Golders Green Parish Church – Newsletter
20 July 2021
A photo taken from outer space of Earth
by a young astronaut parishioner of my great niece.
Working on the space shuttle for months
she took wafers in a pix with her for the crew’s
celebration of the Eucharist.
You can see it in the centre.
Greetings to Everyone
Well! last week has been a great mixture of good and encouraging and on to the distinctly bad has not it.
The very good news is that we shall soon have a new incumbent - more details to be given next week when it is formerly confirmed, and we can all rejoice together. Thank you so much to everyone involved in going through the lengthy preparations for interviews and making the final decision.
Not wishing to sound like a Casandra (which is very much what I feel like at the moment); we are now beginning a period of the lifting of restrictions regarding Covid. To call it “Freedom Day” is a deceptive misnomer and a term we should consider stop using. For many people it is anything but “freedom” but a time of real nervousness and concern, especially so, for those who are disabled and/or with underlying health conditions that make them very vulnerable. As a result, a number of acquaintances, clergy and lay with long term health issues and disabilities, have put together a pamphlet, “Advice for Churches”, to get us to think about all those who need to be considered when we are making decisions about everyone’s welfare and safety. The whole piece is at the end of this newsletter. Many thanks to those who put it together based on their experiences of what it is like to be disabled in any way and wanting to worship in Church at this time. In the meantime, the PCC decided to keep the protections we have as they are, apart from the fact we can sing with or masks on if we choose.
In this week’s edition Jenny has written a full piece on the “Nationality and Borders Bill” which is going through the Commons during the week. She has outlined a statement, from the point of view of many church organizations, with their concerns of the very real issues contained in this Bill, written from perpetuating the “Hostile Environment” point of view, with a number of distortions and inaccuracies. For those who have read the proposals in the entire Bill and responded to the questionnaire that followed it, itself slanted in such a way it was very difficult to give a clear answer, our alarm was great. Asylum Seekers and Refugees are not criminals but human beings fleeing from persecution and many dangers. They deserve the care and protection our Faith demands of us. I so often think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer at these times when he said:
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil:
God will not hold us guiltless.
Not to speak is to speak.
Not to act is to act.”
Climate Change certainly hit the headlines this week, with the tragic and devastating flooding in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Austria all suffering loss of homes and lives. Many other countries who have been suffering similarly for a very long time will recognize the grief and loss felt by so many. Our prayers and support will be with them at such losses.
I attended a two-day, (zoom) conference last week on “The Climate Emergency; the search beyond denial and despair”, to which many climate change scientists, theologians and commentators gave lectures. Taking it all in was a challenge but listening to what they had to say was even harder and it is clear the Industrialized countries such as the West and China have to take a larger responsibility for acting as we have that has produced the largest pollution that has changed our climate and that of so many other countries. Just as the conference came to an end, the news of the flooding in Europe was broadcast bringing what we had heard very close to home! I will write about it in next week’s newsletter.
One good thing is we have some beautiful weather. Please enjoy it while taking great care of yourself.
Love and good wishes - Sally
This week’s edition includes:
Update from Tony;
Wednesday Evening Prayer Time - 7.30pm;
Sermon from Petrica;
A Blessing for the World;
The Government’s Proposals for Asylum Reform - Jenny:
“God is Not a White Man” Chine McDonald - Book Review;
Keeping Safe: Advice for Churches;
Prayers, hymns, and broadcasts;
Update from Tony
This Sunday was the one before what I described recently to some of my work colleagues as “madness day” - let me explain. I know some of you might be of the view that 19th July is “Freedom Day”; the day when you no longer, must or need to wear masks, social distance, and continue to use hand sanitiser. It is interesting to note that the messaging from Central Government suggests this is the case. The Government is saying that we no longer need to do or keep to these things, we can get on with life sort of as if Covid never happened. However, the Government says we still need to be responsible and live as if covid is still with us. Some ministers recognise that in fact we do still need to maintain these things - wear masks, continue with social distancing in crowded places, and hand sanitation. The Mayor of London says we will need to wear masks, maintain social distance, and use hand sanitisation on public transport. Shop owners says we will need to maintain the protocols in their shops.
