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Innocent Reflections (10/2021)

Dear Friends, 

I'll never forget Maundy Thursday last year. It was a day that started in deep grief as I said mass for the soul of Hansel. It was a time of such sadness for the church, and personal sadness for me, a sadness that could not be mitigated by gathering together and comforting one another. We had to mourn in isolation.

Maundy Thursday is usually a day of great gathering, as the clergy of the diocese go to St Paul's to renew their ordination vows and collect the holy oil for that year, freshly blessed by the bishop. Old friends are winked at, gossip passed around under the dome, and a boozy lunch often follows, before the sadder business of beginning the remembrance of Jesus' last supper before he died. Last year we were alone. 

I realised, as I slowly put together an altar of repose in my conservatory, that the beginning of the mass, at 8 o'clock, was going to clash with the clap for the NHS. I always had mixed feeling about the clap, not at all because I begrudged the hard workers in the hospitals and the ambulances their moment of congratulation and support, they absolutely deserved it, but because there is something about mass public outpourings of emotion that make me feel slightly uncomfortable. From my front door you could hear the claps, cheers, saucepans and fireworks banging over what seemed like half of London. Perhaps some repressed animal instinct was making me nervous of the noise.

Anyway, I decided to combine the beginning of the mass with the clap, so I went outside with my phone, but I hadn't quite worked out how to hold my phone and clap at the same time, so it was a somewhat juddery video. Nor, as I left the door open for ease of access back into the house, had I thought about the dog, who promptly ran out into the street, and I had to catch him all dressed up for mass with a mobile phone in my hand. There is no doubt that that part of the proceedings could have been better executed. 

Still, the mass began, the sermon was preached, the bread and wine blessed and transubstantiated and the Blessed Sacrament transferred to the altar of repose I had spent most of the day making. I watched until midnight - some three hours - in the conservatory, listening to the banging beats of the party next door and intensely grateful for those few folk who watched with me online until the end, in their case without even the romance of the flowers and the candlelight, until, as every year, the watch ended, and like the rest of the disciples I deserted Jesus and went to bed. 

It is such a beautiful, bitter sweet time, perhaps the closest I feel to Jesus in the whole year, watching with him, trying to stay awake, praying for my friends on Maundy Thursday. There is nowhere else in the world I would rather be. And this year I am so grateful that despite the loss and grief of this time, coming in the aftermath of another sad loss of dear Sally, this year we can share this moment together, and I hope some of you will join me in church tonight. 

As I think back on the year that has gone, and look forward to the time which is still to come, the words which come to mind are George Herbert's beautiful poem Bitter-Sweet
AH, my dear angry Lord,
  Since Thou dost love, yet strike;
Cast down, yet help afford;
  Sure I will do the like.
I will complain, yet praise;  
  I will bewail, approve:
And all my sour-sweet days
  I will lament, and love.
With love and prayers, 

Fr Ben
Join us for our Mass on Easter Day at 10.00am. If you would like to come please reserve a ticket. If the 10.00am mass fills up, we will consider doing another one at 11.30, so it would be really helpful if you could book, so we know how many people would like to come. You can reserve a space here
With thanks to all who helped make Sally's funeral such a special occasion. 

This Week:

You can also watch all our services live on our website or our facebook page. 

Maundy Thursday 
8.00pm Mass of the Lord's Supper with watch until Midnight 
Good Friday
10.00am Stations of the Cross
12pm The Liturgy of the Day


Holy Saturday
10.00am Church Cleaning
8.00pm The Easter Vigil 
Easter Sunday
10.00am Mass of the Resurrection

During Easter Week there will be fewer services and the church will be closed during the day as the ministry team take a post-Easter break. 
7.30pm Mass (Holy Trinity)
10.00am Mass 
Sunday            Low Sunday

10:00am Parish Mass
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