'Doubting Thomas', Carl Heinrich Bloch (1809-1864)
THIS WEEK'S READINGS
Acts 2.14a-22-32 · Psalm 16 · 1 Peter 1.3-9 · John 20.19-end
‘Jesus stood among them and said "Peace be with you"’ (John 20:19)
One of the reasons that John's account of the resurrection is so persuasive is that it effectively sides with the doubters and leaves the reader with lingering hesitancy. Indeed, it is only when Jesus begins to explain how the past has been fulfilled in the present - and how the present has now fulfilled the past - that we begin to gain a sense of how 'peace be with you' might be more than a mere greeting.
Resurrections challenge our world views. The task of the disciples is not to guard an empty tomb; it is to follow the risen Jesus, and to try and understand something of how he appears to us afresh, even at the meal table. Easter is about finding and encountering the risen Jesus in the very present. 'Peace be with you', then, is not just a state of mind; it is the core of being for the Church.
So, a story of dark absence - Good Friday - is now one of intense presence. The reality of Jesus is now bigger than reality itself. Jesus is no longer a figure of the past. Nor does he merely live through the memories of the disciples. When Jesus tells Mary Magdalene 'do not cling to me', or to the disciples 'touch me', he is really saying something quite simple. You cannot hold on to the Jesus you once knew. You cannot have the past back. You cannot possess Jesus any longer. You can touch, but you cannot hold. But be assured, he will hold you.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ
I am writing to you on Easter Saturday as the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead continues. He who ‘vanquished hell, broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave’ is our hope and strength in these challenging times. As Her Majesty the Queen has said, ‘Coronavirus will not overcome us.’ And that is because its deadly power has been overcome by the Risen Jesus.
We now know that the 'lockdown' will continue for at least another three weeks. None of us can be sure when we will be able to return to Holy Trinity Church for Sunday worship as we knew it. As a place of social gathering, I suspect churches will be amongst the last part of the community to fully ‘reopen’. It remains vital to our life together under God, then, to do all we can to continue to build our relationship with Him and with each other in new ways. Principally, as Pope Francis urges us, we are summoned not to yield to fear but to be messengers of life in a time of death.
I regret that a combination of viral symptoms, an electrical fault and the collapse of the broadband connection at the Rectory led me to disappear from view as Holy Week progressed but I am now back at the helm and chairing the daily, morning staff meeting, driving the life of our church forward with an excellent team of colleagues and undertaking extra tasks in my new role as Assistant Area Dean of Chelsea. Today I want to bring you up-to-date with what has been happening, remembering that though our building is closed, the Church is alive!
Farewell to Fr. Grant
We have now said goodbye to Fr. Grant, although he will continue to live in the Assistant Priest’s flat until he is able to move into the Vicarage of All Saints’, New Cross, presumably when the ‘lockdown’ is lifted. We have been exceptionally blessed to have Fr. Grant with us and we will all miss him greatly. At some point, hopefully before the end of the year, we will welcome him back to Holy Trinity for a proper farewell and presentation. I ask you to pray for Fr. Grant as he embarks on this new calling in the most difficult of circumstances.
As a community we are physically separated from each other, but the staff team are doing all we can to exploit the opportunities that new technology provides to maintain our life of worship and prayer. It is my intention to resume live worship broadcasts tomorrow (Sunday 19 April) from the Rectory, returning to broadcast from Church as soon as the restrictions are lifted.
From this Sunday, and every Sunday until 'normal' life returns, we will be offering you by e-mail two ways to worship:
1. The Eucharist
If you are able to join our live broadcasts on our Facebook Page, this service paper will provide all you need to participate on Sundays at 11am.
2. A service of Spiritual Communion
If for whatever reason are unable to join the live broadcast, this order of service will enable you to lead an act of worship with your household or by yourself, depending on your situation.
We are also providing resources for our Junior Church: a weekly Worship Plan to provide our families with a suggested programme for a do-it-yourself session at home; a Junior Church Video featuring members of our Junior Church team modelling activities for others which you can find here and a Zoom Conference that will help families to be able to meet online together to share in a 20-minute encounter to maintain friendships. If you have children and your family would like to join on Sunday, please email our Parish Administrator on email@example.com for the login details.
