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Golders Green Parish Church – Newsletter
02 March 2021
Greetings to everyone. I do hope our hearts are more uplifted by the promise of sunnier spring weather.
The news during the week has been more encouraging as the vaccinations are made available to greater numbers of people and the rate of infections seem to be dropping a little. We still have to take great care though and not let the thought of lockdown being lifted encourage people to start imagining all is well. All lives are so precious, and we have to look after each other. Pray especially for the schools opening and the staff who are making it as safe as possible for students to return and, of course, for all hospital staff and front-line workers who keep the country going at risk to themselves. We thank them and pray for their safety.
This week I spent three days on a zoomed Lent silent retreat, part of which involved taking a meditative walk to wherever we decided we would like to go and to be totally aware of our surroundings. It could have been in our garden if we had one, in our home, in the streets around us, a park, anywhere. The theme of the retreat was “Finding God in the Ordinary”. For my silent walk I went to Kenwood at Hampstead Heath, a place I often go to, but this time to look at what I see, slowly and carefully with different eyes, in more depth and not just pass by thinking, “oh that’s nice”. I took several photos of objects that attracted me; quite a few are scattered in this newsletter. I have written about the retreat as a separate piece below, but as three days take a great deal to ponder on, process and write about, not to mention that my head was buzzing with so much to absorb, I cannot possibly do it justice.
The weekly prayers that are included in the newsletter are from The Very Revd Michael S former Dean of Durham. Michael grew up in Golders Green and knows our area very well. He now lives in Northumberland. He is a good friend and sends a prayer and poem for Lent each week which I welcome. They are a good contribution to the newsletter.
On the subject of prayers and poems, please do send in any you have that are your favourites or, any thoughts or reminiscences you would like to share. It is a powerful way to keep in touch with each other and tell our stories. If you would rather not write anything but would like to tell me over the phone, then please let me know and I will type them up. It is no problem!
Margaret has sent in a tribute to a great friend of hers on reaching his 90th birthday that is included below.
Love and good wishes – Sally
This week’s edition includes:
Sermon from Charlotte.
Tribute to a Dear Friend on his 90th Birthday by Margaret
Lenten Retreat by Zoom - Sally
Resources for Lent.
How We Are.
Links to services, hymns, and broadcasts.
Sermon from Charlotte
Lent 2 2021
One of my favourite modern authors is Robert H, who writes historical fiction. I’ve read most of his books, though I have to say that his most recent novel - about the collapse of civilization due to a pandemic - wasn’t the most comforting read back when I read it last March (I had no idea what it was about when I picked it up!) The books I’ve enjoyed most of his were his Cicero triology of novels, which are a fictionalised account of the life of the Roman consul Cicero, living in Rome in around 40 BC. It follows Cicero’s humble beginnings and his rise to power, the subsequent fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of Julius Caesar as Dictator. The books are peppered with gory descriptions of the torture and executions the Romans inflicted upon their enemies, and on one another. In one scene, the young ambitious senator Cicero travels out of Rome to see Crassus, a powerful Roman army general who has recently turned from conquering another land, and in doing so capturing thousands of prisoners. As Cicero travels along the road to Crassus’ palace, he passes hundreds upon hundreds of crosses with dead bodies of the prisoners he had captured hanging on them. There was a reason that Crassus had asked Cicero to travel down that road to meet him; it was a warning to him, that if he got on the wrong side of Crassus, he too could meet an ugly fate.
Crucifixion was not something that happened behind closed doors in the Roman Empire. Quite the opposite; it was a very public affair. Every brutal regime has its way of publicly warning citizens not to create an uprising against it; the Tudors put severed heads on spikes in the City of London, the French Revolution saw the use of the guillotine; the Romans crucified people. It was a warning, not to step out of line, not to anger the powers that be, not to commit crime. It was the method of execution favoured by the Romans for foreign prisoners or enemies, or slaves. It was humiliating, and painful, and public.
So for Jesus’ followers to hear him saying, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” would have been pretty terrifying to his hearers. It would immediately have conjured up the mental image they had no doubt seen in real life; a person being led by Roman soldiers on the one-way journey to their execution. It would have had several insinuations; firstly, that being his follower, his disciple would have tremendous personal cost. If they wanted to stick with him, it could well lead to their death. That’s why he goes on to talk about the need to count the cost of being a disciple. Secondly, it would be setting them at odds with the authorities of the day.
