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Occasionally at St. Michael's we have special services, many of these services during 2008 were to celebrate our Centenary and reports can be found here, for other services reports are below:

Stations of the Cross around the Parish - 22nd April 2011

At 1 pm on Good Friday we gathered at St Benet's Roman Catholic church for the Stations of the Cross.  Fr David and Fr Richard (from St Benet's) took it in turns to lead each Station, while the young people from St Benet's and St John Fisher's acted each one out as we stopped at different places in the parish for each Station. We concluded with the final Station in St Michael's before all going our separate ways for our 3 pm Good Friday Liturgy of the Passion.

                        

Mass of Thanksgiving with the Blessing of the New Heating System - 30th January 2011

St. Michael and All Angels church has been without any form of heating for two years, since the previous 100 year old gas system was finally condemned.  Throughout two very cold winters parishioners have faithfully continued to attend the services, needing to ensure they were dressed in plenty of warm clothing to help cope with the often freezing conditions in the large and lofty church.

Thanks to Cory Environment Trust of Britain, who gave a large grant for the purpose, a new heating system has been installed in the church, and this will considerably benefit many sections of the local community in years ahead.

A Mass of thanksgiving was held on the 30th January to mark the completion of the project, and this was attended by the Deputy Mayor of Greenwich, Councillor Jim Gillman, and the Mayor of Bexley, Councillor Val Clark, and other guests. The parish straddles the borders of the two boroughs.

At the service the Vicar, Father David Sherratt, expressed particular thanks to:

Cory Environment Trust, for their financial help with the project.

Christopher Dunphy Eccelesiastical Ltd, for carrying out the installation.

Bill Smith, Church warden, for managing the project.

Michael Macey, for working to obtain the funding.

The Archdeacon of Greenwich and Lewisham, and Diocesian staff for their help in processing the project.

The parishioners for their hard work in connection with the project over a number of years, as well as in cleaning and preparing the church ready for the celebration Mass of Thanksgiving.

We look forward to enjoying the great benefits of a warm church for many years to come. 

Big clean up for the day

           

Mass In the presence of The Deputy Mayor of Greenwich, Jim Gillman

and The Mayor of Bexley, Val Clark

                         

           

Epiphany - 2nd January 2011

The Mass started with 3 young Kings joining the Altar part in processing into church carrying the gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh and laying them before the Altar. The three Kings joined the servers for the Gospel and also took the offertory gifts and gave them to the priest. At the end of the service Fr David blessed the chalk, then the three Kings collected their gifts and joined in the procession to the Lady chapel to place them in front of the Crib. The congregation take the blessed chalk home and mark their front doors with it in the following way:

20 + K + M + B + 11

while saying the following prayer:

The Three Wise Men

K Kaspar

M Melchior

B and Balthasar

followed the star of God's Son who became man

20 two thousand,

11 and eleven years ago.

++ May Christ bless our home

++ and remain with is through the new year.

 

                                                                                   

Midnight Mass - 24th December 2010

         

Crib service - 24th December 2010

          

Christingle Service - 5th December 2010

                           

Confirmation - 31st Oct 2010

On All Saints day, 31st October 2010, Bishop John paid his last visit to us before resigning to join the Ordinariate.  Four members of our congregation (Ronnie, Hayley, Arnold, Herbert and Princeton) and one from St Augustine's, Belvedere, (John) were confirmed by Bishop John. Hayley was also Baptised.

First Communion - 6th June 2010

Five children received their first communion during the Mass for Corpus Christi.

 

Holy Week 2010 - Were you there?

Holy week started with our joyous celebration of Palm Sunday, when the service started in the hall with a reading, sermon and the blessing of Palms before we processed into the church singing.  Here we continued the service with more readings, the long Passion reading and another sermon. Fr Derek reminded us how we should walk with Jesus in this special week and not skip straight to the party at the end on Easter day.

Holy Monday evening started with Holy Hour, an hour of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.  This was followed by Mass with an address by Fr Derek. Fr David was available after Mass to hear confessions, something which Fr Clive had spoken about when he visited us the Sunday before, reminding us that we are all sinners.  He had suggested that if we didn’t have any sins to confess we should bring a friend but he didn’t think that applied to any of us.

