• - Anyone for Cricket?

    Its not often that language more usually suited to the pulpit finds its way into general use. But this last week we’ve heard a lot about Redemption. All to do with the furore surrounding the discovery that Ollie Robinson, English Test Cricketer, had sent a string of racist and sexist tweets some nine years ago when he was ‘just’ eighteen. He was ‘made’ to apologise and is presently suspended …

  • - A timeline of sorts

    One of the unsung heroes of history is the woman/man who invented the calendar, making it possible for us to pinpoint past events exactly, and to understand how they fit in with each other across the years. What we call a ‘timeline’. The banners that hang across the front of the church are in themselves a ‘timeline of sorts’

  • - A Free Press is vital

    It was around 40 years ago that I first flew in an aeroplane. It was to Moscow. I went with a group of students as part of a ‘cultural exchange programme’. The other two places we visited were Minsk and Vilnius – today capitals in their own right – then the leading cities of their respective Soviet Socialist Republics. I mention this only because …

  • - West End Café

    Dear Friends, Today I did something I had not done for a very long time. I enjoyed a cup of coffee sat down inside a coffee shop. I took no chances. I tucked myself away in a corner and kept my head buried in a book, making sure that no one came within 5 metres, leave alone two. It was a strange experience. One sensed that the other people there were as ‘nervous’ as I was. Slightly hesitant, not quite sure how to relax. And so maybe ‘enjoy’ isn’t the right word to use to describe it. The coffee was nice though! But of course, if you live in and around Hampstead Garden Suburb, and you have time on a Saturday morning you don’t have to visit the local coffee shop, you can call in at the Church’s very own ‘West End’ Café. This is one of the ways in which we are seeking to reach out, to reconnect with our local community. And it has been very encouraging to welcome ‘old faces’ and ‘new faces’ during these past few weeks. Hopefully this initiative will grow, and develop into something which is vital to the work and witness of the church during the coming months…As we emerge from ‘lockdown’, all of us, in a variety of different ways will find ourselves having to reconnect with wider society; being presented with opportunities to go to places, to do things, to visit people. For many of us, this is what we have been waiting for during the whole of this time. We are excited at the prospect of being able to do, once again, what until now we have been prevented from doing for so long. For some it will be a bittersweet experience. Relatives and friends who they were not able to visit during lockdown are no longer there. Businesses closed, workplaces shut, jobs gone. Pupils and students denied the educational opportunities that so many of us were able to take for granted. It is all to easy to concentrate on the negative aspects of having been ‘locked down’ for so long. Whether we like it or not, we cannot turn back the clock, have our time over, rewrite history. While we do well to pause to reflect on what might have been, if only, nevertheless we have to move on and embrace the future as it presents itself. Not that everything to do with Covid-19 is behind us. The virus is nowhere near ready to be consigned to history and everything we say or do regarding what will happen next has to caveated accordingly. It is too easy to be overly cavalier concerning our approach to our new found freedoms, such as they are. I am as impatient as anyone in my desire to just, ‘get on with it’ and I am grateful for those who rein me in when I am at my most extravagant…Maybe it isn’t about ‘reconnecting’ at all. Maybe it is about making new connections, or maybe connecting up in a different way. If it hadn’t been for the ‘lockdown’ forced on us as a church by the pandemic, would we have ever thought of opening the ‘West End Café?’ Probably not. Yet in so doing we find ourselves exploring a whole new mission field. No Cappuccinos, no Lattes, no Mochas, just good old instant coffee, made in a mug. It’s not the end product so much as the good time that goes with it. In the brave new world into which we are all emerging, that might just be a useful way of appreciating our own life, the lives of others, a new way of living. So, wake up on Saturday, and smell the coffee…

