Dear brothers and sisters,
It was wonderful to look out of the sanctuary after proskomedia and see so many new faces today, together with the latest parishioners and friends who have returned from their summer travels in Russia, Ukraine and beyond.
At the same time, we missed some of our parishioners who are unwell, sending them our greetings and assuring them of our prayers!
Our kliros was buoyant and the singing bright, the number of confessions and communions spiritually encouraging, and our antidoron was stretched to the limits at the kissing of the Cross.
During the litia after Liturgy, we prayed for the soul of the newly departed handmaiden of God, Svetlana, and ask your continued prayers for the repose of her soul; we blessed Phanouropita and even began the preparations for a St Nicholas Day baptism – and all of this before lunch and the parish meeting.
Father Deacon Mark will publish the meeting minutes in due course, but we warmly congratulate Norman John on his election as starosta, after much support, coaxing and nomination by our parishioners, who were unanimous in approving his election. We wish him, and Georgina who will help him in her usual selfless way, Many Years and God’s blessing in fulfilling this obedience.
In reporting to the meeting as rector, I was keen to recognise the spiritual growth of the parish since our last parish meeting, shortly before the first lockdown, and for those who were not at the meeting I will venture a few observations.
Sadly, there are those whom we have not seen since the first lockdown, but – amazingly – we now have a committed procession of people week by week, making their way from Bath and Avon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, faithfully supporting the parish and contributing greatly to parish life: singing, serving, sanitising St John’s and performing other welcome obediences.
Without exception, they all settled into parish-life without stopping to take a breath, and it is now very strange when they are unable to be with us. At the same time, our local parishioners have shown great warmth and openness, in welcoming and including our new parish family members from across the Severn. What a blessing it is to be the rector of such a parish.
Thanks are due to parishioners for their gifts of wine, incense, icons, garden produce and pryanik. It was rather like the end of the Christmas Vigil!
Your prayers are asked for those about to travel – for Olga and Andrew, and for Elena; for Subdeacon Peter who is sick, and for the Archimandrite Mefody, Svetlana, and Igor– all newly departed.
Finally, may I remind all in church that whilst lunch is being uncovered and refreshments prepared, the thanksgiving prayers are being offered. All who have received Holy Communion should be present for them, unless they have an obedience that requires them to be in the kitchen or at the table. In this case, they should be prayed at home.
I look forward to us celebrating our first Liturgy of the Church Year, next Sunday, after the beginning of the New Indiction on Tuesday. Before then, we will gather for compline on Saturday at 16:30, at which time confessions will be heard.
May God bless you all, and protect our faithful brothers and sisters on their travels.
In Christ – Fr Mark