St Augustine’s Church, Grove Park 336 Baring Road, SE12 0DX  Vicar: Rev. Gavin Berriman

St Augustine’s Church, Grove Park

336 Baring Road, London SE12 0DX

Rev Gavin Berriman, Vicar

Tel: 020 8857 4941 Email:

27 November 2021

Dear All

And so Advent begins this Sunday.  A little different to last Advent Sunday, which was the final Sunday of Lockdown and so we were not able to begin Advent in church. Thankfully we are in a different place to begin this Advent, though we still must worship with caution.

I love the season of Advent, I actually prefer it to Christmas! I love the music, the anticipation, and the reminder to slow down in a month that can easily get us into a frenzy.  Despite us missing Advent Sunday last year, the restrictions did mean the Advent season was calmer and more like it should be. I can never understand why people want Christmas to come sooner than it does when Advent is so beautiful in itself.  I include a thoughtful Advent poem by Malcolm Guite with this Letter.

One thing we did miss out on last year because of the restrictions was being able to do an Advent Compline.  This year we can enjoy this beautiful evening worship in church again. This coming week it will be on Monday evening, 29th, at 8pm. In the following weeks Compline will take place on Wednesday 8th December, Thursday 16th, and Wednesday 22nd. All these services will be at 8pm and be in the main body of the church. The service is only a short one and lasts about 20 minutes, but it is a beautiful way to end the day.  I hope you will be able to join us at church, but if not there will be a Compline service on-line that you can join in with from home.  It will be on our website and our other social media channels. There is also a copy of the Compline service with this letter.

Many thanks to Alison and Jerry and everyone who have got involved in organising our Christmas Market. As I write this it has yet to take place, so will say more next week.

As I have mentioned in previous weeks letters, The Mottingham Food Bank which we support are planning a Christmas parcel roll-out to people in most need and if you would like to make contributions to this please see the weekly sheet or website for more details. If you would like to know more please have a word with David Cartwright.

Five of our children continue in their preparation to be Admitted to Holy Communion. They will be Admitted on Sunday 12th December. Please pray for Charlie, Anaelle, Iain, Bradley and Melanie as they prepare for this important step on their journey of faith.  Last week we explored the subject of prayer and the children once again showed how much they instinctively know and have that natural prayerful relationship with God.  We adults have so much to learn from them!


                                                                 With continued love and prayers



O Sapientia  by Malcolm Guite

I cannot think unless I have been thought,

Nor can I speak unless I have been spoken.

I cannot teach except as I am taught,

Or break the bread except as I am broken.

O Mind behind the mind through which I seek,

O Light within the light by which I see,

O Word beneath the words with which I speak,

O founding, unfound Wisdom, finding me,

O sounding Song whose depth is sounding me,

O Memory of time, reminding me,

My Ground of Being, always grounding me,

My Maker’s Bounding Line, defining me,

Come, hidden Wisdom, come with all you bring,

Come to me now, disguised as everything.

Introduction, Collect, Readings, and Blessing for Advent Sunday

As the year draws towards its close,

and we enter into the dark winter months,

we begin to look forward to the coming of the light of Christ,

and to celebrate once again his birth and presence among us.

In our worship we open our hearts and lives to greet his coming,

as we begin this season of Advent with anticipation and expectation.


Almighty God, give us the grace to cast away the works of darkness

and to put on the armour of light.

Now in the time of this mortal life

in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility.

So that on the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty

we may rise to life immortal.

Through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit

One God, now and for ever. Amen.

A reading from Jeremiah Chapter 33

The days are surely coming, says the Lord,

when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous branch to spring up for David;

and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety.

And this is the name by which it will be called: "The Lord is our righteousness."

The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew

"But about that day and hour no one knows,

neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the flood they were eating and drinking,

marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark,
and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away,

so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left.
Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
But understand this: if the owner of the house

had known in what part of the night the thief was coming,

he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.
Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.


May God take our eyes and see through them

May God take our lips and speak through them

May God takes our hands and serve through them

May God take our hearts and love through them.

And may the blessing of God Almighty, Father Son and Holy Spirit

Be with us, and all for whom we pray, this day and always. Amen.

Sermon for Advent Sunday

This has got to be my favourite Sunday of the year.

I love Advent. I particularly love Advent Sunday. The hymns; the liturgy; the readings.

Advent is a season that calls us once again to be open; to be expectant;

and to brace ourselves to be caught by surprise by the coming of Christ.

As today’s Gospel tells us you could be out in the field; or grinding at the mill;

and suddenly you can be confronted full on by the awesomeness of God’s presence;

and be taken up into his presence. God sneaks up on us like a thief in the night.

In the twinkling of an eye God can turn our life upside down.

Advent tells us: “Be ready – because God is alive and kicking.”

And an experience of God’s presence does not just happen to mystics deep in meditation –

it happens to ordinary people, doing ordinary things. Advent says: Be awake. Get ready!”

Not that we have to even be awake and ready for it. The wind of God’s Spirit blows where it will.

An experience of God’s presence may well be the last thing we are seeking;

but God sometimes decides we’re going to get it anyway.

You certainly never earn your God moments, they are gifts of the divine.

But that’s not to say we can’t give ourselves a better chance to recognise that gift.

The famous golfer, Jack Nicklaus, once said after getting a hole in one: “It was a lucky shot really.”

But he also added: “I find the more I practice the luckier I get”. How true.

The same is true in our spiritual lives.

If this Advent we want to experience something of the stillness of God’s presence;

then we stand a much better chance if we take time to stop and open ourselves to it.

