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Sunday 5 April 2020
This week's REFLECTION
'Entry into Jerusalem', Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin (1809-1864)

Matthew 21:1-11 · Isaiah 50.4-9a · Psalm 130 · Philippians 2:5-11 · Matthew 26:14-27

‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ (Matthew 21:9)

In The Man Born to be King, her play cycle about the life of Jesus, Dorothy Sayers locates us on Palm Sunday outside the gates of Jerusalem, where two different processions are simultaneosly converging.

One is the official procession of Pontius Pilate coming up with all the trappings of state power, soldiers and chariots, to keep order at the Passover. The other is the rabbi Jesus coming down the Mount of Olives with a single donkey (rather than horses and chariots) and a ragged bunch of cheering followers (rather than armed and disciplined legionaries).

With the patronizing superiority of a colonial governor taking interest in the strange customs of the natives, Pilate stops and gives way as Jesus goes through the gate. He can watch with impunity, for this pathetic Messiah on his donkey on his way to the cross is no threat to the entrenched power of Rome.

Yet, 2,000 years later, Pilate is remembered only in relation to Jesus; Rome's imperial day is long over, but all over the world, millions sing their hosannas to the Son of David, who comes in the Name of the Lord. In whose procession shall we walk: the dominating emperor's or the reigning Lord's?

Tom Smail

Holy Week and Easter at home

We have already become ‘a different sort of church’ in unprecedented ways. The very place in which the body of Christ finds its identity, offers prayer, and receives solace in time of crisis—that is, the church building—is not available to us, and, as in the early days of our faith, public gatherings of Christians outside the home are forbidden. Nevertheless, we are finding ways to join in prayer and intention; to cry ‘Abba, Father’; and to recognise we are all buried with Christ by baptism into his death, that we might walk in newness of life. The present situation does not negate the joy we have been granted in the resurrection, but it will be lived out this year in different ways.

Holy Week and Easter, in particular, will give us opportunities to reflect on all of these matters. In the annual commemoration of the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we explore who we are and our relationship to the God who loves us. We are enabled to realise, quite counter-culturally, that everything that we have that is good is a gift, and not a right. Unlike God, we, as humans do not always have the answers.

We can reflect that, even in the hardest of times, even in the prolonged ‘Holy Saturday’ of emptiness in which we find ourselves, there is always hope. God, whose nature is mercy, sent his Son, who experienced the fullness of our own human suffering and makes all things new. We are still called upon to serve those within and beyond  the church, and to care for the  vulnerable. Our historic structures still place us at the heart of the community and indeed of public life. 

In these dark times, when it is not possible to recall the death and resurrection of Christ in our church buildings, we have the opportunity to mark Holy Week at home. We can discover how what we are now experiencing may contribute to our own ongoing journey as God’s people. The homes in which we now mainly find ourselves offer us a place in which our faith can be discovered afresh, where we can find ‘the Church within’.

We are very fortunate at Holy Trinity Church that Bishop Michael Marshall, who was to be our Holy Week preacher, will still be! Although confined to his home, he is providing short addresses for each of the Holy Week services that we will be broadcasting on our Facebook Page and on our YouTube Channel. In addition, our Assistant Priest, Fr. Grant Bolton-Debbage, will preach on Easter Day as we say farewell to him.

The clergy, staff and churchwardens continue  to ensure that the life of our community moves forward in faith, hope and love albeit it with us all working from home. This week, you will receive a letter by post from us setting out what we are doing and the challenges we face.

Please do keep connected to your church family by watching our daily worship broadcasts and writing to us by e-mail or if in special need our emergency mobile number:
 07842 486514

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Nicholas Wheeler

'Thank you' from Cadogan and Partridges

Heartfelt thanks to Cadogan and Partridges for combining forces to present gifts to the key worker parents leading the fight against COVID-19 and staff and Governors of Christ Church and Holy Trinity CofE Primary Schools’ Federation who have stepped forward to run a crèche for their children at our Cadogan Gardens building. You are all heroes!
We have been very sorry to learn of the death of Graeme Wilson, father of our Parish Administrator Sophie Wilson, and a great friend of Holy Trinity Church. He was 74. Ahead of Graeme's funeral on Maundy Thursday, we celebrate his life and commend him to the love of God...

