Message from Melanie

Message from Melanie

From our new vicar, Melanie:


“I just want to wish you all at St Luke’s and the Barn Church a very blessed rest of Holy Week and, when it comes, a joyful Easter Sunday. I will be thinking of you all at both churches and you’ll be in my prayers.”

Our new Vicar

Our new Vicar

We are delighted to announce that the Bishop of Southwark, in consultation with benefice reps, has appointed the Revd Melanie Harrington as Incumbent of the United Benefice of Kew, St Philip & All Saints with St Luke in the Deanery of Richmond and Barnes, subject to the usual legal formalities.

Melanie is currently Assistant Curate, St Michael’s Lichfield & St John’s Wall in the Diocese of Lichfield, where she also serves as a Vocations Adviser.

Before ordination Melanie studied at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge, where she completed a PhD in Early Modern History, and completed her ordination training at Ripon College Cuddesdon and the University of Oxford. She was on her way to becoming a University Lecturer when she discerned a call to ministry and life has never been the same since!

Melanie is absolutely delighted to be appointed Vicar of The Barn Church & St Luke’s, and is looking forward to starting this new chapter of her ministry and getting to know you all. She has two children, Vera (10) and George (8), who are very excited about joining you in Kew and Mummy being your new Vicar. In her free time Melanie enjoys cooking for others, gardening, theatre, running, and spending time with her children.

Our Archdeacon, the Venerable John Kiddle, writes

I am delighted that Melanie Harrington has been appointed as the next incumbent of this benefice. We were blessed with a good number of applicants and a strong shortlist. Melanie will bring many wonderful gifts and the richness of thought and creativity, she will be a great gift to you and to Kew as you will be to her in this next chapter of her ministry.

I know that you will be praying for Melanie and her children, Vera and George, as they prepare to move to Kew. May this be a real home for them and a place in which they flourish; and may you flourish as a united benefice as you walk with Melanie in this next chapter.

It is anticipated that Melanie will move to Kew at the start of June and that she will be instituted by the Bishop of Kingston towards the end of that month.

We look forward to welcoming her then.

Easter services

Easter services

We are delighted that the Right  Reverend Richard Cheetham, Bishop of Kingston will be leading our Easter services this year:

10am Palm Sunday, 28th March
Joint Parish Eucharist at the Barn Church.
8pm Maundy Thursday, 1st April
Joint Service via Zoom. Meeting details to follow.
2pm Good Friday, 2nd April
Joint service of Music and Meditation at St Luke’s.
Easter Sunday, 4th April
Easter Eucharist 9:30am at the Barn and 11am at St Luke’s.

Please note that booking is essential for all in-person services. Please email the Parish Office (office@kewparishes.plus.com) and let us know how many will be in your party.

Intercessions 14th March

Intercessions 14th March

Dear Lord, on this Mothering Sunday, as we come to you in prayer in the stillness of our own homes, make each of us aware of you beside us.  As your son Jesus Christ showed his love on the cross, in his compassion for his mother and his sacrifice for us all, may we know what it is to love and be loved, in words and in actions.  We thank you for the ministry today of John Kiddle and those involved in making our on-line worship uplifting for all and we especially thank Mary for her thoughtful planning in bringing together those leading our worship in music. We are looking forward to opening our churches next Sunday and as we look further forward we pray for our new vicar Revd Dr Melanie Harrington and her preparations for joining us in the summer.

Lord in your mercy                           Hear our prayer

Father, we pray for people all over the world living in fear of any kind: help them to know you are with them and we pray there may be true and lasting peace, justice and freedom in their lands.  We especially pray for all mothers who have to raise their children in places where there is war, famine, terrorism and great uncertainty. For mothers who have had to flee conflict to a different country or are far from their homes and their relatives.

