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Thursday, 24 June 2021
Wednesday, 23 June 2021
Tuesday, 22 June 2021
Monday, 21 June 2021
Friday, 18 June 2021
Thursday, 17 June 2021
Wednesday, 16 June 2021
Tuesday, 15 June 2021
Monday, 14 June 2021
Sunday, 13 June 2021
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have become parents again, this time, welcoming a girl, Lilibet Diana, into their growing family. Like all doting parents, they no doubt have high hopes for their new-born daughter, as they do their son, young Archie. I am sure all fair-minded people share their joy as well as their expectations for their children as they grow. However, as we all know, sometimes our children do not turn out the way we envisage, despite our best efforts
This is reminiscent of the farmer that Jesus mentions in his parable. There is little doubt that when planting the seeds, the farmer expected efficacious growth. No sensible person would consider less – or why else bother! Despite this, regardless of the skills or experience that a farmer may have, ‘success’ is not always guaranteed, as there can be a plethora of factors that hinder growth.
These two parables are some of the most difficult to grasp in some respects. The word seed is not used in the Greek - in the first parable it’s a spore and in the second it’s a grain. In the first parable the spores are not scattered but thrown hard away from the farmer (ek ballo). It’s almost like Jesus is throwing something covered in mould and fungus away from him to discard it. In the parable of the mustard seed, mustard doesn’t grow til it becomes a shrub with large branches - it’s a small shrub - and if birds nested in it, it would be squashed and as to shade? Well maybe to caterpillars…
Jesus said, The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. The earth produces of itself… I love mushrooms. I was given a mushroom growing kit for Christmas one year. All I needed to do was dampen the compost in the box and wait. Without any further input from me, a few days later mushrooms! I needed to harvest and enjoy but then save the microscopic spores from one mushroom placed upside down and then shake them onto the soil for another crop. I had no idea how many mushrooms would grow or where in the container they would appear, but within a few days - they did!
Jesus says that the kingdom of God, God’s reign is like this. It appears without any input from us. God acts where God wills. This isn’t something you will hear those who are encouraging us to grow our churches numerically and spiritually speak about much. It’s the main reason why in my Chronicle piece recently and in my email to you I talked about us needing to spend time praying as we move out of the worst of this pandemic. If our churches are to flourish we need to ask God - the kingdom is revealed where He wills it. In the weeks that lie ahead we will continue to use our parish prayer - but I want us to pray for growth in our intercessions and also to meet together in small groups to pray and I’ll say more about that in a few weeks and ask for your input too.
Jesus said the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs… I was at a couple of meetings this week hearing about how to build communities up post COVID. It was good to hear of small initiatives like ours where a team of folk have used phonecalls to keep in touch with people to bigger projects where both supermarkets and closed pubs have worked together to provide shopping and hot food for people. Many of the projects started small - phoning a few people, making a handful of meals, and grew in unexpected ways when the right people’s paths crossed.
Mustard Jesus. What sort? One grows into a sturdy shrub - is he referencing the passage we heard as our first reading? Israel as home for the peoples and nations? Or is he talking about wild mustard, which puts out rhyzomes underground and was a first century weed that filled fields unnoticed.
Whichever sort of mustard Jesus means, as I said in my recent piece, we need to prepare as we move out of the worst of this pandemic to gather people together for fun; to renew older friendships and make new ones - social events, coffee mornings, afternoon teas, in the church, in the grounds in our homes. We need to intentionally build community and be at the heart of doing that. I need your help to make that happen. It’s daunting and maybe a bit frightening but I believe it’s key to our thriving.
A shrewd first-century farmer may not be able to address the whole field to tackle the wild mustard, but if they notice where it first grows then they can work there. We need to do the same and look at ways of using our human and financial resources well going forward - we may not be able to do all we once did, so how do we best use what and who is available to grow the kingdom - what sort of a church do we want to be and what are our priorities going forward? And again I’ll say more about that in a few weeks and ask for your input too.
Farming was and is an uncertain task and you can live a bit hand to mouth, not sure you can make it through the months ahead. With some shrewd decision-making and a bit of luck, many farmers do. God I believe is asking similar of us as we move cautiously out of the pandemic. We may feel uncertain maybe daunted at what’s ahead, but I believe with some intentional and intensive praying; some planned for playing together with others in our community and shrewd planning for the present and future, the kingdom can and will be revealed and God will reign in visible ways afresh.
Thursday, 10 June 2021
Wednesday, 9 June 2021
Monday, 7 June 2021
Sunday, 6 June 2021
We are in a season of change, perhaps more so than for a while.
June, please God, will see the lessening of COVID restrictions. The last 14 months have been extraordinarily hard for all of us in many different ways. We have seen an easing of restrictions on May 17th and all restrictions are due to be withdrawn later this month. It is clear that this will all be dependent on the spread of the Indian variant.
