“For me the teachings of Christ and my personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ’s words and example. I believe that the Christian message, in words of a familiar blessing remains profoundly important to us all:
Go forth into the world in peace,be of good courage,
hold fast to that which is good
render to no man evil for evil,
strengthen the faint-hearted,
support the weak,
help the afflicted,
honour all men.
It is a simple message of compassion – and yet as powerful as ever today, 2,000 years after Christ’s birth.”
These words, from the late Queen’s speech given on Christmas Day in 2000, heralded something of a change in the focus of those messages. The Queen had always alluded to her faith, or to the meaning of Christmas, but commentators note that from that year onwards, the Queen’s Christmas address became a more explicit declaration of her Christian faith. While Britain, arguably, was becoming more secular, the Queen’s message headed in the opposite direction. She obviously sought to share her faith, finding commonality between other faiths, and was keen to inspire faith in others.
Heart and devotion
The power of a constitutional monarch lies in this soft realm of influence and example. In 1957, the Queen acknowledged these limits: “In the old days the monarch led his soldiers on the battlefield … Today things are very different. I cannot lead you into battle, I do not give you laws or administer justice, but I can do something else, I can give you my heart and my devotion….”
We observe at the heart of our government, a life being lived, rather than a job being done, and the late Queen wanted us to notice the faith being lived out at heart of all that.
What do we find at the heart of the Christian faith?
The kingdom of God is the phrase used in scripture to describe the place where God dwells and where a peaceable ethic prevails in contrast to the corruption and violence of worldly kingdoms. Jesus told parables of the kingdom, wanting his hearers to catch something of this renewed atmosphere.
He tells the two stories in our gospel reading in response to some bickering about what kind of leader he is, the reading begins: “Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
The Pharisees and Scribes were the supposed good people, officially appointed to be good examples, and they may well have been, and the tax collectors and sinners are the baddies, and they may well have been too. But Jesus tells this story in a way to redefine goodness, to reframe what being a good person is really about.
The 99 sheep behave themselves and stay where they are supposed to be, but the shepherd concerns himself most of all with the one sheep that has wandered from the pathway and got lost, leaving the others to search for it, and not returning until the sheep is found.
And the shepherd says, “Rejoice with me, says the shepherd, for I have found my sheep that was lost.”
The nine silver coins, (ten silver coins was likely to be a wedding dowry) are together in the right place, but one has fallen off the chain or out of the purse and rolled away into some dark dusty corner. The woman picks up her skirts, lights a lamp, and sweeps and sweeps, not giving up until she spots that hidden glint of silver.
And then she says, “Rejoice with me, says the woman, for I have found the coin that I had lost.”
Jesus says, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance,” and “there is joy in the presence of the angels.”
Each parable ends with a party, because finding what was lost is an occasion for rejoicing. And notice that the protagonism of these stories lies with the finder, with the shepherd, with the woman sweeping, that is, with God.
Because Jesus is describing a repentance, that is not so much about jumping through hoops to be accepted but a being found, and something that always leads to joy. It is a discovery “Oh goodness, I have become lost, I have been wrong, and now I have been set free, and now I have been brought back, and made welcome.”
As the writer Francis Spufford says in his book, Unapologetic, 'We are supposed to be on the side of goodness in the sense that we need it, not that we are it.’
These two parables set up the next one, not in our reading today, the parable of the Prodigal Son, whose message can be summed up thus: God is running down the road to meet you, and simply wants to rejoice that you have come home.
They give us an exuberant image of God, who rejoices in the inhabited world, and delights in the human race. God is just delighted that we have come back again. I like to imagine the rejoicing in heaven, the saints and angels being rather like those who cheer on the sidelines of a race as someone reaches the finish line, spurring them on with applause and whoops of joy.
In the Book of Common Prayer, we are reminded, not that we ought not to grieve at all, but that “we are not to grieve as those who have no hope,” quoting the first letter to the church in Thessalonika:
“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.”
A God of joy
At the heart of our Christian faith we find a God of joy, and a promise of hope of new life and reconciliation, that can become an anchor for us in disorienting times.
During this official period of mourning, which will elicit grief and devotion in some, and a reminder of other sources of grief and distress, and ambivalence in others, it is also important to commend to God all those who will die unnoticed, or whose deaths will not stop the clocks and football matches of the world.
We commend to God every lost sheep, and every hidden coin, thinking especially today of Chris Kaba, whose life was cut short at the age of 24, on Monday, not far away in Streatham Hill, and for his family, desperate for answers and for justice.
And perhaps we can pray for our nation at this time of change, for a renewed ethic of goodness that does not measure a person only by their conformity to ‘hard-workingness’ or their ability to be financially self-sufficient, but one that sees in each person their innate, God-given goodness and worth, that recognises that we are to God a cause for rejoicing. May our lives lived be a parable that speaks of this hope and joy.
St John's Choir in Derby Cathedral
By Chris Eldridge
“O magnify the Lord our God, and worship him upon his holy hill…” (psalm 99 v9)
At the start of August this year St John’s choir were on tour and making music at Derby Cathedral.
Derby Cathedral is set on a hill above the River Derwent and only 100 yards from newly-opened Derby “Museum of Making” in a converted riverside silk mill. The choir were singing for The Cathedral Eucharist and for Choral Evensong on three consecutive days, including the Feast of The Transfiguration. In between choir practice and services almost everyone in the choir visited the Museum of Making exhibitions to view the variety of technologies, industry and craft that have made Derby famous.
