Thursday, 2 July 2020

Always Winter, Never Christmas

Image result for the lion the witch and the wardrobe
I love the line from the book 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe' by C.S. Lewis where the land of Narnia is described as being perpetually 'winter but never Christmas.' For me, that describes a little of how our own daily reality is too.

We live with the 'winter' reality of COVID-19 as part of our everyday living (we are at level 3 of Lockdown which, according to the government, means that the virus is in general circulation and that the handwashing rules and 2 metre distancing still apply) but are also being encouraged to look and live towards 'Christmas' where the impact of this very dangerous virus has less and less hold on us, to the point where we can live a new normal again. Until that time we live betwixt and between.

This is true for us as church communities. Our buildings are open as places to pray and contemplate again, despite having been closed earlier in the year to all worship and activity. In our parish that means that you are warmly welcome to come to pray in your church on the following occasions:

St Peter's Mill End                                                                                        St Thomas' West Hyde
Sundays - 12noon-4pm                                                                                      Fridays - 1pm-3pm
Thursdays - 10am- 12noon

We are working towards opening St John's too.

Please take note of the clear instructions as you enter the buildings and inside, to ensure the safety of both you and others.

We are of course also looking forward to 'Christmas', where public worship and community activities will resume. The government and the Church of England's Recovery group have allowed church communities to gather for public worship again as of July 4th, please be aware that we are *not* in a position yet to enable that to happen as there will be more preparation that needs to be undertaken.

When we do return to worshipping together it will be *very different* for some time going forward. When I am in a position to give you a sense of what worship together will look like and when it might happen I will be in touch again. As we continue to live with the reality of COVID 19 in our communities, our worship will remain on Facebook, Zoom and the Parish website so we can worship 'together apart.'

I have been thinking much about what the church offers our community when so many other people of faith and none are engaged in fantastic community and pastoral work in these days of pandemic. The thing that the faith community does uniquely is we are called to offer our world, our community, all people, and the church to God in prayer. As the church, if we do nothing else in these days, we should do what we always have done, and that is pray.

With one eye on a future opening up before us, I am in the process of writing a parish prayer for each of us to use every day going forward, so that we as individuals and as a church can voice the hopes of others and bring ourselves and the whole church into the loving presence of God.

As we live in this present 'winter' looking forward to 'Christmas' whenever it comes, in this inbetween time, please join me in living our call as the church - to pray, and especially to pray that that 'Christmas' does indeed come - in our own lives, the lives of our neighbours and friends, communities and world. For it is in praying and as a result of our prayer that we, our communities, church, and world are renewed in the love and fellowship of Aslan as C.S. Lewis calls him, Jesus our friend and brother.

Said Eucharist - 02/07/20

Monday, 29 June 2020

A Sermon for St Peter - Paul Palmer - 28/06/20

Through the written word and the spoken word, may we know your living word, even Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  