  • - CHRISTIAN AID week

    Dear Friends, For the second year running, as a result of the regulations imposed on us due to the Covid Pandemic, as a church we have been denied the opportunity to involve ourselves in CHRISTIAN AID week. I had been looking forward to taking part in the Sunday Afternoon sponsored walk in and around the City of London, visiting upwards of 20 of the churches in the vicinity, each with their own peculiar history. But at the very least it does us good to be reminded that even though traditional methods of fund-raising may have had to be cancelled, nevertheless the need remains and the work goes on. Indeed, in the aftermath of Covid, and with our own Govt reducing the amount it gives in foreign aid, there will be even greater demands being made upon the resources of CHRISTIAN AID, their partner agencies and other like-minded organisations. We have often been reminded that we are presently living through is a GLOBAL pandemic, and no one person, no one country is any more or any less deserving than any other when it comes to mitigating its effects. When for ‘understandable’ political reasons national Govts. concentrate their immediate efforts on dealing with the situation ‘at home’ as it were, the very existence of the likes of CHRISTIAN AID serves as a timely reminder to us all that ultimately there can be no discrimination – political, cultural, social, religious – because we are all human beings and as such are all deserving of the dignity that being human ought to afford to each one of us…I know that a number of you have made donations to CHRISTIAN AID in the past, and if you would like to do so again, please contact me and we can arrange for you to have an envelope for that purpose…As a church we have been very grateful for the very generous financial support we have received from members of the church and congregation as well as from other friends and supporters. And as is often said, ‘Charity begins at home’; but to put it another way, ‘Charity BEGINS at home’, but it doesn’t END there. Just because this last year has posed a real challenge to us, financially, we have to be aware that it is exactly the same for all other charities. And so, whether it is our own individual giving, or whether it is what we as a Church give, we have to continue to be aware that we have a responsibility to engage directly, practically, generously even sacrificially with the needs of the wider world. It is all too easy to ‘pull up the drawbridge’, or ‘circle the wagons’, or whatever other metaphor we care to employ. We need to continue to be open-hearted, and open-handed as far as our support for an increasingly needy world is concerned…But we are also being reminded that this week has been designated MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS week. Not so much an appeal for money, but rather a plea to take seriously just how many people’s mental health has suffered during these last fifteen months in particular. No one is immune from the effects of poor mental health, and that is why all of us should be sensitive in the way we interact with one another. With mental health especially, appearances can be deceptive. A forced smile can hide any amount of hurt, anguish even despair. And when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we should remember that, for our own sakes.

  • - Anyone for Cricket?

    Its not often that language more usually suited to the pulpit finds its way into general use. But this last week we’ve heard a lot about Redemption. All to do with the furore surrounding the discovery that Ollie Robinson, English Test Cricketer, had sent a string of racist and sexist tweets some nine years ago when he was ‘just’ eighteen. He was ‘made’ to apologise and is presently suspended …

  • - A timeline of sorts

    One of the unsung heroes of history is the woman/man who invented the calendar, making it possible for us to pinpoint past events exactly, and to understand how they fit in with each other across the years. What we call a ‘timeline’. The banners that hang across the front of the church are in themselves a ‘timeline of sorts’

  • - A Free Press is vital

    It was around 40 years ago that I first flew in an aeroplane. It was to Moscow. I went with a group of students as part of a ‘cultural exchange programme’. The other two places we visited were Minsk and Vilnius – today capitals in their own right – then the leading cities of their respective Soviet Socialist Republics. I mention this only because …

  • - West End Café

    Dear Friends, Today I did something I had not done for a very long time. I enjoyed a cup of coffee sat down inside a coffee shop. I took no chances. I tucked myself away in a corner and kept my head buried in a book, making sure that no one came within 5 metres, leave alone two. It was a strange experience. One sensed that the other people there were as ‘nervous’ as I was. Slightly hesitant, not quite sure how to relax. And so maybe ‘enjoy’ isn’t the right word to use to describe it. The coffee was nice though! But of course, if you live in and around Hampstead Garden Suburb, and you have time on a Saturday morning you don’t have to visit the local coffee shop, you can call in at the Church’s very own ‘West End’ Café. This is one of the ways in which we are seeking to reach out, to reconnect with our local community. And it has been very encouraging to welcome ‘old faces’ and ‘new faces’ during these past few weeks. Hopefully this initiative will grow, and develop into something which is vital to the work and witness of the church during the coming months…As we emerge from ‘lockdown’, all of us, in a variety of different ways will find ourselves having to reconnect with wider society; being presented with opportunities to go to places, to do things, to visit people. For many of us, this is what we have been waiting for during the whole of this time. We are excited at the prospect of being able to do, once again, what until now we have been prevented from doing for so long. For some it will be a bittersweet experience. Relatives and friends who they were not able to visit during lockdown are no longer there. Businesses closed, workplaces shut, jobs gone. Pupils and students denied the educational opportunities that so many of us were able to take for granted. It is all to easy to concentrate on the negative aspects of having been ‘locked down’ for so long. Whether we like it or not, we cannot turn back the clock, have our time over, rewrite history. While we do well to pause to reflect on what might have been, if only, nevertheless we have to move on and embrace the future as it presents itself. Not that everything to do with Covid-19 is behind us. The virus is nowhere near ready to be consigned to history and everything we say or do regarding what will happen next has to caveated accordingly. It is too easy to be overly cavalier concerning our approach to our new found freedoms, such as they are. I am as impatient as anyone in my desire to just, ‘get on with it’ and I am grateful for those who rein me in when I am at my most extravagant…Maybe it isn’t about ‘reconnecting’ at all. Maybe it is about making new connections, or maybe connecting up in a different way. If it hadn’t been for the ‘lockdown’ forced on us as a church by the pandemic, would we have ever thought of opening the ‘West End Café?’ Probably not. Yet in so doing we find ourselves exploring a whole new mission field. No Cappuccinos, no Lattes, no Mochas, just good old instant coffee, made in a mug. It’s not the end product so much as the good time that goes with it. In the brave new world into which we are all emerging, that might just be a useful way of appreciating our own life, the lives of others, a new way of living. So, wake up on Saturday, and smell the coffee…

