THIS WEEK'S READINGS
Acts 2.42-end · Psalm 23 · 1 Peter 2.19-end · John 10.1-10
‘I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.’ (John 10:10)
The image of Jesus as a gate has not captured the imagination as much as some others have for obvious, maybe artistic, reasons. However, in past centuries, it would have been different. To Greek readers of this Gospel, Jesus referring to himself as a door would have resonated with their understanding, found in literature from Homer onwards, that a heaven above the earth was entered through such a gate. In the Jewish scriptures we also find many references to the heavenly gates such as in Psalm 118:
‘Open to me the gates of righteousness that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.’ (Psalm 118:19-20)
Many of us today feel as if we live on a threshold of faith, tentative about commitment because we are too full of questions or unease about what we may be getting ourselves into. In this passage, Jesus implies that, far from being a constricting route to a place where we have to surrender our integrity, to follow him means to ‘come in and go out and find pasture’. He opens up the way to a place of safety and rest, a sheepfold, where in all our confused hustle and bustle, it is the presence of the shepherd that reassures and makes life worthy of our trust. He has not come to close down the complexity of living but to enrich it and make it abundant.
Planning for the 'new normal'
As we move into the seventh week since Holy Trinity Church was closed as a consequence of the Coronavirus Pandemic, many of us will be asking the question once asked by the author of Psalm 13, 'How long, O Lord?'
Whilst we all understand the reasons that our church building has shut its doors for the first time in its 130-year history, I have heard from many members of the congregation just how much you are missing our life together and are eager to return when it is safe to do so. We continue to say that 'the building is closed but the church is alive' and through our regular worship broadcasts, our Taking Care phone call network and individual acts of kindness and witness this is true. But there can be no doubt that both meeting together physically, and in the building in which we meet, are integral to our experience of our Christian Faith.
We know that this week the Government will announce whether it plans to ease the current restrictions. I am working with a number of priests to persuade the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to allow the clergy back into their buildings to pray and broadcast services from there as the Government's own legislation currently permits. However, the decisions before the Government and our Archbishops are onerous and must be taken with great care. Pray for them all!
I can tell you that the Churchwardens and I, together with the parish staff, have already started planning for a future when we might be able to resume public worship at Holy Trinity even though it is highly likely that it will be the middle of the summer at the earliest before this can happen and even then with social distancing measures and other restrictions in place for some time. Once we have been given clear guidelines by the authorities, I will share this with you.
There is no doubt that the life of our community will be considerably different for a long period as step by step we seek to recover and return to what we knew and loved. The many impacts of the pandemic, and not least the very significant financial consequences, mean that we will have to be patient, resourceful and determined.
But we must remember two things:
Firstly, disaster has struck before. This Friday (May 8) is the 75th anniversary of the Victory in Europe which formally marked the end of the Second World War. The history books tell us that the congregation of Holy Trinity Church, confronted with a church roof destroyed by the bombs that fell in the Blitz, did not simply throw their hands up in horror and give up but spent the next 15 years working to restore the 'Cathedral of the Arts and Crafts' . With the challenges we face in our generation, we must do the same!
Secondly, we are people of faith who trust in a God who never abandons his people. 'God is our hope and strength, a very present help in trouble' (Psalm 46). And as we rebuild the life of our Church, the life of our neighbourhood and our own individual lives we will discover that He still is!
Fr. Nicholas Wheeler Rector
A new life begins for Fr. Grant
This Monday (May 4) our former Assistant Priest, Fr. Grant Bolton-Debbage, will become Vicar of All Saints', New Cross. Like everything else in these challenging times, Fr. Grant's start to this new ministry will be very different from what would normally have happened.
Instead of a glorious service at the church presided over by the Bishop of Southwark, with family and friends, representatives of the community and his new congregation, the Institution will take place online! It is hoped that there will be a service at All Saints later in the year once the restrictions are lifted to inaugurate his ministry more publicly.
Please pray for Fr. Grant as he begins his new work and for his people as they welcome him in the most extraordinary of circumstances.
Keeping in touch with your Church
If you wish to contact the Parish Office for any reason, please do not hesitate to contact us by using the Parish Mobile as all members of staff continue to work from home.
Parish Mobile 07842 486514
...and don't forget to access our news and notices through our website
...and you can find our online services LIVE on Facebook
...or RECORDED on our Youtube Channel
... and lots more on our Twitter Page
Live weekday services this week
'Land of Hope and Glory' 75 years on
This Friday (May 8) the celebrations to mark VE Day will take place online. Our Parish Archivist Ruby Canavan recently stumbled across a local connection to the great day...
I made an important discovery recently, just by reading a Daily Telegraph obituary of someone of whom I had never heard. The subject of the obituary was Derek Barsham, apparently a renowned boy soprano whose musical career was very successful and lasted all his life (though obviously not always as a soprano!). I read that his rousing rendition of "Land of Hope and Glory" was heard on the wireless on VE Day, 8 May 1945, following Winston Churchill's announcement that the war in Europe was over. The recording had been made the previous year, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by LESLIE WOODGATE, who appears in a 1916 photograph of the Holy Trinity Choir (he was then 14). I have the photograph in our archives, which also includes William Woodgate (age 17), Victor (age 12) and Jack (age 9).
