March 2023

The teaching of Jesus as it is found in the Gospels and in the other writings of the New Testament is the foundation of Christian doctrine and provides its normative expression. Through it the disciple is provided with salvation through the cross, an ethic to live by and an assurance of belonging to the people of God in the Body of Christ. The faithful have been sustained by this understanding for almost two millennia. Generations of Christians have cherished the gospels and the other New Testament writings through which they have received hope, both in life and in death, knowing that when the Church is faithful to these texts and the teaching they contain they are walking with our Lord through the narrow gate of which he spoke.

At present a number of Christian denominations, including the Church of England, are in the process of changing their teaching on marriage, from the life-long union of a man and a woman to a union of any two people who deem themselves to ‘be in love’. This departure from the teaching of Jesus recorded in the Gospels, the other New Testament writings and reflected in the consistent teaching of the Church is driven by a perceived need to be relevant to the ethical understanding of the contemporary western world. In this world personal preferences in sexual practice take precedence over the institution of marriage which the Church understands as a creation ordinance for the procreation and nurture of children and for the good ordering of society (see the preface to the Marriage Service in the Book of Common Prayer). In the teaching of the Church, the alternative to this is the celibate life which has a long and honourable place and has brought many blessings down the centuries.

In essence, what is happening is that the three levels of human existence are being reversed. Historic understanding has seen the first level as that of creation. Man and woman are joined together for the propagation of the species and the rearing of children. This is a matter of biology. The second level is the cultural and its cultic expressions which find their perfection in the Church’s understanding of the sacrament of marriage as a reflection of the relationship between Christ and his Church. The third level is a matter of personal preference. In the teaching of the Church this has always been subjugated to the will of God because it is the will and purpose of the disciple to be obedient to the Master. Current western liberal understanding is that there is no divinely revealed truth and so the individual is free to do whatever he or she feels; decisions are to be made on the basis of personal preference.

The Church of England’s General Synod is in the process of accepting this reversal by offering blessings to those who are in same-sex relationships. A proper Catholic understanding of this is that the Church does not have the power to bless irregular relationships. A blessing can only be pronounced on those who, by grace, are determined to live a life of holiness according to the intentions of God revealed in Christ. A same-sex relationship cannot fall into this category because it fails to conform to the intentions of God. The Church cannot bless a union that falls into that category.

The matter will be discussed again during the July meeting of the Synod. The whole subject is a matter of controversy and should be the subject of intercession on the part of the faithful in order that the Church of England does not distance itself even further from its foundation in the Scriptures and the historic teachings of the Church.

For all temptations, and particularly those of the flesh, there are, under God’s grace, medicines and remedies. Constant interior meditations – the prayers of anguish, robust faith, reading, fasting, keeping vigil, bodily exertions, comfort from other people to whom one may speak, by which one may be supported in the moment of temptation, humility, generosity of heart, and all good habit are weapons for this battle, and the constancy of love above all the rest. A man who throws away his weapons is asking to be wounded.

From the Ancrene Riwle c. 1200

Friday 3rd March, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 5th March, Second Sunday of Lent
Tuesday 7th March, 8.00pm Stations of the Cross
Wednesday 8th March, 10.00am Mass
Friday 10th March, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 12th March, Third Sunday of Lent
In addition to services at 8am and 9.30am: Family Service at 11.15am
Tuesday 14th March, 8.00pm Stations of the Cross
Wednesday 15th March, 10.00am Mass
Friday 17th March, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 19th March, Fourth Sunday of Lent / Mothering Sunday
Tuesday 21st March, 8.00pm Stations of the Cross
Wednesday 22nd March, 10.00am Mass
Friday 24th March, 7.00pm Mass (Annunciation of Our Lord)
Sunday 26th March, Fifth Sunday of Lent
11.00am Annual Parish Meetings
c. 11.30am Farewell to Father Thomas Singh

Tuesday 28th March, 8.00pm Stations of the Cross
Wednesday 29th March, 10.00am Mass
Friday 31st March, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 2nd April, Palm Sunday
In addition to services at 8am and 9.30am: Family Service at 11.15am
Monday in Holy Week, 12 noon Chrism Mass at Chelmsford Cathedral
Tuesday in Holy Week, 8.00pm Stations of the Cross
Wednesday in Holy Week, 10.00am Mass

27th January, Doreen Snelling (100 years)
6th February, Pamela Thompson (91 years)
16th February, Cherry Cawood (89 years)
24th February, Harry Deeny (77 years)

Anne Swerling is organising a cleaning party on Saturday 25th March to prepare the church for Passiontide and Easter. Further details nearer the time.

Each year at the Annual Parish Meeting the laity are invited to elect two of their number as churchwardens. For some years now St. Peter’s has been operating with only one warden to the considerable detriment of the ministry and mission of the church. It is important that two churchwardens are elected this year to help guide and support St. Peter’s in the coming months. If you would like a conversation about this please contact Father Andrew who will be happy to talk through the possibilities with you.

The churchwardens when admitted are officers of the bishop. They shall discharge such duties as are by law and custom assigned to them; they shall be foremost in representing the laity and in co-operating with the incumbent; they shall use their best endeavours by example and precept to encourage the parishioners in the practice of true religion and to promote unity and peace among them. They shall also maintain order and decency in the church and churchyard, especially during the time of divine service.

In the churchwardens is vested the property in the plate, ornaments, and other movable goods of the church, and they shall keep an inventory thereof which they shall revise from time to time as occasion may require. On going out of office they shall duly deliver to their successors any goods of the church remaining in their hands together with the said inventory, which shall be checked by their successors.
From Canon E1

Bishop Norman is planning to visit St. Peter’s to celebrate and preach on Sunday 21st May at 9.30am. This will probably be his last visit to St. Peter’s prior to his retirement in the Spring of 2024. Please put the date in your diary now!

Open Garden at Hill House

Saturday 11th March from 2.30pm

Rolph Birch and Margaret Taggart invite you to enjoy the spring flowers in the garden of Hill House
and to join them for tea and cake in their flat.

Donations are requested in aid of St. Peter’s Church and the Additional Curates Society

6 Hill House, 173 Stanmore Hill, HA7 3EW
RSVP to Father Andrew
Hill House dates from the early 18th Century and has an interesting history.