We would very much like to be able to reach out to anyone in the local Grove Park community who is self-isolating, or might need any other support, such as help with delivering food or medicine. Sue Hearn is the co-ordinator for this at St Paul's so please do contact her if you are able to volunteer or if you are in need of help. Her phone number is 07958 414638 and her email email@example.com. It will be more effective, safer and easier to manage, if we can co-ordinate help within our own neighbourhoods. So if you are a volunteer from another part of Chiswick or London, please consider trying to find a support group to join that is closer to home.
CONTACTING THE VULNERABLE AND ELDERLY
The postcard above, which is taken from the BBC website, could be printed out and dropped through the door of anyone you think may be vulnerable and need
WORSHIP AND PRAYER
In line with government guidance and the Diocese of London we are now suspending all public worship and St Paul’s will remain closed to the public for services or private prayer, until further notice. By doing this we hope to demonstrate how important physical distancing is in saving lives. Michael will continue to say Morning and Evening Prayer privately as before and he prays for us, as we do for one another, in the days to come.
A PRAYER ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK
Thoughts for Palm Sunday and Holy Week
Palm Sunday has both joy and sadness, Joy as we remember Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem and sadness as we read the story of the last days of Jesus’ life. Some of the crowds in Jerusalem for the Passover festival were clearly thinking that Jesus, the teacher from Galilee, might be the new messiah, which is why they cheer him on as he enters the city with their ‘Hosannas’.
This year we pay attention to the passion story in St Matthew’s Gospel, chapters 26 and 27. Matthew tells us more about Judas, and more about Pilate and Pilate’s wife and her concerns about Jesus.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week we think of Jesus being in the Temple daily, meeting with people, teaching, encouraging, discussing and continuing his running disagreement with some of the Jewish leaders. On Thursday Jesus has a final meal with his friends, and a time of prayer and testing in the garden of Gethsemane, before he is arrested. On Friday there follows the trials and the crucifixion.
Some of Jesus’ friends and supporters, may have been getting anxious that
Jesus was not showing his power and messiahship in the way they were expecting. One of these may have been Judas, who perhaps wanted to force his hand. We read of Judas’ betrayal with a kiss, and later his remorse and suicide.
Later we encounter Peter’s threefold denial of Jesus and his tears as he realizes what he has done. And we see how difficult it can be to stand up for the truth, for fear. After Easter Jesus responds to that denial when they have breakfast by the lake, and Peter is restored.
On Good Friday we come to the trial before Pilate. Some say Pilate was just doing his best in a tricky political situation. History has not been kind to Pilate, though he does have the distinction of appearing in both our creeds. Then we have the mocking by the soldiers, and Jesus being led out to the hill of Calvary, where he is crucified and dies. We read of the centurion, the man in charge of the soldiers, being moved by Jesus’ death. He must have seen thousands of deaths in his line of work, but the way Jesus died affected him deeply. He exclaims “truly this was the son of God.”
This is a tale of fear and love, faith and mistrust, political expediency and a cruel death leading to fresh hope and life. It has been told in a thousand different ways by writers and musicians, artists and craftsmen, architects and designers and all who have planned things to encourage devotion, and places to help people offer worship and draw close to the Christian way.
This year the corona virus cuts us off from much of what helps us at this holy time: fellowship, sacraments and the beauty of holiness. But we have words and stories in our bibles, and the stories in the gospels which lie at the heart of our faith. We turn to these, knowing that we join with Christians across the world doing the same: reflecting on the sufferings and sacrifice of Christ, and drawing strength for what we face today.
You might like to have your bible out for times when we would normally have a service in church:
Palm Sunday at 10am
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 7.30pm
Maundy Thursday at 7.30pm with silent watch till midnight.
Good Friday when we remember Jesus on the Cross between 12noon and 3pm.
Easter Eve 12noon
Easter Day at 10am, celebrating the resurrection of Christ.
I am hoping that, when the worst dangers of this virus have passed, our church leaders will give us a day when we can all be together in church, celebrating God’s love for us in the risen Lord Jesus. Till then we pray for them, the Royal Family, our Prime Minister and all who serve in the government, the homes and families of our area, and all who work through the NHS to promote the health of others.
Thoughts for Passion Sunday (29 March) by Simon Surtees
In the Church Calendar, this Sunday is Passion Sunday. Christians have been using Lent to reflect on their faith in preparation for meeting Christ on the Cross on Good Friday. Many Christians around the world, therefore, recognise the fifth Sunday in Lent as Passion Sunday and as an opportunity to reflect on what we might be bringing to our personal witness during Holy Week which begins on Sunday April 5th. But Faith does not sit still, because we do not sit still. Each year during Lent we bring different experiences and encounters to play which shape our lives, and which have the potential to enrich our Christian experience. What we bring to this year is, of course, especially resonant.