One of the unseen costs of the pandemic has been it’s impact on people’s mental health. During my recent study leave, I read much about a theology of mental health and the importance of silence for our wellbeing, and I trained as Mental Health First Aider for both youth (8-18 year olds) and adults.
I am absolutely convinced that we haven’t seen the full impact on people’s mental health yet. I believe the local church and our deanery can and should play a significant role in supporting our young people and adults in the months and years that lie ahead.
The Children’s Society produces an annual Good Childhood Report. This data led piece of key research gives a clear idea of children in our nation are physically and mentally. They have produced some superb resources to help us a churches support our communities in this work and I am looking forward to partnering with them in some key and important work. I will share more details about what part we can play in our prayer, our worship and in campaigning.
June also sees change in personnel. Sam, Emily and Arthur move to Bushy to begin ministry there. Paul Palmer completes his training and will be ordained and serve as curate in Croxley Green. I am in negotiations to welcome a retired cleric joining us as a parish. They will lead worship at least once a month and bring great experience, wisdom and humour. I look forward to letting you know more when I do. Also, we have offered our parish as training parish again, and I hope that we will hear in the Autumn whether we will be given the privilege of training a curate again. Again when I know, so will you.
I shared with the PCC when it last met, some hopes I have for us as church communities as we move into the summer and autumn. Conveniently and hopefully memorably they all begin with the letter P.
Firstly, we will Pray. We have been using a prayer written by Anne Peat at every act of worship and on our own at home. By praying, we have been committing ourselves, our churches and wider communities to God as we live with COVID. As we move forward, I am more sure than ever of the vitality and importance of praying. We must commit ourselves to becoming a people who pray regularly and intentionally as we move forward. There will be a new prayer for us to use daily; there will be opportunities for us to gather to pray together; there will be a course about prayer running in the Autumn and we’ll be running a short training on leading intercessions on Sundays - for those who have been leading prayers for a long time and an opportunity for those of you haven’t tried doing this before to discover resources and to learn how to lead intercessions well.
Secondly we will Play together. We have spent the last 14 months or so at home. We haven’t been able to interact with each other in the ways we used to for obvious reasons. Starting in the Autumn, we will have a rolling programme of opportunities to be together and enjoy one another's company (assuming it is safe to do so.) Some of these will be free events, some will be paid. Some will be bigger in scale. Some will be able to take place in a home. Some will be aimed at different sections of our community. Some will be for all. I am confident that there will be things for every one of us to enjoy with others. Rebuilding our friendships with each other and with the wider community are going to be so important going forward, and hopefully lots of fun too!
Thirdly we will Plan. We need to spend time planning for our present and our future. We need to look at all that the parish used to offer in terms of mission and ministry and our current resources. We need to discern how we best serve our communities where they are now and as who we are now and with what resources we have now, having looked at where we live, who we live amongst and the needs of our wider communities. This will help us to sense what God’s vision is for our communities and what part we can play in supporting and resourcing our wider communities.
Lastly, because we are in a period of transition and change please bear with us in terms of our worship over June. Our services for the first three weeks will be as follows:
11.00am Parish Service at St Peter’s car park and Valedictory to the Framptons
9.30am St Thomas’ - Sung Eucharist
11.00 am St Peter’s - Sung Eucharist to Celebrate Fr Alan Horsley’s 60th Anniversary of his priesting.
11.00 am St John’s - Said Eucharist
9.30am St Thomas’ - Sung Eucharist and Valedictory to Paul Palmer
11.00 am St Peter’s - Sung Eucharist and Valedictory to Paul Palmer
6.00pm St John’s - Said Eucharist)
I hope to finalise the rest of the month and July imminently, but please be patient as we work out the final details.
In the meantime please pray for each other as I pray for you.
Tuesday, 1 June 2021
Thursday, 27 May 2021
Wednesday, 26 May 2021
Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Monday, 24 May 2021
Thursday, 20 May 2021
Wednesday, 19 May 2021
Tuesday, 18 May 2021
Monday, 17 May 2021
Thursday, 13 May 2021
Wednesday, 12 May 2021
Tuesday, 11 May 2021
Grateful to Young Minds (https://youngminds.org.uk) for this excellent checklist, whatever your age.
Checklist for #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek:
1/ Spend at least 30 mins a day doing something I love
2/ Set clear boundaries with work/study
3/ Check in with someone close to me
4/ Journal for 5-10 mins three times a week
5/ Explore my nearest green space
Monday, 10 May 2021
Could you spot the signs of mental ill health and support someone if they were struggling?
For #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, here are some interactive mental health first aid exercises to do:
Could you spot the signs of mental ill health and support someone if they were struggling?
