Dear brothers and sisters, S prazdnikom!
We have just returned from Cheltenham, where we had a sun-bathed Liturgy, and a glorious autumn day as we celebrated the feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God – for whom our parishioners brought many flowers.
As we have previously reflected, so many feasts of the Mother of God and her wonder-working icons coincide with the pattern our Cheltenham Liturgies, and when the vestments are blue, it seems that we are always blessed with blue sky and the sun shining. However, when we arrived this morning, despite the sunshine outside, the chapel had a chill in the air and needed heating for a while before the faithful arrived.
It was very odd, gathering for Liturgy without Nataliya and mama Galina, but before set up there was the joy of a brief telephone greeting from them in Odessa, where Liturgy had already finished, with the news that their parish priest had donated an icon of the Protection to our little mission – a wonderful blessing and gesture on this feast of the Pokrov.
Many thanks to our sisters for reading and chanting on the kliros, and to Timofey for helping – unexpectedly for him – in the entrances, as he was beckoned into the oltar by Deacon Mark to carry a candle, and we were impressed that he was so helpful after Liturgy, looking for practical tasks to do.
It was lovely to sit down to a relaxed meal in the church hall after Liturgy, and to discuss some plans for the new year, with the hope to have occasional services across the whole parish area of Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds, especially to reach out to those who live at the southern ends of our pastoral area.
We look forward to our return in November, when Liturgy will follow the pattern of being on the SECOND Saturday of the month: 11th November, when we will celebrate the memory of St Anastasia the Roman.
With love in Christ – Hieromonk Mark