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Sunday 22 March 2020
Fourth Sunday of Lent
This week's REFLECTION
'A sword will pierce your heart’, Daniel Bonnell (born 1955)

I Samuel 1:20-end · Psalm 127: 1-4 · 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 · Luke 2:33-35

‘...and a sword will pierce your own soul too’ (Luke 2:35)

If you’ve ever sat with a mother who has lost her child, you’ll know something of the agony of Mary. There’s no sorrow like a mother’s sorrow. I wonder if Mary took it in. She probably did, or how does it come to be recorded? Simeon’s reflection over the years had led him to a sober understanding of the destiny of the Messiah when he finally appeared. Jesus would arouse fierce opposition as he lived and ministered with deep integrity and revealed the inner thoughts and motives of those who held power in the land. And that would inevitably involve Mary in the dark consequences of such a ministry. A sword would pierce her heart.
The collective pain of the world is sometimes too huge to contemplate. It’s enough to face our own. But if you were to ask a large sample of people, the vast majority would say that life has still been wonderfully worth it. Mary would experience the sheer joy of having a son like Jesus who enriched every part of her life in those hidden years beyond our gaze. Her anguish at the end is terrible to contemplate, but Mary too would never have said that it wasn’t worth having given birth to her beautiful son. Joy and pain come together in this life, but as a wise priest said on a retreat I once attended, ‘Never let the sorrows of this world hide from you the joy of Christ risen.’ Mary would have known that joy too.

John Pritchard
(ABOVE) Our 'wayside shrine' for those who wish to say a private prayer. Church is open from Monday to Saturday, 10.30am-5.30pm and on Sunday from 12.30pm-5.30pm.

At home but not alone

This is the first time in over 30 years as a priest that I have asked people not to come to church on Sunday. As you know, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have suspended public worship for the forseeable future during the Coronavirus Pandemic. This is going to be a tough, new discipline for all of us. So I  encourage you to keep Sunday special in new and novel ways.

So why not light a candle and, if your family are with you and it's safe, gather with them to watch or listen to one of the following possibilities:

Firstly, Fr. Grant and I will be broadcasting a celebration of the Eucharist at 11am on our Parish Facebook Page. To find us, go to the search engine on your computer (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc) and type

And, at the point when the priest receives Holy Communion on your behalf,  though you cannot make your own sacramental communion, you can make a spiritual communion with these words, or your own prayer expressing your desire to receive Christ by his Spirit:

Lord Jesus Christ, you are the bread of life and the one true vine. I believe that you are truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. I seek you. I worship and adore you. Since I cannot receive you in  bread and wine, I pray that you will come into my heart and soul, that I may be united to you, by your all-powerful and ever-present Holy Spirit. Let me receive you, and be nourished by you. Become for me the manna in my wilderness, the bread of angels for my very human journey through time, a foretaste of the heavenly banquet, and solace in the hour of my death. I pray all this, trusting that you yourself are our Life, our Peace, and our everlasting Joy. Amen.

Secondly, if you find it difficult to access our own service, why not tune in to BBC1 at 11.45am for Sunday Worship from St. David's Cathedral in Wales. 

Thirdly, you can listen to a service led by the Archbishop of Canterbury broadcast on BBC Radio Four at 8.10am or on your local BBC Radio station at 8am.

Finally, you can always download the Church of England Daily Prayer App or look online here:

Remember, that if you come to Holy Trinity tomorrow at 11am you will find the doors of the church locked but we will then open the church for private prayer from 12.30pm until 5.30pm. 

There will be no Junior Church for the duration of this emergency, either. In the coming weeks we will send prayers and readings for families to say at home.  For now, you can find some ideas from the Children's Society here:

My brothers and sisters, whatever storms come and however the sands shift, let us know ourselves in the days ahead to be the house built on the rock of Christ.  So while we may be prevented from gathering for worship, our life of prayer and worship is most assuredly not cancelled!  Though we are separated for a time,  we can in this time draw deeper than ever on our shared life in Christ, of prayer and praise.