Holy Tuesday saw a couple of us accompany Fr David to Bishop John’s Chrism Mass at Christ the King, Gordon Square.  The church was full and it was nice to see 5 young school boys acting as Acolytes, Boat and Vimpers.  During the service the priests renewed their priestly vows then Bishop John blessed the oils which are used throughout the year for Baptisms and Confirmations and for the Sacrament of Healing. Back at St. Michael’s the evening again started with Holy Hour, then Mass during which the oils blessed at the Chrism Mass were received, this was followed by a short healing Liturgy.

On Holy Wednesday the Jubilate children gathered for their Stations of the Cross.  They were all very excited as they were given various parts to play starting with Pilate washing his hands then Jesus carrying his cross; Simon helped him carry his cross as he met Mary, Veronica, and the Women of Jerusalem.  The soldiers did a good job of whipping him and poking him with sticks as his fell and then nailing Jesus to the cross.  The children finished the evening by lighting a candle and placing it on the cross.  This was followed by Mass with an address.

Maundy Thursday saw us gathering for the Mass of the Last Supper during which Fr David washed the feet of four ‘volunteers’.  At the end of the service the servers and clergy removed all the candles and Altar clothes making the church bare, then the lights were put out. St. Michael’s chapel had been transformed into a garden of Repose; here a watch was kept, in silence, finishing at midnight with Compline.

Good Friday morning started with our ‘We Were There’ family service, we had several visitors including Barabbas, Pilate’s wife and Joseph of Arimathea who came to tell us their story of what they saw the day Jesus was Crucified.  At 3pm we gathered for the Celebration of the Passion.  The service started with the church still bare from the night before, the altar party processed in in silence and prostrated themselves before the Altar. During the service a Crucifix was brought forward from the back of the church where people were invited to venerate it. The consecrated Hosts, which had been left on the Altar in St. Michael’s chapel the previous night, were then collected and administered to the congregation.  The service finished with people leaving in silence.

That evening a large choir made up of singers from St. Michael’s choir, the East Wickham Singers and others sang Maunder’s ‘Olivet to Calvary’.

Saturday morning saw a group of us gathering for The Desolata, Mary’s Way of the Cross.  Here we walk the Stations of the Cross in reverse order as Mary remembers the events of the previous day.  After this the church was busy with people arranging flowers, replacing candles, Altar frontals, statues and making the church look splendid for Easter.

At 5.15am on Sunday about 30 of us gathered in the garden in front of the church.  Here the Pascal candle was blessed and lit from the Easter fire.  It then led the procession into the still dark church before pausing 3 times, during which candles held by the congregation were lit.  Fr David then chanted the Exsultet during which all but the Altar candles were lit.  There were three readings and psalms before the Gloria when the lights were put on, the church bell rang, party poppers pulled and the Altar candles lit.  After the sermon the Altar party was led by the Pascal candle to the font where the water was blessed and the candle dipped in 3 times. Everyone then renewed their Baptismal vowels.  The Mass then continued as normal.

After Mass we gathered for an Easter Breakfast of steak, sausage, bacon, tomato, fried egg and mushroom washed down with bubbly or orange juice all cooked by Sue and Fr Derek on the barbeque.  At 10am we returned to a full church for our Easter Morning Mass.

Holy week had taken us on a journey from that joyful Palm Sunday to the Last supper and Garden of Gethsemane, the solemn Crucifixion and to the joy of the Risen Lord. Were you there?  Or did you skip straight to the party at the end?

A Confirmation Service at Southwark Cathedral - 19th September 2009

It was a mellow, early autumn day towards the end of September.  We had travelled to Southwark Cathedral to take part in a Confirmation Service. Peter along with many other candidates from other Churches in the diocese was to be confirmed by Bishop John during the Service.

The Cathedral was very crowded. There were several familiar faces from St. Michael’s and friends from Abbey Wood in the congregation, which gave the Cathedral a welcome homely feel.  We left Peter with the other candidates who were being told what would happen during the Service and headed outside to the little court yard in front of the Cathedral.  It was very pleasant sitting there in the morning sun watching the rush and bustle that always seems to surround the Cathedral;  The traffic hurrying towards London Bridge, trains rumbling in and out of the station and shoppers thronging into Borough Market, the Cathedral seems like a small oasis of calm amid all city noise.

We returned to our seats in the Cathedral.  The choir were singing as the congregation gathered.  The Service started as the Bishop and clergy processed along the central aisle towards the altar.  It was a lovely Service, Bishop John talked of Confirmation being the gift of God being poured on the candidate through the Church and her Bishops.  He spoke of confirmation being an individual moment even amidst a crowd.  He said that it is a privilege for him to share the moment with the candidate.