Harry and Isabella Woodgate lived in Lumley Flats, Pimlico Road, with their eight children - 6 boys followed by 2 girls. All the children attended Holy Trinity Schools. The two older boys - Albert and Walter - were already "at the Front" serving with the Army Cyclist Corps. On his 21st birthday (25 March 1918) Walter's short life was ended by a sniper's bullet. His name is on our WW2 memorial plaque, and in 2018 two members of the Woodgate family came to Holy Trinity to mark the 100th anniversary of that last sad day of their uncle's life.
When I read the obituary I was thrilled to see Leslie Woodgate's name since I knew from an earlier e-mail from Leslie East that Leslie Woodgate became BBC Chorus Director. The recording would have been heard by millions of people. The Woodgates were a musical family, and Jack became a professional singer. I am sure in due course we will hear Churchill's speech on TV and radio, but I suppose it is too much to hope that we might also hear the recording!
Join Fr. Nicholas for a special Morning Prayer on Friday 8 May to commemorate VE Day
Junior Church is having a Zoom!
Our Junior Church has moved its Sunday meetings online and for the past two weeks families have come together on Zoom. So far the meetings have featured Julian Borthwick on the piano and fascinating art talks for children from Alex Borthwick. There have also been guest appearances by Fr. Paul Gismondi and Fr. Grant Bolton-Debbage. Every week children undertake craft activities in their homes and create some really beautiful things like the picture above made by Philae and Samuel.
Arts and Crafts in an age of Coronavirus
In the first of a regular series, Christine Green, a member of our congregation and of our Arts and Crafts Festival Committee, shares some images that speak to us in the Coronavirus Pandemic...
For me, this picture represents each one of us, born alone, but in Life sustained by the circles of friendships we form and the cycles of Time. The Tide comes in - erases this formation - but its creation and imprint remain, as in this photograph, in memory. Whilst we have time between the ebb and flow of Life let us celebrate the Natural world and be kind to one another.
Tucking in to the new normal
Vicki Lant, a member of the congregation, a Governor of our school and a member of our Arts and Crafts Festival Committee shares one aspect of her lockdown world...
I'm loving the unhurried meal-making. The fridge-surprise fun of creating with what’s available (or needs using). Enjoying the palette of colour; visual, textural & tasting delight. You know I’ll need water with that chilli! The yummy energiser between my dance technique class, yoga this evening & the mother of all conditioning, Pilates sessions with a buddy from Berkeley at 11pm! Has this #lockdown done for my brain? I think it's all about doing differently & loving what’s currently possible that was beyond imagining. #newnormal #dance #dancewithoutfrontiers
Archbishop launches free dial-in worship phone line during coronavirus lockdown
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has launched a free national phone line as a simple new way to bring worship and prayer into people’s homes while church buildings are closed because of the coronavirus.
Daily Hope offers music, prayers and reflections as well as full worship services from the Church of England at the end of a telephone line.
The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.
The service is supported by the Church of England nationally as well as through the Connections group based at Holy Trinity Claygate in Surrey and the Christian charity 'Faith in Later Life'.
Although thousands of churches across the country are now running services and prayer groups online while public worship remains suspended, many people – especially older people – do not have access to the internet.
The line also recognises the impact of social distancing restrictions and self-isolation measures on those suffering from loneliness.
Statistics from Age UK suggest that 49% of older people believe the TV or a pet to be their daily source of comfort and interaction. While many organisations are encouraging people to use better use of technology, ONS figures also state that 2.5 million people aged 75 and above have never used the internet.
Callers will hear a special greeting from the Archbishop before being able to choose from a range of options, including hymns, prayers, reflections and advice on COVID-19.
A section called Hymn Line offers callers a small selection of hymns, updated daily. An option entitled ‘Hymns We Love’, provides a hymn and reflection and is based on an initiative by the Connections group
Archbishop Justin said:
“With many in our country on lockdown, it’s important that we support those who are feeling lonely and isolated, whatever age they are.
“The Daily Hope service will allow people to hear hymns, prayers and words that offer comfort and hope, especially in this Easter season.
“I want to urge people to spread the news about this service. If there is someone you know who is particularly struggling, give them a call and let them know about the Daily Hope. I’m going to phone a friend; will you join me?”
Carl Knightly, chief executive of 'Faith in Later Life', added: “The Church must be those who offer hope to our nation at this time, and I am delighted that Faith in Later Life is able to be part of this project.
“We know as an organisation of the challenges for older people in our society in normal times and these are not those, so I want to add our voice to that of the Archbishop and get people sharing this number with whoever they know who would most benefit.”
Pippa Cramer, founder of Connections, said:
“At Connections we have found that well-loved hymns are a source of comfort and hope to our seniors.