In the context of the challenges we face as a nation at this time, reading our Gospel for Passion Sunday from John 11 is a sobering experience. It relates Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the grave at the home of Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary. The story is told in an interesting way.
Jesus and his Disciples are on their way to Jerusalem. He receives a message that Lazarus is gravely ill. Pointedly, John records that Jesus waited for 2 days before moving on to Bethany with the disciples seeing that his death will signify God’s glory and that “The Son of God might be glorified by it”. By the time they arrive he is dead. In fact, as we hear later, he is already entombed. In keeping with tradition, friends have gathered to mourn with his sisters, and the disciples, too, join them. Jesus can hardly help being caught up in the tragedy of a young life lost.
At this point, in his telling of Jesus’ story, John takes us to one of the central points of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus has come to glorify God. He has come to show that the God of Moses is the God of All. The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke record incidents which reflect the possibility of Jesus’ divinity; the Resurrection is the final proof. For John, Jesus is God Incarnate – God in Human form- from the moment of his birth. He demonstrates this through 7 signs which punctuate the first 11 chapters. The Raising of Lazarus is the seventh. In John’s Gospel, this will be the event that finally turns the Authorities against him. However, raising Lazarus from the dead is too good an opportunity to miss. Jesus’ ministry is about eternal life with God of which Death is just one part. In a life of faith this is one of the most important aspects to reconcile. God was with us at the beginning, is with us in our lives, is with us at our death and in our life eternal. Through this sign Jesus is preparing us for his own death and resurrection. If that cannot give some meaning to the next two weeks then I don’t know what can.
The contexts we bring to this year, of course, are profound. They go beyond the personal and into the public domain. By raising Lazarus, Jesus invites us to view death in a new light. The onset and progression of the Covid 19 virus presents us with similar issues. We have been told, unequivocally, by our Government, and by Health Service professionals, to prepare for more deaths as the epidemic continues. We are being prepared to face a changing world.
During this time, we will all face significant challenges. Our reading from St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, however, challenges us to separate our ordinary lives to live in the life of the spirit. On Tuesday morning this week, some newspapers announced that our “Freedom” to move about had been taken from us. Paul suggests, however, that the life of the spirit frees us to be God’s children. This is the spirit that the Government thought they had unleashed in their initial advice on voluntary social distancing and holding back on excessive stockpiling of food and household supplies. Paul encourages us that Christians live in the spirit that, for example, brings streets together through online networks and helping with deliveries to those in quarantine. Easter will be different this year for sure, but, as we prepare for it, we can come closer to God through Jesus’ Passion and his ascent into Eternal life.
Thoughts for Mothering Sunday (22 March) by Michael Riley
Now that we are all being encourgaed to spend more time at home, I thought it was time to sort through my bookshelves and find things I have never read properly. I found twenty-six books in my study, and a further seven in the spare bedroom. These include biographies (which I usually do not manage to finish), theological works and spiritual books (such as David Runcorn’s The Language of Tears), novels, history and travel writing (Dresden in 1945, and Paul Theroux’s latest book on Mexico). So, I have lots to catch up with and enjoy whilst I am at home more in these times of trial.
What I enjoy about a good writer is the way their work can immediately transfer us to another time or place or culture, and help us to see what the people in their stories are seeing. This was true with Charles Cumming’s latest novel about MI6, partly set in contemporary Morocco, in Ayse Kulin’s novel The Rose of Sarajevo, a love story set in the Balkan crisis, and in Justin Marozzi’s book about cities and their contribution to Islamic civilization. I’ve also read recently The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak, which beautifully engages with the mystical Sufi tradition of 13th century Islam, and a novel by Barbara Nadel, which explores family and culture, secrets and murder in present-day Istanbul. And having read a book about family and a funeral in Syria, I’m now reading The Beekeeper of Aleppo, a shocking tale of a couple who lose a child in the conflict, and eventually make their way to Turkey and then Britain. I think we learn from the tragic stories of recent times how to face the complexities of our world.
This is true with many of the stories in our Bible, including the one we have on Mothering Sunday; Jesus on the Cross talking to his mother and his friend John. (Gospel of John 19:25-27) We know that Mary stayed close on Good Friday, and there is a tradition that she met with Jesus, as we have it shown in St Paul’s Church, on the fourth of the Stations of the Cross. St John records Jesus later calling to Mary and his friend, asking John to care for her and she for him, and creating new bonds of family between them. Parents who have had to watch their children suffer and die know what this encounter will have been like: it contradicts the natural order of things. We think at this time of mothers whose children died in the years of dictatorship in Argentina, and more recently, in the senseless violence of Mexico and the Syrian conflict and in Yemen. All this scandalous suffering is embraced by God on Good Friday, when Jesus and his mother meet.