On this Saturday morning there were many candidates, from many Churches in the dioceses, although only Peter from St. Michael’s.  The candidates came forward in pairs to kneel before the Bishop at the Altar where he asked each by name if they wished to confirm their faith.  After the many candidates had been confirmed the Bishop lead a prayer for their continued growth in their faith.  The service concluded with Communion.  The newly confirmed received first. It was a very moving Service.

Jessie was very interested in the clothes that the candidates had chosen to wear from jeans and tee shirts to suits or white communion dresses, one little girl even wearing a long white veil.  They all looked lovely to me! A group from one Church, I don’t know which, were all wearing a white rose which I thought was a lovely idea.

I was very proud of Peter .  It was a very special and happy day for all the family.

By Sue

Corpus Christi - Sunday 14th June

This morning at St. Michael’s we celebrated Corpus Christi, it was a lovely visual and moving service celebrating the gift of the Mass.  The Choir and the Altar Party processed into the Church at the start of the Service and the Mass followed its usual pattern.

In the sermon Father David talked about the Jewish Passover Feast, the events of Maundy Thursday and the last supper and the gift of the Mass to the Church.  He compared the procession held in the Church on Maundy Thursday when the Blessed Sacrament is placed on the Altar of Repose inside the Church with the procession that would be held towards the end of today’s service when the Blessed Sacrament is carried outside the Church representing the mission of the Church to carry the knowledge of Christ to the wider world.

After Communion the Blessed Sacrament was placed on the Altar and the Altar Party, now joined by a second Thurifer and flower girl assembled before it, Father David and the two Thurifers kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament.  The procession lead by the flower girl scattering rose petals as she went, included two Thurifer’s swinging their Thuribles in unison as they walked.  Father David carried the Blessed Sacrament along the central aisle and out of the Church.  The Altar Party was followed by the Choir and the rest of the congregation singing as they went.  The procession walked along the street before entering the Church garden where the service was concluded Benediction.  At the end of the service the Blessed Sacrament was returned to the Church while the congregation remained in the garden in silence.

Written by Sue

The Confirmation Service

I had never been to a Confirmation Service in an Anglican Church before and wasn’t really sure what to expect.  There were six people who wished to be confirmed and they had been invited to sit at the front of the congregation. Some of them looked quiet nervous.  The Service started with the procession of the Choir and the Altar Party to the Altar.  The Choir lead the way singing the entrance hymn “Ye sons and daughters of the Lord”.  They were followed by Altar party, the Bishop of Fulham, The Rt Revd John Broadhurst, and Clergy resplendent in their gold vestments.  The Bishop was flanked by two young girls who were both very proud to be vimpers and to take care of the Bishops mitre and crosier during the service.

The Bishop led the Service and gave the sermon.  Having remarked on how cold the Church was, despite the pleasant spring sunshine that could be seen through the windows.  He mentioned other larger and colder Churches he had visited.  He said how sorry he was about the loss of the heating system in St Michael’s and the need to pray and try to raise the money to replace the heating system.  He went on to speak about what happened to the disciples of Jesus after Easter Sunday when the women had found the empty tomb, the first appearance of Jesus to his disciples in the upper room and the doubt shown by Thomas.  He said how he could understand the doubt that Thomas had shown and went on to talk about the gift of faith.  He talked about the role of free will in the Christian faith.  He concluded his sermon by talking about his own family and the idea of inheritance of any wealth and valuables by the children of the family on the death of the parents.  He suggested that the inheritance given by Christ to his disciples and all Christians is the gift of the resurrection.

The service moved on with the presentation of the candidates who were asked by the Bishop if they were ready to affirm their faith in Jesus Christ.  After the Decision had been made by the candidates and the profession of faith spoken by the entire congregation, the Bishop led the procession to the font while the congregation sang “There is a River”, where the three younger candidates were baptised.  After the baptism the newly baptised candidates returned to the front of the Church to join the rest of the people awaiting confirmation.  The Bishop prayed the prayer of Confirmation for all the candidates and then each person in turn came forward to kneel before the Bishop who prayed for each person by name asking God to confirm them with his holy spirit.  Each person was anointed with the oil of Chrism. Each of the candidates having been Confirmed, the Bishop invited the congregation to pray for them.

