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Golders Green Parish Church – Newsletter
09 December 2020
Greetings to Everyone
Here we are in the second week of Advent and out of lock down but we still have to take care of ourselves and each other. It is so good to see those who came to our zoom service and sung lustily (I think) from the security of our homes, as well as to greet each other and have a chat after the service. How good too to see the children with their smiley faces who we can wave to we really need that.
So far, your Christmas greetings are beginning to come in and are in this newsletter. Please send some more as it is so good to hear from you especially at this time. It will
cheer the newsletter and us up no end.
A special thanks to the Martinez family, Brisa C, Simona M and Coral M, for their beautiful, colourful Christmas-greetings art that is brightening our newsletter.
Many good wishes from Sally
This week we have:
An update from Tony on how the heating is getting on or not!
Charlotte’s sermon (which will be published each week)
A message from Nwando
A weekly Advent Reflection from Nehar
A Christmas message from the World Council of Churches f rom their interim
Further update on our Pastoral Care
News about us
Christmas Cards from you
Hymns and prayers you can link into
Update from Tony
These weeks up to Christmas are going to be busy even without the usual Christmas things happening, like Christmas Cheer, the Carol services and the like. There are still things to do. I am hoping that we will have the heating back on for next Sunday, not this one. I anticipate we will have the maintenance people in to repair it.
The other update is on the Parish Profile: there is still some work to be done on that and Pamela and I are meeting with Bishop Rob later to discuss it. There is still some work to be done to the text and then pictures have to be chosen and the whole thing put into a professional document.
Lastly, some of you would have noticed works going on to the vicarage. The Diocese is getting it ready for the new incumbent and it looks exciting. But more on that later.
Could I just mention that although we appear to have been a 5 day period when the tier rules do not apply over Christmas I would strongly urge you not to let your guard down. So far as I understand it none of us have caught Covid and the best way to avoid it is to do the barest minimum. I really do not want to lose any of you to it!!
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:
Meeting ID: 829 3706 4369
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Advent II: The Prophets - Charlotte’s Sermon
I remember the headteacher of my secondary school telling us in an assembly one day about an encounter she had had with a parent on an open day. There was a junior school attached, and a parent of a 3-year old had come round to look at the school, intending to enter her in the reception class. The headteacher had barely had time to introduce herself when the parent announced, “She’s going to Oxford to study economics.” The way she told this story suggested the parent wasn’t joking; that is genuinely what he expected of his daughter. It was a story that made me sad at the time. Of course everyone wants the best for their children, but to have decided on their path for them at such a young age can surely only lead to unhappiness and resentment on the part of the child. I tell this story because this is sometimes how we can view the prophets. People who from their birth are set apart, with no choice other than the life and calling. Well, yes and no. They have been set apart from birth for this calling, but it’s not to fulfil parental ambition, as in the case of the father who wanted his 4-year-old to study economics at Oxford. In fact, most parents would be horrified if they knew their child was to be a prophet because they may have known the misery it could bring, the responsibility that lay on their shoulders. It was a huge burden, and often led to the prophet being outcast or deeply unpopular.
That is the life of a prophet. They are the group of people we celebrate today, those who went before Jesus and pointed the people of Israel toward him, toward what was to come. To be a prophet is not an easy job. Each of the Old Testament prophets faced struggle – there was Jeremiah, who wrestled with his calling and was subject to plots to kill him by those who didn’t like his message; Ezekiel, prophesying to God’s people in exile and constantly challenged to do right. And of course, the figure in today’s Gospel, John the Baptist – we’ll be thinking more about him next week but he also embodies that role of a prophet:
They maintain an expectation of the presence and action of God, reminding people he is near and he will come, even when he seems distant.
Demonstrate faithfulness that will never give up on God.
They put aside their own ambitions at great personal cost – in John the Baptist’s case, the highest cost.
(Painting of Cavaraggio – Malta. Huge painting. Plenty of art depicting John the Baptist about to be beheaded, the platter ready for his head – plenty of depictions of John the Baptist’s head on a plate but I actually find this more powerful; the moment before he is beheaded, shows the brutality and the horror).
