18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Firstly, it was such a joy to welcome many of you back into All Saints’ last Sunday, for the first time since lockdown began.

Although we had to make a few changes to the way we normally do things, I am grateful for all the work which has been done on cleaning and signage which made it possible for us to come together as a worshipping community once more; and it was lovely to see familiar faces once again.

We were, of course, conscious of those of you who could not be with us, but we did remember you in our prayers so you were with us in spirit.

It is very good news that St Alban’s will have their first mass since lockdown on Sunday August 9th at 9.30, and we are fortunate that Fr Gregory will be presiding and preaching for us on that day. He will then go to All Saints’ to preside and preach at the 11.00 mass there.

As I have said in other pastoral letters, we intend to start by having worship on 2 Sundays per month at All Saints’ (second and fourth Sundays of the month) initially. It may become possible to increase this as we go into the autumn, but we will have to see how we go.

At St Alban’s the plan is to have worship on second and fourth Sundays, too, but the details are still being worked out as to what form this will take.

Secondly, at Deanery Synod on Tuesday evening, we were told that we are at a crossroads in ministry on the island at the moment, as we face a huge financial shortfall. We were told that most parishes are in a decline in numbers, that giving does not cover the cost of ministry on the island, and that Covid has merely brought forward the need to address these issues seriously and urgently. The Area Dean said it is important that we take the right road at this point, and stressed that everyone has a role to play in helping to decide what that road should be.

To get us started, the Archdeacon posed two questions for us to consider in small groups as part of the Zoom Synod meeting, and he asked us to then relay them to our parishes for consideration and to stimulate discussion.

The questions were:
1) Is our parish sustainable? If not, what changes do we need to make?
2) What needs to be present for mission and growth on our island to be achieved?

I ask you all to think carefully and prayerfully about these questions and to come up with suggestions which can be fed back via the Area Dean for consideration by the Deanery Council.

The Archdeacon said he wanted our “take-away” from the meeting to be that we have his permission to be bold, creative and risk-taking in order to find ways to extend God’s Kingdom on the island.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts in response to these questions and hope we can arrange an informal gathering of PCC members early in September to discuss them.

These are challenging times for all the churches on the island and there are no easy answers. It is important that we try to come up with some ideas, though, in order that we can have some say in what lies ahead for our churches and, hopefully, to avoid having things imposed on us.

With my love and prayers,

Deacon Corinne

Scripture Readings

18th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Readings

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A Reflection

18th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Reflections

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Feeding the Multitude by an unknown author dated between 980 and 993 Creative Commons CC0 License

17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

It is a great joy that this Sunday, July 26th we will be back in church for mass at 11.00, with Alan Swanborough presiding and me preaching.

As things currently stand, we will be able to have mass twice a month, on second and fourth Sundays of the month.

Fr Gregory-Clifton-Smith has generously agreed to preside for us on second Sundays, and Alan Swanborough will preside on Fourth Sundays.

As things currently stand, we will not be having any services during the week, but it may be possible to reinstate the Thursday mass at some point in the autumn.

As you may know, I have recently been appointed Diocesan Dean of Deacons, to exercise a pastoral ministry to the Distinctive Deacons in the Diocese and to have a role in the discernment of vocations and training; but, just before he retired, Fr John suggested that the Bishop might make me Deacon-in-charge at All Saints’ and St Alban’s, to provide leadership and continuity of care during the vacancy.

The exciting news is that the Bishop decided he would do this and, at a low-key service in the Archdeacon’s garden on 12h July, I was given my Bishop’s Licence to a half-time stipendiary appointment. This post is for a maximum of two years or, as it says on my license, “until the appointment of a priest-in-charge, whichever should occur first”.

It won’t really change anything about the way I have been trying to serve our communities for the past three years, and we are still in a vacancy, but it was a great joy to receive this new mandate for my ministry among our constituency.

In addition to ministering at All Saints’ and St Alban’s, I will continue my work in the other two Anglo-Catholic churches on the island, Good Shepherd, Lake and St Saviour on the Cliff, Shanklin and to promote the Anglo-Catholic tradition on the island.

I am looking forward very much to seeing many of you at mass again, albeit sticking to the new guidelines about how we manage the logistics of this(!); but I am conscious that there will be some people who are still shielding and who will not able to be with us. If this applies to you, please be assured you will be in our prayers and that you will be very much with us in spirit.