Rest eternal grant unto him, O Lord

Graeme Wilson was born in Yorkshire. He attended Leeds College of Art where he gained a first class honours degree in Graphic Design and won a scholarship to study Graphics in Switzerland. 

He was Art Editor of various magazines in London before starting his own design consultancy in Covent Garden, GWA Design, which was very successful.  He worked on a wide range of branding and design projects for industrial, commercial, cultural, and faith clients. He designed logotypes, brochures, advertising, shop interiors, and books. He embraced new technology and expanded into website design.  Graeme’s wide ranging interests led him to a number of fascinating and  notable design commissions including work for Pavarotti and The 3 Tenors, Tennis events, The Whisky Association and Jazz Festivals. He was passionate about Jazz (and Whisky) and played in a band whilst at Art College. Graeme also worked for the Friends of Imperial College and designed the Heraldic Shield and Crest for the City & Guilds and Age Concern.
Graeme was generous with his time working on many pro bono projects for charities including designing the brochure and publicity for the celebration of the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Awards 25th anniversary. A modest man, he was quietly delighted to be invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace with the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles in recognition of his contribution.

One of Graeme’s most notable designs was for a memorial in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral for "those who lost their lives in Antarctica in pursuit of science to benefit us all”.  A striking design with the map the Southern Hemisphere with Antarctica carved in Carrara marble set in a disk of riven Welsh slate - emperor penguins cut into its foot. It was dedicated in 2011 by Canon Mark Oakley and the Bishop for the Falkland Islands, Stephen Venner.  

As part of this project he designed the plinth for the Antarctic Monument, one part of which is set in the grounds of the Scott Polar Research Institute Cambridge University and the other on the waterfront in Stanley, Falkland Islands.

Graeme worked astonishingly rapidly, returning ideas for new commissions often within hours and always managing to add that additional sparkle of magic: that certain something that made his designs so very special. Graeme was a brilliant artist using watercolour, oils and mixed media and had many exhibitions over the years. 

We were fortuitous that Graeme generously worked on many designs for Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Square, which included the signage outside church, the later version of 'The Trinitarian', lots of different banners and all of the design work for three of our Arts and Crafts Festivals.

Graeme was a loving husband to Suzanne, an amazing father to Sophie (our Parish Administrator) Samm and Jack and a wonderful Grandfather to four children; Henry, Amelie, Louis and Hendrix.

Graeme had battled with stage four cancer for many years and was, in fact, doing well.  However, he went into hospital, on  March 17 (his wife's birthday) with low platelets because of the cancer and very sadly contracted Covid19 whilst he was in there.  He showed extreme resilience and determination right up until the end and sadly passed away on March 28. It has been a huge shock and loss to us all.

The Wilson Family
Above: Amongst Fr. Douglas Bean's many talents was his ability to play the saw which he is seen doing here at the Rectory at  the PCC Christmas Party in 2015

God bless you, Fr. Bean

We received news in the last few days that Fr. Douglas Bean has died at his residential care home in Worthing. He was 94.

Fr. Douglas was for many years the Vicar of St. Pancras New Church near Euston Station. In retirement, he joined the team at Holy Trinity, Sloane Square and worshipped regularly with us on Sunday mornings until he moved to Hastings three years ago.

We hope to publish a fuller account of Fr. Douglas's life in the coming weeks. May he rest in peace and rise in glory!

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:

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

...or if you prefer to send a cheque, please do not hesitate to do so:

The Treasurer
Holy Trinity Church
146 Sloane Street
London SW1X 9BZ


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.
by the Archbishop of York Designate

A first for Christendom: Holy Week without Church

Many of us try to give things up during Lent. Usually it is alcohol, or biscuits. Who would have thought that this Lent we would have to give up each other, and distance ourselves even from those we love most and from all those activities upon which we have relied so much. Even church.

