Making God's Love Known In Windsor
Please get in touch if you would like any further information or if you would like to join our mailing list which contains news and information about forthcoming services. We hold a Sung Eucharist at 10am on Sundays which rotates around our churches in Central Windsor (details can be found on noticeboards, on the calendar and in our parish magazine and Keeping Us in Touch leaflet above). You can download an order of service here.
The Reverend Richard Terrardo-Reardon writes...
In our recent celebrations of Her Majesty’s 70-year reign, much has been reflected upon in regard to the changes that both The Queen and our society have experienced. Imagine, a time before mobile phones, emails and today’s blurring of work-home life balance. What endured though was The Queen’s presence, a dutiful, faithful work of representing and embodying The State. On Sunday the 26th of June 2022, we celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Windsor Parish Church. Imagine all that it has borne witness to in two centuries, the change, the wars, the combustion engine, and there it remains, faithful, enduring, whilst the congregation continually changes, where the hopes of each generation are shared and passed on. On the same day it will also be ten years since I left ministry within the Roman Catholic Church. As I reflect upon the changes that have taken place over this past decade, I encounter a life that is almost unrecognisable to the life I left behind on The Nativity of John the Baptist when I celebrated Mass for the last time as a RC Priest.
Of the many changes I experienced, and there have been many, two things have endured, a sense of grief, that comes and goes in waves, and the faithful presence of God, that is also experienced as coming and going in waves. In my life as both Priest and Counsellor, I have listened and attended to the grief of many a person and community. Initially I thought grief was something we had to manage, or minimise or get over! However, I no longer relate to grief in such a medical manner. I now see grief as an essentially soulful work, and it is the work of sacred remembrance. Grief is neither to be minimised or anesthetised, rather it is to be felt, in all it’s power and disturbing faithfulness. Grief is a ‘soul friend’ or in the Gaelic Anam Cara. It symbolises a spiritual friendship that is not affected by time, distance, or separation. I have listened to too many WWII veterans to believe that somehow time makes grief easier, watch for the tears in their eyes as they move into the deeper place, tasting the trauma and separation that embraced them and their friends. No, grief is not a condition, it is a faithful work whispering and shouting into our hearts “YOU HAVE LOVED!!” Grief witnesses a life shaped and touched by love. It also invites us and lovingly cajoles us to remain present.
Of the many things that can happen to us in grief, one is that we freeze our emotions by distancing ourselves from our pain, we live somewhat in a ‘numbed state’ as though walking in fog, or living with cotton wool in our heads. It all seems unreal, and we seem to be living in an alternate environment whilst the world mercilessly goes on. How strange it is in this bewildering time, this desert time. I have seen this in parish life, where communities go into survival mode as they fail to recognise the shift, the change and loss as the grieving process engages them. A numbing takes place as they continue to affirm their yesteryears and how different they are to the other surrounding communities. Ultimately such ‘stances’ are a sort of refusal, a refusal to be present to the here and now. However, grief taps us on the heart and whispers “be here.” In such moments we will be reminded of how we have loved, and how we are called to continue, this reminder though will be felt as pain and loss. But here is the pilgrimage into dark light. In this moment, the fog lifts, and the numbed state dissolves giving way to a world of feeling, this awakening is at the heart of our Anam Carra, she brings us back to the present moment, to ourselves, other people and the here and now, and that is where God is touched. Grief creates presence, and opens the soul to the touch of God, and it is always a healing touch, a lighter touch where we can re-member the life that we loved and how we became alive in the face of the one we loved. Grief grounds us. This is how we go forward as a people, as a Church, grounded in love. This is the opposite of despair.
In my own life as a priest, this grief has helped me to be grateful for all that I received in my eight years of formation and eight years of ministry as a Roman Catholic. In that time the call of God crystalised, and an understanding of God and who I am in front of such mystery began to unfold. This endures. As a priest in both traditions, the presence and place of God in the stranger, the refugee, the homeless, the abused, the drunk and the seemingly ugly has remained resolute. God refuses my, our, preconceptions of the place of holiness. I have constantly found God to be more at the edge than at the centre of life and power. To be more easily discerned with the marginalised, the disempowered and dispossessed; with the family currently dealing with the highest inflation rates for forty years or unjust petrol pump prices, more easily seen in those struggling with the decision to heat or eat, compared to those who deem themselves at the centre of power, influence and decision making. Of course, God is with them, but maybe The Holy One doesn’t have much space to work with, as Ego takes centre stage.
As I write this message it is Refuge Week, and it seems apt that we consider the recent cancellation of the flight to Rwanda that was going to take asylum seekers there. The Archbishop of Canterbury amongst many others made his position very clear as a Christian, seeing, in that moment, a country turning against its nature. May I add, turning against the nature of God. Scriptural references abound :
“Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.” Exodus 23:9
“The foreigners residing among you must be treated as native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19.43
Keep on loving one another as
brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers for
by doing this some have shown hospitality to angels without knowing.” Hebrews 13 1-2.
When we allow
our vision to be shaped by God’s vision, and not unconscious bias, we are
invited into a difficult place, for it is a compassionate place. In the face of a person’s longing for peace,
for shelter, for stability and safety, we are called to enter into their grief, while
being supported by the faithful endurance of God and our community, the Body of
Christ, that is both glorious and wounded.
This is what The Church looks like, a community washing the feet of
When we enter
into the pain of another, we need to know our own pain and how it has shaped
us, remembering God feels our pain, every ounce of it, and loves it, all of
it. This is what I believe redemption
is, every part of us is healed, the light and the shadow, the beauty and the
Grief and redemption, a soulful work that binds us to life and one another. May I invite you to consider where your own Anam Cara is within your life, what is she calling you to notice, for here, The Enduring, Compassionate Faithful Presence awaits you.
Come join us!
You are welcome to join us at St Stephen and St Agnes, regardless of race or gender or sexuality. We are part of the Church of England and our worship style is modern catholic: this means the service uses contemporary English, but still has ritual and incense (‘smells and bells’).
There are areas in the church that make it easy for parents with prams or people in wheelchairs to join the worship. Our congregation age ranges from babies to 98-year-olds. Study and discussion groups are available throughout the year with special courses run during Advent and Lent.
St Stephen and St Agnes Church is part of a benefice (group) of four churches in central Windsor in the Diocese of Oxford, which includes Holy Trinity Parish & Garrison Church, Windsor Parish Church of St John the Baptist, and All Saints' Church.
We are committed to safeguarding children, young people, and vulnerable adults. The parochial church council has adopted the Church of England’s policies and best practice on safeguarding which may be found on the Church of England’s website. Our Parish Safeguarding Representative is Laura Betteridge and she may be contacted at church or by email.