Newsletter – 7th February 2021, Fifth after Epiphany
This week we took down the Nativity set, crafted some years ago, by staff and students of Hill House School. Normally, we do that immediately following Epiphany, on January 6th (Twelve Days of Christmas etc.) This year it felt appropriate to keep it throughout the season of Epiphany, letting its warmth and colour act as a focus, during our live stream services.
The official season of Epiphany concluded on Tuesday, February 2nd; in some traditions known as the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, or more usually, Candlemas. It celebrates the story, recorded in Luke 2:22-40, of the elderly Simeon in the Jerusalem Temple, taking the baby Jesus in his arms and recognising the infant as: “A Light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel.”
Retired Church of Scotland minister, Reverend David Scott, http://daviddonaldscott.com/blogonthelearig/ reflects how as a younger man he identified with Jesus’ parents, bringing his own children to the house of prayer. Now, he identifies with Simeon, representative of “the old church, the old way, the old religion.” He reflects: “Simeon had the insight to see that something new had been born in the Christ child. Although he doesn’t live to see it materialise, it is sufficient for him to have caught a glimpse of it. The new is born out of the old – and will bring turmoil. Babies are one thing. Crucifixions quite another.” Simeon exercises a ministry of letting go. “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace …” What was true of Simeon was true of Moses. He led the people to Mount Nebo and he saw the Promised Land but it was not his calling to lead the people there. And what was true for Moses was also true for Jesus. In the ascension, Jesus leaves behind the apostles. What are they going to do? How is God’s plan to be resolved? It’s up to them now!
As we ponder what things will be like beyond current circumstances, Scott concludes: “If we cannot see the vision, or if the vision is going to be fulfilled beyond our time, we can exercise the ministry of Simeon and let go of the old. If we cannot embrace the new, let us at least, not inhibit its arrival. In this way, we may become its midwife!”
As we bid a final farewell to the birth at Christmas, we turn towards the cross and Easter. Travelling together, may we find strength, joy and inspiration on that journey.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers and sisters,
To make music in the heart.
(Howard Thurman, The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations, 1985) See you on Sunday,
Live Streaming of Worship (Holy Communion) – 11am, Sunday 7th February 2021
The live stream service continues this Sunday at 11am. Music begins from 10.50am. The service can be watched via the church website,
https://www.stcolumbas.org.uk/live-stream at 11am.
To access the live stream from the homepage (front page) click the Menu button in the top right-hand side of the page and scroll down and click on “Live Stream”. This will bring up the live stream to the church. The act of worship of approximately 60 minutes, includes include prayers, a sermon and music. (Note: This will not be public worship that everyone can attend, but an offering of prayer and praise, on behalf of us all.) The words for the hymns will be on the website.
We believe it is really important to continue to live-stream the Morning Service under its current format i.e. for the benefit of those joining worship from afar or those as yet unable to make the journey to Pont Street. For those without internet, the Dial-In facility continues. Many people comment that they do have a sense of worshipping together,
even if invisible to each other. While current regulation forbids singing in the pews, the live stream strongly recommends singing in the sitting room!
Dial into Sunday Service
If you are aware of church members or friends who do not have access to internet please inform them that they can now phone in to join the Sunday service. No visuals clearly, but at least they can hear the service. Those interested should follow:
Step 1: At 10.40am call phone number 0203 051 2874.
Step 2: You will be prompted to enter a meeting ID. Please type (using your telephone keypad) 266 883 5072#
Step 3: You will then be asked for a participant number - simply press the #.
Step 4: Enjoy the service! You will hear Ben's organ music from 10.50am.
Hymns, Music & Readings this week:
Hymn 103 Fill your hearts with joy and gladness (Rhuddlan)
Hymn 718 We cannot measure how you heal (The Banks O’Doon) Hymn 184 Sing to the Lord a joyful song (Gonfalon Royal)
Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 40:21-31
Gospel Reading: Mark 1:29-39
Anthem: Nunc dimittis (Gibbons)
Musical Interlude: Panis angelicus (Franck) sung by the congregational choir
Organ Postlude: Fugue sur le trompette (Couperin)
Office hours are Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm. The Church Office is currently being manned from home.
Tel: 020 7584 2321
Pastoral Emergency Number (out of office hours): 07591926271
If you wish to come into the sanctuary for prayer during the week, please contact the Office to arrange a suitable time.
Lent Book Study 2021: “Living His Story:
Revealing the Extraordinary Love of God in Ordinary Ways” by Hannah Steel (The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2021.)
“We are fascinated by stories. Every culture has them, passed on from generation to generation. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the story at the heart of the universe…. This liberating book, ideally suited for Lent reading, suggests many ways of engaging in invitational evangelism. Through exploring accounts of Jesus and his first followers, we discover simple and practical ways of telling the gospel story afresh.”
