Church of England Diocese of St.Albans Elstree and Borehamwood

Today's Message

4 Jun 2020, 9 a.m.
From_the_Vicar

Saturday June 6th 

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”    Matthew 28:16-20

This week I was privileged to join an online meeting of participants from around the world thinking about mission in time of Covid 19. It was organised by the United Society for Partnership in the Gospel’. With main speakers from Sri Lanka and Brazil, it was challenging, sobering and encouraging hearing about their work of mission in these two different countries; feeding thousands of families, supporting women fleeing domestic abuse and making education a priority. They also touched on the political contexts in which they minister, referring to ‘the emergence of a single narrative, stifling dissent’ and ‘structural racism’.

One insight in particular I would like to share links with our celebration tomorrow of Trinity Sunday. Revd Inamar de Souza of the Diocese of Rio de Janeiro, Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, spoke about their practice of seeing ‘Every Home a Community’. With church buildings closed and everyone staying at home most or all of the time, she told us how the value of ‘home’ is receiving fresh significance. Worship, learning, prayer and love all start in our homes. Many of us are working from home. Everyone is encouraged to see their home as a sacred place. Every home a community, every home a sacred place. By the way, if you didn’t see the recent video, ‘Home is where the heart is’, it’s still on this website.

Trinity Sunday reminds us that God is community. We greet each other in ‘the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit’. The Gospel reading places this God of community at the heart of mission.

So as we celebrate the divine presence in our homes, our mystical communion with saints and angels and our prayerful embrace of the wider world, may your home and every home be blessed afresh today in the communion of the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.  

From Revd Louise Collins 


Thursday, June 4th 

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Martha and Mary were sisters, by birth and by faith. Martha is out-going, welcoming, practical; Mary is a great listener, self-aware and focussed.

Martha’s gift of hospitality easily leads to excess. She gets overly distracted by her many tasks and loses sight of who she’s doing it for. Jesus chides her for this and praises her sister.

It can be difficult to move beyond seeing this as a morality tale in which activism is discouraged and contemplation is praised.

However, recently I’ve been looking at the story in the context in which Luke places it and wonder if this helps us see it differently:

• The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)

• Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42)

• Jesus teaching on Prayer – The Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1-13)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan seems to approve of activism; after all, the Samaritan rolls up his sleeves and gains approval for it. On the other hand, Jesus teaching on prayer encourages stillness and relationship with God our Father.

Maybe we can begin to see the story of Martha and Mary in another light if we see it as a bridge between these two themes of action and prayer.

‘Lord, help me this day to see you in all things and discern the one thing above all I need to do. Amen.’

God bless,

From Revd Louise, Team Vicar 


Thanks again to the Lumo project for the free Bible images:  http://www.freebibleimages.org/contributors/lumo/


Tuesday, June 2nd

The disciples were gifted on the Day of Pentecost with power and boldness of spirit and many spoke in other languages. This meant that people of different backgrounds, gathering for worship in Jerusalem, were able to hear the life-giving message in their own tongue.

I liken the gift of tongues in some ways to the recent expansion in forms of digital communication. Many people use Facebook, WhatsApp, zoom, email, Instagram, twitter and so on. All these can help to bring people together.

There are currently up to nine people who join the Parish Eco-Disciples meetings, held on Monday evenings via Zoom and there is room for more. Do let me know if you would like to know more or join in.

Beginning next week, we are starting a community Bible study on the eight themes of our most recent Parish Service in January, beginning with Hopefulness.

‘Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.’    Romans 12:9-12

‘Lord, may your light and hope guide us in our journey this day and always. Amen.’

Revd Louise Collins, Team Vicar 


Monday, June 1st

‘When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.’ Acts 2:1

Here the Holy Spirit comes as fire and flame, wind and breath. These are powerful, energising, natural elements, disruptive forces; not the gentle dove at Jesus baptism.

These are not the only ways the church has understood the Holy Spirit. The early Celtic Church is said to have likened the Holy Spirit to the wild goose.

Wild geese can make a lot of noise when you disturb them. Anyone who has been bird-watching will know this. They can be an effective early warning system. There’s a story that a loud, cackling flock of geese alerted sentries in Rome to an invading army creeping up to the city walls in the middle of the night. Likewise, throughout history, movements of people have clamoured for change and reform, renewal and justice, seeking to follow afresh a vision of the Kingdom of God. Whenever we have settled for less, the Holy Spirit has sent people to warn noisily of the danger.

I often see geese flying in formation across the Church and Vicarage of St Michael’s and it is always a life-stopping moment; a fresh call to heed the Spirit.

How might the Holy Spirit be leading us in these days?

How are we a people on the move, even in lockdown?

'Lord, may we follow you in formation, now and always. Amen.'

God bless,

From Revd Louise Collins, Team Vicar 


Saturday, May 30th

Come Holy Spirit. Fill us with your power, enfold us in your love, inspire us with your truth.  Come Holy Spirit.

Here are links for 3 Pentecost services:

St Michael and All Angels (on this website): https://www.achurchnearyou.com/church/7536/page/59719/view/

All Saints: https://www.achurchnearyou.com/church/7534/page/59714/view/

'Thy Kingdom Come' Pentecost Service with a special message from His Holiness Pope Francis: https://www.churchofengland.org/

or on YouTube direct: https://youtu.be/UvNuebjkSM4

Spirit of God, refining like fire, free as the wind, gentle as a dove, come among us. Cleanse our hearts, liberate our souls, bring peace to our minds, and send us out with power to proclaim the kingdom of God, in the name of the living Christ. Amen. 

©Nick Fawcett

'If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!' Luke 11:13

A blessed Pentecost everyone.

From Revd Louise Collins, Team Vicar 


Friday, May 29th 

“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people”     Ephesians 4:8

Each and every one of God’s children is gifted and has something for the common good. Thank God for the 100,000’s of people in Britain who volunteered to help at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, for all the new skills learnt and opportunities to serve.

As we face mass unemployment and economic downturn, what can the church offer? Many churches support foodbanks and credit unions, homeless shelters and debt advice centres. Others are involved in job creation and re-training programmes. This is fantastic.

But even this can feel like a drop in the bucket, a David and Goliath situation as we face 2 million and rising unemployed, a generation of young people with nowhere to go and older people who will not find employment again.

What can the church offer? What might be the contribution of the Body of Christ to the national and global good? With everyone talking about the ‘new normal’, do we have to reinvent Christian ministry from the ground up? The way we minister will evolve, as it always has. Think for a moment of how the earth shook after the invention of the printing press in the 1400’s! But the mission of the church remains the same. Now more than ever is the time to pray, to serve and to love. Each one is gifted. 

And finally, after taking further advice, the Parish Weekly is now on hold until we're sure it’s safe to post out envelopes. Thank you. 

'Come Holy Spirit. Rest upon us as a dove; a messenger from the Father to inspire us in ways of peace. Come Holy Spirit.'

God bless your day,

From Revd Louise, Team Vicar 


Thursday, May 28th

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Parish service we enjoyed as recently as January 26th 2020 at All Saints Church. How it seems a long time ago now! Little did we realise then how prophetic it would be.

The theme chosen then for this year’s ‘Week of Prayer for Christian Unity’ was the shipwreck of the Apostle Paul, on his way to Rome. Paul, and those sailing with him across the Mediterranean Sea, experienced and lived through a time of high mortal danger. Their journey was profound, with threats without and threats within. Their passage through that period in their lives was one they would look back on for the rest of their lives, I am sure.

One of the highlights of our service in January was surely the huge cardboard boat made by children of our Parish. Their enthusiasm and love for their work was infectious, as they led us all in prayers. How I wish now that we had been videoing services back then and I could have shared it with you again today!

However, I’ve attached the prayers and a photo, to give you an idea. They were based on the 8 oars that the children made to power and steer the ship. For each oar the children came up with a single prayer-word:

TRUST

TEAMWORK

STRENGTH

KINDNESS

COURAGE

LISTENING

HOPEFULNESS

NOT GIVING UP

I pray that their prayers may strengthen and inspire you today, as they do me.

Spirit of God unseen as the wind, gentle as is the dove: teach us the truth and help us believe, show us the Saviour’s love! Amen.

From Revd Louise, Team Vicar


Wednesday, May 27th

Many of you are already familiar with Reader John Auton’s ‘Thought for the Week’ from St Nicholas Church website at: https://www.achurchnearyou.com/church/7542/. This week’s ‘Thought’ is on the Parable of the Hidden Treasure. He makes the point that ‘there is power is ownership’. So it is wonderful to include his ‘Thought’ as part of our new Parish Weekly.

For some while, I’ve been concerned that though many of us enjoy internet facilities for accessing information, keeping in touch, sharing thoughts, entertainment, online worship services and buying books (in my case); many do not have the internet.

This week we launch a new Parish Weekly. It’s a modest contribution during lockdown aimed at bringing people together. It is available here on St Michael’s website (see 'Parish Weekly' and 'Live Your Faith') or printed out and put through the door of those who don’t have the internet and who wish to opt in. 

I’d love to hear from you if you have anything for the Parish Weekly. Jokes, thoughts, recipes, photos, artwork, anything suitable will be considered! As Reader John says, ‘There is power in ownership’!

Meanwhile, as one of my old music teachers would say, ‘Keep in touch and keep in tune!’

