Sunday, 25 November 2012


imageL1C_dd183Today at the Solemn Parish Mass we celebrated Christ the King. Father Martin presided and Father Mervyn concelebrated, read the Gospel and preached. Ann led us in our Intercessions

In his sermon, Father Mervyn reminded us that this year we have enjoyed several Royal celebrations: the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Royalty was an institution which fascinated many people with the lovely palaces, the beautiful clothes, the expensive cars etc. With our royalty, the Queen and her family had given  a life time of service to our country. He compared that to the coronation of  Bokassa president in the very poor country of the Central African Republic. Father Mervyn outlined the lavish expenditure that Bokassa had authorised. In the Old Testament Kings were compared to Shepherds who cared for their sheep even willing to lay down their own lives to protect them. In Jesus, our King and our Good Shepherd, he laid down his life for us, his crown was of thorns his throne a cross. He concluded the sermon by saying that  today gives us the chance to offer Jesus our praise and worship, our love and our fidelity as the true King of the world; to join with the angelic throng and say " Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing - the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.”

During the Communion the Choir sang a setting of Psalm 23 by Paul Inwood.


Last week as we had the Bazaar there was no Saturday Shop but we sold the waste clothes for £194.70

The restored Lady Chapel Altar has now been returned and very splendid it is, too. The gifted artist who undertook this restoration has achieved a really remarkable result. So far we have raised £1,829.95 towards the cost of £3,300. If you would like to make a donation, perhaps in memoriam or as a thanksgiving for blessings received, please see Father Martin.

Sunday, 18 November 2012


Today Father Mervyn presided and Father Martin concelebrated and preached at the Parish Mass. Joan, our Lay Reader, led us in prayer. In his sermon Father Martin said how appropriate the Gospel was, in the light of the events in Israel and Gaza. He related how he and Father Mervyn had prayed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem earlier this year and how we hoped to do so again next year during our Parish Pilgrimage.  The Temple had been destroyed by the Romans and only the Western Wall now remained. Father referred to the prophecies in the Old Testament which had foreshadowed the destruction of the Temple.

We gave thanks during the Mass for the magnificent result  of the Winter Bazaar yesterday and, during the notices Father Martin thanked everybody who had helped, in any way. He particularly thanked Geoff and Kathy who had organised the event.

Saturday, 17 November 2012


Today we held our Winter Bazaar which opened to the public at 10.00 a.m. The theme for the Bazaar was the Olympic Games. We were really packed until mid-day when the crowds subsided a little. The hot sausage sandwiches, the bacon sandwiches, the hot sausage rolls and mince pies kept the folk in the kitchen busy all morning. We were joined by our Member of Parliament Andrew Rosindell for part of the morning. Below are some pictures of the preparations on Friday Evening and at the Bazaar today.




























Tuesday, 13 November 2012


When does the year start and finish?

On the face of it this is a very easy question, however if the words ‘the Church year that is’ are added things become somewhat more complicated. Ask the question in school and the more alert children begin to realise that it could well be a trick question. Thus, some will venture that it is still January 1st to December 31st, others may well suggest that it is Christmas Day to Christmas Eve and some will try for Easter Day to Good Friday (strange how they always manage to loose the Saturday in between).

The one answer that I never get though, unless there is a church going child in the room, is Advent 1 through to the Saturday after the Feast of Christ the King. In itself this choice of dates does seem somewhat strange, after all Jesus was born and grew up under the old covenant and therefore it might be reasonable to have assumed that we might have followed the Jewish date for the New Year. This would have meant that the New Year would have been in late September or Early October each year, depending on the phases of the moon in exactly the same way as we have a 28 day period in March / April for the date of Easter (Passover).

Why then did we end up with Advent 1, which itself varies between late November and early December? As we know the early Church in England was keen to replace the pagan celebrations held around Saturnalia. Celebrations that were meant to try and encourage the return of the Sun, which, of course, in mid winter shone for its least amount each day. So successful were our ancient Christian brethren that they exported this new date for Christmas back out into the rest of the then known world.

A small problem here though is that over the centuries we have changed the length of the year and by default the exact timing of Christmas. December 25th was not fixed until sometime around the 1730’s (N.B. Opinions amongst scholars are divided over the exact time that the date was fixed).

