The Rector’s Letter for Sunday 30th January 2022 -The Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Candlemas)

Dear sisters and brothers,

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Title for the Church of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Feast of Title is the equivalent to a Patronal Festival for a church which is dedicated to an event or object instead of a saint).

It is the day when we celebrate Jesus being presented in the Temple in Jerusalem by Blessed Mary and Joseph, and Anna and Simeon seeing the promises of God fulfilled. We too present ourselves to God on this day, with all our hopes and fears for the future. We place them in the hands of our Heavenly Father, who will support and guide as we journey through the year ahead.

It is a day when we can stand before God and give ourselves, and allow God to inspire us in all we do and plan, for we are all called to join in the divine mystery of faith, in the God who gave of himself at the Presentation, who calls us now to follow him on the Way of the Cross.

For on the Feast of the Presentation we also begin to turn our gaze, from the crib to the cross. We turn from the Incarnation to the Passion. We prepare ourselves to begin our journey through Lent, through death, and then to eternal life.

Take the next few weeks before Lent to consider how you wish to observe our journey towards Holy Week. Consider if you wish to take up a new devotion or deadline, or if you wish to forgo something in your life. Consider how you can focus upon your relation with God, and then look towards the Cross, and onwards to the Empty Tomb.

With all blessings,

 

Fr. Edward

The Rector’s Letter for The Third Sunday of Epiphany, 23rd January 2022

Dear sisters and brothers,

Since 1908 the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been observed between 18 January and 25 January (technically an octave, as it was known at first, which is an observation which lasts eight days).

During these days we are called to pray, as Jesus did on the night before his passion, ‘that they may all be one’ (John 17.21), to be one in our mission, our work, our worship, and in our faith. It is a call for us to reflect the unity we have as the Body of Christ into the world.

Despite the division we have between denominations (or even within the Church of England) on matters of theology, or on gender and sexuality, we are still called to pray for each other, to seek understanding, to respect one another, while challenging our own preconceived thoughts or positions, to seek to see anew the love of God within the world.

During my curacy I valued the pulpit exchanges which would happen across Beckenham, for us to welcome Baptists to preach at St George’s, or for me to preach at the Salvation Army Citadel. It opened our eyes to one another, and I am pleased to welcome Rev Will Fletcher from the Haywards Heath Methodist Church to preach at St Wilfrid’s this Sunday.

Consider what might be holding you back from embracing your sisters and brothers in Christ, what have you held onto from the past which is holding you back now?

Seek the unity which God desires us to have with one another, and pray that we may be one.

With all blessings,

Fr. Edward

Church Wardens’ Missive for 16th January 2022, the Second Sunday of Epiphany

As Father Edward is taking a short well-earned break, it has been required of us to write the weekly missive. Having shared our thoughts and messages from October 2020 until Father Edward‘s Induction, it seems a good opportunity to look back and reflect where we are.

Father Edward Pritchett Aug 2021 5x5.jpg

Firstly, the appointment of our new Priest to take on the Parish following the retirement of Father Ray (who we know is still being kept busy with various bus and historical projects in Reading) has been a joy. We were well-served by Fathers Mike, John, Stephen – and David, until his move to the North, and by other visiting priests. Presently, things are beginning to return to normal, in spite of Covid, and that includes baptisms and future weddings.

We Wardens no longer have to worry about the minutiae of Parish Life and can now put our feet up and concentrate on other things. Not true, of course, as there is still much that we have to undertake in order to support Father Edward and we, for sure, are not the only ones called to assist him. Any parish that just relies upon the incumbent to “do all the work” is not a healthy place to be.

Father Edward has shared, within the PCC, some of his initial ideas for future long-term parish developments through our Mission Action Planning. We do not expect that he will undertake all the hard work himself and so we hope all members of the church will continue to play their part. So, to echo President Kennedy:

“….. my fellow Parishioners: ask not what your church can do for you — ask what you can do for your church.”

