The Rector writes…
Some words from Saint Charles Borromeo (d. 1584) remind us of the true significance of Advent; “It is a sacred season. As the Holy Spirit says, it is the time of the Lord’s favour, the day of salvation, peace and reconciliation. The patriarchs and prophets longed and prayed and yearned all their lives for this time. The just man Simeon at long last saw this time and his joy was boundless. And the Church has always kept this season in a special way. So, we too must continue to celebrate it fittingly, giving praise and thanks to the eternal Father for the mercy he has shown us in the mystery of the coming of his Only-begotten Son”.
As we move towards Christmas it provides an opportunity to say a very sincere “thank you” to those who have contributed so generously through this past year to the life of Saint James’s. That is true in all sorts of ways, but I would like here to highlight the sacrificial way in which some of the congregation give to the work of the Church. It is significant that Jesus’s teaching about almsgiving is given within the context of his offering of the “Our Father” to his disciples (Matthew 6:1-18). The proper stewardship of our resources is seen as a theological principle founded in the acceptance that all that we have is gift and that the Providence of God is central to everything we have and are. “Set your hearts on his kingdom and his righteousness and all these other things will be given you as well”.
With this newsletter you should find a separate leaflet asking you to think about your own giving to Spanish Place. The Archdiocese tells us that we are number one among the parishes for the amount given in the general collection but among the lowest in the proportion of money which is given in the most effective way. Put simply, we could greatly enhance our income if more people were to sign a Gift Aid form and contribute regularly either through a standing order or by using weekly donation envelopes. Clearly many of those who worship with us are visitors (and we thank God for them) but even one-off donations can be increased by a quarter through Gift Aid. Please read the enclosed leaflet and see if there are ways in which your personal giving could be more effective in support of the life and mission of the parish.
I find it hard to speak about fund raising – in the belief that where the “product” speaks for itself everything necessary will be provided. I do not, and must not, doubt Providence! But we have something very precious in our life together in Saint James’s and we who are its present stewards have a responsibility to enhance what we have received and offer it in a fit-for-purpose mode to succeeding generations. Since the last time (just over a year ago) when I wrote about the need for realistic almsgiving our Sunday collections have increased by about £700 each week and I hope that by reminding those who do give regularly of the need to be as efficient as possible in what they donate, and perhaps to challenge those who do not contribute regularly to think about so doing, we can put everything we do at Spanish Place onto a firmer basis – remembering always that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7)!
Saint Gregory Nazianzen (d. 390) takes us to the core of Christian belief: he reminds us of why we come together around the altar at Saint James’s: “The Son of God himself, who is before all ages, the invisible, the incomprehensible, the bodiless, the beginning from the beginning, the light from light, source of life and immortality, image of archetype, the Father’s definition and Word – he it is who came to his own image and took to himself flesh for the sake of our flesh. He came forth as God with what he had taken to himself. Out of two contraries, flesh and spirit, he made one. He who enriches others became poor. He took to himself the poverty of my flesh so that I might obtain the riches of his godhead”.