November 2020

Fresco from the former Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, Istanbul

November – Here and Now

My dear friends,

Many will regard the month of November as one strongly associated with saints and remembrance. Two great and ancient commemorations start the month: All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days, followed closely by Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day.

At Holy Trinity we hold an annual Service of Thanksgiving and Commemoration (Sunday 15th November at 4.00pm) to which we invite those bereaved during the past year. This year the service will also be livestreamed so that we may enable all to participate. It is always a moving service, and people usually receive a daffodil bulb to take home and plant. This, I hope, reminds them of the new life we have in Christ – a particular resonance in this strange time.

In the powerful Byzantine fresco in the former Chora Church, Istanbul (recently turned back into a mosque having been a museum for many years), Christ is seen literally dragging Adam and Eve out of their tombs to experience new life in him. Around his feet lie broken locks and chains – a sign of the self-imposed burdens which we ourselves create and which keep us from his Divine Love. Yet trusting in him breaks down all these bonds.

Many hymns for All Saints talk of the Heavenly Jerusalem, and this wondrous imagery is the promise of the unity we believe to be the destination of our journey’s end. But the Kingdom Life – experiencing and helping to bring about the New Jerusalem – begins here and now. We are called as brothers and sister to know the abiding presence of God:

Not throned above the skies,
Nor golden-walled afar,
But where Christ’s two or three
In His name gathered are,
Be in the midst of them,
God’s own Jerusalem.

FT Palgrave (1824-1897)

With my love and best wishes,

Michael