#293: The Return of the Altar Edition

Bertie here, writing in a very excited voice. It has been a busy few days with the return of the cross and candles from the Walter Chapel, and the lectern, and a nice man working out how to remove the smoke damage (who was very friendly but surprised to find himself eye to eye with a talking mouse), and the return of the altar. It looks amazing but it was quite an effort to get it in- the removal team said that we could probably save money by insuring it for fire only and not theft because it would take big pockets to get it out of Church. I made a note of that especially because Lyn is always looking for ways to save money- and the more money he saves the more cheesestrings he will buy for me. Fr Richard would like to stress that it might look as if he is not doing much to help in this photo but he did help, honest… he wasn’t just watching… Derek Hutchinson must have deleted a lot of other photos of him being useful to find this one…

Anyway, back to business- it’s been quite exhausting so let me gather my thoughts… do you know what helps me to do that? You’d be surprised- it’s not cheese. It’s, oh ok, it is cheese really.

This Sunday

This Sunday is Advent 2, when we focus on the prophets who faithfully listened to God and shared his word with the communities and world they lived in. Cara is doing the 9.30 and 11, and Richard is at Winnersh and Bearwood this week, covering during their vacancy.

It is the Feast of St Nicholas so we send the congregation there our love and prayers and very best wishes for their patronal, which Cara will be celebrating. There will be extra-special light refreshments after the service to celebrate.

We have permission to use the James Macmillan St Anne’s Mass again in Advent and Lent at St Paul’s, which is a lovely return to an old pattern- do pick up a copy of the music if you would find it helpful as you come into Church.

We are going to leave the altar uncovered for Advent as a sign of God’s ability to bring good and beauty out of pain and endurance. Do take the time to admire the wood of the altar, restored with real skill by Alistair Price in White Waltham: Alistair Price Antiques – cabinet and chair makers, restorers of fine furniture based in Maidenhead, Berkshire (

Then, in the evening, we have the second of our Parish reflective services Be Still which is being held at Woosehill. It was hugely valued last time and it will be a very similar feel and mood this time round. Do come along at 6.15pm for a time of reflection and stillness. Here is the OoS:

Forthcoming Attractions

Here are the notes from the first session of the Advent Course for anyone who couldn’t make it and would like to follow it at home:

Do feel free to come along on Zoom next Tuesday if you would like to- not too late to join in!

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 850 7789 8397
Passcode: 876240

Don’t forget Coffee and Chat on a Friday afternoon in the Parish Rooms from about 1.45 to 3.45 every single week- you would be most welcome and you would have lots of fun and lovely cake and some great conversations. Do bring or invite a friend along as well- it is a great success story of the parish, but somewhat secret!

Wokingham Choral Society is presenting a concert of Christmas carols on the theme of “Around the World with Christmas” on Saturday 11th December at 6.30pm at St Paul’s Church. Families are very welcome – there will be audience participation!  There will be a retiring collection for two local good causes –  the 3rd Wokingham, Mayor’s Own, Scout Group and First Days Children’s Charity.  Admission will be by concert programme and only available in advance, please see for further details.

The Children’s Society are collecting outside Tesco’s on December the 15th- please speak to Jean Vaughan if you would be able and willing to help.

Other Excitements

This witty and fascinating report comes from the other side of town, where Peter Barrett of All Sts was recently elected onto General Synod. I found it a really interesting insight into how General Synod appears and works and I thank Peter for permission to publish it, and I look forward to many more editions to come:

The latest epistle from our friend Bishop Hall in Madagascar:

Some Inspirations for the week to come

Two Guys Are Walking Through A Game Park & They Come Across A Lion That Has Not Eaten For Days. The Lion Starts Chasing The Two Men. They Run As Fast As They Can And The One Guy Starts Getting Tired And Decides To Say A Prayer, “Please Turn This Lion Into A Christian, Lord.” He Looks To See If The Lion Is Still Chasing And He Sees The Lion On Its Knees. Happy To See His Prayer Answered, He Turns Around And Heads Towards The Lion. As He Comes Closer To The Lion, He Hears The It Saying A Prayer: “Thank You Lord For The Food I Am About To Receive.”

The first words I ever heard were, Be opened. On the surface, those words seemed obvious. However, they unleashed an internal deluge of discovery. I was grateful that Jesus drew me apart from the crowd’s prying eyes. As he led me by my elbow, my breath shortened in […]

Click through to read the full article Be Opened, which appeared first on Ignatian Spirituality.

And a prayer by John Pritchard which made a deep impression on a local Christian:

Lord, we come before you with a bundle of concerns – mistakes made, tasks unfinished, decisions to be take, relationships to attend to, people on our hearts. We bring these bundles to you and ask for your kindness and wisdom. Help us to give proper attention to these things, not to duck them or keep them to ourselves, but to open them to you to touch them with your lively wisdom and grace. Lord we believe; help our unbelief.


(quoted by Nadia Bolz-Weber in her excellent email chain, The Corners, which I can’t recommend highly enough)

Slip off your needs
and set them by the door.

Enter barefoot
this darkened chapel

hollowed by loss hallowed by sorrow

its gray stone walls and floor.

You, congregation of one

are here to listen not to sing.

Kneel in the back pew. Make no sound,

let the candles speak.

-Patricia McKernon Runkle Grief’s Compass: Walking in the Wilderness with Emily Dickinson (Apprentice House Press, 2017)

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