As the service moved on to the Eucharist the newly confirmed were invited to come forward to receive their first communion before other members of the Church.  The service concluded with the Blessing and Dismissal and the return of the Altar Party to the Vestry.  It was a lovely service and very special for those who were baptised and made their confirmation.

After the Service the congregation were invited to stay and share in the wine and refreshments that had been provided, or tea and coffee for those that preferred.  The buffet looked lovely.  Many of the congregation stayed to chat and laugh to each other as well as the Bishop and his wife.  A lot of hard work goes on to make such events look effortless and all the people involved are very much appreciated.  It was all worthwhile; it was a great success and a lovely happy morning for St Michael’s.

Those Baptised and Confirmed were; Natasha Fox, Danielle Fox, Henry Readdy

Those Confirmed were; Tracy Fox, Donna Readdy, Christine Schwarz.

By Sue

Easter 2009 at St Michael’s.

By early April, Easter was fast approaching. Sunday the 5th saw the start of Holy Week with our Palm Sunday Service.

I really do enjoy these annual events; as familiar as they are they always seem fresh and moving as well.

As always Palm Sunday started in the Church Hall where we all gathered, the choir sang gathering songs and waited for the arrival of the Altar Party. Father David and Derek were wearing vestments of blood red, a stark contrast for the purple vestments worn in lent.  The service started with the blessing of the palm crosses that had been handed to us at the hall door. After the blessing they were sprinkled with holy water and censed with the thurible .

Father David gave a short sermon about Jesus entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday before we processed from the hall into the Church behind the Altar party and the Choir, singing the hymn All Glory Lord and Honour as we went.  The singing always sounds wonderful when you are close to the choir but the further back in the procession you are the more self conscious and intermittent the singing becomes especially in the street between the hall and south porch of the Church!  As the procession enters the Church and walks along the central aisle which had been strewn with palm crosses the singing is reinvigorated and the hymn is completed tunefully as the congregation take their seats.

The service continued along its familiar pattern, The Gospel reading on Palm Sunday is long, telling the story of Holy Week, familiar words but new and fresh every year.  This year the reading was read by three people, as a dialogue between Jesus, his disciples and other participants in the story of Holy Week with a narrator telling the story as it progressed through the events that lead up to Good Friday.

It was very moving. After the Gospel Reading Father Derek gave the second sermon of the morning, Palm Sunday is unique in having two sermons within the service. The service proceeded towards its conclusion , we sang wonderful, familiar hymns that I remember from childhood. that tell the story of Holy Week and Christs passion. Palm Sunday always feels to me like the start of a journey, Holy Week is a busy, if sombre time at the Church with so many things going on, each day brings us closer to the events of Good Friday.

On the Sunday afternoon Jessie and I headed back to St. Michaels for the childrens Palm Sunday Four O’clock Service. There was quiet a good turn out of both children and adults.  The service started with gathering songs that the children had been learning for the last few weeks at the Jubilate Choir.  After the first song we were told that we were going to start the service in the hall.  When we arrived in the hall everyone was given a palm cross and these were blessed and sprinkled with holy water as those at the start of the morning service had been.

Father David told the children about the excitement the crowd had felt as Jesus had rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and said that we were going to try to recreate the atmosphere with all the noise and excitement.  To the delight of the children they were told to go and collect a noise maker from the table and then to make as much noise with it as they could.  There was a selection of party whistles, football rattles and hand clappers and along with their laughing and general excitement the children succeeded in making quite a din! Father David, carrying a colourful icon of Jesus, lead the procession of excited giggling children and rather sheepish adults out of the hall and around the Church garden before leading it back into the Church to continue the service.

The service told the story of Holy Week until Maundy Thursday.  Four children were invited to sit at the front of the Church and re-enact the story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and think about why he had done so.some interesting answers here!  Eventually with a little help they understood the meaning of what Jesus had done.  They also talked about the sharing of the bread and wine and what it means and why we do it still today.  Deep ideas for young children to understand. The service concluded with more songs and prayers.  And lots of happy smiling children.  A pleasant Sunday afternoon, well spent.

In the evening the congregation of St. Michaels had been invited to St Benets to watch their re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross.  I joined a select few at the back of St Benets Church to watch the series of tableaux and listen to the story of Christs journey to the cross.  Each tableau was accompanied with music and deliberations about each event and its transition to the modern world in which we live today. It was very moving.

