PARISH PRIEST’S REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2011-2012
11th Mar 2012
PARISH PRIEST’S REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2011-2012
THE THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT
In this morning’s gospel reading we witness the cleansing of the temple, in which Jesus drives out the money lenders and traders. Jesus calls the Temple ‘The Father’s House’. He makes a connection between the existence of the Temple as betokening both the presence of God and also Christ’s own bodily resurrection. “Destroy this temple…” says Jesus, “…and in three days I will raise it up” He is speaking of his resurrection as transformational. This is his promise to us – of the life of God in us. The figure of the body as God’s habitat was later made by St Paul:
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?
You are not your own.
1 Corinthians 6.19
In speaking of the raising up of the Temple and his own resurrection John’s Gospel boldly declares Jesus to be the new centre of being. He brings a new holiness, which is incarnated; made human. When we share the sign of Peace in this Eucharist we declare ourselves to be the Body of Christ. When we do this we are not just expressing the fact of our being together as a body of people. Instead, we are sharing that same understanding which was Christ’s – of the intimate connection that exists between the Church as the place of holiness and between the life of the body and the life of the soul. Each, in the love of God, is to inhabit the other…
As I make this sixth annual review of our life here at Holy Cross this message is good to have in mind. This Church, no less than the temple in Jerusalem is recognised as the place of God’s indwelling, and it falls to us as members of the Body of Christ in this place, to render loving worship and service to our church and to maintain it as the place where God is seen and known felt to be present, or as one of our churchwardens has called it, as ‘an Anglo-Catholic candle in this corner of King’s Cross’. If this church, like the Temple, is one which is ‘raised up’ in Christ, living the resurrection, then that candle is to be the Easter candle which tells of a growing and a transformed church, and of a life which doesn’t stand still but which renews itself and embraces its own calling and destiny, just as Christ did.
Here at Holy Cross Church May 30th saw our annual pilgrimage to Walsingham and to a picnic just managing to avoid the rain. We have held the usual pot luck lunches at the vicarage, and this has been a very effective way of sharing food and welcoming our many visitors and newcomers. On one Sunday alone we had visitors from Philadelphia, the Western Sahara and Papua New Guinea, as well as those from nearby. And then we have welcomed those who wish to establish themselves here. We have twelve new permanent members this year, of which one, Tom, is currently under instruction for Confirmation at St Paul’s Cathedral. Of others, one is a young police detective, one a business and community advisor, one a professional singer and one a speech therapist. All have found God in this place and among our people at Holy Cross. All are now welcomed into this church with more to come, I am sure. Last May also saw a trip to the Tower of London for the St Nicholas Society’s celebrations with a Mass celebration by Canon Dr Jim Rosenthal, formerly communications officer to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who also preached for us at last year’s Corpus Christi celebrations. In that same month, Fr Christopher presided at a Mass setting to Faure’s Requiem at New St Pancras Church at which the dead of the July 7th bombings in 2005 were remembered. During the year the Friday morning open group has continued to meet with many attending the 12 45 pm Mass. The group has been provided with new chairs and kettles, and our two Roman Catholic Sisters from the nearby Consolata Missionary Community, Cesariana and Evangelia have joined us in a pastoring role. They have kindly donated a set of green vestments for our use and we thank them for their generosity. Our friendship with the community grows and deepens and in mid-August I visited them at their house in Rome and witnessed a breathtaking lakeside firework ceremony in nearby Trevignano Romano for the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Our local links lie with the Neighbourhood Association, with the nearby ecumenical churches and with Argyle School. In all three cases we have been able to deepen established partnerships for the good of the church and the local community. The ecumenical churches have held regular acts of worship and Bible study groups at Lumen, a beautiful modernist church in regent Square, and we have explored themes relating to living with diversity, with God and money, and with current Lent group meetings looking at the life and witness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his teaching on ‘costly discipleship’. There have been joint worship for The Week of Prayer for Christian unity and One World Week as well as the annual Good Friday Walk of Witness around the churches of King’s Cross, including St Pancras Station. Argyle schoolchildren visited the St Ethelburgha Centre for Peace and Reconciliation in the City last July, and on January 18th of this year the Archbishop visited Argyle School and this was an occasion for the sharing of poetry and of practising meditation with the final year classes. At this time we are beginning a whole process of planning for the Olympic Games with local groups and particularly with the Neighbourhood Association’s youth team with a celebration event on the day of the Opening of The Olympics on Friday 27th July. Meanwhile we hope to remain open here at Holy Cross during the daytime for the whole duration of the Games and we need to explore how we are going to commit our time and energies to be here at the church and welcome our visitors.
This past year saw a larger than average group of seven candidates – two for Baptism and Five for Confirmation. A great Mass in the presence of The Bishop of Edmonton marked our Patronal Feast of Holy Cross on Sunday 18th September. Candidates had prepared with visits to Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral and Edgware Abbey. Two of our candidates have moved away for the time being, Nicholas and Michael, but not for good! Katharine, Justin, Michael, and Sophie are added to our communicant membership. Genevieve to Baptism.
