Monday, 6 July 2015

Sue's Prayer Reflections: July

This month’s suggestion is shamelessly lifted from the back of the current Christian Aid Prayer Diary (free from Christian Aid).

In the warmer months this prayer could be done perhaps on your lawn, or in the park, (or on the beach?), but be careful! Remove your shoes and socks, and feel the ground beneath your feet. Thank God for the earth you are standing on, part of the wonder of creation. Slowly begin to walk. With each step, think about the impact your lifestyle has on the planet, - and with the next step, ask God’s forgiveness for our reckless disregard for the effect of our actions, and ask God to show us ways to reduce that impact. If barefoot walking is not possible, even an ordinary walk gives the chance to think about how we are connected to the earth.

Welcome to Ruth Barr

Ruth will be joining us from mid July. She writes:

I’m a 52-year-old lady who still thinks I’m an 18-year-old girl! Why else would I wait until this stage in life to embark on my hardest journey yet, that of training to be an ordained priest in the Church of England? I have just completed the second of three years study at St Mellitus College, London, which is a BA Hons degree course in theology alongside the formation to priesthood.

In my spare time, I’m a wife to my best friend, John, and mum to two older teenage boys, Josh and Zander, who keep me ever busy. I also work part time at a Primary School in Maple Cross supporting special needs children. I support my mum who’s heading towards her 91st birthday and needs a bit of extra help these days but is clinging onto her independence.

As part of my formation, I have been asked to become part of a church life in a context different from my own, and have already felt so welcomed in my two visits to All Saints, so thank-you for that. I currently worship at St Andrew’s Chorleywood (when I’m not away with the college,) and have been an adult member there for 25 years.

To Sip or Dip

Dear Friends,

I have been asked by the Worship Action Group to look into the different modes of receiving the wine at Holy Communion. I have done some extensive research (thank you Google!)

The normative ‘approved’ method of receiving communion in the Church of England is to sip from a common cup. I understand that there are many reasons for people dipping the bread rather than sipping from the cup – ranging from desire not to share lipstick to a desire not to share or catch an infection.

On the question of infection the combination of the alcohol in the wine, the silver of the chalice and the wiping of the chalice has been shown to remove 90% of all bacteria when sipping from the cup. The level of risk is very low. 

However the practice of dipping has been shown to raise the chance of infection:
“Fingers, generally, carry a higher level of contamination than lips, so bread handled by an infected person and then dipped into a common cup will carry a risk of contaminating the wine. Similarly, fingers may dip into the wine.” (Administration of Holy Communion in a Flu Pandemic 23 June 2009)
It is worth noting that it is the handling of the bread that can be a source of infection rather than the accidental dipping of fingers.

The same report makes recommendations for those who are concerned about catching or passing on an infection. These recommendations go back to the time of the Plague!
“We recommend those presiding at Holy Communion suspend the administration of the chalice during this wave of pandemic flu.”
Following the swine flu pandemic, a number of churches such as York Minster banned the practice of dipping, in part because of health concerns and in part because it excludes Coeliacs from the wine. This is an autoimmune disorder that occurs in 1/100 people where the ingestion of even a small amount of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.

I would rather offer the advice that if you have a serious infection please do not dip the bread in the wine as this increases the chances of sharing that infection with others. Equally, if you have a low immune system or are concerned about flu, there is no significant difference in risk between dipping and sipping. The Church of England considers receiving just the bread as the fullness of the sacrament, and I recommend that you follow these national guidelines for yours and others wellbeing.

Theologically however the ideal is to share as much as possible from one bread and to drink from one cup. Occasionally I have begun to use larger wafers as they are easier to break and share than other flatbreads or leavened breads (as used by the Easter Orthodox Churches). On some special occasions such as harvest, we have used bread baked by members of the congregation. As always the ministry team and worship group would be pleased to hear your thoughts.

Much love,

Fr. Eddie

An Introduction

How does one begin when asked to write something about oneself in the parish magazine? Perhaps the most important thing is to keep it short so you don’t start thinking half way through reading it, ‘Gosh, I’ve already had enough. And what are his sermons are going to be like?!’ So as a way of introducing myself, let me just briefly tell you something about my background, spirituality and my ministerial training so far, and I trust that the rest would follow as we get a chance to meet in person.

When I left Poland in September 2008 in order to move to the UK and begin my new life here, enthusiastic as I was, the feeling of entering into a strange and unknown territory was also prevalent. The decision to live in a different country was made following quite a wide range of experiences. At the age of nineteen, I entered the order of Friars Minor Capuchin where I spent a year as a postulant discerning whether I was called to a religious life. Having decided that the life according to the strict Franciscan rule was not something I would flourish in, I then began to study theology and music in the beautiful city of Kraków in the South of Poland. I also worked as an organist in one of the churches there while trying to figure out what it was that God was calling me to do.

In the summer 2007 I went to Taizé for the first time what proved to be a turning point in my life of faith. I was overwhelmed not just by the sheer beauty of Burgundy, but most of all by the simplicity of life and generous hospitality of the community of the brothers who year by year, with open arms, welcome thousands of young people enabling them to experience something of the love and compassion of God. It was during my visits to the ecumenical community of Taizé where I first encountered the rich diversity of the Christian faith; and I have continued to discover it ever since. Taizé and its spirituality has been an important part of my life and believe that it will remain so throughout my ordained ministry.

Now is probably a good time to say something about my life in the UK and how I came to join the Church of England. The story begins in Norwich where I lived for two years working in coffee shops and restaurants while at the same time developing my English skills and getting to know the country and the people. It was then when a friend of mine suggested that I try one of the churches there, St John’s with St Julian’s. The curate of the church, Fr David Stevenson (who is now the vicar of St John’s in Watford!), introduced me to the Church of England with all her beauty and challenges, and I have grown to love and cherish her over the years. In 2010 I moved to Watford and joined St John’s church where I was encouraged to enter the process of discernment which eventually led me to my three years of training at Westcott House, Cambridge, and to the ordained ministry. My time at Westcott gave me a fantastic opportunity to continue in my theological studies, gain more experience of ministry through two long placements (at Addenbrooke’s hospital and in a benefice of three churches in Manchester), and gain a group of close friends, some of whom, no doubt, you will meet in due course.

That is, more or less, what I am now leaving behind and what I am bringing with me to All Saints. As I am writing this I am preparing for my graduation at Cambridge, and I am already eagerly awaiting my ordination on 5th July. So here I am, embarking on what feels like the next exciting chapter of my life, starting as an assistant curate at All Saints. I am hugely excited about an opportunity to work in such a lively and inclusive parish. I also very much look forward to getting to know you all, to minister alongside Father Eddie and the team, and to learn from you and with you how to follow Our Lord more faithfully. Once again I am entering into an unknown and strange territory, but I trust that as God has led me through many ups and downs of life up to this point, His Spirit would continue to strengthen me as I continue my training within your parish community and in the wider Church. After all the one who calls is indeed faithful (1 Thessalonians 5.24).