If then the Feast of Christmas was fixed how did we create the season of Advent and indeed who decided it was going to last for least 4 weeks and the days between the fourth Sunday and Christmas Day itself? That there should be a period of preparation before such as great feast seems logical after all Easter is preceded by Lent which lasts for 40 days, excluding the Sundays, and which takes its precedence from scripture.

Advent has no such scriptural basis and indeed is not kept in the same way in the Eastern Church where the period leading up to Christmas is known as the Nativity Fast.

As best as I can ascertain from the numerous different theories that seem to have been put forward the idea of the early church was to have a period of at least 20 days excluding the Sundays and other major Feast Days that might occur prior to Christmas. Why 20 days? Probably because Christmas is the 2nd most important feast and therefore in order to show its status and to distinguish it from the most important feast of Easter it was accredited half the fast period of that major feast; How true this is I do not know, but at least it is a plausible answer.

Certainly the idea of Advent stemmed from our ancient Roman Catholic roots and although the Eastern Church has a different name and duration, it nonetheless came from this same origin. Henry VIII kept the tradition when he split from Rome, as did the Lutheran Church and after its formation the Methodist Church, other Christian traditions have subsequently fallen in with the idea.

If there is an anomaly it is actually with the feast of Christ The King, which has only been fully recognised in the Church of England since the millennium, yes I really do mean only 11 years ago. In the Roman Catholic Church the feast has only been recognised since the Second Vatican Council, held in the early 1960’s. Prior to this time there really was no celebration of the end of the Church year merely a recognition within the scriptural readings at services that Christ sat at God’s right hand in the Kingdom and that he ruled in His name.

Within the Church of England where for some 450 years the Book of Common Prayer held sway the Sunday before Advent 1 was always know as Stir up Sunday because the collect for the day began with those words. (Known to many choir boys and girls as Christmas Pudding Sunday!)


Barking & Dagenham Adult College Choir

Saturday 15th December (It sounds a long way away but it isn’t really)

The Choir will sing their Christmas Concert in Church that evening and light refreshments will be available.

More details nearer the time but something for the diary. Still awaiting details. Watch the pew sheets.

Sunday, 11 November 2012


Today we started the Mass 15 minutes earlier than normal so that we could be at the Calvary in the Church Grounds for the 2 minutes silence, the Last Post and the National Anthem at 11.00 a.m. Father Martin was the celebrant and preached at the Solemn Requiem Mass and Father Mervyn was the celebrant at St. Alban’s, Romford.

Yesterday’s Saturday Shop took £103


TUESDAY 7.00 p.m. Mass according to the Book of Common Prayer followed by a Meeting of the PCC at 7.45 p.m.


Saturday, 10 November 2012


Father Martin writes:-

Christmas will soon be upon us and our thoughts are probably already turning to presents and food. Now those of us of a certain age will remember that as children we nearly always received each year a large, rectangular box that was about one and a half inches deep. The lid of this box would contain pictures of the many different board games that were contained within the box; yes I’m talking about that former great staple of Aunties and Uncles, a ‘compendium of Games’. There would always be Snakes and Ladders, Draughts (or Checkers for the Americans) and Ludo. Posh sets might even have contained Backgammon or Chess which I always thought were meant for adults if only because they might understand the rules.

One of the great things about such board games is that families used to come together to sit around the table and play them, this encouraged social interaction and an understanding of the importance of playing by the rules, things that are vital in helping younger people to grow and develop into well rounded adults.

Of all the games that I both enjoyed and at times came to loathe was Ludo. In the late 1960’s an American company, now a part of the Hasbro group of companies, took this simple board game and completely overhauled it by encasing it in plastic and placing in the middle of the game board a plastic bubble encasing a dice on a piece of spring steel. Yes the Pop-O-Matic dice shaker with its characteristic popping noise was born. That noise would come to drive any non players in a room where the game was being played totally bonkers as would looking for the oil barrel shaped playing pieces which always managed to escape from the box between games.

