Monthly Service Timetable & Vicar’s Letter

Sunday 3
9.30am Austwick Holy Communion
9.30am Eldroth Holy Communion
11.00am Clapham Holy Communion
11.00am Keasden Holy Communion

Sunday 10
9.30am Austwick Morning Prayer
11.00am Clapham Holy Communion
2.00pm Keasden Holy Communion
6.30pm Austwick Holy Communion

Sunday 17
10.30am Austwick Holy Communion with Bishop Helen-Ann

Sunday 24
9.30am Austwick Holy Communion
11.00am Clapham Holy Communion
7.00pm Keasden Evensong

John’s Notes:The urgent run-up to our ultimate goal

‘My life, it’s slipping away,’ says Billy Connolly, the Glaswegian comedian who in recent years has been living with the degenerative disease of Parkinson’s.  ‘But it doesn’t frighten me, it’s an adventure.  I still get furious, but then I just collapse in laughter.’

You may have seen Billy Connolly’s recent documentary tour of Scotland revisiting the places which shaped him – the Glasgow shipyards, pubs, shops and tenements, contemplating his life in conversation with the people of the place along the way – whilst never shying form discussing his Parkinsons and the challenge of facing the end of his days.  It was an emotional and profound journey he took us on.

I wish my old friend and mentor Jim Hart had embraced death and dying the same way.  An active cyclist, a progressive town planner and a Christian missioner of the forgotten edges of our towns and cities (he taught me and many others how to deeply explore ‘our places’, doing our Christian theology ‘on foot’): when Parkinsons hit Jim he couldn’t cope.  Losing his ability to hold steady a book or coffee cup, or to take to his motorbike, it was all too much for him.  Despite his friends’ many interventions he ended his own life tragically a decade ago.

Joanna Collicutt is a chartered psychologist and Anglican priest in Oxford diocese.  Her mother suffered a serious heart attack and at one point was given 48 hours to live.  In the event she lived another seven years.  She spent those years well, regularly visiting churches to pray privately and prepare herself spiritually for the end of her earthly life.  This made a deep impression on Joanna who poihts out that, unlike many religious traditions, Christianity does not offer a model for how to grow old gracefully.  Jesus of Nazareth ‘lived fast and died young’:  “the Christian faith does not see later life as a decline into oblivion, but the urgent run-up to its ultimate goal, stepping through the gateway of death to resurrection life.” In the same sort of spirit as Billy Connolly jaunting through Glasgow’s backstreets one last time before he goes.

I do wonder if we had the language to talk more openly about death, and help each other to positively prepare for it, then my friend Jim might have avoided his angry, frustrated end.  I’m convinced that he is absolutely held in love, in God.  But if only he’d found a way to live all his earthly life to the full, on speaking terms with his coming death.  As Billy Connolly is doing.  And Joanna Collicutt’s Death+Life project is helping others to do the same:

Revd John Davies, Priest in Charge

Contact Details: 01524 805928

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