With my love and prayers,

Deacon Corinne

Scripture Readings

17th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Readings

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A Reflection

17th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Reflections

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The image is of a pair of stained glass windows depicting the Parable of the Hidden Treasure (left) paired with the Parable of the Pearl (right) in Scots’ Church, Melbourne, Australia.

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

A group of willing volunteers, including Jean Peters who is featured in the photo, spent two hours in church this week getting the building ready for welcoming you back into church on Sunday 26th July at 11.00.

Alan Swanborough will be presiding on that day and I will be preaching. We are fortunate that, just before he left, Fr John bought a hymn-playing machine. This means we can listen to hymns during the service, as we are not allowed to sing in church due to current restrictions.

There will be other changes, which I will outline here, but I will go through them again when we meet in church on July 26th.

For example, hand- sanitiser will be available at the door, which you are required to use before you enter and leave the building.

Brian Haynes, our safeguarding officer, has put tape on the floor to indicate a one-way system for entering and exiting the church; and he has put tape at 2m intervals to indicate where people are to stand whilst waiting to receive Holy Communion. Please follow this signage.

When it comes to receiving Holy Communion, this will be in one kind (bread only). Prior to the distribution the priest will raise the host and say “The body of Christ”, to which the congregation will reply “Amen”; and then no further words will be said during the distribution.

Dennis, our Churchwarden, will have hand-sanitiser available if you wish to use it, prior to reception of the sacrament.

When you receive the sacrament, you are asked to hold your hands right out in front of you, so that the communion wafer can be dropped into your hand with no additional physical contact from the minister.

Please follow the arrows on the floor in order to get back to your seat.

If you wish to light a candle, there are sanitising wipes available for cleaning the candle lighter. Please clean the lighter handle before lighting your candle and then place the used wipe in the box provided.

It does all sound like a huge palaver, but it is easier to do than to describe!

It is also all worth it, as it enables us to come together again, safely, to meet our Lord in the sacrament, and once again be the Body of Christ.

With my love and prayers,

Deacon Corinne

Scripture Readings

16th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Readings

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A Reflection

16th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Reflections

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15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

I am happy to be able to tell you that, all things being equal, All Saints’ will be allowed to reopen for public worship on two Sundays per month from Sunday July 26th at 11.00.

We are very fortunate that Fr Alan Swanmore, who is a much-loved member of our worshipping community, and Fr Gregory Clifton-Smith, have each agreed to say mass for us once a month.

Alan will be presiding on fourth Sundays from July 26th, and Fr Gregory will preside on second Sundays, starting on August 9th.

At the moment, we will stick to a pattern of two celebrations per month on Sundays only, but it might be possible to introduce a weekday mass later in the year.

I am very grateful to Dennis, Brian and the team of volunteers who have done the risk-assessment, cleaned the church and helped get the signage in place to enable this to happen.

You will notice when you come to church again that things will be rather different than they were before; but we have to comply with all the safety measures in order that people can feel confident about coming back to church.

For example, hand sanitiser will be available for use at the church door and, in order to maintain social distancing, there will be notices indicating where to sit. Instructions will also given about how we will manage the reception of Holy Communion.

More detailed instructions will be given nearer the time, but I thought you would be pleased to know the progress we have been able to make to reopen before the end of the month – some churches won’t be reopening until September!

There may be people who will not feel ready to come back to church yet, especially those who have been, or still are shielding, so I will continue to put resources week by week on the website.

With my love and prayers,

Deacon Corinne

Scripture Readings

15th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Readings

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A Reflection

15th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Reflection

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The image is the “Parable of the Sower”, a stained glass window in Canterbury Cathedral and dates back to about 1180, Public Domain, http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54265

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

As we start to move toward the churches being open again for public worship, I just wanted to say a few things about that.

Firstly, I’d want to encourage people to come back to church in due course, where it is possible and where it is safe, and for it to be a positive and a joyful experience; but with all the safety regulations we have to follow, including the needful social distancing, it will take some time for us to become accustomed to the new and required arrangements.

There are those who will say, “But church is not the same as it was”. My only answer can be “But nothing is the same as it was – and the church is doing its utmost to come safely into the new light”.

