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Golders Green Parish Church – Newsletter
02 December 2020
Greetings to Everyone in this first week of advent - a time of hope, looking forward and expectation - so appropriate at every level as we also come out of lockdown for the second time.
Our zoomed service on Sunday went really well. It was so good to see those who joined in and to have a virtual “coffee time” afterwards where we were able to able to talk together and share news. Charlotte’s sermon was much appreciated with practical ideas for Advent and was discussed afterwards. The text of her sermon is included in this newsletter. She also gave us an activity based on the Jesse Tree that children (and any of us) might like to create throughout Advent. It is at the end of the newsletter.
Last week it was suggested you might like to send in Christmas greetings to each other via the newsletter to be “virtual” Christmas cards. They can be in whatever form you like, written/typed greetings, drawings or a picture. It would be especially good if the children would like to do a drawing for us to enjoy. Already one has been received which will be in next week’s edition to start us off. Please send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org .You could send them to the parish office: Golders Green Church, West Heath Drive, Golders Green NW11 7QG, or, if you are nearby, Max could pick it up.
At the end of the newsletter are some Advent prayers, ideas and reflections that we can use to take us through the next weeks. They have been offered in the hope you will find them helpful.
Here is the zoom link to our Sunday service. It will be so good to see you next Sunday and to join in the chat afterwards. It will be the same for every Sunday:
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In this week’s edition we have:
A reflection from Betty B who has just returned from the United States. How good it is that she is safely back with us.
Charlotte’s sermon from last Sunday
A letter from Anita and myself on Pastoral Care and an invitation to you to be involved
An offer of counselling from Nehar
Some Advent resources and links
News you have send in
Domestic Violence Help-Lines and Contacts
C of E Count Down to Joy Calendar
Lockdown - who know Betty B
I was in the States with my sister when the first lockdown happened. No one was sure what to expect of this new normal. Our church service was online, so was Bible study, no socialising of any kind. We took the situation seriously, but we were shocked that within days the supermarket shelves were stripped bare of water, staples and paper products. Who knew that hand sanitizer and cleaning products would become valuable commodities. Thankfully, my sister and I had decided to go plant-based for Lent, and as luck would have it, there were plenty of fruit and vegetables on the shelves.
With the new eating plan, we also embraced walking. At least five times a week we would try to walk six miles. We were fortunate that in and around the sub-division where she lives, there are plenty of walks. Depending on the time we went, I discovered nature. Deer crossing my path, frogs hopping near where I was going to step, possums and foxes. Not to mention being chased by neighbourhood dogs who ‘just want to make friends’. As a city dweller, all this nature took some getting used to, but as the days of lockdown continued, I found that I enjoyed my encounters.
I also became an avid News watcher, what was new? The fact that there were a hundred ways of saying the same thing. The number of hospitalisations and deaths were terrifying, but I kept watching, hoping that the guidance we were getting would help in some way. Country’s league tables of dealing with the virus were splashed across our screens, like some kind of competition.
The Lockdown also helped me to know just who the essentials workers were and how much they were needed. We also learnt new terms. PPE and where to buy it. Making sure we had good masks, washing our hands until some of the skin started to peel from too much detergent and wiping down groceries. As the weeks continued we relaxed a little, but we knew life wouldn’t return to what we were used to for a while.
We thought the lockdown would last a few weeks, but after the months past, we knew we were in it for the long haul. Once the lockdown lifted, I knew I would be returning back to London. The flight wasn’t full and all the passengers were wearing masks. Quarantine was a time to relax, reflect and regroup. We all learnt to take one day at a time, getting used to life as it was, and then it happened! Another lockdown! It felt different this time. We knew what to expect. There was good news, a vaccine on the horizon. Hmmm... who would be the first in the queue.
Charlotte's Advent Sermon
(A Timelapse video on YouTube was shown of the Salisbury Advent Procession)
I've never actually been to Salisbury for their Advent Procession, I'd love to go one year, though St Paul's Cathedral do something similar. It won't be happening this year, but if and when such things are possible next year or in the coming years, I thoroughly recommend going to St Paul's – or Salisbury, if you can - for the Advent Procession, which usually takes place on the Saturday and Sunday of this weekend. It really physically brings home the moving of darkness to light, as light is transferred throughout the building, a physical reminder of the darkness of the days of Israel – something we can emapthise with this year – and the light that the coming of Jesus promises. Advent Sunday is always – usually – my absolute favourite Sunday of the year. I just love the feeling of longing and expectation; usually the church and even sometimes the high street and houses haven't become completely overrun by Christmas on Advent Sunday; we know it's there, twinkling, on the horizon, but there is still waiting to be done. I love the Advent hymns and I am sad that you aren't all in the building to sing a rousing version of my favourite Advent hymn – O Come, O Come Emmanuel with me. As a child I remember clearly going to the Advent Carol Service and knowing that it was in some way different to a Christmas Carol Service. There was something slightly foreboding in the air. The readings talked about suffering and struggle; the carols and the music hinted at hope that was round the corner that hadn't yet arrived, rather than the pure joy and celebration which the Christmas readings and music reflect.
