Father James's Blog

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Keeping in Touch 23: O sing unto the Lord a new song

‘One who sings, prays twice’, attrib. St Augustine of Hippo

Dear Friends,

It is my great pleasure to tell you that our choir are back! In line with recent advice from the government, allowing up to 15 people to sing together, we can once again enjoy this much-valued part of our worshipping life. Sadly, congregations still don’t have a green light to join in. Thank you for your patience! If you find yourself unable to wait any longer to sing ‘hymns, psalms and spiritual songs’ (Col. 3.16) then why not join the choir? Jill McAdam, our director of music would be delighted to chat to you if you’d like to join: 01923 266667 jilly_mac@sky.com. Choir practice is at 6.30pm on a Friday for a fun and friendly hour of warm-ups, hymns and anthems. You just need to enjoy singing!

Our worship has been ‘stripped back’ in the last few weeks as we re-entered the church. Some of you may have enjoyed the quieter style – a chance for reflection and stillness in this uncertain time. You may also have enjoyed the shorter service time! There’s been less music, less movement and fewer readings. But we have still had the core of what we are about – gathering around the Word, sharing in Christ at the Altar and connecting with each other, though admittedly in a more limited way. Whether virtually or in person this is what forms us as God’s people and nurtures us to serve our community. We have done our best to continue to follow in the footsteps of the early church:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved. (Acts 2. 42-47).

You may remember that we referred to this passage when we reviewed our Mission Action Plan last year – this description of the early church is an important basis for our vision and values. Our vision is to be, ‘All Saints: church in our community; community in our church’, and our values are ‘Growing, Open, Joyful, Caring and Prayerful’. Now that we are heading cautiously (with everyone else!) towards the ‘new normal’ we can return to our vision and values to help us shape the next leg of our journey. What is the song we are called to sing in this place in this time – the ‘new song’ to echo the eternal Song of God’s love.

Many people have enabled us to hold two services over the last few weeks, and I am very grateful to you. But a return to one main service at 9.30am, enriched by the voices of our choir, is a great step on our journey towards that ‘new normal’. Next stop: coffee!

I would also like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been able to respond to the recent Stewardship letter. And it’s not too late to respond if you haven’t done so(!). If you would like any help with setting up regular giving, gift aid, or transferring from the envelope scheme to a standing order please speak to Eric Martin: 01923 267604. And if you can sign up to Gift Aid you can find the form HERE. I know that some of you will not be able to review your giving at this challenging time. If you are in any need please get in touch with me or the Churchwardens, or get in touch with Kings Langley Good Neighbours: www.klgna.org or 07790 668672.

If you haven’t looked in on a Sunday service for a while, then perhaps this week is a good one to venture back. With a few more of us present, and the choir to encourage us with their voices, I hope it will lift your spirits.

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,

Feast of Gregory the Great, Thursday 2nd September 2020

 

This week at All Saints:

9.30am Family Eucharist  also live-streamed via the website and available afterwards via the website and YouTube

Keeping in Touch 22: Falling Acorns

Dear Friends,

During my time off earlier this month, Rachel and I had a short break in the New Forest. I’ve been visiting the New Forest since I was a small boy and it is a place I love to return to. The woods, the heathland, the streams, the ponies, the sea – and the tea shops! We had a lovely few days walking, including a dramatic final leg into Lyndhurst on the last day when the sole of Rachel’s left boot completely broke off (they have seen many years of faithful service).

Although the leaves had not begun to turn, the berries, fruits and seeds were ripening and the acorns were beginning to fall. It is still definitely summer, but autumn is round the corner. With the falling acorns comes the rounding up of the semi wild cattle by the New Forest Commoners and soon after the deer begin the annual rut. Just as we see in the fields around Kings Langley, nature depends on and flourishes with the changing of the seasons. The cycle of change is what brings growth, and fruit and life – the decay of autumn and the stillness and rest of winter prepare the ground for the shoots of spring and the ripening of summer. Nature flourishes through change.

We are all living in a time of great change. A time that we often hear is ‘unprecedented’. And many of us feel that it is unprecedented. It is true that none of us has lived through anything like the lockdown we experienced from March to July/August. It is true that we have never experienced this coronavirus before or lived through a response to a global pandemic like this one. And for all the invocations of the ‘blitz/Dunkirque spirit’ from some in the media and the government, it is not fair or realistic to compare this experience to the experience of those who lived through the Second World War.

