Wednesday, February 23, 2022

St Luke's Kingston honours the beginning of HM The Queen's Platinum Jubliee

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Father Martin Hislop, Vicar of St Luke’s Kington reports:  Choral Evensong on Thursday 10th February for the start of HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee was a splendid occasion. A well attended congregation was treated to magnificent music and singing from the Tiffin School choirs and a superb sermon by the Bishop of Fulham. The service was honoured with the presence of the Mayor of the Royal Borough and the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London who both read Lessons. 

Here is the sermon preached by the Bishop of Fulham:

I wonder, is there anybody present this evening who remembers Accession Day, 6th February 1952? If so, you have been truly blessed to have a conscious memory of such an historic date. 

Seventy years is a long time. It is, of course, the span of a human life, according to the psalmist. I found it helpful, following a prompt by the writer of an article in one of our newspapers, to think back to a time seventy years before the Queen’s accession. 6th February 1882. 1882 to 1952. If we work our way in our minds through that seventy-year period, we cannot but be struck by how much history, local, national, international, accrues across seven decades. In terms of our monarchy, that earlier seventy-year period encompasses almost twenty years of the reign of Queen Victoria, followed by those of Kings Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, and George VI. Or let us think again about the reign of our present Queen. Those now familiar rollcalls of the holders of other public offices which have passed across the stage in front of her: 14 Prime Ministers, 14 Presidents of the United States of America, 7 Archbishops of Canterbury, 7 Bishops of Rome. 

The Queen’s reign, the longest of course of any British monarch, is now the third longest properly attested reign of any monarch in the world, ever. What a gift, what a blessing. I do however call to mind, as we enter into this, Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee year, the observation which the bishop who ordained me to the diaconate (I’ll leave you to look it up) often made when being introduced to a nonagenarian or similar at a parish function. When the parishioner said, or someone said on their behalf, ‘I’m 93 you know,’ this bishop (perhaps a tad uncharitably) liked to respond, ‘Ah, but what have you done with all those years?’ I do see the point he was trying to make, in his typically provocative fashion. Longevity might be always interesting, even noteworthy; but it is not necessarily praiseworthy. What have you done with your life, the life God has given you, is a good question, whether it is addressed to a duke or a dustman or any one of us. 

Thank God – and we really do thank God – the Queen has answered the question so admirably, every day of her seventy-year reign. What she has done is lived her life and carried out her duty in unswerving fulfilment of the vocation and calling laid upon her by God Himself, embodied in her coronation vows and captured never more simply and profoundly than in that radio address delivered on her 21st birthday which we shall rightly hear quoted many times this year:

‘I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service, and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.’ 

Empire may have evolved into Commonwealth, but that commitment to service has never faltered once in Her Majesty’s 70 years on the throne. Her example of service before self is simply astonishing and inspirational, though I expect, were Her Majesty to be present at this service, she would be impatient with me for choosing two such adjectives. I’m going to stand by them, however. Astonishing, because to put one’s duty ahead of personal consideration or preference consistently, day by day, year by year, is to make a choice (daily) which has become rare in our society to the point of vanishing. Inspirational, because we are blessed – those of you singing in the choir this evening, your generation especially perhaps are so blessed – to have this example set before us, daily, in a world of competing and persuasive role models, very many of them unhelpful, unreliable or positively dangerous. The Queen’s recent message to all of us, her subjects, published a few days ago, was signed, movingly but accurately, ‘Your Servant, Elizabeth R.’ We give thanks to God today for the life and example of our Servant Queen which teaches us that all human authority, no matter how exalted, comes from above: it is the authority of the One who came not to be served but to serve, even Jesus Christ. 