“… sing praises lustily unto Him with a good courage” (psalm 33 v3)
St John’s choir, supplemented by friends from other church choirs and a representative of St John’s Junior Choir, were performing a range of church music from plainchant and C16th Tallis through to C19th Stanford and C20th Herbert Howells under the very able and energetic direction of John Webber and our organists Nicky and Niall. The discipline and work associated with two practices a day produced a glorious sound and, assisted by the fine acoustic of Derby Cathedral, helped us to lift earth heavenwards.
The University of Derby provided the choir with low-cost hostel accommodation which included kitchen facilities where we were able to prepare and cook meals. Not only are the choir gifted in musical talent but many possess excellent culinary skills and a rota overseen and organised by Christine provided food with ample choice, quality and quantity.
Time away together as a choir provides opportunity for social contact and cohesion which is particularly important now that Covid isolation is no longer a requirement. After Evensong many of us found refreshment at The Olde Dolphin Inne. As a relatively new member of the choir I particularly appreciated the social aspect of the visit. I was impressed by the organising skills of John regarding music and choreography and Sue and Christine in particular regarding accommodation and food.
Derby is a city located at the heart of England with many attractions and places of interest to visit in and around the city, including a UNESCO heritage trail along the Derwent Valley between Derby and Matlock. Two extensive parks are within walking distance of the city centre and within a radius of 10 miles of the city the estates of past grand gentry are open to the public, part of our cultural heritage. As a cyclist I was able to visit a number of these attractions during and after our stay.
“O God , my heart is ready, my heart is ready: I will sing and give praise with the best member that I have” (psalm 108 v1)
St John’s choir under the committed leadership of John Webber is helping to maintain the musical part of our cultural heritage and during the stay in Derby we were able to contribute to the richness on offer within and around this famous ‘city of making’.
Most cathedral choirs continue to thrive but many parish churches have sadly lost such contribution to their worship. At St John’s we are fortunate to hold-on to our musical tradition. Long may this continue.
(Note: the psalms quoted above were sung by the choir at Derby Cathedral)
|HELP AND SUPPORT by TELEPHONE or EMAIL
Don’t hesitate to seek friendly, knowledgeable advice right from the moment you start to worry!
|Alzheimer’s Society||Dementia UK|
|Dementia Connect Support line: 0333.150.3456
Monday – Wednesday, 9 a.m – 8 p.m.
Thursday & Friday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The line may be closed on Bank Holidays
Email: Via website form or firstname.lastname@example.org
Southwark & Lambeth Dementia Support Service: Tel. 0207 735 5850,
Open Tuesday - Friday, 9.00 a.m. – 5 p.m.
They also have an online discussion forum for people with dementia and carers.
|Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline: 0800.888.6678
Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The line is open on all Bank Holidays except Christmas Day. If lines are very busy, you will be invited to leave a voicemail and a nurse will call you back.
Email: email@example.com or via website form
Or you can book a ‘virtual’ appointment with an Admiral (dementia specialist) Nurse by emailing http://www.dementiauk.org/closertohome. Nurse.
If you don’t have internet access, many of these subjects will be covered by leaflets – ask the organisation’s Helpline/Support team
|What are possible warning signs of dementia, and which could just be related to normal ageing?
(Both organisations stress that though these signs might alert you to the need to seek a diagnosis via your GP, don’t use them to diagnose yourself or your loved one!)
Is it getting older, or dementia?
(Giving the symptoms plus a comparison chart)
Symptoms of dementia (without comparisons, but including signs specific to different types of dementia)
|Why is it important to get a diagnosis?
Two very good reasons are:
|Alzheimer’s Society||Dementia UK|
|Why get dementia diagnosed?||Why you should see your GP if you’re worried about dementia|
|What if your loved one doesn’t want to see a GP?
They may be in denial, or can’t remember being forgetful or confused, so don’t think they have a problem. If your doctor offers yearly check-ups, or is seeing the person for something else, this might be a way in. Otherwise, you may need guidance on talking to your loved one about the problems you’ve noticed, and persuading them that the GP could help.
|Alzheimer’s Society||Dementia UK|
|Talking to someone about memory problems
How to offer help to someone with dementia who doesn’t want it
|Getting a diagnosis - reluctance|
|Preparing for and going to the GP
Whether you are the patient, or supporting someone when they visit the GP, it’s a good idea to do some ‘homework’ first (such as preparing information the GP will need to know) and to take notes when there.
|Alzheimer’s Society||Dementia UK|
|Going to see the GP||Getting the best out of GP and other healthcare appointments|
Vicar Revd Gill O’Neill 07958 592 425, firstname.lastname@example.org
Curate Revd Gemma Birt email@example.com
Assistant Priests Revd Anne Clarke firstname.lastname@example.org , Revd Alistair McCulloch email@example.com and Revd Rosemary Shaw firstname.lastname@example.org
Parish Administrator Denise Fulgoni 020 8693 3897, email@example.com
Churchwardens Tayo Olatunde 07908 679 407 and Julie Whitney 07786 686 385
Parish Safeguarding Officer Mary Dawson (contact via Parish Administrator)
PCC Secretary Christine Camplin
PCC Treasurer Sarah Goudge
Stewardship Martin Howell
Director of Music John Webber
Electoral Roll Officer Denise Fulgoni
Church Flowers Sally Gross
Goose Green Centre Denise Fulgoni
Editors of The Gander Christine Camplin, Jim Nurton, Tayo Olatunde and Dorothy Oxley
(Contact each of the above via Parish Administrator)
St John's & St Clement's C of E Primary School, Adys Road, London SE15 4DY
www.stjohnsandstclements.org, 020 7525 9210
The views expressed in The Gander are not necessarily those of the Editors, Vicar or PCC.
Notices and items or articles for possible inclusion in the next issue of The Gander must be with the Editors by the 15th of the preceding month. Please contact the team in person or by email to the Parish Administrator with any questions.