The Parish of
From the vicar
The celebration of our Lord’s nativity and the beginning of a new year in unfamiliar circumstances have been a cause for much reflection in recent days. There has been opportunity to think about how we have coped with the crises of 2020 and what the continuing pandemic will mean for the future.
Many people seem to be wondering how things will change once the pandemic is over. I suspect that there is a reasonable chance that most of the changes have already happened or are largely predictable: many people have lost loved ones, friends and colleagues; others have lost their jobs or have had to change their way of working. For the Church of England there is the immediate problem of how to pay the bills. Following the hierarchy’s abandonment of their flocks earlier in the pandemic and the government’s abandonment of the church more recently, there will need to be some reflection on the place of the (established) church in the life of the nation. In all likelihood the financial matters will take priority whilst the constitutional ones will be swept under the carpet, there being nobody in government or the hierarchy of the church with the awareness to understand the problem or even to see that there is one: there is not one prophet left. Or so it seems. To be fair the bishops of the Society have been very supportive, but the exception proves the rule.
After a depressing thought it is time for some encouragement – and there is plenty to be had. The problems we are facing are real, but so is the succour that God offers to his people. In our celebration of Christmas this is evident when we read of the motive which lies behind the incarnation. God becomes man for the salvation of the world simply out of his paternal love. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3: 16). God who is the creator is also the God who is a father to his people. A major theme of the prophet’s writings in the Old Testament is that despite his people being persistently unfaithful he will never abandon them. Yet it was I who taught E′phraim to walk; I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love. (Hosea 11: 3-4). Out of love, the creator God not only leads them like a child learning to walk, but deigns to become one of them – to be himself one who is led by bands at the hands of an earthly parent.
Behold, the great Creator makes
himself a house of clay…
Hark, hark! the wise eternal Word
like a weak infant cries. (Thomas Pestel, 1585-1659).
This is an awesome truth which, if accepted, can only bring men to their knees in adoration. It is worth noting too, that in a culture which tends to over-emphasise the functional aspects of things, the incarnation is not just a practical act to bring salvation, it is an expression of the very nature of God which is love.
At the beginning of a new year we are invited to accept the embrace of God, both the loving embrace of the Father who leads us, but also the embrace of the infant son who comes to sit in our lap. It is an interesting thought that when the Polish nun St. Faustina received visions of Jesus on the altar it was often of the infant Jesus who then disappeared leaving the host visible. In our devotion we cannot separate the babe of Bethlehem from the healer of Galilee or the crucified of Golgotha – they are one and the same. At every moment Jesus opens his arms to embrace us.
It follows that we are given hope for the future. The new year begins in some traditions with the celebration of Mary, the Mother of God. At one level this is a doctrinal statement rooted in the scriptures and the teaching of the Church Fathers confirming the nature of the Incarnation and especially the humanity of Jesus which some had denied, but it is also an embrace from God. Jesus’ mother is also our mother who over the Christian centuries has bathed the children of God in love and prayer – as a faithful mother does. Often we concentrate in our teaching and devotions on the honour due to Mary as ‘most highly favoured’, but in a time of uncertainty and distress it is the embrace of the mother that we need. In our own prayer and devotion we are permitted to sit in Mary’s lap just as Jesus did and to know the peace and security which is part of the unique bond between mother and child. In our uncertainty we can hold her hand, in times of fear we can wrap ourselves in her skirts where we know that we will be protected.
Through these wonderful embraces we are enabled to grow and flourish. The Holy Spirit takes hold of God’s people and moves them forward enabling them to reach heights hitherto unimagined. Remember how the early church came out of the cenacle and triumphed, not quickly, but confidently in his power. Through a new life of grace ordinary people were transformed into a band of saints proclaiming the gospel to all the world. And so it continues. Despite many slips and falls Christians are still feeling the embrace. Confident of God’s presence and inspired by the witness of Blessed Mary and the saints the Church will continue to serve God in every land and in every age bringing reconciliation and healing to a damaged world.
Pray that we may see the new year as an adventure, and rise in God’s strength to meet the challenges of our day.
Please note that the following diary entries may be subject to change.
From the diary…
Sunday 20th December Advent 4
Wednesday 23rd December, 10.00am Mass
8.00am Low Mass (Book of Common Prayer)
9.30am Family Mass (Modern rite)
Saturday 26th December, 10.00am Mass (St. Stephen, Protomartyr)
Sunday 27th December Christmas 1
Tuesday 29th December, 10.00am Mass (Holy Innocents, tr.)
Wednesday 30th December, 10.00am Mass (In the Octave of Christmas)
Friday 1st January, 10.00am Mass (Mary, Mother of God)
Sunday 3rd January Christmas 2
Wednesday 6th January, 8.00pm Mass for the Epiphany of our Lord (note time of service)
Sunday 10th January First Sunday after Epiphany (no Family Service at 11.15am)
Wednesday 13th January, 10.00am Mass (St. Hilary, Bishop)
Thursday 14th January, 10.00am Mass
Friday 15th January, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 17th January Second Sunday after the Epiphany
Tuesday 19th January, 10.00am Mass (St. Wulfstan, Bishop)
Wednesday 20th January, 10.00am Mass
8.00pm Parochial Church Council
Thursday 21st January, 10.00am Mass (St. Agnes, Martyr)
Friday 22nd January, 7.00pm Mass (St. Vincent, Martyr)
Sunday 24th January Third Sunday of Epiphany
Tuesday 26th January, 10.00am Mass (Conversion of St. Paul, tr.)
Wednesday 27th January, 10.00am Mass
Thursday 28th January, 10.00am Mass (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor)
Friday 29th January, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 31st January Presentation of Christ in the Temple
From the registers
10th December Holly Heath and James Hunt
18th December Kenneth Barke (aged 90 years)
St. Peter’s Church, Bushey Heath
wishes to appoint a
The sacristan assists the parish priest by helping to prepare for services and by caring for the sacred vessels and vestments.
No previous experience is required as full training will be given. This is a voluntary post which would suit anyone who wants a greater role in the liturgical life of the church, but is happy to work in the background.
For an informal discussion please speak to Father Andrew.
Church Heating update
I am delighted to be able to inform you that we now have the funds in place to pay for the new heating system and for the adaptations to the lighting. Thank you to all who have raised funds and made generous contributions and also to St. Peter's Trust for a grant of £5,000 which we received earlier this month. As a result of your hard work and kindness the fund now has a balance in excess of £37,000.
Some readers will already be aware that the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) has returned our application in the hope that we will change our minds about electric heating and develop a proposal to install a system based on the use of ground-source heat pumps. Such a system must be rejected for two reasons. The first is that heat pumps are not designed for old, uninsulated buildings like St. Peter's. We would need industrial size equipment which would create far too much noise outside the building on what little land we have at the back. At our meeting with the DAC in September we were advised against this system because of the practicalities and its manifest unsuitability. The second reason is that heat pumps would cost around £75,000 and would still require a boiler and pipework to be installed. From our earlier explorations we are aware that this would cost in excess of £75,000 plus the cost of installing a new flue or lining an existing one (think scaffolding). The DAC have also advised us to employ a heating consultant to develop a scheme for us. I obtained an estimate for this in June and the cost was £6,000. We did not pursue it any further. The DAC also raised some more legitimate queries about the new lighting, but any problems there can be easily resolved at a planned site meeting on 6th January.
I have submitted our scheme again having explained our position. It is all very frustrating, but we press on.
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