The image above is a painting dated 1504 by Raphael (1483-1520). It is part of the Museo del Prado collection Creative Commons CC0 License
Thank you all so very much for the amazing support that you have shown to us and to our health and social care partners during 2020.
The challenges we have faced as a community have been huge and we cannot underestimate the impact that Coronavirus (Covid-19) has had and will continue to have.
Whether you have lost a loved one, worked on the frontline throughout or been shielding at home – we have all experienced the anxiety and strain of the pandemic.
We have found a way through
Yet our community has been so strong in the face of Covid-19. Together we have found a way through – we have led the way with the first Covid-19 App, kept cases low on the Island and protected the most vulnerable among us.
The Christmas we all wanted to see has ebbed away as the new variant took hold and we are faced with tougher Tier 3 restrictions from Boxing Day.
Cases locally are rising and we know from earlier in the pandemic that it is only a matter of time before we see an increase in admissions to hospital. This of course all coincides with the pressures of winter.
The key to our response so far has been the support of our community and partners and the dedication of our staff.
You stood on doorsteps in your thousands and clapped for the NHS and key workers, you donated food, gifts and money to our charity and crucially you have diligently followed the Government guidance.
Dig deep and go again
We ask you now to dig deep and go again. We need you to help us continue to fight against this virus. What we need from you now is not clapping or donations. What we need is for you to act as though you and the people you might meet have COVID-19.
Wash your hands, cover your face and keep your distance from people.
The thousands of people that make up Isle of Wight NHS Trust, our staff and volunteers, will be here for you if you need us. Our teams are working flat out, as they have throughout the pandemic, to provide safe and compassionate care. To deal with the impact of the coming surge in COVID-19 cases and winter pressures we really need your help.
Follow the guidance
Please follow the Tier 3 guidance to the letter and keep yourself, your loved ones and our community safe. Ask your friends and family to do the same because we all have a part to play. We should all maintain good hand hygiene, wear face coverings and practice social distancing.
You can also help by making sure that you are accessing the right services. You should call NHS 111 first before coming to the hospital and they will help you get the right support, whether that’s from your local pharmacist, GP, our Urgent Treatment Centre or A&E. If it is a life-threatening emergency please call 999.
Social contact is driving the spread of the virus
We know how very difficult these new restrictions will be for us all but there is clear evidence that social contact, particularly in people’s homes, is driving the spread of the virus.
There is significant risk for our community if people start mixing freely over the coming days. I urge you all to have a careful Christmas.
Sadly this disease is proving devastatingly consistent. More social contact leads to rising cases, which leads to more hospital admissions and tragically, more people dying. We should take this very seriously but we should not give up hope.
By working together and supporting one another we will get through this. With the start of a mass vaccination programme we can see a way out of the restrictions that have so impacted our lives.
I am proud to be part of this Trust and part of this community and I know that we will rise to the challenges ahead of us.
Have a safe and happy Christmas, Maggie Oldham, Chief Executive
You will, I’m sure, be very aware of the rising numbers of Covid infections on the island. With the new variant being so much more infectious, this places our congregations, most of whom are in what is deemed to be the “vulnerable” group of the population, at a greater risk of infection.
Although our teams at both churches have done a great job with hygiene and distancing measures, this worrying increase in numbers of infections means we have to look again at the local circumstances, in order to keep people safe.
The Bishop sent an email to all serving clergy yesterday, to offer guidance during these challenging times. +Christopher urged clergy to consult with their churchwardens to make local judgements about service provision because, as he says, “what may be permitted according to Government guidelines, may not actually be advisable”.
In light of all this, I have consulted with Dennis and Alan Swanborough and we have agreed that our Christmas Day mass will need to be the last public act of worship at All Saints’ for the time being, until we can see the number of infections on the island starting to fall again.
This is, of course, very disappointing news for everyone. It has been so lovely to be able to gather together for worship again but, if it serves to keep people safe, it will be worth the sacrifice. Hopefully, as the vaccine is rolled out to increasing numbers of people, it won’t be too long before we will be able to gather again.
Dennis has kindly offered to open All Saints’ daily from Tuesday 29th, so people can go in and pray privately, and resources will continue to be put on the website, so do please have a look.
I will, of course, keep in close touch with churchwardens and will let you know as soon as possible when we can resume our services.
