Bishop’s Banter 09/02/2018

I began this banter on my return to the vicarage after Thursday morning prayer, which is led each week by Jo Pope, a relatively new parishioner,  There may only be two, three or four of us, but it’s a precious 15 – 20 minutes. Anyway, as I rang the Angelus bell the two taxi drivers at the rank opposite who were chatting to each other paused, looked over, and both made the sign of the cross. I found it quietly moving. I gave them a wave which they happily returned.

Well, last Sunday was quite a Sunday, involving a lot of work and a lot of people!

 The Christmas season drew to its close with our celebration of Christ’s presentation in the temple. In my notices the previous week I had mentioned the old medieval tradition of folk bringing a penny for the priest on this feast who in return were given a candle. (The feast is also known as Candlemas because at it’s heart is Simeon’s description of Jesus as a ‘light to lighten the Gentiles’) In my sermon on Sunday I expressed my tongue in cheek disappointment that no one had brought me a penny! I spoke too soon, for lo and behold (and my generous benefactor will remain anonymous!) after mass I was presented with a 1951 penny! It was a happy celebration and great to see some new folk around. Keep bringing them! Remember, most people come to church for the first time, or return to church after a lapse, because someone invites them. At refreshments afterwards we sang a hearty happy birthday and gave three cheers to Monica Jacomb, aged 80, and as is fitting, had cake.

Sunday evening saw an interesting mix of folk fill the church for the Commemoration of Charles King and Martyr. It was a traditional Evensong from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The choir did marvellously well, and we owe a debt of gratitude to Kieran Crichton our organist, our regular choir members, and to those who came to join them for the occasion, not least Jordan Auld, the soloist in Mendelsson’s  ‘Hear my Prayer’. I’m a great lover of C.V.Stanford, the English composer of the Setting of the ‘Mag and Nunc’ as the two gospel canticles are affectionately known, so I especially enjoyed them. None of the music choices were easy options, and the choir put in a lot of work made a really good fist of them. ( by the way, where does that strange phrase come from?) Many thanks!

No one seemed to want to go home. By the time everyone had left, It was well and truly dark in the fountain garden, which by the way was looking great. (thanks to our gardeners!)  Thanks also to the chefs who made Coronation chicken, to Jenni Aldous for her, as usual, delectable deserts, to those who served the wine, and to those who washed up in the vicarage kitchen.

Anyone who wants to read my lecture you will soon be able to find an attachment to it on the parish website on the News and Events page. Secularism is a meaty and fairly slippery subject and I certainly don’t make any claim to originality of thought on the subject. But it’s not unimportant.

Sadly, I forgot to ask anybody to take any photos on Sunday so this week’s banter is somewhat lacking in that department.

On Wednesday the parish council met. A certain amount of its work is mundane, if necessary, but it’s always interesting when you’re talking about mission and growth! Wednesday we reflected on the preparing of our parish MISSION ACTION PLAN. The whole though of a MAP as they are known might sound exhausting, but in life there is good exhausting and there is huffing and puffing exhausting when tired though you are, you don’t seem to have got anywhere.  We are working on the former model! Watch this space…

And then there was a good crowd to witness the launch of Heather De Viell-Richter’s new book  ‘Girls are Pearls’ in the Bardin Centre on Thursday afternoon. Heather, herself Anglo-Indian writing under the name Heather Anne Bloom, tells the remarkable story that led her to becoming a champion for the cause of women and girls in India with both humility and enthusiasm. Before publication, Heather asked me to write the ‘blurb’ on the back cover and so it was my privilege to be the first person to read it. I was engrossed, and read it in one sitting!  If you want to know more about it, have a word with her at church, or her email is

Heather signs copies of her new book, and congregation member Judith Harbour is one of the first in the queue!
Heather signs copies of her new book, and congregation member Judith Harbour is one of the first in the queue!

And so to Lent!

I’ve attached a copy of the leaflet (there are also plenty in church) which outlines the opportunities to grow in your discipleship over the coming forty days, not least with the new season of Meet Up @ 5.  

Cecilia....a very friendly vicar’s warden heading up the ‘Forty Days...a parish reflects’ project
Cecilia….a very friendly vicar’s warden heading up the ‘Forty Days…a parish reflects’ project

If you were in church last Sunday morning you would have heard Cecilia Fairlie, one of our churchwardens introducing the ‘Forty Days…a parish reflects’ project. This is her initiative and its a great idea. She is inviting us all to make a contribution to a booklet of our personal Lenten experiences or reflections which will be produced in Eastertide. Cecilia tells me that she has had three very varied contributions already and it’s not even Ash Wednesday! At the Parish Council meeting last night I suggested that anyone attempting to fast over Lent might contribute before and after photos. Look what I lost in Lent!

Please think about making a contribution. Catch her at church to talk about it, or give her a call. 0401 859941.

There are three masses with ashes next Wednesday and that provision reflects the importance of beginning Lent as you mean to go on.

At each service there is the opportunity to be marked with the sign of the cross on your forehead with ash.