I see it appropriate to launch this blog as we start a new year. For us today marks the beginning of a new year. A fresh opportuntiy to live in detail and considerable depth the Mystery of Christ our Joy.
Today we embark on the Mystery of the Incarnation. This Advent as we await in joyful hope for the fulfillment of God's creation we give thanks for the Word of God made flesh in Bethlehem 2000 years ago and we open our hearts to allow the Christ to work from within us today.
The day started early in the Parish, I arrived in church at 7.30am to find our sacristan already hard at work. A server who is in sixth form served the Mass ever so well. Our special embroidered Advent Chasuble was used. There where 17 people for the Mass including one of our confirmands who is in Year 7, she will be confirmed in a fortnight. A parishioner who is a young father was in in church too. His baby was taken to hospital urgently on Thursday and was operated on Friday. Today his daughter is better but he has asked us all for prayers, which we offered at the Sung Mass and at Evensong.
Fr Mark turned up well in time for Morning Prayer (Lauds) which we enjoyed praying together as the members of our choir turned up for their rehersal.
The 10am Sung Mass was indeed a joy. Fr Mark was celebrating today with Fr Brian and myself concelebrating with him. You could see the congregation enjoying the Advent hymn during the introit. We had over a hundred communicants with about a hundred and fifty people in church who braved the horrible weather to come and worship. After communion the children in church gathered around Fr Mark for the lighting of the first Advent Candle and the opening of the windows of the giant Advent Calendar that the Mothers Union prepare each year. Every child in church was given an Advent Calendar to take home.
Today we distributed our December - January edition of the Parish Magazine called: "About St John's". The editor really worked hard to publish this special colour Christmas edition which apart from all the Christmas services has details about our sesquicentenary celebrations that start in February.
After Mass I had time to meet many of my parishioners. I have been here now just over two months and people are so welcoming and warm. I enjoyed all conversations in the hall and look forward to see many of them soon. It was nice to see Fr Christopher one of our retired priests who was back with us after a short absence; Fr you were really missed.
Lunch with my family and time to prepare for Evensong and Benediction. At 3.30pm I left the Vicarage to the Sevenoaks Hospital which is in the parish and with which we have links. Today I took the Sacrament to some of the patients and visited the others. Sevenoaks hospital is a small one with two wards. I have the privilege to be the chaplain and have made so many friends from the hospital in my short time here.
Back up the hill to church just in time to get ready for Evensong and Benediction at 6pm. A turn out of 15 people for a sung BCP evening prayer, a short reflection and benediction. Today I had the great joy of admitting my wife and children as members of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament. We have a ward of the Conraternity in my Parish called the Ward of the Transfiguaration. I am its superior.
After evensong back to the Vicarage to have a brief chat with our splendid director of Music about the next couple of weeks, than supper and finally quiet time.
In the next couple of days I shall be off to Walsingham for my annual retreat. I am looking forward for the silence of those blessed days. I am sure that I will be able to share some thoughts with you on my coming back.
I launch my blog, with trepidation. A small raft in a huge ocean. But I want to sing God's praises too and maybe encourage you to join me.