Golders Green Parish Church – Newsletter
09 June 2021
Greetings to Everyone
Please, please, please, let this lovely weather stay for longer so we can enjoy it and have our spirits lifted in this still uncertain time. I sometimes feel I want to switch the news off and bury my head in the sand when I hear more stories of violence, racism, the unjustified cruelty towards the vulnerable, but being in a state of denial about the suffering of many groups of people in our countries and the issues we face is not an option for us. We combine much prayer with action in the many ways open to us in order to support the issues we care most about. They will be different ones for each of us but combined they will make a huge difference. (James 2:14-26…thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead)
This week the Revd Rachel G was with us. Her sermon is below. We have enjoyed her sermons and thank her for being at Golders Green on two occasions. We send her congratulations on her marriage and wish her much happiness and also on her move with her husband to the Chelmsford Diocese. May they both be fulfilled on this next path in their lives.
Thanks so much to Myfanwy who has contributed an article of her memories as a nurse in the USA in the time of President Kennedy - what an experience! It is so good to hear of people’s stories of the past and to share them. Do send yours in – if you would like to that is.
Jenny has sent information of a Global orchestral work called, “Song of the Prophets: A Requiem for the Climate”, commissioned by Christian Aid. It will be this Wednesday evening, 9th June at 7.30pm, performed in St Paul’s Cathedral by Chineke! – Europe’s first majority Black and ethnically diverse orchestra. If you miss it, please go to St Paul’s Cathedral website where I am sure it will be recorded and available to view.
In this week’s newsletter, I am sharing with you some thoughts on the views of those who have disabilities of many different kinds, some obviously seen and others more hidden; how they feel regarded in churches and often cut off from them. A reflection in Rachel’s sermon was particularly apt when she said, “The Church should be a place where all feel at home, where all people, regardless of race, class or gender can hear Jesus’s words to them, naming them as his mother and siblings and we as a church should be living out that radical hospitality where everyone feels part of the family”, and yet for many who have disabilities this is not always the case, as upset as this may make us feel. I offer this to you to reflect on, as I have been doing over the past year, by learning from my many friends who have disabilities, clergy and lay, hoping we all develop greater insights into how they feel.
Love and good wishes – Sally
This week’s edition includes:
Update from Tony;
Sermon from Rachel;
“Working for Kennedy” by Myfanwy K
“Ableism” by Dr Naomi J
“Song of the Prophets: A Requiem for the Climate” – from Jenny
How we are;
Prayers, hymns, and broadcasts;
Update from Tony
Over the next few weeks, we will be having a variety of services - on some Sunday's we will have a visiting priest and on others there will be none unless we get a last-minute visit so to speak. This Sunday is one of those when we will be on our own. So, we are planning on holding an informal morning prayer with breaking of bread in our main building and a you tube talk. If you are not able to join us, please do have some bread and juice to drink available if you wish.
Please do keep praying for the vacancy. Things will begin to move at pace as the applications close next week with the review taking place to short list next Sunday.
This evening is our weekly prayer meeting, zoom link below, which is also the link for Sunday.
Church Wardens is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
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Sermon from Rachel
2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Mark 3: 20-35
May I speak in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
This morning I want to talk about homes. What comes to your mind when I mention the word home?
This last 15 or so months, we have mainly been confined to our homes. Some may have felt imprisoned at home. Perhaps we are longing to get away from home on holiday or perhaps we simply are enjoying being able to have family and friends to visit us in our homes. The old adage ‘Home is where the heart is’ might help us this morning as we think more broadly what home might mean for us as followers of Jesus.
Both passages speak about home in different ways.
In our gospel reading Jesus is disrupted at home after a long day of ministering to the crowds of people Mark’s gospel records flocking after him.
He’s just began his public ministry at the age of 30, having been baptised by his cousin John, called 12 rough and ready men to follow him as his first disciples, performed numerous miracles including healing a man possessed by demons and his disciple’s mother-in law and a man with a withered hand all on the Sabbath day, healing a leper by touch and forgiving the sins of a paralytic man before healing him physically.
