Dear friends,

A church not unlike our own once hosted a summer parish barbecue, and set out the salads and sweets to share on a trestle table in the garden. At one end, beside  a basket of apples, the priest had placed a sign which read, “Take one apple only, please – remember! God is watching.”

At the other end of the table was a plate of cakes and biscuits, next to which one of the children in the congregation had placed their own hurriedly-handwritten sign. “Take all the treats you want – God is watching the apples!” 😆

This weekend, the twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time falls on the twentieth day of the month. The Diocese of London committed last decade to a 20:20 Capital Vision for the Church in our capital city, calling congregations to refreshment and renewal in compassion, creativity and confidence. In last week’s mailing I expressed my surprise at the thought that almost twelve months have passed since I joined you in September last year: as that anniversary approaches, I will personally be reflecting on how these values can be better embedded and unearthed in our life together as a parish family. But where do you see these gifts gleaming and growing in our work and witness; and how could we become yet more effective in our Gospel partnership with one another and with the Lord?

The Canaanite woman in this Sunday’s Gospel reading has these three core characteristics in spades: moved by compassion for her ailing child, she confidently and determinedly petitions Jesus for a healing miracle – and responds to his initial teasing with a quick-witted creativity of her own. Only today, a member of our congregation remarked upon an improvement in a personal situation: it must have been all those prayers, they said. Yes! – and we should never think otherwise: prayer must be always our foundation, for nothing is impossible with God.

Advance notice of some special celebrations the (Bank Holiday) weekend after this one: on Saturday 26 August, the 6pm Vigil Mass will (weather permitting) be celebrated in the Vicarage garden, and followed by drinks and light refreshments – to which all are welcome. Then, on Bank Holiday Monday, 28 August, a large group of 27 of us will join friends from Willesden, Kingsbury and Willesden Green to travel to the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham for the Healing and Renewal Pilgrimage. Timings are still to be confirmed definitively, but please look to arrive in church by 7.15am (Morning Prayer at 7am), for an approximate 7.30am departure on the coach. Please bring a packed lunch, and perhaps a picnic blanket or camping stool.

My first anniversary at St Mary’s (as mentioned above) will fall on Sunday, 24 September – when we will also celebrate our Patronal Festival with a guest preacher and then a buffet lunch after Mass. Please let Gloria know what you can contribute to the buffet.

Finally, volunteers are requested to help shuttle a number of bags of green waste to the tip. If you are booking a trip to the dump – and there is room in your car – please talk to me about taking one or two bags of garden waste from the church with you. And, if you are a dab hand pruning roses, we would love to hear from you! – a small job of work will soon be required, to prune the blooms in the memorial garden.

The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you, and give you peace:

Fr Richard