September Message from Fr Simon
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
There’s a sense that, with the return of children to school, life might be returning to some sort of normality. This is only true to a limited extent. The pandemic is far from over and just now there is a significant rise in cases of infection in this country, as there has been in other parts of Europe and further afield.
Nevertheless, we are rebuilding the worshipping life of our church as are many (but not all) other churches, in a way that tries to ensure the safety of all involved. This is a time, not only for rebuilding, but also for reflecting deeply on what has been happening and how we can build a better and healthier future.
Rebuilding the church’s life of worship and fellowship: Thank-you!
First of all, I want to thank those of you who have demonstrated such faithful commitment to the rebuilding our church’s worshipping life on Sundays and weekdays since 4th July. Thank-you too to those who have stayed connected to our life of worship and fellowship via the website. Many people, especially the more elderly members of our church family, are not yet able to come out, but are actively in contact with the rest of the church community through the Sunday Mass videos or through the on-line coffee mornings and Bible study sessions that are about to re-start.
It has been encouraging to see such a good range of people booking to come to Mass on Sundays. Those who have attended have all said that they have felt safe in church. Gradually and in a simpler than usual way, we are now able to involve our altar servers and soon there will be some singing to supplement the beautiful and uplifting organ music that has accompanied the Saturday evening and Sunday Masses.
Thank-you as well to all those children and adults who have contributed to our St Martin’s Summer Exhibition. There are some wonderfully imaginative and inspiring pictures on display that reflect the creativity of people of all ages in our church community.
For children and young people
We have not yet been able to re-open Young Church on Sunday mornings. We are exploring whether it will be possible to do so in a way that is safe. In the meantime, please remember that children and young people are welcome to come with their parents to our Saturday evening and Sunday Masses.
You can download and bring material with you for children to use during Mass from our website: in particular the Family Packs and activity sheets from Sermons4kids.
We have all been so saddened by the death of Lisa Bain after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Our prayers and condolences go to Steve, Lucy and Sam. Lisa’s funeral is to take place in church on Tuesday 15th September followed by cremation at Breakspear.
The limited numbers able to attend both events will be restricted to those who are personally invited by the family. Therefore the 9.30am Mass on that day will be a Mass of Requiem for Lisa which I hope, will provide an opportunity for many more of her friends to come to church and pray for her with thanksgiving.
Fr Yaro is due to be ordained priest on the morning of Saturday 26th September by Bishop Jonathan at St Andrew’s, Holborn. He will preside at Mass for the first time at 6pm here in St Martin’s Church on the same day.
He’ll also preside at the Sunday morning Masses. Please keep him and Amy in your prayers. There are gift envelopes at the back of the church and a facility on our website for us to contribute to his ordination gift.
Harvest Thanksgiving: 3rd and 4th October
Once again, we’ll be supporting the work of the Hillingdon Foodbank this year. As more and more people suffer the economic impact of the pandemic, reliance on help from foodbanks is likely to be more urgent than ever.
Huge numbers of people in our society are going to be in need of support. Please be generous with gifts of non-perishable food this Harvest. The church remains open each day for us to bring gifts even if we are unable to attend one of the Harvest Masses.
Annual Parochial Church Meeting: 13th October at 7.30pm
We’ll be holding a simplified APCM this year to perform the vital tasks of electing church wardens, members of the Parochial Church Council and Deanery Synod and giving an overview of our life now and how things might look in the future.
Confirmation: 21st October
The preparation by our 40 candidates for Confirmation and first Holy Communion was interrupted, like so much else, by the lockdown in March. We are now able to get ready for a rescheduled evening of Confirmation services on Wednesday 21st October.
Because of the limitations placed on numbers permitted to attend life cycle events, there will be three Confirmation liturgies on that evening at 6.30pm, 7.30pm and 8.30pm. Attendance is strictly limited to just each candidate and their sponsor. First Holy Communions will take place at a series of special Masses on subsequent days.
Being the Church of Jesus Christ today in a society that is struggling
Finally, let us all remember that we have been entrusted with the joyful responsibility of being the People of God – the Church of Jesus Christ in our society and in our world today. This is a challenging time to be a faithful Christian, so I want to re-iterate my thanks to those of you who have been and are demonstrating commitment to the worshipping life of St Martin’s Church, Sunday by Sunday and day by day.
God has never called his people to be successful, but we are called to be faithful. It’s worth remembering that, if we are tempted to feel a bit despondent about the restrictions on our worshipping life and fellowship at present. It’s also worth remembering that our parish church stands open all day every day and is appreciated and used by a huge invisible congregation who come in throughout each week to spend time in prayer.
But we, who practise the Christian faith do not just do so for ourselves alone. A famous former Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, once said that the Church exists primarily for the sake of its non-members. As the pandemic continues to place challenges on daily living and the very functioning of society, we have a clear and vital responsibility to care for our neighbours in need, whoever they may be.
God bless you all as you try to live the Christian life in these challenging times. Please pray for me as I pray for you.