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael’s 


Tuesday, May 26th 

Today we celebrate Saint Augustine of Canterbury. Augustine was not the first to bring the Gospel to these shores, but he did establish the see of Canterbury and was the first Archbishop of Canterbury. He probably died this day in the year 604AD. Augustine was the Prior of a monastery in Rome when Pope Gregory chose him in 595 to lead a mission to these shores. You can read more at: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/st-augustines-abbey/history-and-stories/who-was-st-augustine/

Every year, the Sunday nearest to May 26th is known as ‘Anglican Communion Sunday’. This year’s service was to have taken place at Westminster Abbey, but instead it was broadcast from the Chapel of Lambeth Palace. I joined the worship via the internet and found it intensely moving to join fellow-worshippers from all around the global Anglican Communion. In his address, the Most Revd Paul Kwong, Archbishop of Hong Kong spoke of the centrality of mission to the life and purpose of the Church. He drew on the Acts 1 reading in which the apostles were charged to witness to the Good News ‘in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’. How today might we serve the Gospel locally, regionally and globally and so become co-inheritors with Augustine?

The service ended with a global interpretation of the new worship anthem, ‘The Blessing’. This hymn was composed in March 2020 and has been recorded by virtual church choirs in many countries, including Hawaii, Zimbabwe, UK, Malaysia, Canada, South Africa, Israel, France, Portugal, Spain, Holland, South America and more.

The hymn invites the Church to receive God’s blessing afresh and so be a blessing to all God’s children.

‘The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.’     Numbers 6:22-27

The service for Anglican Communion Sunday, from the Chapel of Lambeth Palace (48 mins) can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/I_5N0WBUCgA

‘The Blessing’ (Global Choir) live from Elevation Worship, Ballantyne, USA (10 mins) can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9EK8dAXl6I

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Monday, May 25th

During these 10 days of prayer from Ascension to Pentecost I’ve been dipping in to various prayer and spirituality resources wherever I find them. I thought I would share this one with you today. It’s from the Mothers Union:

Come Holy Spirit

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!  Luke 11:13

Come Holy Spirit 

Fill us with your power, enfold us in your love, inspire us with your truth.

Come Holy Spirit 

Spirit of God, refining like fire, free as the wind, gentle as a dove, come among us. Cleanse our hearts, liberate our souls, bring peace to our minds, and send us out with power to proclaim the kingdom of God, in the name of the living Christ. Amen      ©Nick Fawcett

With joy we receive the gift of the Spirit; the promise of God fulfilled in our lives. Amen

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael’s


Saturday, May 23rd

I hope you will enjoy tomorrow's message about Brother Lawrence. He is sometimes know as the 'kitchen saint' because of how his prayer-life developed as he served the monastery's household chores.

St Michael’s service can be viewed via this website or directly at https://youtu.be/amLZWUML0e0 

The service sheet can be downloaded 

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael and All Angels


Thursday, May 21st

Happy Ascension Day to you!

“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people”    Ephesians 4:8

Our Ascensiontide theme is ‘Time to Pray’. I have added a light to the world map of prayer at: https://www.thykingdomcome.global/lightuptheworld

You can also add a light by filling in your details if you wish 

A ‘Digital Family Adventure Prayer Map’ for Ascensiontide is attached below

Those who would like to contribute to this Sunday’s worship are invited to send in by email a one-sentence prayer (suggested themes were given on Monday) and / or a photograph of your wall-clock, wristwatch of any other timepiece.

Webcast Ascension Day services today include:

From St Michael and All Angels, either of these 2 links: https://www.achurchnearyou.com/church/7536/page/59067/view/

https://youtu.be/ck6mt_SJggE

From 6.00pm today, launch Service for ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ online with the Bishop of Bedford: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CB9nURc7wWY&feature=youtu.be

From St Albans cathedral: https://www.stalbanscathedral.org/live-streaming-at-st-albans-cathedral

‘He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.’ Ephesians 4:10

A blessed Ascensiontide to you and yours

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael and All Angels 


Wednesday, May 20th

As the last light of day sets, tomorrow is the Ascension!

My study window enjoys some of the best glimpses of sunset I've ever seen from somewhere I live. I can see St Michael and All Angels Church in shadow, the last glimmer of light clinging on as long as it can.

The hopes and dreams of many will fade this night, but with dawn comes the Ascension! We shall all be raised, alleluia.

The webcast service of Holy Communion for the Ascension can be viewed on this website 

With an Address by the Right Reverend Dr Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans 

'Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with loud songs of joy. For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome, a great king over all the earth. He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet. He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.'  Psalm 47:1-4

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael and All Angels 


Tuesday, May 19th

Thank you to those who dropped off cuppa soups and hand cream in the box outside the Vicarage. I’m pleased to say the box filled in a few days and was collected by Elstree and Borehamwood Town Mayor, Cllr Simon Rubner. The scheme, run by ‘Goods for Good’, is collecting hand cream and cuppa soups for the Royal Free Hospital. Hand cream because frontline staff have to wash their hands so many times just putting on their PPE that they risk becoming sore. Cuppa soups because sometimes that's all they have time for between shifts.

If you're passing by the Vicarage, there's a green plastic box outside my front door where you can place them. If you need items to be collected, please let me know. Do nothing that puts you at risk.

Cllr Rubner writes, ‘The generosity of the parishioners of St Michaels and All Saints Church will be very much appreciated by front line NHS staff caring for the sick… My aim is to encourage all our faith communities to work together where possible to enhance lives and help those that are in need.’

We are almost at Ascensiontide. Ascension Day is this Thursday, May 21st. Tomorrow I will send round a link for online Holy Communion on Ascension Day, with an address by Bishop Alan.

Today, for those who have a home printer, I'm attaching this year’s, ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ prayer leaflet. For each of the 10 days of Ascensiontide there is a prayer theme, taken from the one-word prayers that we offered at our Parish ‘Praise in the Park’ last August (see photo).

Meanwhile, the closing act of Matthew’s Gospel:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”     Matthew 28:16-20

‘Lord, as we recognise your authority, may we share in your mission and rejoice in your presence. Amen.’

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael and All Angels


Monday, May 18th

This morning I was meditating on one of todays’ given readings, Acts 16:11-15. It tells the Apostle Paul’s missionary journey in Philippi and the conversion of a woman called Lydia. Lydia is a prominent woman, head of her own household and a dealer in fabric, specifically high-end and much sought-after purple cloth, the colour worn by wealthy and prominent people, including emperors.

Lydia is a business woman, used to negotiating a deal, ensuring supply chain for her customers and protecting the good reputation of her business. Over the years she has refined and practiced her listening skills and these form the basis of her ability to connect with her customers and suppliers and persuade them to trust her. So it is natural that on meeting the Apostle Paul, she should offer him her undivided attention and listen eagerly to what he says.

Eagerness is a quality we often see in young children. I think of the forest of hands that goes up whenever I ask a question during assembly time in one of our local schools. It is also a quality we see peppered across the pages of the New Testament. I wonder, for what are we eager today?

A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.  Acts 16:14

‘Lord, open our hearts to respond with eagerness. Be with all who are wondering how to keep their businesses going. Make us a people of persuasion, for the sake of your Gospel. Amen.’

‘Sponsored Hymn-a-thon’ – reminder

If you would like to take part, let me know your favourite hymn and make a donation to Borehamwood Foodbank: https://borehamwood.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate-money/

I’ll send you a Zoom link and we can arrange a time to suit, from Thursday, May 21st to Sunday May 31st.

This coming Sunday’s webcast service (May24th):

The theme is ‘Time to Pray ’. Send me a one sentence prayer and we’ll add these to our prayer tree. Categories to pray for might include:

Local schools

Local businesses

The sick and suffering

NHS and carers

Churches and faith groups

The street where you live 


Thursday, May 14th

Today is St Mathias Day. Mathias was the disciple chosen to replace Judas as one of the twelve Apostles. Because we don't know much about him, the manner of his choosing is often recalled. After Judas turned aside from ministry and apostleship, the disciples were gathered together in an upper room, around 120 of them in all. They devoted themselves to prayer. Who was worthy to be called to Apostleship, in the place of Judas? Who had stood with them through all the days since John the Baptist, through Jesus ministry, trial, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension? Two names were put forward, Justus and Matthias. Then the 11 Apostles cast lots, a common way of making an important decision in ancient times. It is occasionally used these days, as last year when two candidates for election receive the same number of votes.

These days we often personify 'life's lottery' as something unkind and unjust. Back then it was an accepted way of making a decision which absolved the decision-makers at the final point of choice.

There have been times in all our lives when we ask the question 'why?'

The invitation the Risen Christ remains for us to embrace and hold fast to a vision of fruitfulness for our lives, whatever.

'You did not choose me but I chose you and I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last' John 15:16

Lord, help me this day to walk in the light of your love for me. Amen.

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Wednesday, May 13th

I can never resist an all-butter croissant! I wonder if you have a 'go-to' comfort food? I met someone walking to the Post Office this morning who told me that their comfort food is chocolate digestives. 

Comfort is an essential part of life, without which we will never reach emotional maturity. It enables us to weather the storms. Sometimes all we have left is a faint memory of comfort, but even that can be enough. 