I don’t know about you but Peter, whose patronal festival we celebrate today, fascinates me.  I look at Peter’s story and I am inspired, intrigued, confused and astounded.
Take a look at Peter’s experiences in the first few chapters of the book of the Acts of the Apostles;
Peter is there on the day of Pentecost, speaking in tongues and addressing the crowd; he’s preaching and healing and getting arrested.  He spreads the good news, speaks out, gets arrested again, is flogged by the authorities, his friend Stephen is killed, he travels, raises the dead, preaches to the gentiles, baptizes in Jesus’ name and then gets arrested again.
You can’t say he’s lacking in experience!  Yet even now, after all that’s happened to him, in our reading from Acts today Peter still can’t believe his own senses.  Imprisoned, he is woken by an angel and thinks that he is having a vision as he escapes.  I can just see him, scuttling along the darkened streets and alleyways, guided to freedom as if invisible, and still not believing that what is happening to him is real.  Then the angel disappears, and Peter comes to himself with a moment of realisation and surety.
And this is what I find so reassuring about Peter – despite his incredible experience he has times when he doesn’t understand and often gets it wrong.
Let’s have a look at our passage from Matthew – we’re right in the middle of Matthew’s Gospel and we have Peter’s declaration about Jesus; “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”  Peter has got it right!  The first definitive recognition of who Jesus is.  But then, just a few verses later, Peter gets it wrong as he rebukes Jesus for foretelling his death.  Jesus responds; “Get behind me Satan!”
Peter getting it right then wrong then right again appears throughout the Gospels; 
He shows remarkable faith and obedience in following Jesus in the first place – tick!
He tries to walk on the water – tick – but then starts to sink and Jesus reaches out to rescue him.
He understands the need for forgiveness – tick – but then asks how many times he should forgive – seventy times seven!
Peter is with Jesus at the transfiguration but then misses the point and wants to build an altar.
He falls asleep in the garden at Gethsemane when Jesus asks him to stay awake and he denies Christ three times on the night before Jesus’ trial and crucifixion.
So, in our Gospel reading today we have Jesus, identified as the Messiah and Son of God, founding his church on a person who he knows is fallible, human and, some of the time, gets it wrong.  Why does Jesus choose someone who, according to Acts 4:13 is “uneducated and ordinary” to be the rock on which he will build his church?  
Perhaps it is exactly that ordinariness that Jesus needs.  Jesus makes sure that the foundation of our faith is in his shared humanity with Peter.  Jesus knows that we will get it wrong and through Peter’s example, shows that it is OK to do so; time and time again if necessary; as he will always be there to pull us out of the mire or rescue us from the waves – all we need to do is grasp Christ’s outstretched hand, just like Peter did when he became frightened and started to sink.  Jesus will still the waves and bring us to our desired haven.
I have found, in these difficult and testing times, that it is so easy to get it wrong, even when I think I’ve got it right.  I’ve got grumpy with family and friends when I should have been understanding.  I’ve been impatient with people for whom social distancing seems to mean nothing when I could have spoken with them and tried to talk.  I’ve found it difficult to engage with challenges to the Black Lives Matter movement when what is needed is conversation, understanding, education and sympathy.  I’ve procrastinated and delayed and not called friends up when I should have.  I’ve not always followed God’s call to me.
How have we got it wrong in the last few weeks?  Have we made assumptions without trying to see both sides of the issue?  Have we ignored someone we know we should have called but just can’t be bothered?  Have we forgotten to pray?  Have we become too self-reliant?  Have we forgotten that God has us in his hands every second of every day?  
Now, when I sat down to write today’s talk, that’s where it ended.  And then on Friday night I watched the news and saw the pictures from Yemen where the civil war is killing thousands, where starvation is a daily threat and where the WHO say that COVID19 could kill more than the 100,000 who have died in the war due to the almost non-existent health-care system.  I watched images of a little five-year-old girl being fed sugar and water by her father.  He’d already managed to save her from the conflict and now has to save her all over again – this time from hunger.  And I also saw pictures of packed beaches and people ignoring pandemic.  And I listened to stories about the Pride events that are cancelled this weekend and of the people who have been and still are persecuted for their sexuality.  And I saw that the ecological disaster in the Brazilian Amazon is likely to be even worse this year than last.  And I started thinking about discipleship.  
Peter’s reaction to the challenges that he faced as a disciple of Jesus was to step up and make a difference.  He showed strength, he showed courage.  He was ready to go places that were dangerous.  He was ready to walk into the lion’s den.  How can we be more like Peter?  How can we express our discipleship with commitment?  I’d suggest that we need to take a look at what we can do, not what we can’t.  If you see a situation where there is injustice, speak and act.  If you see discrimination - speak against it.  Don’t leave it up to someone else.  If you’re shielding at the moment, write to your MP or Councillor.  If there’s a situation you’re passionate about join an organisation; make a donation, no matter how small; become an activist; even if it’s from your armchair for the moment.  I’m not encouraging you do go out and get arrested, but to do something!    As Peter has shown us - if you want to walk on water you’ve got to get out of the boat!         
I have a last question; why does Jesus give Peter the keys to Heaven?  I don’t ascribe to the image of Peter at the pearly gates letting people into heaven.  Keys unlock doors and the keys that Peter holds unlock the doors to a life with Jesus; a life of love, acceptance and inclusion – a life of prayer and support and action.  A life of outreach and social justice.  Peter, in his ability to get it wrong and yet still remain faithful, shows us the way.  The keys to heaven are in Peter’s and Jesus’ humanity.  If we can recognise when we get it wrong, bring that up to God and then learn in loving faithfulness then, surely, we are growing in the way God means us to grow.  We can all be stirred, strengthened, taught and inspired to actively live God’s love with generosity, joy, imagination and courage,
I’d like to close with a poem.  Malcolm Guite has been a psalmist of the times with his poems in the Church Times and I’d like to read his sonnet dedicated to St. Peter. 

St. Peter.
Impulsive master of misunderstanding
You comfort me with all your big mistakes;
Jumping the ship before you make the landing,
Placing the bet before you know the stakes.
I love the way you step out without knowing,
The way you sometimes speak before you think,
The way your broken faith is always growing,
The way he holds you even when you sink.
Born to a world that always tried to shame you,
Your shaky ego vulnerable to shame,
I love the way that Jesus chose to name you,
Before you knew how to deserve that name.
And in the end your Saviour let you  prove
That each denial is undone by love.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Personal Prayer and Contemplation

As you will have seen in the media, church buildings are now able to be opened for 'private prayer.'

