Incense and Daffodils – Mothering Sunday

The Annunciation by Paolo de Matteis

Lent took a Refreshment Sunday break, and our churches abounded with the scent of incense and daffodils and the voices of our Junior Choir.

March is a busy month for women. The (secular) International Women’s Day celebrates the women’s rights movement, whilst the Women’s World Day of Prayer encourages women to acknowledge and make use of their talents for the good of the wider community.

Mothering Sunday of course needs no introduction. Originating from the 16th century custom of people returning home to visit their church of baptism on Laetare Sunday, domestic servants were usually given the day off to make the journey. As well as visiting their ‘mother’ church, they would usually visit their mothers too, often bringing wild flowers found in the hedgerows en route. Lent lillies (aka the wild daffodil) would have been a logical choice.

Whilst Mothering Sunday may command most of the attention, Father Richard’s sermon talked about the Feast of Annunciation, celebrated on 25th March. A major Marian feast, it is also known as Lady Day, yet again continuing the theme of women, and celebrates the angel Gabriel’s visit to the Virgin Mary to inform her of her impending motherhood.

Sermon over, the children from Nursery and Junior Church proudly displayed their cards, and we all enjoyed listening to the junior choristers. Posies of daffodils in hand, we headed home for a cup of tea and – if we were lucky – a lovely lunch.

Rock Me Baby returns!

One of the high points of the Friends’ calendar for me is the Rock Me Baby disco for parents and youngsters on Saturday 29 April. With a DJ, bubble and smoke machine for the kids, and a licenced bar for the parents, it’s a win-win!

See poster above for more details. These events have been huge fun in previous years, so don’t miss out. Book your tickets today from Julia on 07740 326979 or Gill on 07771 886026.

Thanks go, as ever, to Petty Son & Prestwich for sponsoring and the super talented Naomi Simington of Logos2gogo for kindly designing this and so many other great posters for the Friends.

Spring foot forward at St. Mary’s

Thanks to Taboo, the image of Tom Hardy striding into the gothic gloom of a beautifully candlelit St. Mary’s has been etched indelibly on our minds. Whilst graveyard scenes in that programme were full of skulduggery, ours at St. Mary’s is in full bloom now, thanks to Mother Nature. Phil Ryan wandered amongst the daffodils to take these pics.

The snowdrops are finished but the swathes of bluebells will light up late April/early May – and the primroses, daffodils and violets are there now in profusion.

The churchyard gardens are tended to by a wonderful bunch of keen volunteer gardeners, and indeed a recent churchyard working party had just been at work.  If anyone would like to join our Gardening Club, do get in touch.

These beautiful blooms are the harbingers of Spring, so it is fitting that the clocks go forward an hour on Sunday 26th March. Don’t forget to reset your clocks and be late for church (yes, I have done that in the past!).



It takes a village – reflections on Mothering Sunday

Ahead of Mothering Sunday, Celia Heath reflects on what it means to her.

The windows at Westfield are a source of constant amusement. At Halloween, a jewellers sported black and orange baubles, which remained in place for Christmas. No surprise then, arriving for work on Feb 15th to find Valentine’s hearts replaced with  “For Mother on her special day.” We take such publicity with a generous pinch of salt, yet their sentimentality gets to work in our minds. It goes up a notch when hand-made cards are made at school, accompanied by whispered plans for “special treats”. Time flies and we hurriedly grab a last minute card when the best ones have gone and, with them, all serious thoughts of what the day is really about.

A reality check came during a visit to a Southwell primary school for an educational charity. The station sign in Urdu a reminder that this borough is often the first port of call for refugees landing at Heathrow, Mr Green’s school met them with gusto and real love. Realising that what survives even the worst traumas is often religious practice and their related festivals, the headmaster based his school ethos on that and the school was full of religious symbols from the many faiths of its often damaged yet deeply resilient children.

Filing in to assembly, the children pointed at a ventriloquist’s doll, Molly, slumped on a chair on the stage. Mr Ryan came in and held up a Mothers’ Day card. His Mummy, he said, was in Ireland and would be disappointed that he wouldn’t be visiting, but it was just too far away. There was an audible sniff from behind. “Oh dear!” he said, picking her up and putting his ear to her mouth “Molly’s crying because she hasn’t got a mummy.” “Children,” he went on, “What do you think? Is there somebody else Molly could send a card to? Someone who looks after her and loves her?” The answers came: Daddy, Teacher, Carers, Aunts and Uncles, special friends, and with their suggestions, the feeling that everyone could join in this Christian festival and that it might even help in building a new life. For the adults it was an affirmation of the school’s ethos and, with it, the knowledge of just how wide and deep parenting is, in good times and bad, and how vital in learning how to build a love that is tougher and deeper than the mistakes we all make.