Three questions I want to answer today:
What is the role of a prophet?
How did John the Baptist change the nature of prophecy?
What can we learn from the prophets about How can we be prophets?
1. What is the role of a prophet?
A prophet is called to remind God’s people why they are in the situation they find themselves in, and what is required of them. So for a great deal of the Old Testament prophets, they were reminding God’s people why they were in exile and what God wanted from them. Like a parent who can see a child straying from what is right, God could see how easily his people were straying from the path he had chosen for them, and so he gave them prophets to remind them of how they were called to live. That could make them unpopular. No one likes being told the way they are living is wicked or selfish and the prophets did just that. And beyond that their role was to point to what was to come; the promise of the Messiah, and before him, John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for him. They prophesied signs so that people would know that the Messiah had come and it’s those signs that we hear so much of during Advent; Isaiah’s sign of the Virgin conceiving and bearing a son; a child born to us, a son given to us; Micah’s prophesy that from Bethlehem would come forth a ruler of Israel. The role of a prophet is to remind people of the presence of God, and point to the signs that show when he is coming and what it will look like.
2. How did JtB change the nature of prophesy?
Well, to give a bit of context, the passage we’ve heard in Mark this morning quotes the prophet Isaiah, chapter 40; and when you get to Isaiah chapter 40, after much tumoil it’s comfort rather than catastrophe. Isaiah 40 comes at the end of the period of the Jews in exile, they’re about to be released and sent back home again. Once exile has happened, God comforts the people and prepares them for their return home but also God’s return as well – Prepare a way for the Lord. When you read this passage in Isaiah, what strikes you is the number of voices who speak in it; starts with God, then there is an unnamed voice, then Isaiah, then finally Jerusalem itself – God starts, then voice after voice picks it up until Jerusalem itself is commanded to speak it. So Jerusalem is originally the recipient of this message of comfort but eventually becomes the means for passing it on; like beacons of fire on hilltops. Jerusalem is transformed from a city of mourning into one that proclaims the message that the Lord is coming. People can’t just receive the message of comfort; they have to understand it and make it their own so that they in turn proclaim it to others.
That’s where John the Baptist comes in – someone who we focus on a lot during Advent. Although he doesn’t exactly come across as a laugh a minute, his message was different from that of the Old Testament prophets. They had chastised people for their sins, told them that God would punish them harshly and then after they had repented, God would forgive them. John, by contrast, invited people to repent after they had sinned, in order to avoid punishment, so that they might be ready to enter a new relationship with God, through baptism.
Jesus, of course, went much further than John because He assured people that they were forgiven even before they had repented. Jesus completely changed the way in which people related to God; he taught his disciples to address God as Father, and he reached out to all kinds of people whom his society found unacceptable on account of their gender, illness or sin. He drank and ate with all kinds of undesirables and assured those who were on the edges of life and arginalized, that they were accepted by God without reserve. That’s how John the Baptist changed the nature of prophesy because he paved the way for the radical way in which Christ would change the way that people related to the Father.
3. What can we learn from the prophets to change the way we live? How can we be prophets?
Well, if the role of a prophet is to remind people of God in their midst and to point towards him, then that is a role that is called of all of us. Three chapters on from the passage in Isaiah we heard quoted in Mark’s Gospel today, there is a famous passage, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” I’ll talk more about this next week in relation to John the Baptist, but each one of us is called by name, by God, to a particular role, to a particular set of circumstances in which we are called to witness to him. The prophets in Scripture call God’s people back to him; they saw the world as it was but they saw it with God’s eyes. So they were angry when people were hungry or sick; when people were made refugees because of war or conflict. Their anger is often palpable in Scripture. BUT their ultimate message was one of hope because they knew God to be faithful and they knew he would never desert his people. And God calls us to do the same, to be prophets – to be angry about injustice and selfishness in the world, but also never to spurn the world, to write it off as hopeless. The opening sentence of Mark’s Gospel that we heard this morning is, ‘The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’ We have good news to share this Advent; that Christ is going to come among us. Let’s pray that in the situations we find ourselves in, we can be prophets, like Isaiah, like John the Baptist – we can be people who point towards Christ and show people in our lives that God is faithful.