This Lent we are offering a weekly Book Study Group, led by the Minister:
Morning Bible Study – 10-11am, Thursdays
(25th February 4th, 11th, 18th & 25th March)
Evening Bible Study – 7-8pm, Tuesdays
(23rd February 2nd, 9th, 16th & 23rd March)
To sign up for attendance at either morning or evening session please contact the Church Office. Please purchase your own copy of the book in advance.
Maintaining Community and Supporting Each Other
Everybody can play a part in maintaining contact with others via telephone, e-mail or letter, especially those who are particularly vulnerable. Our Elders are encouraged to make contact with those in their districts, and church members are welcome to contact the church office to request a contact from their elder or the Minister.
Details on the many ways you can support St Columba’s can be found here https://www.stcolumbas.org.uk/giving/supporting-st-columbas
St Columba’s Book Club – 22nd February 2021, 7.00pm
The February meeting of the St Columba’s Book Club will take place on the 22nd February at 7pm (via Zoom). This month’s book will be “Honour” by Elif Shafak. New members are very much encouraged, please get in touch with the Church Office for more detail.
Zoom Coffee Morning
The St Columba’s Zoom Coffee Mornings have returned for lockdown 3.0. We have a fantastic line up of speakers and hope that friends from both St Columba’s and St Andrew’s, Newcastle, and elsewhere will join us. Please contact the church office to be included in the zoom invitation. This week we enjoyed the insights of Rev Eleanor
McMahon on the challenges and rewards of Interim Ministry. Still to come:
10th February, 10.30am - Revd Jane Taylor will talk us through icons & how they are painted
17th February 10.30am - Our very own Revd Angus MacLeod will lead us into Lent with a talk about Ash Wednesday.
The St Columba’s Magazine continues to be published though the pandemic. 2021 subscriptions are now due. If you would like to renew your subscription or take out a new one, please get in touch with the Church Office.
Encouragement by Church of Scotland to get vaccinated against COVID-19
Locally, via our links to Kensington & Chelsea Faith Communities Partnership we are similarly encouraged to promote vaccination and help dispel some of the myths and concerns that are prompting vaccination hesitancy.
The following statement comes from Kensington & Chelsea Faith Communities Partnership
“As member of the Kensington and Chelsea Interfaith Forum we are encouraging our communities to get vaccinated against Covid-19. It is vital that you keep yourselves and your loved ones safe, so we are urging residents to follow the guidelines, take measures to keep yourselves well and get the vaccine when it is offered to you. It is only by doing so will we beat this virus and get our lives back.
We know how hard it has been for many of our communities with many faith settings having to close and many feeling isolated as a result. We can’t wait until we are able to open our doors again and come together and worship safely once more. The vaccine takes us one step closer to this becoming a reality.
As members of the Interfaith Forum we will be receiving our vaccinations when we are invited to have them. The NHS is currently rolling out the Covid-19 vaccination programme in order of priority so please do be patient if you’ve not yet been contacted. You will be contacted by your GP when it is your turn. There have been many rumours, misinformation and myths about the vaccine which we know have caused concern in some of our communities. Our Council has produced some frequently asked questions which will hopefully answer any questions you may have to have an allay your fears.
Read them here
One question that does come up quite often is do any of the approved vaccines contain animal products or eggs. The answer is no,
they do not. They are also halal and kosher. The approved vaccines have been through stringent clinical trials and safety checks that all other licensed medicines go through before being approved.
The last year has been a year like no other, we’ve all had to make sacrifices, spend time away from our loved ones and have missed out on big celebrations. This vaccine brings hope and it brings a light at the end of the tunnel. Please do all stay to safe and hopefully it won’t be long before we’re all back together again.”
COVID-19 vaccination scam alert
Some people are receiving fraudulent calls and text messages offering the COVID 19 vaccination. In some cases, people are asked to press a number on their keypad or to send a text message to confirm they wish to receive the vaccine. Doing so is likely to result in a charge being applied to their phone bill. In other cases, callers are offering the vaccine for a fee or asking for bank details. Like other scams, the same rules apply;
- Don’t click on links or attachments in unexpected texts, emails or instant messages.
- Challenge every request for your personal details.
- It doesn’t matter what they say or what they know about you, don’t respond to unexpected phone calls, hang up, take five then verify their claims via a trusted method. (such as the usual website or official phone number)
The vaccine is only available from the NHS and the NHS will contact you when it is your turn. At present, appointments are only being offered to members of the public over 80 years old.
The NHS will:
- NEVER ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text asking you to confirm you want the vaccine.
- NEVER ask for payment for the vaccine or for your bank details.
If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft, you should report this directly to Action Fraud either online; https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or via phone
0300 123 2040 Where the victim is vulnerable, report it to the MPS online or by calling 101.
Link to an example of the scam text message on behalf of which.co.uk https://conversation.which.co.uk/scams/scam-nhs-covid-vaccine-text-message/