Lent Groups

During lent this year we will be taking a closer look at the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel set for this year. Throughout Lent and after Easter there will be different kinds of groups and events to join to really get to know this Gospel. What is distinctive about Mark? What is its relevance for today? We invite you to get involved and discover the riches of Mark’s Gospel.

Our book for Lent will be ‘Meeting God in Mark’ by Rowan Williams. Please speak to Reverend Trin or Mother Helen if you would like to know more.

Advent and Christmas Services

We start Advent with Compline on Sunday 3 and 10 December at 7:30pm. This is a short reflective service of night prayer with some music. A perfect opportunity to snatch some stillness and quiet in the busiest of seasons. 

For those younger parishioners looking for more noise and crafts, join us at 4:30pm  on 3rd December for St Nicholas Workshop and a short service at which we will enthrone our new child bishop.

The full Advent and Christmas schedule is as follows:

3rd December – Advent One
800, 9:15, 1030 Eucharists
4:30pm-6:30pm St Nicholas Workshop and enthronement of our new child bishop
Christmas crafts and St Nicholas treats
7:30pm Compline

10 December – Advent Two
800, 9:15, 1030 Eucharists
7:30pm Compline

17 December – Advent Three
8:00, 9:15, 10:30 Eucharists
6:30pm Nine Lessons and Carols in celebration of 125 years of Emmanuel, West Hampstead
Join us for our annual traditional carol service as we celebrate
and give thanks for our amazing church

24 December – Advent Four AND Christmas Eve!
8:00 Eucharist for Advent 4
16:00 Crib Service with Nativity and blessing of the crib
23:00 Midnight Mass

25 December Christmas Day
10:30 All Age Eucharist

We’re Hiring

Emmanuel is hiring! We are looking for an Operations Manager to work 16-20 hours per week to lead the administration connected with the effective running of the parish.

We are looking for someone who wants to contribute to a successful and thriving Parish Church. The Operations Manager does not need to be a member of the Church of England or a Christian, although they should they should have a positive view of the Christian faith and be in broad sympathy with the life of the Church. Please see the full job description.

To apply please submit a letter of application outlining your suitability for the post to the Reverend Catriona Laing, Vicar, along with your CV and the names and details of two referees to [email protected] by Friday the 24th of November.

Reflection – Harvest Festival in an Age of Convenience

With the Harvest Festival now upon us, it seems important to consider its relevance in a world where the concept of the seasonality of food has been made rather redundant by greatly increased levels of intensive farming and global trade, examining both its biblical significance in regards to thanking God for the fruits of his creation, and in our current attitude to nature and our environment. 

If one considers the 1700s as the last century before the process of industrialisation began in Britain, then prior to the Industrial Revolution over half of Britain’s working population were employed in agriculture – by 1900 this was below 10%, and it is now  about 1%

Thus such a steep decline in involvement with agriculture due to industrialisation has meant that the harvest plays a far less significant role in the lives of the vast majority of people than it once did, and this decline in significance is exacerbated by global trade allowing people to purchase most fruit and vegetables at any time of the year, without the previous regard that one may have given to a certain produce’s seasonality in Britain. Now this is mainly due to highly intensive farming in which many natural habitats for endangered species are destroyed to provide farmland for crop growing, often then to feed vast herds of intensively reared and maltreated cattle, most evidently in the Amazon rainforest which has been detrimentally deforested, which in turn reduces the global environment’s ability to take in excess CO2.  

This is not only highly relevant to consider in regard to the Harvest Festival, but also in the duties God sets out for us in Genesis, that man shall have “dominion over […] every living thing that moveth upon the earth”, and that he has given unto man “every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”. God has both given us dominion over nature, and the means to survive in providing edible fruits and vegetables, but in the modern world of intensive farming where food is plenty for many it is easy to forget to give thanks for that which he has given us. However, the sense of stewardship that the bible also conveys here must be very carefully considered – it is our duty to protect our environment and the world around us, it has not simply been given to us by God as an expendable resource. Thus I would argue the Harvest Festival has never been more relevant in reminding us of the importance of protecting the world God created and entrusted to us, considering the grievous harms of intensive farming in its consequences for the natural world, encouraging us to eat more sustainably produced organic food that helps maintain our natural environment and not destroy it, and in the greatest Christian virtue of charity, supporting those who most need our help through the kind and valuable donations of food we give at Harvest Festival. 

Reflection – Christ, the True Vine

In scripture, as in life, wine is a double-edged sword. Most commonly associated with blessing and abundance, there are also darker moments where it speaks of madness, wrath, and judgment. The prophets make particularly interesting use of wine and of its sister image, the vineyard. Isaiah today gives us a stark picture of a ravaged and rotting Israel, using the language of biblical love poetry to bring out the bitterness.

This is no ordinary garden project gone wrong; this is God’s beloved, which promised to yield much fruit. But worship has become a mockery, and therefore has fertility become decay, and abundance, desolation. Our psalm laments this situation, appealing to God: “have regard for this vine, the stock that your right hand planted!” The irony is that the unfaithful one is Israel, not God, and yet once again they implore God to remember his covenant, to remember that they are his.

Spoiler alert, if you skip forward to chapter 27 you may find a rather more comforting vineyard song to answer this one. The bleak picture we’re left with isn’t the end of the story; God will indeed remember his promise. Why, you may ask, is this nearly 3000-year-old Near Eastern tale good news to us in London this Sunday morning? Because God’s covenant relationship with Israel is not just for the sake of Israel, but is the visible sign of God’s eternal covenant with all mankind, his faithful promise that he shall be our God, and we his people. The history of the whole world can be read in the history of this little nation, to whom God has said “you are mine”, and who in turn cries out, “I am yours!”

But wait, there’s more! Because the Christian Gospel distinguishes itself from all other accounts of God’s relationship to man by daring to claim that God himself has played both parts in this story, kept both sides of this covenant. For it is God in Jesus Christ who by his incarnation becomes Israel on behalf of Israel, man on behalf of man. In Jesus, the God who speaks through the prophet Isaiah becomes the stricken vine; the one who gives the nations the cup of wrath to drink now pours out his blood as wine for us to share. Paul tells us today about the sort of righteousness that comes only through faith in Christ, or through the faithfulness of Christ— depending on which scholar you ask! In fact the ambiguity itself can be helpful because as Christians, our faith in Christ is not just an abstract response to what we see him doing; rather, through the Spirit, we actually participate in Christ’s faithfulness–in his loving relationship with his Father. It is his risen life that we now live, his sonship that we share. Just as God has made our story his, now he brings us into the heart of his eternal story of love..

 “To be found in him”—this is what Paul seeks, and this is what salvation means to all of us who believe in Jesus Christ. “I am the true vine”, says Jesus; “abide in me, as I abide in you”. In Christ, God’s loving purposes for Israel and for the world find their eternal meaning and their end. The story we hear today of God’s beloved vineyard is an echo of a much older story, older than the world itself; the story not of Israel’s righteousness but of God’s; not of man’s faithfulness, but of God’s; not of our love for God, but of God’s love for us. Christ is the true vine, in whom both sides of the story of God and Israel, God and mankind, are played out. In Christ God has said “you are mine”; in Christ man has replied, “I am yours!”.