With my love and prayers,
Naming of JesusNaming-of-Jesus-2020
The image above is a tapestry dated between 1500 and 1520. It is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection Creative Commons CC0 License
As Christmas will fall on Friday of next week, may I take this opportunity to wish you as merry a Christmas as is possible, given the circumstances!
Mass on Christmas Day will be at All Saints’ at 11.00, with Fr Alan Swanborough preaching and me deaconing.
On Sunday 27th December, Fr Alan has, again, kindly agreed to say mass and preach at All Saints at 11.00. Unfortunately, I cannot be with him that morning, as I am needed in my other churches.
Alan Philpott and Paul have been doing a great job preparing prayer resources for people at St Alban’s to use on Sundays when, sadly, it has not been possible to have a service. It has, unfortunately, not been possible to have any Christmas services there this year.
I will be taking some time off in the week immediately after Christmas. Needless to say, we will be staying on the island! If any emergencies crop up during that week, please do still feel free to contact me.
The first masses of the New Year will be on January 10th, the Baptism of Christ, with Fr Gregory at St Alban’s at 9.30 and All Saints’ at 11.00. I hope to be with him that morning, but it rather depends on what arrangements we’ve been able to put in place at my other churches.
I pray that, whatever arrangements you make for Christmas and New Year, you stay safe, well and have a blessed and peaceful time.
With my love and prayers,
The image above is a painting dated 1667 by Adriaen van de Velde (1636–1672). It is currently in the Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder collection Creative Commons CC0 License
This Sunday, the 3rd in Advent is also called Gaudete Sunday. The term comes from the Latin opening words of the introit antiphon, “Rejoice (Gaudete) in the Lord always.”
The theme of the day expresses the joy of anticipation at the approach of the Christmas celebration, and reflects a lightening of the tone of the traditional Advent observance. This is why the celebrant of the Mass and the deacon wear rose-coloured vestments (rose, not pink!) on this day, instead of the deeper violet vestments that were typically used in Advent. It is also reflected by the practice of including a pink or rose-coloured candle among the four candles of an Advent wreath.
It will be good to have Fr Gregory Clifton-Smith presiding and preaching in both churches this Sunday, and at All Saints’ he will be wearing the rose chasuble which Fr John bought two years ago. Fr Gregory tells me he’s never worn rose vestments before!
With news of the vaccine starting to be rolled out, plus the fact that Covid numbers on the island are the lowest in the country we can, I think, cautiously start to rejoice that the beginning of the end is starting to come into sight.
Although this has been a very tough year, rejoicing is actually part of what it means to be a Christian. The reason Christians can rejoice, even in times of great anxiety and suffering; even when we “walk in the valley of darkness” (Psalm 23:4), is because of the faith, hope and love which has been revealed and given to us in Jesus Christ, the light of the world.
Being a Christian doesn’t offer us a kind of “celestial insurance policy”, but our faith does teach us that we can face trials, calamities and personal suffering, not in our own strength, but through the power which comes from our faith in Jesus Christ.
I found this to be very true when I was chaplain in the hospice, and I’ve no doubt told you before that I couldn’t have done my job there if I didn’t believe that God is with us in our sufferings, and that there’s more to life than this life.
As the writer of Romans says, “I believe that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from Christ Jesus our Lord”. (Roms 8: 38,39)
With my love and prayers,
Lovely to be able to give the rose vestments another airing this morning to celebrate Gaudete Sunday!
A Reflection – sermon by Fr Gregory Clifton-Smith3rd-Sunday-in-Advent-Reflection
By the time you read this, we will be out of lockdown number 2 and churches will be permitted to have public worship once again! I am happy to say that our next services at St Alban’s and All Saints’ will be on Sunday December 13th; and we are fortunate that Fr Gregory Clifton Smith will be with us to preside and preach at St Alban’s at 9.30 and at All Saints’ at 11.00.
Next Wednesday, December 8th, the Church of England commemorates the lesser festival of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary or, as the Roman Church calls it, The Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
This doctrine was declared by the Pope in 1845, saying that Dec 8th should be kept to mark that the Blessed Virgin Mary was “from the first moment of her conception….preserved free from all stain of original sin”; that is to say, she was human like us, but was free from the state of separation from God (otherwise known as Original sin) which we are all in, as a consequence of the Fall.