To get the most out of this season we have to put ourselves in the position

in which we can best receive the blessings God longs to give.

It is no good just getting carried along in the commercial rush and madness in the build up to Christmas, and then wondering why it just leaves us feeling tired and unsettled.

Getting the most out of Advent involves us making a commitment,

Creating time to practice receiving God’s presence and grace;

taking time to stop and wait; and watch in anticipation for the coming of Christ.

All it needs is a commitment to have little pockets of stillness and quiet in the day.

A few moments just to stop and step back from the day’s busyness and demands.

A few moments just to reflect on God’s presence at the centre of our lives;

and to allow the busyness in our day to flow from that, and back into that.

While God is more than capable of blowing open the door into our hearts and lives;

A door that is already open usually makes for a less disturbing entrance!!!

God is quite happy to gate crash, but I am sure he prefers an invitation.

Throughout Advent there are various opportunities at church to stop a while;

to be still; to step out of the busyness and the madness all readily available this month.

On one evening of each week there will be the night office of Compline;

In my view the most beautiful prayers of the Christian tradition. You can also join in with this online.

Or you can just take a few minutes each day to stop whatever it is you are doing,

and place yourself in God’s presence and love.

At our first communion class last week, the children were exploring

how prayer is not just about speaking to God, saying more and more words.

It’s also about stopping a moment, being quiet and watching and listening for God.

It may be reading a few verses of scripture, or reading a poem;

or kicking through the leaves, stopping to drink a cup of tea aware of God’s presence.

Or it might be taking the time to watch the sunrise or sunset each day, opening your heart,

and saying “wow!” “Wow!” is one of the most beautiful prayers we could possibly utter.

Whatever you do, do not arrive at Christmas exhausted and stressed;

and then wished you had used Advent differently.

God has provided a wonderful opportunity for us to receive his love and blessing,

let’s make the most of it.


The Office of Compline for Advent

May the Lord grant to us a quiet night and a perfect end.  Amen

Thou, O Lord art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name

Leave us not, O Lord our God.

Brethren be sober be vigilant, because your adversary the devil goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, whom resist steadfast in the Faith.

But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us: Thanks be to God.

Our help is in the name of the Lord: Who hath made heaven and earth.

In penitence and faith let us humbly confess our sins:

We confess to God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in the sight of the whole company of heaven, that we have sinned in thought, word and deed.

Wherefore we pray God Almighty to have mercy on us.

May Almighty God have mercy upon us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.  Amen.

Have mercy upon us, O God:       And hearken unto our prayer.

Psalm 63

O God, you are my God, for you I long

My soul thirsts for you, like a dry weary land without water.

Your steadfast love is better than life

I will bless you as long as I live.

I will lift up my hands and call upon your name

My mouth shall praise you with joyful lips.

I think of you as I lay upon my bed

I meditate upon you in the watches of the night.

For you have been my help

In the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.

My soul clings to you

And your right hand upholds me.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

Have mercy upon us, O God:    And hearken unto our prayer.

Reading          followed by a short time of silence and then the following hymn:

Before the ending of the day; creator of the world, we pray.

That thou with wonted love wouldst keep; thy watch around us while we sleep.

O let no evil dreams be near; nor phantoms of the night appear.

Our ghostly enemy restrain; lest ought of sin our bodies stain.

Almighty Father, hear our cry; through Jesus Christ our Lord most high.

Who with the Holy Ghost and thee; doth live and reign eternally. Amen.

Reading from John 1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

All things were made through him, and without him not one thing came into being.

In him was life, and the life was the light of all.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.

Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit:  Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

For thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, thou God of truth: I commend my spirit.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

Into thy hands , O Lord, I commend my spirit.

Keep me, O Lord, as the apple of an eye: Hide me under the shadow of thy wings.

Save us, O Lord, waking; guard us sleeping;

that awake we may watch with Christ; and asleep we may rest in peace.

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace; according to thy word.

For mine eyes have seen thy salvation;

Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;

To be a light to lighten the Gentiles; and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

Save us, O Lord, waking; guard us sleeping;

that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.

Our Father......

Blessed art thou, O Lord, God of our ancestors:

And worthy to be praised and glorified forever.

Let us bless the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:

Let us praise his name and exalt him forever.

Blessed be thou, O Lord, in the firmament of heaven:

And praised for ever more.

Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us:  This night without sin.

O Lord, have mercy upon us:  Have mercy upon us.

O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us: As our trust is in thee.

Lord, hear our prayer: And let our cry come unto thee.

The Lord be with you: And with thy spirit.

Closing Prayers

Blessed are you, O God, upholder of all life; Creator of both day and night.

At this holy hour we ask that you may give rest to the weary;

renew the strength of those who are spent;

and bestow your evening blessing upon all hearts.

As you have walked with us throughout the course of this day;

so may your presence abide with us for this coming night.

May we take our rest secure in your steadfast love;

and be renewed in the silent hours of this night. Amen.

Watch, dear Lord, with those who wake or watch or weep tonight

and give your angels charge over those who sleep.

Tend your sick one’s, soothe your suffering ones, shield your joyous ones,

and fill each one with the knowledge and awareness of your loving presence.

For your tender mercy’s sake. Amen

Lighten our darkness we beseech thee, O Lord;

And by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers this night;

For the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Lord be with you: And with thy spirit.    Let us bless the Lord: Thanks be to God.

May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.  Amen.

Father Gavin’s Pastoral Letter - Saturday 27 November 2021

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