We are at the very beginning of Phase 3, and the Government’s Guidelines, as adapted and applied for use in churches, are designed to help everyone move forward safely. Patience will be needed; and care and kindness towards one another, too. Coming out into the light will be a new experience for us all.

Some might ask, “What will it be like to be back in church?” We’ll need to wait and see. However, especially for those with health problems, it is important that you should be at ease with the decision you make whether to come back sooner, or leave it til later.

In the meantime, I suggest we all prepare spiritually and prayerfully as well as practically and strategically for coming back to church; and I encourage you to pray for churchwardens, clergy and one another each day, as we prepare for the great day when we can come back to mass.

I offer you this prayer, which comes from The BCP. It is a prayer for a Dedication Festival of a church, but the words would seem to be very apposite at this time, as the prayer invites us to look for God, in the eager expectation of finding God in our churches. It also asks of God that we, being filled with the Holy Spirit, become a living temple.

Almighty God,
to whose guidance and glory we offer the re-opening of churches in these days,
we praise you for the many blessings
that you have given to those who worship in our churches,
and we pray that all who seek you there
may find you, and, being filled with the Holy Spirit,
may become a living temple acceptable to you
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

My love and prayers,

Deacon Corinne

Scripture Readings

14th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Readings

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A Reflection

14th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Reflection

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The image is “Come Unto Me” by Carl Bloch (1834-1890), Public Domain, https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/6881127521

Saints Peter and Paul

Dear Friends,

you will have seen the Government announcement that churches are to be allowed to open for services again from July 4th. However, in his advice to clergy and churchwardens, the Bishop has stressed that the ability to hold public worship is permissive, rather than mandatory; i.e. that 4th July is the earliest date for services to resume, and that they can only do this where it is practical and safe to do so.

Fr David is able to open Good Shepherd, Lake, and St Saviour’s, Shanklin from Sunday July 5th, and Sunday mass will be said at 9.30 and 11.00 in those churches respectively.

Unfortunately, All Saints’ and St Alban’s are in a different position from this. We are currently in a vacancy so, in addition to undertaking a risk assessment, ensuring the churches have been thoroughly cleaned and that appropriate distancing-signage is put in place, we also have the challenge of finding a male priest to preside for us at each mass.

This situation is further complicated by the fact that, as things currently stand, clergy and readers who are over 70, are only allowed to exercise any public ministry with the express permission of the Bishop, via the Archdeacon. This also applies to volunteers, so all sides-people and others who assist in church must be under 70, too, unless they have been given specific permission by the Archdeacon.

In consultation with the churchwardens, and in agreement with the Archdeacon, it has been decided that sadly, for a number of reasons, it will not be feasible to reopen St Albans at the present time. However, at All Saints’, once we have had the risk-assessment signed off by the Area Dean, and have put all practical safety measures in place, we will hope it will be possible to put a regular pattern of Sunday worship in place.

In order to provide something sustainable though, given all the constraints under which we will be working, the Churchwardens and the Archdeacon have agreed that we need to be realistic. To this end, we will work towards the possibility of providing Sunday mass at All Saints twice a month, initially, with no weekday masses. This will not be ideal but, as I have said, we are fortunate that Good Shepherd and St Saviour’s will have a mass every Sunday; and those who wish to maintain a weekly pattern of attendance would be very welcome at either of these churches.

Depending on the guidance we expect to receive from the Church of England in the next few days, the earliest All Saints could expect to be open for worship will be July 19th; but I will get in touch with you again when we have more definite information. I would love to be able to open the church as soon as possible, and am working hard to make that happen, but we have to stick to the C/E Guidelines.

Things will be very different from the way they used to be; but I will keep in touch with you, as we receive more guidance about the steps we’ll need to take, in order that people can receive Holy Communion safely.

If you have any questions about this, please contact the Area Dean, or the Archdeacon, whose messenger I am!

On another subject, this weekend sees the Feast of SS Peter and Paul, and is one of the times in the year when ordinations usually happen. Ordinations have had to be postponed this year and will take place in the autumn instead; but I ask your prayers for those preparing for ordination and for those who are celebrating anniversaries of ordination at this time.

I am grateful to Alan Swanborough for providing our Gospel reflection this week.