Fr. Nicholas Wheeler

BELOW: Holy Trinity remains OPEN at certain times for private prayer
but all public worship has been suspended

Parish staff work to keep church open

Our dedicated staff team have been hard at work again at Holy Trinity (observing good hygiene and social distancing practices) putting our Continuity Plan into action, ensuring that the church stays open and that Good News is communicated. One of our number - Julia Rice - drove in from Letchworth to collect about 30 surplices and cottas that she will wash and iron for when they’re needed again.

Reaching out to our community

Sloane Square is starting to close its doors as the measures to protect the population from Coronavirus make a dramatic impact on daily life. This week the clergy of Holy Trinity Sloane Square spent time visiting shops, schools, art galleries and florists to listen to workers’ to share a message of faith, hope and love in challenging times and offer a blessing

Daily worship LIVE from Holy Trinity

Thanks to our excellent Facilities Manager Clinton McMaster the clergy have started broadcasting services twice a day from the Chapel of the Resurrection at Holy Trinity Church.

This week we will be 'on air' at the following times:
11am The Eucharist

10am Morning Prayer
6pm Evening Prayer and Benediction

10am Morning Prayer
6pm The Eucharist

BELOW: Here’s the view from behind the camera!

Christian, set an example!

This is the scene that has met me on three occasions this week when I have gone to shop at my local supermarket, Waitrose Belgravia. It is shocking to see how those who live in the fifth richest country in the world are reduced to such panic and preoccupation about themselves when faced with a challenge.

I ask you to set an example to others by not buying more than you need. The Government has assured us that the food supply chain is secure and as the Archbishop of Canterbury has said: 

"There is no Christian justification for hoarding more than you need. If you’re still hoarding more food and supplies than you need, please, please stop. Please think of others – especially the most vulnerable, and those risking their health to look after us. Leave enough for everyone. We depend on each other."

School to serve key worker children

Children and staff from Holy Trinity CofE Primary School came to church on Friday (March 20) for their last assembly as all schools in the UK close because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Next week our school opens its doors to the children of key workers and our Church will be a daily distribution point for homework packs and school meals. Lisa Phillips-Fairclough, our Communications Manager, and Lisa Walden, our Business and Finance Manager, are among the staff who ensure our schools continues to do its vital job in challenging times.

A time to keep on giving

The present situation is having a dramatic financial effect on many people and organisations. Holy Trinity is not immune from this. Without public worship on Sundays and weekdays our income is being drastically impacted. Some members of the congregation already give by standing order, direct debit or through online payments. If you are not doing this already, we would be so grateful if you could start:

Holy Trinity Church PCC
Account Number: 23364580
Sort Code: 60-19-26

One member of the congregation delivered this envelope today with a cheque covering her giving for the coming month. Many thanks!

A new time to say 'thank you and goodbye'

We very much regret that our planned 'farewell' to our Assistant Priest - Fr. Grant - will not be able to take place on Sunday 19 April owing to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Neither will he be Instituted and Inducted as Vicar of All Saints, New Cross on Monday 4 May in an act of public worship but privately by the Bishop of Southwark instead. 

However, we very much hope that once we are allowed to gather together again, Fr. Grant will return to Holy Trinity, Sloane Square for the celebration of his ministry here that he very much deserves.

Fr. Nicholas

Keep saving those coins for the City of God!

Owing to the Coronavirus Pandemic our Lent Appeal for the City of God in Rio de Janeiro has been suspended temporarily. Please keep your collecting box at home until such time as public worship can resume.

A reflection on closing down

On Thursday evening, I sat staring at a computer screen trying to find the words that I could use, first for my colleagues and then for Westminster Abbey’s website. I needed words that would explain why we had to close the Abbey. I was installed as Dean of Westminster just four months ago. There was a splendid service that day. I preached at it and I told the congregation that the Abbey has a story to tell. The very building speaks, I said. Now, here I was, closing the doors. I was announcing that silence would fall.  