Your PCC considered this at the recent meeting on 13th July and agreed that we would retain mask wearing in church, social distancing, and sanitisation. This is because the central tenet of our belief is that we love one another. If we do love one another, we should as someone said travel with the weakest. If we love one another then we are asking us to continue to wear masks - to protect the other person and it helps to show, we love them. Hand sanitisers will be available in church when you come in and we will keep the seating as is for now. We agreed that singing can take place behind masks if you are comfortable with doing that.
My second news item for us all is this: your parish representatives, Pamela and I worked with the Bishop of Edmonton, and have found a priest in charge on Thursday and he was invited to take the incumbency our parish. I will confirm the position once certain formalities have been passed.
So, with this news your churchwardens and the archdeacon will be writing further about a number of things. More importantly, I want you all to know that subject to the maintaining the masks and other protocols of the last year or so, we are open: church is open in person and on-line. Please come in through the Lady Chapel door and leave via the main door apart from those who need level access in and out.
Lastly could I have volunteers to lead our prayers, to do readings at our services. It would really help in trying to run things on Sundays.
Reminder: Wednesday Evening – Together for Prayers
Please join us on Wednesday evening 21st July at 7.30pm. This the time we can come together for prayers and bring all we want to hold before God. Looking forward to seeing you.
Please see the zoom link below which is for the Wednesday evening prayer group, and also the link for Sunday.
Church Wardens is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Church Wardens's Personal Meeting Room
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Sermon from Revd Petrica B
Trinity 7 – Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
I went to pick up a painting from a frame shop last Friday, and I got talking with the framer, among other things, about the weather, summer, holiday… and I asked him, “do you have any big plans, going anywhere nice this summer?”
And he said, “I haven’t had a holiday in four years.” “Wow,” I said, “well, it hasn’t been a good time to have a holiday anyway with all the restrictions. He said, “no, it’s not that, I’m just very busy!”
In our gospel reading for today, we read about one of the busiest times in the life and work of Jesus and his disciples. The disciples had just returned from their most successful missionary campaign and were very excited to share with Jesus all they had done.
They felt super empowered and very proud to work for Jesus. But they were also very tired. Ministry, for all its joys and happy moments, is hard work and very tiring sometimes.
Besides, they were still very busy with the crowds that constantly surrounded Jesus. A lot of work still to do. Heal the sick, cast out demons, feed the hungry, teach the ways of God’s kingdom to everybody and so on.
In fact, they were so busy, they did not even have time to eat! But Jesus, always wise and compassionate, saw the needs of his own disciples, and decided to take some time off, and have a little holiday together. “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest,” he said. (v.31)
We are all tired. We have lived with so much uncertainty and confusion and… death. We are tired of social restrictions and following rules that change quicker than we manage to properly understand them.
We are tired listening to politicians and putting our trust in anyone. And if we are not tired, we are probably scared. And living in fear is nerve-wracking. Tomorrow is the so-called “Freedom Day” or “Madness Day,” and we do not know what is around the corner.
We are afraid of what may come, new variants… a third wave? We are talking about the new normal, a better normal, a chance to change to world for the better, but we do not even know what “living with Covid” means!
We are tired of all the bad news, constantly hearing about natural disasters, racism, terrorism, protests, and all the violence in the world.
And if we are not that tired for doing much, we are probably tired for not being able to do much. You are probably exhausted having had to run things without a priest for so long here at Golders Green.
So, Jesus and the disciples went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place to get some rest. But guess what?
First century “track and trace” worked pretty well, without all the technology of today, and “many who saw Jesus and the disciples leaving, recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them!” (v.33)
“Come on, people, have some respect. Be nice, let Jesus and his workers get some rest. Respect their privacy.” But no. The quiet spot Jesus had chosen for their retreat, started teaming with people with all kinds of needs and requests.
