I do enjoy the seasons, each with its distinctive character and particular celebrations. I find that this is true of both the natural and the ecclesiastical seasons. It is therefore with a little sadness that I note the arrival of Christmas wares in shops months before the actual celebration. Christmas items appeared in many places in August this year, something I had not seen before (admittedly I would not have been looking) and therefore stand a chance of appearing in July in the future as everyone tries to get in on the act. The only thing that might restrain the commercial world might be the recent arrival of the Autumn celebration (an import from across the Atlantic I understand). This latter has much to do with pumpkins it seems and nothing at all to do with our traditional harvest thanksgiving. It is not an offensive development exactly, just a disappointment. God has been left out.
Continuing on a seasonal theme, once Autumn is beginning to draw to a close we arrive at ‘messy November’. The eleventh month is full of significant remembrances and celebrations and care needs to be taken not to confuse them. The 1st November is All Saints’ Day when the Church rejoices in triumph in the company of those who have faithfully followed Jesus and reflected his love; exemplars of holiness whose lives of service we might learn from and imitate. All Saints’ Day (sometimes transferred to the nearest Sunday) is a major festival celebrated in white or gold vestments and it is followed by All Souls’ Day on the 2nd November when we remember those who have departed this life, especially those we have known and loved. This begins a season dominated by requiems celebrated frequently in purple and more traditionally in black, reflecting our spirit of sorrow and penitence. The days of requiems ends with Remembrance Sunday or Armistice Day. Of course, this is of twentieth century origin, but is a very appropriate innovation as we remember the millions who have died in the many conflicts since 1914. In these celebrations God is still acknowledged in our culture at least at the time of Remembrance although All Saints’ tends to be ignored, being subsumed under the commercial blanket of ‘Halloween’ with its array of cheap tat. I always make the point of marking the triumph All Saints’ not just with a joyous mass, but by not wearing a poppy until All Souls’ when it makes sense! There is no need to make November messy: it has a form all of its own. The seasons have a purpose and are distinctive.
We come within a short time to Advent as Winter settles upon us. A new liturgical cycle begins as we re-visit the words of the prophets – especially those of John the Baptist – and prepare to celebrate the Nativity of our Lord. Christmas is such a powerful influence in the west that Advent all but disappears and Christmas is buried under a blanket not of snow, but of consumption. Enough has been said on that particular theme over the years so I shall move on quickly to Spring and the feast of the Annunciation (25th March). This date is pivotal to understanding the Christian celebration of the seasons. At the Annunciation we mark the visit of the Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the conception of Jesus. The Word is made flesh and the work of salvation is begun. If the transformative work of the Cross and Easter is to happen then God must be found working amongst us. With this in mind we can move on to Christmas again. The origins of the celebration of Christmas are complex, differing from east to west in the early centuries, but it is sufficient to note two points.
The first point connects the Annunciation / Conception of Jesus on 25th March with the Crucifixion which was considered to have taken place also on 25th March thus completing the cycle of salvation. The second point simply takes the action on nine months to the celebration of 25th December. In terms of the seasons of the natural world, 25th March marks the beginning of Spring, the season of growth and new life. It has been for many centuries Lady Day on which agricultural rents are settled for the ensuing year. If any day has a claim to be the ‘Christian New Year’ it is Lady Day. Through the seasons the work of God in creation and in the Church complement each other, enriching the life of his people. As part of God’s provision for us it will pay dividends to mark the seasons in an appropriate way whether it be in a spirit of joy or sorrow, apprehension at what is to come or as a reflection on the mystery of salvation.
Image by Natalie Grainger on Unsplash
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From the diary
Sunday 24th September, Trinity 16
Wednesday 27th September, 10.00am Mass
Friday 29th September, 7.00pm Mass (St. Michael and All Angels)
Sunday 1st October, Trinity 17
no midweek services
Sunday 8th October, Harvest Thanksgiving
In addition to services at 8am and 9.30am: Family Service at 11.15am
Wednesday 11th October, 10.00am Mass
Friday 13th October, 7.00pm Mass (St. Edward the Confessor)
Sunday 15th October, Trinity 19
Wednesday 18th October, 10.00am Mass (St. Luke the Evangelist)
Friday 20th October, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 22nd October, Trinity 20
Wednesday 25th October, 10.00am Mass
Friday 27th October, 7.00pm Mass (St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles)
Sunday 29th October, Trinity 21 / Bible Sunday
Wednesday 1st November, 10.00am Mass (All Saints’ Day)
Thursday 2nd November, 8.00pm Requiem Mass (All Souls’ Day)
Friday 3rd November, 7.00pm Mass
Saturday 4th November North London Military Wives Choir Concert
Sunday 5th November, Trinity 22
We would be grateful if you could return your pledges of time, talents and money at Harvest or soon after to help plan our year ahead. If you have not received one and would like one please get in touch with Alan Hudson (020 8950 3451).
What we are trying to do this year is to refresh our commitment to St. Peter’s and to encourage regular and generous financial giving. If each one off us plays our part as we are able then there is no reason why the next few years should not be fruitful for our worship and our ministry.
Please look through your stewardship renewal pack carefully and think and pray about your response. It is not important how many ‘boxes you are able to tick’ on the response form. What is important is that you discern what it is that God wants of you and for you to make your response accordingly. Remember that you are primarily responding to God! Each of us needs to make a response which is appropriate to us, a response which is both generous and realistic.
‘Give all thou canst; high Heaven rejects the lore of nicely-calculated less or more’.
William Wordsworth, Ecclesiastical Sonnets 3.43
Sunday 8th October in the Hall from 12.30 pm for 1.00 pm serving of food. Bring your own drink, cutlery & crockery and please sign-up on the sheet at the back to help with catering numbers. Cost £10 per head. Further details from Ranjan David (020 8950 1822).
This year on Saturday 7th October from 10.00am to 12 noon. Do come along with scissors/secateurs to help with flower arrangements and other jobs to make St. Peter’s look wonderful for this occasion. Greenery always welcome. Please speak to Chris Hudson Tel. 020 8950 3451 if you could help. Thank you.
Church Cleaning Party
Saturday 28th October has been set aside for cleaning the church. Volunteers are welcome to join us between 10.00am and 12 noon. If you are able to help, but at another time, please tell Anne Swerling (020 8950 8923).
Thank you to all who arranged and supported the Quiz Night. An enjoyable evening was had by all and a total of £886 was raised towards the repair of the church roof. Particular thanks go to Alan and Chris Hudson for organising the quiz and to the members of the Social Committee for their hard work arranging the practicalities.
Walsingham Pilgrimage 2024
Father Andrew, along with Father Richard Brown and Father Paul Norwood will be leading a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th September next year. The cost of accommodation (full board) will be around £200. If you are interested please speak to Father Andrew.
Requiem for All Souls
Thursday 2nd November at 8.00pm
There will be a sheet at the back of church from 15th October for the names of the departed to be remembered at the mass or hand your list to Father Andrew.
From the registers: Confirmation
14th September, Grant Hines (at Holy Cross, Marsh Farm)