My love and prayers,

Deacon Corinne

Scripture Readings

Saints-Peter-and-Paul-Readings

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A Reflection

Saints-Peter-and-Paul-Reflection

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The image is “Christ between Saints Paul and Peter” by Pietro Lorenzetti (c.1280/1290-c.1348) – From the Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston upon Hull, https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/christ-between-saints-paul-and-peter-233360

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Next Wednesday the Church remembers and gives thanks for the life, ministry and legacy of John The Baptist.

John the Baptist was the son of Zechariah, a priest of the temple, and of Elizabeth, a relation of Mary the mother of Jesus. His birth had been foretold by an angel, who instructed Zechariah the he should be called John.

John was a fearless man of uncompromising beliefs, a prophet with a clear mission to prepare the way for Christ.

Once again, this would have been a day when we would have gathered for mass, but it might be worth spending time reading the scripture passages for that day (Is 49:1-6; Acts 13: 22-26; Luke 1”57-66, 80) and pondering the significance of John the Baptist for the life of the Church today, as Covid restrictions begin to be eased and we move into a new phase in our life together.

I have recently become part of a National “Catholic and Sacramental Evangelism” group, which has been looking at ways in which we can grow as churches, in terms of numbers, depth of discipleship and impact on our communities.

I would say that John the Baptist offers us an excellent “lens” through which we can start to do some thinking about what this might look like for our own Churches; so I will offer a few “hooks” for your thinking, based on John’s example.

Firstly, John was uncompromising in his call to holiness. He challenges us to ask ourselves how, as followers to Jesus Christ today, can we rediscover our confidence, so that we can also be distinctive and live by the values of our faith?

Secondly, John challenged the status quo. All traditions can get stale, yet many people are craving an authentic spirituality and a genuine way of living for God. What does our tradition have to offer? Why does it matter to us? How can we breathe new life into all that is good about our tradition to bring renewal and freshness and to draw people into our Eucharistic communities?

Thirdly, John led people to Christ. That was his single purpose. The two great commandments Jesus gave to his disciples was to love God and to make disciples. Are we doing that? How are we doing that?

Fourthly, John opposed injustice. if we wish to show our commitment to Incarnational Mission, we need to be asking ourselves how we as churches can seek transformation in our community? What does transformation look like for us in our context?

These are all big questions to consider as we move into the “new normal” as, again, we ponder the question posed at our PCC away day last year, “What is the church for”?

Any thoughts, please don’t hesitate to tell me, or Fr David.

My love and prayers,

Deacon Corinne

Scripture Readings

12th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Readings

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Scripture Readings – Commentary

12th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Readings-Commentary

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A Reflection

12th-Sunday-in-Ordinary-Time-Reflection

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Corpus Christi

Dear Friends,

I expect you will have heard that the Government has said that churches may open for private prayer from June 15th. The Bishop has told us, however, that the announcement gives permission to open church buildings, but it does not require us to do so; and that we can only open if it is practical and realistic.

In order to reopen, churches are required to undertake a (lengthy!) risk-assessment, and to put in place measures for church-cleaning, preferably a one-way system into and out of the building, social-distancing and hand hygiene.

In consultation with CWs at St Albans and All Saints, Alan and Dennis, we have agreed that it is not practicable for our churches to be opened; so, for the time being at least, our churches will remain closed.

Last week, I visited St Alban’s and was greeted by three rooks, flying around the church. Since the building has been closed, they have taken up residence in the church and clearly didn’t enjoy being disturbed by me!

All Saints’ has fared better during the lockdown, with no feathered inhabitants, thank goodness; but it will certainly need a good clean before it can be opened in due course.

However, the other two churches where I serve, St Saviour on the Cliff, Queen’s Road, Shanklin; and Good Shepherd, Sandown Road, Lake, will be open twice a week for limited periods for private prayer, to which any of you would be very welcome.

Parking is available around the church at St Saviour’s and in the vicarage driveway at Good Shepherd.

Specifically, we will be providing an hour’s Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Fr David and I will officiate on a rota basis.

From Sunday 21 June:

Church opening times will be:
Sunday 10:30 – 11:30 in both churches
Wednesday 10.00 – 11.00 St Saviour’s
Wednesday 18.00 – 19.00 Good Shepherd

If you have any questions, do get in touch with Alan Philpott, Dennis Owen or me.