He’s already gathered enemies in the form of the religious leaders of his day who do not like his eating and drinking with ‘sinners’ and his healing on the Sabbath. They see him as a lawbreaker and therefore unrighteous, yet he is performed miracles they cannot explain. (Mark 2:6-7,16,18,23-24;3:2-6). The miracles he is performed, and his radical teaching mean people are flocking to him (Mark 1:27-28,32-33,36-37,45;2:1-4,13;3:7-10).
Jesus had just got home, put the kettle on and put his feet up or whatever the first century equivalent was and was just about to tuck into his dinner, when the crowd burst into his living room.
1st century houses were simple affairs, with a walled courtyard to keep animals safe from predators. Mark’s gospel does not record whether the roof had been repaired yet from the friends of the paralytic man making a massive hole in it and lowering their friend down to Jesus as his living room was so jam packed full of people (Mark 2:1-12).
If you have ever had the pleasure of Middle Eastern hospitality, you will know that food is a big deal. And if it comes to the ears of a mother that her child is too pre-occupied to sit down and eat - well, a family intervention is required!!! It was such a serious affair; people were saying he had gone mad! (Mark 3:21)
Jesus’s mother Mary made the journey with her other children to Jesus’s home in Capernaum, by modern day standards across surfaced roads this would take 9hours 17 minutes. News of Jesus’s damaged roof had probably reached his parents and siblings in Nazareth, along with the stories of his miracles and the attention they were attracting.
Jesus’s enemies keen to cash in on a change in public perception, also journeyed from Jerusalem to Jesus’s home in Capernaum, a good 34-hour schlep, they probably had left days before word had reached Jesus’s family.
They were keen to bash Jesus, over him having cast demons out of a number of people; deciding that since he in their eyes was a lawbreaker and therefore unrighteous that the miracles Jesus was performing had to be counterfeit and done by a power polar opposite to God. They concluded he must have been doing the miracles under the influence of evil, at the behest of Beelzebub, a name used for Satan.
Jesus exposes their flawed logic immediately. Perhaps informed by his own impending house renovations. If a house has a great big hole carved into it dividing it in two, it will collapse. Jesus was a carpenter by trade and would know the importance of a supporting beam when constructing even simple everyday home essentials like a table or stool.
Jesus even hints at who he really is. He is the all-powerful one, who in order to be overcome, must be bound, so that the thief can break in and steal. They have got it all wrong. As Theologian Tom Wright says: ‘His critics had painted themselves into a corner. Once you label what is in fact the work of the Holy Spirit as the work of the devil, there is no way back. It is like holding a conspiracy theory: all the evidence you see will simply confirm your belief. You will be blind to the truth.’
That corner Jesus’s enemies had reversed themselves into was a very cold and barren corner. A house does not always make a home.
Meanwhile, Jesus’s plate left untouched when the crowds descended, probably now licked clean by small children in the crowds, is all the more reason his mother and siblings who have now arrived want to talk some sense into him.
Mary perhaps regretting asking Jesus to turn water into wine at his friend’s wedding, kicking herself, if only she would have known how much attention it would attract. This has all got out of hand. Let sit down, have a meal and sort you out. Send the crowds away: this is family business.
It might be hard for us to comprehend how deeply shocking that statement was for Jesus to make. Blood ties meant everything in 1st Century Judaism, it still does. One’s blood family is the vessel of God’s blessing, centered around the family home. It was family that made a house a home, and perhaps not too much has changed in many cultures even today.
Jesus living so far away from his family and travelling around so much, might not seem so strange to us, but in days where whole generations lived close by and would only perhaps make a yearly trip together to the temple in Jerusalem, all this travelling about must have seemed unhinged and disrespectful. He should have been home with his family. Was this the first time Mary’s heart felt pierced as she heard words which sounded like rejection from her own son?
But what Mary and Jesus’s siblings and those who grew up with him took a while to realise, was that Jesus was talking about a different concept of what home means, and one which often in the church we too fail at. Family and home means more than just our blood ties. It is where our heart is.