The Bible speaks much about comfort, an attribute of God our Creator. We are to comfort one another (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), comfort our own souls (Psalm 131) and find comfort in the word of God (Psalm 119:50). We are to comfort God's people (Isaiah 61:1) and receive comfort ourselves (Isaiah 40:1, 51:3, 61:2-3, 66:13). Jesus promises we will not be left without comfort. The Holy Spirit, poured upon all peoples at Pentecost, is the Comforter. 

One of the most well-known and relevant sayings on comfort comes from the Sermon on the Mount, the words of Jesus who says, 

'Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted'    Matthew 5:4 

And in case you're wondering, yes, I did have a croissant for breakfast today! 

We pray today for all who seek to offer comfort to others and for ourselves as we seek to live by grace. Amen.

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's  


Tuesday, May 12th

I don’t know about you, but I always look forward to the festival of Pentecost. This year it can’t come sooner enough. The gift of the Holy Spirit, poured out upon all people, all nations, young and old, rich and poor. The generosity of God. Last year I remember watching a very impactful video and I tracked in down again to the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ website.

‘Thy Kingdom Come’ is a global wave of prayer that started within the Church of England and spread through the Anglican family and beyond. It marks the Ten Days of Prayer from Ascension to Pentecost. This year it falls from Thursday, May 21st to Sunday May 31st.

I know many people are missing singing their favourite hymns in Church and so with this in mind, this year I am offering a ‘Sponsored Hymn-a-thon’ via Zoom for Borehamwood Foodbank, during the Ten Days of Prayer. It works like this:

If you would like to take part, you just let me know your favourite hymn or worship song and make a donation to Borehamwood Foodbank: https://borehamwood.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate-money/

I’ll send you a Zoom link and we can arrange a time to sing your chosen hymn together, sometime during the Ten Days of Prayer. I’m suggesting we ‘meet’ between 6.00pm and 7.00pm any day from Thursday, May 21st to Sunday May 31st, but if that time doesn’t suit you we can rearrange.

I’m hoping together we can raise up to £100 for Borehamwood Foodbank.

Before I go, here’s the link to that video I mentioned above, it’s called 'Praise' by Jasmine Yeboah. It’s just 2 minutes long and well worth watching at: https://youtu.be/d4EV-Iax7zE

'Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous. Praise befits the upright'  Psalm 33:1 

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's


Monday, May 11th 

How are you doing? As we all start week 7 of lockdown I trust you managing to find strength and hope in your daily routine. Thank you to all who have been in touch over the weeks, it really helps.

We are very blessed to have a front garden and so I sometimes sit out on my doorstep with a book or a cuppa. People walking by along Brook Road will wave or stop for a few words, without coming close. On Friday, Elstree and Borehamwood Town Mayor, Cllr Simon Rubner and his daughter were passing by and stopped for a chat. Cllr Rubner told me about a scheme that is running locally to support NHS staff. They are collecting hand cream and cuppa soups and taking them to the Royal Free Hospital. Hand cream because frontline staff have to wash their hands so many times just putting on their PPE that they risk becoming sore. Cuppa soups because sometimes that's all they have time for between shifts. Cllr Rubner is asking for our help. He is willing to come and collect items of hand cream or cuppa soups that we can donate. Or if you're passing by the Vicarage, there's a plastic box outside my front door where you can place them. Thank you.

Meanwhile, lets continue to thank God and pray for all our NHS, carers, frontline and key workers who sacrificing so much for the good of all.

And finally, this coming Sunday's worship video for the 6th Sunday of Easter is on the theme of 'Home is where the Heart is'. If you would like to help with content for the video, please send me by email a photograph (or short MP4 file) showing the outside of your own home. Please only include others (or yourself) in the photo if they consent to having their image published on YouTube. Thank you.

'Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them' John 14:23

With my prayers and God's blessing,

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael’s 


Sunday, May 10th 

Please see webcast worship under the section heading 'Easter 5 Holy Communion'. 

There's also a new Agape Video called 'The First Rainbow'. 

With my prayers as ever,

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Thursday, May 7th / Friday, May 8th 

LOCAL SERVICES for the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, Friday May 8th:

Two videos, with the participation of the Lords Lieutenant of Bedfordshire and of Hertfordshire will shortly be available:

Bishop Stephen Venner is preaching at the Hertfordshire Evensong at 3pm on Friday, May 8th. It will be available via www.stalbanscathedral.org and https://www.youtube.com/user/stalbanscathedral

Bishop Alan has contributed a video sermon to the Bedfordshire service. The service will be available on the Diocesan YouTube page from 9.00am on Friday, May 8th.

LOCAL CELEBRATIONS for the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, Friday May 8th:

'Lest we Forget' - Local Programme for Elstree and Borehamwood

Live from 2.45pm on Friday May 8th

At: https://youtu.be/ei0xiHvsWPU

From: Cllr Pat Strack, Leader Town Council

In line with government guidelines, Studios Rotary Club are pleased to announce that they will run a virtual Celebration on Friday May 8th:

2.45pm Town Mayor, Cllr Simon Rubner and Cllr Morris Bright Leader of Hertsmere Borough Council, will give a message to Town residents

Anthony Wass, Royal British Legion Exhortation and Studios Rotary Club President Nick Male will introduce the rest of the programme

2.55pm Andrew Grady will play “The Last Post” on his cornet from his back garden. He will join 1000 players across the Nation

3.00 pm George MacGregor will play on his bagpipes ‘The Battles Over’ also, from his back garden. This was a piece specially commissioned for 2018 celebrating the end of WW1.

A specially commissioned piece of music ‘VE75’ will be played by a 1000 pipers across the nation; The Nation will be invited to ring out the Bells of Peace.

The Bells of Peace will then ring out at St Michael and All Angels Church shortly after 3.00pm

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael’s 


Wednesday May 6th

I’ve been meditating this week on one of the well-known sayings of Jesus:

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

What if one of the future questions we will be asked by our children and grandchildren is not ‘what did you do during the coronavirus pandemic?’ but ‘what did you learn during the coronavirus pandemic?’

Thousands upon thousands of our brothers and sisters are suffering and dying prematurely. We are tempted to take upon ourselves the burden of the world, but we cannot and should not. The burden Jesus asks us to bear is discipleship. In first century Judaism, to be a disciple of a Rabbi (Teacher) was to seek to see things as he did and to become like him. We do this as the Holy Spirit leads us to spend time with Christ, our Lord and Teacher.

Why not today swap the burden of unbearable grief and take up afresh the yoke of discipleship, of learning with Christ? So when our children and grandchildren ask ‘what did you do in the coronavirus pandemic’, we can tell them instead what we learnt about life, about ourselves, and about the compassion of the Risen Christ.

May you find peace and refreshment this day in the gentleness and humility of the Risen Christ.

Revd Louise and everyone at St Michaels 


Tuesday, May 5th

In week 6 of lockdown, it may be helpful to remind ourselves of 6 things we need in a crisis:

DAILY LIFE: How are you? Are you managing ok in lockdown?

DAILY BREAD: Are you getting your food and medicines ok?

DAILY HELP: Do you know where to turn for help: e.g. Borehamwood Foodbank (02035831109) or Herts Help (0300 123 4044) or Anxiety UK (03444 775774) or the NHS Coronavirus line (111)

DAILY HOPE: How is your faith helping you keep a sense of hope and purpose? Do you know about the new Church of England free phone line which offers hymns, reflections and prayers (0800 804 8044)?

DAILY NEWS: Are you managing to keep in touch with others? Would you like to be part of a Dial-A-Friend group?

Do think about these questions and don’t hesitate to be in touch if you need support or have something to offer. We may not always be able to solve every situation, but we are in touch with a number of people and organisations who are giving help and sharing ideas.

Finally, for many of us the internet is a means of great blessing during this coronavirus pandemic. We use it daily for information, entertainment, keeping in touch, accessing worship and more. With over one third of St Michael’s members not having access to the internet, we rely on the phone to keep in touch. If you know anyone in need, do use the information and conversation starters above or give them my phone number: 020 8953 2362

‘Your Father knows what you need before you ask him’ Matthew 6:8

‘All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need’ Acts 2:44

‘And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus’ Philippians 4:19

PS The 6th thing we need is surely DAILY FUN – here’s the video again from last Sunday’s service, which I had fun making for you: https://youtu.be/yvj3PMrGbcQ  (also on the main page) 

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael’s


Monday, May 4th 

Every motivational speaker, such as Oprah Winfrey, stresses the importance of knowing our purpose in life. For what or for whom do we get out of bed in the morning?! Even in lockdown or especially in lockdown?

Yesterday was ‘Vocations Sunday’. I chose to reflect on Vocation today as I read how the Risen Christ calls Peter the Apostle:

‘When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”  John 21:15-18

Peter’s vocation, his purpose, is to love Jesus and feed his sheep. This call is a gift to Peter. It sets him on the right path after he lost his courage in the events leading up to Jesus' crucifixion. The word of God offers us purpose on every page:

‘As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord’ Joshua 24:15; ‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me’ Galatians 2:19; ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God’ Matthew 6:33; ‘Live for the praise of Christ’s glory’ Ephesians 1:12; 'Live in the love of God' 1 John 4:16; ‘Pursue peace with everyone’ Hebrews 12:14 

Jesus expresses his own vocation as something that nourishes him and gives him life; not even death will part him from his purpose:

‘Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work’   John 4:34

May God guide us as we reflect on what gives us life and gets us out of bed of a morning!

