In the July newsletter I wrote about Congregational development or ‘evangelism’. It didn’t meet with any response, but that does not deter me and I shall continue with my questionnaire to determine how we might proceed for the future
Thinking of evangelism I wondered what August might bring and of course right in the middle of the month we have the celebration of the first Christian Evangelist who we celebrate on the 15th – Mary, the first evangelist. At St Cyprian’s we shall say the Mass at 1:10 PM and then in the evening at 6:30PM we shall join with our neighbours at all saints Margaret Street for their High Mass.
Mary is traditionally the first evangelist, the first person in history who takes the Word of God to others, not so much by what she says but by who she is and what she does.
She has no particular advantage to help do this if we look at it in simply human terms; she holds no position of influence or power. She was a woman in a society that paid a little respect to such beings; she was young; her family were not particularly rich or famous.
But that, of course, is why God chose her. For then it would become obvious that the choice and ability and strength came from God. Evangelisation is the work of the Holy Spirit: it is not something we choose to do because we are particularly good at it or because we’ve been on a course. It is God taking us and using us.
Sometimes God puts us in places and with people which are beyond our comfort zone, where we feel out of control we think we did not cope well; and that makes it clear, as St Paul says, 'such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us'.
There are four events in scripture where we see Mary bearing witness to the Gospel and I think a study of them would help to teach us how to be like her. I’m not saying this is an original thought but I hope it will help in enabling us to put the words of Christ into action.
Firstly, there is Mary at the Annunciation, when she simply says, 'yes - let what you have said be done to me.' It was only then that God’s Word could become flesh that his Son could be born into the world.
Then, Mary at the visitation. Her first action when she has received Word of God is not to stay at home and take care of herself but to set out on an arduous journey to share the news with her cousin Elizabeth. It is in this encounter and the culmination of this meeting that Mary offers her Magnificat, she rejoices in all that God has done for her in lifting up the lowly.
Then, Mary at Cana. St John gives us a picture of Mary at the wedding feast of Cana and when things go wrong she’s straight way points those trying to correct it by pointing them to Jesus.
Then, Mary at the cross. For any mother to meet her son on his way to die a painful and shameful death must be one of the most terrible experiences possible. But Mary did not swoon or weep or go into hysterics. She stood beside the cross in order to share in his suffering: she trusted that even now God could bring good out of evil. She remained steadfast, she stood.
These four pictures of Mary help us to understand how we also can become witnesses to the gospel, how to take Christ out with us to the whole creation. Mary is the first Evangelist: she teaches us how to witness to Christ. May we be ready to learn that lesson so that the world may believe.
Looking ahead to September.
St Cyprian’s Patronal Festival. I would like to give you forward notice concerning our Patronal Festival on Sunday, the 15th of September at 12 noon. Fr Gerald will be here to preach and celebrate. This will be tinged with sadness as this will probably be the last major festival he will attend, (though not the last time we shall see him), before his retirement at the end of the year. I am very hopeful that there will be a great representation from our neighbours, past worshippers and local parishes. The service will be followed by a lunch at The Windsor Castle pub, hosted by the church and there is a form at the back to sign if you can join us. Alternatively please let the Parish Office know you are coming. Please place this in your diary now and make it widely known. Why not invite a neighbour or friend? I hope we can plan in advance for this occasion, perhaps including the Saturday previous to have a spring-clean of the church?
Regular attendees. You may have wondered where our Churchwarden, John Blackburne has disappeared? John, as you know, is in training for the priesthood and as part of that training is doing a ‘Parish Placement’. This requires that he attends, and be part of the life of a church of a different tradition than St Cyprians. He is currently half way through his, which is taking place at St James Church in Piccadilly. Please uphold John in your prayers. It is not easy to do this and hold down a very responsible position within the legal offices of the government.
North Paddington Food Bank. It is truly wonderful that Saint Cyprian’s continues to rise to the challenge of supporting the North Paddington Food Bank. The need is as great as ever, even though the sun is shining! Any contributions you are able to give, in the way of dried or canned food or toiletries would be really gratefully received. Thank you so much for your support.
The Society of Our Lady of Pew, Summer Quiet Day. Saturday, 17th August, 10.30am-4.30pm. Summer Quiet Day in St Faith’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey. The Chapel of Our Lady of Pew in Westminster Abbey, off the north ambulatory, was originally a self-contained 14th-century rectangular recessed chapel but now forms part of the entrance to the Chapel of St John the Baptist. The term ‘Pew’ refers to a small enclosure or chapel. Sister Concordia Scott OSB of Minster Abbey near Ramsgate in Kent sculpted the fine alabaster statue of the Virgin and Child in the niche of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Pew in Westminster Abbey. It took 14 months to complete and was placed in the chapel on 10th May 1971. The original statue here had disappeared centuries ago. A 15th century English alabaster Madonna at Westminster Cathedral inspired the design of the 20th-century piece. All are welcome to join this day and there is no charge. Please check their website for more information.
If you are not a regular attendee and would like to take part, please answer the following questions and send to me by email.
1. How did you arrive at church in the first instance?
2. Why do you continue to attend?
3. What more could the church do to help your Christian journey?
4. What more could you do to help the church maintain its witness?
Our task is to make disciples, to bring people to Jesus, will you be part of this, please?