Weekly Email – 3rd Sunday before Lent
Pilgrimage is an important part of the Christian life. It is something that many of us have been unable to participate in for nearly two years now because of the restrictions on travel that COVID has imposed. As we emerge into the post-COVID “new normal,” my hope and desire is that pilgrimage is something we can rediscover together as a fruitful part of Christian formation, renewal and spiritual growth.
Pilgrimage is a crucial thing for several reasons. Being taken out of the quotidian surroundings of our normal place of work or home is a wonderfully useful way of clearing the mind and seeing new vistas. Taking ourselves away to a place where we will have the time to reflect and ponder is an important part of how God uses pilgrimage to renew and refresh us.
The place one goes to is also important. God can use time and place to touch us in ways that somehow seem less possible in other locations. Shrines such as Walsingham or Lourdes feel so sanctified by Our Lady’s presence and the prayers of thousands of pilgrims that God’s presence is easy to sense. Other places such as the Holy Land can bring alive the story of our Lord’s life in a new and vivid way. Holy cities such as Rome have a cultural, historical, and artistic patrimony that communicate truths at the heart of the gospel with extraordinary power and emotion through the buildings, art, and history one finds there.
Even the journey itself is important. As we make our way to a place of pilgrimage, we get to know our fellow pilgrims better. Barriers of suspicion can be broken down, and new friendships formed as a group of pilgrims makes its way to a distant location. This is no new idea. Just think of the Canterbury Tales, and the way in which a pilgrimage journey to Canterbury is presented to us by Chaucer as an opportunity for the sharing of narratives, engaging in discourse, and the telling of stories which reveal so much about human life.
But possibly the most important character of pilgrimage is what it metaphorically says to us about the Christian life itself; for a pilgrimage journey stands as an image of our journey to God through this world and into the next. From the moment of our baptism we join a pilgrim band of fellow travellers making their way through the confusions and difficulties of this existence to the City of God. As the words of that great hymn, In our day of thanksgiving, remind us of our departed loved ones, “yet here they confessed they were strangers and pilgrims, and still they were seeking the city of God.”
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is about being on a journey in the company of others that leads us corporately to God. It is no surprise or coincidence that in the Acts of the Apostles, being a disciple of Christ is frequently described by Luke as being a follower of “the Way.” This is the great mystery which pilgrimage reminds us of, and which it enables us to participate in with greater joy.
As we look forward, it strikes me that the most obvious place to begin with restoring the place of pilgrimage in our parish’s life is Walsingham. Two opportunities exist over the coming months.
The first is the National Pilgrimage, which is a day trip. A coach will leave All Saints on Monday 2nd May for the National Pilgrimage (cost £18 per seat). This takes place a little earlier in the year than normal so as not to clash with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
In addition, we have also booked a Parish Pilgrimage for the weekend Friday 22nd to Monday 25th July. This involves staying over in shrine accommodation, and undertaking a range of pilgrimage activities over the weekend we are there. Please contact Ross Buchanan (M: 07905 863578; E: email@example.com) if you are interested in either or would like to know more.
I hope the idea we had last year of a visit to Ravenna might emerge over the coming months as a definite possibility. Planning for that halted as the Omicron variant spread and it became evident very few people were contemplating travel this year. However, I hope to revive the initial plans we made and maybe look to a parish trip in 2023.
I hope that pilgrimage can become once again one of the most attractive and life-giving characteristics of our parish’s mission and ministry as we emerge from COVID. I encourage you to think about coming on one of our pilgrimages to Walsingham this year if you are able, and to open your heart to what God can do when we place ourselves in his hands and journey together to him in faith.
Guest Preacher: Fr Steve Rice
I am very pleased to announce that Fr Steve Rice, Rector of St Timothy’s, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, will be our guest preacher on Sunday 1st May 2022. He will be visiting the UK for a week and has very kindly agreed to offer the homily at our High Mass that day.
Fr Steve is a good friend of mine and leads one of the largest Anglo-Catholic churches in North America, with an impressive range of ministries and activities (see more here). He has recently undertaken a breathtakingly impressive restoration and rejuvenation of his church building, which was reported on in the liturgical arts journal (read the article here).
I am so pleased that Fr Steve will be with us on 1st May. I am sure many of you will enjoy meeting him. There is so much we can be inspired by in his parish, and it is good that transatlantic friendships and connections will be more and more possible as travel becomes easier post-COVID.