Lord in your mercy                           Hear our prayer

Loving Father, to those of us who have been granted the gift of being mothers, we rejoice in that gift, but let us not forget those for whom Mothering Sunday is a difficult day. We pray for those who don’t have children but who mother and love in other ways.  May they find fulfilment through knowing your love. We thank you for our own mums, for their loving care and may we show that same love in our daily lives.  We pray too for those who have never known their mother or whose mothers have died. We remember all mothers who share in Mary’s suffering of a child’s death and especially for Sarah Everard’s Mum, and also family and friends, during these dark days.  

Lord in your mercy,                          hear our prayer

Lord, we pray that you are able to give us solace and calm at this difficult time, when we may feel detached from you or are feeling isolated and alone. Be near us in our daily lives, and especially if the current stresses are making it difficult for us to turn our thoughts towards to you.  We thank you for the scientists who created the various vaccines which give us hope and pray for those who are working and volunteering to vaccinate everyone with such care and compassion.   

Lord in your mercy                           Hear our prayer

Lord, we pray for our community in Kew of the friendships we have that knit us together and how fortunate we are to live in a peaceful community surrounded by wonderfully green and open spaces.  We pray for our families many separated by distance.  We ask you to take care of them whether they are near us or living farther away.  We pray for our young people who have returned to school this week and we pray for all the teachers and school staff for their energy and innovation in the last few months, dedicated to maintaining education for all.


Lord in your mercy                           Hear our prayer

Father, we pray for those who are suffering in mind, body or spirit and in a moment of silence we think of those whom we know and bring them before you – Peter Low, John Lynch, Canon Robin Morrison, Annie Woolmer, Gemma Fryer, Revd Neil Summers, Adrian Risso Gill.

Lord in your mercy                           Hear our prayer

Comfort those recently bereaved and may they know your loving presence when they feel sad and alone.   We fondly remember all our own loved ones who are in your care and we pray for them.  We remember before God those who have died and are with You.  We remember Grace Hay (Irene Stephens Mum).

Lord in your mercy                           Hear our prayer

Father God, on this Mothering Sunday we remember that from the cross your only Son, Jesus entrusted Mary his mother and John his disciple to each other’s care.  Help us also to care for one another and fill our homes with the spirit of your love.

And finally, a Covid prayer from the Christian Aid Website written by Laura Kelley Fanucci – I am sure we can all relate to it:

When this is over,
may we never again
take for granted
A handshake with a stranger
Full shelves at the supermarket
Conversations with neighbours
A crowded theatre
Friday night out
The taste of communion
A routine check-up
The school rush each morning
Coffee with a friend
The stadium roaring
Each deep breath
A boring Tuesday
Life itself.

When this ends,
may we find
that we have become
more like the people
we wanted to be 
we were called to be
we hoped to be
and may we stay
that way–better
for each other
because of the worst.

– Laura Kelley Fanucci

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen

Third Sunday in Lent, 7 March 2021

Third Sunday in Lent, 7 March 2021

Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22

May I speak in the name of God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

This morning’s Gospel reading offers us a powerful image of Jesus – an image so striking that it has inspired some of the most dynamic and distinctive artistic representations of the Lord, who tends otherwise to appear in artistic works as someone who is still and calm – passive, even – as he moves through the turbulence and uncertainty of the world around.  The Gospel reading is striking, too, because it is one of the very few instances in which we see Jesus display anger.  One of the distinctive things about Jesus is that anger seems to be something foreign to him: when challenged, he reproves, employs sarcasm and humour, seeks to instruct and illuminate those who stand against him, and he becomes frustrated; when faced with suffering and spiritual evil, he shows considerable compassion to those so afflicted and is determined in his work to alleviate their burden; when faced with the death of one dear to him (Lazarus), he is overcome with grief; when facing his own suffering, rejection, humiliation, and death on the Cross, his soul is troubled and he is nearly overwhelmed with apprehension and the enormity of what is about to unfold; but he is so rarely angry