I am very conscious that not all members of our congregation, by any means, have access to the internet or are confidently online. But I hope that what we will be producing week by week will enable many of us to be connected to God and one another. Please do let us know what you think about what we are sending out. We are here to serve!
Our ‘Taking Care’ network, coordinated by our Parish Administrator Sophie Wilson, continues to grow as volunteers from the congregation reach out regularly by telephone to some 30 members of the congregation. In addition, I hope to call every member of our community in the coming weeks.
Our appeal to members of the congregation to give by Standing Order / Direct Debit / Online Payment or Cheque now that there is no opportunity to use a collection plate has been heard by a number of individuals and we have been very grateful for what we have received so far. However, until this changes more significantly, we continue to lose about £1,000 per week. We have also lost substantial sums of money as concerts are cancelled and some of those who lease our buildings seek a reduction in charges.
Our Annual Parochial Church Meeting due to be held on April 26 has now been postponed indefinitely. APCMs to elect Deanery Synod members and members of the Parochial Church Council can now be held up until 31 October 2020. This means that current Deanery Synod members continue in office until 30 November and Churchwardens who were chosen in 2019 continue to hold office until 31 January 2021. It will clearly be some time before a new date can be chosen. However, meetings of our PCC Committees are continuing online.
The journey ahead is not likely to be a short one and there is so much for us to learn from what has happened as we contemplate a return to 'normality'. But surely we should not be seeking to go back to the way everything was. The Bishop of Kensington has written (see article below) that "for a society to work, and to stave off the threats that confront it, the prioritisation of individual choice on its own is not enough. A society cannot survive if each one of us pursues our own self-chosen goals independent of everyone else. We have to exercise restraint to learn the capacity to sacrifice our own desires for the sake of the wider community." It is my hope and prayer that as members of the Body of Christ at Holy Trinity we are already being formed in this way of life by the faith we profess and practise and will be well placed to help shape the new world that surely must now come.
With my love and prayers for you all,
Fr. Nicholas Wheeler
Parish Mobile 07842 486514
Fr. Grant says farewell to us all
Bishop Michael marches on!
In spite of the 'lockdown', nothing was going to stop our Holy Week preacher Bishop Michael Marshall from delivering his addresses. Each day, Bishop Michael sent his scripts to the clergy who read them out during the live broadcasts.
Many thanks to Bishop Michael for stepping forward and many congratulations to him on celebrating his 84th birthday on Tuesday.
Holy Trinity Choir welcome Easter Day
Churchwardens keep on going
Our Churchwardens Carolyn and Jeff have worked with the clergy, staff, and parish volunteers to coordinate a sense of community from afar - either via phone or internet - particularly with those who are not online and have experienced a vacuum of information. They have also encouraged regular Sunday worshippers to continue to send in their weekly donations. They have also been kept busy looking after our buildings (including emergency maintenance) and, with our Treasurer David Fairlamb, spent a lot of time managing financial expectations for the future. Please keep them in your prayers.
In Surrey with an eye on Sloane Square
Like the rest of the staff team I have been working from home for the past three weeks, although at a greater distance from the church, in Surrey!
One focus for me has been on liaising with concert organisers from the various groups who have had to postpone or cancel in the run up to Easter. Alas it now seems that many of the concerts in May and June will be cancelled or postponed too, as groups are unable to meet for rehearsals so would be unprepared for summer events. We are getting new bookings coming in though, especially for autumn, winter and into 2021. I am sure we are all looking forward to a time when we can fill Holy Trinity not just with a congregation but with music too.
Something else I have been working on is building Holy Trinity's Youtube page: bit.ly/2xHdATL. Here you will find recordings of all of the services that have taken place since we had to close the doors and soon it will also feature videos for Junior Church. The channel will help us reach those who are unable or unwilling to use the Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sloanechurch) at least until we can have services in church once more. One easy but powerful way you would be able to help the church is by subscribing to the Youtube channel, if you are able. Not only will it mean you will see when new videos are posted but once we hit a certain number of subscribers we will be able to get a personalised Youtube link making it easier to share with everyone, furthering our audience.
Working from home does make me miss the physicality of my days in the church where just going about my tasks would easily rack up between 10,000 and 15,000 steps, often up and down stairs, and that is before moving 200 chairs or pushing a piano the length of the church. So I am having to make time each day to get the exercise that was previously just part of church life!
