The Revd.

Matthew J Hughes

01689 856931

Associate Rector

The Revd.
Stephen Broadie
 01689 852843

Assistant Priest

The Revd.

Bill Mullenger

020 8462 9624


February Leader

On the 2nd of February the church celebrated ‘The Presentation of Christ in the Temple’. One of the readings for that day tells us about a prophetess, Anna, who greeted the Christ child when he was presented at the temple. I was reminded of Anna’s story the first time I watched the film ‘Into Great Silence’, a documentary about ‘La Grande Chartreuse’, the mother house of the Carthusian monastic order. The Carthusians are a silent order. It’s an incredible film, and a picture of an extraordinary way of life, which seems so counter-cultural, especially in our day and age of constant communication, and constant virtual community. As I watched the Carthusian monks, there was part of me that envied their way of life. How incredible to be able to devote yourself so entirely to the service of God! To be able to spend 7 hours a day, as they do, in formalised prayer, but also in the times of silence between prayer to be able to see your every action, whether planting vegetables, or cutting wood, or sewing garments, as part of that ongoing cycle of prayer. In some ways the film gives us an idea of what the life of the prophetess Anna may have been like. In Luke 2:37 we are told that Anna ‘never left the temple, but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying’.

However, we might ask – what are we supposed to do with these stories? What do we do with a film of 13 Carthusian monks constantly praying, worshipping and fasting? Or with the story of Anna, constantly at prayer for 60-odd years? For much as I might envy the monks, or Anna, their extraordinary lifestyle is not really an option for me. I am not sure how amused my wife or children would be if I announced that I was going to join a solitary, silent monastic order for the rest of my life.

On the retreat before my ordination our retreat conductor said something which has helped me here. He was talking about being truly present in each situation we are in. Whether in a conversation, at a meeting, or doing chores it is so easy to be there, as it were, but not be there. To be talking to somebody, but actually thinking about the next thing I have to go on to. To be on the phone to one person, but checking e-mails from someone else. To be there but not be there. However Richard, our retreat conductor, reminded us that if we can be truly present, we become aware of the presence. As I am in hospital, talking to a sick patient, if I can bring all of my effort and concentration to be truly present to that situation, to listen to every word, to feel every emotion that charges this conversation, I may become aware of the presence. The presence, that is, of Christ. If we are truly present, we become aware of The Presence.

Anna was truly present to the temple. She never left it. For 60 years she was there day and night, night and day, fasting, praying and worshipping. She was fully present, and the moment He came in, she immediately recognised the presence of Christ. Because she was truly present, she was immediately aware of The presence.

The lesson from Anna, or from the monks, is not to abandon everything I have and to try and seek the Lord in a completely different place, but rather to seek the Lord where I am. To be fully present. As we are present may we become aware of His presence.

Stephen Broadie



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February Service Rota