Saturday, 30 January 2021

A Lenten Pilgrim

 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.

Service of the Word - 29/01/21


Saturday, 9 January 2021

The Baptism of Christ Home Blessing

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

Happy New Year and Looking Ahead


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.

Worship at Home - The Epiphany - 06/01/21