Clergy Letter for February 2017, by the Rev’d Derwyn Williams
First, as this is the first edition of 2017, can I wish all magazine readers a very happy New Year, if I haven’t already done so in person. I hope you had a good Christmas and a refreshing holiday. As we look forward to all that this year will bring I would just like to highlight a few things.
Easter, and therefore also Ash Wednesday (1 March), are both quite late this year. But planning begins early, so let me mention some things which will be going on. At the end of this month, Sunday 26 Feb, our 10 a.m. Parish Communion will have something of a pre-Lent ‘Carnival’ feel, as the choir sing a ‘Jazz Mass’ within our worship. A last blast before Lent comes and the services take on more somber tones. Ash Wednesday will see the usual opportunities to make your Holy Communion, and, if you wish, receive imposition of ashes, at 10 a.m. (Said Holy Communion) and 8 p.m. (Sung Eucharist). For more details of the Lent programme, download the Lent Flyer here: lent-flyer-2017.
Opportunities for Lent Study and reflection will include inter-church groups, and Tuesday midday meditations at St Michael’s, followed by soup lunches. Look out for details of these in due course. And on Monday evenings I will be giving a series of reflections on the relationship between the Old Testament and the New. We’ll explore how we really need to understand Jesus in the light of the Hebrew Scriptures, if we are deeply to grasp his good news. Again, details to follow.
Vision and Mission Action Planning.
Just a short note to say that the PCC has been thinking about our Vision as a church, and the kind of Mission which we believe God wants to see developing from that. Documents on the website about this can be found at:
I will want to say more about this as the Mission Action Plan (MAP) develops. But an important point to note now is that we have identified the Making New Disciples thrust of the Diocesan Living God’s Love Vision as a key area for us to think, pray and respond to. We are planning a Parish AwayDay on this theme in May – provisional date Saturday 6 May – to which everyone who wishes to come will be very welcome. As I say, more news to come on all this, but please hold it in your prayers.
And finally….The Joy of……the Early Service
8 a.m. Holy Communion isn’t for everyone, especially in the winter. The mornings are dark and cold, sometimes dreary, sometimes icy. If you’ve had a busy week’s work and a hectic Saturday doing things that don’t get done on other days, you’re probably in need of a lie-in. And if music and singing are key to your worship, you may feel something’s missing in a simple said service.
8 a.m. Holy Communion isn’t for everyone. But if you do set the alarm, and venture in to join the folk who gather faithfully in the Lady Chapel week by week, you might just discover a hidden gem. If you like stillness rather than bustle, quietness more than buzz, contemplation more than activism, this could be a service for you.
The worship at 8 a.m. is similar to the Parish Communion, apart from the absence of hymns and music. The readings and prayers are identical and there is a sermon and intercessions as usual. But the service has a different, more intimate, peaceful feel. The fellowship is just as warm, when the peace is shared, and as people have a friendly chat afterwards. But if worshippers just want to slip away quietly at the end to go about their day that’s fine too.
The Early Service is one of my favourites. It’s a service I’ll often seek out at another church if I have a Sunday away from St Michael’s. I sometimes go in wondering why I didn’t stay home for more sleep, but I always seem to come out refreshed, by prayer, by the sacrament and by listening to the Word. I find it sets me up beautifully and peaceably for the day to come.
No, it isn’t for everyone, but I wonder if you might give the Early Service a try, some day? Perhaps if you can’t come at 10 one Sunday, but don’t want to miss the opportunity to worship and make your communion. Perhaps at some point in life you’ll want to worship away from bustle and rush, on a regular basis. Or maybe it could be an occasional part of your spiritual diet, when you feel you’d profit from a dose of contemplation and calm. It’s not for everyone, but if you’d like to drop in you’ll be very welcome. Who knows, you might discover a wonderful, hidden gem.