Advent is about three things: it is about looking to the end times; it is about waiting, and it is about hope. And so I think this Advent will be more poignant than any other I have experienced, possibly any of you have experienced either. Those three things have dominated our lives this year. The end times; waiting, and hope.
There were times, back in March, which were really terrifying. I have never known supermarket shelves be empty, or high streets which weeks before were hubs of activity, boarded up – though I know a lot of people around the world would find those things only too familiar. Seeing pictures of Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus, usually heaving with shoppers and tourists, totally deserted, really did start to feel like something out of a disaster film, like the end times had arrived, and civilisation had collapsed.
There's been quite a lot of waiting this year, too. Waiting outside shops! - We've all done a lot of that, particularly back in the spring. But also waiting to be told we can see loved ones again; parents desperately waiting for schools to re-open after six months of having children at home; those waiting for cancelled operations to be re-scheduled. Everyone has their own list of things they have waited for this year.
And hope. If ever there was a year when we need hope; when we need light in the darkness, the coming of a promised Saviour – it is surely this year. Surely this is the year that we can really enter into something of what the people of Israel felt; longing and waiting for something to come along that would change everything. And it seems that hope is on the horizon; three new vaccines, all of which have been proven highly effective, all of which, hopefully, will be distributed in the new year, and allow us to be together again, to embrace loved ones, to travel, to worship with one another and share the sign of peace with one another and eat the same bread and drinks from the same cup – there are so many joys that have been denied us this year, and we are clinging to hope that we will slowly start to enjoy those things again.
But as I was reflecting on this this week in preparation for Advent Sunday, I thought that there is one crucial difference between the coming of the promised Saviour that the people of Israel were waiting for, and the coming of the promised Saviour in the form of a vaccine that we are waiting for, lest we start treating the vaccine like a deity. We are waiting for something that will take our lives 'back to normal'. We want to go back to how things always were, we 'want our lives back', as so many people have expressed it. The people of Israel, however, wanted something totally new, so totally new that they didn't even know what form it would take. They knew it would change their lives and their story in the most radical way, but they weren't completely certain exactly what it would look like. They had some ideas, which are given in the readings that we hear in this season, particularly from the prophet Isaiah; they knew that this promised Saviour would bring great light; they knew he would bring peace; they knew he would bring freedom. But exactly how, they weren't sure.
These next four weeks are here to help us prepare for the coming of God. In the next few weeks we’ll hear the beginning of the story of Jesus; the story that begins with the words “Do not be afraid.” It’s what Gabriel says to Mary. It’s what the angel says to the shepherds. And it’s what the angel says again at the tomb of Jesus to the women who come seeking his body: “Do not be afraid.” It’s what Jesus says when he appears to the disciples. And that’s the good news that Christmas promises.
I think this Advent could be the opportunity to have Advent as it is intended to be. Usually Advent lasts for most people (and I include myself in this) for a few days at best, then we get swept up with carol services and shopping and parties and seeing friends and decorating and all the rest of it. But there can't be anywhere near as much of that this year. This will be, we keep being told, a Christmas like no other. So let's also make it an Advent like no other – an Advent when we can really identify with the readings we'll hear over the next four weeks, a time of uncertainty and waiting and longing. The words from the prophet Isaiah are so heavy with metaphor; he talks of the desert blossoming, the rain falling, the day dawning after the long night. And instead of thinking, “I can't wait to go back to normal, to go back to my old way of living, my old life” we can use this as an opportunity to think, what about a new way of life? What would happen if I used this Advent to allow Jesus more fully into my life? What would happen if I allowed him to make more of an impact on me?
That's what Advent demands of us. To prepare our hearts to receive Christ when he comes at Christmas. To keep awake, as Mark puts it in the Gospel this morning, so that we are ready for the coming of the promised Saviour. Because the truth is – unlike this vaccine which we could be in danger of treating like the promised Saviour – we do not know, really, how Christ can change our lives, if we let him.
So, how to prepare: as I've said, perhaps this Advent can be Advent as the church really intends it to be. Pray. Read the Scriptures. That sounds a bit vague, so if you want some structure and guidance:
The CofE website has launched 'Comfort and Joy' – daily reflections for Advent.
Listen to or watch an Advent Carol Service (different to Christmas carols!)
Alternative Advent Calendar, the Jesse Tree. St Christopher's Walworth has the resources for this on their facebook page which they are happy for people to use. If you don't fancy cutting the shapes out and colouring them in or think you are too old for that! - you can still read the relevant Bible passage for the day, light a candle, say a prayer.
