Monday, 17 December 2007

Advent III, 2007

It really all started on the Saturday. After morning prayer and Mass we had the rehersal for the Confirmation. The very last stage of a long time of preparation that was ably led by Canon Brian Simmons and Fr Mark North.

Following that all those who clean the church came along to the Vicarage for drinks. (See Photo) This is a team of twenty people who week in week out come and devote time and energy to keep the clean and wonderful church that we have. Indeed our church building is loved and so it should be.

Saturday night saw another group of us going to the Fulham Christmas Party for Rochester area: clergy, churchwardens, lay readers and pastoral assistants together with their families were invited. The evening buffet took place at St George's Bickley and was an event enjoyed by all.

Three cheers for the organisers and to Fr Mark who drove us on the Parish Mini bus to the event and back.

Sunday started with the 8am Mass attended by 15 communicants. We used our rather nice damask rose coloured chasuble. Baby Rachel's dad (mentioned in an earlier post) was also present and gave us the good news that Rachel is back at home and doing so well - Laus Deo et Maria!

Morning Prayer at 9am immediately after which the bishop arrived. The time before Mass was very busy and at 10am exactly the bell signalled the beginning of the Pontifical Concelebrated Mass with the administration of the Sacraments of Christian Initiation. John our Bishop wore our Rose coloured chasuble and Fr Brian, Fr Mark and myself wore three purple stoles. Before this Mass we welcomed the candidates and their families but also my predecessor Canon Robin Ward, who is now Principal of St Stephen's House in Oxford, and Mrs Ward.

For the Introit we had the Advent Prose which worked quite well as did the short Litany of Saints on our way to the font. Bishop John gave a very good sermon and baptised Pippa then Confirmed Pippa, Georgia and Veryan. (See Photo) The attendance was very good. After communion the bishop commissioned all of us in our discipleship and handed to the congregation, through representatives, the programme for our Year of Grace. After Mass we all went to the Parish Hall for refreshments. At this stage Bishop John presented the candidiates with their certificates and the Downside Abbey Prayer Book as a token. Fr Mark was presented with a belated Ordination gift of a Marian Missal which contains various Masses of Our Lady and an Oil Stock for annointing the sick. The bishop thanked Fr Brian for the work in preparing the confirmands. When all left the Hall, Bishop John and Mrs Broadhurst together with her mother came to the Vicarage. They are indeed the most excellent guests one can ever hope for.

Four in the afternoon saw me going off to hospital. As usual it is a delight to serve the patients and staff there. Please pray for Linda who is awaiting a new special bed that will enable her to go back home for Christmas and for her daughter's wedding in March. Two of the patients know Malta very well and so we had a long chat about their favourite haunts.

Evensong with reflection and Benediction started at six. Fourteen people took part in a wonderful meditative service to end such a special day.

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