The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead

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November 2017

The Vicar writes

Jeremy Fletcher

The day the clocks change is a good day to reflect on time, the calendar, and how we use it. Suddenly it’s dark by late afternoon, Sunday Evensong moves to 4.30 pm, and someone will say to you that they hope you have a good Christmas even before the pumpkins have been taken down.  Summer seems long gone.

The changing of the seasons encourages the association of memory and time. It only has to be misty and mellow in an autumn morning for me to be back at university heading for a lecture on the Anglo Saxon Chronicle. The newest such memory for me will be the association of Hallowe’en and my appointment to Hampstead: Julia and I walked up Frognal to eat with the PCC on the evening where all of Hampstead was out trick or treating.

This season is one of remembering. The Come and Sing Requiem – Mozart this year on Saturday 11 November – will be an occasion to commemorate those we love and see no longer, Jane Garland chief among them. Remembrance Sunday, 12 November, puts our griefs in a wider world context. Such remembering connects the personal with the universal and eternal. For me, at least, there is also the determination not to go that way again: a determination highlighted by the violent rhetoric of today’s world leaders who should know better.

The church calendar gives us further Sundays to consider these themes. ‘Christ the King’ Sunday, 26 November, reflects on the Christian faith and hope that Christ is enthroned to rule in the Kingdom of Heaven, until the time all is revealed. As a commemoration it was only formally introduced in the 1920s. Out of the wreckage of a global war came an assertion that the Kingdom of God was to be sought and affirmed and declared. We should ask again the question about how Christ reigns in such complex world circumstances, and how we can bring that kingdom near. Perhaps it will be in the small things: our providing shelter for the homeless and a home for the refugee are a start. 

We organise time and the calendar to help us remember, and to shape our lives the way we wish. Birthdays and anniversaries remind us of those we love, and of events which have been important, to us and to our communities. Some things we don’t actually remember, but their commemoration means that they are important for us. Remembrance of those who died in the First World War is a good example. So it is with the church year. We were not there when Christ was born, but know that we should reflect on it, as, for Christians, it was the event which changed the world, and gives us hope and direction now.

So whether you relish autumn and winter, or simply cannot wait for spring, I pray that the events in our calendar will give you pause for reflection, and hope for the future.

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