But (you knew there was a ‘but’ coming!), it isn’t completely true to say that this is an ‘unprecedented’ time. The details may be different, but this is a time of change and we have experienced many times of change in our lives as individuals, community, nation and world – and as a church. And we have grown through those times of change, they have brought opportunities as well as challenges, new ideas as well as difficulties. At All Saints we have made several changes in the last few months – with online services, a new weekly newsletter, a pastoral ‘phone network and a new open table foodbank. As the situation continues to unfold, we can keep asking how else we can adapt, what new ideas we can try, to encourage one another and to grow as a church, in numbers, in commitment to God and in service of our local community.

The churchwardens and I would love to hear from you if you have ideas to share for socials, nurture, fundraising or worship. We have really valued your feedback during the last few months. And we have valued all your support, especially in recent weeks whilst we have held two Sunday services. Please note that from September 6th we will have one service only at 9.30am with a capacity of 40 and please do continue to send us your test and trace details each week to help us record that information and to gauge numbers. Email allsaintskingslangley@outlook.com or ‘phone the churchwardens.

Having said that we appreciate feedback, I would like to take the opportunity to ask for some here. I would like to bring back coffee in the church hall after the 9.30am service, if we can find a way to do this safely, but it would be helpful first to know how many of you would like to stay for coffee if we did so. If you could email me (or ring me if you are not online) to let me know that would be much appreciated.

Change can be tiring and confusing, but it is also the ground for new life and growth. This ‘unprecedented’ time of very much ‘precedented’ change gives us opportunities amidst the challenges. I would like to thank you for all your continued support as we negotiate this season together, and sign off with a prayer adapted from the service of compline:

Be present, O merciful God,
and protect us through these uncertain days,
so that we who are wearied
by the changes and chances of this fleeting world,
may repose upon thy eternal changelessness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

 

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,

Thursday 27th August 2020

 

This week at All Saints:

9.30am Family Eucharist (A-L if possible) live-streamed via the website and available afterwards via Facebook and YouTube

11.00am Family Eucharist (M-Z if possible)

Keeping in Touch 21: Planting, watering, harvesting

Dear Friends,

Earlier this week, Rachel and I went for a walk up the other side of the valley. We’re pretty familiar with the paths around the village and over towards Chipperfield now, but we hadn’t yet ventured across the railway tracks (except for the Easter Monday pilgrimage last April). Despite a few wrong turns, missing one footpath about halfway up Harthall Lane, and some debate over whether another footpath went through Hyde Farm, we enjoyed finding new paths, new fields and new views. The rural idyll wasn’t as quiet as the chocolate box caricature: the harvest was starting, combines cutting their way across the hill sides.

Jesus was a great one for an agricultural image. He often used the idea of a seed to talk about the Kingdom or about faith – in both cases, it may be hidden or tiny, but it has great effects. He also talked directly about the harvest too: ‘The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few’ (Matt. 9.35), ‘Look around you and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting’ (John 4.35), ‘The harvest is the end of the age and the reapers are angels’ (Matt. 13.39). But there is no harvest if the seeds are not planted first. This is one of the ways that Jesus characterised his ministry, as a sower. And, alongside harvesting, it was one of the tasks he left to the apostles and to the early church. St Paul used a similar image when he wrote about how different styles of ministry compliment each other, ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth’ (1 Cor 3.6).

Each of us has a distinctive ministry to offer to the Church and to the community. Some of us will be planters, some waterers and some harvesters. We have different skills, and talents, different ways we can serve, and a unique character to express – the unique person we are, planted in God’s image and nurtured into the likeness of Christ.

Over the summer, as we do every year, we have been encouraging you to be creative with your talents in order to raise extra funds for All Saints. You might be making cakes to sell at the village market, you might be knitting things to sell, you might be offering your services as a gardener for a donation to church. Thank you if you have used your talents to help us raise funds, I hope you have had fun! And if you haven’t had chance yet, the summer is not yet over! I wonder what your talent is and how you could get creative with it?