Thank you Church – from Nwando
I want to thank the Church community and everyone who has supported me in my time of pain and grief, with your prayers and your words of comfort.
Bereavement at any time is painful, but with the uncertainties and fears created by this terrible, inhumane disease named Covid-19, the pain of bereavement is indescribable. The virus has forced people into a life of self-isolation, and the avoidance of other people by social distancing. The “spirit of the wailing women”, the coming together to lament and comfort a mourning family through physical human contacts has been destroyed and halted by this pandemic.
I value your concern as a church, and l want you all to know that l appreciate your messages of condolence and your words of comfort.
As l recall and reflect on the words of Jesus, “untie him”, addressed to the mourners at the graveside after raising Lazarus from death, l was comforted. It was a call to them, to join Him, to be his Hand of compassion to complete His work by their active participation. This word of our Lord, “untie him” has relevance for us today and it resonated with me. Lazarus raised from death, was still physically bound by the grave cloth. Jesus requires us to actively work with Him to be the means to help to release comfort, encouragement and compassion to others in need.
I thank you for your condolence messages that have uplifted and comforted me.
God bless you all. Remember to stay safe during this pandemic despite the roll out of the vaccines.
WCC Christmas message 2020
Jenny has shared with us this Christmas message from the World Council of Churches. It’s a lovely and important reminder that we at GGPC are part of the worldwide Church, and connected in a deep way with Christians around the world, in places we know and places that are totally unfamiliar. Let’s remember Emmanuel, God with them, as well as with us, as we celebrate Christmas in these times that are so challenging for them as well as for us.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. For see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah. — Luke 2:10-11
From: Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca
Interim General Secretary
World Council of Churches
The child in the manger, in its vulnerability, is an image of fragile hope, the beginning of a new story that will culminate in the gift of life and salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. There have been and there are today many reasons to be afraid and to live in despair. In the most difficult days of history, Christians have time and again found consolation and hope in the good news of Jesus Christ that begins with the birth of the Saviour in Bethlehem.
Celebrations of Christmas in churches and families this year will be tempered by the physical distancing and other restrictions brought on by our concern to protect each other from the coronavirus. People will grieve for the many dead around the world and will express their gratitude for those who care for the sick with great dedication and courage.
The pandemic has everywhere torn the social fabric, causing massive unemployment and even hunger, rending our connections to each other, revealing and exacerbating inequalities, raising havoc and dissent, and threatening institutions of good governance. At the same time, violence and war continue, destroying the livelihoods of people with increasing numbers of refugees and migrants and killing so many men, women and children.
Even under these circumstances, however, there is a sound of angels in the air, proclaiming the birth of Christ with great joy. As Christians, we glimpse in this singular event, the birth of the child Jesus in a desolate village at the margins of the Roman empire, the fragile beginnings of our own redemption.
As people of faith, we know that in the Incarnation of the Lord, God, the Creator and Sustainer of all life, draws near to us, loves us compassionately, liberates and accompanies us. As people of hope, we glimpse in the birth of Jesus God’s “yes” to life, and the birth of new possibility, new life triumphing over death and despair. The Incarnation is God’s decisive “yes” to humanity and creation. In the Incarnation, God cares for us and raises us, gives up God’s very self to identify with us, becomes human to make us like him by grace.
This vision is embraced by the theme of the forthcoming assembly of the World Council of Churches in Karlsruhe, Germany: “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity.” Encouraged and guided by this vision of the Incarnation of Christ, I pray for people and leadership of our member churches and all people with whom we share this planet that fear gives way to joy, and that this year of sadness, loneliness, and suffering may yield hope, courage, and loving service in the cause of justice and peace.