What is it, then, about the situation in which he finds himself in today’s Gospel reading that makes him angry?  Are there not so many other situations, so many other people, that might be more obvious places for him to respond in anger?  Pondering this, it seems to me that the Temple is at the heart of the answer: the Temple that had been built as the ultimate sacred space – the sole place on earth dedicated exclusively and totally to God – constructed to house the Ark of the Covenant that contained the words of the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses at Sinai.  The Holy of Holies, the inmost part of the Temple and a perfect cube in its dimensions (according to instructions given in Exodus 25-27), had been constructed with order and symmetry in mind and to reflect God’s heavenly throne-room.  The Temple’s purpose was to be the meeting-place of Heaven and Earth – the place of encounter between God and humankind, with the glory of God’s presence seated upon the Ark and the Ark itself serving as the mercy-seat of God’s judgement. 

By Jesus’ time, several hundred years after Israel’s Exile in Babylon, the Ark of the Covenant had been lost, God had departed the Temple (as witnessed by the prophet Ezekiel, who recorded this in Ezekiel chapter 10) and the Temple itself destroyed and re-built, with magnificent additions and augmentations being constructed in Jesus’ lifetime (as St John remarks); but although it was in some significant ways a diminished place, it remained for the Jewish people their central and chief place of worship.  The Ark of the Covenant might have been lost, and the manifest glory of God might no longer have been seen there, but it was the focal point of Israel’s religion and the place in which atoning sacrifices were offered, daily, on behalf of the Jewish people in order that they might be reconciled with God.  It was really important. 

And in the Temple, this place laden with so much meaning and significance for the Hebrew people, this place so intimately associated with the God of Israel – God, who is the God of gods, King of kings, and Lord of lords – Jesus, the Son of God, found…quite a large range of money-making enterprises that verged on a swindle.  As well as the corporate, daily sacrifices offered at the Temple, people came to offer private sacrifices as required in the Law of Moses; and according to the Law of Moses, they had to offer the best of their sort, and not the lame, the sickly, and the worthless.  The animals offered in sacrifice had to be approved of by the Temple authorities, and the Temple authorities found they could benefit from their position as gate-keepers by offering animals they had raised themselves which they would, of course, declare acceptable for use in the Temple.  Not only this, but there had grown up a system of money used only in the Temple – a Temple currency, really – and the Temple authorities had found that they could also do quite well out of controlling the exchange rate.  If you are in charge of the currency used in a place of worship, you can set the exchange rate squarely in your favour!  The place that God had intended as his dwelling-place on earth, the place where humankind could come to draw near to him, sure of his presence and sure that they were standing in sacred space on the very edge of Heaven itself, had become dominated by the pursuit of profit of a decidedly questionable sort.  Those who came to the Temple seeking God and wishing to worship him and offer their prayers to him were being taken advantage of.  Those who worshipped other gods and who came to the Temple in Jerusalem saw, first, not a place abounding with the glorious holiness of the one true God, but people profiting by a swindle.  Those who came to the Temple did not see that God wanted above all things their hearts, offered to him in loving, thankful, praise – but saw that God seemed to require offerings that cost only money.  It was, I think, this dishonourable representation of God and of his holiness, the way in which those honestly seeking God were taken advantage of, and the idea that sacrifice meant something material instead of the sacrifice of our very selves, that led to Jesus’ anger.  If you ever find yourself wondering what sort of things God really cannot stand, these three might well be among them. 

A second striking thing about today’s Gospel reading is Jesus’ declaration that should the Temple be destroyed, he would raise it up again in three days.  St John’s commentary on this reveals that the disciples, at first glance, found this as hard to understand as we might: after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.  The key to unlocking this puzzle is to realise that in sending his Son into the world for us, one of God’s (many!) purposes was that Jesus should be a new Temple.  Now, this does not quite mean that Jesus should be a building in which we worship – or that we can only encounter God wherever it is that Jesus is physically present; the way to understand this, rather, is to look at God’s intentions and purposes:

  • Where the Temple had been the place on earth where the glory of God’s presence had dwelled among his people, in Jesus there was something better – the very presence of God with us, one who is truly human and truly God at the same time.
  • Where the Temple had been the place in which Heaven and earth met, this came to be true in a fuller and more profound sense in Jesus.
  • Where the Temple had been the place in which the faithful could be certain that prayer was offered to God in God’s presence, God instead gave Jesus who, being the presence of God-with-us, hears the prayers of those who reach out to him in faith, trusting him, and offers them directly to God in Heaven (Romans 8:34).  Instead of going to a place to pray, we are to go to a person – Jesus – who offers our prayers to God. 
  • Where the Temple had been the place in which unblemished sacrificial offerings (meaning they were physically whole and perfect) were made, daily, on behalf of those who trusted in the God of Israel to reconcile them to him, Jesus offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice of a different sort (meaning he was perfectly righteous and holy in God’s eyes, untarnished by the sin that afflicts us all), through whom all who trust in him are reconciled to God. 
  • Where the Temple had been sacred space, a place dedicated to God whose home is in Heaven, Jesus instead became that sacred space, that place dedicated to God – but going even further than that, by receiving Jesus in faith through the Holy Spirit, each individual human being who trusts in him becomes sacred space too.  We ourselves become places dedicated to God, sacred to God, belonging to God and – as Jesus grants us the Holy Spirit – places on this earth in which God makes his home. 

I am not sure which of these parallels (there are others one might add besides) between Jesus and the Temple you find most compelling, or most intriguing.  Speaking for myself, I think it is probably the final one – that in Jesus, God has extended the function and purpose of the Temple at Jerusalem to those who receive his Son in faith, and that through Jesus we become living temples (living dwelling-places) to be God’s dwelling-places on this earth.  We are to understand that God wishes to dwell in places he has made by his own hand, not in any Temple (no matter how glorious) built by human hands (1 Corinthians 3, 1 Corinthians 6, 1 Peter 2, among many references); God wishes to dwell on this earth in the most beautiful territory he can imagine – a territory whose beauty is not defined by any type of landscape or quality of aesthetic, but the territory he sees most beautiful of all which is each and every human being who is redeemed in his Son, reconciled to him, reclothed in righteousness, made fit for his presence, now and in eternity.  This is how God sees those who trust in him and receive Jesus whom he sent into the world to reconcile it to him.  This is how God sees you and me – not just as interesting semi-autonomous characters in a play he has written, but as places in which his greatest desire is to dwell, to occupy every last part of us and of our lives so that we are transformed and restored in him, and so that we become lamps burning with God’s light and love in this, his world. 

What does this mean for us?  What does this mean for us, particularly, as we journey through Lent on the way to the Cross and the empty tomb, to Good Friday and Easter Day?  I think the first reading set for today, a reading giving us the Ten Commandments, might offer an answer.  We might remember these commandments (or some of them!) relatively well – but I suspect we probably skim over the first part of the first one: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  This is an important statement, because it gives context and meaning to all the commandments that follow; it declares the purposes for which God acts, and to amend it, slightly, in the light of Jesus’ death and resurrection for us I offer you the following: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery in which you were slaves to sin.  In offering Jesus as a new Temple, and in making us (through faith in Jesus) his dwelling-places on earth, God wishes to deliver us from the house of slavery to sin, instead giving us a place in his Kingdom where his children live in freedom in his presence – not a freedom to do every last thing that crosses our minds, but a freedom to love and know God as our Father, and to be known and loved, fully and totally, by him.  It is a wonderful gift, and it is a gift that God gives totally, fully, unreservedly, and freely to us – but with the world as it is, and ourselves as we are, it is also a gift to which we must keep returning, in gratitude, so that in the course of this life we grow into it more and more completely.  This is why the Church keeps Lent – so that we have a season in which we put at the forefront of our minds the purpose of growing closer to God who made us, who loves us, who has re-clothed and redeemed us in Jesus, and who makes us his earthly dwelling-places.  Lent is given so that we might look intensely and purposefully at our lives and our lives of faith, seeing where we glorify God and where we do not, seeing where God’s light shines within us and where it does not – and so that, trusting in God, in his love and mercy, and in his sincere desire for our good, we might seek his transformative grace that builds us up into edifices that are fitting for his presence and that glorify him.  May God bless you in this, this Lent.