In order to slow the spread of Covid-19, our buildings are closed for public worship and even for private prayer. Nothing like this has happened since 1208. The reason then was power, not plague. King John had refused to accept Pope Innocent’s appointee, Stephen Langton, as Archbishop of Canterbury. The pope responded by placing England under an interdict between March 1208 and May 1213, thus preventing the clergy from celebrating the sacraments.

It’s not quite the same for us, and we hope our lockdown will not be for so long. People aren’t able to come but, where possible, the Eucharist is still being said. This worship is offered for the nation, not with the nation. Nevertheless, coronavirus has us in a grip of fear. We are looking for spiritual help, but where, in our enforced seclusion, is it to be found?

Paradoxically, throughout Christian history and in other faiths as well, when people sought to deepen their relationship with God they went into the desert. They pursued isolation. This way of living the Christian vocation was called the solitary life. Abba Moses, one of the founders of that movement in Christian monasticism known as the Desert Fathers, used to say to his novices: ‘Go to your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.’ We are about to find out what that means.

We are going to have to learn how to be on our own, and that includes sustaining our spiritual life on our own. As we enter Holy Week, this is an immediate challenge. We are also going to discover some uncomfortable home truths.

The Holy Week story begins with adoring crowds. Jesus is welcomed into Jerusalem by those who greet him as Messiah; and they expect their Messiah to be a conquering king. It ends with Jesus in complete isolation. He hasn’t been the Messiah they were hoping for. They turn on him. Those who sung ‘Hosanna’ one day shout ‘Crucify’ the next. The disciples run for their lives. When Jesus is hauled up on the cross, only a few of the women who were part of his wider band of followers are still there to be with him. They are forced to keep their distance.

This Holy Week we are going to have to follow Jesus in his isolation. All that pious talk about walking the way of the cross is going to become real. We will find out what being a Christian looks like when the trappings of church are removed for a while.

We can do this in simple ways, at home on our own or with family members. We can read the Passion narratives in the Gospels. We could make a cross and place it somewhere in our homes, or even outside in the garden if you have one, as a focus for prayer and reflection. We can pray at home. We can light a candle at dusk. We can make what is known as a spiritual communion. This is a way of receiving Holy Communion for those who cannot come to church — which is all of us at the moment. There is information and a short order of service on the website of the diocese I serve (go to

Those early monks who fled into the desert were also imitating Jesus in his isolation. They remembered the days that he spent in the wilderness and the temptations he faced. They knew that in isolation they would be able to leave everything behind except themselves, and that it would be in that desert place that they would face themselves and learn about what mattered in life.

This might also be a possibility for us. Our own homes could be a desert place where we come face to face with who we really are. Actually, this has already started. Many of us are already beginning to reflect upon the crazy ways we live our lives, the unnecessary journeys we make, the meetings we don’t actually need, the pressure we put ourselves under. Some of us are spending more time with our families at the moment, either because we’re at home or because we are taking the trouble to phone them. The furious deficiency of what seemed important even a week ago is being revealed.

We mustn’t be too dewy-eyed about this. Alongside those who are suffering and dying at the moment, there are thousands whose livelihoods are at risk, many already made redundant, and others, such as those in our emergency services, who are having to work harder and longer than ever. There is nothing good about this virus. But that does not mean good cannot come out of it, if we learn to face ourselves. If our only way of coping with isolation, though, is to watch more television, consume more booze or spend all day on Twitter, then we have much to learn.

Can we see in the horrors of coronavirus an opportunity to live differently — not just for these next few months, but thereafter? This is another paradox of isolation, which the mystics and hermits have been learning for centuries: when you are alone you are not alone; and those people you do see you start to see differently and, if you try, appreciate more.