It was a busy week at St Michaels with lots of events going on in preparation for Easter, far to many for us to attend them all.  On Wednesday I took Jessie along to the Jubilate Choir as usual, but instead of the normal choir activities a children's service reinacting the Stations of the Cross had been arranged.  The children really enjoy this because it involves dressing up and acting.  The children also learn a lot about the Easter Story.

Jessie was a Roman solider this year and was given a large wooden stick with which to beat Christ.  (I had my doubts about the wisdom of letting Jessie have a club and telling her to beat someone!  I thought that she may take method acting a bit to far!).  Father David had to make a rapid intervention to a young lad who was about to nail Jesus to the cross with a mallet from the church tool kit.  The evening ended with a cross made from two planks of wood and laid in front of the altar and each child lighting a tea-light candle and putting it on the cross.  Jessie always lights a candle for her brothers as well as herself. It all went well and the children did enjoy themselves.

On Thursday we were back again, this time for the Maundy Thursday Mass of the Last Supper.  A very sombre service which focused about service to others and the gift of the priesthood.  The priest is required to wash the feet of members of the congregation.  It is always very difficult to get people to volunteer for this role as most people find it very embarrassing. It usually ends up with the same people each year.

After the service the Holy Sacrament is placed on the Altar of Repose and the congregation is invited to sit before the altar and pray in silence.  There is someone praying before the altar until midnight.  This represents Jesus asking the disciples to keep watch with him, and pray in the garden of Gethsemane.

After the Sacrament is placed on the altar of repose, the main altar in the church is stripped and the candles extinguished in a final preparation for Good Friday. The Church was bare of flowers and ornament and all the pictures were covered as lent drew to its conclusion.

On Friday morning there was a family service for Good Friday, it is a lovely service in which members of the congregation act out rolls of people who may well have been about on the first Good Friday, not the central characters of the story but other more peripheral people who may have seen the events; a servant girl who sees Peter deny Christ, Pilates wife, a Roman solider and the son of Simone of Cyrene.  It really is a lovely service.

In the afternoon, at 3pm a small Congregation and a smaller than normal Altar Party gathered for The Celebration of the Passion.  The Service started with the Altar Party falling on the ground before the Altar, this was not because they were very tired after the Watch the night before but because Fr David’s Instruction book had told them to do so. The service continued as normal, until after the Intercessions when a cross was brought into church to be venerated, later the Sacrament was brought up to the Altar from St Michael’s Chapel, where it had spent the night.  The service was so somber that only the Bread was consumed at communion.  The Service ended in silence as the altar Party and the Congregation departed.

In the evening we attended a performance of Stainer’s “The Crucifixion” sang by a choir of 52 made up from St. Michael’s choir, The East Wickham Singers, the Plumstead Harmonies and Various others. - Lovely!

We went back to Church in the pre-dawn of Easter Sunday to attend the Easter Vigil.  There was a feeling of spring in the air as we walked along, it was mild, blossom graced the trees and the unseen birds were singing a robust dawn chorus.  The church was only dimly lit and the first thing we noticed as we entered was the smell of the fresh flowers.  During lent the church had, of course, been without flowers but on Easter morning the church was almost overflowing with beautiful arrangements and blooms of yellow and white.  Tall, stately lilies on the windowsills and arrangements on the stands and before the altars.  All the statues, ornaments and Altar dressings were back in their proper places and the Church looked dressed and beautiful again.

At 5.15 we gathered in the darkness outside the Church in the front garden where a fire was burning brightly.  The congregation was joined by members of the choir, servers and clergy both of whom were wearing gold vestments, although, as he proudly told the Servers Fr David’s was older than Fr Derek’s.

The Easter Candle was blessed and studded with five pieces of wax to represent the wounds of Christ, it was then lit from the new fire that was burning in the garden.  The candle, carried by Father Derek, was led in procession into and around the Church.  The Church was in darkness as we entered, the only light being that of the Easter Candle.  At the back of the centre aisle the procession paused and the candles carried by the acolytes and the members of the congregation were lit.  The Altar Party and Choir proceeded to the Altar and the congregation proceeded to their seats.