Clinton McMaster Facilities and Events Manager
Members of our Parochial Church Council have been asked to write about their experience of the Coronavirus Pandemic. This week, John Renz, one of our two Assistant Churchwardens and Clerk to the Guild of Human Resources Professionals shares his thoughts...
The Guild of HR professionals have organised a fortnightly call for members to share experiences and learning in these times. Certain themes emerged, some saw real leadership in their organisations and the vulnerability felt during this time of isolation and uncertainty.
Without underestimating the human cost of economic turbulence in the recent past, the difference this time is the immediacy and universality of the fallout from this pandemic. This pandemic is a great leveller and perhaps a wake-up call.
During our discussions there were tips for managing “people issues “and personal well-being (common sense largely) but above all people witnessing acts of kindness. To our surprise It was not a seminar on furloughing or other technical issues but people just supporting and helping each other. Organizational politics and “one upmanship “were notable by their absence and there was universal agreement that lessons are being learned.
The duty of all of us, and perhaps especially we in the Christian community, is that we should not lose this learning when the seas calm. Concern was expressed about the relentless negativity from the media and lessons for Government and health professionals are vital but by no means the whole story. Little of lasting substance will have been learned if we do not celebrate and leverage off the sheer power of so much kindness witnessed daily. Without people behaving differently from “normal times” we will be perpetually in the eye of the storm.
Our call covered widely on social media has double the number of participants next week!
OBITUARY: Fr. Douglas Bean [1925-2020]
We were sorry to learn of the death on April 3 of Fr. Douglas Bean who in retirement joined the congregation and supported the clergy team at Holy Trinity. In the first of two obituaries his friend, Brian Hudson celebrates Fr. Douglas's life...
Fr Douglas Bean was fortunate to have had an extremely talented mother, a concert pianist who encouraged him to play the piano from childhood. He continued his music by learning the organ, branching out to the cello and finally developing a remarkable talent for his skill in playing the musical saw which he continued throughout his life and gave much pleasure to many people. His diverse musical talent included accompanying himself on the guitar whilst singing self compositions on BBC Radio about current affairs and news items of the day, particularly the Common Market. Whatever spare time he had he would spend either writing poetry, some of which was recently published or painting landscapes.
Douglas attended school at Lancing College, East Sussex before evacuation to Ludlow in Shropshire during the second world war where he made many friends and girlfriends who were also evacuees. Subsequently he was called up to join the Royal Navy being posted to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) where he became skilled in cypher code. His unit was posted on to Burma to fight against the Japanese. At this time Douglas was to experience the trauma of being put on a list of 12 volunteers to go into a suicide mission into the jungle. Extraordinarily he was removed from this list at the last minute since it was considered he was too a valuable risk and two weeks later all 11 remaining on the list were dead. Shortly after the same scenario repeated itself when he was put on another list yet extraordinarily removed at the 11th hour. Tragically all 11 remaining persons on the list were killed and the mission abandoned. Fr Douglas being the only survivor from an initial party of 23.
Whilst in Ceylon he was befriended by the Anglican bishop Douglas Horsley who suggested that he should be considering ordination. As a result of his war experiences in Sri Lanka Douglas was recently invited back as a guest of the War Office and at their expense. In his advancing years he was photographed riding on the back of an elephant looking considerably at ease!
Upon conclusion of the war Douglas commenced studies at Worcester College Oxford, when after intending to study Music, he was persuaded to switch to Theology as well as a new girl friend at the time! After Oxford he moved to Ely Theological College where he made a life long friend, Victor De Waal, later to become Dean of Canterbury. After his ordination in Canterbury Cathedral by Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher Douglas became a curate in Croydon under Fr Campling whose daughter Mary was later to become his first wife. Appointments followed as Vicar of Reading (where he was to become Rural Dean), Minor Canonories at St George’s Chapel Windsor where he lived in Windsor Castle for 5 years taking the Easter and Christmas services for the Royal Family and then St Paul's Cathedral, where Douglas pioneered its significant outreach. During the 70’s, his talent for music and organisation attracted attention of the BBC who engaged him to produce the highly popular Sunday afternoon religious concerts from St Pauls Cathedral then known as ‘The Concerts Under The Round’ .