“And when Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So, he began teaching them many things.” (v. 34)
How beautiful this verse is! Full of tenderness. My eyes feel with tears. It is really moving and full of the goodness of the Lord. When he saw the lame and the sick being carried on stretchers from all over the towns and villages, Jesus was filled with compassion.
When he saw the blind, the poor, the ill-fated, like sheet without a shepherd, “his heart broke” (as one of the translations puts it). When he saw the people in need begging for his help and mercy, he could not ignore their cries and troubles. He was filled with gut-wrenching compassion!
“You know what, guys, maybe our little holiday can wait for now.” We might think that Jesus did not have a good life/work balance (and did not look properly after his “employees”), but hey, Jesus did not represent some big business corporation in Jerusalem.
Mark really wants to show us Jesus’ identity as the true, divine shepherd, who will guide his sheep into the kingdom; and the nature of that kingdom is different than the order of this world.
Jesus is the Son of God, and he is our Rest and Comfort and Helper in our time of need – any time!
He is not some cold, indifferent lord we are afraid to approach when we need something. On the contrary, he is at the right hand of the Father always interceding for us. He will never put his needs above our needs.
He is never too busy or too tired to listen to our concerns and problems and suffering. He will never say “come back later, I’m kind of in the middle of something right now.” His mercy knows how boundaries and can break down any barrier.
But of course, it is wise to rest and enjoy a good holyday when you can. Resting is a principle built in the very order of creation. Six days you shall work… and on the seventh you shall rest (and come to church). Jesus wants us to rest and look after our own wellbeing, spiritual, mental, and physical.
And the good news today is that Jesus means compassion. He knows what we need…which is a whole lot more than what we think we need. We need Jesus to save us from ourselves.
We need Jesus to save us from those that would lead us astray like a bunch of lost sheep. We need Jesus to help us in our time of need.
And I am talking from experience. It has been a terrible 16 months for me and my family. At the beginning of the pandemic, I lost my funding for the arts course I was doing here in London.
My wife was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to have a very complicated operation and all the subsequent treatment. I have been desperately looking for work (what I do at the moment is only part time). The only thing missing was catching Covid – I am being ironic!
But let me just tell you this. When it is hard and painful, when you are desperate and do not know what to do anymore, remember this: The fringe of Jesus’ cloak is always available to us. And not only the fringe of his cloak, but his whole heart!
We can always stretch out our hands to ask for his help. And he will cover us and protect us and look after us, because his nature is compassionate and full of loving mercy.
Jesus is with us all the time, even when we rest and might not feel very much engaged. It is Jesus who calls to himself those who are burdened, the weary, the frail, and those who seek peace.
“Come,” he says, “and find rest in me, because my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Come for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:28-30)
God is good all the time!
All the time God is good!
All the time God is good!
God is good all the time!
The world now is too dangerous
and too beautiful for anything but love.
May your eyes be so blessed you see God in everyone.
Your ears, so you hear the cry of the poor.
May your hands be so blessed
that everything you touch is a sacrament.
Your lips, so you speak nothing but the truth with love.
May your feet be so blessed you run
to those who need you.
And may your heart be so opened,
so set on fire, that your love,
your love, changes everything.
from the Black Rock Prayer Book
The Government’s Proposals for Asylum Reform:
what is wrong with them and what you can do about them!
You have probably read or heard about the Nationality and Borders Bill. If it becomes law, it will have a major impact on the way the UK responds to those in need of sanctuary and make it more difficult for asylum seekers to obtain the protection they are entitled to. By the time you read this the Bill will have had its first big debate in parliament. The next stage is a detailed consideration of its provisions when MPs can put forward amendments and then vote on them.