As the Service started the candles on the High Altar and next to the lectern and many other candles all around the Church were lit and the service started in the glow of the candle light.  The Church looks so beautiful in candle light.  During the service as the daylight comes the East window slowly lights up and glows in the early morning light.  It is a breathtaking sight. The Service is long but so very special.  There are four readings, the first telling the story of Creation, the second the story of the Exodus of the Israelites through the Red Sea and the third telling of God cleansing the heart of humankind and the final reading the gift of baptism and resurrection.  There are also three psalms as well as the blessing of baptismal water and the renewal of baptismal promises.  A sermon and the Eucharist . Easter morning is greeted after the Gloria with party poppers and whistles and there is a happy and jolly atmosphere about the service.

At the end of the service everyone, who had tickets adjourned to the Lounge where Father Derek and Sue had been busy preparing the Easter Breakfast, this is a lovely tradition in St. Michaels; breakfast is served starting with grapefruit and bucks fizz this is followed by a full English breakfast including sausage, bacon, steak, egg, tomato and mushrooms.  Sue coped with vegetarian and other special requests in her own calm and organised manner.  Father Derek bar-b-cued the meat in the garden and Sue cooked the eggs, tomatoes and mushrooms in the kitchen.  It all worked very well and the breakfast is always really nice!  Father Derek was very patient with the over excited children (of all ages!) who were rushing around the garden.  This year thirty five people sat down to breakfast there was a jolly party atmosphere about the whole event.  Easter brings so much extra work to the Church I think it is really special that Sue and Derek still find time to carry on this lovely tradition.  I felt sorry for Father David who had worked so hard this week and looked done in”.  He seemed to be surviving by drinking numerous cans of sugary Energy Drink!

The choir , clergy and servers, and the Congregation, those who hadn’t had too much to drink, and a few that had, returned to the Church for the 10 oclock Mass where the celebration of Easter continued in a packed church.  At the end of this Service everyone departed to spend Easter Day in their own ways.

by Sue

Christmas 2008 at St. Michael's

The Edwardian Christmas Fair had been very successful, it really was a lovely way to start the Christmas season at St Michael’s.

The next morning we entered the Church for Sunday Morning Mass, the last day of November.  The Church was without flowers or other decoration, the altar clothes and priests vestments had been changed to a sombre purple.  The Advent wreath stood on a small table beside the altar. Advent had begun and with it our preparations for Christmas. During the service the Advent Wreath was blessed and a child from the congregation was invited to light the first candle.  Each Sunday morning for the next four weeks children would be invited to light the candles in the Advent Wreath while the congregation sang about the light of the candles.

The weekly notices on the services sheet seemed to get longer and longer with information about special Christmas services and events and offers for Father David or Derek to come to peoples’ homes to bless their Christmas trees or cribs, as well as reminders about the purpose of Advent to our Christian lives and suggestions for ways we could enhance our experience of Advent and prayers we may wish to use.  As well as the day to day business of the church.

Children old and young were invited to St Michael’s Christingle Service on the second Sunday in Advent.  A lovely service celebrating the light of the world.  The children were asked what the various parts of the Christingle represented and learnt that the orange represented the world, the red ribbon the blood of Christ, the sweets the fruits of the world and the white candle Jesus as the light of the world.  In the Church the lights were lowered the candles lit and Father David led everyone on a candle lit procession around the church ending at the High Altar.  As we progressed we sang Walk in the Light.  At the end of the Service came the favourite part for many youngsters present eating the sweets and oranges!  It was nice to see some unfamiliar faces in Church as well as so many familiar ones.

By the time the third advent candle was lit, the pink one for Mary, the notices were asking for people to help deliver the Parish Christmas cards to all the houses in the parish.  The card had been especially designed reminding everyone of the true gifts of Christmas and telling them the times of the Christmas Services.  A nice idea.

The end of this week is marked by the tradition at St. Michaels of Carol singing around the streets of the parish and collecting money for charity.  The Carol singers many of whom are members of St Michael’s choir receive a warm welcome and many householders stand on the doorsteps to listen to a Carol or two.

The fourth Sunday of Advent saw  the fourth candle on our Advent Wreath lit and a particularly thought provoking sermon about the Christian needing to say yes to God rather than God imposing his will on mankind.

After morning service willing hands were sort to dress the Church’s Christmas tree.  There were lots of very eager little hands that were supervised by one or two adults.  It looks bright and cheerful standing near the pulpit.

In the evening there was a Service of Carols, readings and Benediction.  This is a very moving service that once again tells the familiar story of Christmas and reminds us that Jesus still comes to us today through the Blessed Sacrament as he once did in the stable in Bethlehem.

