I read somewhere the other day, “Every Sunday is Easter, every day the Eucharist, every moment the kingdom at hand.” It is faith that sees this amid contradicting evidence and frequent confusion. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the denial of nothing that is seen. Faith is present hope amid present trial and the tricks of history, even sacred history. “It is of God to liberate from all confusion”, (The Imitation of Christ) but the mystery of that liberation is veiled. It never feels like absolute certainty, it never removes risk and warning. Humility is required.
There is so much we do not know. The God we know is the God of Unknowing. “Having accepted confusion, a humble person has enough peace, because they stand in God and not in the world.” (The Imitation of Christ) This confusion reaches so deep within that we are baffled at how to approach God, how to speak truthfully, how to pray from the heart.
We ask God to give and God gives otherwise than we propose. We must pray with the life we have. Not understanding our lives, we know not how to pray.
Faith comes in. “We do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). “The Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:27). The Spirit is planted within.
It is the mustard seed, the yeast, the hidden treasure, the pearl of great price (Matt. 13:31-33, 44-45). This is the wordless prayer of God, God praying within us to the God who is beyond us. “You are more inward than my deepest part, higher than my highest” (Augustine, Confessio,). 'When you pray, pray in this way, in sighs too deep for words. Open your mouth and gasp'. (Ps. 119:131).
In the world you have tribulation. There is hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, the sword (Rom. 8:35). Even amid the good, yet hidden, providence of God there is so much we cannot understand.
Blessings may be hidden, and gifts may look different in the light of day. We do not have to know. God knows for us, and knows us, and knows what we need even before we ask. There is a prayer in the heart, inward groans and outward sighing, an exhaustion and weakness that is the power of God.
September sees the return of many from what I hope has been a welcome break and a time of refreshment, time for change for some, a new academic year, perhaps new resolutions concerning the future. For our newly accepted ordinand, John Blackburne, the beginning of a grueling period ahead, filled with challenges and opportunities. Please remember him in your prayers.
A challenging time for our PCC as it continues to grapple with the issues we face concerning our future, what to do about the damp in the crypt? How most effectively to use Patrick Graham's legacy? How do we plan for the future? It's a time for a deeper commitment and understanding; please uphold them in your prayers.
Amongst some of the other events of the coming month are:
Saturday, 2nd September sees the resumption of our monthly service of Choral Evensong and Benediction. This takes place at 3 pm and is followed by afternoon tea. I invite you to join us for this most wonderful of Anglican services then stay with us for tea. Perhaps you might bring a friend or neighbour?
Friday 8th September is the Feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mass will be said at 6.30pm.
Thursday 14th September is Holy Cross Day and Mass will be said at 6.30pm in addition to the usual 1.10pm Mass.
Then on Friday 15th September we have the great celebration of St Cyprian’s Day. This is an important date in our calendar and an opportunity to invite all our neighbours, friends and worshipping communities around about. There is much to be done to organise this service and I hope we might all pull together to showcase the joy we celebrate whilst celebrating the feast day of our patron. The guest preacher is our Archdeacon, the Venerable Rosemary Lane-Priestley. The service begins at 7:30pm and will be followed by refreshments.
A Wedding on Saturday16th September. A young couple, Mandeep & Charlotte, who previously lived locally will return to St Cyprians to be married. Please remember Charlotte and Mandeep in your prayers.
Thursday 21st September sees the next meeting of our Parochial Church Council. Please pray that their deliberation will be effective in building up the life of our church locally and engaging with the wider Church of God.
Moving on to 1st October and I am delighted to report that the recently retired Bishop of Kensington, the Right Reverend Michael Colclough, will be with us at the Parish Mass at 10:30 for a service of confirmation. If you wish to be confirmed or know of anyone who might avail themselves of the sacrament, please let me know. Of course, if you are a godparent, it is your duty to ensure that your charge is confirmed. The following week 8th October sees our Harvest Thanksgiving and this will take the form of a Family Mass. Gifts of dried food e.g. Pasta may be brought at any time. On Saturday 7th October in the morning 0930-1130 please bring fresh fruit and vegetables.
Hearing loop system & Sound amplification. I am still hopeful that shortly we will be able to install a loop system for those who rely upon hearing aids plus a very simple, discreet amplification system. We still need somewhere around £2000 before we can begin this. Please will you help with this project? You may not, at this time, require help with your hearing, but believe me it comes to us all, eventually. Your Priest and friend,