The government claims the Bill will make the asylum system fairer and deter illegal entry into the UK. However, many of the measures risk creating more injustices in the system which will increase the trauma and pain experienced by asylum seekers attempting to reach safety in the UK. Key proposals include:
making it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission
changing the system so that the route via which someone arrives in the UK will determine the way a claim for asylum is processed. People arriving in the UK via an ‘irregular’ route (e.g., a Channel crossing) will be sent back to a ‘safe’ country they passed through on their way to the UK or granted only temporary permission to stay in the UK, with limited family reunion rights and limited access to benefits.
increasing the penalties for people smugglers and gangs who facilitate entry to the UK
introducing “reception centres” for asylum seekers and those whose claims have been rejected, providing “simple, safe and secure accommodation” while claims and returns are being processed
Many Church leaders and Christian organisations have expressed concern about these proposals. In May 2021, more than 80 Church groups issued an Open Statement to the Home Secretary (https://www.svp.org.uk/news/open-statement-home-secretary-priti-patel-governments-new-plan-immigration
). These are extracts:
“We believe these proposals lack humanity and respect for human dignity. We believe it would be wrong to create a system in which the way people enter the UK will impact how their asylum claim is processed and the status they might receive.”
“Many people who are forced to flee their homes in desperate circumstances simply have no choice but to cross borders informally to reach a safe haven; to penalise them for this is to abandon the very principle of international protection. Moves to criminalise and penalise undocumented entry to the UK mean it will effectively be impossible for most people to claim asylum because safe and legal routes are extremely limited and could never feasibly be made available to all who need them.”
“We welcome the government’s commitment to resettlement through the new UK Resettlement Scheme and look forward to the announcement of resettlement targets for the years to come, but this must not be at the expense of an asylum system that strives to offer protection to those who need it.”
There are other points that the Bill also seems to ignore:
The positive contributions that asylum seekers and refugees make to communities
Many legal experts believe the proposals breach obligations of the UN Refugee Convention, and will cause harm and suffering to those escaping from war or persecution
The lack of safe and legal routes for people seeking asylum to get to the UK
The importance of giving people who are seeking asylum the chance to integrate, by learning English and having opportunities to make friends and contribute to society
The UK only takes a tiny proportion of people who have been forced to leave their homes, as awealthy country with welcoming communities we can and should show more kindness and compassion
Any review of the asylum process should listen to the experts: asylum seekers themselves
Book Review - Sally
God is Not a White Man - Chine McDonald
This is a book everyone should read and ponder on deeply. Whether you are black or white it is a painful read. If you are white, as I am, it will hurt. Reading it is like a stab in the heart in the awareness of Chine’s thoughts and experiences of being a black woman living in a white society and history. If you are black, as my grandson, my young cousins and many friends are, it will have the same effect only more painfully as they live the experiences she describes frequently throughout their lives. They know the “look” and the negative attitudes from so many sources that attempt to demean their view of their worth. It is so totally unacceptable. Chine writes sharply with insight about what life is like living in a society and Church overlaid with a white, deeply embedded view of how things are, ignoring so much of black history because it is so rarely taught. What she has to say may come as a shock and/or revelation to some but stay with it. Her title is apt as God, supposedly being beyond gender, culture, colour, or race, is virtually everywhere portrayed as a white male. Next time you go to a Museum, Gallery and church just check it out and see how we have all internalised the images, however artistically beautiful they are, that are not helpful to so many; women, black or white, recognise that - and - if you feel like questioning it – do. It is only very recently we are having access to books such as this, written from the lived experiences of individuals in the hope what they say will be recognised and changed by Church and Society, so that, whoever and whatever we are, we can live fully, freely being the people we are meant to be in the light of God who cares for us and loves us.
Please continue to pray for those who have asked us as a community to pray for them.
Okey Jnr.O, Yvonne 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.
Keeping Safe: Advice for Churches
From Emma M, Laura N Katie T - Members of “You Belong”
Our Mission: All people with a chronic illness or disability will be able to access and fully belong
to a Christian community of their choice.
As the government announces the probable end of all Covid related restrictions on 19th July 2021, many people are looking forward to not having to wear a mask and are jubilant at the idea of singing in church again.