As well as our talents, time, and skills, we have also been blessed with the resource of our money. And we are called to sow this in generosity too. This weekend you will receive a further letter from me and the Stewardship team which will give more of an outline of our current financial situation. For now, I will say that it is really important for all of us to review our giving. We are unable to hire out the hall or to run fundraising events as we usually would, and this has had a big impact on our ability to meet our running costs. If you have reviewed your giving already since March, thank you. If you haven’t, please can I encourage you to do so? And if you do not yet give regularly to All Saints then please consider doing so. The best way is to give by standing order from your bank account which can be set up online in a few minutes. It’s really important to gift aid your donations if you are a UK taxpayer as we can then claim 25% extra on your gift. For more information about gift aid or to set up a standing order if you’re not online, please contact Eric Martin on 01923 267604. To find out about our bank details to set up your own standing order, or if you have other questions about giving please contact our treasurer Patricia Humberstone: allsaintstreasurer@btinternet.com.

I am very aware that not everyone will be able to increase their giving at this challenging time. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you are in need of any extra support. But for those of you who are able to, your generosity enables us to sow and water and nurture and harvest in this corner of God’s vineyard (to slightly blend my metaphors!): your generosity in financial giving as well as in your time and talents. I am very grateful for what each of you does and for the Church family we belong to.

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,
The Feast of the Transfiguration Thursday 6th August 2020

This week at All Saints:

9.30am Family Eucharist (A-L if possible) live-streamed via the website and available afterwards via Facebook and YouTube

11.00am Family Eucharist (M-Z if possible)

Keeping in Touch 20: An Easter People

A reminder of Lockdown Easter

Dear Friends,

Remember Easter? That was a long time ago now! But I’m sure Holy Week and Easter 2020 will always stick in your mind. It will certainly stick in mine! Only a week or so into Live Streaming and using zoom and we were trying to find ways to celebrate the greatest Festival of the Church’s year from the isolation of our homes. Although there was a lot to do, Rachel and I enjoyed leading Holy Week and I was glad we were able to share it in some way.

One of the things we didn’t do was light the Paschal candle. So, this Sunday we are going to catch up! I will be lighting the Paschal candle as part of both services this week. It will be another marker that we are moving forwards now that we are able to meet for worship and as we begin to host Weddings and funerals again.

For those who don’t know, the Paschal candle is the large candle that usually lives by the Font. We get the word Paschal from the word the early church used for Holy Week and Easter: Pascha. Early Christians in turn had borrowed this from the Jewish word Pesach, meaning Passover. So, it is the candle representing the Christian Passover of Easter, the death and resurrection of Jesus, whose risen life is represented by the flame of the candle. The candle is a symbol in its own right, but it is also decorated with other symbols representing the victory of Jesus. This year the main symbol on our Paschal candle is a phoenix, signifying the resurrection. There are also the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, Alpha and Omega, reminding us that the resurrection vindicates Jesus as God’s Son, as the eternal Word through whom all time has come into being. When it is lit, nails are placed at five points around the design to remind us of Christ’s wounds.

And the current year 2020 is also marked on the candle. For many of us, 2020 probably doesn’t feel like something we want to celebrate. I think lots of people are feeling that it is something to be got through – which is understandable, many people have had and are having a difficult few months. But the Paschal candle always has the current year marked on it to remind us that the wonder of Easter, the Paschal mystery, the love God shows us in Christ, is the same every year, no matter its challenges. We celebrate Easter every year to enter into that mystery again. In fact, we celebrate Easter every Sunday – it is our sabbath because it was on Sunday, the first day of the week that the disciples found the empty tomb. So, the Easter season may have ended two months ago but, in the words of St Augustine, ‘we are an Easter people and alleluia is our song’. We still can’t sing together yet (something I am really missing being able to do together!), but we can gather as God’s Easter people. We remind ourselves of that by lighting the Paschal candle.

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,
Thursday 30th July 2020

This week at All Saints:

9.30am Family Eucharist (A-L if possible) live-streamed via the website and available afterwards via Facebook and YouTube

11.00am Family Eucharist (M-Z if possible)

Keeping in Touch 19: Not going back but going forward

The way through the woods from a recent walk

Dear Friends,

As restrictions begin to ease, I think many of us were expecting to be able to ‘go back to normal’. That is certainly what I had been hoping for several weeks ago, not least in terms of re-starting public worship. I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to recognise that there isn’t a straightforward ‘going back’ for church or for everything else! What we have to do now is ‘go forward’. To balance keeping each other safe with finding ways to be together that go beyond the screen or the phone. None of us is made for that long term.