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael’s 


Sunday, May 3rd

Easter season greetings. Today's services are: 

https://youtu.be/bwlLBci3m3c   from St Michael and All Angels with a short film 'The Good Shepherd' 

https://youtu.be/Bx7D1rVX-ZE   Parish service from All Saints 

The St Michael's service can be more easily watched from the main page of this website 

May you be refreshed this day in the joy of the Gospel,

Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Thursday, April 30th 

Last week I was flipping through the TV channels and came across a tribute concert to Freddie Mercury and watched it for a while. The crowds were huge and sang along to all the anthems. It made me wonder how long before we routinely see such crowds again, whether at sporting events, festivals or the like.

During his life, Jesus often ministered to the crowds, teaching and feeding them on the Galilean hills and elsewhere. He was drawn to crowds and they were drawn to him.

Most of the recorded appearances of Christ after the Resurrection occur where there were just a handful of witnesses. But there is one where there was a whole crowd. This is recorded in Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15 and is sometimes read on Easter Day: 

‘For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died…. Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared to me’.

Scholars believe this may have been an early Christian creed. Paul is establishing his credentials for his exposition on the meaning of the Resurrection that follows. After Christ’s death and resurrection, not only 500 plus brothers and sisters, but Paul too, is witness to the power of God that raised Christ from death to life.

Today, may we live lives of joy, hope and courage and so be faithful to God who ‘raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power’   Acts 2:24

'We praise you and we bless you, our risen Lord Jesus, King of glory, for your resurrection is a revelation to the whole world. As you revealed yourself powerfully to so many, reveal yourself now as the hope for our world. To you, Lord Jesus, going beyond the limits of our understanding, be honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen.'

(From Common Worship ‘Stations of the Resurrection’, no. 15)

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Wednesday, April 29th 

‘Hello, this is Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. I am absolutely delighted that you’ve rung us today on our new daily hope line …’

The words of welcome that first greet you when you call the Church of England’s new ‘Daily Hope line’. 

It’s a Freephone number: 0800 804 8044 

Many of us with access to the internet have no doubt been sampling and enjoying the many opportunities for spiritual refreshment that are available online, from Spring Harvest to monastic worship and a lot more besides. Local services are available too.

But for those without access to the internet, it is a matter of tuning in to the TV or radio at the right time and knowing when that is! In recognition of this, the Church of England has launched a new Freephone service which we can access any time we want.

Here are the phone keypad options:

1. ‘Hymns we Love’ – short talks based on hymns we love

2. ‘Hymn Line’ – offering a different selection of hymns each day, on a loop

3. ‘Prayer Line’ – prayers relevant to the current crisis

4. More options

5. ‘Weekly Church of England Service’

6. ‘Morning and Evening Prayers’

7. Latest Government advice on the Coronavirus pandemic

Although the 'Daily Hope line' has been publicised through media, I’ve heard at least a couple of reports where the actual freephone number has not been given out!!!

Wouldn’t it be great if those of us receiving this information today could let others know about it? Maybe you could call someone today? 

The number again: 0800 804 8044

It’s quite memorable too! 

Thank you

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Tuesday, April 28th

I’ve been thinking about Noah, who had to wait past 150 days until it was safe to come out of the ark after the floods. First it had to stop raining, then the floods had to recede, then the earth had to dry out, before it was safe to re-inhabit the earth. Noah first sent out a raven and then a dove. The raven, presumably made of strong stuff, did not return. But the dove, with its delicate nature flew back home to the ark, ‘finding no place to set its foot’. A week later, Noah sent the dove out again and this time it returned to him with a freshly picked olive leaf in its beak. Noah waited another seven days and when he sent the dove out this time, it did not return to him in the ark. Only now was it safe for Noah and his family to re-populate the earth.

For Noah and his family, shut in their ark, the simple test of the survivability of a wild dove was enough to tell them it was safe to come out of lockdown. Today’s decisions are, of course, far more complex.

May we meditate on the wisdom and patience of Noah and his family who trusted that there would come an end to their confinement.

‘Then he sent out the dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; but the dove found no place to set its foot, and it returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took it and brought it into the ark with him. He waited another seven days, and again he sent out the dove from the ark; and the dove came back to him in the evening, and there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days, and sent out the dove; and it did not return to him any more.’ Genesis 8:8-12

Pray for Governments around the world as they seek to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic and make judgements on behalf of us all.

“Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 6:23

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael’s 


Monday, April 27th 

I received a letter from a family member saying how much they were looking forward to seeing everyone face to face. It reminded me of a letter I have or rather the copy of a letter; maybe you can find it in your Bible too.  

Two thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul wrote to the fledgling community of faith in Thessalonica, modern Greece. Paul had been instrumental, through God’s grace, in founding this church and now that he is no longer with them, he feels the separation acutely.

Paul has become deeply fond of this community. He longs to be with them, as he was before. In sharing the Gospel with them, he went further and ‘shared his very self’. He feels towards them the same tender care as a nurse with her children. He even likens the experience of being apart from them as becoming like an orphan (1 Thessalonians 2:17). Paul feels his absence from them very keenly. He twice writes that he longs to see them 'face to face'. 

When he can bear it no more, being unable to travel himself, he sends Timothy, his apprentice to them. Timothy brings back good news that all is well with the church of Thessalonica. They are standing true in the faith. How relieved Paul must have been to hear this news from them.

I find the humanity, honesty and warmth of Paul’s writing very comforting. It is a solace to sense, through his writings, the deep love and concern and care of God our Father for all his children.

Join with me in praying for all those longing to see loved ones, all separated from family and friends and all communities in isolation.

‘But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.’  1 Thessalonians 2:7


Saturday, April 25th 

Thank you to those who enjoyed the St George's Day update. Did you see the fab photo of Lewis dressed up as Saint George that his family sent in? It's in the Gallery, along with other art work that has been sent in. Other families have been holding lockdown fashion shows! I do so enjoy receiving your photos, pictures, encouraging words and poems, keep them coming.

Meanwhile, ready for tomorrow, here are the webcast links for Holy Communion worship on the Third Sunday of Easter:

https://youtu.be/Z5cMq1Iitc8             St Michael's 

https://youtu.be/gyPvY_M9cz8           All Saints

'May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.'  1 Thessalonians 5:23

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's


Thursday, April 23rd 

SAINT GEORGE'S DAY 

The Patron Saint of England is no Englishman. According to tradition, George was a Roman soldier in the imperial guard, martyred for his faith on April 23rd 303. He was born to a noble Christian family in Lydda, Palestine around 275 AD. He decided to go to the imperial city, Nicomedia (Izmit, Turkey) and apply for a career as a soldier. In time, he was promoted to the rank of Tribunus and in the imperial guard.

In AD 302, Emperor Diocletian issued an edict that every Christian soldier should be arrested and every other offered as sacrifice to the gods. George objected and approached the Emperor, who became upset, not wanting to lose his best Tribune. He attempted to convert George, offering land, money and slaves if he would make a pagan sacrifice. But George resolutely declared his worship of Jesus Christ and renounced the Emperor's edict. Diocletian was left with no choice but reluctantly to have him executed. George gave his wealth to the poor and was tortured and executed outside Nicomedia's city wall on April 23, 303. His body was returned to Lydda, where Christians soon began to honour him as a martyr.

George is venerated in the Anglican Church, Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches. William Dalrymple in his book ‘From the Holy Mountain’, records that George’s shrine near Beit Jala on the West Bank, Palestine was until modern times a place of prayer and pilgrimage for adherents of Christianity, Islam and Judaism (see photo which depicts George's martyrdom).

As well as being the patron of England, George is also patron of Aragon, Catalonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal and Russia and the cities of Amersfoort, Beirut, Fakiha, Bteghrine, Cáceres, Ferrara, Freiburg, Genoa, Ljubljana, Milan, Pomorie, Preston, Salford, Qormi, Rio de Janeiro, Lod, Barcelona, Moscow, Tamworth and the Maltese island of Gozo.

The legend of George and the dragon is well-known. George thus became a symbol of the war against evil, trampling the dragon of sin under the horse’s hoofs. 

Today, George is a rallying point, not just for the English, but for all who seek to free their lives from sin and fear and live courageously. 

God our redeemer, whose Church was strengthened by the blood of your martyr George: so bind us, in life and death, to Christ’s sacrifice that our lives, broken and offered with his, may carry his death and proclaim his resurrection in the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 


Wednesday, April 22nd 

Once more we re-visit Christ’s 3rd Resurrection appearance, recorded in John 21:1-14. Our focus today is leadership. Peter is a natural leader. The first to step out of the boat, the first to proclaim Jesus as Messiah, the one to preach to the crowds on the day of Pentecost. So it is natural when seven of the original twelve disciples were gathered together, in the days after Jesus’ crucifixion, that when Peter says, ‘I am going fishing’, they all to a man reply, ‘We will go with you’.

Peter rallies them, he encourages them and he does this by getting them to do what they know best, go fishing. He restores them to their habitual pattern of life.