There were no new rules and as a game it was marketed and sold separately from any other game, it was a brilliant bit of marketing that made the company a lot of money for virtually no development work and cost. So popular was this game that original sets, still in their boxes, fetch very high prices at toy auctions and the latest production of the game is still on sale (Amazon UK £13.14 +P&P). For those of you who have not already worked it out the game was and is sold in the UK under the trade name of ‘Frustration’. An appropriate name if just as you were about to complete the game you were caught and had to start again with that particular piece. I wonder how many tantrums have taken place across the years or pieces have been thrown across the room.

I have come to thinking about this game as I try to resolve the situation of replacing our failed hall boiler. This has been an incredibly frustrating process that has seemed to be one step forward and two steps back. A step forward was placing the order for the new boiler, two steps back was that the new boiler was not delivered on time and that when it was delivered the removal of the old boiler was held up by the problems of finding asbestos. Such were the problems (and as I write this they are ongoing) that in all truth it felt like walking through treacle and yes it did make me scream and I certainly offered up a lot of prayers.

The ultimate piece of frustrating news must surely have been that after a 14 hour day installing the new boiler the two engineers discovered that the cowl which is meant to go on the outside wall and duct away any fumes was in fact not in the box that it should have been in. So everything ready to go, but stopped for the want of a piece of shaped metal, or at least that’s how I see it. Doubtless it is a bit more complicated than that since in reality things are seldom as simple as what they seem.

Life in general is full of frustrating little things, or so it seems to me, from the childproof medicine bottle caps that only a child can ever open to those apparently endless miles of traffic cones on the motorway, which when you finally reach the road works they are protecting have no one working at them. Now I cannot condone so called ‘road rage’ but after half an hour of stop start traffic for no apparent good reason I can certainly begin to understand it.

The Christian life is, of course, equally prone to its own frustrating events, indeed the bible gives us examples of events that challenged even Jesus himself as can clearly be seen from the accounts of Jesus agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. As we try to prepare ourselves spiritually to once again welcome him amongst us and at the same time prepare ourselves for the secular side of Christmas, we find that we are torn by these conflicting demands.

These conflicting interests often create a great deal of frustration and frequently raised voices. Jesus himself cried out to his father as he wrestled with the conflicting demands of his earthly and heavenly roles, but it is he himself who shows us how we ought to react, when he utters those words ‘thy will not mine be done’.

There can be no denying on my part that the whole process of replacing the hall boiler has at times led me to want to scream and bang my head against the wall. The needs of dealing with the various engineers (They really have tried very hard to get the job done, but have equally been frustrated by various problems.) and hall users did often disrupt my prayer life which in itself distressed me further. In such a frame of mind it is frequently hard to pray as I ought however, at such times I follow Jesus own advice to his disciples by saying that prayer which he taught them. This then is my recommendation to all of you when you find yourselves torn between conflicting interests this Christmas and indeed at any time. If you say no other prayer, then pray The Lord’s Prayer.

May God grant you every blessing

Fr. Martin.

Monday, 5 November 2012



The REQUIEM MASS followed by Two Minutes Silence in the Garden of Remembrance will start at 9.45 a.m. next Sunday.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

31st Week in Ordinary Time kept as ALL SAINTS

Today Father Martin presided at Thorpe le Soken so Father Mervyn was the Celebrant and preacher at the Parish Mass. The atrocious weather in the half an hour immediately before Mass probably prevented some from coming today but we still had quite a full church. In his sermon Father Mervyn posed the questions “why do we need the All Saints Solemnity when we have so many saints already.” As he pointed out the calendar is full of saints we commemorate throughout the year so why did we need another celebration. Father Mervyn said that whilst we knew about many famous saints there thousands of others who we didn’t know but who, never-the-less, had, at death, been admitted to the closer presence of God. They were  "a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands" (Rev 7:9). All the saints we celebrate today walked the hard and narrow path of the Beatitudes to arrive at the heavenly kingdom. To become a Saint was something we should all aim for and we had the Beatitudes which had been the guides for the saints as our guidelines for achieving this.

At the end of the service Father Mervyn, on behalf of Father Martin and himself presented to Monte and Claudette a card signed by the congregation wishing them every blessing when they move to their new home several miles away on Thursday.

Despite the fact that the heating has broken down in the hall and we are waiting for the boiler to be replaced yesterday’s Saturday Shop produced a very creditable £123