We are therefore grateful to PCC members and all those who, in addition to helping out in various ways during services, continue to work hard to keep the grounds and our buildings in good order and looking wonderful. Similarly, where would we be without Nic and the choir members who lead the music in services and organize other events including concerts. We also bow to those who ensure that the administration and finances of the Parish run smoothly and make sure that what we do is publicised to church members and others. We are grateful, too, for those who organize and lead groups within the church that continue to play such an active and important role in the wider social life of St Wilfrid’s and the Presentation Church – “cakes, tea and coffee” seem to be an important factor here obviously. Finally, we are mindful of those members of our family who support activities beyond the church, functioning as school governors, Deanery Synod members or as our representatives of local charities.

Sadly, work with children and young people is something that Covid and the Interregnum has put on hold, but it is presently being addressed and, in this respect, a Christingle Service is planned for Sunday 30th January at 4.00pm in St Wilfrid’s (keep a look out for more information in this regard).

We are an amazing and vibrant community and so, hopefully, we have your contact details so that we can ensure that everyone is kept up to date with church life and new and ongoing activities. Equally, we hope that everyone who is eligible* will ensure that they are listed on our Electoral Role. Being listed means that you can vote in various meetings, join the PCC, and enjoy other benefits such as being able to marry in our churches.

It is our pleasure to be your Churchwardens and to do our best to serve Clergy, friends and our congregations and we certainly thank you too for all that you do for the church.

Derek and Arthur

*Basically over 16 and baptised (if you are not baptised, do speak to Father Edward, who will be able to help).

The Rector’s Letter for 9th January 2022: The baptism of Christ (First Sunday of Epiphany)

Dear sisters and brothers,

This weekend we celebrate the Baptism of Christ in the River Jordan, where his Divine Sonship is revealed to us in the words of the Father, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

In our own baptism we have been made children of God, renewed in the Spirit, called to a new life, driven into the world to make the love of God known to others. Our baptism starts a new life in Christ for all of us, looking toward the God who calls us out of darkness into his marvellous light.

Our baptism is not something that just happened to us in the past. The promises which were made at that time, and affirmed in our confirmation, should not be ignored. Instead, it is the beginning of a journey, living a life enriched by the grace of God, trusting that God will support us in the promises we have made to remain faithful to the call we have all received.

In our baptism we are called to service, to give of ourselves, our time and our resources, in working to make God’s Kingdom present here on earth. We are called to proclaim the Gospel, to feed the poor, to seek justice for the oppressed, and to love the outcast.

As we begin a new year in the revealed life of God in Christ here among us, the light which enlightens our paths, as we give thanks for our own baptism this Sunday, consider how you can live out your new life in Christ. Take a moment to reflect on the year ahead, take a moment to reflect on your hopes and ambitions for the future. Reflect upon your relationship with God, and how it could grow and be nourished in the coming months.

Consider:

What do you want to achieve?

What are your called to do?

What will you do as part of our life together in Haywards Heath?

Consider these things, and then make them happen.

 

With all blessings,

 

Fr. Edward

 

Church opening

St Wilfrid’s will be closed Tuesday to Thursday of this coming week, except for the Wednesday Eucharist at midday.

Fr Edward

The Rector’s Letter for The Epiphany, Sunday 2nd January 2022

Dear sisters and brothers,


This Sunday we will be celebrating (a few days early) the Epiphany, or as it is listed in the Book of Common Prayer, ‘The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles’.  This day conjures up for us images of the magi, the wise men (were they all men?) coming from the east, coming to seek the one foretold to them in the movement of the stars, seeking the one foretold by prophecy, to see the one who is light to all people.

Many legends have grown up around them, of their only being three of them, giving them names and making them kings of the east (Balthasar, a king of Arabia, Melchior, a king of Persia, and Caspar, a king of India), with Cologne Cathedral claiming to have their relics. It is human to try to explore more deeply the stories of the Bible, to try to give those we meet in scripture a backstory, even when they verge on the edge of fantasy…

At the centre of the story of the visit of the wise ones is us, us gentiles, coming before the Christ Child, acknowledging his divinity, and that he is our salvation. In these wise ones we see God’s love made manifest in the world, not only for the people of Israel, but for all the nations.

As we start this new calendar year, let us all see the Christ who chose to come among us, who lives within our lives and within in our hearts. Let us discern his call to follow him in the coming year, to bring him the gifts of our hope and our trust, and to make his love known to all people.

 

With all blessings,

 

Fr. Edward

 

Epiphany Chalk House Blessing

The Epiphany Chalk House Blessing, or ‘chalking the door’, is a custom originating from central Europe and is increasing growing in popularity in this country, with it being promoted last year by the Church of England on social media.