A few hours later, I was in that silent, and deserted Abbey. In truth though, it was not quite deserted. The Abbey community, those of us who live here (many of us priests), have determined that the services will continue. Early on Friday, we assembled for a very particular service, a requiem mass, for a member of our community. Only a few of us, observing the new protocols we live with, sitting apart, but together, as God’s people. The service over, we walked through the building, processing the coffin out to a waiting car. The silence, and the stillness, and sense of space in a building usually so bustling and busy was startling.

On Thursday night, at my laptop, I was subdued and emotional. If I am honest, I was close to tears. It is a hard thing to be closing the building where a nation gathers in times of joy and times of anxiety. On Friday morning, some confidence returned. I had the familiar words of the liturgy to say, rehearsing the promises of God. I also had some scripture in front of me.

The gospel reading came from St John, chapter 6. Gathering for that Requiem Eucharist, in bereavement, and at a time of national crisis, we heard Jesus say ‘I am the bread of life’. Celebrating our Eucharist, we were doing what Jesus told us to do. He issued very few commands. A lot of his teaching was suggestive - hints and nudges. The bread and wine though are a requirement. ‘Do this’, he said, ‘in remembrance of me’. Celebrating our Eucharist, we were making a remembrance. We called a moment in the past to mind. We were back at the Last Supper, close to Christ’s betrayal and his death. We entered the shadows of that night and heard Christ tell us that he is with us at the darkest hour; with us even in death.

We were also being given a gift. That is what the Eucharist is. It is the gift of Christ’s self-giving. When we talk about going to church, or saying our prayers we can sound as though we think it is all about our actions. We need to remember that we do not make the Eucharist happen. Even in Westminster Abbey, where we are forever bossing the challenges we face, we do not make this. We receive this. It is a gift. It is not ours. It is his.

There were words of thunder tucked into the short gospel we heard,

this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me

God acts and God will not fail us. He will never lose us. Even in our anxiety, we must recall that nothing is lost to God. God loses nothing,

With that promise in front of me, I turned to a poem that has been in mind for a few days now. It is a poem, by Rilke, called simply Autumn. Inevitably it describes leaves falling. Then, it becomes a poem about how it can sometimes seem as though everything is falling, going wrong and slipping away. It is a good poem for us in the midst of this great crisis of public health

We are all falling. This hand’s falling too —
all have this falling-sickness none withstands.

So, a poem, about loss, and anxiety. A poem for today. But, listen to how it ends

And yet there’s One whose gently-holding hands
this universal falling can’t fall through.

Nothing is lost; all is held.

by The Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster

Parish Diary
All services are closed to the PUBLIC but available online at
The Fourth Sunday of Lent

Intention: Parish and People                   

11.00am   The Eucharist

Preacher: The Revd. Canon Nicholas Wheeler

Monday 23 March
Intention: The sick

Tuesday 24 March
Walter Hilton, Mystic 1396

Intention: Doctors and Nurses
10am Morning Prayer
6pm   Evening Prayer and Benediction

Wednesday 25 March
The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Intention: Teachers
10am Morning Prayer
6pm   The Eucharist

Thursday 26 March
Mother Harriet Monsell 1883

Intention: Shopworkers
10am Morning Prayer
6pm   Evening Prayer and Benediction

Friday 27 March
Intention: The clergy
10am Morning Prayer
6pm   Evening Prayer and Benediction

Saturday 28 March
Intention: The Government
10am Morning Prayer
6pm   Evening Prayer and Benediction

The Fifth Sunday of Lent

Intention: Parish and People                      
11.00am   The Eucharist

Preacher: The Revd. Grant Bolton-Debbage

The Revd. Canon Nicholas Wheeler

The Revd. Grant Bolton-Debbage

The Rt. Revd. Dr. Michael Marshall

Jeffrey Kabel
Carolyn Hallett

Gill Dunley
John Renz


David Fairlamb

Martin Bonham

Sophie Wilson
Telephone: 020 7730 7270

Clinton McMaster
Telephone: 020 7730 7270
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Holy Trinity Church · Holy Trinity Church · 146 Sloane Street · Chelsea, London SW1X 9BZ · United Kingdom

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