I wish you a blessed and holy Advent and pray that you will be ready to receive Christ into your life when he comes at Christmas.
From Nehar : Reflections during Advent
The purpose of Advent, as Charlotte reminded us in her sermon is to look forward to the coming of Jesus; for us to wait expectantly and gratefully for the gift of God the Father’s beloved Son. To await the coming of something new; the dawn of a new and better era.
After Covid 19 which seems to have taken over all of our lives – it is wonderful to be in this time of new things; looking forward to a time of rest, peace, joy and hope leaving behind distress and hopelessness.
This is a time of remembering how God broke into time and space and entered our world. Of Jesus willingly giving up His divinity to identify with our humanity. The Christmas story is the beginning of God’s plan to reclaim his people and restore the relationship lost in the garden of Eden – the continuing love story of God with His creation.
I was drawn to some words which I share with you – for us to mediate on together.
“This Christmastime Lord come to the manger of my heart
Fill me with your presence
Invade my soul like Bethlehem bringing peace to every part
Dwell with and around me, as I unwrap your presence each day
Keep me close to you Lord”. Amen
Message from Nehar
I am a trained councilor. If anyone would welcome a chat on anything you would like to talk over and discuss, in confidence, please don’t hesitate to give me a ring and we could fix up a time. This would be in a voluntary capacity. Please let the office know if you wish to speak with me.
From Anita and Sally
I hope you remain well and safe during these uncertain times.
Since Rex left our church and we await our new Vicar, which will be quite a while, we would like to make sure that, as part of our pastoral care as a church family, we stay in touch with each other. We have a wonderful church community and would like to continue communicating as best as possible during these times of lockdown and COVID.
I am sure many of you will still be in touch with each other regularly. However, all our congregation will have different living situations and working times during the day. In order to stay in touch, it would be useful for us to know if some our church family may enjoy having
a call and a chat during the week. Some of our family may be in another country and they too may enjoy sharing time with another parishioner.
We would also like to make sure that we celebrate all the good things that are happening in Golder’s Green and also we are informed about anyone who would like to be put on the prayer list during our weekly Sunday morning service.
Our weekly Newsletter will be sent out to everyone as usual and this is an excellent place to get up-to-date information, including links to go to different sites, and hear your insights from the interesting articles you send. Please let us know if you have found something else you would like to share with our church family.
In spite of all the changes in our world, Golder’s Green Church believe that family and friends continue to be a huge source of comfort and joy.
If you would like someone to chat with you during the week please contact either Anita Houghton or Sally Barnes via the church office and we will arrange it for you.
Resources for Advent
From Jenny: Haphazard by Starlight’ by Janet Morley.
Jenny recommends, ‘Haphazard by Starlight’, by Janet Morley. Janet offers a poem a day (some explicitly Christian, others not) and a commentary/reflection on each which Jenny finds very helpful as part of her Advent journey. It is so nice to do something a bit different for Advent, in order fully to appreciate the significance of the season.
From Anita: Care for the Family
We are a national charity which aims to promote strong family life and to help those who face family difficulties. Since 1988, Care for the Family has sought to promote strong family life and help those who face family difficulties. Our work has been focused on the UK and the Isle of Man, but increasingly through digital technology, we are reaching a wider audience.
We focus primarily on the following areas of family life: marriage, parenting and bereavement. Our aim is to be accessible to every family whatever their circumstances and to create resources and support that are preventative, evidence-based and easy to apply.
Care for the Family support a range of family areas and also offer a range of free online courses. https://www.careforthefamily.org.uk/
The Church Times and Canterbury Press Advent Retreat
Last Saturday I joined in an Advent retreat arranged by, “The Church Times and Canterbury Press”, along with 700 others! It was brilliantly organized and went without a hitch. It started with a,” Welcome to Advent” service from St Martin-in-the-Fields with a short address by, the Revd Richard C, one of the Clergy. This was followed by four talks:
the first, given by, Canon Mark O, Dean of St John’s Cambridge* on, “An introduction to the season of Advent”;
the second, by Canon Rachel M, Manchester Cathedral, who is herself a published poet and writer on, “Travelling Towards Bethlehem with Christina R”;
the third by, The Revd Carys W, Lecturer at St Mellitus College on, “Let me go there -R. S Thomas: Advent God”;
the fourth by the Revd Malcolm G, a spiritual director and much loved poet who is often published in the Church Times on, “O Come, O Come: A journey through the Advent Antiphons”
Each session was interspersed with music and images of the sea, countryside and the cosmos to give us time to reflect. The retreat ended with closing worship from St Martin’s. Each session had such richness in its own right providing the listener with so much to ponder on. My head was so full afterwards I had to spend the rest of the day quietly thinking about what I had absorbed.
If you would like to see what I am talking about, the link into the retreat is below. You could either sample parts of it that interests you or go through it all. I hope you enjoy what you experience.