At the end of the Sunday service chalk will be blessed for you to take home and to make the inscription 20+C+M+B+22 above or beside your front door, thereby asking for God’s blessing on your home for the coming year.

The numbers are for the calendar year; the crosses are for Christ’s blessing upon our home; and the letters have a double meaning: C, M, B are the initials for the traditional names of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar), but they are also an abbreviation of the Latin blessing Christus mansionem benedicat, ‘May Christ bless this house’.

More can be found out here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalking_the_door

https://liturgy.co.nz/epiphany-chalk-house-blessing-2022

 

Fr Edward

The Rector’s Letter for Christmas and The First Sunday of Christmas, 26th December 2021

Nativity

By John Donne

 

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov’d imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.

 

Dear sisters and brothers,

Our time of waiting is finally over, and we can rejoice with the angels at the birth of our Lord and Saviour, God Incarnate, Jesus Christ.

But our rejoicing is tinged with worry. We are facing again a resurgence of the Coronavirus, and an uncertain start to 2022. We bear the scars from another year of lockdown and change. Thankfully it has not been like 2020, but I’m sure it has not been the year we would have wanted.

Jesus himself faced a time of uncertainty, his life threated from the moment of his birth, being taken into exile by Mary and Joseph to escape Herod’s jealousy, with the tears of mothers left behind in Jerusalem. It is worthwhile for us to remember that Jesus was not born into the romantic pictures found on Christmas cards. He was born into the messiness of our existence, with all the hopes and worries we face.

This is good news for us, for as we face the future we face it knowing Jesus has experienced the same worries and concerns as we have. God chose to come and live among us, God hallowed Creation by becoming part of Creation, God hallowed our lives by taking on the fullness of our humanity.

When we face uncertainty in the future, remember the Christ Child, God here among us. The God who will never leave us, and will walk with us, even in the darkest of valleys, and will guide us to the eternal light, the light of Christmas, the light of the world, the light of life everlasting.

So let us sing with the angels, and kneel before the Christ Child in adoration, for the Word has become flesh, we have seen his glory, and we will rejoice.

Finally, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy (and safe) New Year.

With all blessings,


Fr. Edward

 

Church opening

In the week following Christmas St Wilfrid’s Church building will be closed except for the midday Eucharist on Wednesday 29th December.

Fr. Edward

From the Rector, for 19th December 2021 – The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Annunciation
John Donne

Salvation to all that will is nigh;
That All, which always is all everywhere,
Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,
Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,
Lo! faithful Virgin, yields Himself to lie
In prison, in thy womb; and though He there
Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet He’ll wear,
Taken from thence, flesh, which death’s force may try.
Ere by the spheres time was created thou
Wast in His mind, who is thy Son, and Brother;
Whom thou conceivest, conceived; yea, thou art now
Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother,
Thou hast light in dark, and shutt’st in little room
Immensity, cloister’d in thy dear womb.

Dear sisters and brothers,

Our time of watching and waiting is almost at an end, our expectant hope is almost here.

But not quite yet

We still have a final Sunday to wait, to wait with the Archangel Gabriel, to wait upon the answer of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to wait to hear her say:

Yes.

The ‘yes’ by which our salvation was able to enter into the world, and take on flesh in her womb, as John Donne says, ‘Thou hast light in dark, and shutt’st in little room, Immensity, cloister’d in thy dear womb.’

For the miracle we wait for at Christmas is not a far off story, or a tale we tell ourselves. It is the truth of God, who chose to come among us, to live a fully human life, and to call all of humanity to himself.

As we prepare to meet God Incarnate this Christmas, stand with the Archangel Gabriel, wait to hear the ‘yes’ of Mary, and make that ‘yes’ your own, for like Mary we too are called to carry Christ within the world.

Prepare a place within your heart to meet him, prepare a space within yourself so you are able to give birth to God within your life, the God who desires to be with us, until the end of the age.

Come, Lord Jesus.

With all blessings,

Fr. Edward

The Rector’s Letter for The Third Sunday of Advent, 12th December 2021

Sunday Before Advent

Christina Rossetti

The end of all things is at hand. We all
Stand in the balance trembling as we stand;
Or if not trembling, tottering to a fall.
The end of all things is at hand.

