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
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,
I was delighted to hear from +Norman last week that, all things being equal with Covid, he intends to make a pastoral visit to the island in February next year.
He will be on the island over the weekend of February 20th/21st and will visit the 3 Society parishes, saying a Benefice mass at St Saviour’s, Shanklin, on the Saturday evening and coming to preside and preach at mass at All Saints’ on Sunday 21st at 11.00.
It will be lovely to see him again and, hopefully, you will have a chance to have a chat with him.
Other good news is that we will be allowed to come together for public worship again once the lockdown ends, so our next service will be on Dec 13th, with mass at St Alban’s at 9.30 and All Saints’ at 11.00. Fr Gregory Clifton-Smith will be presiding and preaching.
We are very fortunate that Fr Alan Swanborough has offered to say mass at All Saints’ on Christmas Day at 11.00, and also on Sunday 2th December.
I am still working on provision for St Alban’s over Christmas, but will let you know more in due course.
With the Government’s announcement that three households will be allowed to gather as a bubble to spend 5 days together over Christmas, I have to admit to feeling some anxiety about the consequences of people doing this, and the impact this could have on Covid numbers on the island.
Our family all live on the mainland, and we have taken the difficult decision to all stay put over the Festive Season to avoid any risk to one another.
Of course, these are decisions which people must make for themselves, but I hope and pray there will be a common-sense approach to balance to desire to meet with our loved-ones with the need to keep them safe.
With my love and prayers,
The image above: Creative Commons CC0 License
It was good to join some 270 people on Zoom last Tuesday for the swearing in of the churchwardens from across the Diocese. Alan was there, as he took his oath to serve for another year…which was impressive all the way from Portugal!
One of the upsides of Zoom is that people can join meetings from remote locations.
Dennis has also made his commitment to serve as Churchwarden again for another year, which is a great relief!
There was another zoom meeting this past week, Deanery Synod, which was attended remotely by our reps Alan and Chris and many clergy and laypeople from across the island.
Synod discussed the common themes which had emerged for the Archdeacon’s two questions, which you will remember were posed to congregations earlier in the year.
The Area Dean was struck by some of the innovative ideas which had been put forward – one being to have Holy oils brought to the island from the Cathedral on Maundy Thursday by drones…I think that was one of our people’s suggestions!!
More seriously, the Deanery Council identified three main areas where parishes can start to focus their thinking about the future. These are: Missional growth; increase in income; structural changes.
The themes which emerged from the presentations about these things were, firstly, that everyone has a part to play in living out the reality that the Church of England, through the parish system, is not just there for the faithful who come to church, but for the whole community.
Secondly, we need to collaborate and share resources as we try to re-start and build on what we were doing pre-Covid, and to think of imaginative ways to use our church buildings. As the Area Dean said, “Don’t let your buildings hold you back”!
Thirdly, we were told there will need to be structural change on the island, and various plans are being considered. The Area Dean told us that a template will be produced shortly by the Diocese, as a framework for shaping our churches’ future. Feedback from the template will then go back to the Diocese in the Spring.
I will keep you fully informed, as will our Synod reps, of any developments. We will also ensure that PCCs have the opportunity to discuss the implications the Deanery Plan will have on our life together at All Saints’ and St Alban’s.
With my love and prayers,
The image above is of a window to be found in St Botolph without Aldersgate, London EC1, depicting Christus Rex Creative Commons CC0 License
One week into lockdown, three more to go! I hope you’re all finding ways to get through these difficult days. Please let me know if you, or anyone else you know, is struggling and I’ll do my best to help.
It was very good to hear this week of the progress which has been made in developing a vaccine; so we pray that it will be possible to roll this out, as soon as it has been proven to be safe, and that it won’t be too long before we can start to pick up the threads of our lives again.
Although lockdown 2 sadly means we can’t gather for corporate worship once again, All Saints’ will continue to be open for private prayer on Wednesdays and Sundays from 10.00am – 5.00pm. I will also continue to put resources on the website each week, where you will find a pastoral letter, plus the Sunday readings and a short homily. For those without internet access, I will let you have printed copies as usual.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York have urged that, although we cannot come together for worship, we each use this month of lockdown as a special time of prayer, maybe setting aside a few minutes every day at 6.00pm. They have produced a leaflet containing prayer resources entitled, “Prayer for the nation”, which can be found on the All Saints’ and St Alban’s websites; and I have also left copies at the back for All Saints’ church, for people to use whenever the church is open. Please take them away with you for use at home. You can also visit the Church of England website at Churchofengland.org
On Tuesday 17th at 7pm the Archdeacon’s visitation will be taking place via Zoom. This is the occasion when the churchwardens are sworn in for another year, so please remember Alan and Dennis in your prayers, as they commit to serving our churches for another year.
On Wednesday 18th at 7pm Deanery Synod will be meeting via Zoom. As part of this, we will be hearing feedback from the parishes in response the two questions which the Archdeacon posed, and to discuss the new Deanery Plan. Alan and Chris Philpott are our Deanery Synod reps, and I will be there too, so we will keep you fully informed of any developments.
This Sunday (15th) is Fr David Lawrence-March’s last Sunday, so from then on the Parishes of Good Shepherd, Lake, and St Saviour’s, Shanklin, will be in vacancy. I hope that, with all the Alternative Oversight parishes now in vacancy, Bishop Norman will make contact with us before long.