Each one of us is well-placed to be an encourager today. Like the disciples after Jesus’ crucifixion, we too are experiencing things we’ve never seen before. Like the disciples, some of us may be experiencing questions, doubts, desolation and exhaustion. Thank God for the encouragers amongst us who pick up the phone and reach out to someone.

Jesus restored the disciples though inviting them to breakfast, Peter restores them through encouraging them to get back to work.

Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat.  John 21:2-3

‘Lord, help me to reach out and encourage someone today, sharing the comfort I have received in Christ. Amen.’

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael’s


Tuesday, April 21st 

After a sleepless night, Jesus invitation to the disciples to ‘Come and have breakfast’ restores them and guides them into the day ahead.

Whilst this account of Jesus third Resurrection appearance is not really a story about sleeplessness, in these present circumstances I read it with different eyes. The disciples have had a sleepless night and a fruitless night. Up all night, working their fishing nets, they’ve got nowhere. At dawn, their nets remain empty.

The miraculous catch of fish that follows when Jesus turns up was probably a one-off, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It reminds me of the fruitless days I spent looking for a job when I first graduated from university in the 1980’s and the unexpected joy of suddenly being miraculously lead to find a job that would set the course of my working life for the next 20 years. That sort of thing doesn’t happen every day.

But every day, we need to start afresh and nourish ourselves for the day to come. Every day, we find what we can to eat and are thankful.

If you’ve had a sleepless night, or the quality of your sleep is not what you would wish in these difficult times, take heart from Jesus’ invitation:

Jesus said to them ‘Come and have breakfast’      John 21:12

‘Lord, as I take my breakfast after a sleepless night, help me to imagine that you are here with me and touch me afresh with your presence today. Amen.’ 

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Monday, April 20th 

Today we continue our journey through the Stations of the Resurrection and take breakfast with Jesus.

After Jesus was crucified, several of the disciples return to their day-jobs, in this case fishing. It was a disappointing catch, until a 'stranger' stands on the beach and directs them to one the largest catches in recent memory. The 'stranger' is of course the Risen Christ, only they do not at first recognise him. Failure to recognise the Risen Christ accompanies many of the Resurrection appearances - think of Mary Magdalene thinking he is a gardener, think of Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus. Eventually they all see that it is Jesus when he invites them to come and share the breakfast he has prepared for them. It is surely one of the most beautiful scenes in all scripture.

'When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.'  John 21:9-14

Lord, help me this day to see you where I least expect it and to recognise your hand in the ordinary actions of my daily life. Amen.

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's

With thanks again to the Lumo Project for permission to use these amazing photos:

http://www.freebibleimages.org/photos/jesus-appears-galilee/


The Second Sunday of Easter 

Our theme today is Easter Marathon. It seems to me, this Easter season, we are all being asked to run an Easter Marathon, the endurance of going day after day of not seeing our friends, not going out, not being able to do what we want to. That’s a tough place to be.

Today’s Gospel shows the disciples in lockdown, stuck indoors, behind closed doors. They are down-hearted and fed up. Jesus has been crucified and their hopes and dreams have been dashed, it’s game-over.

Their healing begins when the Risen Christ appears to them behind locked doors and shares with them God’s peace and forgiveness. He doesn’t ask their permission, he doesn’t wait to be invited, the Risen Christ just comes to them. He comes to them because he loves them. The Risen Christ is not under lockdown!

Their healing begins when he shows them his wounds. He understands their hurt, he understands their fears. He helps them to see that love is greater than fear. He breathes on them the breath of life. And then, he sends them. 

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you” John 20:19-21

Blessings as you follow Jesus on your Easter Marathon! Amen. 

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Saturday, April 18th 

Find tomorrow’s Service of Holy Communion at 'Easter 2 Holy Communion' on this site or at: 

https://youtu.be/HigXF_RkFeQ

I can hardly believe it was just last September I preached on bluebells; feels like a lifetime ago. Yesterday, as I was taking shopping to a vulnerable person, I took the opportunity to go for a short walk in a nearby bluebell wood. I was reminded of the writings of Michael McCarthy as he stops at a gate at the entrance to a bluebell wood,

‘Each time I stopped at the gate I said to myself, I know what is in there …

It was blue.

It was a blue that shocked you.

It was a blue that made you giddy.

It was a blue that flowed like smoke over the woodland floor, so that the trees appeared to be rising out of it, a blue which was not solid like a blue door might be solid but constantly morphing in tone with the light and the shade, now lilac, now cobalt, a blue which was gentle but formidably strong, so intense as to be mesmerising: as some moments it was hard to believe it was composed of flowers. But that was the beauty and the joy of bluebells, their floral richness and their profusion, a dozen blue bell-heads nodding on every stem, a hundred thousand stems pressing together in every glade until it ceased to be plants, it was just an overwhelming incredible blueness at the bottom of the wood’

from ‘The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy’, 2015

‘The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.’        Psalm 19:1-4

May the God of all glory bless and keep you. Amen.

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Thursday of Easter Week

Good morning and greetings in the Risen Christ. I'm really grateful to Amy, Ella and Daisy for sending a photo of their fantastic whiteboard, 'How to Survive the End of the World'. 

It's good to have a survival guide, isn't it? From all their top tips, I love the simple message reminding us to 'Ask for help'. We are all having to learn new things in these difficult days, how to stay safe, how to stay hopeful, how to look after ourselves in this unfamiliar terrain.

Last week I was on a steep learning curve with regards to technology; I only got it sorted when I asked for help. So don't let previous disappointments put you off, ask for help!

"Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you" Matthew 7:7

May the risen Christ guide you in his peace until evening comes,

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Wednesday of Easter Week

Yesterday I signed up to an introductory 12 hour short course in Geology!

The nature of this present crisis is that many key workers and others are working all hours of the day and night, with non-existent leisure time. Other workers have been laid off work or furloughed and some may have more time on their hands than usual. Others working from home cannot enjoy their usual spare time activities such as travelling.

If you do find yourself with time on your hands, you may like to know that 'Open Learn' (part of the Open University) is offering free online courses. These vary from beginners to advanced and can be anything from just a couple of hours, to over 80 hours. There are over 1,000 modules, many taught via video, covering these areas:

Health, Sports & Psychology

Education & Development

History & the Arts

Languages

Money & Business

Nature & Environment

Science, Maths & Technology

Society, Politics & Law

Just click on ‘FREE COURSES’ at: https://www.open.edu/openlearn/

Of course, there are many other ways of learning; do let me know what is working for you and I will be happy to share. By the way, the photo is from Milook beach, near Crackington Haven, Cornwall - bringing back happy memories of childhood family holidays.

'Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Full of honour and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.'     Psalm 111:2

May you take delight in God's creation and be enriched in your learning today.

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's


Tuesday of Easter Week

Today, we begin an occasional series on the so-called ‘Stations of the Resurrection’ – the recorded appearances of the Risen Christ. We begin under lockdown.

A locked church

Ah my dear Lord, the church is locked 

but let my heart be open to your presence;

there let us make, you and I,

your Easter garden;

plant it with flowers,

and let the heavy stone be rolled away.

by Alan Amos

Three days after Jesus was crucified, his disciples were indoors, under lockdown. Fear is in the atmosphere. Old memories of blame and recrimination come to the surface between them. Betrayal and failure stalk the air. The world’s most successful missionary movement of love starts from under lockdown.

Their healing begins when the risen Christ appears to them behind locked doors and shares with them his peace and forgiveness. He shows them his wounds to prove once and for all that love is greater than fear. He breathes on them to share his very self. It is a moment of inspiration and revelation that has lasted over 2,000 years and still transforms lives today. 

The Risen Christ is not under lockdown!

‘When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you. After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”’     John 20:19-23

Today, may the Risen Christ reign in your life and bring you peace. Amen.

Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael’s 


EASTER MONDAY

Today, we share two invitations: one from the Archbishops and one from Spring Harvest:

Easter Pilgrim: The Lord's Prayer

The Archbishops write:

"A 40-day journey through the prayer Jesus taught his followers - one which continues to shape the lives of Christians across the world. Each day provides you with a short Bible reflection, an invitation to pray and a suggestion for responding to the vision of the Lord's Prayer itself. 

We are inviting the whole Church to take 40 days this Easter season to explore this prayer in still deeper ways. Take time each day to be still, to offer to God the pain and suffering around us and within us, to reflect on each line of the prayer and to pray with others across the world the words our risen Lord has taught us.

This will be an Easter season like no other as the world endures the coronavirus pandemic.

Each day we will pray the familiar words: Our Father, give us this day our daily bread, forgive us, deliver us from evil. We will pray them with a new and ever deeper understanding."

Archbishop Justin Welby     Archbishop John Sentamu

To download the app or to sign up for daily emails, go to:

https://www.churchofengland.org/our-faith/living-out-our-faith/lent-holy-week-and-easter/easterpilgrim-lords-prayer

Spring Harvest - Free online Christian festival, including worship, kids, talks, etc:

https://www.youtube.com/user/SpringHarvest?site_id=224074&utm_medium=email&utm_source=action&utm_campaign=224074&utm_user=jpzkp9uVUR

Just view the video prelim and click on the SH square to subscribe. Starts today.

Journey with the risen Christ

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


A BLESSED and HOPEFUL EASTER

Today is Easter day, the greatest day! Jesus is risen, alleluia!