So re-starting public worship has come with a large side order of advice and restrictions. I know that some of these are frustrating, but please can I encourage you to re-read the advice and thank you for the changes you are making. This week please note that the second service is now at the earlier time of 11am. I also need to say thank you to everyone who responded to the worshipper survey. Your responses have helped to guide us forward. 66% of those who responded wanted to return to worship as soon as the church was open. Our worshipping community is around 100 (Electoral Role plus those who regularly attend who aren’t on it) but we can only safely seat 30 in church – hence there are two Sunday services. Meanwhile 61% of those who responded hope to continue to access worship online, so we are continuing to stream the 9.30am service. The results will continue to be useful as we reflect on the next steps forward.

My aim with all these changes isn’t just to be awkward(!) but to enable as many people to safely attend worship as would like to. This is why I’m asking you to attend at 9.30am if your surname is A-L and at 11am if your surname is M-Z (where possible), encouraging you to wear a face mask, and all the rest. By doing what you can, you are helping to keep others safe and giving other people an opportunity to come to church. After all, two of the Values on our Mission Action Plan are Caring and Prayer. Along with everyone else we are making sacrifices as part of a huge public act of solidarity and care for others.

It strikes me that our faith is about going forward, not going back. When God rescues his people from slavery in Egypt they don’t just return home, they have to build a new society and nation. When the Israelites return from exile in Babylon the country is not as they left it and they have to re-build city, Temple and community. The coming of Jesus is not a massive cosmic reset back to the Garden of Eden, but a cosmic catalyst to take us forward into God’s future. ‘Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert’ (Isaiah 43.18-19). On the beach after the resurrection, Jesus doesn’t say to Peter, ‘Go back to how you were before you denied me’, he says, ‘Feed my sheep, follow me’ (John 21. 15-22).

When we are baptised and confirmed, week by week in the Eucharist, we step forward on our walk with God. When we pray, when we read the Bible we don’t go back to some familiar place with God, we take new steps into his unfolding love. Jesus’ parables aren’t about returning to an original state of enlightenment, but growth, choice and journeying. Repent means ‘return’, for sure, but in order to go forward on the way.

Before the followers of Jesus were known as Christians, they called themselves ‘The Way’. The emphasis was on movement, journeying, following – on discipleship. The Way is forward, not back, in church and life in general. It won’t be the same, though some of it will be familiar. And we are called to support each other as we go forward on The Way.

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,
Wednesday 22nd July 2020

This week at All Saints

Please note the time change of the second service

9.30am Family Eucharist (A-L if possible) live-streamed via the website and available afterwards via Facebook and YouTube

11.00am Family Eucharist (M-Z if possible)

Keeping in Touch 18: Only re-connect

Dear Friends,

It’s a shorter message from me this week. Partly because there is guidance around re-opening for public worship for you to read as well, but also because sometimes less is more!

Less had to be more for Rachel and me over the weekend. We took a 24-hour trip to see our families. Handily, they all live within about 20 miles of each other, so we were able to fit everyone in. But because we could fit them all in, we had a limited time with everyone – less had to be more. But we did see everyone. We did get to re-connect.

Even driving more than 5 miles from the Vicarage felt like re-connecting with a life we’d put down sometime in March, picking up the familiar threads of the the A421 and the A1. Whoever thought you could feel so fond of an A road?! That just seeing ‘Peterborough 34’ or ‘Stamford 9’ on a sign could lift the spirits so much? For all the wonders of technology we are still creatures made for real-time connection, for ‘face to face’ relating, for society. In that reading we all associate with weddings, St. Paul reminds us that our ultimate purpose is for this kind of relating: ‘now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love’ (1 Corinthians 13. 12-13). These connections we have with each other are the fabric of love. And we’re all in need of caring for that fabric at the moment.

Many of us will be able to re-connect ‘face to face’ from this Sunday through our resumed public worship. Please do read the guidance about this very carefully. Among other things you’ll see there are two Sunday services with limited capacity, we are asking you to send us some information beforehand and we are encouraging the congregation to wear a face covering, but this is not compulsory. The guidance the wardens and I have put together is not to make anyone feel anxious about coming to worship, quite the reverse. Our intention is to help everyone feel safe and to do what we can to protect each other and the wider community. As we re-connect face to face over the coming weeks, we need to be mindful of how we can continue to love and care for one another. We hope the measures we have put in place are an expression of this.

