We are the Parish Church of Rush Green, Romford in the Catholic Tradition of the Church of England. Vicar: Father Martin Howse SSC. Hon. Assistant Curate: Father Mervyn Jennings SSC Sunday: Parish Mass 10.00 a.m.
This is always a well supported service but we anticipated that there would be more present this year and there most certainly were. During the last few weeks we have shown many of the children from our local school around the church. And we have demonstrated and explained how a Christingle is made, and why.
Extra chairs were bought into church to accommodate the many children. parents and grandparents who came. One of the readings was by The Head of our local school. In his homily Father Martin had a brother and a sister from one of the families come to help him. The boy looked the oldest as his sister was quite small but it turned out she was the oldest. Father talked to them, and to us all about the importance of sharing and how The Children’s Society through it’s work shared resources with deprived children. The Christingles were handed out and lit and with the church in darkness except for the Christingles we sang “Once in Royal David’s City” Father Mervyn played the organ for the service.
A record congregation celebrated Our Lord’s Birthday at this tremendous act of worship when we offered the sacrifice of the Solemn Mass of the Lord’s Nativity. Clouds of incense preceded the Procession of servers and clergy, bearing the Bambino to the Altar ready to be placed in the Crib at the end of Mass. Father Martin was the principle celebrant and Father Mervyn concelebrated and preached. In his homily, Father Mervyn drew our attention to the role played by the Innkeeper at Bethlehem who, in a single act of kindness and generosity, made his own family's accommodation available to Our Lady so that she could have some privacy at the birth of Jesus. That act had been remembered for over two thousand years. In the course of our lives we might be presented with an opportunity to do something, some act of kindness, and it could be, that it too might have similar ramifications. The welcome we give to the stranger could be the welcome we give to the Lord himself “inasmuch as you did it to the least of my brethren, you did it unto me”.
At the end of the service, as we sang the last verse of Adeste Fideles “Yea Lord we greet Thee” the Bambino was taken and placed in the Crib which was blessed by prayer, Holy Water and incense. After the Solemn Blessing we processed to the Sacristy and then we went to the Parish Hall for Sherry and Mince Pies.
MASS OF THE DAY
Once again at this Mass we had a record attendance and a record making their Communion and again the church was filled with clouds of incense. Father Mervyn was the principle celebrant and Father Martin concelebrated and preached.
Many thanks to all those who made Christmas so special: the Choir and our Organist & Choirmaster Jon, Ray and his team of Servers, the Readers and Ministers of the Blessed Sacrament, those who arranged the flowers, decorated the Church and the Christmas Tree, those who cleaned the Church, those who put out chairs and put them away afterwards; in fact, many thanks to everybody who made the Celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord such a wonderful occasion at St Augustine’s 2011.
Today a packed congregati0n welcomed the Bishop of Chelmsford as our preacher at the Parish Mass which Father Martin celebrated whilst Father Mervyn concelebrated and read the Gospel. Pamela led as in our Intercessions. In a great sermon Bishop Stephen preached on the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell, and Eternal Life. He pronounced the Absolution after the Confession and gave his Blessing at the end of Mass. He joined us afterwards in the hall where we celebrated several birthdays: Libby, Mary, Matthew and Father Martin. We sang them a “Happy Birthday as Father Martin cut the special Birthday Cake which had been made and iced by Ann.
Yesterday’s Saturday Shop took an incredible £281. It is now closed until after Christmas
PUT IN YOUR DIARIES.
Saturday 31st December New Year’s Eve do in the Hall
Saturday 21st January Burns Night - interested? Let us know.
Saturday 11th February Quiz Night
Saturday 21st April St. George’s Day dinner
Saturday 5th May May Fair
June (about 2/3/4/5th) Royal Anniversary Event—to be arranged
Saturday 7th July Oh no! Not the Olympics—alternative event
Saturday 17th November Winter Bazaar
Every year the PCC at its November meeting decides which charities should get the benefit of the “Tea Money”. This is the money that you donate for your tea and coffee and biscuits on a Sunday morning after church. Over the year it adds up to about £500 and it was decided some while ago that this should be our Christmas charity giving.