We understand the desire to sing together in the church building again, many of us wish we could come into church and worship God by singing at the top of our voices; but it is not possible for everyone, and it will not feel safe for many.
As a community of disabled and chronically ill people, we have concerns that singing in a church building without masks or social distancing will make many people not feel safe attending and therefore, will exclude these people from church buildings.
We know churches want to invite everyone back into their buildings but might struggle to know what they can do to make it safe for those who are vulnerable. We hope that the following tips can help make worship in your church building as inclusive as possible. After all, that is the message Jesus shared in his ministry.
Hybrid Church Charter
We also encourage every church to keep their digital provision alive and interactive and to sign up to the Premier Digital hybrid church charter, which you can find out more about here: https://www.premierdigital.info/charter
"As social distancing regulations are relaxed it is vital that as we re-open the building doors of the church that we do not shut the digital doors! The future of the Church is hybrid, combining the best of what our buildings and traditions allow with the best of digital opportunities."
Theology of inclusion
There are many biblical passages about including everyone in the body of Christ. Here are a few as a reminder to us all…
Genesis Chapter 1, verse 27: “(So) God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created them, male and female, He created them.” (NRSV)
Every single one of us is made in the image of God. In our strength and in our weakness, we are created and loved by God.
Galatians 3:26: “(For) in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.” (NRSV)
We are all one in Jesus, we are all part of the worldwide Church, and the purpose of the church is to bring people together.
This does not mean having everybody in the same building, that would be impossible across the world; but it does mean that we need to make every effort as church leaders to provide a space, place and welcome for everyone. Church can only really be church if every person has the opportunity to worship, belong and lead.
Matthew 25:35 & 40b: “(For) I was hungry, and you gave Me food, I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed Me, I was naked, and you gave Me clothing, I was sick, and you took care of Me, I was in prison, and you visited Me” …. “Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did it to Me”. (NRSV)
Hospitality is at the core of our lives as disciples and of every church. God tells us to live hospitably, treating everyone as if they could be God. If, as a church, we make decisions that exclude people, we are separating ourselves from God.
Practical tips for making on-site worship accessible and safe for those who are vulnerable
Check in and ensure sanitiser provision
It might not be essential to check in, but it will provide an extra level of reassurance for everyone to know they will be informed if someone in the service with them tests positive for Covid.
Ventilation is one of the best ways of reducing the risks of spreading Covid-19.
Fling open the doors and windows - In doing so, you will be sharing the worship with your community
Leave the areas near the open doors and windows available for those who are more vulnerable.
Wear masks when singing
It might not feel as freeing to sing with a mask on, but this is a good compromise to allow those who are anxious or vulnerable to feel safer
Keep some distance between bubbles of people where possible
Space out your seating as much as possible to allow bubbles to keep some distance from each other
Or provide an area of the church building where people can distance themselves from the crowd
Remind everyone not to get too close to others without asking if they are comfortable
This is a simple but powerful way of making people feel safe
Put notices up in the space, announce it from the front and put it on your social media reminding everyone to check before moving close to people
Be clear about what is expected of people before they come into the building and what is provided
Information, information, information
This is actually less about telling people how you expect them to behave and MORE about reassuring those who are anxious to stay safe that their concerns are being taken seriously
Update your website with details of what worship will look like and operate, with photos of the worship space and systems in place to ensure everyone feels welcome and safe. Put up posters on the outside of the building or in the entry so everyone knows what to expect and what they are expected of them.
Final thought: all life is real life
We have spent 18 months worshipping and connecting as a church online. This is not a lower or lesser form of church; it is a different way of being church. Of course, many people want to get back into the church buildings, but many never could and more now cannot or do not feel safe enough to so. Many churches will have new members who joined during the pandemic, and they may well wish to keep worshipping online. This is church as much now as it was when we were all in lockdown.
We all live in real life, whether we are in a church building or online; let us ensure that online church is just as valued as attending church in a building.
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 email@example.com
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/