Although this Doctrine was formulated by the Roman Church, it is important to remember that Mary is an important feature of the universal catholic Christian faith because of her humanity and her proximity to the divine.
She is rightly honoured by the Universal Church but not worshipped; asked for her prayers, but not prayed to; and recognised as having a special relationship with Christ, but never taking his place.
Her role is always to point away from herself and to direct us to her Son. It is worth noting that in our statues of Our Lady of Walsingham in our churches it is not Mary alone that we see, but Mary presenting her Son to us.
It is therefore not a perversity of Catholicism or Anglo-catholicism that we rightly honour Mary as the first follower of Christ. Indeed, both Luther and Calvin held very high Marian doctrines, and the Ave Maria continued to be said in Geneva even whilst the icons were being destroyed.
We need therefore to be attentive on that grace, and to wait in hope and prayer, as we see the model set before us in Our Lady Mary, as she points to her Son and waits with us this Advent Season for the redemption of all humankind.
With my love and prayers,
The church will be open EVERY DAY until Wednesday 9th December from 10am to 4pm.
It is then closed for three days whilst Covid-19 cleaning takes place ahead of the morning service on Sunday 13th December.
In this booklet you’ll find a reflection to use each day during Advent.
For each day there will be a portion of Scripture, a short reflection and a prayer. You might like to use it to
accompany the lighting of an Advent Candle or Wreath, or with opening a door on the Advent Calendar in your home, as you take a moment to prayerfully reflect on the journey this season takes us on.
CLICK/TAP HERE for the booklet (it may take a few moments to load).
Since the Annual Parochial Church Meeting, where Chris and I were re-elected to the Deanery Synod and I am again one of your Churchwardens, we have had yet another lockdown and Chris and I have had to learn the mysteries of the Zoom internet meeting facility. I had heard Zoom mentioned a lot during the pandemic, but I must admit to not having a clue how it works or what it looked like, so some fast learning was needed so we could join the online Deanery Synod meeting and I could swear in as Churchwarden at the Archdeacon’s online visitation. All very clever stuff and hopefully I will learn to use properly as time goes by.
The Deanery Synod was attended by some 75 people online, or do we call them Zoomers? The meeting highlighted some of the main problems facing our Diocese and individual churches. The shortage of clergy to fill vacancies such as our own will no doubt lead to a reduction in the number of parishes on the island and we will have to “fight our corner” to ensure we get treated fairly along with the other three Anglo Catholic churches.
Of course, finance was a major issue, with the Diocese currently taking advantage of a Government covid-19 loan which of course will have to be paid back. With lockdown restrictions, churches have all had huge reductions in income and a large majority are finding it impossible to pay their full parish share (quota). The benefits of the Parish Giving Scheme were explained and it was clear that parishes using the scheme were doing far better during the pandemic. A major problem facing us and the whole Diocese is the low numbers in our congregations and closure of churches is something that is going to be the cause of much soul searching and discussion in the near future. However, it was heartening to hear some saying that closure really should be the last option, although we will have to find good reasons to support the case that Anglo Catholic Churches such as ours are needed by people on the island to ensure their spiritual wellbeing is cared for and that transport issues in rural areas such as the island do justify the need for churches that would not be so essential in an urban environment.
If anyone would like more detailed information about the issues discussed at the Deanery Synod, please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can supply copies of the reports, Powerpoint presentations etc.
As one of your Churchwardens and I am sure that Dennis would agree, that although Covid-19 has taken an awful lot of effort and time, we do not forget that as soon as we are permitted to, it is important that we are ready to move forward with finding a new Parish Priest. In February we will have the visit of +Norman, Bishop of Richborough and we must take the opportunity to impress on him that we need all help possible to find a priest who will continue the Anglo-Catholic traditions of this parish.
Best Wishes to you all for Christmas
& I hope the New Year brings better news for us all.
The Parish of All Saints, Godshill
In order to operate within official guidelines, the church will not be open every day. We will endeavour to be open from 10am to 5pm as often as we can
For the latest information & prayers for both Churches, the St. Alban’s Website is updated daily: www.stalbansiw.org.uk
Should you feel anxious or worried or would just like a chat, or to ask for prayers, please feel free to contact
Deacon Corinne on 07775 628593
and remember to pray for each other and for everyone affected by the Pandemic.