O hearts of men, covet the unending land!
O hearts of men, covet the musical,
Sweet, never-ending waters of that strand!

While Earth shows poor, a slippery rolling ball,
And Hell looms vast, a gulf unplumbed, unspanned,
And Heaven flings wide its gates to great and small,
The end of all things is at hand.

 

Dear sisters and brothers,

As we continue our journey through Advent, our time of watching and waiting, as we wait for the time heaven flings wide its gates to great and small, as we await the unending land, we reach this weekend the Third Sunday of Advent, or
Gaudete Sunday as it is also known. This Sunday we can ‘rejoice’ a little, to take a breather from our Advent observance as we reach the mid-point, as represented by the rose candle on the Advent wreath, before we continue our watching and waiting. 

Have you been able to watch and wait?

Have you been able to prepare your heart to receive Christ into the world?

As John the Baptist reminds us in this Sunday Gospel we need to act justly in what we do, to face what might not be right in our lives, and to accept the cleansing fire of the Holy Spirit upon our souls as we prepare to meet the coming and returning Messiah.

This is not something to be terrified about, but something to have hope in, as Christina Rossetti reminds us, heaven is open to all, even when we seem to be standing in the balance.

Take this weekend to reflect how your observance of Advent has gone so far, and consider what you can do in the next two weeks to prepare for the Incarnation.

Consider how to prepare to kneel before the manger of Bethlehem.

Consider how to prepare to kneel before the King of Heaven.

Consider how to prepare to kneel before the love of God, here among us now, and awaiting us in the future.

 

Come, Lord Jesus.

 

With all blessings,

Fr. Edward

The Rector’s Letter for The Second Sunday of Advent, 5th December 2021

Dear sisters and brothers,

We have now begun our time of watching and waiting, our time of expectant hopefulness as we look to the coming of Christ within our lives.

As the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, writes in his poem Advent Calendar Christ’s coming is as sure as the last leaf fall, the frost and the dark. We are waiting for one who will break the world as we know it, and yet will bring freedom to all. We are waiting for the one who comes to us as a child, and who will come to us as a king.

This Sunday we look to the prophets who foretold the coming of Christ into the world as the Messiah, we look to Isaiah, Zechariah and others, who could glimpse just a part of the future hope that awaited all the nations. We have seen this hope here among us in the person of Jesus Christ, we have seen God’s promises fulfilled. Now we need to live the life God desires for us in the light of Christ, in our own lives, and within the life of the Church

In our watching and waiting it is good to reflect upon the life of the parish, where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going. As we work towards a new vision for the future of the Parish and our mission here in Haywards Heath I invite you to speak with me or email me, and to tell me your hopes, fears and thoughts for the future.

What would you like to see as part of our future?

Come, Lord Jesus.

With all blessings,

Fr. Edward

The Rector’s Letter for the First Sunday of Advent, 28th November 2021

The Rector writes:


Dear sisters and brothers,

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree

So writes T. S. Eliot in his poem Little Gidding.

We are now almost back at the beginning as we begin a new Church year, a familiar time, but new every year.

We gather this Sunday once more to wait and watch in longing expectation for the coming of Christ. We wait in this familiar space, but we also wait with all that has happened in the last year.

We come carrying with us the events which have reshaped us, beginnings and endings, births and deaths, new jobs or reaching retirement, not forgetting the ongoing risk of Covid.

We bring all this as we prepare to meet with God in his Son Jesus through this Season of Advent.

We wait to celebrate the Incarnation of the Word made flesh at Christmas, but our Gospel this Sunday also points us to something more, when Jesus will return to bring in the Kingdom of God, which is not something which should not terrify us, but instead fill us with joy, for we will be able to see God, face to face.

Advent is not simply a time to know Jesus is coming into the world, it is a time of hope and expectation,

We can be certain in an eternal truth, that Jesus will return, and as much as the budding leaves on the trees promise the return of new life in the spring, so in Jesus we have the promise of new life with God.

The new life of arriving back at the beginning, but in a new way,

Of us being able to hear our voices in the apple tree at the source of the longest river, of us being able to dwell once more in the Garden with God.

Come, Lord Jesus.

 

With all blessings,

 

Fr Edward