In a world of pain and death, the event of Christmas allows us to find consolation, lift our heads in hope, and glimpse in deep faith the triumph of life and love in the birth of Jesus. This is good news of great joy for all people. And so, despite everything, together with the angels we sing through our traditional carols: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards people!” (Luke 2:14)
A Weekly Advent Reflection from Nehar
O come O come Emmanuel
Lord in a season when every heart should be joyful and light,
Many of us are struggling with the heaviness of life
With heavy burdens carried; with fears ruling our hearts and minds
With anxiety, with stress, with hopelessness
We ask is this message of Peace, Joy and Hope still true?
We cry out
Lord make your love, your joy, your hope, your light rule over us once again
Make it real for us once again as we look forward to your precious and eternal Gift.
Father God as you send John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus,
Help us to clear a path in our hearts for Him; show us the distractions in our life
That are a block to our worshipping you with all of our hearts, our souls, our spirits, our all
O Holy Word of God you govern all of creation with your strong yet tender care;
Come and show your people the way to your everlasting peace and joy.
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father
You call us to be still to know that you are our God, our King, our All.
You promised rest for the weary; victory for those who are worn down by struggles of life;
Freedom for those held captive by the anxieties of life; healing of the broken-hearted.
You O God cover us with your feathers; we take refuge under your wings;
in you we find refuge; your faithfulness is our shield (Psalm 91).
O Ruler of all the nations; the eternal joy of every human heart;
Come and save those you formed from the dust;
O come, O come Emmanuel come to us we pray
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 contact the office for my contact details. Please get in touch.
Information regarding our Pastoral Care from Anita and Sally
Last week we wrote to you about how we are re-organizing our pastoral care to try and make sure no one is left out. We do not want that to happen. These are difficult and potentially lonely times and it is important to keep in touch with each other. The letter we sent last week is re-printed below this week for those of you who may have missed it.
Please could you help by letting us know if you are in contact with anyone who is not receiving the newsletter or letters that are being sent out by Jennifer each week. It could be that their name and contact details are not on our parish list and they would like to do so now (we can only put them on with your permission because of regulations), or, our church information is going straight into the spam box (this happened to us and we later find emails we should have replied to from a while ago!) or, the contact details we have on our list are out of date and need to be updated. Please let Jennifer, our parish administrator, know by either emailing: Jennifer@gg-pc.co.uk or phoning: 020 8455 1873 as soon as possible. It is so good to hear from you and to see you at our Zoomed Sunday Service at 10.00am.
While we have heating problems- there is no heat available in Church at all – they will carry on being zoomed and Tony will tell us when the repairs have been made.
Meanwhile keep warm, safe and in contact.
All good wishes Anita & 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 and we will arrange it for you. Call the office for contact details.
Anita H Sally B
News about us:
We were so sorry to hear about Ify’s mother, Florence, who has been so ill and pleased to hear she is improving. So glad you are back with us Ify. Keep us in touch with how she is progressing.
Our condolences to Osita on the loss of his father. We were so sorry to hear this and send you and Melitta our love
We send good wishes to Tony’s mother, Judy, who is coming to the UK soon for a hip operation. We will think of her and pray all goes well.
Simon has had a very anxious week as his mother has been very ill and was taken into hospital where, Simon tells us, she is being well looked after. Lots of prayers for her, Simon, Anita and his father.
We had a very sad message from Rose O who many of you will remember. Rose was in our congregation for several years before she went back to Kenya. She contacted us to say that unfortunately she has stage 4 Cancer and is extremely unwell. She wanted you to know this and for you to pray for her. Her family are crowd funding for treatment for her as they are unhappy with her diagnosis and the poor level of treatment she is getting. If you would like to contribute The link is:
Please keep us in touch with how you, your families and friends are doing and send in messages so we know and can pray for them.
YouTube - Worship Video of the week
Song for the week: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus: Featuring Loyiso Bala, Neville D and Ivan Sie...
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 , 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 email@example.com. 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/