  • - CHRISTIAN AID week

    Dear Friends, For the second year running, as a result of the regulations imposed on us due to the Covid Pandemic, as a church we have been denied the opportunity to involve ourselves in CHRISTIAN AID week. I had been looking forward to taking part in the Sunday Afternoon sponsored walk in and around the City of London, visiting upwards of 20 of the churches in the vicinity, each with their own peculiar history. But at the very least it does us good to be reminded that even though traditional methods of fund-raising may have had to be cancelled, nevertheless the need remains and the work goes on. Indeed, in the aftermath of Covid, and with our own Govt reducing the amount it gives in foreign aid, there will be even greater demands being made upon the resources of CHRISTIAN AID, their partner agencies and other like-minded organisations. We have often been reminded that we are presently living through is a GLOBAL pandemic, and no one person, no one country is any more or any less deserving than any other when it comes to mitigating its effects. When for ‘understandable’ political reasons national Govts. concentrate their immediate efforts on dealing with the situation ‘at home’ as it were, the very existence of the likes of CHRISTIAN AID serves as a timely reminder to us all that ultimately there can be no discrimination – political, cultural, social, religious – because we are all human beings and as such are all deserving of the dignity that being human ought to afford to each one of us…I know that a number of you have made donations to CHRISTIAN AID in the past, and if you would like to do so again, please contact me and we can arrange for you to have an envelope for that purpose…As a church we have been very grateful for the very generous financial support we have received from members of the church and congregation as well as from other friends and supporters. And as is often said, ‘Charity begins at home’; but to put it another way, ‘Charity BEGINS at home’, but it doesn’t END there. Just because this last year has posed a real challenge to us, financially, we have to be aware that it is exactly the same for all other charities. And so, whether it is our own individual giving, or whether it is what we as a Church give, we have to continue to be aware that we have a responsibility to engage directly, practically, generously even sacrificially with the needs of the wider world. It is all too easy to ‘pull up the drawbridge’, or ‘circle the wagons’, or whatever other metaphor we care to employ. We need to continue to be open-hearted, and open-handed as far as our support for an increasingly needy world is concerned…But we are also being reminded that this week has been designated MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS week. Not so much an appeal for money, but rather a plea to take seriously just how many people’s mental health has suffered during these last fifteen months in particular. No one is immune from the effects of poor mental health, and that is why all of us should be sensitive in the way we interact with one another. With mental health especially, appearances can be deceptive. A forced smile can hide any amount of hurt, anguish even despair. And when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we should remember that, for our own sakes.

  • - The ‘ebb and flow’ of life

    I was brought up believing ‘March winds’ & ‘April Showers’ bring forth ‘May Flowers’. Well today, in May, we had March winds and April showers rolled into one. Let’s hope the flowers are worth it. Although it has to be said the blossom on the trees is very beautiful and gives everyone a lift just to see it. Of course, there is a downside to all of this: I have mowed the lawn three times already and I swear the grass has grown an inch in the last twenty-four hours…I mentioned previously that during the latest lockdown my ‘go to’ place was Golders Hill Park.

  • Yesterday, I had an e/mail from someone in Australia reminding me that exactly one year ago his mother had died. She had just celebrated her 100th birthday and her death had been peaceful (non-Covid related). During her funeral we had reminded each other how it was that she had been born during the tail end of the previous global pandemic – Spanish flu – and had died during the early stages of the present one…

  • - Indifference is not good enough

    I’m writing this just after hearing the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the policeman accused of killing George Floyd. He was found guilty on all charges. The death of George Floyd brought about such a reaction that throughout the world, the movement known as ‘Black Lives Matter’, took on a momentum all of its own.

  • This is neither the time nor the place for airing personal opinions regarding the merits or otherwise of the Monarchy, but it is beyond dispute that The Prince Phillip be admired, applauded and appreciated for his role as consort to the Queen. Beyond all that of his life which was lived out in the public eye …

  • During this last year, many things we might have done never did get done. For many different reasons. One thing that I didn’t do that in more ‘normal’ times I would have done without thinking was to renew my passport. I imagine there will come a day when I will get round to it, but for now its not very far up my ‘to do’ list. There has been a lot of talk about ‘passports’ this last week. Or to use the proper term, ‘Covid Status Certificates.’ …