Notice that Jesus doesn’t say, “if any want to become my followers, let them...take up MY cross and follow me”. He doesn’t ask us or tell us that we must go through what he will go through; that we must be taken to Calvary and be crucified for the sin of the world. We couldn’t do that even if we wanted to and what’s more we don’t need to, because Christ has been there before and for us. No; he said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up THEIR cross.” The implication is, as the saying goes, that we all have our cross to bear. The Spanish mystic St John of the Cross once wrote, “We too must have our cross, as our Beloved had his cross, until he died the death of love.”
So what if we think about taking up the cross not as looking exactly as it did for Jesus and leading to certain execution – although for some of Jesus’ hearers both then and now, that’s exactly what it meant - but about taking up the example that Jesus took up upon the cross. In Luke’s Gospel, when Jesus is crucified, he doesn’t seek revenge on those who brought him to that point. In the world of ancient Rome that Cicero inhabited, there was an awful lot of suspicion and power games and alliances being formed, and it makes for a remarkably similar political landscape to the one we know now. The tit-for-tat culture that pervaded the Roman Empire still pervades our lives today.
But Jesus showed an entirely new way of being. As he was dying upon the cross he didn’t say, “Lord, strike down these evildoers”, or incite his disciples to avenge his death. No. He asked for forgiveness for his executioners; “Lord forgive them, they know not what they do.” And he asked John his disciple and his mother Mary to love and care for one another. On the cross we see a love that can’t be defeated by oppression or by violence, and not just that but a love that responds to oppression and violence with “more love”. This is a God whose actions can’t be dictated by what we do. Rowan Williams writes that the message that God gives to us on the cross is, “You can do what you like: but God is God. And if he wants to love and forgive then he’s going to love and forgive whether you like it or not, because he is free.” So when Jesus says that whoever wants to be his disciple must carry the cross and follow him, perhaps part of what that means is, follow his example on the cross.
There was a theologian in C20th called Jurgen M who wrote a book called ‘The Crucified God’ in which he talks about God as being a God who suffers alongside us. He drew quite heavily on his own experience as a Prisoner of War in concentration camps and he returns again and again to the words of Jesus on the cross ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And he concluded that what the cross shows is that Jesus, as true God, was abandoned by God – God against God, if you like; God has chosen to be the God for those who suffer by being a God who suffers too.
Now Moltmann’s critics would say that that’s not what we want; we don’t want a God who suffers. We want a powerful God, a God who overthrows corrupt and violent regimes like the Romans, a God who miraculously gets himself down from the cross and leads his people into revolution against the regime that has oppressed them for so long. But we only have to look through the Gospels to see time and time again that that’s what the disciples and others wanted and expected from Jesus, and time and time again he told them that that’s not the kind of Messiah that he was.
And that's not what he expects from us, either. If we want to be his followers, and take up OUR cross, that means following his example, and loving others – even when we find it difficult to do so. It means loving the colleague who rubs us up the wrong way, or the difficult family member who always finds fault in whatever we do, or the person who doesn't give way in the street – and those are relatively small examples. It also on a bigger scale, loving and finding compassion for people, communities and regimes whose actions we find it difficult to fathom. That is quite a cross to bear. The blessing given at the end of the Eucharist in Lent is, “Christ give you grace to grow in holiness, to deny yourselves, take up your cross and follow him.” Think this week about what the cross you have to take up is; the people and things you find it difficult to follow the example of Christ in loving, and pray for grace to grow in holiness towards loving them.
You call us to a journey of self-denial,
To fast from all envy, cruelty and pride,
And to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with you.
Be our joy and our strength as we travel through these Lenten days,
And sustain in us the hope of seeing your glory
In the face of your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.
"To Keep a True Lent"
Is this a Fast, to keep
The Larder lean?
From fat of veals and sheep?
Is it to quit the dish
Of flesh, yet still
The platter high with fish?
Is it to fast an hour,
Or ragg’d go,
A down-cast look and sour?
No: ’tis a Fast to dole
Thy sheaf of wheat
Unto the hungry soul.
It is to fast from strife
And old debate,
To circumcise thy life.
To show a heart grief-rent;
To starve thy sin,
And that’s to keep thy Lent.
Canon Derek S on his 90th Birthday by Margaret
I am absolutely delighted to include my congratulations to Canon Derek S as knowing Derek has brought a number of interesting experiences and new people into my life.
Firstly, I knew Derek and his wife Christine, when he came to our Parish as assistant curate, after serving as a Pilot Officer in the RAF and gaining his degree at Leeds University. I found his sermons unusual as they often included jokes at which I was forced to laugh aloud. Derek always said I was one of the few who appreciated his humour.
During that time I was recovering from a broken engagement, and was grateful for invitations to lunch and to spend winter evenings before their roaring fire with Chris. I also helped out with baby-sitting their two children, and when Chris injured her back, and was temporarily bed-ridden. For the first timè I came to know a member of the clergy when they were "off duty" and "en family”.