With my love and prayers,
The image above is of an etching by Dutch poet, illustrator and engraver, Jan Luyken (1649-1712) Creative Commons CC0 License
8th November November 2020
Remembrance Sunday – For personal reflection
Two Minutes Silence
They shall not grow old, As we who are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, And in the morning,
We will remember them.
We will remember them.
When you go home, tell them of us and say:
For your tomorrow, we gave our today.
We remember before you with gratitude, O Lord,
those who gave their lives for the cause of freedom:
All Saint’s war dead 1914-18
Charles Claire, Eddie Dore, William Drudge, Archie Harbor,
Eynon Jones, Joseph Malcolmson, James Weyllie Raeburn,
Tom Rayner, Frederick Wilson Russell, Phillip Alfred Russell,
Albert Henry Edmund Scovell, Wilfred Alban Scovell,
William Thomas Smith, Frank Symmans, Frederick Symmans, Beverley Ussher, Stephen Ussher, Edgar Westmore
St Alban’s War Dead 1914-18
Charles Claire, Eddie Dore, William Drudge, Archie Harbour, Eynon Jones, Joseph Malcolmson, James Weyllie Raeburn, Tom Rayner, Frederick Wilson Russell, Phillip Alfred Russell, Albert Henry Edmund Scovell, Wilfred Alban Scovell, William Thomas Smith, Frank Symmans, Frederick Symmans, Beverley Ussher, Stephen Ussher, Edgar Westmore
Norman Bridges, Robin Kemp, Jack Tarrant,
Henry Underwood, Charles Waller, Jeffrey Webber
Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord.
And let light perpetual shine upon them.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York and senior church leaders
have called a month of Prayer for the Nation during the second
The suggestion is that as many of us as possible unite to do this at 6pm
These prayers and themes are offered as tools to enable all to participate
and are intended simply as suggestions.
Loving God, you know us and all that we are facing.
We thank you that we can come to you as we are – with all our fears and concerns, our difficulties and challenges.
Please draw close to each of us and those we remember before you now.
Bring to us your peace and comfort.
And fill us with your Spirit that we may be bearers of your grace and hope to others.
As a country protect us, encourage us and keep us.
In the name of your Son Jesus we pray. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ,
In these dark and difficult days we turn our hearts to you. In ages past you have delivered our nation from disaster. Do it again we pray.
Give Wisdom beyond human wisdom to our leaders. Give strength beyond human strength to the NHS and all our frontline workers.
Give comfort beyond human comfort to children and the elderly and all who grieve.
Lord, Jesus Christ. In these dark and difficult days, turn your face towards us, have mercy upon us, and heal our land we pray. Amen
Loving God, your Son Jesus Christ came that we might have life and have it abundantly; pour out your blessing upon our nation; where there is illness, bring your healing touch; where there is fear, strengthen us with the knowledge of your presence; where there is uncertainty, build us up in faith; where there is dishonesty, lead us into truth; where there is discord, may we know the harmony of your love; this we ask in Jesus’ name.
at this time of crisis when so many are suffering, we pray for our nation and our world. Give our leaders wisdom, our Health Service strength, our people hope. Lead us through these parched and difficult days to the fresh springs of joy and comfort that we find in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Loving Father God Be with us in our distress: with our families, friends and neighbours, our country and our world. Give health to the sick, hope to the fearful, and comfort to the mourners. Give wisdom to our frontline and key workers, insight to our government and patience to us all; Overcome disease with the power of your new life, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
We lift to God those we hold in our hearts – praying for their health, their well-being and their sense of hope.
We pray that even when loved ones cannot physically be together they would not feel apart.
We ask for God’s help in our communicating, our connecting and our caring.
We pray for all those involved in the shaping of young lives.
We give God thanks for the sacrifice and commitment of teachers and all those involved in serving children and young people in education.
We pray that all might be nurtured and cared for and that every needful resource would be made available – that all lives can flourish even in these difficult times and that no-one would be overlooked.
We echo God’s commitment to those most at risk of this virus by praying today for those who are particularly vulnerable and isolated: praying for their deliverance, protection and comfort.
We hold before God those who care for them – that they would be strengthened and encouraged in this work.
In this time of great challenge, we pray for the economic wellbeing of the country.
We remember before God those who face great uncertainty in their work.
We lift before God those who have lost their jobs and face an uncertain and difficult future. We pray for a renewed commitment to our common life together.
Our God is the great healer – and the agent used more than any other is the NHS. Today we voice our gratitude for those who serve this country in the National Health Service and pray for that God would prosper the work of their hands – that they would all be encouraged in their continued work of sacrifice and care amongst us.
We pray for those who are in positions of authority with responsibility for decision making at national and local
level at this difficult time. We ask that God would give great wisdom, deep commitment to all and right judgment.
‘Lord the one you love is ill….’ John 11 v 3
We bring to God all those who suffer in body, mind, spirit or with grief. We ask that in God’s great loving kindness they might know God’s sustaining presence amidst their pain.
We pray for those who are stretched beyond their own capacity to cope and remain hopeful – that in the roar of these waterfalls God would bring a sense of coherence, comfort and strength.
We are grateful for all that you have given to us – this food, each other and our health.
We pray for those who lack these things we enjoy.
Give us thank full hearts and opportunities to share your gifts with others.
We lift before you this country in these difficult days – and pray you would protect us, encourage us and keep us.
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.