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The Vicar writesJeremy Fletcher
I write this on the day GCSE results have been announced. More than one of my friends has commented that we still think of them as O Levels, which means we took ours before 1988. I am so old that I not only took O Levels but taught them too. That confusion has perhaps been enhanced by the new numbering of results, like they used to be up to 1975, even if a 9 is a 1 and a 1 a 9 (younger readers might need help here).
What hasn’t changed is the sense of this time of year being about many more new beginnings than January. Everyone at school, college or university is starting something different. Even those of us in the same role at the same place are, hopefully returning refreshed and ready to go after the change of gear in August. Whether we are clutching results which have set the course of the next term, wondering what our new class will be like, or are in the afterglow of a great holiday, September brings new things.
I am delighted that we have much to look forward to at Hampstead Parish Church. Well mark the beginning of the academic year with a Blessing of the Backpacks on Sunday September 10th, at the 10.30 Eucharist. Thats not just for school pupils: anyone beginning a new term can bring something which symbolises it for them. Well pray a blessing on each of us, that we may be a blessing wherever we are. On Sunday September 24 we will celebrate Harvest Festival at the 10.30 service. Junior Church will be raising funds to support the amazing Send A Cow charity.
On Friday October 13 at 6 pm we will have a launch evening for our Community Sponsorship of a Refugee Family. Sheena’s article later in the Magazine gives more details about what we hope to do. We know that it will be complicated, and Im excited about what might happen. Similarly, we will be hosting the Saturday night Camden Cold Weather Shelter from Saturday November 11. There will be practical ways to help in these two ways of welcoming the stranger and offering radical hospitality. Keep an eye on the notices.
A new musical term begins too. Our young people will be singing at Greenwich on September 3, and the Hampstead term begins on the 10th. Our Director of Music, James Sherlock, has begun his new life studying orchestral conducting in Finland. Well still see James for certain events up to December, but we are in a vacancy, and will be planning to appoint a new Director of Music as soon as possible: its likely to be after Christmas at the earliest.
We look forward to welcoming the Bishop of Edmonton on Sunday November 5 at 10.30 for a service of Confirmation: that is there are any people to be confirmed. If you would like to be confirmed (and baptised if you have not been) please contact me as soon as possible so we can arrange preparation. Teenagers and adults are welcome: we generally have separate preparation groups. Its immensely encouraging when people make a profession of their Christian faith. A new start indeed.
Happy New Year!