On Christmas Eve the Crib service was held, this is one of my favourite services of the year, held at dusk, for children (of all ages), the service started with the lighting of the candles in the Advent Wreath.  It told the story of Mary and Joseph and their trip to Bethlehem.  The story was told this year from the view point of some of the characters from the Bible story: Elizabeth, the inn keeper and a Shepherd.  There were a lot of children in the Church, many visitors as well as those who are regular members of St Michael’s congregation.  At the end of the service the children were invited to find the figures of the nativity that the vicar had “lost” around the church.  After the festive treasure hunt Father David led the children in procession to St Michael’s Chapel where the stable had been set up ready and waiting to receive its annual guests.  The children arranged the figures, and were asked who was not yet there.  They thought about it and said with great excitement the baby Jesus!  Why was he not here ?  They were asked. Because he was not born until midnight comes their enthusiastic reply.  The service ended with a short prayer.

On Christmas Eve Midnight Mass is always a popular service and the Church is crowded with people who wish to start their Christmas Celebrations by remembering the true meaning of Christmas.  This year was no different with the Church crowded, as it always is.  All seats were occupied and spare chairs set up at the side of the church to seat the over spill.  The Mass started with the procession of Choir, servers and clergy to the Altar.  Father David solemnly carrying the figure of the baby Jesus laying on a small cushion to the Altar, later in the service the Bambino was carried again in procession to St Michael’s Chapel and placed in the crib of the nativity set up earlier in the day by the children.  The service was lovely, traditional and welcoming with familiar readings and Christmas Carols.  I always find this service magical as I leave the Church at the end of Midnight Mass and walk home through the quiet streets I always feel at peace, as if Christmas has finally arrived.

On Christmas Morning we were back in St. Michael’s for morning service, another lovely and happy service.  The Church was less crowded for this service but it was a chance to look around and see how beautiful the Church looked dressed for Christmas, the Altar dressings and vestments had been changed from the sombre purple of Advent to gleaming gold and the flowers were simply beautiful.

The Sunday after Christmas was very quiet, many people, I think, were still away visiting family and friends for the holiday.  It was a select band of us who listened to the Gospel Reading about Simeon seeing the Christ Child when he was brought to the Temple by his parents.

The New Years Eve Watch night Service was held in the Lady Chapel in the early evening where a few of us gathered to say goodbye to 2008 and to ask for God’s blessing on the coming year.  Having wished each other a Happy New Year we headed our separate ways to celebrate the arrival of 2009.  A New Year Party was to be held by the Church Social Club later in the evening, it sounded like it was going to be fun.

 Written by Sue

Remembrance Sunday Service - 9th November 2008

  The Remembrance Service started at 10.45 after our Parish Mass.  We were joined in the Church by members of The Abbey Wood and Thamesmead Branch of the Royal British Legion.  The Church was very full, there was a solemn mood about the place and people were talking in hushed tones.  The Service started with the entrance of Choir, and servers followed by Father David wearing sombre vestments for the service.

The Service opened with a hymn during which the Colour Party of The Royal British Legion marched slowly to the front of the Church were he remained standing throughout the Service.  After prayers, and the names from the Roll of Honour had been read a short homily was given by Father David in which he spoke about the need and the difficulty of standing against the weight of human evil.

At eleven o’clock a bugler, standing at the back of the Choir Stalls played the Last Post the Standard of the Royal British Legion was lowered and everyone stood in silence for two minutes to show their respect for the sacrifice that so many people had made.  At the end of the two minutes silence the bugler played Reveille.  A wreath of poppies was carried forward by a member of The British Legion and laid on a table below the Roll of Honour.  Two women carrying poppy sellers trays walked forward and stood in front of the Altar, everyone in the Church filed forward to collect an individual poppy and lay it on the table alongside the wreath of poppies.  Many of the older people without doubt remembering family and friends they had lost and maybe some of the younger people thinking of people they care for serving in the forces today.  While the poppies were being placed on the table the Choir sang “I vow to you my Country” it was very moving.

The service was drawn to its conclusion with prayers and the familiar words “When you go home, tell them of us and say, for their tomorrow we gave our today.”  At the end of the service the colours of our scout groups were collected by the representative of each group.  They and the standard bearer of the British Legion stood to attention while the National Anthem was played.  The youngest group, the Beavers, lead the colours to the west end of the Church as the Service ended.

Sue

First Communion - Sunday, 2nd November 2008.

