Making God's Love Known In Windsor
There will be one service of Holy Communion in one church in New Windsor each Sunday at 10 a.m. If you wish to attend remotely, please email us for a Zoom invitation.
18th October, Windsor Parish Church
25th October, Ss Stephen & Agnes Church
1st November, All Saints Church
8th November (9 a.m.), Holy Trinity Garrison Church (Remembrance Sunday)
18th October 3 p.m. Bereavement Service "In Loving Memory"
Evening prayer Monday to Friday 6 p.m. and Night prayer Sunday 9 p.m. will be live streamed from our Facebook page
October 4th is the Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, who is often pictured surrounded by birds and small creatures. It has become quite common over recent years for churches to hold “Blessing of Animals” services on or around this date and there are usually pictures shared on social media capturing family pets not behaving quite as well as their owners had hoped in the confines of a church building!
Francis of Assisi himself is a universally popular saint. His simple poverty, his humility and his imitation of the life of Christ have given him an appeal across the centuries and his remains a well-known name even in our more overtly secular society. He seems to have been a person of charisma, unusual charm and strength of character. However, his enormous popularity has a downside in that over the years it has encouraged the growth of many myths and legends, with perhaps no more than a grain of truth in them.
But we do know some key biographical details. We know he was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant, born in around 1180 into the affluent society of Assisi. He was famous (infamous?) in the town for his love of parties and celebrations and for spending very large sums of money. A party animal who had he been born in 21st century rather than the 12th would no doubt have had a huge yacht and a helicopter and probably be a B list celebrity! In 1202 there was a border dispute between Assisi and neighbouring Perugia and it seems that Francis was taken prisoner and held captive for a year.
On his return to Assisi he continued his flamboyant way of life but his year in prison had taken its toll and after a long period of illness he began to grow weary of his lifestyle. He made a pilgrimage to Rome and was greatly affected by the beggars he met in the city. When he returned to Assisi, he resigned from his father’s business and left his old friends. He took a bag of cloth from his father and sold it to repair church buildings. It was whilst he was working on the Church of Saint Damiano that he heard a reading from St Matthew’s gospel in which Jesus asks his disciples to leave behind everything they possess and follow him (Matthew 10:1-16). Francis felt the words were spoken directly to him. He gave up everything he owned and began an itinerant way of life as a wandering preacher.
People soon began to join him and before long he had enough followers to form a group, the Friars Minor. Very quickly this group developed into a religious order becoming known as the Franciscans. The Rule of Life established by Francis is still followed today by Franciscans across the world.
Two years before his death in 1226, Francis experienced bodily wounds in places corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Christ, known as receiving the gift of stigmata. By this time there was a men’s order, a women’s order instituted by Clare (St Clare of Assisi) and, importantly, a lay order. Francis was a gentle and generous man who radically altered his life in response to God. He was fully devoted to God and fully prepared to give everything for others.
Maybe the story of his life can serve to inspire us to be a little bit kinder, a little bit more generous, to show a little bit more humility and try to be that little bit more Christ-like. Because although we are not all called to be St Francis, we are all called to be the best possible version of ourselves. And all of us can strive to do that. You may wish to use this prayer, one of the very many attributed to St Francis:
Most high glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of our minds.
Give us a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity,
so that we may always and in all things
act according to your will. Amen
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’). Due to COVID19, services do not currently finish with coffee or sherry, but we hope to restart these when possible. There is a Fairtrade stall selling a variety of goods from Traidcraft (chocolate, biscuits, tea, coffee, rice, Christmas cards later in the year, etc.)
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. On the first Sunday of the month, we have a family service with home-baked cakes. Study and discussion groups are available throughout the year with special courses run during Advent and Lent.
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.