And yes, if we are fortunate enough to be in a loving family and home environment, that does not mean Jesus is telling us to jettison that, he is telling us that ultimately our home is not here on earth. It is with God. And it is with God, that we truly discover our identity as part of his family. A family that bulldozers any kind of human qualifying social constructs.
The only qualifying criteria for discovering our true selves, is belief that Jesus is God, that Jesus was born by the power of the Holy Spirit into human flesh some 2,000 years ago, allowing the power of his divinity to be restrained by taking on human form, so that by his death and resurrection, he could bring us into his heavenly home.
As our Corinthian passage spoke of: ‘For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.’ (2 Corinthians 5:1)
The Greek word used for home in Mark’s gospel to talk of Jesus’s home in Capernaum is synonymous for house/family/blood ties, and it is this word that Paul uses in his second letter to the Corinthian church to remind them, that even though we experience suffering here on earth in our physical bodies (tents/clay jars) we have a heavenly home (resurrection body).
Ultimately home is not about a fixed place. It is about a fixed anchoring to Christ, so that wherever we are or find ourselves called; we can be at home, even if we are orphaned, or on our own.
Home is where our hearts are. And if Christ is dwelling in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, we are at home, and we can invite others to be truly at home, by allowing the light of Christ to shine out of our cracks.
The Church should be a place where all feel at home, where all people, regardless of race, class or gender can hear Jesus’s words to them, naming them as his mother and siblings and we as a church should be living out that radical hospitality where everyone feels part of the family. And for those who haven’t yet heard Jesus’s words?
It is our job to invite them to come home. Amen.
“Working for Kennedy” by Myfanwy
In 1960 I travelled to the United States to do a post-basic nursing course at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. 1960 was the year of the Kennedy- Nixon presidential election. It was also the year that Khrushchev banged the table at the UN meeting. Prime Minister Harold MacMillan had made a calm, dignified retort, which America loved. This meant if you were English, with an English accent, you were “in”. In September, the first ever TV debate between the candidates took place. I felt that Kennedy was “in the right” (I do not remember about what exactly) so I obtained both election leaflets before deciding. I then went to the Kennedy Headquarters to offer my services on my days off. I expected to address envelopes or some such. However, I was given a desk adjacent to the agent. I was given some minor paperwork to do but my main function was to answer the phone and transfer calls to the agent. I came to realise that I was a good advertisement, as he would explain, in reply to a query, that the English woman who had answered the call was a nurse who was so impressed by JFK’s policies that she was giving up her days off to help the cause. (Actually, I was not always helping as there were several panic-stricken calls about a judge whose hat had disappeared following a fund-raising dinner. I thought this hilarious but was firmly told, that on the contrary, it could lose votes!). I worked for several days-off before having to give up, but those days remain among my proudest memories.
Ableism - from Sally
There is still so much to do to do in churches to ensure all people are valued as being made in the likeness of God and welcomed in all our diversity whoever we are. We talk of including all people regardless of race, class, gender, and sexuality but rarely do we mention “disability”; a large group of people who are often overlooked, or not considered in the depth of understanding that they should be, who suffer from disabilities, whether easily seen or are more invisible. To raise awareness of this numbers of people with disabilities have come together to develop understanding of the issues they face and the how they are treated often by well-meaning people that actually makes it worse for them. They have coined the term Ableism; a word/a concept all will be hearing much more of in the future. Ableism is defined as discrimination and social prejudice against disabled people. Like racism and sexism, Ableism classifies entire groups of people as viewed as “less than”, against the “norm” we as society have created a group somehow, in some way, “not made in the likeness of God”, when so often the opposite is true.
I have several friends who have disabilities of one or often multiple kinds; a number are clergy as well as lay, who have taught me so much, which has been humbling on so many levels. They may be diagnosed with a whole range of neurodiverse conditions, such as Autism, Dyspraxia, ADHD(Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Tourettes Syndrome; they may be partially sighted; wheelchair confined and many more; all of which makes it difficult to access services, to get full entry into the church building even before the service starts, or, to take part with ease and acceptance. I have a friend with Tourettes, the spasms and sounds of which she cannot control. It has to be explained to people about the condition to prevent the looks of disapproval and tutting and even then, that does not always work. She has a brilliant brain and lectures with great ability but always has to start off by explaining her disability, so people are aware.