A sermon preached by Fr Peter Anthony at the chapel of the Royal Hospital Chelsea (the home of the “Chelsea Pensioners”) on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Accession of Her Majesty the Queen to the throne.
What gives a leader their legitimacy? What makes a good leader?
Those are questions I’ve heard lots of people talking about in the media over the past few weeks as we have approached today’s accession anniversary.
One fascinating discussion I heard was on Thought for the Day this week. Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner was reflecting on the things that young people expect to see in leaders nowadays.
Those who inhabit Generation Z, as they call it, expect their leaders to show much more integrity and honesty than previous generations did. Those in their 20s value transparency and accountability. They tend to reject hierarchy in favour of systems that prize consultation and collaboration. When leaders fail to deliver on these things, Generation Z are very happy simply to pull those in authority from their pedestals. For the young, authority and legitimacy must be earned.
In the light of so many competing ideas about what makes a good leader, we must ask ourselves an important question today. What is it about the Queen’s life that has enabled her to act as a figurehead for our country so successfully for all these years? What is her secret? She is now part of the oldest generation, yet is loved and admired by the young just as much as by the senior.
Perhaps one of the things that lies at the heart of her success is this. From the moment she acceded to the throne, the Queen saw what she was doing as a vocation given to her by God. It was not a job. Neither was she prompted by ambition or greed. It was a calling given to her by God.
That strong sense of vocation is one of the key things which has given her the legitimacy and the dignity which she has needed for the task.
For when we look at the Queen’s role in terms of a God-given vocation we realise something important about the whole of human society. We realise authority is not actually something which we manufacture or create, but is something that comes from the one who created us – from God.
And if we are created, then there is purpose and meaning to our existence. We discover there are values and virtues by which we should live so as to ensure that the human dignity of all is upheld and protected.
By consenting to a monarch having authority over us, we act out, if you like, in our common life the way in which God has authority over all his creation. For a monarch is exalted, but is still accountable to the one who is above her – to God himself.
But there’s another thing which the Queen’s vocation enables her to do. And that is represent us. All too often we think about leaders as people who energetically do things. Yet, a monarch who rejoices in a God-given vocation can represent her people by doing nothing – by simply being herself.
She stands on our behalf, summing our whole country up, representing us to ourselves, and to the outside world. An elected leader’s capacity to do that comes and goes. But a monarch, rejoicing in a life-long vocation given by God, can do it by virtue of who she is, rather than how many votes she has received.
And if all this can be said about the Queen’s God-given vocation, there is also a sense in which all of us who have been given a calling by God can do the same.
Every one of us has received a vocation from God. As we respond to it, remembering where it comes from is crucial – from God. That reminds us our lives are not our own, but are to be used to the glory of God. We are not the controllers of our destiny. Nor does true fulfilment come from amassing wealth or power or prestige. Rather, true fulfilment comes from responding to the call God gives us, and through faithful service of our neighbour.
And if we do that, like the Queen, we take on a representative role too. We represent God himself to those around us. We embody God’s love and care and presence in a world that all too often forgets the importance of those virtues.
We live out in a small way, what the Queen does for us in a national way. She seeks to represent all that is good and virtuous and self-giving in our national life, so that we can do the same too in our daily lives. And for that wonderful gift, and for our wonderful queen, we give thanks to God today.
Introducing our online worshippers
We will be running a series of short articles in our weekly email from members of the All Saints’ family who worship online. It is hoped this might put a few faces to names and allow all who receive our weekly email to know more about those who join us via our live-streaming.
If you are on online worshipper, and would like to write something for us about yourself and why you connect with All Saints’ online, please be in touch with Fr Peter.
This week Inger Mosbery introduces herself. She lives in Northumberland and started worshipping with us during the lockdown:
I really didn’t know what to do, when the first lockdown in March 2020 prevented us from going to church. Would my faith survive, until churches were allowed to open again? I visited many churches online: I spent Easter in York Minster; but also with the Pope in the Vatican!
Then my friend Muriel told me she had discovered All Saints’ Margaret Street. We started worshipping together, although a few miles apart. We had long telephone conversations about what we loved and sometimes about what we didn’t quite understand. We often discussed sermons. (It is so good that you can now go back to them and hear what was said again.)