In addition we also have the Christingle and other money collected for the Children’s Society plus we support the USPG and Christian Aid.
And, in addition to all that we support a variety of other charities with a free stall at the Saturday Shop where they take away what they raise. During the last year we have helped Pussycat Lodge, Barking & Dagenham Community Choir, Rainbow Trust, Red Cross and many others.
Anyway, the “Tea Money” this year has gone to Community Links, Essex Air Ambulance, Essex Clergy Charity, St. Mungo’s and Richard House. They get £100 each which may not seem much but, if all the churches in the area did what we do then it would start to make a difference.
One of the themes that we are returning to on a regular basis during the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany seasons is the need to maintain our relationship with God by praying on a regular basis. Whether that is with a short prayer of thanksgiving for food before eating (a grace) or a longer prayer, perhaps before bed, at the end of the day or most especially before the start of a service, whatever the reason may be the importance of maintaining a regular prayer life is the same.
Prayer is a means of opening oneself up to God and maintaining your relationship with Him, both by laying before Him those things that have disturbed you since last you prayed and also of being open to listening to God’s plans for you. As such the importance of a period of silent reflection or of just being still cannot be stressed to highly. The long darker nights of this time of year make it an ideal time to just spend a few minutes in a quiet, darkened or dimly lit, room perhaps even lit by a candle as a reminder of the light of Christ before you collect your thoughts in prayer.
For those of you who are adults a time of prayer, reflection and quiet in church, instead of chatting to or disturbing others unnecessarily before the service begins allows you to be properly prepared to receive the Lord into your heart and mind. It gives you and those around you the opportunity to focus on the real reason for being in church and will doubtless make the social time after the service that much more enjoyable as you should by then be at peace with God.
I have frequently heard it said that ‘I do not know what to pray’. My answer, as always, is ‘if all else fails you then pray the Lord’s Prayer’, therein is everything that a prayer should have. For it contains - Praise of God and submission to his mighty will and power; Prayer for others and a willingness to forgive and to be forgiven by those whom you have offended and by those who have offended you; and lastly prayer for oneself and for God to protect you.
When praying at home it is not a bad idea to have a pen and paper with you, so that if the troubles and cares of daily life intrude you can note them down and not be distracted by trying to remember something until you have finished your prayers, this is especially useful if you have been doing a shopping list earlier in the day!. In church, as I said at the Feast of Christ the King, there are prayers for use both before and after the service printed in the front and back covers of our red service booklets, these are in no way meant to be exhaustive but are a good basis for proper preparation and thanksgiving at the Mass.
Some people are of the opinion that their prayers, especially those at the end of the day should cover everything that they have done that day, a noble thought in one respect though not always practical and frequently distracting as you spend more time thinking about the minute detail rather than actually praying. Additionally there is the great danger of winding up with, what I refer to as a ‘Shopping List’ of prayers; a list that is so long and detailed as to then have little real value.
It is important to remember that God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent and that as such He sees all things hears all things and knows all things thus, it is sufficient, once you have prayed for the truly important things that have affected your relationship with God to conclude with words along the lines of ‘and for the needs of all your people and of your world’.
The seasons of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany are ones that are frequently very hectic and stressful for all of us Firstly as we rush around buying presents and food to share with friends and family. Secondly as we worry over whether we have brought the right thing and over whether there is enough food or that it will not all be ready on time. Thirdly as the bills start to arrive for the things we put on ‘the plastic’, and we wonder how we will ever pay for it all. Fourthly we fret about whether we still have the receipts for the things they hated and will the shop give us our money back or stick us with a credit note we’ll never, ever use! All these things and a great many more keep us from maintaining our relationship with God and indeed lead us into a secular lifestyle without us even realising it..
