I am back from my brief preaching engagement at the English Chaplaincy in Paris – one thing I didn’t know (because last time I was in Paris it didn’t happen) is that the Eiffel Tower sparkles every hour on the hour. It was lovely to go and I continue to be amazed how quick and easy it is to travel on the Eurostar.

The Feast of Candlemas on Thursday this week marks the end of the period of Christmas and Epiphany and we are finally back in Ordinary Time – green vestments for a fairly short period of three weeks. Not much is ever ordinary at St Andrew’s though:

The Building Work in the Parish Room has started!

Following the removal of the asbestos the building was declared officially clean on Friday 27th January and the ‘normal’ builders arrived on Monday morning to remove the old separation walls. Things look pretty horrendous (see below) but it is already easier to imagine how things will look when everything will be nice and lovely again.

Can you help?

In the meantime the church is fully functional and the hall functions mostly – but of course the building work leaves its mark on everything. If you can spare two hours on Saturday morning (4th February) between 9.15am and 11.15am, please join us to do some cleaning and care for the church. There will be cake!

Special Services

Following the success of the monthly service of Compline & Benediction (followed by a quiet pint in the Robert Peel) this is going to continue – it has become one of my favourite occasions as it is so simple yet stunningly beautiful. Come along on Sunday 5th February or Sunday 5th March at 7pm and see.

Ash Wednesday falls on the 22nd February this year. As many of us work during daytime there will be two Masses with Imposition of Ashes, the usual Wednesday Mass at 12.30pm and an extra Mass at 7pm in the evening. You are most warmly invited to join us in church to begin a holy and blessed Lent. More about Lent and Easter and special services and events I will write about next time.

Special Guests

On Sunday 5th February (next Sunday) the Bishop of Loughborough, +Saju Muthalaly is going to be our guest preacher. Bishop Saju spent his first years as a child in Bangalore and moved to England at an early stage. I am delighted he is with us on Sunday, particularly as so many of our congregation originate from India as well.

On the 2nd Sunday of Lent on 5th March Bishop Peter Fox is joining us again. +Peter is known to many of us as he consecrated the refurbished High Altar in May 2022 and I am delighted he is joining us again.

Last not least a particularly exciting date for your diary: on Friday 31st March Archbishop Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury is giving a talk at St Andrew’s at 6pm – details to follow soon. Mark the date!

White Elephants

The phrase for giving away or selling used and unwanted items is said to come from the historic practice of the King of Siam (now Thailand), giving rare albino elephants to courtiers who had displeased him, so that they might be ruined by the animals’ upkeep costs.

Be that as it may, when we cleared out the Parish Room in preparation for the building work we put out a few things which we didn’t want to keep but were too good to throw away. To my astonishment everything went. The same happened last week when somebody had a clear-out at home and I am pleased that a number of nice things which were far too good to throw away found happy homes.

There is obviously a direct need in our immediate congregation – many people arrived in the country without a huge amount of luggage and stuff – and many of us here gathered too many things over time (or, as in my case, don’t fit into pre-pandemic clothes any more).

Hence we want to do this on a more regular basis – once or twice a month. One thing we do not have is storage space, so whatever doesn’t go on any Sunday needs to either be taken home again or will be thrown away. However: if you have a clear-out of items which are perfectly usable, in good and clean condition and you think somebody might find use and joy in them, why don’t you bring them along on a Sunday and we put them out in the hall anonymously?

This might need a bit of higher organisation in the future, but let’s see what happens!

The Electoral Roll

In March there are elections for our Churchwarden, Steering Group and for Deanery Synod and those on the Electoral Roll can both vote and be elected. Anybody who regularly worships at St Andrew’s, is baptised and over the age of 16 can join. This doesn’t commit you to anything, costs you anything or changes your religion or anything – it simply enables you to vote! It is also possible to be on more than one Electoral Roll if you worship at another parish regularly as well. It’s one of the ways to register the growth of the past year – and that is a good and important thing. PLEASE do me the favour of signing up – the form is at the back of the Sunday service order for the coming two weeks and all sorts of people are on standby to help you filling in the form.

Easter Project Choir

This is something I am really excited about! St Andrew’s has not had a particular musical tradition for the past 100 years or so and this is a way to join an exciting choir project without signing your life away. It’s an ideal and fail-proof way of trying out whether this sort of thing is for you.

  • People of all abilities and experiences are welcome to join.
  • You do not have to be able to read sheet music.
  • Each voice will be supported by a professional singer you can follow and ‘hang on to’ – making things both stable and easier. This also means that the project cannot fail, the professionals will carry everybody along.
  • I am delighted that Leicester based musician, teacher, singer, organist, pianist and conductor John Gull has accepted leading this project at St Andrew’s.

The three rehearsals are (you need to able to firmly commit to at least two of those):

  • Wednesday 22nd March, 7pm – 8.30pm
  • Wednesday 29th March, 7pm – 8.30pm
  • Wednesday in Holy Week, 5th April, 7pm – 8.30pm

On Easter Sunday 9th April the project choir will sing during the 10.30am Festival Mass at St Andrew’s.

Interested in taking part? Talk to me! And do turn up on Wednesday, 22nd March at 7pm.

Fr Johannes