I was delighted when I was asked to be Godmother to their third child Mark. I travelled by night coach to Bury where Derek had his first parish. That was quite an experience!
We lost touch for a few years as I went to Germany to teach. When I returned I had a husband, Hugh M, whom I met and married out there. Over the years we visited Derek and Chris in every parish to which he was sent .I remember Mark's confirmation in Withington. When Derek was appointed Canon Treasurer at St George's Chapel Windsor we realised he was really coming up in the world. We had the privilege on our first visit to see them, of a private tour of the public rooms of the castle and the Royal Chapel.
When we were guests at his 60th birthday party we nearly got arrested.The function went on quite late so it was dark, and we could not find the exit out of the castle grounds.We drove all round the castle precinct looking for it when suddenly a soldier in combats with a kalashnikov appeared out of the shadows asking, "Can I help you Sir?" We were quite scared,but explained that we had attended Canon S's birthday party and couldn't find the way out.We were summarily directed to the exit, to our considerable relief.
When Derek retired, he and Chris settled in Uppingham, not far from Leicester, where we had friends. We went to Leicester regularly, and called on Chris and Derek en route. We enjoyed lunch together, and caught up with news. In 1999 they told us that Mark was engaged to a German girl from Hamburg, Iris Luders, and was getting married that year. We were actually invited to the wedding.
There was such a programme of festivities we decided to spend a long weekend there. We flew to Hamburg on the Thursday where Mark met us and took us to the local hotel where many of the guests were staying. That evening he took us to dinner with his Best-man and his family. The next day was the Civil ceremony which only the close family attended. Hugh and I spent the day exploring Hamburg.
There was a barbecue that evening at the bride's home, and we met up with the them and were introduced to the bride's family. Her parents Harald and Marlies were exactly the same age as Hugh and I ,and we had a great deal in common.
The wedding the following day took place in a very historic Lutheran church. Mark had asked me as his Godmother to read one of the lessons. It was a real privilege to do so in such an amazing church, with such a difficult acoustic. Part of the Reception was a cruise on the circular water way that surrounds Hamburg, during which we enjoyed champagne and wedding cake. We did not know at the time but Harald and Marliese became firm friends, and we enjoyed several holidays with them. One of them was a trip to the Hartz Mountains which had only just emerged from the Eastern Block! We all observed significant differences between the two sectors, particularly in the hospitality industry. How delightful to be able to send 90th birthday greetings to Derek with my thanks for giving me so many interesting experiences.
Three-day Lenten Silent Retreat - Sally
Last week I went on a three-day Lent silent retreat at The Royal Foundation of St Katherine’s Retreat House in Limehouse, organised by St Martin-in-the-Fields by the Revd Richard C (Associate Vicar for Mission and author of “The City is my Monastery”) and Revd Katherine D, (Assistant Vicar for Partnership Development). Over 70 people signed up. Firstly, I have to congratulate both Richard and Catherine on the way the days were organised. They managed a smooth flow of different sessions that allowed us to be silent, have time to think and absorb what we were learning, reading and discovering, as well as going on “virtual” zoomed meditative walks around the area of St Katherine’s in the day-time and evening. This all took place while we were each alone in our homes but at the same time feeling we were a community together; so skilfully organised and paced. I cannot do justice to it all but only highlight some of what, for me, were the main points.
The main focus of the retreat was, “Finding God in the Ordinary”, stressing how in this time of pandemic and trial, God is always there in every ordinary thing but often we do not see or recognise it just because it is ordinary. “We look but do not see”, “We hear but do not listen”, but wherever we are, whoever we are with, there is God. Every encounter we have is a meeting with God in ordinary people, in all the places we go they are our places of holiness. The first address, that set the theme for the three days, was hearing the story of Madeleine D, a French Catholic mystic and author, born in 1904, who started life as an atheist, then, having led quite a life, was changed through a range of circumstances to becoming a Christian. Her experiences led her to see God in the ordinary of the City streets, to know that God’s love is alive in every living encounter. Giving up her high powered job, she opened a house of hospitality for the lonely, outcasts and dispossessed of the City. She wrote a seminal essay on, “We the ordinary people of the streets”, which influenced many and made them look at the City and its people with new eyes as a place of Godliness. Madeleine, lived and worked among the people who came to her, until she died in 1964. She taught, when you are engaged with anyone be engaged with your whole heart and mind and really hear them.
The second and third addresses were on “Silence and Solitude” and Obedience and Love”.
