is I who call you now To come to this place and hear These words anew, that they May resonate within you And open the eyes of your heart To my future for you. "Surely the Lord is in this place This is none other than the House of God and this is the Gate of Heaven." So, as we rededicate this cherished church that has woven its way into the fabric of so many lives, we give thanks for God’s commitment to anchor Himself on the banks of the Thames for so many generations. We renew our prayer for: those who have been Baptised here, those who have been married here, those whose funerals have taken place here, those whose bodily remains rest here, those who have sought God’s intervention and inspiration here, those who have known healing here, those who have looked for and found friendship here, those who have heard the scriptures proclaimed here, those who have come to faith here, those who will continue to bring their children here to be nurtured with a sense of God’s loving purpose for their lives, those who will come in their attempt to make sense of who they are here, those who will seek the clarity of mind to make the right decisions here, those who will come to deal with new realisations and experiences which will happen in decades, centuries to come and seek, as we have sought, the mind of Christ to negotiate the challenges and opportunities of future generations. In Blessing the Paschal Candle to shine glorious and defiant at the heart of our church, which we will do as the very first act in the Rededication Service on Sunday, we note there on the wax the Alpha and Omega which testify to the truth that "Christ is the beginning and the end, all time belongs to Him and all ages." We will offer thanks for all those who have ensured that this sanctuary space has survived through so many centuries and pray that it will for centuries to come. We will give thanks for the people and priests who have reverenced the scriptures and celebrated the sacraments in this place, we will give thanks for all those whose faithful prayers have kept this building warm with a sense of God. We will give thanks for those who have kindled a vision of this as a place where God will continue to seek to relate to His people, refreshing and resourcing them for ministry and mission to emerging needs and children yet unborn. We will give thanks for all those who have invested in the vision of an enhanced space for worship and sacred hospitality, for our architect and builders, craftswomen and men, and for all who have been involved, even unknowingly, in producing the material for this new experience of Church here at St Mary’s. We will give thanks for all that we will now be able to do which we were unable to do before when things were less flexible in our nave. We will give thanks that our unchanging God calls us to continue to celebrate Him and make Him known in the changing needs of His people, through the ongoing life of this place. We will give thanks for all that we will experience of Him here over the coming years as we ask God to fill anew this our church with His life giving Spirit and the blessing of His ongoing presence: Here to reveal His purpose and His peace. Here to make known to us His saving truth. Here to welcome new members of the Christian family. Here to engage with us in the affairs of our day. Here to be a resource for the weak and the sorrowful. Here to be healing and forgiveness for those who crave His transforming touch. Here to offer energy to those wanting to be part of the enterprise of the Holy Spirit. Here to create light when things seem to be at their darkest. Here to befriend when life seems lonely. Here to offer acceptance when others have rejected. Here to offer hope when things seem bleak. Here to celebrate the things of the Spirit, which has given strength, stimulation, sustenance and succour to generations before us. Here to enfold us in His love and help us know that we are His precious children. Lord God, We give thanks for this house of prayer, This church of St Mary’s Twickenham. Fill it. Renew it. Empower it. Anoint it, To be what you would have it be: To speak with eloquence To our generation and beyond, With your call to live out The values of your kingdom; To change lives as you changed lives; To stand, anchored in the soil of our parish Reaching out into the Heavens where you reign, Celebrating your ongoing commitment To share in the realities of our lives As you call each one of us To know the reality of your love. Bless our church anew Creator God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN.
SERVICE THIS SUNDAY
This Sunday our 9.30am service will be transmitted live from church. It will be a service of Rededication following the extensive reordering work. The service will be led by The Right Reverend Dr +Graham Tomlin, Bishop of Kensington.
You can download a copy of the service: CLICK HERE
Join the service by clicking on this link: https://vimeo.com/event/358771
Please click here to access the Report which Charlotte West gave at our recent APCM, on the progress toward this moment, from its genesis at the Vision Day in 2002, the first Reordering Meeting held on 18th December 2007 until the opening by The Bishop of Kensington on 25th October 2020.
Now that the work on our church has been completed, I am pleased to announce that we will be open for worship and for personal prayer.
We will continue with Zoom services at 9.30am each Sunday, as current Covid restrictions do not allow all those who usually attend our church to be present at a single service and because this allows everyone, including those who are vulnerable, shielding or apprehensive about mixing with others, to be part of the worshipping community.
From Sunday 1st November, the Feast of All Saints, we will be celebrating a Eucharist in church at 11am. You can book one of the 30 seats available by phoning or emailing Betty Miller.
To give everyone the opportunity of coming, you may book once a month initially, otherwise the same people will come each week at the expense of others. We will try this in the short term, as we assess what the demand may be.
We will be seeking to arrange specific services for children and young people and I will get back to you about this as soon as I am able.
The church will also be open for Personal Prayer: 3pm-5pm each Sunday and 10am-11.30am each Wednesday.
The church is already a warm and presence filled space but one which is waiting to welcome worshippers back to lend their energy to a building which has supported thousands of residents of Twickenham through all manner of experiences in its almost 700 year history.
I hope to see you there soon. Blessings and best wishes, Jeff