The Parish of
From the vicar
Many of the lectionary readings at this time of year are from the Acts of the Apostles which tells the story of the birth and rapid growth of the church around the Eastern Mediterranean regions, from Palestine to Rome, from Alexandria to Macedonia and all ports in between. It is an exciting and inspiring account of how a small group of disciples are transformed into an international organisation by the power of the Holy Spirit. At the start of the story we meet a small band of Jews whose lives have been touched by Jesus of Nazareth and by the end we are in the company of men and women from many nations and cultures who have heard the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection and who have put their trust in him.
I find the Acts of the Apostles to be one of the most convincing works in the body of New Testament literature. For me, this is because it is a ‘warts and all’ account involving real people at their best and very near their worst. This is especially true of the central figure Paul, who as Saul, is an accessory to the murder of Stephen and a persecutor of the first Christians, but who meets the risen Lord and becomes his disciple. Saul’s conversion on the Damascus road becomes a by-word for miraculous and sudden conversions and throughout the rest of the book we follow him trying to find acceptance within the church and lead its wider mission as ‘the least of Apostles’. In addition we find ourselves journeying in the company of the complex figure of Peter, the attractive figure of Barnabas, the faithful Timothy, the flawed John Mark, the curious Apollos from Alexandria and many others.
Some of the characters in the story find themselves in new roles which challenge their assumptions about how God works. This is especially true of Peter and James, the Lord’s brother who, with their contemporaries in Jerusalem have to come to terms with the inclusion of non-Jews in the church and to work out what that was to mean with regard to the law. Many of the characters find themselves doing things they would never have dreamt of before they became Christians. Men like Timothy and Silas become preachers of the gospel, leaders and pastors amongst the new churches. All find themselves in some way ‘ambassadors of Christ’, commending the gospel in word and deed, both to their own countrymen and to strangers.
All of the characters I have mentioned find themselves guided and strengthened by the Holy Spirit to perform these ministries and we may marvel at the things they did. The point of reading the Acts of the Apostles though is not just to find out ‘how it all started’, but to be a part of the story. Our own ministries in the church, many and varied as they may be, are just a continuation of the events recorded in Acts. The things we do for God may not be recorded for posterity, but they are just as important as the tasks undertaken by the Apostles, not least because the central work of the church (growing the kingdom) does not change even if it is done differently in different place and times.
Maybe as we think about the things we do for God, people will say that we are pretty unlikely people to be doing them, but God calls his Peters and Pauls, his Aquilas and Priscillas in every generation. May we thank him for that and be encouraged in our ministries, old or new.
Pray for an effective transition back to our regular activities and patterns of worship.
From the diary…
Sunday 30th May Trinity Sunday
Wednesday 2nd June, 10.00am Mass (MU Corporate)
Thursday 3rd June, 9.30am Mass
Friday 4th June, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 6th June Corpus Christi
No mid-week services
Sunday 13th June Trinity 2
Tuesday 15th June, 9.30am Mass
Wednesday 16th June, 10.00am Mass (St. Richard of Chichester, Bishop)
8.00pm Parochial Church Council
Thursday 17th June, 9.30am Mass
Friday 18th June, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 20th June Trinity 3
Tuesday 22nd June, 9.30am Mass (St. Alban, First Martyr of Britain)
Wednesday 23rd June, 10.00am Mass (St. Etheldreda, Abbess)
Thursday 24th June, 9.30am Mass (Birth of St. John the Baptist)
Friday 25th June, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 27th June
8.00am Said Mass 9.30am Parish Mass
Tuesday 29th June, 9.30am Mass
Wednesday 30th June, 10.00am Mass
Thursday 1st July, 9.30am Mass
Friday 2nd July, 7.00pm Mass (Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth)
Church Heating and Lighting
You will be pleased to learn that subject to a small adjustment to the lighting the Diocesan Advisory Committee has decided to approve our scheme. We will now be applying for the faculty to carry out the work. If everything goes according to plan the work will be carried out before Autumn.
Notes on Altar Cloths
The altar is a most sacred object, partly because of its consecration and partly because it represents Christ himself. It should always be properly dressed for use with the linen kept clean and pressed. There may be up to five cloths on any particular altar.
The uppermost cloth which covers an altar is the ‘fair linen’. Historically this has been made of linen or hemp, but nowadays other materials are frequently used including cotton or good quality man-made fibre mixes. The ‘fair linen’ is the same width as the altar and hangs down the sides almost to the ground. Sometimes the ends may be edged with lace. Frequently (and desirably) five crosses representing the wounds of Christ are worked into the part of the cloth covering the mensa, one in the centre and one in each corner. These then match the crosses incised into the altar itself.
The under cloth, known as the ‘plain linen’, is of the same fabric, but fits the top of the altar exactly. Sometimes there is another cloth beneath it, often of a thicker material, from which the superfrontal is suspended. This is the practice with the High Altar at St. Peter’s.
A waxed cloth known as the ‘cere cloth’ covers the altar at its consecration. Sometimes the use of this cloth is continued as it can prevent moisture from spoiling the linen. Finally a dust cover is placed on top of the ‘fair linen’ when it is not in use.
Vicar: Fr. Andrew Burton SSC, a priest of the Society. (020 8950 1424). Usual day off Monday.
Churchwarden: Mrs. Anne Swerling (020 8950 8923).
www.stpeterbusheyheath.org.uk / www.achurchnearyou.com