One of the highlights of the Church's year is when we light the Paschal Candle on Easter morning. This is lit to celebrate the presence of the Risen Christ in our midst and this candle burns:
At the heart of our church throughout the whole of Eastertide,
Sits beside the Font at all other times and at Baptisms is used to light candles for each candidate to express the fact that each of them share in the new life He won for us on the Cross and
Stands besides Coffins at Funerals to celebrate the fact that the Risen Christ accompanies us on our journey from this life to the place He has prepared for us, beyond the shadow of death, to the brightness of Heaven.
Only those of you who get up early to be in church on Easter morning will have heard the ancient prayer as we Bless the candle and dedicate it to be a symbol of the Living Christ. We stud the wax with five nails, each symbolising the nails which pierced Jesus` body on the Cross, then the Priest traces the images of Alpha and Omega which you may have noticed are at the top and bottom of the candle and says:
"You Lord are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. All time belongs to you and all ages."
This week, in the second "movement" of the ANTHEM OF GRATITUDE which you have contributed to the composition of, we specifically reflect on how, during Lockdown 2020, our sense of time, our relationship with time, has been changed.
Many of you, in writing to me, expressed the opinion that, prevented from travelling into work, seeing friends, going out shopping, visiting the theatre, galleries or cinema, being able to go away on holiday, even leaving your home in many cases, your usual routine was fundamentally altered.
Many of us found that our sleeping patterns were disturbed, for example, for the past six months, I have been annoyingly awoken by my body clock just before 5am each day, something I have never done before. Because of our being awake, alert, aware at different times in different circumstances, many of us saw the world in ways which were uncommon and unfamiliar to us. Having so much time to use in different ways, we experienced it in new ways too.
Because we were not rushing around, we had more time to attend to things we may previously have ignored or found excuses, through "busy-ness," to put off for another day. There was a stillness, a cessation, a stopping, which some felt more comfortable with than others. But what it did was give us all an opportunity to attend to "things within."
Several of us have taken the opportunity to learn new skills, to be in touch with friends we may have drifted away from and not been in proper contact with for some time. Some of us may have found ourselves giving attention to aspects of our faith which, at other points in our lives, we may not have had the chance to think about as deeply.
Others may even have had the unusual opportunity to get to know themselves better, who we are beyond the role we play at work, when we interact with friends, when we travel, who we are when we are not rushing around trying to give the impression of how important and busy we are. We have all had ample time to consider who we essentially are when stripped of all else except our true and exposed personality- for better and for worse!
Time. It is as though not only time but the speed at which we have been living has been slowed down. Instead of the fastest metaphorical high speed train, we find ourselves in an old fashioned "stopping" train, slowly crossing the country, offering us the opportunity to look out of the windows and see the world in a less hurried way.
At the depth of Lockdown, a stillness rested even upon the frenetic city in which many of us live, when, just a few months ago, busy-ness, speed, crowds, noise, were all around. And some have used this time to experience time in a different way and have written to me of their gratitude for this enhanced experience. Hence below are the contributions made by members of the congregation and those who have become a welcome part of our "Covid Community" from other parishes, in relation to time. I hope and pray that we all have time not just to read these, but to reflect upon them and through them, recapture a renewed sense of the privilege of being given time to experience God's gift of life here on earth in all its beauty and wonder and time too to make a difference to the lives of others while we have time so to do.
With blessings and best wishes
ANTHEM OF GRATITUDE
Lord of beauty, Lord of time, Lord of life, we give you thanks and praise for the many ways in which we have felt stimulated and sustained by you throughout the recent months. Specifically, Lord of time, we have you thanks:
For time to spend in the kitchen learning new recipes and rekindling a love of cooking.
For time to make bread.
For time to do practical jobs that have been so rewarding to do.
For time to spend standing in our gardens, sensing the wonder of things and reflecting on the good things which give us a sense of wellbeing and gratitude for being alive.