We the animals and birds have walked with him and flown with him. We have listened to him and been there for him. We have been his teachers and he has set us free.

We have told you our tale. Now, what is your story?

Go in peace and tell everyone about Jesus journey with the animals. Amen.

‘And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation’ Mark 16:15

(All-age talk at Easter Day Holy Communion)


Chapter 7 – Holy Saturday

The fossil in the stone cave where Jesus’ body was buried

"Some people call me ‘trilobite’. I am found in limestone rock, which is the type of rock into which Jesus grave was dug. I was around millions and millions of years ago, when the earth (as you call it) was covered with seas. Jesus was around even before me. He made me and all the animals that have ever come after me.

It’s my greatest honour that Jesus was laid to rest in my cave. I watch over his body. I’ve waited a long time. I am a silent witness.

Even now, I believe that Jesus can make me and all God’s creatures come back to life again and one day he will do it. Do you believe him? Watch this space. All will be well." 

‘Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away’    Matthew 27:59

CRAFT: Get some Plasticine, clay or salt dough and press in a leaf or shell or make your own fossil marks (see Gallery)

REFLECTION: Stillness and silence. Before dawn, the women prepared spices to anoint his body. The Lamb of God is slain. The Lion of Judah is silent. Ancient time breathes. All creation groans. The earth sighs.

PRAYER: ‘Out of the deep, O Lord, have I cried onto Thee’; O Lord, hear my prayer and let my sighing come unto you. Amen.

COLLECT: In the depths of our isolation we cry to you, Lord God: give light to our darkness and bring us out of the prison of our despair; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's


Chapter 6 – Good Friday

The cockerel Jesus chose to warn Peter

"Peter is one of Jesus’ disciples. He is one of their main leaders. But Jesus said that fear would get the better of him and he would run away. When a small girl asked Peter if he was a friend of Jesus he denied it and said ‘no’, which wasn’t true.

Jesus was arrested and they took him away and questioned him for hours. They beat him up and made him wear a false crown.

I was given a special job to do. I crowed loudly to remind Peter to be true to himself and true to his God. Now people all over the world can get the same message every time they hear a cock crow. Later Peter was sorry, don’t worry he will be alright.

Later, some soldiers took Jesus and nailed him onto a cross and three hours later he died. They buried his body in a stone cave in the hillside.

All the animals and all the birds fell silent." 

‘At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly’   Matthew 26:75

CRAFT IDEA: Paper plate cockerel

REFLECTION: Betrayal and denial. The disciples were scattered. The cock crows, in the shadow of the cross. The Lamb of God sheds his blood, his body is broken. He cries out to God, ‘Into your hands, I commit my spirit’.

PRAYER: Lord, restore my soul, for your name’s sake. Amen.

COLLECT: Eternal God, in the cross of Jesus we see the cost of sin and the depth of your love: in humble hope and fear may we place at his feet all that we have and all that we are, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Chapter 5 – Maundy Thursday

The fox of whom Jesus is not afraid

"I lurk in the shadows, I hunt at night. I scatter the flock, I wait for them to run.

But I know Jesus is not afraid of me. He saw my shadow this evening and he just carried on walking. He didn’t give me a second look. He knows what he’s doing, he knows where he’s going, he’s made his mind up. For now there’s nothing I can do, but soon my time will come.

Later this evening Jesus and his disciples had a Passover meal together. He washed their feet and they listened to him talk late into the night about life and death and God’s love.

Then when it was very dark, they went to a garden called Gethsemane. Jesus prayed to God all night long, like he’d never prayed before. Something bad is going to happen to Jesus soon." 

‘Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work’  Luke 13:32

CRAFT IDEA: A simple fox mask (see Gallery)

REFLECTION: Draw strength from the times when you have overcome obstacles and trials in the past. Cast fear aside. Let nothing cloud your vision. Focus on the perfect love casts out fear.

PRAYER: Lord, give me the courage this day to walk with Jesus today and to love the truth. Amen.

COLLECT: God our Father, your Son Jesus Christ was obedient to the end and drank the cup prepared for him: may we who share his table watch with him through the night of suffering and be faithful. Amen. 

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's


Chapter 4 – Holy Wednesday

The sheep and goats in Jesus’ famous story

“Heh, would you know it! In some countries, they say we sheep and goats are difficult to tell apart, that we all look alike. But a Good Shepherd has no problem with that. Jesus says, it’s all about how we treat other people. Treat others as you want them to treat you. Look after each other, especially people who are lonely or hungry or weak or sick. Always do your best and leave the rest to God.

Jesus’ story made some people angry because they thought he was getting at them. They wanted to arrest him.

This evening, as Jesus and his disciples were walking back to the village, he waved to us and gave us all a friendly wink of the eye. For now at least, all is well.”

‘All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats’ Matthew 25:32

CRAFT IDEA: Cheerio sheep (or use cotton wool or pasta, if you have any!)

REFLECTION: External appearances are not always what they seem. The Lord said to King David, ‘People look on the outside, but God looks on the heart’. How can my actions today reflect the best intentions of my heart?

PRAYER: Lord, give me an undivided heart that I may praise your name. Amen.

COLLECT: Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we do also for you: give us the will to be the servant of others as you were the servant of all, and gave up your life and died for us, but are alive and reign, now and for ever. Amen.

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Chapter 3 – Holy Tuesday

The mother hen who gave Jesus his parable

“Jesus loves all God’s people like I love my chicks. He would do anything for them, even give his life. I am the same. My chicks mean everything to me. They are all with me now, safe and sound. Earlier a fox came by, but I protected my chicks. God looks after us all, even the sparrows.

Sometimes bad things happen, but I will be ready. I will always do my best for my chicks.

This evening, as Jesus and his disciples were out walking in the fields, they passed by our nest. Jesus raised a smile and waved his hand. I know for sure he’s still thinking about us. God is looking after us too. All is well.”

‘How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings’    Matthew 23:37

CRAFT IDEA: Hand print hens and chicks! If you haven’t got any paint, draw round your hand with a felt pen.

REFLECTION: In what ways, right now, am I experiencing the protection of God? How is the Lord sheltering me? Psalm 91 says ‘He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge’

PRAYER: Lord, I ask for your protection, I cry out to you and take refuge in you. Protect me and shield me always in your care. Amen.

COLLECT: God of love, passionate and strong, tender and careful: watch over us and hold us all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's


Chapter 2 - Holy Monday

The first dove who Jesus set free

“It happened this afternoon. There were lots of other doves and sheep and cattle with me. We were all in the Temple. We were all locked in cages or tied up. Jesus came and set us free. He chased away the people trying to sell us. Jesus told them that God’s House is not supposed to be for caged animals, but for prayer.

Now I am flying free, wherever I want.

This evening, as the sun went down, I flew with Jesus and his disciples as they were walking out across the valley. It is a beautiful evening. All is well.”

‘In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle.’  John 2:14-15

CRAFT IDEA: Make a paper dove and hang up somewhere in your room (see Gallery)

REFLECTION: In what ways are we being set free? How are we free, at this time, to serve others? How, even though constrained from our normal patterns of worship, are you free to express worship to God today?

PRAYER: Lord, help me to make the most of each day as it comes and trust all things into your hands. Help me to see where I may use my limited freedom to serve others and to please you. Amen.

COLLECT: Holy God, our lives are laid open before you: rescue us from the chaos of sin and through the death of your Son bring us healing and make us whole in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's

PS See Gallery for craft idea and also find complete Easter Tale 


Sunday, April 5th

Welcome to St Michael’s All-Age Holy Week. This week is a slightly different format: a tale, a craft activity, a reflection, a blessing. It’s all based around the animals that accompany Jesus on his journey to the cross: 

Chapter 1 - Palm Sunday

The donkey who carried Jesus on her back

“With me is my foal, nearly two years old now. She has never carried anyone on her back before, but now she is ready to do it. I wonder if Jesus will ask her?

We are riding up to Jerusalem. All the people have joined us now, singing and dancing in a circle around me and my foal. Jesus is riding on my back. Young people and old, girls and boys, all waving palm branches and shouting out ‘Hosanna!’

People say that kings and army chiefs go into battle riding strong horses and even camels and elephants. But Jesus is God’s man of peace, maybe that’s why he chose me and my foal. We’ve reached the city, now it’s her turn. Jesus is beckoning to her.

Later this evening, we all went along with Jesus and his disciples, out to the village called Bethany and we spent the night there. All is well.”

‘Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey' Matthew 21:5

CRAFT IDEA: Cut out a card donkey and use clothes pegs for legs (see gallery photos)

REFLECTION: We always think of the Lord carrying us through tough times. Here, the donkey humbly carries Jesus on her back. How is it, at this time, that we are sharing Jesus’ burden?

PRAYER: Lord, you said, ‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; my yoke is easy, my burden is light.’ Help me to be willing to carry your burden, even as I lay my burden at your feet. Amen.

Christ crucified draw you to himself, to find in him a sure ground for faith, a firm support for hope, and the assurance of sins forgiven; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Saturday, April 4th

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. Our Palm procession will happen in a different way this year! Some of us still have Palm crosses from previous years. Some of us can make a Palm cross today, with whatever materials we can find. I'm going to try and make one from leaves! Paper or card will also work.