Sunday, 9 May 2021
I trained as a Mental Health First Aider whilst on study leave. I really wanted to offer something back especially as my own mental health hasn't been at it's best at points over the last few years. There's no shame in admitting you're not ok and seeking help.
This week is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.
Why not give yourself a #MyWholeSelf MOT?
If you'd like further information or support don't hesitate to get in touch.
Thursday, 6 May 2021
Wednesday, 5 May 2021
Tuesday, 4 May 2021
Monday, 26 April 2021
Sunday, 25 April 2021
It is a pleasure to be able to announce today that Emily, Arthur and I will be on the move (see announcement below)
We have had a wonderful 3 years in the Parish and it genuinely has been a pleasure to serve you as your Curate. I have learnt a tremendous amount about what it is to be a priest and I owe you all a huge debt of gratitude for the care you have shown to me and to us as a family.
Our last Sunday in the parish will be on the 6th of June and we hope that restrictions will be sufficiently eased by this point and that the weather will be fine enough that we are able to hold an outdoor service and be able to say farewell properly.
Please do keep us, and the people of St Matthew's, Oxhey in your prayers as we all prepare for this next phase in our lives and ministries.
To be announced in all churches on Sunday, 25th April 2021
We are pleased to announce that the Rev’d Sam Frampton Assistant Curate of the Parish of Mill End and Heronsgate with West Hyde has been appointed Vicar St Matthew’s Oxhey in the Deanery of Watford.
Sam will be licensed in St Matthew’s Oxhey on 7th July 2021.
Please remember Sam, and his wife, Emily and their son, Arthur in your prayers as they prepare for their move.
Thursday, 22 April 2021
Wednesday, 21 April 2021
Monday, 12 April 2021
As a parish we wish to extend our sincere condolences to Her Majesty The Queen and the whole Royal Family at the news of His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh's death.We will be leaving our buildings open during the day for the foreseeable to enable people to come and use these spaces as a place to mourn his death and celebrate his life.
A requiem mass was offered on Saturday 10th of April for The Duke of Edinburgh and was also live streamed on the Parish Facebook page.
Thursday, 1 April 2021
Wednesday, 31 March 2021
Thursday, 25 March 2021
Monday, 22 March 2021
Friday, 19 March 2021
Thursday, 18 March 2021
Monday, 15 March 2021
Wednesday, 10 March 2021
Wednesday, 3 March 2021
Monday, 1 March 2021
Wednesday, 24 February 2021
Sunday, 21 February 2021
Thursday, 18 February 2021
Wednesday, 17 February 2021
As we begin this season of Lent, we gather for morning prayer, dedicating this season, our communities and the whole of our lives to God. Join us on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday every week for Morning Prayer, a short service of 20 minutes to begin the day.
Monday, 15 February 2021
Sunday, 14 February 2021
Thursday, 11 February 2021
Wednesday, 10 February 2021
Monday, 8 February 2021
Sunday, 7 February 2021
Saturday, 30 January 2021
By the time you read this, we will be standing on the cusp of February with Candlemas just behind us and Ash Wednesday and Lent opening up before us.
I love the Feast of the Presentation. In it, we are invited as we remember the infant Jesus, presented to God by His parents, in the Temple, to stand on as on a hilltop: looking back to the celebration of the Incarnation, of God amongst us at Christmas; and to commit ourselves to taking out His life, love and light to our communities. We are also look on across the valley to the city, to His Passion and Resurrection, and wonder at how we will share that Gospel within the communities we are set and called to serve.
On a personal note, I am also looking back. I have served amongst you for 10 years. We have journeyed a long way as Christian communities. It’s not all been easy and we have had to walk through some challenging times. We have also seen God do some fantastic things in His church and in our lives during that time too.
Every decade, as part of our continued development as clergy, we are invited to take Extended Study Leave. It used to be called a Sabbatical. The Bishop grants a period of 12 weeks leave from ministry to rest, renew, study, develop our skills and have space to read and if appropriate write too. Some of you will know that I had accepted this offer in the autumn of last year, but along with the rest of our lives, the Coronavirus pandemic put paid to that.
I will be stepping away from public ministry from 1st February 2021 and returning to ministry on 2nd May 2021.
I will be doing a number of things during that time:
I will be training as a Mental Health First Aider for both young people and adults. I will be qualified for three years and i hope to be a resource to the wider community including our local schools.
I will be reading around a theology of mental health. Scripture doesn’t talk much about mental health as we would recognise it, but there are some strong strands to begin to think theologically about it.
I will be reading and writing about silence as a spiritual discipline and it’s importance for us in a noisy 21st Century world and our mental wellbeing; and
I hope to take an 8 day silent retreat in Wales.
I will also be spending time at home with my lovely family and through all of the above, I hope to rest and be renewed.