The Feast of All Saints, and a very special day for six children and their families who attend St Michael’s Church. The children were to take their First Holy Communion and two of the children were also to be baptised during the service.  The Church was very cold but the enthusiasm and excitement of the children warmed and brightened the morning service considerably. Femi, Ife, Jessie, Gabija, Gabriele and Oliver have all been working hard over the last few weeks attending classes to learn about Communion and why it is such an important part of our Christian worship.  Now the rehearsals were over and big day was here.  The children sat in the front row of seats with their families just behind them, and didn’t they look lovely!

In his sermon Father David talked about us being what we eat, he talked to the children about what they had eaten for breakfast and told a story about his mother who had said he would turn in to a strawberry if he ate too many of them.  He also talked about St David who only drank water.  He went on to talk about Christ feeding us through the Communion and asked the children what they thought God might want to happen to us by giving us that meal.  The children joined in and answered the questions with enthusiasm.

After the sermon Femi and Ife were called to the front of the Church and were asked if they wished to be baptised and were anointed with oil.  All the children stood up and everyone renewed their baptismal promises. Father David lead the procession to the font while the congregation sang the first three verses of the lovely hymn Come to the River. Femi and Ife were baptised.  After the baptism all the children to take First Communion were asked to come forward and stand in a line in front of the Altar, they were each asked by name if they wished to be admitted to Holy Communion.  They each replied that they did.  There responses were clear and loud and could be heard easily in the Church.  Father David welcomed each child by name to the sacrament of Mass and asked for God’s continued blessing on them.  The children returned to their seats .

When the congregation was invited to come forward to take Communion the six First Communicants were invited to go to the Communion Rail first. Last Sunday they had all rehearsed walking in a line to the aisle and genuflecting before the Altar and making the sign of the Cross.  This Sunday in their enthusiasm all these instructions were forgotten (except by one child!). They walked straight up to the Communion Rail to kneel and receive the Sacrament, but it was a beautiful moment and one the children and their families will long remember.

Sue

Harvest Festival - 12th October 2008

The leaders of the various sections of our Scout Group were standing outside St Michaels as I arrived; they were marshalling the children for whom they were responsible into the correct seats within the Church.  The Colour Party were standing at the back of the Church waiting to be called forward at the start of the Service.

Other children robed in purple joined the adult choir.  The Church was filling up rapidly and there was an air of anticipation.  Father David introduced our Harvest Festival Service.  The service started with hymns and readings and moved swiftly on to the sermon in which Father David asked the children what Harvest Festival was about, the consensus of opinion was that it was about helping the poor.  In his sermon he spoke of a poor, hungry man who found a bucket of apples in front of the Altar of a Church where he had gone to pray for help.  The children were encouraged to answer questions as to what the man may have done with the apples and as they answered the questions several apples were distributed to the children who received them with enthusiasm.  At the end of the sermon, Father David said that the man had one apple left and asked the children what they thought that God would want the man to do with the remaining apple.  They all agreed that God would want the man to give the remaining apple to another hungry person.  I must admit I thought at harvest time, maybe to plant the apple and share the future harvests with those in need.

Before communion the children and many adults in the congregation brought forward gifts for the harvest collection, these were mostly contained in plastic carrier bags, some in decorated cardboard boxes or others just as they had been collected from mums kitchen cupboard!  The bags were piled up behind the altar.  There were so many of them, each filled with packets and tins or soaps and shampoo.  Most of the harvest gifts are destined for the Manna Society which helps the poor and homeless of London but some will be used to help the poor of our local community.  It was wonderful to see the pile of bags grow and know that they would do so much good, but I couldn’t help miss the harvest festivals of my youth when the Church smelt of flowers and fresh vegetables and was dressed with the produce of the fields.  Children brought runner beans or marrows picked from the garden or dad’s allotment.  The Altar would always be adorned with a wheat sheaf loaf, the pride of the local baker…Still life is different now and the harvest comes in tins which can be stored and used for practical purposes, which is as it should be.

Children were very much involved in the service; they helped with the offertory and carried the wine and wafers for communion to the Altar.  They also brought a loaf and bottle of wine that were used to decorate our Altar.  At the end of the Service the children were happy and excitable.  Some of the Beavers laid a silver trail in front of the Altar.  They had raised the money as part of our Rainbow Silver Trail which will be used to replace the church heating system.  Many of the children munched their way through cup cakes as they waited for their parents to collect them and take them off home.

It was a happy morning enjoyed by all.

Sue