It was good to be able to spend some time away last week on retreat. I normally take a yearly retreat at this time of the year, I find it helps to have some calm before the activity of November and December and the joys of Christmas. Like everything else, my retreat this year was different. I had intended to spend my retreat at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, in contrast to my normal venue of the Friary at Alnmouth, Northumberland. I ended up in Shropshire, on a home made retreat combining work – some decorating, study – reading a wonderful book on priesthood by the new Archbishop of York and prayer. At times like this it’s all too easy to lose the opportunity to pause and think. Some of the questions which occupied my mind last week included: ‘What will the Church look like in 2021 and beyond?’ I think I have come to the conclusion that Covid19 has really changed a great deal and to talk about returning to a pre-pandemic ‘normal’ is not realistic, I don’t think things will ever be the same again. So, my next question was ‘How as a church community can we adapt? What do we need to change?’ We are lucky we have the luxury of time to plan for our future, some people in our congregation have had change thrust upon them and time to consider future scenarios is not an option, the future has arrived uninvited and indeed might even be very unwelcome. I would be grateful for your thoughts, we all need to own our future.
On Sunday 1 November at 6.00pm we will hold our annual All Souls Requiem Mass, at which we will pray for those who we love but see no longer. I will, as usual, place a list for names at the back of church, but I am conscious that not all of you are able to attend church. Therefore, if you would like us to pray for a loved one please email their name to the parish office – firstname.lastname@example.org
We are enormously grateful for all of you who have continued to support St Nicks through this very difficult period, your financial contributions have literally kept the church doors open. Although we no longer take a collection at the 9.30am and 11.00am services we do have a collection box and contactless card reader at the back of church please do, if you are able to, make your financial contributions. Better still why not set up a monthly standing order if you have not already done so, Hayley in the office can give you details of the church bank account.
Please be assured of my prayers.
At the beginning of this week the Church celebrated the Feast of St Luke the Evangelist, author of the gospel of that name and also the book of Acts. There are some stories told only in Luke’s gospel, including events surrounding the Virgin Birth of Jesus. Two of the best known parables, The Good Samaritan and The Parable of the Two Sons (or Prodigal Son as it is better known) also appear only in his gospel, plus the three canticles said by the Church every day, namely the Benedictus, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis. From Acts we learn that Luke was probably a gentile convert to Christianity, a doctor who accompanied St Paul on his second and third missionary journeys and stayed in Rome with him while he was in captivity.
Where Luke is represented alongside the other evangelists it is by the figure of an ox, sometimes having wings, representing both a powerful beast of burden and also a sacrificial animal. Luke showed himself to be an artist with words, which was perhaps the basis of a tradition that he was a painter and said to have produced at least one icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Luke has therefore become the patron saint of both doctors and artists.
As Father Alan mentioned recently, we are hoping to begin next month a series of short online talks about the Bible when we will be able to learn more about the gospels and other books it contains.
With every blessing