During this time as BBC Producer he met many show business personalities, including Donald Swann of the piano duo Flanders and Swann who he involved in these concerts. Donald Swann regularly attended Douglas's home and was remembered by Douglas for his exotic appearance, extravagant all enveloping white fur coat. Significantly at this time Fr Douglas gave permission for Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber to give a first performance of his musical ‘Andrew and His Technicolour Dreamcoat’ under the dome of St Pauls Cathedral. This performance attracted American producers who invited him to perform his musical in New York where he became internationally famous.
Fr Douglas later became Vicar of New St Pancras Church in London for a period of some 22 Years. This was an eventful time for Fr Douglas and when he had to fight off many aggressive beggars of the area. More recently in November 2006 he made front page of the local newspaper when returning home late at night after attending a Second World War Remembrance Service at Holy Trinity Sloane Square. He was set upon, beaten up and bloodied by a group of teenage thieves whilst dressed as a priest and wearing his full row of war medals.
In later years Douglas continued his interest in music, on one occasion performing on the BBC Esther Rantzen Show. At a private party for some 60 appreciative guests, entertaining them with his musical saw he demonstrated his mischievous side by regaling his invitation to a darkened country house by a group of elderly spinsters. They claimed their house was haunted. During the dark hours of the night Fr Douglas crept onto an upper landing with his saw and exactly mimicked the terrifying screams of a Banshee. The following morning at breakfast and in conversation with excited spinsters he claimed not to have heard a thing. Douglas embarked on a holiday cruise in 2010 to the Mediterranean in 2010 where he volunteered to play jazz piano in the onboard talent competition. In his eighties and in front of a live audience of 1,500 holidaymakers Fr Douglas calmly rattled off his favourite jazz pieces and won the competition!
As Fr Douglas reached advanced age he was still in great demand, giving sermons in many parts of the world, particularly in Menton in the South of France and also across the border into Italy where he regularly conducted WW2 memorial services for Italian servicemen.
In later years he lived happily in a pretty cottage and well maintained garden nearby St James Church Islington. With help of his loyal housekeeper Adele, he much enjoyed entertaining guests, with barbecues, musical evenings and discussing matters of the day with other elderly members of the church while smoking his favourite cigars. Finally he was moved to Ramsay Hall - sheltered accommodation in Worthing - where he complained about not having much in common with the residents. In view of the extraordinary life of Fr Douglas Bean this was hardly surprising!
Fr Douglas Bean (22/10/25 - 3/04/20) is survived by his first wife Mary, his children Stephen, Richard, Theresa, his four grandchildren and a second wife Beth.
NEXT WEEK: Jeanette Hartley writes a further tribute to Fr. Douglas
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 from giving is dropping by at least £1,000 per week. 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:
...or if you prefer to send a cheque, please do not hesitate to do so:
Holy Trinity Church
146 Sloane Street
London SW1X 9BZ
THOUGHTS FOR THESE DAYS by the Bishop of Kensington
Duty has replaced desire as the imperative of our time
There was something counter-cultural, as there often is, in the Queen’s speech to the nation about coronavirus. She often speaks about duty and responsibility. This time she spoke about “self-discipline and quiet, good-humoured resolve.” These are, to be honest, not qualities we have tended to prize in recent times.
One of the things we do value in modern life is the right, as the American Declaration of Independence put it, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The idea that each of us should be free to pursue our own ambitions and wishes as long as we do not infringe on the rights of others to do the same is part of the bedrock of liberal democracy.
Ever since Freud, we have been persuaded that our deepest urges, whether we like it or not, are determinative of who we are, that to suppress them is harmful and we need somehow to let them find an outlet. John Stuart Mill taught us that individual self-expression trumps social conformity. The language of human rights has schooled us in insisting on our individual entitlements and getting belligerent when they are threatened. The idea of “doing your duty” has become, not the highly-valued bedrock of society, but a dull, grey moral demand from First World War generals, scoutmasters, moralists and monarchs.