Things will be different. But the only constant in life is that it is changing! Apart of course from the constant of love. The love we find in the relationships that sustain us, and the love we receive from the God who invites us to connect with him face to face.

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,
Feast of St. Swithun, Thursday 16th July 2020

Keeping in Touch 17: Now and not yet

Jacob wrestles with the angel of God

Dear friends,

At theological college I remember much talk of ‘liminality’, the experience of disorientation in the midst of a transition, a threshold: from childhood to adulthood, from school or training to work, from ordinand to ordained. The rites of passage we celebrate in church are liminal places. The theology of the New Testament is liminal – the Kingdom of Heaven has broken into the world in the person of Jesus, but its full effects are still in the future. Faith itself is a liminal experience, as we continue to make transitions in our understanding of who God is, and who we are in the light of God, as we encounter him in the Bible, the sacraments and in the people around us.

Well, little did we realise how handy all that chat would be in the summer of 2020 as we transition out of lockdown! This time is something of a liminal space – we’re out of the full lockdown but we’re not back to normal. We can shop and eat out and go to the pub, but not without the precautions we’re all used to – ‘socially distantly of course!’, our new most frequently used phrase. And on the church front, we’ll be returning to public worship in the building next Sunday 19th July, but in a limited way. And some of us will take longer to cross the threshold out of lockdown than others – those who are shielding, those who are feeling anxious. It is potentially a disorientating time, so keep keeping an eye out for each other. And in the wider world there is a sense of disorientation and transition, slow as it may be, as communities and groups stand up to racism. For those of you who are online may I remind you of the resources on the online services page of the website, some of which explore this issue, help us to learn about it or suggest how we can respond.

Another way of thinking about liminality is the idea of a ‘thin place’: times, places or experiences where the barrier between heaven and earth seems to be thin; a threshold. Life events are such moments. Special places, shared with the people who are special to us, might be another example. One of mine is St. Albans cathedral, a place saturated in prayer, pilgrimage and praise, and the legacy of a saint. Our shared thin place is All Saints. Yet in this transitional time we can’t share in it as usual. When we return to public worship on 19th, it will be in a limited way and the guidance around hygiene, test and trace and social distancing will have a significant impact on what we are able to do. There will be detailed information about what we have done, what we need you to do and what to expect in next week’s newsletter. Please read this very carefully. The PCC will be trialling the arrangements this Sunday and the service will be live streamed at 9.30am via the website. Virtual coffee will be at the later time of 11am.

The transitional place, the threshold, the liminal space is a place for meeting with God. The experience of disorientation and transition is often a place of encounter in the Bible. Jacob wrestles with God the night he crosses the Jabbok stream, refusing to let go of his unseen assailant without his a blessing – he receives a blessing and a new name: Israel (Genesis 32.22-32). In a disorientating vision of God enthroned in the Temple, attended by mysterious seraphim who put burning coals to his lips, Isaiah is commissioned as a prophet (Isaiah 6). Mary is frightened, confused and sceptical about Gabriel’s message, modelling wrestling with and questioning God just as much as Jacob – a divine encounter which is much more than a demur ‘let it be’ (Luke 1.26-38).

Coming out of the lockdown is a work in progress. We are all works in progress. The journey of faith is a work in progress. There are new thresholds to cross, new transitions to make, more ‘thin places’ to experience. And God is with us in the tension and the disorientation – after all, he has shared the liminality of human experience in the person of Jesus. He is with us in the now and not yet.

For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. (2 Cor. 4.6-7)

With my love and prayers for you,

All Saints Vicarage,
Thursday 9th July 2020

Keeping in Touch 16: I was glad…

I was glad when they said unto me, ‘We will go into the house of the Lord’.

Dear Friends,

When I was installed as your Team Vicar in March last year, I never expected to close our beautiful church building for 3 months. But now we are on the road back. It has been a hard few months for many people – physically and emotionally demanding for key workers, materially demanding for those who have lost their jobs, mentally demanding for those who have been lonely. Yet much good has also come out of it – not least a more genuine care for others, practical help and strengthening of community. It is into this landscape that renewed calls for justice and equality have come. Perhaps COVID-19 will be a catalyst for the healing needed in our human relating as well as healing from effects of the virus?