Tomorrow we can have a simple Palm Sunday service in our homes:

Start as usual at 9.30am, singing the song (tune = Drunken Sailor!) as we wave our Palm crosses:

"We have a King who rides a donkey (x 3). And his name is Jesus.

Trees are waving a royal welcome (x 3). For the King called Jesus.

We have a King who cares for people (x 3). And his name is Jesus.

A loaf and a cup upon the table (x 3). Bread-and-wine is Jesus."

Then find a Bible and read the story in Matthew 21:1-11

Then pray; while I bless the communion bread and wine.

The Blessing to close service: Christ crucified draw you to himself, to find in him a sure ground for faith, a firm support for hope, and the assurance of sins forgiven; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

Then you may like to put your palm cross on a window or door. Then a cuppa coffee!

Other services that can be watched at any time include:

https://www.stalbanscathedral.org/live-streaming-at-st-albans-cathedral

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/national-virtual-service-palm-sunday-be-led-bishop-manchester

'Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing.' Psalm 100:1

May the Holy Spirit inspire you today as we prepare to enter Holy Week

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Friday, April 3rd

Today there is no actual update, but instead an invitation!

Send me your own reflections, something uplifting, or how you are managing day-to-day, or maybe a Biblical reflection or a poem. I'll aim to get them posted after Easter. Maximum 200-300 words please.

'As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment'  1 Timothy 6:17

May you find enjoyment this day in the provision of God,

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's


Thursday, April 4th

On Fridays (but not Good Friday next week) St Michael's updates will have a rest day, so I can practice what I preach! 

Just a couple of days after suggesting you send in the country or town or city around the world where your loved ones are, I found this map from the worldwide Anglican Communion which does exactly what I saw! It shows tea-lights scattered across a large world map, representing the light of our prayerful thoughts and loving actions. Underneath is the verse: 'Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord'

The Anglican Communion is a family of over 40 inter-independent churches, in over 165 different countries, of which the Church of England is just one. We are all united in seeking to become followers of Jesus Christ. That's 85 million members by the way! See https://anglicancommunion.org/

Here is a message from the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, the Most Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon: “As we all as nations, churches, and individuals respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, I wish to express heartfelt prayers for all of you as you act and serve as ministry leaders, citizens, and children of God connected to one another.”

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life"     John 3:16

May you know that God is with you today.

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Wednesday, April 1st 

Today is another resources day. Thanks to Mothers Union for free online options for keeping mentally active:

Crosswords

http://www.onlinecrosswords.net/printable-daily-crosswords.php

http://freedailycrosswords.com/printable-crossword-puzzles/

http://www.qets.com/crossword_puzzles.htm - Large print

Sudoku

https://www.memory-improvement-tips.com/printable-sudoku-puzzles.html

http://www.printmysudoku.com/

https://www.puzzles.ca/sudoku/

Mindful colouring

https://www.happinessishomemade.net/free-adult-coloring-pages/

http://getdrawings.com/free-mindfulness-coloring-pages


And thanks to artist David Hockney for sharing ten of his paintings on the theme of springtime in Normandy, released today:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-52109901

'Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.'      Philippians 4:8

May the God of peace bring you in peace to the evening time.

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Tuesday, March 31st

Guess what? Another aeroplane landed on my doorstep yesterday evening! Thanks again to George for sharing his talent and he even signed it on the back himself this time, not bad for a 2-year old! George's love of aeroplanes at such a young age comes through his parents who are involved with 1372 Elstree and Borehamwood Air Cadets of which I am Chaplain.

George's paintings of aeroplanes remind us that this crisis is affecting not only the UK, but every part of the world. This evening the Foreign Secretary was talking about planes being chartered to bring home UK citizens from elsewhere. I know a family who have recently made it back, though at great expense. We keep in our thoughts all who are trying to make it home somewhere.

In this last week we've spoken with family and friends in the USA, Liberia and elsewhere. Many of you, I know, have family and friends around in the world. Please be assured that we keep them and their countries in our prayers.

Why not send me the name of a community, city or country where you have loved ones or for which you are praying at this time and I'll see if I can put them all on a map?

So big thanks again to George and others whose kind actions give hope and inspiration to so many people.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”      Philippians 4:4-7

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Monday, March 30th  

Today, we continue looking at how trees survive and what we can learn from them.

The first thing the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Reverend Stephen Cottrell and his wife did when they moved to Chelmsford nine years ago was to plant a fig tree. Last year, for the first time, they enjoyed some of its fruit. Standing in their garden at Bishops Court in Essex, close by one of his favourite tulip trees, he says,

'There’s several things for me which this tree embodies, which I love about all trees, I love this tree because this tree is very, very good at standing still. It occupies this space, but its inter-dependant with everything else around it.… We live in a world that seems to think, that economic success, what matters is constant, constant growth. But what the tree teaches us is the cycle of the seasons … I kinda feel I want to be more like this tree. I want to learn how to be still, I want to learn to grow where I am planted, I want to recognise that what appears to be death is not necessarily death, I want to learn how to be more inter-dependent, I want to learn how to value the things that make their home with me, there’s so many things I think I can observe and learn from this tree… ' (Radio 4 PM Interview with Tom Baker 21/02/20)

Is there something you can do today to help you flourish where we are, recognising it is not where we would choose to be? How can we practice 'self-kindness', affording ourselves the same measure of grace we would choose for others?

Finally, some word of Jesus to meditate on:

"As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love." (John's Gospel 15:9)

May the LORD God keep you safe this day and bring you in peace to the evening time.

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Sunday, March 29th

PASSIONTIDE

Join our service today with Revd Tim Warr, Rector of All Saints Church at: https://youtu.be/gQjhAyy2m4g

Last month I visited north Somerset for a few days and while I was there I went down Gough Cave at Cheddar Gorge in the Mendip Hills. To enter a cave is to travel back in time, ‘deep time’ as geologists call it. The sedimentary rocks that form the Mendip Hills and Caves began to be laid down some 350 million years ago, so to enter a cave is to enter pre-history!

In 1977, the Bee Gees had a big hit with ‘How deep is your love?’ Love has to have depth; otherwise it is something else and not love at all. Three thousand years ago, the writer of today’s Psalm had the same thought, ‘Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.’ (Ps 130:1)

In the Bible, ‘deep’ or ‘depth’ has several meanings. It is a place to fear; Jonah cries out from the belly of the fish, ‘You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas.’

It is also a place of new beginnings, ‘In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep’ (Genesis 1:1) and ‘My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.’ (Psalm 139:15). Jesus' wisdom teaches those who would build a new house, to ‘dig deeply and lay your foundation on rock’ (see Luke 7:47-49).

It is even a source of joy, ‘With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation’  (Isaiah 12:3)

In today’s Gospel reading, Lazarus falls ill. His family and friends call for Jesus, but Jesus arrives too late. Lazarus dies and his body is placed in a cave for burial. Jesus is ‘deeply moved’; he is disturbed in spirit and weeps. Those watching nearby say, 'See how he loved him!' (see John 11:1-45)

See too, how you are deeply loved.

The miracle of Easter, which we anticipate today as we enter Passiontide, is that for Lazarus, buried deep in a rock cave, the depth does indeed become a place of new beginnings. In the depth of his tomb, the word of God reaches him and Lazarus is raised to new life.

‘People are best able to change their ways when they find two things at once in nature: something to fear, a threat they must avoid, and also something to love, a quality … which they can do their best to honour. Either impulse can stay the human hand, but the first stops it just short of being burnt or broken. The second keeps the hand poised, extended in greeting or in an offer of peace. This gesture is the beginning of the collaboration, among people but beyond us, in building our next home.’ Jedidiah Purdy, ‘After Nature’ (quoted in ‘Underland, a deep time journey’ by Robert Macfarlane)

This is not a superficial time. Like Jesus, we too are ‘deeply moved’

And we even dare to rejoice, knowing that when Jesus is deeply moved, Easter is near.

'I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.’   (Ephesians 3:18-19)

May Christ guide the church and all people to know and rejoice in the deep love of God our Maker.

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael’s


Saturday, March 28th

Today, I want to devote the message once again to resources. Yesterday the focus was mental well-being, today as we look to Sunday worship tomorrow, the focus moves towards spiritual well-being.

First of all, a resource for children. We learnt this week that the publishers of 'Tales from the Miracle Book' have made an incredibly generous action in making available their latest videos publication free-of-charge (up to an including the Easter weekend). I've watched some of the videos myself and really enjoyed them! There are 11 episodes, each telling an episode from the Easter story, and they last around 5 minutes each. If you are home with the kids or have grandchildren you can send this to, please go to the link below and then enter the password easter2020

https://talesfromthemiraclebook.co.uk/stream/

Secondly, tomorrow (Sunday 29th at 10.00am) St Albans Abbey Cathedral are once again live-streaming a service. It will come from Canon Kevin Walton's garden, in the grounds of the Cathedral:

https://www.stalbanscathedral.org/tune-in-on-sunday-for-our-next-live-streamed-service

Thirdly, the BBC offers tomorrow (Sunday):

BBC1 10.45am Service for Passion Sunday from Bangor Cathedral

BBC1 13.15pm Songs of Praise with Archbishop of York Designate Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell

STOP PRESS: Service with Revd Tim Warr, Rector of All Saints Church (available Sunday) at:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC63FCTMaH6oTI1bPK2BE5dw?view_as=subscriber

'Make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.'         (Ephesians 4:3-6)

May you know this day the blessings of the one God and Father of all,

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's


Friday, March 27th

Today, as we face these challenging questions, I simply offer a list of some of the resources that are out there:

How do we look after ourselves when those we love are not around?

