Making God's Love Known In Windsor
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The safety of our congregation and visitors remains paramount as lockdown restrictions are eased across the country. We ask that you continue to wear a face covering in church and to sanitise your hands as you enter the building. It continues to be necessary to check in for the purposes of NHS Test and Trace. social distancing remains in regard to seating, and we advise against having physical contact with people outside your family or bubble. we are adopting this cautious approach for the benefit of everyone and will continue to monitor the situation, making changes where necessary. Please stay at home if you are suffering from any of the symptoms of Covid-19.
It hardly seems possible that it is twenty years since my first celebration of the Eucharist at the church of Clewer St. Stephen, now St. Stephen and St. Agnes.
I chose to celebrate Holy Communion on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi on October 4th 2001. He is a saint that has long been special to me. I have visited Assisi on two occasions and both my son and father in law were both baptised Francis.
The licensing and welcoming of Rev. Richard on Michaelmas Day last month (29th September) reminded me that I was ordained Deacon and later Priest as part of what the Church of England refers to as Michaelmas ordinations. The other ordination time is usually at Petertide at the end of June.
I reflected that the enormous Basilica in New Assisi is dedicated to St. Mary and the Angels. This church encompasses both the small chapel known as the Porziouncula the original church, and many of the first buildings of the Franciscan order.
Traditionally, Angels are known as God’s messengers and we probably only know the names of a few that are mentioned in the Bible.
We know the name of St. Michael mainly because of the story, told in the book of Revelation of the battle between the Archangel Michael and the Devil. We are familiar with the image of him shown as a warrior from the famous Epstein statue of him outside Coventry Cathedral. The Bible refers to
him as chief prince of the heavenly. On a secular note, some worshippers may remember, that St. Michael was the trademark on Marks and Spencer clothes for many years, and apparently is to be revived!
Most will know of the angel Gabriel, often portrayed in various styles at the Annunciation to Mary, that she was to become the mother of Jesus. Gabriel also appears to Daniel in the Old Testament and then again to Zechariah, father of John the Baptist. Gabriel’s name means God is my strength.
Less well known is Raphael. His name means God heals and he stands before the throne of the Lord God. If you have read the book Miss Garnet’s Angel by Salley Vickers, you will have encountered the story of Tobias and the Angel that is to be found in the book of Tobit. This book is in the Apocrypha and not included in all Bibles.
Interestingly, in Salley Vickers story (which I recommend) there is a picture of Raphael in one of Venice’s churches.
By chance Dee and I managed to get into the church of San Angelo Raffaele some years ago, and see the picture. Like so many churches in Venice, it is often locked, but they happened to be doing some restoration on the day we found it.
It is interesting to reflect that St. Michael is a common church dedication in England, very often pre-reformation churches; for example, at nearby Bray. St. Gabriel is much less common. I can only recollect St. Gabriel’s in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne, from my college days, and St.Gabriel’s Pimlico in London. As for Raphael; according to my computer search there is only one church that bears his dedication; and that is at Hexworthy in Devon. There was a chapel in the former Convent of St. John Baptist in Hatch Lane where his name was commemorated.
As the Church continues to move out of lockdown we pray that the angels and all the saints will help us to grow our Christian community in faith and love. I finish with the lovely Collect for the feast of St. Michael and All Angels from the Book of Common Prayer.
O everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order; Mercifully grant, that as thy holy Angels alway do thee service in heaven, so by thy appointment they may succour and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. 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 (outside of COVID-19), 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.