We are already changing our tune about whose work is of real value. Yes, doctors and nurses, but also all others whose importance we are just beginning to appreciate, like those who stock our supermarket shelves, drive delivery lorries through the night or put up with our bad temper at the till. Our perspective shifts. Enforced isolation could engender a greater thankfulness for those whose work goes on sustaining us even though we’ve stopped. Once we get to the other side of this pandemic, this may turn out to be the most important lesson we’ve learned.

Moreover, we all seem to have become social democrats overnight, recognising that social services, and a health service in particular, really do matter and are worth paying for: what we used to call the common good. There was a post-war consensus around putting these things in place. Influenced by people like William Temple, it was the last great contribution the Christian faith made to our public life. Since then the church’s place in society has become more marginal. As we find ourselves thinking more about our mortality — especially as we contemplate the death of Christ and with it the deaths of so many others — there is a post-coronavirus challenge to build this consensus again.

And strangely it is this isolation, this looking at the world from a distance, this enforced removal of distraction, that is helping us to see clearly. Why, even the lungs of the planet are heaving a sigh of relief as our planes are grounded, our cars parked in the drive and our frantic obsession with working every hour of the day at meeting after meeting at last grinds to a halt.

So if you are grieving for the world that was here yesterday, do not see this isolation as a mere interval before it starts again, but an opportunity to live differently. And if you are a believing person, then look to Jesus, who shows us what being human is supposed to look like; and even if you’re not, you can still learn from his teaching about loving neighbours and even loving enemies as well. And if you’re a praying sort of person, then this Holy Week and this Easter, be close to Jesus in his isolation and in your imagination and in your prayer, walk the way of the cross, especially praying for those who are suffering so much at the moment across our world and for those who care for them. And if you’re not a praying sort of person, then think of it as being mindful, and give some time to consider what can be learned from a distance, not least that we are one humanity and one world.

There’s one other thing we can learn from the Desert Fathers which illustrates well how their separation from the world actually drew them closer to others. If someone visited them, they would always break their strict fast. Offering hospitality to a stranger was felt to be one of the highest callings of all, because they saw that stranger as Christ himself. Might we therefore leave some things on the supermarket shelves for others? Might we think about the poorest in our society and in our world who don’t even have the homes to go to where self-isolation can be possible?

Actually, many people flocked to the desert to find these holy men and women. They saw in their life of isolation something hugely attractive. They seemed to have learned how to live lightly on the world. In fact, the desert itself became a city.

My prayer this Holy Week is that our cities may become deserts. Firstly, because we take very seriously the need to protect each other by distancing ourselves and only going out when it is absolutely necessary, and giving our health service a chance to help and save as many as possible. And secondly, that in our self-isolation we may learn something of the desert and walk with Jesus to the cross.

On Easter Day, a new reality was born. When this is over, may God spare us from ‘getting back to normal’. We await a resurrection.

The Rt. Revd. Stephen Cottrell

Parish Diary
All services are closed to the PUBLIC but available online at
Intention: Parish and People                   
11.00am   Blessing of Palms and the Eucharist

Preacher: Bishop Michael Marshall

Monday 6 April

Intention: The sick
10am Morning Prayer
7pm  The Eucharist
Preacher: Bishop Michael Marshall

Tuesday 7 April

Intention: Doctors and Nurses
10am Morning Prayer
7pm  The Eucharist
Preacher: Bishop Michael Marshall

Wednesday 8 April

Intention: Teachers
10am Morning Prayer
7pm  The Eucharist
Preacher: Bishop Michael Marshall

Thursday 9 April

Intention: Shopworkers
10am Morning Prayer
7pm  Mass of the Lord's Supper
and Vigil of Prayer
Preacher: Bishop Michael Marshall

Friday 10 April

Intention: The clergy
10am Stations of the Cross
7pm  Liturgy of the Passion
Preacher: Bishop Michael Marshall

Saturday 11 April

Intention: The Government
10am Morning Prayer
8pm  Easter Vigil
Preacher: Bishop Michael Marshall

Intention: Parish and People                      
11.00am   Sung Eucharist
Preacher: Fr. 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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