For those of us who worship in church buildings week by week, it has been a spiritually demanding time. We changed the way we worshipped overnight from a physical, gathered community to a dispersed one; indeed, a larger online one. From the experience of joining in together in person, to participation via a screen, or via a print-out of the words. We have also changed how we support each other and the wider community. A lot of extra energy – from church and from groups in the wider community – has been put into how we keep in touch, how we help each other safely and how we reach those in need. I am proud and privileged to serve in a community that has responded with such positivity, imagination and energy to this crisis.

And while that is great, and true, and reason to give thanks, it doesn’t mean we haven’t missed being in the church building! Over the last couple of weeks, the church has been open for private prayer, along with the new village foodbank and there has been a steady stream of visitors. This has been a great first step to being fully open again and I hope people will continue to be spiritually and physically refreshed by it. But what many of us really want to do is get together in the building for worship. I don’t know about you, but I can actually feel tears welling up when I picture us all back in the building. And what I really want to be able to do is sing several belting hymns with you!

Sadly, we are still not in that place. Singing hymns will be off the cards for some time. But if a massive hymn-athon is the promised land, then we are at least on the way and the church wardens and I have devised a phased return to public worship: on 12th July the PCC will be invited to attend the 9.30am service, and for the last two Sundays of July we will open that up to anyone who is not shielding. Those who are shielding are very welcome from August onwards. We plan to continue broadcasting services. There will be more information about what we expect you to do and what we have done to help keep each other safe later in July. In order to help us plan our return I have put together a survey which I would be very grateful if you would fill in. It should take about 5 minutes and will close on Sunday 12th July. You can find it HERE.

You may recognise my title this week as a quotation from Psalm 122. The words of Psalm 122 are probably most famous for being set to (amazing) music by C. H. H. Parry and sung at royal occasions, from coronations to royal weddings. But those words started life as one of the ‘songs of ascent’, a set of poems sung by Israelite pilgrims on their way to the Jerusalem Temple. These songs or poems were collected together as Psalms 120-134. They are songs of ascent because the pilgrim would have to climb the hill to reach the Temple.

Many religions share the idea of the holy mountain. And the idea that it is the journey up the mountain, as much if not more than the summit that brings us close to God. The people of the world are looking up at many summits just now, some more out of reach and unseen than others. They are looking at summits of climate justice, racial justice and economic justice, as well as safety and health in the face of the coronavirus. And we, along with other churches are looking to a summit where we can get together, sing together, eat together, be together. But we are called to be glad, to rejoice in God on these mountain journeys, not just when we arrive. And we are called to invite others to do the same. To journey with the God whose Son did not rise in glory before he walked beside us on the road.

I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

 (Ephesians 3.16-19)

With my love, prayers and gratefulness for you,

All Saints Vicarage,
Eve of Thomas the Apostle, Thursday 2nd July 2020

All Saints Worshipper Survey
To help Father James and the wardens in their planning for our return to public worship please take a few minutes to fill in the anonymous All Saints Worshipper Survey. It will be open until the 12th of July. You can find it HERE.

Open Church Hours and Foodbank All Saints is open every day 9.30am – 5pm
An unattended, ‘open table’ Foodbank is now available during church open hours. Please spread the word! Donations of non-perishable food and toiletries are welcome. Surplus donations will be passed on to DENS on a regular basis – thank you to the Men’s Group!

This Sunday at All Saints
9.30am Video Eucharist Head to our website to join in, to find the order of service and for more resources.

10.30am Zoom coffee and catch up, invite via our mailing list.

To join the mailing list, please email: allsaintskingslangley@outlook.com

Keeping in Touch 15: Well in mind

As you will have seen in the news churches have been given permission to re-open for public worship from 4th July. There are a number of things to think about and put in place so that we can do that and the wardens and I will be working on that next week. I think it is likely that at least some of us will be able to meet for worship in church later in July. Please bear with us as we formulate plans for how we can do this. There will be more information in due course.

Meanwhile, the church building remains open every day 9.30am – 5pm for private prayer. You are welcome to sit in the chairs provided near the front and to light candles in the Lady Chapel. As the visitors’ book is currently not available, if you are a Facebook user, please ‘check in’ and comment on our Facebook page so we get an idea of how many people are visiting. The new foodbank is also available if you or anyone you know is in need of some food. Please let others know that it is there. And if you can donate then non-perishable food and toiletries would be welcome. All Saints Men’s Group are providing volunteers to take surplus donations to DENS – thank you to them.