For time to smell the roses, as for some of us in previous times, there was no time to even notice the roses, leave alone smell them!
For time to reflect upon the writings of William Blake. e.g. "To see the world in a grain of sand and Heaven in a wild flower." and reflect upon what Kundera wrote about in "Slowness."
Having time with wives, husbands, partners, children, unhurried time which has allowed us to get to know each other more deeply, talk at length about those things we said "we did not have time for" previously, in what increasingly feels like our "previous lives."
For the chance to "go to church" while still being in bed!
For time to swim in the river.
For time to read and walk and talk.
For time to actually do the Evening Standard Crossword every day.
For time to reconnect with friends and family near and far.
For time to cook and eat properly and enjoy our food.
For the chance to remember things, good things, we may have forgotten.
For time to enjoy just breathing.
For time to close our eyes and do nothing.
For time to recognise the importance of love and of loving.
For the opportunity to see each day as a gift.
For time to be in the garden and re-read books that gave so much pleasure and enjoyment when we had time to read them long ago.
For time to truly engage in the Zoom services, read the Pastoral Letters and think about the way in which our faith connects with who we are and the challenges we face in an honest and truthful way, possibly for the first time in years.
For the opportunity to take up painting once again.
For the chance to start a poetry website and a book group on Zoom.
For time to take photos and share them with friends on WhatsApp.
For time to write proper letters with a fountain pen again and not rush off a quick email on the computer.
For the opportunity this time has given us to listen to Podcasts and explore and experience the wider world of culture.
For this time which for some has felt like an "extended Lent," a time for quiet reflection, stillness and wonder.
For the chance this time has given some of us to rethink the course of our lives, the worth of our jobs, the significance of our relationships, the difference we are making to others.
For time to sense that God can transform bleakness into something beautiful.
For the opportunity to be free from always rushing around and to think about the core things of life.
For the chance to be more open to the divine.
For the time to devote to our children in a deeper way.
For the opportunity to reassess our work/life balance to favour quality of life and the chance to establish a pattern of working from home more regularly.
For evenings free of meetings ! Alleluia !
For the chance not to commute each day and spend so much time travelling, but to work from home productively in a more relaxed way.
For time to enjoy the comforts of being at home, when for many, it was previously a place one left early in the morning, came back to late at night and in which one simply slept and made coffee.
For time not to be continually racing around, being only half engaged in anything.
Due to not having as much in the diary, gratitude for not having the pressure of always arriving late to everything, re-enforcing negative views of ourselves.
For time to sit, to do, to work, not to work, to talk, to hear birdsong, to be.
In gratitude for being able to spend time with young and fast growing children in a way we would never have been able to do without the Lockdown.
For the chance to get to know neighbours, friends, family, partners, in deeper ways.
In thanksgiving for the time to think about who we are, what really matters, who the people we really care about are, what we need to put right in our lives, how we want to spend the rest of our lives.
For time to pray other than in a rushed, half hearted, automatic, impersonal way, which we may have done in the past, easing our conscience by saying: "God will understand, today's a really busy day for me."
For the chance to pause, reflect, consider how many ways in which we are blessed, not just in materialistic ways, but in terms of health, wellbeing, happiness and relationships.
For time to make a proper pot of loose tea and time to enjoy its scent and flavour.
For time to renew friendships and attend to our relationship with God.
Lord of beauty, Lord of time, Lord of Life,
We give you heartfelt thanks for the gift of life
And for the opportunity recent months have given us
To pause, to reflect, to stand still, to reassess
Who we are, what we spend our energies on,
Who is important to us and how you are calling us
To live in deeper and more conscious communion with you.
Thank you for the opportunities the last lockdown
Months have offered us to relate to time in a different way.