Following a PCC meeting recently, a decision was made to try to get this to happen as soon as we can. Following that meeting I am very grateful to Anne Short, Elaine Dobbs, Alex Cutmore, John Clifford, Tony Funnell and no doubt others who have worked had to risk assess opening and the necessary cleaning in preparation for this happening.

Initially, we are opening St Peter's in Mill End on the following days only:
Sundays 12noon-4.00pm
Thursdays 10.00am-12noon.
You are warmly welcome to come!

When you enter the building, you should only enter and leave the church via the main doors. Both main sets of doors will be open allowing you to walk straight in. The will be no water in the stoup in the porch for the time being. Please read the notices on the main door and in the porch.

Hand gel & tissues will be on the cupboard as you walk into church. Please use the gel on entry and exit.

You will notice areas that have been blocked off with chairs. These are out of bounds areas and must not be crossed. These areas are: the North Transept, the Lady Chapel, the Choir & Organ and the children's area at back of church.

You are welcome to pray and contemplate in the main body of the church building. To ensure social distancing for individual prayer and to make sure that the same spot isn't used twice during the hours of opening. Notices will be placed on the pew which *must be removed* after you have sat there and put into a box at the back of the church as you leave.

On the pews in the main body of the church will be green paper seat notices; one on each pew. This is where individuals are to sit or can kneel (on the kneelers) for private prayer, nowhere else.
When you are ready to leave, please pick up the green sheet and put it in the box provided at the back of the church. This means that this area will be 'quarantined' and not used again during that session or until after the area has been cleaned.

We cannot ensure social distancing in the aisle and therefore we ask you to give way where possible and use some common sense if moving around the church. Kneelers around the altar rail have been removed.

Lighting candles will not be possible but please light a virtual candle using the QR code on the poster on the main door.

This is not a return to public worship; that will come in time. This is enabling the church in this parish to offer the wider community we are called to serve the gift of space and time to express their longings to the God who loves them.

All of these arrangements will be under constant review as we look to open St Thomas' too, I hope within a week or so.

Please feel welcome to use the space and the time in these special places, and do receive them as a gift to you and the wider community.

Worship at Home - 25/06/20

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Thought for the Week

is your favourite of Jesus' parables, and why? Why does it sustain or challenge you?

Monday, 22 June 2020

Windrush Day

Today is National Windrush Day celebrating the contribution made by the Windrush Generation and their descendants. Britain has been wonderfully enriched by the arrival of people from the Caribbean, many of whom came to live here in the diocese. Yet this was also a generation who faced terrible prejudice and racism, not just in the early years but also recently when many were threatened with deportation. 

In recent days the Covid-19 pandemic has given us a glimpse of the amazing contribution of so many Black and Minority Ethnic people who work, for example, in the NHS and the extent to which they have been disproportionately affected by the virus. Ironically, the Covid-19 lockdown will now prevent some of the cultural and educational events which had been planned in different parts of the country to take place 72 years after the arrival of the Empire Windrush in Tilbury Docks.

Tonight at 7.30pm there is a Windrush Celebration on zoom - details above. All are welcome to attend.

Worship at Home - The Feast of St Albans - 22/06/20

Sung Eucharist with Prayer for Healing - Trinity 2 - 21/06/20

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Ring for Grenfell

This Sunday evening at 6pm church bells across London and the nation are going to toll 72 times, one for each life lost in the Grenfell Tower tragedy on its 3rd anniversary.

Join us in pausing and remembering and hoping that nothing like this happens again.

Monday, 8 June 2020

Evening Prayer - 08/06/20

Virtual Coffee Morning

We're holding another catch up over coffee on Wednesday 10th June at 10am, immediately following the 9.30am Eucharist on Facebook live.

The coffee morning will be on Zoom. If you'd like to take part, please make contact with the Vicar directly.

It would be lovely to see you!

Worship at Home - 08/06/20

Sunday, 31 May 2020

Virtual Coffee Morning

We are holding another Zoom coffee morning on Wednesday 03/06/20 at 10am and we'd love to see you. Drop me an email/text/facebook message for details of how to take part.

This info has been sent on an email in recent days but be in touch if you've misplaced the info!

Sung Eucharist for Pentecost Sunday - 31/05/20

Service of the Word - 29/05/20

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Sermon - Bishop of St Albans - 24/05/20

Last Sunday, the Bishop of St Albans, preached, and encouraged us to think about how we could be people who are generous and joyful even in these days of lockdown. He did recognise that this might take much imagination and courage. You can hear what he said again below.

