clergy team

CLERGY TEAM

   

Rector


The Revd.

Matthew J Hughes

01689 856931

 jmath@btinternet.com

Associate Rector


The Revd.
Stephen Broadie
 01689 852843
revstephenbroadie@
gmail.com

Assistant Priest


The Revd.

Bill Mullenger

020 8462 9624
wsmullenger@
idnetfreemail.co.uk

 

August Leader

In 1949 the Trappist monk Thomas Merton wrote that ‘the biggest paradox about the Church is that she is at the same time essentially traditional and essentially revolutionary’*.

For many of us at St Nicholas Church it has been a year of celebrating our own tradition. It was wonderful earlier this summer to be with the Bishop of Rochester, the Mayor of Bromley, parishioners and clergy (past and present), as we celebrated our 60th Anniversary on a hot June evening. Our service of Holy Communion formed part of a weekend of celebrations that included an exhibition, a prayer trail, a parade service, and a cream tea. It was inspiring to hear the stories of so many different people who have helped create the history of this church. I felt privileged to be here at this significant moment.

It was as I was preparing for our anniversary celebrations, however, that I also came across the above quote by Merton, who was based at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, USA. It is worth bearing in mind that Thomas Merton was someone who was steeped in the traditions of his own order, and of the Catholic Church. For the last few years of his life he lived as a hermit in the woods of the monastery. However, immersed as he was in tradition and history, he was nevertheless able to take a critical look at this subject. He points out that ‘human traditions all tend toward stagnation and lifelessness and decay. They try to perpetuate things that cannot be perpetuated. They cling to objects and values which time destroys without mercy’. He compares this with ‘Christian tradition, supernatural in its source, (which) is something absolutely opposed to human traditionalism’. In fact, the tradition of the church ‘is like the breath of a physical body. It renews life by repelling stagnation. It is a constant, quiet, peaceful revolution against death.’

I found Merton’s words deeply challenging to myself, partly because I read them at a time when I was surrounded by archive materials, old documents, maps, and photos all relating to St Nicholas Church. ‘Ultimately’, Merton concludes, ‘only a gift of God can teach us the difference between the dry outer crust of formality which the Church sometimes acquires from the human natures that compose it, and the living inner current of Divine Life’. I realised the challenge we face to both honour Christian tradition, without becoming caught up in what Merton calls ‘human traditionalism’. As I looked at documents from the past, I tried to sense the ‘living inner current of Divine Life’ in them. I felt it could be observed in the first plans from the 1940s to build a church hall here, or in photos of our church filled with people, young and old, from the 1950s through to our own decade. That Divine Life could be seen in the stories of people who through this church have, over the years, ‘heard about the word of God and the teachings of Jesus’ (in the words of one parishioner).

One reward of looking back over the decades is that we can see that indeed the ‘life of the Church is the life of God Himself, poured out in the Church by His Spirit’. My prayer is that our celebrations of the past would in fact reveal the life of God Himself in our midst, whose Spirit alone can truly ‘revolutionise’ us, and carry us on into the future. (*from Thomas Merton, ‘Seeds of Contemplation’, Hollis & Carter, London, 1949)

Stephen Broadie


FAITH AND WORSHIP

 

Clergy Rota Downloads

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August Service Rota
September Service Rota