Please fill every moment we live from this moment on
With your presence, your peace and your power;
That we may see each and every day as a gift
You are offering us to enjoy being alive and to
Use our lives creatively, constructively, compassionately
For the good of others in the human family,
Whom you give us to love and to serve
In your name and for the making more real
Of your kingdom. This we ask
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Do please join us for our services on Sunday as we celebrate the Birthday of Mary, Patron Saint of our church and school.
9.30am Zoom Church (details of how to join us below)
4pm Evening Prayer in the Memorial Garden, in person!
Our Collect at the Zoom Service will be:
Almighty and eternal God, Who stooped to raise a fallen humanity Through the child bearing of blessed Mary: Grant that we, who have seen your glory revealed in our human nature, and your love made manifest in our human weakness May daily be renewed in your image, And aligned to the example of your Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and for ever. AMEN.
The readings will be: Isaiah Chapter 61 verses 10-end. Luke Chapter 1 verses 46-56.
APCM and Vestry Meeting
As you will know, it is a requirement in law that each church holds an annual meeting. This year, due to the Covid Lockdown, we were unable to do this and had dispensation from The Bishop to delay. We have now been sent instructions to hold this by the end of October 2020. This being the case, the Standing Committee has decided to hold the meeting at 10.30am on Sunday 4th October. Please would all those on the Electoral Roll of St Mary`s Church Twickenham, make a note of that and make every effort to join us, either by `phone or the internet. The meeting will take the usual form and will include the election of Church Wardens, 5 Members of Deanery Synod and 4 members of the PCC. It will also receive key reports such as those relating to Safeguarding and Finance. The invitation to the APCM will take a similar form as that for the Zoom Service and will be accessed in a similar way. Many thanks for your understanding and support for us at this challenging time in our life together.
Blessings and best wishes, Jeff
Church Fair – Silent Auction
I am sure we all missed terribly the Church Fair that had to be cancelled this year because of the Pandemic. Not only did we all miss out on stocking up on new plants for the garden, those must have books or those oh so delicious cakes, the bric-a-brac, the BBQ – well, the whole Church Fair experience, but most of all the church and our charities missed out on the very valuable and much needed funds that we raise at this event.
So we have decided that we would try and do something about that and we are going to hold The Silent Auction to try to raise some of those missing funds and try have a bit of fun at the same time.
The first part of the Silent Auction is getting the gifts of things that we can auction. In the current climate we have been reluctant to contact our local businesses for gifts although some had already generously offered prizes pre-lockdown, and so we do need to have more items to include on the list. We are therefore appealing to everyone to see what they might be able to offer as a prize for us to include in the auction.
For example, if you could donate some time as a gardener, or a handy man – these have proved really popular in the past. Or if you have a skill or talent you could pass on - via a Zoom class or similar – that would be marvellous – in the past we have had French and Maths and Career coaching - but there must be many more hidden talents in our community.
You may also know someone who would be willing to donate something to the auction – all ideas and suggestions gratefully received!!
We will be gathering the prizes over the next few weeks. We will put the list up on our Website and Facebook pages and announce the cut-off date, and then the bidding can start!! The bids will be by email, text or a phone call to advise the item being bid for, and the amount bid. Full details later….
So please, think whether you have something you or someone you know could offer (within the boundaries of our Covid world) and either:
complete our quick form on the website here:
or send your auction prize ideas to Chris and Liz Webborn on email@example.com by the 20th September.
Gift for Piotr
We were all very sorry indeed to hear that Piotr will be leaving St. Mary's in October to take up the exciting post of Chaplain at Brunel University ... Julie Hall with the children and their teachers at the Sunday School are organising their own very special present for Piotr and his family.
We know however, that everyone will want to contribute generously towards a fitting present from the whole Parish. If you can give by Bank Transfer, St.Mary's Bank details will appear on your current Direct Debit or Standing Order paperwork or they may be requested from the Parish Office by telephone or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, a cheque made payable to St. Mary's Church and marked ' For Piotr' would be great. Thank you very much in advance...
Judy and Barbara