Thought For The Week

Welcome to a new feature, a weekly thought to contemplate.

We say forgive and forget.

Jesus talked a fair amount about forgiveness. Is forgiving forgetting?

Friday, 22 May 2020

St Paul's Cathedral is hosting a national Book of Remembrance for those in the UK who have died of Covid-19.

It is suggested that family discuss the entry first which can include a name, a photograph and a brief tribute.

At Paul's are also hoping to house a physical memorial in time.

You can sign the book here:

Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord and let light perpetual shine upon them...

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Ascension Day 2020

21st May is Ascension Day.

There will be no morning Eucharist.

In the evening at 7.45pm the Deanery of Rickmansworth welcomes you to join in the Eucharist hosted by St Mary's.

Please contact the Vicar for details how to take part on Zoom.

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Some Upcoming Services and Events

It's been to be in the Vicarage garden today taming some of the overgrown bits. I found it very satisfying giving the strimmer an outing to try to deal with some brambles, to allow other things to flourish.

It reminded me that to enable our spiritual growth we need to keep an eye on what's growing where and what we might need to do to help that growth.

Sam is leading worship tomorrow, 17, 2020 at 10:00 AM

Join the service here:

Meeting ID: 261 346 2094
Password: EUchariST

Going forward, Morning Prayer will be said Monday-Thursday at 8.30am on Zoom. The easiest way to access this is to click this link:

Meeting ID: 813 2014 5801
Password: 515961

The liturgy we will use will be shared each day. This may not be part of your usual practice but I hope that it might help some of you.

In other news, The Big Think is making a reappearance. We will gather on 14 June at 7.30pm on Zoom. We will welcome Rev'd Peter Crumpler who will speak about the nature of truth in the media and the world today.  More details soon!

Sam is going to host another coffee morning/afternoon/evening drink this coming week. Please be in touch with him directly for details.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Two Services of the Word


Virtual Coffee Morning

We're going to hold another coffee morning on Zoom on Thursday of this week

We'll meet together from 11am-12noon.

If you'd like to join us you can do so via Zoom ( having downloaded the zoom app. Message me, and I'll let you know the meeting ID and password.

It would be lovely to see you!

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

All Age Eucharist - 10/05/20 at 10am

Our worship on Sunday 10th May will have a family friendly feel. The service will begin slightly later at 10am.

We will share worship together on Zoom (via or you can download zoom from your app store.) You can access the service with a meeting ID and a password which you can get by directly contacting Fr Simon.

Could you all spend a little time finding on the internet and printing out 1 dwelling place, a home, from a different community around the world and be ready to talk about what you like about it or how you think it might feel to live in. You will also need a glass of water to use in the service too.

We will also be singing in the service using the setting that some of us have become familiar with at St Peter's at these services. Please spend a little time familiarizing yourself with the Gloria, the Holy, Holy, Holy, and the Lamb of God sections. Youn can find a YouTube playlist here:

Monday, 4 May 2020

Online Coffee Morning - 06/05/20

Sam is hosting an online coffee morning on Wednesday 06/05/20 at 11am. Please contact directly to find out how to take part in this, but we have discovered that these are super opportunities to catch up with each other. Hope to see you there! 

Said Eucharist - 04/05/20

Thursday, 30 April 2020


Our Eucharist on Sunday 10th May will have an all ages together, informal sort of feel and will start slightly later than normal at 10am. I will send out an order of service to follow on the day at home.

In preparation for the service, could you all spend a little time finding on the internet and printing out 1 dwelling place, a home, from a different community around the world and be ready to talk about what you like about it or how you think it might feel to live in.

It would be wonderful if one of the younger members of the church family would be willing to commit to read our reading for us please? It's John 14:1-6 and you can download it here but do tell Simon that you are willing! First come first served!

I'll explain in due course how we might share in the reading and pictures together.

The other thing you will need is a small glass of water. Again I'll explain in our service.


Said Eucharist - 30/04/20

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Said Eucharist - 28/04/20

Virtual Coffee Morning

A little short notice but, we will be holding a virtual coffee morning this morning (Tuesday 28th April) at 11am. We will use the Zoom website (or you can use the app from your app store) to gather,

If you would like to join us please email, text, WhatsApp, or Facebook message me and I'll send you the details.

We will begin that time joining our nation in a minute's silence to remember all keyworkers who have died due to COVID-19 in these days of pandemic.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Alelluia! Christ is Risen!

Happy Easter!

This will feel a strange Easter indeed.