Let me then return to that radio broadcast delivered by the Queen on her 21st birthday. After making that undertaking that her life would be one of service, she went on to make two further points in connection with that promise. The first was to ask for the support of her people. The second was to say, or to pray, ‘God help me to make good my vow.’ If, tonight, we are giving thanks for the gift of a reign of almost unparalleled duration used in the service of all, then we can only do that by recognising, celebrating and giving thanks for the rock on which the Queen’s fulfilment of her vocation to serve rests: her faith in God, more particularly, her faith in the God who is revealed in Jesus Christ.

The Queen is rightly recognised, throughout her reign but perhaps more so than ever in recent years, as someone whose faith in Christ is integral to all that she is and all that she does. She is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and our established church could not be more blessed in the way she has carried out the duties of that office. What we can be so thankful for this evening is that the Queen communicates her faith in a way which goes far beyond the discharge of her formal duties in respect of the national Church. We know that the Queen’s annual Christmas broadcast is one of the very few occasions in the year when the Queen speaks in her own voice, personally, from the heart. Those Christmas broadcasts constitute a treasury of words which resonates in its witness to Jesus Christ and His teaching and the Gospel of salvation, and which reveal the mind and heart of a disciple. The Queen’s Christian faith is deep and it is profound, there can be no doubt that it is her walk with God which has strengthened her to fulfil her promise to serve all these years. But it is equally important to say that hers is a commitment to Christ which allows for a generous and spacious respect and care for all those who live and work in the United Kingdom and in all her realms - those of other Christian traditions, those of other faiths, and all people of good will.

If her Christian faith has sustained the Queen in fulfilling her duty and her calling all these years, then at the heart of that faith is the work of Jesus Christ in reconciling humanity with God through his saving death on the Cross and resurrection to eternal life. Back in 2011, the Queen conveyed this Gospel message when she said that ‘history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness and our greed. God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general (important though they are) – but a saviour, with the power to forgive.’ In our second reading this evening from the Revelation of St John the Divine, we read of the heavenly Jerusalem, the Jerusalem above, where God and the Lamb are seated upon a throne. There, the servants of the Lamb worship Him. Tonight, we give thanks, and we pray God Save The Queen, and we do so in faith and trust that our servant Queen will be among those servants of the Lamb, worshipping the Lord of Lords and King of Kings for all eternity. 


Thursday, February 17, 2022

LENT 2022 at All Saints' Benhilton

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Saturday, February 12, 2022

2022 LENT COURSE for small group or individual use

All Saints Benhilton 
All Saints' Road, Sutton, Surrey SM1 3DA U.K.

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To Download the Lent Course, please click on the links below:







If you would like to download the whole course as one document 



Friday, February 11, 2022


The 11th February in the Church’s calendar is when we honour the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title, ‘Our Lady of Lourdes.’ Recently I spent an evening trying to organise past articles and essays on my computer and came across this piece I wrote in 1991 when I was Rector of S. John’s Horsham in the Diocese of Ballarat. It's about my first visit to Walsingham and then Lourdes. I put the article aside to share with you today.


While it is true that in places like Western Europe and Australia churchgoing seems to be a declining habit, the great centres of pilgrimage surprisingly draw larger crowds than ever. And not just the already converted, but people from all walks of life searching for truth and reality. 

The tiny English village of Walsingham, in a remote corner of Norfolk, 190 kilometres from London, with its narrow cobbled streets and centuries old buildings set in the most beautiful countryside imaginable is just such a place.

From April to November each year a stream of pilgrims finds its way to this village. At the end of May the 'National' (as they say) takes place. Not a horse race, but a pilgrimage attracting thousands of people from all over England.

It all began in 1061 when Lady Richeldis of the manor had a vision in which the Blessed Virgin Mary said that she was to set up a shrine honouring the holy house at Nazareth, and the ‘hidden years’ of Our Lord’s life. 

Our Lady went on to say that Walsingham would become a place of special blessing where people from all over would seek God and find him.


Each of Our Lady’s shrines draws attention to some aspect of the Gospel. Walsingham honours the hidden years of our Lord’s family life at Nazareth. 