In some ways everything has been very much ‘same old’ over the last few weeks. In other ways the situation has continued to evolve rapidly. Not only for churches but for businesses, charities and families. Now we are in a position to enjoy some more freedom (and a much needed trip to the barbers in my case!) and yet we still have to maintain our social distancing and be mindful of the continuing limits on our activities to protect and care for each other.

All of this is a difficult balancing act which I think has put a strain on mental health for many of us. And that’s to be expected. If we had a period of increased physical activity that our bodies weren’t used to we would be physically tired. We have had a lot more mental work to do than usual over the last few months, so it shouldn’t surprise us if we have some mental tiredness. I know I’ve felt that at some points over the last few weeks. The important thing is to notice it and to take some steps to let your mind recover and recharge. Just as you would let your body recover and recharge if it had been working harder than usual. There are 10 top tips for this below, as recommended by Mental Health First Aid England. The two I often find most helpful are Relating – Zoom, friends, cheese and wine has been a good combination! – and Giving –doing something to help and support others. If you are feeling a bit mentally under the weather then make some space or some conscious effort to give some of these things a go.

And remember, Jesus has given us his peace and calls us to share it with others:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14.27)

With my love, prayers and gratefulness for you,

All Saints Vicarage, Thursday 25th June 2020

10 Top Tips for Mental Wellbeing

Relating The people around you offer a valuable pool of support so it’s important to put time into strengthening those connections. Try turning off distractions to chat with friends or family.

Exercising Regular activity will provide an endorphin boost and increase confidence. Try finding an activity that suits you and your schedule.

Awareness Taking time to switch off autopilot and ‘be in in the moment’ is a great tool to combat stress. Try paying attention to your senses – what can you see, hear or feel around you?

Giving Holding out a helping hand makes other people happy and will make you feel happier too. Try asking friends, family or colleagues how they are and listen without judgement.

Trying out Learning new things is stimulating and can help to life your mood. Try out a new hobby, club or activity that interests you.

Direction Working towards positive, realistic goals can provide motivation and structure. Try choosing a goal that is meaningful to you, not what someone else expects of you; remember to celebrate progress along the way.

Meaning People who have meaning in their lives experience less stress, anxiety and depression. Try prioritising the things that bring you the strongest sense of purpose.

Resilience Although we can’t always choose what happens to us, we can often choose our own response to what happens. Try finding an outlet such as talking to friends or writing it down.

Emotions Positive emotions can build up a buffer against stress and even lead to lasting changes in the brain to help maintain wellbeing. Try taking time to notice what you’re grateful for and focus on the good aspects of any situation.

Acceptance No one is perfect. Longing to be someone different gets in the way of making the most of our own happiness. Try being kind to yourself when things go wrong.

Open Church Hours and Foodbank
All Saints is open every day 9.30am – 5pm
An unattended, ‘open table’ Foodbank is now available during church open hours. Please spread the word! Donations of non-perishable food and toiletries are welcome. Surplus donations will be passed on to DENS on a regular basis – thank you to the Men’s Group!

This Sunday at All Saints
9.30am Video Eucharist Head to our website to join in, to find the order of service and more resources HERE.
10.30am Zoom coffee and catch up, invite via our mailing list.
(To join the mailing list, please email: allsaintskingslangley@outlook.com)

Harvest of Talents 2020 In the spirit of the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25.14-30), we are once again challenging you to use your initiative and talent to see through a ‘project’ over the summer and return at Harvest with the money you have made. Past projects include selling home- made cakes or jam, gardening, babysitting, dog-walking or ironing, quizzes or Sudoku. This year of course it is an extra challenge to deploy your talent in the lockdown, e.g. selling home-made cakes will mean your own take on Deliveroo – a great opportunity to say a socially distanced “hello” as well! We can’t hand over the customary fiver to start you off, but we wish you a hearty “good luck”!