I have never looked back and 12 o’clock during the week has since then become the focal point of my day.
How could All Saints’ become so important to me in a matter of a few weeks? First, the devotion of every single priest. He is there to worship God and it looks as if everything else is immaterial and that carries you with him into deeper worship. The sacred silence is crucial too. It still prevails even now when there is a congregation present. The beauty of the building, the flowers, the vestments, the organ, the choir. There have been times when I have thought: can angels sing any better than this? The liturgy all points to one thing: glorifying God.
I have managed to return to church a few times when the lockdown eased and wondered what it would feel like. I had read about some people’s reaction but for me it was just as if I had never been away! Why had I questioned, even doubted occasionally that the graces I had received online were real? For God nothing is impossible!
I am grateful to All Saints’ for what they give us every single day. But I am even more grateful to God for guiding me to you. He has led me home.
Online Zoom Theology:
“Looking East in Winter” by Rowan Williams
Please note that our next online Zoom Theology session will take place on Tuesday 15th March at 7.00 pm, and will be led by Fr Peter. We will be reflecting on Rowan Williams’ latest book, “Looking East in Winter: Contemporary Thought and the Eastern Christian Tradition.”
This work explores and introduces a number of Eastern and Orthodox thinkers, and reflects on what can be learned from them in the increasingly secularised West.
The seminar will last for no more than an hour and you are encouraged to have read the book before attending.
Zoom details here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86265920723?pwd=YklJYXpDWG1lcWFQUXdpMTAreVQwZz09
Feedback from our church welcomers reveals we need more volunteers for the crucial work of opening our church in the afternoons, and being present to speak with visitors.
We could really do with an extra 6-7 volunteers. You don’t have to be able to offer time each week – even if you can only do once a month or once a fortnight, that would be a huge help. The work involves being in church for a two hour period in the afternoon and welcoming people as they visit our church.
Please be in touch with Fr Peter or Quentin if you would like to help us with this important work.
Walsingham Devotion & Monthly Requiem
Tomorrow our monthly Walsingham Devotion, in the form of the Rosary with intercessions, will be offered at 1130 before the noon Mass.
A week tomorrow our monthly Requiem Mass will be celebrated: please let Fr Michael have names of those you’d like remembered at that Mass.
Links for Sunday
The link for the Propers for the 3rd Sunday before Lent is at the end of this email. And click here for the YouTube live stream.
Evensong and Benediction is at 6pm on Sunday. The music includes Judith Weir Canticles, Stanford O for a closer walk with God, and Howells Benediction hymns.
Prisoners and captives
Nazanin Zhagari-Ratcliffe, Ismaeil Maghrebinejad, Nasrin Sotoudeh
Rohingya Christians in Pakistan, Karen Christians in Burma, and Tigrayan Christians in Ethiopia
Fr Harry Hodgetts, Martin Berka, Elizabeth Lyon, James Shrimpton, David Robin, Fr John Vine, Stuart Bell
Those known to us recently departed
David Cox, Sara Vice, Rosemary Nutt, Corrado Monte
Anniversaries of death
13th – Charles Lethbridge, Nellie Chapman
14th – Margaret McWilliam, Mary Dick, John Knight Pr, Charles Forker
15th – Marion Clark, Constance Rivington, Henry Hewetson, John Bartle, Alec Rodger, Margaret Menzies
17th – Frederick John Howard, Letty Attlee, Jack Hope
18th – Lill MacKay, Angela Thompson, Joan Bowie
19th – Mavis Symes
Supporting All Saints
Parish Giving Scheme
You can set up a regular donation to All Saints here.
We use the Parish Giving Scheme, which allows contributions to be anonymous and deals with Gift Aid, saving our office a lot of time. You can read about how the scheme works here.
Donations for general church purposes
To give by BACS please use the following details, advising the Administrator to collect Gift Aid:
PCC All Saints (Charity no. 1132895)
Sort Code 60-09-15
Parish Legacy Policy
We are always delighted to hear from anyone who wants to support us with a donation. Our PCC Legacy Policy encourages people to leave bequests specifically to one of our two related charities to be used for purposes of lasting value (rather than day to day costs):
All Saints Choir & Music Trust (Charity # 802994)
or The All Saints Foundation (Charity # 273390).