In the name of God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Intercessions

Loving God

We thank you that we can be together in this way to share the service and the Peace together, without fear.

We pray especially this weekend for the visit of Pope Francis to Iraq. We pray that his meeting with the Grand Ayatollah Ali al- Sistani, spiritual leader for millions of Shia Muslims yesterday…. will encourage further reconciliation between Muslims and Christians. Today, the Pope will visit the church in Qaraqosh which was occupied by Isis for 2 years- they/who forced over a million Christians in Northern Iraq to flee for their lives.

We pray for those who have suffered one atrocity after another and have been terrified by savage abuse of power in their lands. We pray for all refugees who have fled war-torn countries, who long to go home, and who are now living in over-crowded camps, hemmed in by suffering, where water-borne diseases and Covid 19 are spreading and there are no vaccines to protect people.

We pray that our government, who along with the USA and other western countries have bought 1.2 billion vaccines more than we need, will respond to the 130 countries in the world who have no vaccines at all- and will share the vaccines…..Generous God, help our Govt. to discover ways of thinking and being that heal rather than hurt; help them to know that they- we – can create a more loving, just and peaceful world. With your grace, help us never to be complacent about the prevailing inequalities of our day

You said in your Son “whatever you do to the least of these my brethren, you do to me,” help us to change the misaligned way we live. There is such an imbalance in the way we allocate so many resources. Help us always to follow your imperative towards mercy. We pray for those who are giving spiritual, psychological and physical care, and support to those who are worn out.

Lord, who lives in unspeakable places, in your mercy, hear our prayer….

Lord, we know so little about your life before you began your ministry. You are hidden in a completely ordinary life in Nazareth. In your Son, you assume the insignificance of ordinary life; you are taking the time to be, to absorb, to observe the patterns and concerns which you will one day gather in, to tell your extraordinary stories which teach us so much about ourselves and which enlighten every little thing that happens to us.

Help us at the moment, when we remain either alone, or with one other, or with  children to notice how we relate, to see our need for control, our need to be right; help us to spot triggers which make us go into reactive and inflexible positions. Give us the grace to be still, to stop long enough to listen carefully, and grant us the courage to be silent.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for those who are ill:

Grace Hay, Peter Low, John Lynch, Canon Robin Morrison,

Annie Woolmer, Gemma Fryer, Revd Neil Summers.

And for those who have not been able to be with their loved ones through these times.

We pray for those who have died:

And for those who have had to let them go into your fathomless, abiding love.

Almighty God, accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our saviour, Jesus Christ.

Sunday 28th February – sermon and intercessions

Sunday 28th February – sermon and intercessions

St Luke’s & the Barn Kew. 2nd of Lent.February 28th

On the face of it, the link between this mornings readings from Genesis and St Mark’s gospel is not obvious. In the Old Testament reading, there is the promise given to Abram as an old man that his descendants will be blessed, and in the gospel reading there is the first prediction of his Passion made by Jesus to his disciples, and they would face suffering themselves.

But in fact both readings have something important to say about faith – living by a reality which is unseen.

The story of Abraham is a myth – that’s not to say it’s not true, but the memory of the story goes so far back into the mists of pre-history that its details are hazy and unverifiable: an old man of 99 with a childless wife being promised an heir. Nevertheless, the story has been remembered for thousands of years as foundational, precisely because it is a religious myth; it tells us something which is theologically true, even though the historical setting of the story is uncertain.

