November is normally associated with ‘remembering’ and for Saint Mary’s it is also a chance of ‘reflecting’ before we start the opportunity to share the Christmas story and message with a variety of local groups and schools.
This year the month began with another beautiful Choral Requiem – thank you to our musicians for this and all they provided in the month. There was an atmosphere of stillness and peace as we remembered and recalled those who had died, and also a sense of the peace that they now rest in. A different kind of ‘recollection’ followed on the Saturday as 4 teams gathered to battle it out in a Quiz accompanied by Bangers and Mash – congratulations to the winners, and thanks to Jason for the material that stretched the grey cells!
The Sunday witnessed the Parish Confirmation service. It was good to welcome Bishop Ian – who had preached on Ash Wednesday – and for him to welcome and confirm members of the Church. Each of them had been on a special journey that brought them to that moment – and we continue to pray for them as they continue to explore their faith with us. Please remember in your prayers Olivia, Mike, Harry, Isaac, Julianna, Kieran and Alyssa. Many of those there spoke of how they had been moved by the service, and there are some great pictures of Bishop Ian and Alyssa which speak more than any words can about faith and the life we share with each other. It was also good to be able to support Babs as she re-affirmed her faith. All of this, of course, meant we were able to celebrate with cake – thanks again to Sonya!
The afternoon of the Confirmation there was another moving service as over 200 people who had been bereaved in the past year gathered to remember those they had loved and as they lit candles entrusted those who had died and themselves into the everlasting arms of God. The ministry we can offer to those bereaved through our Funeral ministry is one of the most important parts of our Parish life. Thank you to all who helped to welcome and support those who attended the service.
The following week shifted our focus to those who died in warfare and, as always, it was a privilege to host the local Branch of the Royal British Legion for their service of Remembrance. We were joined by the Lord Mayor and our MP as well as members of the local branch and others who reflected on how warfare affects all areas of our life and society and how we need to commit ourselves to seek the ways of justice and peace.
The month drew to an end with the start of the Concert season – with the Royal Marines School of Music and the Portsmouth Choral Union. The Choir also began to sing carols on November 16th at Cascades – where they were joined by the Dame from the Kings Panto (not, as some thought, Father Bob in disguise!). It is good to see a new team of car parkers to work alongside the older hands – Brian Ross and David Hance – as over the next few weeks there will be many calls on their skills. As there will on those who will welcome and help to move chairs and hand out leaflets. Thank you in advance to all of you for all you will do – we hope at the end of it you are able to enjoy the Christmas celebrations!