From the Rector

Dear Friends,

 

I am writing with Easter greetings and in a spirit of hopefulness that matches the season.

First of all, I am delighted that we will be able to worship at St Mary’s in a safe way on Easter morning. There is one service at 10.30am. I am looking forward to this hugely. The service will include the lighting of the Easter candle and renewal of baptism vows. Though we are still not able to sing inside as a congregation, we will have our students from the Royal College of Music with us in line with the latest government guidelines. As part of the service, we will listen to the fourth movement of Mahler’s Second Symphony, which is a short piece that contains a hauntingly melodic alto solo. If you know your classical music, then you might wonder why Mahler at Easter as he is often rather ‘heavy.’ However, this is known as the ‘Resurrection Symphony’ and the fourth movement is very famous. What Mahler captures wonderfully is the mixed emotion of the resurrection. As the women arrive at the empty tomb and the first disciples hear the rumour that Jesus is alive, there is bewilderment as well as joy. Such is our Easter too this year. It will be a stirring experience to be able to celebrate Easter together in the church, especially as we were locked down last Easter, but we will miss those who are no longer with us as well as those who do not yet feel comfortable to join us.

Since I last wrote for The Acorn, Nathaniel Lendor has died, another of our very senior congregation members, in this case from All Saints. We had his funeral in Gunnersbury Cemetery at the end of March. Nathaniel was a lovely man and quietly a great support to me. We gave him a most fitting send-off in the circumstances. The pandemic has brought many unforeseen challenges, one of these being outdoor funeral services. I have to say that the ones I have taken have been incredibly moving and this was no exception. The moment when the sun broke through part way into the service will stay long in my memory as will the placing of flowers on the grave and spontaneous words we shared at the end. We will miss Nathaniel hugely and my love and prayers are with Mary and his family.

I have enjoyed turning my hand to filming and video editing during the pandemic as well. We have remained pretty low tech, but I am thankful for these new ways we have found to still carry on and to all who have helped with the putting together of services. It is, though, a lot more work and not the same as being together in person. Some churches have invested in live-streaming technology but we don’t have the volunteer team to support this and our energies, I believe, are better put into having really great in-person services in the large space we have at St Mary’s with some investment in our music.

We will continue online for some things. Morning Prayer has worked well on Zoom and 10 Minute Prayers at Noon as well as Poem for the Week have been appreciated on Facebook and we’re keen to continue these. We’ve also had a really great turn-out for our Zoom-based Lent Course. Over the years, with the time pressures people have, it’s not been easy to run much in the way of a midweek programme for our parish, but a combination of technology and the pandemic means we seem to have cracked that!

Like many of you, I will be taking some time this month to catch up with family I have not seen in too long. The week after Easter is traditionally the clergy break, so we will not be having a service on Sunday 11th April or the following Sunday. Instead, we will resume fully in-person at St Mary’s on Sunday 25th April with services at 8am and 10.30am. This will give me, Dean and Mary a breather. It’s been quite a challenging time as you might imagine, for us as well as I’m sure for you. We’re not leaving you without a service, though. We will still send round Orders of Service for those two Sundays and there will be an online service from the Church of England that you can join at 9am or catch up later via this link https://www.churchofengland.org/news-and-media/church-online.

Finally, a heads up that it’s our church annual meeting on Sunday 25th April too. You will be able to join this by Zoom and you can also phone in. I will email round all the details beforehand. We will need to elect churchwardens and there are some vacancies on the PCC. The annual report and financial statements will be emailed out and available in church.

I wish you a blessed Easter and join us everyone in praying for better days.

With very best wishes,

Nick

 


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