In an effort to reduce at least some of your stress and to help you in your prayers I have copied below some of the prayers that we use either in church or in the Vicarage during this season, some are taken from the Book of Common Prayer, some from Common Worship© (and themselves appear on our pew sheets) and others are ones I have gathered from various sources over the years, especially from the Northumbrian Community.
A Prayer for Advent
God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever.
God in Trinity, eternal unity of perfect love: gather the nations to be one family, and draw us into your holy life through the birth of Emmanuel, our Lord Jesus Christ.
A grace for your Christmas Dinner
Bless, O Lord, this food we are about to eat, and we pray you, O God that it may be good for our body and soul, and if there is any poor creature hungry or thirsty walking the road may God send them in to us so that we can share the food with them, just as Christ shares His gifts with all of us.
A Prayer for the New Year
This day is a new day that has never been before. This year is a new year the opening door. Enter, Lord Christ we have joy in your coming. You have given us life and we welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face you, I lift up my eyes, be blessing my face, Lord, be blessing my eyes. May all my eyes look on be blessed and bright.
My neighbours, my loved ones be blessed in Your sight.
You have given us life and we welcome Your coming. Be with us, Lord we have joy, we have joy. This year is a new year the opening door. Be with us, Lord we have joy, we have joy
A Prayer for Epiphany
Creator of the heavens, who led the Magi by a star to worship the Christ-child: guide and sustain us, that we may find our journey's end in Jesus Christ our Lord.
A Celtic Blessing
May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be ever at your back.
May the sunshine warm upon your face, And the rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again. May God hold you, May God hold you Ever in the palm of his hand.
My prayer for all of you during the coming season is that God will remain firmly in the centre of your lives and that you will have a very Happy, Holy and wonderful Christ Mass followed by a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year. And I as I pray for all of you on a daily basis, may you find time in your lives to pray for all of us in the Vicarage.
We do not know what interesting and challenging things will come our way in 2012 but with God’s grace we will face them together in love, unity and prayer.
God Bless you all
Fr. Martin, Jan and family
© Common Worship material is copyright to the Archbishop’s Council
Today Father Martin presided and Father Mervyn preached and concelebrated. He took as his text the opening words of today’s Gospel: "There was a man named John, sent by God to give testimony to the Light." John the Baptist was sent by God; the word in the original Greek is apostolein translates as apostle. To give testimony, the word in the original Greek is marturios, martyr. John the Baptist is both an apostle and a martyr. We too are called to bear witness to the true light of the world, just as St. John the Baptist and like him, we may be called to become martyrs. At this time of year with all the baloney which is going on, with those who wish to remove Christ from Christmas and rename it the Winter Festival, with those who want to change the name of Christmas Tree to Holiday Tree we need people prepared to witness to the true light of the world, Jesus born at Christmas. People who in this day and age are Apostles.
Yesterday’s Saturday Shop took £263 – many thanks to all those who helped.
At a well attended Parish Mass today Father Mervyn presided and Father Martin preached and concelebrated. Ann led us in our Intercessions. In his sermon Father Martin commented on those who want to celebrate Christmas before it actually comes. He pointed out that Tuesday is the Feast of St. Nicholas which many people on the continent keep as the day for exchanging presents. In that way they don’t have the hype/commercialism which surrounds Christmas in the UK. He also mentioned the customs in Spain and amongst the Orthodox which allowed the great Solemnity of Christmas to be properly celebrated unencumbered by the secularisation prevalent in the UK.
Yesterdays Saturday Shop took a staggering £280.
SATURDAY 17th DECEMBER
2.00 p.m. CAROL SINGING AT QUEEN’S HOSPITAL. Meet at the piano in the main Entrance area.
4.30 p.m. Baptism of Matt and Michael, brothers of Vera and twin sons of Michael and Uzoma. All welcome – please come and support them.
O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness we are grievously hindered in running the race that is set before us, your bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, to whom with you, and the Holy Spirit be honour and glory, now and for ever. AMEN
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. AMEN