Religious history begins with Abraham, the archetypal man of faith. He is given a promise that he and his descendants will be blessed and become a great nation. They will be a covenant people, and on the basis of that promise, that covenant, Abraham has the faith to set out, leaving behind all that was known and familiar, and travel to another country, the name of which he did not yet know. And much of the Old Testament story is really the story of living by that covenant promise from those modest beginnings with Abraham, through the wilderness years under the leadership of Moses to the time when God’s promise to make of Abraham a great nation was fulfilled.

To the prudent or cautious, such behaviour might be regarded as foolishness. Abraham could have rationalised his way out of going; (he could have pleaded old age ), but this would have only been an excuse for not accepting the risk of obeying God. It is that quality of faith which is above all else the essential ingredient for finding new life in the new world. Such behaviour was and is either unnatural or it is supernatural! But faith and religion at some point demands more than what is natural and straightforward. Common sense would tell you to hold on to what you know and stay where you are. Or as we might say  – to remain in your comfort zone.

That was Peter’s reaction when Jesus first predicted his passion. He took Jesus on one side and told him it’s all too risky, this business of obeying God. And Jesus with uncharacteristic bluntness rebukes Peter: ‘Get behind me, Satan’. And then he goes on to say that being a follower of his means sharing in his Passion: ‘ For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it’.

I remember the words of a wise nun, in a Lent talk at the Barn many years ago, who said that the journey of faith begins when we let go of self-preservation. Faith is about a change of heart, and maybe even a change of direction, re-routing us away from cautious and self-centred attitudes of self-preservation and mere survival, and opening us to the risk of faith, sacrifice and self-surrender. Living by true faith, as opposed to clinging to old securities , which is sometimes mistakenly called faith, is always a sign of apparent contradiction and will sometimes  have the mark of foolishness about it. It’s at the heart of Christ’s teaching and challenge:

‘ Fore whoever loses his life for my sake, and the gospel’s, will save it’.

In the 14th century, Julian of Norwich had a remarkable vision of the cross. It was a time of the Black Death which was to wipe out more than 40% of the population. It was an ugly age in many of its aspects – the church was divided against itself with two competing popes. Added to this there was the Hundred Years’ War  between England and France. Yet in the midst of all of this, from a tiny cell in Norwich, Julian writes of her revelation of the cross revealing Christ’s love, mercy and compassion for the world. Her writing expresses the experience of many during this time of pandemic, a year on. She writes in her 16th Revelation:

This word: ‘ you shall not be overcome’ was said very distinctly and firmly to give us confidence and comfort for whatever troubles may come. He did not say you will never have a rough passage, you will never be overstrained, you will never be uncomfortable, but he did say: ‘ you will never be overcome’. God loves us and delights in us, so he wills that we should love and delight in return, and trust him with all our strength. So all will be well, all manner of thing shall be well’.

Nicholas Darby.

Intercessions for Second Sunday of Lent

We have heard how Abraham put his trust in God. Help us to have the faith to do the same. We pray that our efforts this Lent will strengthen our faith and bring us closer to you.

Jesus spoke of the suffering he knew was to come. Help us to endure whatever suffering we encounter and comfort those whose pain has been caused by or increased by this pandemic. We particularly pray for all who are suffering mentally from the restrictions on their lives.

We pray for the many people around the world suffering from a lack of the freedoms we enjoy, whether due to war, poverty or political repression. Give them hope for the future and help all those working on their behalf.

We give thanks for the skills and dedication of the scientists who have created vaccines to fight the pandemic. We pray that these and other measures will enable us to follow the government’s plan for a return to normality. 

The pandemic has had some positive effects on our society including a greater sense of community in many areas, a better appreciation of the work done by the NHS and other caring professions, more help for the homeless and a greater willingness to do voluntary work. We pray that these positives continue to improve the lives of many.

We pray for all those who are sick and particularly Peter Low, John Lynch, Canon Robin Morrison, Annie Woolmer, Gemma Fryer, Revd Neil Summers and Rosemary Murray.

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.