Walsingham stresses the truth that through the mystery of the Incarnation God lived an ordinary human life, giving us the confidence that we can seek him, find him and know him in the ordinariness of our lives, and not just in those ‘spiritual mountaintop experiences’ with which the Holy Spirit might bless us from time to time. 

Walsingham helps us to be Gospel people who expect to experience God’s grace, life, power and healing to surge right there in what we sometimes think is the meaningless hum-drum of our unspectacular existence.



My first visit to Walsingham was in 1989. It was my first time in England, and I had tacked myself onto an ordinary parish weekend pilgrimage.

It was a blend of devotion and hilarity, penitence and joy, colourful processions, endless singing, and little children doing their own thing. The crowd, also, was spectacularly multi-racial.

The thing that surprised me most of all was that on this particular pilgrimage about one third of our party were not churchgoers, but had come with their friends for a weekend away. Some came purely as tourists. Some came out of curiosity to see if Walsingham was for real. Others had deliberately set out on a spiritual quest hoping that their deep and ancient longing for God might be satisfied.   

So many ‘ordinary people’ (that is, not just the clergy!) were sharing their experiences of the Gospel and the Faith over meals (and pints at the ‘Lion’ - the pub just across the road from the shrine). As a result of this some of us clergy had the great joy of praying with a number of non-churchgoers in our party who were opening their hearts to the Lord for the very first time.


A couple of weeks later, on a rather roundabout way back to Australia, I was sitting on the railway platform at Lourdes having spent three days at our Lady’s Shrine there. Lourdes is the small town nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the south of France where in 1858 Our Lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, a forteen year old girl from a poor family.

Our Lady spoke of our need for true conversion of heart to the Lord, and she highlighted the importance of ministry to the poor and the sick. She asked Bernadette to get a church built on the site of the apparition and promised healing blessings to all who would go there on pilgrimage. 

I treasure the memory of that visit to Lourdes, and hope one day to return.


While I was waiting for the train, dressed in clericals, an American back-packer in his early 20’s came up to me and told how he had stumbled upon Lourdes quite by accident a couple of months before. He had no church background at all, but out of curiosity had followed a trainload of pilgrims to the grotto where our Lady appeared to the young Bernadette.

Through the worship, the joy of the praying community, and the ‘magic’ of the place (or, as we would say, the Holy Spirit’s ‘anointing’), that young man found the Lord (or, rather, the Lord found him!). Then someone told him that he should start reading the Bible. So he got hold of a New Testament at Lourdes and had read through most of it during his two months of backpacking around Europe.

He was due to fly home to the USA from Paris, but came all the way back to Lourdes on the train, just for a couple of hours (literally), to thank God and Our Lady for the turn-around he had experienced in his life at that holy place.

He assured me that upon arriving home in the States he would seek out a priest and be baptised.

That young man is not unique. Despite the secularisation of the west there is a constant trickle of intelligent adults with no religious background responding to the Gospel of Jesus and the Catholic Faith, and coming into the worshipping life of the Church.   


We tend to concentrate on negative developments in our ‘post-Christian’ culture to the point that we don’t notice how many genuine seekers there are. 

So, while it is true that in countries like ours people can be extremely cynical about ‘organised religion’ and understandably turned off by the Church’s sins and failures, a survey carried out recently by the Australian National University indicated that only 7 percent of Australians ‘definitely did not believe.’ It also showed that many people prayed, that many people vaguely accepted the Christian creed, leading to the conclusion - in the exact words of the report - that ‘the much-touted drift from religion was greatly exaggerated.’

In other words, there is plenty to build on. God gives us such wonderful opportunities for evangelism. Can you imagine how it would be if all practising Christians took full advantage of the opportunities God gives us to share our faith with others.

So, it ought not surprise us to hear of unlikely friends and neighbours beginning their own spiritual pilgrimage.