Keeping in Touch 14: Being Grateful

Thank you. That’s the first thing I’d like to say. Back in Keeping in Touch 9 I asked for some feedback on ‘virtual church’, and what you’d like to see continue while we can’t meet in the building, and once we can return. Thank you to everyone who has got back to me. I’ve been really grateful for your feedback and all your kind messages for me. And thank you for the many enquiries into how my back is this week – some of you will know I ‘put it out’ last Friday making space for the new foodbank – pews fight back! But I’m well on the mend.

What came across very clearly in your feedback is the appreciation of our virtual Sunday worship (thanks to Rachel, Sarah, Carolyn, Mark and Sheila for your help with this) and that many of you are in favour of continuing to broadcast worship when we are back in church. This was in fact something we were re-visiting just before the lockdown, so ‘stay tuned’. Weekday services have also been appreciated, especially during the full lockdown but it is probably time to scale these back. Virtual coffee and Bible Study have also had honourable mentions. Far and away the two strongest pieces of feedback are that we are all looking forward to being back in church and, somewhat to my surprise, you would like me to continue with Keeping in Touch. All I can say is be careful what you wish for!

I also need to say thank you to the churchwardens and deputy churchwardens for all they have done to get the church ready to open for private prayer and for their help in setting up our new ‘open table’ foodbank. There are more details about this below. Meanwhile others are continuing to look after our church building and our church family, and to serve the wider community – from the Pastoral Team to the Fundraising group, to the open church team, to the Churchyard mowing team (and we are also working with the Borough Council to address the maintenance of the New Churchyard – thanks to Peter Sutcliffe on that one).

Gratefulness is at the heart of our spiritual life. In Colossians Chapter 3 verses 12-17 St. Paul describes the Christian spiritual life and how it is expressed. At the centre of the passage in v.15 is one of his shortest and simplest sentences: ‘And be thankful.’ Easy to read, not always so easy to put into practice. Especially in the middle of this time of uncertainty. But being grateful, having a habit of gratefulness, is not only part of our response to God, it’s good for our mental health. A thankful recognition of what we have – things, skills, opportunities, resources – puts us in a more positive position to respond to our situation, to others and to the challenges of the world. Gratefulness is the practice of seeing what we do have and the choices we can make as gifts and asking ourselves what we can do with those gifts. Having looked properly at what we do have, where do we go from here?

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3.17)

With my love, prayers and gratefulness for you,

All Saints Vicarage, Feast of Bernard Mizeki, Thursday 18th June 2020

Afternoon Tea Social and Fundraiser Saturday 27th June 4.30pm via Zoom
Scone, jam and cream and a selection of sandwiches delivered to your door
Individual: £10; Couple: £18; Family: £24
To order click HERE or contact Ingrid Allen 01923 268253.
If ordering online you will be contacted about dietary requirements. For catering purposes please place your order by Midday Sunday 21st June.

Open Church Hours and Foodbank
All Saints is open every Day 9.30am – 5pm
An ‘open table’ Foodbank is now available during church open hours. It is unattended and available to anyone in need. Please spread the word! If you are able to donate then non-perishable food and toiletries are welcome. There is a donations basket in church. Surplus donations will be passed on to DENS on a regular basis – thank you to the men’s group!.

This Sunday at All Saints
10.00am Live Stream Alban Pilgrimage Eucharist from St Albans Cathedral.
Find the service sheet and tune in HERE
11.00am Virtual Coffee (later start time due to the 10am service at the Cathedral)

Harvest of Talents 2020 
In the spirit of the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25.14-30), we are once again challenging you to use your initiative and talent to see through a ‘project’ over the summer and return at Harvest with the money you have made from your project.  In the past people have sold home-made cakes or jam, done gardening, babysitting, dog-walking or ironing, organised dinner parties, quizzes or Sudoku.  This year of course it is an extra challenge to deploy your talent in the lockdown, so for example selling your home-made cakes will mean your own take on Deliveroo – a great opportunity to say a socially distanced “hello” as well!  And because of the lockdown we can’t hand over the customary fiver to start you off, but we can still say a hearty “good luck with your Talent project”!

Letter from Bishop Alan
Bishop Alan has written a very kind letter of encouragement and support to All Saints, thanking us for all that we are doing in these strange times. He also writes that as he is unable to take his summer holiday he has decided to support churches in the diocese with a donation as a token of his appreciation. Please pray for bishop Alan and the bishop’s staff as they lead, support and resource parishes during this difficult time.

Things to keep you encouraged, informed and entertained this week