Sunday, 24 February 2008

Lent III

I am sorry for not posting during the week. I had Wednesday to Friday off to spend it with my family during half term. We enjoyed exploring the wonderful countryside around us and went as far south as Rye, a really enjoyable place to visit indeed. Obviously being a city person myself this had to be balanced with a day at Brighton. I attempted to visit St Paul’s but arrived at a wrong time as the church was closed; a valid excuse for another trip there, but does one need an excuse to visit Brighton? I think not. I see in it the combination of Camden Town and Notting Hill with the advantage of nestling right on the sea. Enough about holidays!

The weekend started with a Coffee Morning organised by Lindsay at her own home to collect funds for Demelza House, a hospice for children, and also for the new choir robes. The event secured over two hundred pounds. Saturday saw the AGM of the Parish Branch of the Mothers’ Union. Marigold served as President of the branch for some years and decided that this was time for her to step down. Marigold is deeply committed to St John’s and is an authority on the local history. Marigold gathers the MU Prayer Group in her house on a monthly basis and is involved in many other things. Her contribution is really valuable. Her husband Douglas looks after our finances and her daughter helps with our Youth Group. During that meeting a new president was elected. Valerie will now lead the Mothers Union at St John’s. I look forward to work with her in supporting the valuable work of MU. Valerie is also deeply committed to St John’s. Her husband is a former churchwarden and her daughter runs our Youth Group. The secretary of the Parish Branch of the MU, Nita has given up her post and at the moment the branch is on the look for a new secretary. Many thanks to Marigold and Nita and best wishes to Valerie! In the photo you can see the outgoing President and Secretary and the incoming President.

After putting on the notice board notifications for the election of churchwardens and PCC members I prepared to celebrate the Sunday Early Mass. We explored the dialogue between Our Lord and the Samaritan and the wonderful change and new lease of life he brought about, the same new life he wants to share with us here and now. Had a small chat with Fr Keith who kindly agreed to celebrate both the Early Mass and the Sung Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday when Fr Mark and I will join 40 members of the Parish in Walsingham. After greeting the Parishioners Fr Mark and I had five minutes to change the candles on the High Altar and put in our new spring loaded candles. I think that the High Altar looks splendid with its new candles. Thanks to Sandy for fitting the candles and Frances for ordering the spring loads.

High Mass was celebrated by Fr Mark; he gave a very good homily about the difficult yet exciting Gospel of the day. Several new faces today and a good number of babies, three of which are lined up to receive baptism later on this year. We also enjoyed welcoming Brenda back to the congregation, due to illness the last time she has been in church was last Palm Sunday, we look forward to see her again with us regularly. Here at St John’s we have a very good team of servers and a good choir and they really make our Liturgy a joyful occasion that is inspiring to so many who come faithfully and bring others with them.

After Mass we had an extraordinary PCC to approve our Annual Report and our Annual Financial report in preparation for our APCM in a fortnight. These two reports were approved in no time at all, the members having received them before hand and had time to appreciate the professional way in which both are presented. The other item on our agenda was to consider better use of space in our church building. The PCC received these considerations very well and will have time to take decisions in a fortnight. Watch this space!

Conversations today were largely dominated by the Pastoral Visit that John our Bishop will be holding in our Parish on Wednesday. Please keep us in your prayers as we experience another moment of Grace in our Year of Grace. Again, watch this space!

At 3.30pm I went to the hospital where I had time to visit the patients and give communion to two of them. I always consider my visits to the hospital as a making of the Stations of the Cross, Christ still suffers on these beds and in the story of these people. I always receive more than I have ever hoped to give. Today I have received beyond my wildest expectations. A lady suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s and a very bad bed sore has recently been admitted. Her husband is there, next to her, for eight hours a day, holding her hand, caressing her, keeping her from falling, feeding, loving, loving, loving. Whatever I can say will never do justice to the icon of the Paschal Mystery I have witnessed this afternoon. I have seen the Lord and I am glad!

Back to church in time for Lent with St Benedict III. Roger spoke about Benedict’s dislike of idleness and how work is prayer and prayer is work. These evening recollections will be published in booklet form on Palm Sunday and I really would recommend them to all. Details will be on the website nearer the time. The evening came to a close with Benediction. With the blessing of Our Lord we have embarked on another wonderful week in His service.

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