What has particularly raised my consciousness, apart from friends and their children, has been the two, four weeklong courses, entitled, “Shut in- Shut Out- Shut up”, organised by HeartEdge* (see below), created by those with many of the disabilities mentioned above. Their aim is to raise awareness, question our view of disability – what it really means to us - to share their experiences, provide new space to tell their stories, be asked challenging questions and to ask them of their audiences. They talk about the way they are regarded by so many as being not really “whole”, with consequent attitudes that make them feel shut out from full participation and engagement in many churches (not to mention aspects of society).
Their educational campaign to get more awareness of what it is like to live in a society and be part of a church where you are often regarded as not the “norm” by everyone else, is taking off; several dioceses have appointed a disability advisor to support churches in developing a greater understanding of people’s different needs and our approach to them. The term “Ableism” has been coined to define their situation. A new word to many of us but one we will be hearing far more of in the future.
The aim is to help the Church as an Institution, churches individually and their congregations to become places that truly value diversity, accept, and understand the many ways, that make people different from the narrowly defined “norm” we in our cultures and societies have constructed so we can become places where the diverse Kingdom of God is truly lived out. I write this to ask us how we feel and what we could be considering. One clergy friend who is herself disabled, a fine priest, seeing our advert stating who we would welcome to apply, asked me where does it mention, “disabled clergy welcome”? My reaction was “Ouch”! What would yours be? Maybe we need to talk about it.
*HeartEdge is a movement for renewal, fueled by people and churches sharing their assets, experience, resource, and need. An ecumenical network, HeartEdge brings together people to share ideas and experience, do theology and develop their church and community. It is being developed in the UK, US, the Netherlands and elsewhere. (Google for more information).
**If you would like to view the recordings of the sessions – google or facebook St Martin-in-the-Fields, HeartEdge videos where each session is individually accessible under, “Shut in-shut out- shut up.
Song of the Prophets: A Requiem for the Climate – from Jenny
This Wednesday evening, 9th June, sees the online premier of a global orchestral work on the theme of the climate emergency, specially commissioned by Christian Aid. It will be performed in St Paul’s Cathedral by Chineke! – Europe’s first majority Black and ethnically diverse orchestra.
The timing of the premier is significant, in the run-up to the G7 summit next weekend at which it is essential that the leaders of the world’s biggest economies commit to bridging the current shortfall in promised climate finance to developing countries.
Not only is this essential if poorer nations are to be able to adapt to the ravages of climate change and transition away from fossil fuels, but it is also vital if the UN climate summit later this year is to be a success. Much therefore hangs on the outcome of the G7’s deliberations in Cornwall.
The 12-minute piece is split into four movements – Creation, Ruin, Recovery and Redemption – each composed by a different Black British composer: Shirley Thompson OBE, Roderick Williams OBE, Daniel Kidane and Ayanna Witter-Johnson. The performance will include interludes from three musicians playing instruments from countries that are among those suffering most in the climate crisis: Kenya, Bangladesh, and Nigeria.
The online event will include a welcome from Dr Paula Gooder (chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral), and Amanda Khozi Mukwashi (CEO of Christian Aid), as well as an address by Dr Rowan Williams (Christian Aid Chair) and messages from climate activists around the world.
You can find more information here: https://mediacentre.christianaid.org.uk/christian-aid-and-chineke-collaborate-on-global-orchestral-work-on-the-theme-climate-emergency/
Enjoy, and be inspired!
Hampstead Heath Rhododendrons
YouTube - Worship Videos of the week:
How We Are
Rose: What terrible shocks Rose has had in the last week. Not only did her younger sister, Christy, pass away, but as the family were coming to terms with that, Christy’s son-in-law, Adu, suddenly died of a heart attack leaving her daughter and two young granddaughters. Rose, we send our condolences at this dreadful time, our love and many prayers for you and your family.
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,Ian K, Eva M, Juliette D, Ivor S, Myfanwy K , Dorothy N, Rose O, Judy N, David A, Gideon O, Simon H
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 by emailing 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/