Hosea 11, 3-4 speaks movingly about God’s parenting, transcending human biology and gender. “It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realise it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek and I bent down to feed them.”

It is a gift and a charge we all have, to every child, not just our own. As we enjoy Mothering Sunday and give thanks for all we have received and for all we are each able to give in so many different ways, let us keep our festival worship fresh and alive; after all, “It takes a whole village to bring up a child!”

Friends’ Jazz night

Gill and band

The parish hall was transformed into a jazz boîte when the famous Wanstead Jazz Night, organised by the Friends of St Mary’s with Christ Church, returned at the end of January.

This sell-out event continues to go from strength to strength and proved as popular as ever. Organiser – and performer – Gill Hornsey (Chair of the Friends) reported that an amazing £6118.14 profit was made this year, beating last year’s profit by over £1000.

Last year’s superb lineup returned to perform again, with the Duncan Batchelor Quartet kicking off proceedings, followed by Ted Ames on his one performance in the UK. The woman herself, Gill Hornsey was on next, with Andy Marsh, Natalina Castiglioni and Adrian Smith all performing their customary sets.

The dance floor was packed and Andy Richardson’s house band and backing vocalists as impressive as ever.

Thanks go as always to the amazingly talented band and solo performers, the helpers in the kitchen and behind the bar, and all those who helped to set up on Friday night. Thanks also to our incredible sponsors Petty Son & Prestwich, Biyoni Hair and Logos2gogo. Not forgetting, of course, all the jazz aficionados who made it such a huge success.

The Friends organise a great calendar of social events throughout the year to raise funds to maintain our two beautiful churches. More details of individual events will be available nearer the time of each one, but in the meantime here are three more dates for the diary. We hope to see you at one soon.

Rock Me Baby disco: Saturday 29 April

Wanstead Village Dog Show: Sunday 7 May

Midsummer BBQ: Saturday 10 June


The Bishop of Chelmsford’s visit

Photo: Ed Ezra

Sunday 19th February saw a packed Christ Church for the joint Eucharist presided over by Bishop Stephen. 

As mentioned previously, Bishop Stephen paid us a visit, principally to discuss the recent Bishops’ reports “Setting God’s people free” (laity leadership) and “Marriage and same sex relationships”, the subject of much coverage in both local and national press.

After the service Bishop Stephen addressed the PCC and other parishioners who had stayed behind to hear him talk and answer questions.

A most stimulating discussion was had for 90 minutes, with over 60 members of the parish attending. Once this has been fully debated by the PCC in March, a statement elaborating further on these most important issues will be published.

Can’t be late for such an important date! Photo: Ed Ezra

Gloria and the Feast of Transfiguration

Transfiguration, by Raphael

During today’s sermon, Father Richard spoke about the Gloria and how today was the last day that we would hear it sung in church until after Maundy Thursday or Easter Sunday.

Why is this, one might ask? Well, the Gloria is a song of exaltation and joy, whereas Lent (and Advent, for that matter) is a penitential season. Quite often, a longer version of the Kyrie will be sung instead.

Both the reading and gospel today touched on the subject of Glory. In Exodus 24, 12-end, the appearance of the Lord took the form of a bright fire; whilst in Matthew 17, 1-19, Jesus was transfigured with a brilliant white light.

Elaborating on the theme of transfiguration, Fr Richard talked about the significance of the 6th August, when the Feast of Transfiguration is celebrated. Many commentators have noted the coincidence of the bomb being dropped on Hiroshima on 6th August 1945, effectively ending World War II.

In both these examples, a blinding light signified a release of energy and a transformation. Jesus died and was resurrected, whilst Hiroshima was destroyed but regenerated, as was the world after the end of the war. Transfiguration also signifies the hope for things to come.

Finally, we are asked to reflect Jesus’ light by doing good works and deeds, particularly during this Lenten season. Christian Aid boxes will be available in both churches from Sunday 26th February until 13th April, after which they should be returned (hopefully full!) to church.

Lent, Holy Week, Passiontide and Easter

The Lamentation over the Dead Christ, by Sandro Botticelli

We’ve a busy schedule of events ahead of us for Lent, Holy Week, Passiontide and Easter – for dates please see the attached document.

L P HW E Publicity 2017

Proceedings will kick off with Ash Wednesday (which is also St. David’s Day) on 1st March, when commuters at both Wanstead and Snaresbrook tube stations can be ‘ashed’ from 730-915am, and finish on Easter Sunday with a series of services at both Christ Church and St. Mary’s.