This year has seen the Archdeacon’s quinquennial inspection of the parish and he has particularly noted the growth in numbers and the commitment to mission, and of the real sense in which Holy cross Church and its new life is considered in the Diocese of London to give the Church in King’s Cross great new heart. We at Holy cross Church have links world-wide, with the parents of a former parishioner, Rebe Taylor, visiting from Tasmania in July and Steve Burrows’ significant and continuing commitment to Calcutta Rescue, a teaching and medical aid organisation, and bringing back messages and hand-made gifts for sale. We continue our link with the garrison church of St George in Accra, Ghana and we remember Naomi Johnson who has just returned there before coming back to us in September. As I speak we are raising money for the Diocesan Lenten Appeal for Mozambique and Angola, for which envelopes are available at the back.
Our welcome of children has resulted, after months of preparation in the establishment of a permanent Sunday School, and thanks go to Malika, Joyce, Irene, Charles Cannabanya, Rachel Joseph and others for its planning and maintenance. A Parish Picnic took us to Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath in July of last year for an opportunity to play fierce games of football with Michael Samai and the Cannabanya girls.
At Deanery level, there has been exploration through three meetings of how churches can grow, both spiritually and in leadership and mission, as well as looking at our church buildings and how to make the best of the practical opportunities they provide. A key finding was the link between growing churches and those churches with a developed children’s ministry and a good musical tradition. Holy Cross is fortunate to have these two elements very much in place. This year, with electoral numbers above 75 members, we now hope soon to send two rather than one representative to Deanery Synod. At Diocesan level, a conference at St Mary’s Church, Eversholt Street in the presence of The Bishop of London commemorated the 25th Anniversary of the ‘Faith in the City’ Report and the establishment of The Church Urban Fund. An Edmonton area study day saw an address on The Church’s role in education by the Rev’d. Canon David Whitttington, who is to be the third of our Lenten guest preachers next Sunday. On Remembrance Sunday we welcomed uniformed cadets from the local Territorial Army Base in Handel Street, and their presence always adds dignity and meaning in the commemoration of the dead from the world wars and also of course in more recent times. Their youth is an abiding testimony to the timelessness of remembrance with the passing of time.
The New Year saw the adoption by this church of the Common Worship provision for the Mass and other rites, following the instruction given by the Bishop of London. This has now been introduced with many parts of our old Mass rite maintained with the move to a distinctly Anglican provision. The transition has been relatively straightforward. The Annual Parish Beating of the Bounds took place before the Patronal Festival in September, and on the 11th of that month, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy in New York, a Service of Commemoration was held at Westminster Abbey whose preacher was the Syrian Anglican priest and friend of this parish, Father Nadim Nassar. A tour around the new King’s Cross development was organised by Pamela Mansi last Autumn and this gave a group of us a fascinating glimpse into the scope and scale of plans for the redevelopment of the site behind St Pancras Station. Our annual Carol Service on 19th December saw a large gathering of our older citizens from Age Concern and the Neighbourhood Association. Midnight Mass and Christmas morning Mass saw larger than usual congregations as we have developed more carol singing around the crib. In January a group of volunteers have been cooking breakfasts at the Camden Cold Weather Nightshelter, and January saw our annual New Year Concert from the London Motet and Madrigal Group.
2012 promises to bring with it the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, and we hope to have a royal thanksgiving service here in the Summer to coincide with the national thanksgiving. Our organist, John Webster is planning for an organ recital on the afternoon of the Feast of Pentecost on Sunday 27th May at 3 pm to be followed by cream teas! It is hoped that we at Holy Cross Church can garner support as stewards for the school event on 27th July for the opening of the Olympic Games. We also need to develop the church’s interior space for welcome, perhaps setting up a small exhibition depicting the church’s history. In the coming year it is our hope that we will be able to bring strong focus to bear on church finances, and through visitations and assistance and consultation from the Diocese, to implement a more open-hearted and reasonable approach to our regular financial giving. My thanks to our outgoing churchwardens, John and Stephen and to our treasurer, Charles Evans and to the parochial church council, but also to all of you who have supported Holy Cross Church throughout the past year. Each year sees this church grow in number and in commitment to the Church’s task and we look forward to what lies ahead as we celebrate this great year of Olympiad and Royal Jubilee. Please pray for this church in this Mass, and for grace to become more fully that which we are called to be – the church in the heart, the very heart, of King’s Cross.
In the cleansing of the Temple Jesus reminds us of the holiness of the church and of its place as the inhabitation of the God in whom we live and move and have our being. May we who receive from God so many blessings and graces in this place be also given to grace to fulfil in our own lives and in the life of God’s church his true purposes.