We had two sessions of exploration, looking and listening; one around our areas and the second within our homes where we were asked to find one object that speaks to us of God-in-the-ordinary and, if we wanted to, to share it in small groups. It made all of us pause, think and look. What would you choose I wonder? What would you say about your choice? My first place of exploration, as I have already said, was Hampstead Heath, where I slowed down and meditated while looking at different objects and listening to the sounds. The second, was my garden where I chose my object to share with my group.
The days were divided up well. They included Services; Morning Prayer and Compline with sublime music; periods of silent meditation; times of Lectio Divina, reading and re-reading sections of a gospel and sharing a word or phrase that stood out for us; plus, our two long periods of solitude. The Lectio Divina passage we concentrated on was, Romans 12, one of my most favourite and affirming passages that I based my teaching career on. Finding just a word or phrase was challenging because it is so very rich in meaning. In fact, when I had some quiet time, I found myself writing two pages about what it meant to me in the context of the present day. Two pieces of music stood out which I cannot get out of my head; “Christ has No Body Now but Yours”, words based on St Teresa of Avila’s prayer and setting by David Ogden, and The Lord’s Prayer set to music by John Bell from the Iona Community. Both sublime.
I could go on but I won’t. I just wanted to share some of it with you as it was such a rich experience.
Lent Book Suggestions
“Rooted in Love” draws on the collective wisdom of the Area bishops in London, introduced and edited by Bishop Sarah M. The book explores the ways in which we can live the Christian life to the full today. It contains forty reflections that lead us deeper into the meaning and practice of life in Christ today. Each reflection includes a Bible reading, a prayer and a suggestion for action based on the reading. You can buy your copy from: spckpublishing.co.uk/rooted-in-love
If you go to the Edmonton Area link containing more information you may find that helpful. Both links are on: https://vimeo.com/500890272 or the facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Edmonton-Episcopal-Area-644254219097579
“We, the Ordinary People of the Streets”, Reflections by Madeleine Delbrel
“The Heart’s Time”, Poems and Prayers by Janet Morley;
“Candles in the Dark: Faith, Hope and Love in a Time of Pandemic” by Rowan Williams
“Forgotten Desert Mothers, The Sayings, Lives and Stories of Early Christian Women” by
Laura Swan. The last chapters on, “Yearning for Holiness”, “Contemporary Asceticism”, “Compassion” and others following, draw on the desert mothers’ wisdom and how they can relate to our lives today. They would be so helpful for Lenten reflections.
Why not support online Christian bookshops and buy them from one of these:
How we are:
: How good to start off with some happy news. Margaret’s cataract procedure went really well and she can now see, as she describes it, “well enough”. The best of news though is that her long unhealed abscess, that has caused her great distress and pain for over two years has finally healed. As many of you know Margaret has endured much discomfort, along with many other issues during this time, with faith and patience. She is now ready for her hip operation when the appointment finally comes through. We wish her well and continued prayers.
: Simon is making better progress; he has had less pain and fatigue. Anita has also let us know that his mother’s funeral was simple and gentle, and his father was so pleased that his two grandsons were able to attend in person, which must have been a great support to him. Our prayers are with them all.
Rose has let us know that Ongodi, who worshipped with us in the autumn before lockdown, has tragically lost three of her siblings, two brothers and a sister, to Covid. It is hard to know the words of consolation to send to her after such a loss. We pray for her and her family in their grief and hope they feel upheld by our prayers and are given courage to face this sad time.
Message from Nehar
I am a trained qualified integrative Counsellor. 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.
Contact the office for my details. Please do get in touch.
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, Rose O, Mirela B, Marllies A, Judy N, David A, Gideon O, Diana T, Ify O, Simon H & the families of Florence O, Jason E & Sheila H.
Zoom link numbers
Please find below the Zoom links for our Sunday Service from the Churchwardens.
“Golders Green Parish Church is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: My Meeting
Time: Feb 28, 2021 10:00 AM London
Every week on Sun, until Mar 28, 2021, 7 occurrence(s)
Mar 7, 2021 10:00 AM
Mar 14, 2021 10:00 AM
Mar 21, 2021 10:00 AM
Mar 28, 2021 10:00 AM
Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 849 2013 8690
One tap mobile
+441314601196,,84920138690#,,,,*109211# United Kingdom
+442030512874,,84920138690#,,,,*109211# United Kingdom
Dial by your location
+44 131 460 1196 United Kingdom
+44 203 051 2874 United Kingdom
+44 203 481 5237 United Kingdom
+44 203 481 5240 United Kingdom
+44 203 901 7895 United Kingdom
Meeting ID: 849 2013 8690
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kskmhWIGn
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. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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/