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

Dear All,

One of the things I miss in our time of not worshipping in the same building is singing hymns together. I did not realise how much I enjoyed hymns until now. I have always thought I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with them. Some I love, some I think are dreary, some I find quite cringe worthy when I sing them.  But I have come to realise that I probably love them more than the other two. Something about hymns takes you to a deeper place, sometimes it’s the words, sometimes it’s the tunes, sometimes you can’t really describe what it is. For example, when we sing “Shine, Jesus Shine”, there is a part of me that finds the words a bit corny and the tune a bit happy-clappy, but I love it!  There is something about it that touches me at the “soul” level and I cannot quite explain what it is.  Many other hymns have that same effect.

The reason I write about this now is because I know this weekend I will miss our singing of hymns more than ever because I love the Pentecost hymns. The combination of words and tunes in these particular hymns are nearly all beautiful. I have spent a few evenings this week listening to some of my Gregorian Chant cd’s and one of the chants I love is Veni, Creator Spiritus, which is the basis of our hymn: “Come Holy Ghost Our Souls Inspire.” This is one of my all-time favourite hymns, and I would have it every week in church given the choice!  The combination of the words with such a hauntingly beautiful tune, for me, makes it something very special.

Do you have a particular hymn that you miss singing?  Is there one hymn that speaks to you that you find yourself singing or humming again and again?  If so why not tell us about in the mini-mag, and why it means so much to you. It doesn’t have to be a long explanation, just a few sentences will do Just email it to Christopher on  I finish with the words of “Come Holy Ghost”.   


Happy Pentecost.



Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
and lighten with celestial fire.
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.

Thy blessed unction from above
is comfort, life, and fire of love.
Enable with perpetual light
the dullness of our blinded sight.

Anoint and cheer our soiled face
with the abundance of thy grace.
Keep far from foes, give peace at home:
where thou art guide, no ill can come.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,
and thee, of both, to be but One,
that through the ages all along,
this may be our endless song:

Praise to thy eternal merit,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Father Gavin’s Pastoral Letter for 30 May

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Introduction, Readings and Blessing for Pentecost Sunday

Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, when those early followers of Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to go out and live out the Gospel of Christ.

As we celebrate the transformation that took place in them, we open our lives to the presence of God’s Holy Spirit among us and pray that our world, our church, and our lives may be touched, and set on fire, with that same Spirit.

A reading from Acts Chapter 2
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.  Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?  How is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?
Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them:

"Let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. This is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Hear the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to St John

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said: "Peace be with you." After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side.

Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again:

"Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

The Blessing

May God breathe upon us his Holy and Life giving Spirit

that we may be transformed and empowered by his Sacred Presence.

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

Be with us, our community, and all for whom we are called to pray   

This day and always. Amen.

Reflection for Pentecost

Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God;

But only he who sees takes off his shoes.

These are lines from Elizabeth Browning’s epic poem: Aurora Leigh.

I have pondered them a lot during the last couple of months and have been dying to share them in one capacity or another but I have held off because they cry out Pentecost to me, and so now seems the time to bring them to your attention.

I only came across this verse quite recently and cannot stop returning to it. Watching spring and early summer unfold in recent weeks in the parks, woods, and gardens around us has felt like a Pentecost. God’s Holy Spirit emerging and crying out to us in creation, in nature; revealing the presence and goodness and wisdom of the Creator.

It made me wonder, at what point in the church’s development did we begin to associate the Holy

Spirit merely with the human race? After all, all the early symbols used to describe God’s Holy Spirit as non-human: Fire, heavenly doves, wind or breath, water, oil, first-fruits, wine -

and yet we talk mainly about the Holy Spirit as a gift given to human kind.

Genesis tells us that the Spirit of God brooded on the waters at the very beginning of creation.

God’s Holy Spirit is the means of life and was present in God’s beautiful world long before we came along!  So while this incredible feast reminds us that God’s Holy Spirit is alive in you and me, it also reminds us that it is alive in the whole of God’s creation.

The Holy Spirit is a reminder once again that humanity is not the “be all and end all” of this life;

that we are part of something much bigger and wonderful than we can ever imagine.

Our role, our first and foremost ministry, as Christians, as human beings,

is to recognise, celebrate and honour God’s Holy and Life Giving Spirit, at the very heart of creation, at the very heart of life – and to serve God there in simple humble ways.

Those early disciples, when they first discovered and experienced this explosive energy of God

in the universe and in themselves, were empowered to preach the Gospel from the rooftops.

May we too recognise that same Spirit all around us – and within ourselves, and allow it to empower us in our daily lives

For as Elizabeth Browning said:

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God.”

May we take off our shoes and worship - for we walk each moment in the Holy Presence of God. God’s explosive energy is right beneath our feet, in the very breath we breathe, in each and every moment of life. Our ministry, and whole purpose in life, is simply to recognise it and live from it.