“Hymns we Love has proved to be an accessible and popular way to explore the story and meaning behind some of our favourite hymns.”
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
You can boost your donation by 25p for every £1 you donate with Gift Aid. Some of you regularly give with Gift Aid, so we are able to claim the extra money you kindly donate by bank transfer or standing order, as your declaration remains valid until you tell us otherwise.
For those new donations coming via our bank account which we don't already have a Gift Aid form, our Finance Team will be in touch by email to ask you if you would like to do so. It will help us if you can alert us in advance: email@example.com
Please do not feel under any pressure to complete the Gift Aid Form. It is entirely up to you and we are very grateful for any penny you can spare to support our church's mission and ministry.
THOUGHTS FOR THESE DAYS by the Bishop of Kensington
Is the Coronavirus a judgement from God?
As the virus crept up on us, I started reading Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year. It is a kind of docudrama written in 1722 about the outbreak of the plague in London in 1665. So many of the trends that we are seeing in our current pandemic were evident then. Anxiety and fear stalked the streets, rumours and conspiracy theories abounded, and the poor and the homeless were hit far harder than the well-off: they had more cramped living conditions and fewer opportunities to escape.
A discordant note for the modern reader, however, is struck by the idea that the plague is the judgement of God upon a faithless people, and, equally, that its departure is due to the mercy and kindness of God. As the plague begins to dissipate, the author reflects that this release “was evidently from the same secret invisible hand of him that had at first sent this disease as a judgement upon us”.
He presumably has in mind the Old Testament plagues that are also seen as visitations of God on a faithless people: an idea taken up in the collect for a time of plague in the Book of Common Prayer: “O Almighty God, who in thy wrath didst send a plague upon thine own people in the wilderness, for their obstinate rebellion against Moses and Aaron; and also, in the time of king David, didst slay with the plague of pestilence threescore and ten thousand, and yet remembering thy mercy didst save the rest: Have pity upon us miserable sinners, who now are visited with great sickness and mortality; that like as thou didst then accept of an atonement, and didst command the destroying Angel to cease from punishing, so it may now please thee to withdraw from us this plague and grievous sickness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
If plagues were the judgement of God against the sins of a people, they naturally gave rise to calls for lamentations, confession of sins, and the rest. Defoe’s reporter describes how “The government encouraged their devotion, and appointed public prayers and days of fasting and humiliation, to make public confession of sin and implore the mercy of God to avert the dreadful judgement which hung over their heads.”
Today, we are distinctly uncomfortable with such language of plagues as divine judgement, leading to the need for confessing our sins. Christian commentators have rushed to avoid any suggestion that God has sent this plague deliberately on us — and with good reason. In most strands of Christian theology, the doctrine of Providence is the idea not that everything that happens is part of the original divine will for the world, but that, through everything that happens, God’s sovereign will wins out in the end. It means that God is capable of weaving into his ultimate plan for the world not only the normal good course of events in created time, but even damaging events that work against his will. As a result, even sickness, disaster, and death can become, in the providence of God, a means of achieving his purposes. This does not mean that God causes sickness, disaster, and death (how could the Creator God will the destruction of his creation?), but it does mean that none of these are beyond his power to transform and even to use for his glory and his purposes for the goodness and final salvation of the world.
What, then, of the biblical language of judgement and the confession of sins? Can this mean anything for us today? The Greek word commonly translated by our word “judgement” is krisis. It could be translated “crisis”, “verdict”, or even “decision”. A crisis is a significant moment, a providential heightening of tension, the drawing together of many strands of life and existence to create a sense of emergency — bringing things to a head, as it were. A crisis, a judgement, is an opportunity for decision, for decisive action. Divine judgement is, then, a moment of crisis, where events come together in such a way that something significant is revealed about the society, person, or period of time which is under scrutiny. The deliberate visiting of sickness on a people is more characteristic of Norse gods such as Thor, with his thunderbolts, or the capricious gods of pagan Greece or Rome. Judgement, in Christian understanding, is, perhaps, better understood as when the deformed shape of the world as we have fashioned it is revealed in all its brutal reality, when the final truth about us is displayed. Pestilence, therefore, may have more to tell us about ourselves than it does about God.
The Rt. Revd. Dr. Graham Tomlin Bishop of Kensington
All services are closed to the PUBLIC but available online at www.Facebook.com/sloanechurch
SUNDAY 3 MAY Fourth Sunday of Easter
Intention: Parish and People
11.00am The Eucharist
Monday 4 May English Saints and Martyrs
of the Reformation Era Intention: The sick
Tuesday 5 May Intention: Doctors and Nurses
10am Morning Prayer
Wednesday 6 May Intention: Teachers 10am The Eucharist
Thursday 7 May Intention: Shopworkers
10am Morning Prayer
Friday 8 May Julian of Norwich, spiritual writer, 1417 Intention: The clergy
10am Morning Prayer
Saturday 9 May Intention: The Government
SUNDAY 10 May Fifth 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