Thanks to Fr Gregory for this week’s homily.

Blessings,

Deacon Corinne

Scripture Readings

Corpus-Christi-Readings

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Scripture Readings – Commentary

Corpus-Christi-Readings-Commentary

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A Reflection

Corpus-Christi-Reflection

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The image is a Medieval stained glass window (13th century) discovered in 2019 behind the Corpus Christi altarpiece of the chapel of Sant Francesc and Sant Martí of the Cathedral of Girona (Girona, Catalonia), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vitrall_del_Corpus_Christi.jpg

Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday

Dear Friends,

One of the benefits of Lockdown being eased somewhat is that it has become possible to see people outside – and I have found this to be a great way of doing pastoral visiting. It is such a joy to be able to see people face to face, rather than just hearing a disembodied voice at the end of a phone, or seeing someone on a screen.

So far, in the last two weeks, I have had a socially-distanced walk with a parishioner from the Shanklin cliff-top down to the sea and then along the esplanade; 2 socially distanced games of crazy-golf; two walks over at Quarr Abbey and three visits which have taken place in parishioners’ gardens.

Next Thursday the Church gives thanks for the life and ministry of St Barnabas. His name means, “Son of encouragement”; and Barnabas travelled widely with St Paul, investing time and energy in Paul, helping him to live up to his new name of apostle.

As it says of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 14:22 they put fresh heart into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith”.

These past challenging weeks, when we haven’t been able to gather together as worshipping communities, life has been very difficult for some people; especially when they’ve been facing additional problems, such as health concerns or bereavement, or those who live alone.

We all need a bit of encouragement from time to time; and Barnabas is a living example of what Jesus calls every Christian to do. As I have been making pastoral phone calls, I have been hearing how members of our congregations have been “being Barnabases” to one another, caring and showing support in a very impressive way.

However, if God seems far away, or you’re having difficulty praying and would like a bit of encouragement; or if you just feel a bit “down” and would like a chat, I’d be very happy to visit, or to go for a walk (keeping of course to the safety guidelines). Just let me know.

This Sunday is another major Festival of the Church, Trinity Sunday. I am very grateful to +John Hind for saving me from drifting into heresy by providing the homily for us for this day!

With my love and prayers,

Deacon Corinne

Scripture Readings

Trinity-Sunday-Readings

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A Reflection

Trinity-Sunday-Reflection

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The image is Luca Rossetti da Orta, The Holy Trinity, fresco, 1738–9, St. Gaudenzio Church at Ivrea (Torino), Italy, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Luca_Rossetti_Trinit%C3%A0_Chiesa_San_Gaudenzio_Ivrea.jpg

Pentecost

Dear Friends,

We live in times when the rights of individuals to make decisions about their lives have been severely restricted for the good of the wider community. Whatever the the rights and wrongs about how Dominic Cummings made his decision to take his family to Durham, many will have been angered by seeing someone in a position of authority seemingly to ride roughshod over the rules which nearly everyone in the country has been trying to follow.

There are some who feel that, in the light of Dominic Cummings actions, they will now make decisions for themselves which go against what we have been told we must do; but our faith has something to say about this.

Christians say “Though we are many, we are one body”. This shows there is a connection between us all, where the actions of individuals affect the working of the body as a whole. Faith is not a private, individual thing. It is relational. We are told to “love God and love our neighbour as ourselves”.

For Christians, society is more than just a collection of individuals who make their decisions according to what’s best for them, without thinking about the consequences for others. The last weeks of lockdown have shown us again the goodness and selflessness which exists in the human spirit; and the Christian values of goodness, service and selfless kindness, which have been seen in abundance in recent weeks, has been demonstrated both by Christians and by those of all faiths and none.

I am therefore very grateful to +John Hind, who has provided our homily this week, as he explores this relationship between the individual and the corporate nature of our faith in the light of Pentecost, which we celebrate this Sunday.

I continue to hold you all in my prayers. Please do ring me if you’d like a chat, or if there’s anything about which you’d like me to pray.

With my love and prayers,

Deacon Corinne

Scripture Readings

Pentecost-Readings

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A Reflection

Pentecost-Reflection

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The image is “Pentecost” by Jean II Restout (1692–1768) – From the Louvre collection, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jean_II_Restout_-_Pentecost_-_WGA19318.jpg