*(I have the text of Mark O’s talk if anyone would like me to send it to them. He is a remarkable speaker who gave one of Donald’s (my late husband) memorial lectures a few years ago that some of you came to).
The Jesse Tree Activity
Where does Jesse Tree come from?
The Jesse Tree tradition is rooted in Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Jesse was the father of David, Israel’s greatest king. And Jesus is descended from the line of David. He is the branch God promised would grow from Jesse’s family tree. Each symbol represents a story from within this family tree and a step toward the birth of Jesus.
This is the link for the Jesse Tree:
Light a candle
Read the Bible story for the day
Place the symbol (decorated) on your Jesse Tree
Finish with a prayer
With thanks to St Christopher’s W for sharing the idea.
News from us:
We were so sorry to hear on Sunday that Nwando E’s brother had died in Nigeria during the previous week. We send our love and condolences to Nwando at this sad time for her and her family.
It is good to hear that Marlies A is recovering, out of hospital and at home. We send our good wishes and hopes she makes a full recovery - perhaps we will be seeing her soon.
Help-Lines and Contacts regarding Domestic Violence
Last week Jenny wrote about the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Ba sed Violence. We at GGPC know that domestic violence is, tragically, an issue in our area, as well as in other parts of the world. So we have repeated the contact numbers that can be used if you know of anyone who might need help. It is hard to admit fo r anyone that they are experiencing domestic violence or any other form of abuse. It can be and is very difficult, but it is an important step towards getting individual and family protection. For advice and support about domestic violence please use, or pass on, any of the numbers below:
Visit the One Stop Shop a free drop in advice service for male and female victims of domestic violence. Click here for full details, or call 0208 359 4797
Contact Barnet Solace Advocacy and Support Service on 0208 733 4113, or visit their website by clicking here;
Call the 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 It is open 24/7 and is free if you call from a landline or public phone;
Male victims of domestic violence can contact the Men’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0327 (9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday);
More information about support available in Barnet can be found on Barnet Council’s website: wwwbarnet.gov.uk
You are not alone, you can leave your home to get help and support. If you are in immediate danger Call the police on 999 Silent Help If you need help but are unable to
speak, ring 999 when they answer press 55 This alerts the operator and the police will be sent to help you. Get emergency refuge accommodation and advice
YouTube - Worship Video of the week email@example.com.
Song for the week: Matt Redman - Jesus only Jesus
Do you have favourite worship songs? Please email them to Sally
Please continue to pray for those who have asked us as a community to pray for them
Okey Jnr. O, Margaret M, Yvone S, Anna M, Jason E, Ian K, Eva M, Juliette D, Ivor S, Myfanwy K , Dorothy N, Sheila G, Sisi O , Mirela B , Marlies A and Nwando E & family.
Daily Hope - The Church of England Phone line church service - is available 24 hours a day on 0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services during the period of restrictions in mind.
We at Golders Green Church will continue to offer a number of ways we can and will keep in contact though emailing and phoning each other, the use of Facebook and the website, sending out updates by supporting those who need shopping, prescriptions fetched, letters posted and anything else you may need if you are isolated at home, whether you are in the over 70-year-old age group, or, have underlying health conditions.
The important thing is, PLEASE LET US KNOW. We have a list of volunteers we can call on to help. If anyone wants to add their names to this, please email the churchwardens on firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
Radio, Television and Online Worship
You may wish to join in worship during this time through television and radio.
Check online, in the Radio Times and elsewhere for details:
Songs of Praise BBC 1, Sunday afternoon, variable times
Sunday Worship BBC Radio 4, Sunday, 8.10am Choral Evensong BBC
Radio 3, Wednesday Daily Service
BBC Radio 4 (Longwave only), weekdays, 9.45am
Big Sunday Service Premier Christian Radio, Sunday, 7am, 8am, 10am Easter Sunday Eucharist A service is usually broadcast on the BBC on Easter morning
Free 24 hour telephone church service 0800 804 8044
Online resources Church of England Daily Prayer https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/join-us-service-dailyprayer
https://mailchi.mp/b9d86a4acdc7/coming-up-from-st-pauls-cathedral-1274047?e=377e26b1db St Paul’s Cathedral have a number of resources available for us to use.
Church of England Online Resources during this time https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronaviruscovid-19-liturgy-and-prayer-resources
Go On-line to " ps://www.achurchnearyou.com", put in Area or post code and find a local church that broadcasts Worship.
Prayers from Christian Aid https://www.christianaid.org.uk/pray/churches/coronavirus-prayers
https://pray-as-you-go.org/ Pray as you Go (a short service each day in the Jesuit Tradition)
LICC have some great resources on their website https://www.licc.org.uk/
Especially on Covid-19 https://www.licc.org.uk/ourresources/prayer-journeys/presence-pressure-purpose/