It’s a frequent observation that in the modern world we no longer have a common idea of what a good life is, but are meant to construct our own versions of it. The German sociologist Hartmut Rosa points out that while this may be true, we do have almost universal agreement on the preconditions needed. To have a good and happy existence, in whatever shape you want it to be, you need enough money, friends, knowledge, health and rights to achieve it. “Secure the resources you might need for living your dream whatever that might be. That is the overriding rational imperative of modernity.” The result is each of us is in a competition for the resources that enable us to live our own self-chosen version of the good life.
Now all this was a departure from an older view of society found in the classical tradition of Aristotle and Plato, continued to a certain extent in the Christian world, that saw self-restraint as vital to a healthy society. Saint Paul, for example, wrote about how leaders should be “self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.” In this moral tradition, the constant drift towards tyranny could only be held back by virtue and self-rule. Government for the polis was only possible with personal self-government. Freedom was viewed, not as the liberty to pursue your passion, but freedom from passion—understood as the unpredictable, stormy emotions and urges that disturb the soul and distort the clarity of vision that comes from a tranquil heart and a clear head. Those inner urges needed to be controlled rather than let loose, and that control was best self-imposed rather than regulated by the state.
At one time this might have been seen as the difference between conservative and progressive views of morality, or between right and left. However, as Patrick Deneen showed in his insightful Why Liberalism Failed, these days we are all progressives. Modern liberal democracies see us all as autonomous individuals who should be free from the constraints of duty or the demands of others and instead follow our desires. The only difference is that the right sees the market and minimum state interference as the key to enabling these personal freedoms, whereas the left sees state control and regulation as the way those freedoms will be established and safeguarded.
Over the past few weeks, we have seen something quite extraordinary. Without too much legal threat, we have voluntarily submitted to severe abstinence, denying ourselves the rights to mix freely, to go to pubs and restaurants, to watch live sport, to shake hands, to travel to work. As we go through this period of collective self-abnegation, the suppression of our personal ambitions and desires, we are learning how to redirect our personal longings for a greater good, to sacrifice what we would normally like to do for the good of the whole.
We are learning that for a society to work, and to stave off the threats that confront it, the prioritisation of individual choice on its own is not enough. A society cannot survive if each one of us pursues our own self-chosen goals independent of everyone else. We have to exercise restraint, the Queen’s “self-discipline and resolve,” to learn the capacity to sacrifice our own desires for the sake of the wider community.
To address the potentially even more serious challenges of climate change, or the elimination of global poverty, for example, will require an even greater and longer exercise in self-restraint. The question is, when this is all over, whether we will go back to what we have been used to in the recent past, or whether we will restore something of an equilibrium between the demands of individual ambition and the common good.
Saint Paul once wrote that the Christian idea of grace, the notion that we are recipients of goodness that we didn’t create, “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” It may sound quaint and Victorian. But unless we can learn to live self-controlled, disciplined lives, a little more like the ones we’re having to lead right now, there will be little future for our planet or the people who live on it. Maybe coronavirus is giving us a crash course in a different moral universe—one that might just be the saving of us.
The Rt. Revd. Graham Tomlin
Bishop of Kensington
All services are closed to the PUBLIC but available online at www.Facebook.com/sloanechurch
SUNDAY 19 APRIL Second Sunday of Easter
Intention: Parish and People
11.00am The Eucharist
Monday 20 April Intention: The sick
Tuesday 21 April Anselm, abbot, archbishop, 1109 Intention: Doctors and Nurses
Wednesday 22 April Intention: Teachers
Thursday 23 April George, martyr, patron of England, c.304 Intention: Shopworkers
Friday 24 April Mellitus, bishop, 624 Intention: The clergy
Saturday 25 April Mark the Evangelist Intention: The Government
SUNDAY 26 APRIL Third Sunday of Easter
Intention: Parish and People
11.00am The Eucharist
WHO'S WHO and CONTACTS
RECTOR The Revd. Canon Nicholas Wheeler E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
HONORARY ASSISTANT The Rt. Revd. Dr. Michael Marshall
CHURCHWARDENS Jeffrey Kabel Carolyn Hallett
ASSISTANT CHURCHWARDENS Gill Dunley
TREASURER David Fairlamb
PCC SECRETARY Martin Bonham
PARISH ADMINISTRATOR Sophie Wilson E-mail: email@example.com
Telephone: 020 7730 7270
FACILITIES AND EVENTS MANAGER Clinton McMaster E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: 020 7730 7270