As the time stretches out in front of me I feel a sense of bereavement setting in - not being part of a regular worshipping community, not partaking in the Lentern pilgrimage of prayer and worship, not preaching, not presiding at the Eucharist. But the time before me is a pilgrimage too, and I know God will speak and teach me much through it.
In my absence you will all continue to be ministered to and supported by Sam and the Ministry Team and our fantastic Parish and Church Wardens. Please pass day to day parochial matters to Sam or Elaine, and keep Sam in the loop about pastoral matters so he and others can support you.
Whilst for periods of time I will be at home and some times I hope to be away, I know you will respect that space, but please don’t treat me or the family as social lepers (pandemics excepting!) - if you see us out and about, do stop and say hello if you are able to.
I hope and pray you are renewed during the Lenten pilgrimage. As you journey, please pray for us during that time too, so that when we meet again during the Easter season, we might rejoice at the new things God is doing in each of our lives.
Wednesday, 27 January 2021
Tuesday, 26 January 2021
Monday, 25 January 2021
Sunday, 24 January 2021
Monday, 18 January 2021
Sunday, 17 January 2021
Sunday, 10 January 2021
Saturday, 9 January 2021
At tomorrow's 10am Eucharist on Zoom, this water will be blessed.
Please come and collect some for yourself or a friend/neighbour on your daily exercise, and use it to bless your home.
We need God's presence in our homes more than ever in these days!
It will be on the doorstep from Monday morning. If we run out I will bless more midweek.
Wednesday, 6 January 2021
Dear all, I'm not sure that I should wish you a happy new year as we enter 2021, as our nation enters another nation-wide lockdown. That, coupled with my decision to close our church buildings to public worship due to the exponential rise in this new strain of COVID in the communities of our parish. Many of us feel disheartened and uncertain about our present and our imminent future. At the heart of this season of Epiphany lies the mystery of our faith - that with the birth of the Christ Child, God is revealed, in a comprehensible way, to the nations of the world. Images of light in darkness are often used in worship at this time of year and amid the bleakness of our current experience, we need to know that God is with us and the Light of the World shines still in the midst of our present darkness. As you all know, my family and I all contracted COVID-19 in the weeks leading up to Christmas. None of us are symptomatic now but Alex and I are both really struggling with ongoing tiredness. Under the instruction of both the Bishop and the Archdeacon, I am only ministering part-time at the moment. The most I am doing is 2-3 hours a day. Please be in touch with me if you need me - mobile is the best way to get hold of me. A word about worship. Currently, our church buildings are closed to public worship until at least 24 January. Our worship each week looks like this: Weekdays (not Friday) 8.30am Morning Prayer on zoom. Wednesdays 9.30am Eucharist on Facebook live. In time I hope we might rebuild a more regular pattern. Fridays 11.00am Service of the Word on Facebook live led by Anne Peat Sundays 10.00am Sung Parish Eucharist on Zoom Baptism of Christ. This Sunday (10/01/21) we recall Jesus' own baptism by John in the Jordan river. As part of that service I will be blessing holy water for you to bless your homes with. Our homes should be our safest spaces in these days and I hope that you might, on your daily exercise, come and collect some holy water and a prayer card to do just that. I enclose an activity sheet for any children who would value that. If anyone would be willing to read on Sunday, please can you contact Elaine directly in the parish office. I am hoping that in time the Reading the Bible Together group might reconvene and I hope also we might enjoy a zoom coffee morning. I will be in touch with you all with details about both when I am stronger. Please can I ask you to consider joining us for morning prayer and the Eucharist. These are important ways that our faith can be sustained. In time I will share with you some other resources. These will also be available on the parish website as are all of our services. Please can encourage you to use the parish prayer daily - praying for each other, our churches, and the wider community. I enclose it below. Please also pray for those on the front line responding to this pandemic - the NHS especially and our local funeral directors. Lastly, I am aware that many residents in our local Nursing and Care Homes are missing visits from their families. I wonder if you might consider sending a card to teh residents and staff of Meresworth, Dapplemere and Colne Lodge. The addresses are as follows: Mereseworth Dellwood Field Way, Rickmansworth WD3 7EJ Dapplemere Shepherds Ln, Chorleywood, Rickmansworth WD3 5HA Colne Lodge Springwell Avenue, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, WD3 8UG Let staff and residents know you are writing from the local church, assure them of your prayers, try to encourage them in the invaluable work they do. Please be assured of my ongoing prayers for you all. Fr Simon ~~~ Parish Prayer Loving God, You are with us in good times and in bad, in health and in sickness, in light and in darkness; be with us [as members of …] through the difficulties of this pandemic and as we look to the future. May we hear your voice guiding us, May we know your Spirit inspiring us, May we feel your strength upholding us. Show us how to act on what you have taught us through this time, that our ministry and mission may reveal your love to all we meet. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.