Lest we forget

On the 10th November 1920, one hundred cadets from the Duke of York’s Royal Military School, the military boarding school I attended in Dover, together with a contingent from the 2nd Connaught Rangers, formed a guard of honour as the coffin of the Unknown Warrior was received at the Marine Railway Station, Dover, for its onward journey to Victoria Station, in readiness for the funeral service to take place in Westminster Abbey the following day.

It was Rev. David Railton, a military Chaplain, and the then vicar of St. John the Baptist Church, Margate, who first suggested to the Dean of Westminster the idea of arranging for the body of an unknown serviceman to be returned from the battlefields of Northern France, to be given a national burial service in Westminster Abbey, as a focus of grief for all those whose loved ones had no known grave.

On the 7th November 1920 an instruction went out to the burial parties in France that one unidentified body be exhumed from each of the four main early battlefields of the war; the Aisne, Arras, the Somme and Ypres. The bodies were delivered to a small chapel in St Pol., where one body was selected at random and placed in a sealed coffin.

On the 10th November 1920, the coffin was piped aboard H.M.S. Verdun for the journey across the channel to Dover. As it entered Dover Harbour, a 19-gun salute was fired from Dover Castle, a salute normally reserved for the return of a Field Marshall.

On the 11th November 1920, after the unveiling of the new Cenotaph in Whitehall by King George V, and the two-minute silence, the Unknown Warrior was taken to Westminster Abbey, and interred in the far western end of the nave, using soil also brought back from the battlefields of Northern France.

The inscription on the black Belgian marble stone that caps the grave includes the following:-

THEY BURIED HIM AMONG THE KINGS BECAUSE HE HAD DONE GOOD TOWARD GOD AND TOWARD HIS HOUSE

There is also a stone in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey, dedicated to the memory of all the poets of the Great War, twelve of whom are listed by name, and six of whom were to die during that conflict. It is through their poetry that we can better understand the horror and futility of war, and the need to ensure that such conflicts never again occur.

On the 12th November, at St Mark’s, I will be recounting in greater detail the origins of the Unknown Warrior, together with the origins of other aspects of remembrance that we now observe, and interspersed with readings of the poets such as Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.

 

 

The wave of prayer takes Lesley Shatwell to Lambeth Palace

“It is impossible to overstate the life-transforming power of the Lord’s Prayer … When we pray it with sincerity and with joy, there is no imagining the new ways in which God can use us to his glory.”

Sent out earlier this year, these words are from a letter from the Archbishops of York and Canterbury to all parishes in the Church of England.  They were encouraging people to be part of a “great wave of prayer”, bringing the Lord’s Prayer into everyone’s life.

Have you ever felt the pull of waves in the sea … you stand there, feeling the tug of the next wave and if you jump at the right moment, the wave carries you on in towards the beach?  It was just like that for me, the phrase, “a great wave of prayer” scooped me up with the tidal momentum and I surfed with it.  At that moment, I knew our parish would be part of the movement, how could we not be involved?

But time was short.  I attended a training session run by the diocese and the vision grew.  We could have an exhibition.  I could ask artists in our parish to take a line or two of the Lord’s Prayer and illustrate it.  Let’s have the exhibition at St John’s, we can keep the church open all week and people can drop in and see the exhibition.  Oh, and we could make it a social, outreach time too, let’s have scones at the weekends … well if you’re going to have scones, you’ll have to have music …

And before I knew quite what I’d let myself in for, the event was already taking on a life of its own.  We felt the tug of the great wave of prayer gathering speed.

Hard work or what!  You try getting artists to work to a deadline.  Would it fit into St John’s, there are a lot of pews …  Would anyone come?  When it came to the picture of temptation, would anyone other than me be tempted to take a chocolate?

I needn’t have worried.  The Lord’s Prayer is greater than all of us and with that as our subject and fully in our thoughts, the week was a great success.  I was rather sad when we took the exhibition down, when all the musicians and singers had gone home, when the last of the scones disappeared.

But that was not the end, the great wave of prayer has rolled on.  Rolled into the Prayer Yurt for the Hale Carnival, rolled on into schools where, I’m told, the children love Emily’s picture of “Bread”.