There is more information as well as resources for private worship and prayer on the Church of England website here: https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-churches
Volunteering is a vital part of what makes us who we are at St Paul's. Much ot the work we do is not directly connected to our Christian mission and we have many active volunteers who like to play their part in the local community, but who are not necessarily interested in coming along to church services! If that sounds like you, and you'd like to join a very friendly team, then please get in touch! You can do as much or as little as you feel able! As you can see below, whether it's working on the bar, manning a barbecue, helping out at the tea club or selling tickets; there will be something you can contribute! For any volunteering roles, please talk to:
Michael 020 8994 4387 firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some of our most regular volunteers, Jill, John, Jane and Jenny. John organises many of our musical events, and Jenny has organised the catering side of things for St Paul's for more years than she cares to remember!
Julian has put together many high profile fundraising events for the church. Here he is happily playing the stooge at one of our highly successful comedy nights!
We are so lucky to have West End Director Michael Reed as one of our most regular and longest serving volunteers on the musical side of things at St Paul's. Mike has written and directed many fabulous and memorable events at the church and also often plays the organ for us when we don't have a permanent organist!
We are immensely proud of Pat Davies, one of the longest standing members of our congregation. Pat (96) has recently been awarded the Légion d’Honneur, the highest French order of merit today for her work during the Second World War. Pat Davies was one of the 'Bletchley Girls', working at listening stations around the coast, eavesdropping on German naval radio transmissions and relaying the content to the code breakers at Bletchley Park. “It was interesting work – exciting and serious in equal measure. We didn’t know the significance of the messages we passed on, but we knew the work we were doing was important.” The French Ambassador said the award was given for "her "bravery and remarkable contributions to the liberation of our country. We are forever grateful for your commitment and sacrifices". Pat has also been granted The Freedom of the Borough by Hounslow Council. This is the highest honour that a council can bestow and the tradition is maintained as a means whereby public recognition is given to the recipients as an expression of the highest esteem in which they are held by the council and people of the borough.
Pat was interviewed recently on the Jeremy Vine Show, and you can watch that interview on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thejeremyvine/videos/254952088869063/
St Paul's Church is a vibrant part of the Grove Park community and as such is used for many different things! Have a look on the What We Do page to find the times of our church services . We also have regular concerts in the space which has wonderful acoustics and can easily seat around 300 people. As well as our organ, we have a superb grand piano in the church which can be booked for recitals. We have recently upgraded the lighting system in the church and our new multi-spot system has many different settings which can be adjusted to suit your needs. We also now have a high quality Bose sound system in place with speakers throughout the church. St Paul's is used for lunches, study groups, quiz nights, coffee mornings, school visits, community meetings and more! Please talk to our vicar email@example.com 020 8994 4387 if you would like to book the church for a concert or other event.
Our Community Hall
The St Paul's Community Hall (also known as the Isis rooms) adjoins the church and can be accessed through the church and also from two separate outside doors. (The upstairs Isis Rooms are currently rented by a local business.) The Community Hall has recently been fully decorated and is a lovely light bright space. The floor is wooden, and there are plenty of tables and chairs. There is a serving hatch through to the hall from the kitchen, which is well equipped with a sink, oven, hob and microwave.
The St Paul's Community Hall can be booked for any local group or meeting and the current programme really does have something for everyone, from yoga to life drawing plus lots of different excercise classes including Pilates. There is also a regular Tea Club - which is a drop-in event, and a good chance to get to know your neighbours and make some new friends!
If you are a local parent with small children then the Stay and Play groups may well be for you; they are the perfect way to meet other families in the area! These are friendly sessions for babies, crawlers, cruisers and pre-schoolers. No need to book, just come along! They are every Thursday from 9:30-11.30am. Contact Shelagh Allsop 07710 385839 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information There is a voluntary charge of £1 per session, per family. There's lots of fun to be had, inside and out as you can see in the pictures below!
The Community Hall is also available for booking for parties on Saturdays and Sunday afternoons and is a very popular venue for birthdays and other celebrations! It leads out into a private and completely enclosed garden which contains benches and some children's play equipment making it a superb venue for a fabulous family function!
If you would like to book the Community Hall or just to have a look round then please talk to Anusha on 07515 137483 or you can email her at email@example.com.
As well as the garden adjoining the Community Hall, we are very fortunate to have a large and lovely garden next to the church which is a rare thing in London! We often have our own parties in it and it provided a beautiful setting for the party to celebrate Meghan and Harry's wedding in 2018 as well as previously providing a gorgeous setting for a Jubilee supper, the Open Air performances by the St Michael's Players of A Misdummer Night's Dream and Salad Days and a summer ceilidh to mark the opening of the Olympics! There is room to pitch a marquee or gazebos, and it is an ideal place for a wedding breakfast. Do talk to Michael firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 8994 4387 if you are planning your big day at St Paul's and would like to include the garden in your festivities or would like to book it for any other occasion!
Rev'd Michael Riley
St Paul's Church
64 Grove Park Road
London W4 3SB
020 8994 4387
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