It ought not surprise us that they find God, for at the heart of our Faith is the confidence that God can be found, and that he rewards those who diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

CANDLEMAS - Mary's little Lamb the Light of the world

The beautiful chapel of the Presentation of the Lord 
at our Lady's Shrine in Lourdes, France.

Forty days after the birth of Jesus, today's Mass is often regarded as rounding off the Christmas/ Epiphany season. The readings and prayers take us back to the birth of the Lord, and they beckon us forward to his suffering and death. 

The Gospel reading (Luke 2:22-39) tells of Mary and Joseph going to the temple with the baby Jesus, that they might be purified “according to the Law,” and Jesus consecrated to the Lord. The old man Simeon, full of the Holy Spirit, discerns Jesus to be God’s Messiah, “the light to enlighten the nations”. It is for this reason that the blessing and lighting of candles has long been associated with this day. Anna, the old prophetess, who had prayed and fasted every day in expectation of the "redemption of Jerusalem", saw Jesus and began to tell everyone about him.

In Anglo-Saxon times it was “. . . appointed in the ecclesiastical observances that we on this day bear our lights to church and let them be there blessed; and that we should go afterward with the light among Godʼs houses and sing the hymn that is thereto appointed. Though some men cannot sing they can, nevertheless, bear the light in their hands; for on this day was Christ, the true light, borne to the temple, Who redeemed us from darkness and bringeth us to the eternal light.” - The Ritual Reason Why, by C. Walker (1886) page 197.

In the midst of today’s joyful festival, we hear old Simeon’s enigmatic remark to our Lady - “a sword shall pierce your own soul, too” -, reminding us of her participation in all that Jesus suffered for our redemption.

Greek Orthodox Christians call today’s feast “Hypapante” (the encounter), seeing in the juxtaposition of the Child and the old man the encounter of the fading age of the Old Covenant and the new era of Jesus and his Church. 

There is more than a touch of irony in the fact that the poor, if they couldn’t afford a lamb to offer in sacrifice and thanksgiving, could bring turtle doves or even pigeons. Mary and Joseph were poor, and although - according to today’s Gospel reading - they brought turtle doves or pigeons, we know that they actually brought the only Lamb that has ever really mattered: Jesus, Mary’s little Lamb, the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. 

Today is our feast of candles, with the warmth of their light pointing to Jesus, the light of the world.

Each of us is given a candle today as a reminder that having received the light of Jesus, which at the very beginning of creation pierced the darkness and which no darkness can overpower, we are to shine in the darkness of our own time that others may find him and be set free to walk in his light.

* * * * * * * * * *
May we have leave to ask, illustrious Mother,
Why thou dost turtles bring
For thy Son’s offering,
And rather giv’st not one lamb for another? 
It seems that golden shower which th’other day
The forward faithful East
Poured at thy feet, made haste
Through some devout expence to find its way. 
O precious poverty, which canst appear
Richer to holy eyes
Than any golden prize,
And sweeter art than frankincense and myrrh! 
Come then, that silver, which thy turtles wear
Upon their wings, shall make
Precious thy gift, and speak
That Son of thine, like them, all pure and fair. 
But know that heaven will not be long in debt;
No, the Eternal Dove
Down from his nest above
Shall come, and on thy son’s dear head shall sit.
Heaven will not have Him ransomed, heaven’s law
Makes no exception
For lambs, and such a one
Is He: a fairer Lamb heaven never saw. 
He must be offered, or the world is lost:
The whole world’s ransom lies
In this great sacrifice;
And He will pay its debt, whate’er it cost. 
Nor shall these turtles unrepayed be,
These turtles which today
Thy love for Him did pay:
Thou ransom’dst Him, and He will ransom thee. 
A dear and full redemption will He give
Thee and the world: this Son,
And none but this alone
By His own death can make His Mother live.

– Joseph Beaumont (1616-1699)
Thérèse, M. I Sing of a Maiden: The Mary Book of Verse. 
New York: The Macmillan Company, 1947.