And then things really did go quiet.  I have “Our Father, who art in heaven” on the wall of my study and I gaze at it when I need to catch the wave again.

“Upon arrival there is a wooden door to the right of the main entrance.  Please knock on this and someone from the Gatehouse will meet you.”

The great wave of prayer is carrying me further into quite uncharted waters.  Today, I have been to Lambeth Palace to be filmed for a short, promotional film to encourage people to catch the wave next year.

I was nervous as I knocked on the door.  I’ve never been to Lambeth Palace.  I’m certainly not a natural film star.  Was there anything I could possibly say which might help to inspire another parish?  But I felt the tug of that wave again, carrying me along.  Please God, let me share my enthusiasm.

What a marvellous day.  I was filmed in the crypt, such a beautiful, peaceful venue.  Everyone was supportive and encouraging and I told our story.  Yes, I forgot all that I’d meant to say.  Yes, I stumbled over my words.  Yes, I needed several “takes” and reminders.  But yes, I did it!  I’m quite sure that I’ve given the team a huge task of editing through the out-takes and sifting through my ramblings.  Perhaps they will only use a couple of seconds of me, but if that’s so, I pray that they capture the light which started in our parish community when we held our “Thy Kingdom Come” exhibition.  May the great wave of prayer roll on and catch many more people into the Lord’s Prayer.

Lesley Shatwell

Here is the video:

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Incredible Edible harvest

Residents of Hale have started harvesting the ‘Incredible Edible’ tubs. This project started in April when tubs of compost were placed at the Bungalow, near the War Memorial and in the grounds of St Mark’s Church – and residents were invited to plant them with herbs, fruit, and vegetables.

The Reverend Lesley Crawley, a priest at St Mark’s said, “We were a bit worried that that tubs would remain empty, but they soon filled up with green beans, marrows, tomatoes and courgettes. Every week, when I looked out of the window at St Mark’s, another plant had miraculously appeared – it has been just magical, and so exciting.”

John Ely, a local resident and part of the Incredible Edible team said, “Last week I saw a family passing the Bungalow planter as I was watering it. I invited them to help themselves to courgette. The young lad, Ryan, duly obliged! Mum said ‘It will go in our stir fry tonight’. Now that is what Incredible Edible is all about! I noticed the large marrow at the Hale Rec planter has gone. Hopefully taken by another hungry resident.”

Incredible Edible is a community project that aims to increase our awareness of food and where it comes from, bringing communities together and helping make a step towards a more sustainable world. It seems to be working in Hale.

Reflections on my ordination

And then the Bishop laid his hands on me….

The moment on the 3rd of July at my ordination when Bishop Andrew laid his hand on my head and asked God to “Send down the Holy Spirit on your servant Hannah for the office and work of a deacon in your Church” was the culmination of a journey of discernment towards ordination which began 20 years ago. This journey began at the altar rail in St Paul’s Anglican Chapel in Parkhurst, Johannesburg. On receiving communion one Sunday morning I had a sense that God was calling me to ordained ministry. I put it out of my mind to focus on my teaching career and having a family. About 6 years ago my then vicar, David Price, asked me if I had ever considered being ordained and that earlier prompting come flooding back.

The journey has intensified over the last three years during my formal training at St Mellitus Theological College. Training towards ordination is a process which is designed to stretch and grow you, it makes you feel incredibly vulnerable, it unpacks everything you believe and it puts you back together – hopefully stronger than before. It is a process which involves many hellos and a fair few goodbyes. It has meant moving and redefining who I am, how I see myself and how others see me.

From the Thursday before my ordination on the 3rd July, I was on a retreat with 12 other ordinands at St Columba’s House, Woking. The initial part of the retreat was at Charterhouse School Chapel to run through the ordination service. During this rehearsal, I had walked around in my cassock for the first time. I had butterflies in my tummy and it all felt slightly surreal.

After the rehearsal we headed off to the retreat house. The next 36 hours was to be in silence. It is amazing how quickly you develop into a community even in silence. You have to figure out how to attract someone’s attention if you want them to pass the salt and pepper. Humans have this built in desire to laugh and when you are in silence the silliest things, which under normal circumstance you might not notice, suddenly seem funny. One of the other ordinands is a Wine Sommelier and he conducted a wine tasting in silence but with lots of exaggerated sound effects which was very amusing.