Is there some way I can be honest with God about how I’m feeling?

How do we love ourselves as we love our neighbour?

Supporting Good Mental Health – 13 Days Reflections

Updated and revised in light of coronavirus March 2020 (see also on our front page): 

https://www.churchofengland.org/faith-action/mental-health-resources/supporting-good-mental-health/supporting-good-mental-health

Dealing with Loneliness and isolation: Top 5 tips

A card attached with 5 bullet-points: 

https://www.churchofengland.org/faith-action/mental-health-resources/dealing-loneliness-and-isolation-five-top-tips

Online Well-being 

Online resources, including help with meditation:

https://spacetobreatheuk.com/coronavirus-wellbeing-support-1

Lament Space

God’s not afraid of our grief 

Post your own comments:

https://churchmissionsociety.org/lamentspace/

Lament for Lent

Six week study for Lent (see also on our front page):

https://churchmissionsociety.org/resources/only-with-eyes-that-have-cried-lament-for-lent/

May God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit bless you today and always,

Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's


Thursday, March 26th 

Everyone loves to receive a parcel, especially when they have an idea what goodies are inside! So today, we were doubly blessed by the arrival of not one but two parcels on the doorstep! They both contained paintings done by some of our very youngest members; these are for us to give out to other people who are having to stay in or don't have the internet or they're working really hard for others.

This delightful picture of a rainbow is from Emily, aged 4. It was her very own idea. She also made some homemade soap to give out to people!

Again, George, aged 2, sent over some fantastic paintings he did of dinosaurs, aeroplanes and racing cars, to be given out to other people and cheer them up!

Well done, Emily and George, you are absolute stars!

You show us that to create a smile, a lasting bubble of happiness for someone else is the best thing we can ever do.

Thank you a million times.

Probably the most famous story about a rainbow is from the Bible. God told Noah to build a boat so he could rescue God's people from the rains that would soon come. I guess most people thought Noah was mad, as he lived in a desert where it didn't rain for months on end! But Noah did what God said and built the ark, saved his people and God put a rainbow in the sky as a sign of hope for all creation.

Thanks to all children everywhere for bringing signs of hope to the world today.

"At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."     (Matthew 18:1-3)

May the peace and love of God bring a smile to you today,

Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Wednesday, March 25th 

Every year, the church takes four weeks in Advent to get ready to celebrate Christmas.

Are you at home with the kids? Why not have a mini-Christmas right now?

You can get out the tinsel, get out the tree and make some homemade paper chains (wrapping paper, scissors and Sellotape / staples are all that's needed) or paper crowns to wear. If you still have any of last year's Christmas cards, get them down and take time to give thanks for each person and each family who sent you a card. If you're more inventive, make Christmas crackers and don't forget to include a joke. Mince pies are optional.

You may think I'm a little crazy and that I've been indoors too long (you're probably right).

And if you struggle with the thought of celebrating anything right now, see it as a small act of defiance against a very nasty virus. Resistance comes in all shapes and sizes. More of that later.

Next week, we will do 'mini-Christingle' - so watch this space!

Meanwhile, for me the Gospel is summed up in the most beautiful word ever, 'EMMANUEL' which means 'God-is-with-us'.

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!”      (Luke's Gospel 2:13)

May the blessing of GOD Emmanuel be yours today and always.

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Tuesday, March 24th 

A couple of days ago I received by email this beautiful photograph, taken looking out through a window. It show a child's drawing of a rainbow, trees outside and some cards by the window. In the foreground, a golden orb, one lighted round candle, like a world aglow with love.

I really appreciate the words of Cardinal Vincent Nichols at the weekend about finding a structure and a rhythm to our days, especially for children off school, those off work and all of us self-isolating or just staying in. We are creatures of habits, but new habits take time. Are there some things that we can set as new goals each day? A few minutes of exercise, taking time to care for ourselves, phoning someone, listening to music or just pausing at a set time each day to say our prayers?

Our 'Eco-Disciples' group were not able to have their usual Monday evening meeting yesterday. So instead, several of us lit candles at around 7.00pm and said prayers in our own homes. Its a nice time to settle down; why don't you join us this evening? It can help bring a sense of calm and comfort. You may be new to saying prayers or you may have done it since the day you were born; it doesn't matter. I have uploaded some prayers (see 'coronavirus prayers') for you and your family, which you can print off or view on your screen. Just choose one or two, or write your own.

In essence, prayer is about being still, thinking of the people and things that matter to us and letting God do the rest.

Above all, let's remember what Jesus says about prayer,

"Your Father knows what you need before you ask him."   (Matthew 6:8)

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's


Monday, March 23rd 

You can tell how old a tree is by the number of rings in its trunk. One ring for each year. Sometimes, in a year of drought, it misses a year. Occasionally, when conditions are right, there are two growing seasons and two rings in one year. Rings are pale in colour at the start of each year's growth, then they darken as the year goes by. In years when trees experience stress, such as too low / high rainfall, forest fire or disease, the rings are much closer together; in a good growing year they are farther apart.

I wonder what story the 'tree rings' of our life or even of our civilization would tell? What story of growth will we see? What signs of stress or seasons of abundance and what variations from year to year? And yet the tree lives. Growth never occurs in a continuous straight line.

When Isaiah the prophet wants to illustrate the blessing of God, he likens it to the life of a tree:

'Like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.' (Isaiah 65:22)

May the LORD God make your days rich in number and your years full of sap

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's


Sunday, March 22nd 

MOTHERING SUNDAY

During this last week I've been contacted by two mums, amongst others, who show the kind of practical caring and goodness we see in mums everywhere. One says that while she is cooking for her own family she can also provide a daily cooked meal for one or two elderly in her area (if you know someone in the Cromwell Road area, please contact me). The other is mum to one of our youngest members, aged four, who is offering to paint and draw pictures for those who can't get out. Motherly love in action.

Mary the mother of Jesus loved him and cared for him as she brought him up and through salted eyes, she watched him die on the cross. A sword pierced her heart. Her love for life was reborn when she adopted one of his disciples and made a new home. Through it all, Mary somehow remained centred in the motherly love and praise of God.

Today, we remember the words of Mary the mother of Jesus:

'My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour;  For he has had regard for the afflicted state of his servant.'           (Luke 1:46)

Happy Mothering Sunday

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's


Saturday, March 21st

We've been through dark times before. We've had to hold the torch for others, for ourselves. A conscious choice.

Tomorrow (Sunday) evening, at 7.00pm, everyone is being invited to place a light, candle or lamp in their window, a sign of hope. A day of national prayer on Mothering Sunday, for mums and for all who are caring for others.

Why not see if you can be creative and add some of your own hopeful messages?

And remember the words of Jesus who said,

"Let your light shine before others"

May the light and comfort of God be yours this day

Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Friday, March 20th 

It is my sincere hope and prayer that you and yours are getting your daily bread, both spiritually and nutritionally.

Some people are wondering how to support their local foodbank, especially as schools close and children are no longer in breakfast clubs or getting school lunches. Other people are asking if they can now use their local foodbank. Here is the link to the Borehamwood Foodbank: https://borehamwood.foodbank.org.uk

Our Safeguarding Officer also passed me this information yesterday:

HertsHelp is the councils go to place for information on local services - this includes people who may find themselves in hardship and need some assistance: https://www.hertshelp.net/hertshelp.aspx      Telephone 0300 123 4044

HILS are still operating their meals on wheels service on behalf of the county and can usually pick up a new client within 24 hours, they can be contacted by phone or online: https://hertsindependentliving.org/      Telephone 0330 2000 103

Finally, let's meditate on the words of Jesus and may they nourish your faith and bring you life today.

"Give us this day our Daily Bread" - from the Lord's Prayer

May God's peace be with you and yours this day

Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's  


Thursday, March 19th 

Contemplating nature can be a healthy antidote to all kinds of worry. The 17th century French thinker, Blaise Pascal, said ‘In times of difficulty, we should always carry something beautiful in our minds.’

Do you have a special place of contemplation? Can you 'go there' in your thoughts today? What thing of beauty can you carry in your mind today?

Finally, some words of Jesus from his Sermon on the Mount:

‘Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these... are you not of more value than these?'

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit today.  

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's 


Wednesday, March 18th

Following the Government advice on Monday, it was decided yesterday by the Church of England Archbishops there will be no Services (Sundays or mid-week) until further notice. The way we do Church is changing. Lots of thoughts, lots of prayers and keeping in touch however we can. 

Meanwhile, I wonder if, like me, you remember the excitement as a child of receiving a postcard through the post?

Why not send a card today to someone who doesn't use the internet? If you haven't got any postcards, use an old greetings card or cut out a cornflakes packet, decorate one side and write message and address on the blank side. If you can't get out to the post, ask a neighbour.

Finally, remember the words of Jesus:

'Rejoice that your names are written in heaven' (Luke 10:20)

May God bless you today.

From Revd Louise and everyone at St Michael's