Christ is raised and we are filled with hope; but we also wait in hope for our current life in pandemic to end, but we do not know yet when this will come.

As people seeking to live the eternal life that the risen Jesus offers us, we must live hopefully that the world is and will be different because the old certainties of life, where the dead stay dead, are gone because of the resurrection. 

Experience says though that life remains largely unchanged, but we are called to be people who wait and live in that hope.

Aside from Easter greetings, I also wanted to send you some further resources to aid your worship at home. Please find attached the liturgy for Morning and Evening Prayer and a table of readings to take you through to the end of the month.

This morning at our 7.00 am service I remembered that whilst we live in hope we still keep vigil with a world waiting for this hope to be a reality.

We keep vigil: 

with those at the sides of hospital beds or waiting anxiously by the phone in the hope of face-timing a dying loved-one

with those who will be up with small ones in the wee hours changing nappies and comforting cries

with those whose days will be long and lonely in quiet houses on quiet streets with all but quiet minds to keep them company

with those who will be at the fireside of buildings collapsing because someone left the toaster on next to the book they were reading to take their minds off this whole, consuming unknown

with those who will be kept in snuggly beds with the ones they love, as they mend broken hearts and stretched relationships with the gift of uninterrupted presence 

with those who will be in pain because it’s chronic not acute and so others have run out sympathy for them just like the pharmacy ran out of paracetamol

with those who will be stacking shelves in preparation for the onslaught of panic-buying after a day-long rest at last

with those in the design tech classroom at school printing bits of medical kit on a machine you thought was just a bit of fun for the students but told your head of department was cutting edge and essential - well that came true real quick

with those who will be yearning for parents and partners, family and friends who you fear are bewildered as they shield in the institutions which have closed doors to protect them

with those who will be together but apart because this sickness has no respect for those already going through the mill right now.

with those who will read the Bible for comfort
with those who will pray for the first time
with those who’ll dismiss all that crap because it feels good to push back but secretly hope they don’t get overlooked by whatever benevolent force may or may not hear them
with those who mark their doors with tears, pleading  that the angel of death passes over
with those still in the garden of agony
with those denied a fair trial because the video link broke up and they were de-prioritised while the state-sponsored lawyer was off in self-isolation
with those whose lives feel no different
with those whose normal only got worse
with those who no longer bother to cover the bruises
with those who noticed spring for the first time in years

We watch, we wait, we pray, we hope…
A new Day has Dawned but when will that new day dawn?

Keep vigil with me
In your pj’s or PPE
On zoom or twitter or the old dog and bone,
In silence or chatter
I don’t care
But keep vigil with me

As a new day dawns, let's wait, work, love and pray in hope for that New Day to dawn!

Easter Sunday Eucharist and Sermon - 2020

Dawn Vigil and the First Mass of Easter

Friday, 10 April 2020

The Liturgy of Good Friday 2020

You can listen to the music used in this service on Spotify here

The Liturgy of Good Friday - A Notice

Music for this afternoon's Liturgy of Good Friday is available here:

Please stop the video to listen to sections of the music at the relevant sections of the Order of Service which you already have but is available in the Holy Week booklet here:

Some suggested timings though:

Seven words from the Cross - 2 or 3 minutes

The Reproaches around 5 minutes.

The service will be available (fingers crossed) from 2pm

The Crucifixion According to Radiohead

At Midday on Good Friday we would usually be lead in the Stations of the Cross. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is something we cannot do. In many ways neighbourhoods and nations are carrying a cross and facing death.

I love the music of Radiohead. It may not be your bag, sorry if it's not.

Why not join me in walking with Jesus the Way of the Cross using this visual meditation curated by Scott Erickson?

You can read about how the project came to be here

The Crucifixion According to Radiohead from Ecclesia Houston on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Rumours Of Hope - A Vigil For Our Times

More than 50 priests, bishops, lay leaders and ordinands will come together on Easter Eve to lead a virtual vigil.

Rumours of Hope 2020: A Vigil for Our Times will offer creative reflections, poetry, art and prayers throughout the night beginning at 8pm and ending at dawn. The purpose is to help people weep, watch and pray together as we yearn for Easter light amidst the darkness of our coronavirus-hit world. For more information please see:

To take part go to

Said Eucharist for Tuesday in Holy Week with Sermon - 07/04/20

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Good Friday

For those of you hoping to share in our worship on Good Friday, I have curated a playlist on YouTube of all of the hymns we will sing and the music we will listen to.

Some of the pieces are very long - the Macmillan for example - I am proposing we listen to some of it only.

We will listen to St John's account of the Passion. You can listen to it read here