My family maintained “radio silence” during the retreat and this was challenging because I missed them and also there was a realisation that this was something I had to do on my own with God. The three days of retreat were a blessed time with God that I spent reflecting on my journey to this point and looking forward with excitement and trepidation to the road ahead.

Waiting to be ordained evoked memories of the feelings of expectation I experienced before my children were born – I knew my life was about to change, I had been preparing for this moment but I had no idea what to expect and how much things would change. These feelings were intensified as we waved goodbye to the first group of Ordinands who set off for the 10am service.

I arrived at Charterhouse School Chapel at the same time as Michael, Rachael and Reuben but we had been told that we could only go and greet our families after the service so I had to wave to them across the field.

Whilst getting dressed in my cassock and surplice there was lots of huffing and puffing as I tried to calm my nerves! One last pit stop to the toilet before getting into the procession and then we were off. Whilst walking down the crowded aisle I picked out the faces of family and friends who had come to support me, I don’t think I stopped smiling.

Right up to the moment Bishop Andrew laid his hands on me, I expected a flood of tears, in fact I was even clutching a tissue, just in case. But this did not happen. Instead, I felt overwhelmed by a sense of God’s presence and a feeling of complete peace and calm.
Afterwards, being greeted by so many well wishers was incredible and the welcome the family and I have received in the Parish was wonderful.

Much later, once my close family had headed home, I sat on the settee and simply exhaled. I was brought back to earth with a bump as Rachael needed help with her homework, Mike needed some help tidying up the kitchen and Reuben needed to be encouraged into bed. This is what the next part of my journey in ordained ministry will be – balancing ministry and family life – something which all Moore family will be learning together.

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Solvitur ambulando

“It is solved by walking”.  Now, I’m not sure who first came up with that phrase, my internet search has thrown up a number of plausible suggestions.  I first came across it whilst training to become a licensed lay minister and someone told me it was attributed to Augustine of Hippo.  Hum … I don’t know.  It is certainly a very clever phrase and it’s true:  it is solved by walking.

A small, cheery group of walkers met at St George’s on 6 August and set out to walk round to each of the three churches in our parish.

Hats or no hats?  Sunglasses or no sunglasses?  Had we brought enough water/sun-cream?  Oh the perils of parish walking on such a rare summer’s day when the sun shines!  Still, solvitur ambulando.  Friendly conversation and soon we came to St John’s.  The church was cool and welcoming and we took our first  break.  There we were met by John Evans who told us stories about the Sumner family and their close connection with St John’s (foremost – of course – amongst many churches and ecclesiastical matters connected with the Sumners).  We saw the simple, yet beautiful Sumner plaque by the altar and prayed, remembering Hiroshima (6 August).  The walking party was joined by Hannah and her family and we discussed the best route to walk up to St Mark’s.

walkers at St John'sIt is solved by walking – we set off through Farnham Park and headed to the Green at Upper Hale.

On the way, I discovered that Jackie has a degree in Russian and that she has known Rachel since they were eight.  I like walking with friends.  Somehow, you have more time to chat, more opportunity to share ideas and we got to see more of our lovely parish.  Solvitur ambulando.

Mind you, it was jolly hot and it’s uphill all the way to St Mark’s.  We were glad to reach the dappled shade in the orchard, we’d made it to the summit – downhill all the way back now.

walkers at St Mark'sIt seemed as though Hannah’s little dogs appreciated the rest.  Little did they know that this was not their final destination and there were yet more miles for their little legs.

We rolled back down the hill to Badshot Lea, and I chatted about music with Margaret.  I discovered that when Margaret had to learn music by heart, she would visualise it on the page.  Isn’t that interesting, I don’t think I can learn music in that way, I hear the harmonic structure then mentally attach everything around it.

By the time we got home, we had walked over five miles.  I was surprised actually; I like walking, but I hadn’t walked that far for a while.  And it was easy.  I could have dropped out if it got too hard, and people did join and leave us at different times.  Perhaps you would like to give it a go next time, because, of course, “it is solved by walking”.
Hum … I wonder what “it” is?