Coconut and almond macaroons - new today from Emily's kitchen! They look amazing. Who'll be the first to try them?
Stained glass dating from about 1905 has been left with a six-inch hole through it following an incident over the weekend.
The damage was discovered first thing this morning by parishioners attending the early service.
The window depicts Noah offering a sacrifice (Genesis 8.20).
It is anticipated that repairs will cost several hundred pounds. This will not be covered by our insurance due to the level of our insurance excess.
Were you listening to Today on Radio 4 at 8.10 this morning? If so, you'll have heard a moving interview with Henia Bryer, a Polish Jew who survived the Holocaust. You can hear the interview here - it's worth listening to.
This Sunday is Holocaust Day, and to mark this important occasion, Henia Bryer will feature in a BBC1 documentary at 10.25pm, Prisoner Number A26188: Henia Bryer. I don't expect it to be comfortable viewing, but I shall make watching it a priority.
The Holocaust is a stark example of human sin writ large; or, we might say, of what happens when human hearts are opened to evil, in this case on a massive scale. (I almost wrote 'inhuman' evil, but that would be to deny human responsibility for what took place.) Hatred of others because they differ from us or from our own ideals is perhaps the most corrosive force in the world, lying behind numerous acts of oppression, persecution and violence. Look at the news, and you'll see all too many examples at work.
Today in the church we mark the conversion of Saul, a man who hated the followers of Jesus and felt justified in persecuting them - until he was arrested by the light of God on the road to Damascus. Transformed and penitent, he became St Paul, one of the most influential Christians in history. It's a reminder that there's hope of redemption even for the most hardened of oppressors. It's also a reminder to be honest about our own capacity to sin, even and perhaps especially when we think we're standing up for self-evident truths. Indeed, it's the issues we see in terms of black and white which present the greatest dangers, when our prejudice can threaten to override human rights and the due process of law.
Back to the interview with Henia Bryer, I was struck by one of the questions posed by John Humphrys:
'All of these things that matter to ordinary people, really, in the great scheme of things...must seem almost trivial...?'
That set me thinking: ordinary life is so often trivial and mundane. But that's one of the important things about it - it's part of the freedom which matters so much to us, an aspect of the security which we need. And such freedom and security are denied, not only to the oppressed, but also to those who oppress them - whatever ideology they live by.
Food from Scotland is a new theme in the Cafe as Burns Night approaches.
Burns Scotch Broth is simmering on the hob, filling the room with an irresistible aroma. Paired with one of Emily's home-made bread rolls served warm from the oven, it'll be just the thing to comfort, warm and cheer on another cold day. Roll on lunchtime!
To follow, how about one of the freshly prepared Millionaire's Shortbreads? They are delicious, a luxuriant layer of marbled chocolate coating the equally generous layer of caramel above the delicious shortbread base.
Fruit scones complete the line-up. Served warm, with jam and butter, they're just the thing with a pot of tea or some fresh coffee - latte, cappucino or Americano.
A makeshift chapel for this morning's Communion service is all ready in the former Baptistry at the West end of the church.
The focus behind the altar is a new painting given to the church last week by local artist Jean-Pierre Kunzler.
The Lady Chapel is out of use today due to investigative works on the dry rot outbreak, and the All Souls' Chapel is too cold to use at this time of year.
Thanks to Emily for being willing to put up with possible inconvenience in the Cafe as we occupy part of it during Cafe hours.
As well as the usual Choral Eucharist in the morning (featuring music by Byrd and Gibbons), the choir will also be singing Choral Evensong this Sunday 20th January. They will perform Stanford's famous Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in C and a beautiful motet by Lassus.
The choir usually sing Evensong once or twice each month (see the music list), so don't miss out on this opportunity to enjoy the service accompanied by such wonderful music. The service begins at 4.30pm - it would be great to see you there!
The All Saints' website has recently been updated to make it easier for people to contact the clergy about prayer requests, baptisms, weddings and confirmation services. We're hoping that some of our hundreds of online visitors will use these forms to conveniently enquire about some of the services we provide to our congregation and those visiting the church.
'Watch where you tread!' warned the architect, as we walked across the churchyard.
I looked down.
I didn't see what he had seen. He didn't see what I could see. Something was sparkling in the grass. It was 50p.
What do you see in this photo? Do you see a grey, damp,crumbling wall? Or is it the sunlight and the shadow of flowers which stand out?
What do you see as you walk through life? Do you see only the perils and hardships, or do you notice and appreciate the blessings and treasures? It's easy to be negative - at least, I find it so at times - but a focus on what is positive encourages and transforms us. Surely that's worth striving for.
Perhaps St Paul had something of this in mind, when he wrote 'Set your minds on things that are above, not on earthly things.' But he was really speaking about looking for the best within ourselves...in order that we can become the sparkling treasure reflecting the light of Christ to others on their journey; in order that the beautiful shadows on the grey wall of life may be ourselves , as we live in Christ's light.
This Sunday is the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, not only an occasion to celebrate in itself, but also a time for us to renew our own Baptismal promises. We shall observe the feast with incense and holy water, music, words, and silence, the Eucharist, and the dedication of our own hearts. Come and join us!
"Lord God, in our baptism you called us and brought us into your Church, commissioning us to witness to the faith of the crucified Christ, and to be his disciples to the end of our lives; so now with joy we take upon ourselves the yoke of obedience, and for love of you, engage ourselves to seek and do your perfect will."
The words of the Methodist covenant will be used by the congregation in response:
"We are no longer our own, but yours. Put us to what you will, rank us with whom you will; put us to doing, put us to suffering; let us be employed for you or laid aside for you, exalted for you or brought low for you; let us be full, let us be empty; let us have all things, let us have nothing. We freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you are ours and we are yours. So be it. And the covenant which we have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen."
New today - Emily's Excellent Gingerbread Cookies.
Purely in the interests of market research, Fr Christopher has sampled one and pronounces it first-rate, full of flavour and pleasantly hot. Just the thing for a chilly January day.
The soup smells good too: choice of Winter Vegetable or creamy Fennel, Honey & Thyme. Come along in to enjoy it!
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