1st April 2012 Newsletter

Posted in Parish

St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 1st April 2012

Palm Sunday

I’m sure that many of us have pets of whom we’re fond and some of us may have worked with animals, everything from chickens to shire horses. Jesus was born in a stable among the animals there and no doubt grew up being very familiar with the animals around his home; later, sheep and goats, chickens and dogs were among many animals featured in the stories and parables that he told.

Today, we remember one particular animal which became an essential in the fulfilment of Biblical prophecy. Zechariah 9;9 speaks of ‘your king, coming triumphant and victorious, but humble and riding on a donkey’ and we are told that Jesus asked his disciples to go and find a donkey tied up with her colt beside her because he would ride into Jerusalem on her back(or the colt’s back, depending on which Gospel you read!)

I love G K Chesterton’s poem which celebrates that momentous occasion:

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

 With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me:
I am dumb,I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.


Some churches have a special collection to send to a donkey sanctuary on Palm Sunday or

we can perhaps make a prayer of thanks for the animals which are essential in our lives – Zipporah the Westie in my case!        



25th March 2012 Newsletter

Posted in Parish

St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 25th March 2012


It’s nearly over…

No – not That – even I am getting tired of talking about That – I mean Lent. Today is Passion Sunday, then we have Palm Sunday and then Easter itself. So our thoughts are, or should be, rising towards Easter.

I have been reading a book by Roy Strong on the “History of the English Country Church” and what comes across is how there used to be a strong rhythm to life: in farming, the seasons, the foods we ate, the things we did and in the worship of the Church’s year. We have lost a lot of this in our modern, global world. Only a few people farm now and, if we want strawberries, we can go to the supermarket and buy them at any time; we want a seaside holiday - we can fly off somewhere warm and sunny.

Some rhythms are left: the clocks changed today and the football season is getting to its climax: West Ham are, ahem, delicately poised. In the Church’s year we are heading to our climax of Easter but I admit I am struggling a bit to keep up. There is always a distraction; last year it was family illness, this year the busyness of the interregnum (That) and, next year, who knows?

The Lent course is a great help. At very least it is a focus to remind us of the fact of Lent but it actually does much more. But, by not making more of a conscious effort, at this time I think I miss out – must try harder!


18th March 2012 Newsletter

Posted in Parish

St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 18th March 2012

On this day, as we reflect on mothers & mothering
 I thought I should follow the poetic and lyrical tradition of our Parish in recent weeks.

Mothering Sunday

In the times before Bank Holidays
Farmer's boys and servant girls
Left the farm or big house early,
Going home for the day
On Mothering Sunday
Though home was miles away,
With flowers for their mother's present
Gathered as they went.

It's different these days:
All you have to do is stop
At the flower shop
With the pocket money you've saved
And the daffodils there
Came by train or even by plane;
But the present still means the same
For the language of flowers doesn't change.  

  (By Stanley Cook)

And just in case we forget those mothering grandmas and aunties or
fathers and grandfathers richer endowed with mothering skill......... read on:

And Grandma's Too

"While we honor all our mothers
with words of love and praise.
While we tell about their goodness
and their kind and loving ways.
We should also think of Grandma,
she's a mother too, you see....
For she mothered my dear mother
as my mother mothers me."        

   (Author Unknown)


                        Have a blessed Mothering Sunday.           Fr Fred

11th March 2012 Newsletter

Posted in Parish

St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 11th March 2012

Trees and Lent

This Lent, Ann and myself have been reading Janet Morley’s book ‘the heart’s time’.

It is a lovely book of poems for each day of our Lenten journey.

A few days ago I enjoyed this poem by Jean Watt


Lent is a tree without blossom, without leaf

Barer than blackthorn in its winter sleep

All unadorned.  Unlike Christmas which decrees

The setting-up, the dressing-up of trees,

Lent is a taking down, a stripping bare,

A starkness after all has been withdrawn

Of surplus and superfluous,

Leaving no hiding-place, only an emptiness

Between black branches, a most precious space

Before the leaf, before the time of flowers;

Lest we should see only the leaf, the flower,

Less we should miss the stars.


At present, the Royal Academy is holding the exhibition of David Hockney paintings titled “A Bigger Picture”. Many of the paintings are on vast canvases on which David Hockney has painted, from the same perspective, trees throughout the seasons of the year.

Jean Watt and David Hockney have in their different ways been on my mind as we have started this Lent. The stripping down of our lives is essential so that the summer foliage does not obliterate the stars from our view.  Lent is a time for looking beyond ourselves to God.

                                        A seasonal trim of our priorities.               


4th March 2012 Newsletter

Posted in Parish

St Mary Magdalene †      St Bartholomew †    St Alban †


Sunday 4th March 2012

                                                                                                      Take up Thy Cross

We have managed to journey through first week in Lent. We began Lent with pleasing the Father who sees in secret, followed by the story of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness. This week our Lenten journey takes on another level, we have before us in our gospel reading an invitation ‘to take up the Cross and follow’.   For Christ the Cross meant humiliation before his family, friends and foes.   He warned his disciples that he will suffer and be killed that this self sacrifice was necessary for all. We each have to take up our crosses daily, accept our sufferings and follow Him. God understands our sufferings, He has already been there. He meets us in them and teaches us new ways via the Cross towards our spiritual ‘ascent’.

Take up thy cross, the Saviour said,
If thou wouldst My disciple be;
Deny thyself, the world forsake,
And humbly follow after Me.

Take up thy cross; let not its weight
Fill thy weak soul with vain alarm;
His strength shall bear thy spirit up,
And brace thy heart, and nerve thine arm.

Take up thy cross, nor heed the shame,
Nor let thy foolish pride rebel;
The Lord for thee the cross endured
To save thy soul from death and hell.

Take up thy cross, then, in His strength,
And calmly every danger brave;
'Twill guide thee to a better home,
And lead to victory o'er the grave.

Take up thy cross, and follow Christ,
Nor think till death to lay it down;
For only those who bear the cross
May hope to wear the glorious crown.

                                  By Charles William Everest.         Frances