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7th January 2011

A New Year Message from St. Clement’s, Prague

Dear People & Friends of St. Clements,

Happy New Year!

Welcome to my first ‘Message’ of 2011. As in the past couple of years, I hope to send a ‘Message’ out once a week, (with an occasional break during holiday periods), to keep everyone up-to-date on what is happening at St. Clement’s as well as to reflect on theological, Church & current issues. Therefore, I’m going to start by explaining something about the Christian or Church Year, in part prompted by a series of questions I was asked at the Church door last Sunday.  

Epiphany & the Epiphany season

Yesterday, 6th January, was the Feast of the Epiphany, twelve days after Christmas Day. It celebrates the visit of the Wise Men to the infant Jesus as described in Matthew 2. 1-12. The word ‘Epiphany’ means ‘manifestation’ or ‘showing forth’. Jesus is made manifest to the Gentiles, as represented by the Wise Men who came ‘from the East’. Because, unlike in every neighbouring country to the Czech Republic, yesterday was not a public holiday, we celebrated Epiphany at St. Clement’s last Sunday.

The Epiphany season lasts until 2nd February, forty days after Christmas Day when the Presentation of Christ in the Temple is marked, the event described in Luke 2. 22-40. In between, there are always four Sundays when the Gospel Readings set by our Lectionary tell of the manifestation or showing forth of Jesus at his baptism, the call of the first disciples, his early preaching and through his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. Epiphany is regarded as a ‘celebratory season’ so we use White/Gold as the liturgical colour as we also do during the twelve days of Christmas.

Whereas Christmas Day, Epiphany and the Presentation of Christ in the Temple are fixed feasts, always occurring on 25th December,. 6th January & 2nd February respectively, Easter Day is a movable feast, it’s date each year being dependent on the cycles of the moon which in turn fix the date of the Jewish Passover. If you have already looked forward in your 2011 diaries, you will have noticed that Easter Day is very late this year falling on Sunday 24th April. Therefore in turn, the season of Lent which precedes Easter, doesn’t begin until 9th March – Ash Wednesday.

One further question I was asked at the Church door last Sunday was what happens in between the end of the Epiphany season & the beginning of Lent. The answer is a period of what is known as Ordinary Time. When Easter Day is early, this period of Ordinary Time can be quite short. This year, because Easter Day is very late, their will be five weeks and five Sunday of Ordinary Time, each one counted as a Sunday before Lent. During this period, Green is the liturgical colour.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll seek to explain more about the Christian or Church Year as we move through the various seasons. If what I write still leaves you with questions that I haven’t answered, don’t be afraid to ask!

‘On the Feast of Stephen’ – Our broadcast service on BBC Radio 4

I’ve had so many positive reactions to this broadcast service, both from people I know and many from people I don’t know. After I returned to the Chaplaincy flat from conducting our real ‘live’ service for St. Stephen’s Day – Sunday 26th December, there were several emails of appreciation sitting in my Inbox. A number more have come in since. These included ones from Ambrose Mason, Chairman of the Council of the Intercontinental Church Society (ICS), John-Henry Bowden, Bishop Geoffrey’s Chaplain & from Adrian Mumford, the Diocesan Secretary.

One of the most interesting measures of the interest created by the broadcast service has been visits to our website. Normally, www.anglican.cz gets between 10-15 hits a day, sometimes less. On Sunday 26th December it received 153 hits!  My blog www.rickyyates.com , which normally gets 30 or so hits each day, received 69 hits. I’m sure that all of this will result in many more people finding and visiting St. Clement’s during the coming months.

Later today, once I’ve finished compiling and sending out this message, I hope to do some more work on www.anglican.cz . This will include a link to where you will be able to listen to the broadcast online. We will also be producing some more copies of a CD of the broadcast. There will not be a set price – all we ask for is a ‘donation’ which will go into Church funds. If you would like a CD, please let me know to give us some indication how many to produce.

St. Clement’s needs you!

I am enormously grateful to everyone who does so much to help St. Clement’s function as smoothly as it does. But we can always do with more helpers. So on the noticeboard at the back of Church there is a sign up sheet entitled St. Clement’s needs you! with an appropriate illustration. We are looking for more Welcomers, people willing to organise Coffee Hour (rather than always leaving it to Caroline!), teachers for Sunday School or to be the ‘second adult’ that needs to be present, reading the lesson etc. Adequate training will be provided – we promise not to throw you in at the deep end!

Intercontinental Church Society (ICS)

As many of you know, since 2000, St. Clement’s has received prayerful and financial support from ICS. Without the additional financial support of ICS in 2010, St. Clement’s might well have ceased to exist in its current form. At the back of Church you will find copies of the new ICS News & Prayer Diary for January – March 2011. Please take a copy, both to read & to assist your prayers.

One way we can help ICS is by collecting used postage stamps which can in turn be sold to help raise funds for ICS. Leave any stamps on the envelope and cut around them leaving roughly a 5mm border. Then bring them to Church & place them in the collecting envelope pinned to the noticeboard. The only stamps NOT required are British ones only bearing the Queen’s head. I intend to send a big batch of used stamps off to the organiser in the UK very shortly so please bring any used stamps you have at home to Church ASAP.  

Tax certificates for 2010

If you are a Czech taxpayer and you give to St. Clement’s by bank transfer, standing order or through the dated envelope scheme, our Treasurer H.K. can give a signed & stamped certificate, allowing you to set your giving against tax when completing your tax return. If you would like a certificate, please drop H.K. an email.

Peter Morpuss is running the Prague Half Marathon on 2nd April 2011…..

…….and he wants you to sponsor him to raise money for St. Clements!!!! There is a sponsor sheet pinned up on the Church noticeboard where you can sponsor Peter for every one of the 21 kilometres he plans to run. Please be generous in your support.

The beginning of our worship each Sunday

Our service is meant to start at 11am each Sunday. This is sometimes difficult because our regular organist Michal Novenko, plays for another service before ours and often isn’t able to reach us until just before 11am. But he then plays an improvisation on the tune of the first hymn which we can all use to settle our hearts and minds and prepare ourselves for worship. So can I ask that once Michal starts playing, can people please finish their conversations at the back of Church and sit down in the pews with the obvious exception of those who are on welcome duty.

And can I make a second plea? In 2011, can everyone make a greater effort to be in Church by 11am? I know that sometimes a tram is late, you miss a connection or one of the children needs the toilet just as you are about to leave home. And it is better to come late to Church rather than not at all. But I do recall how everyone managed to be in Church at least ten minutes before worship commenced when Their Royal Highnesses, the Prince of Wales & the Duchess of Cornwall worshipped with us in March 2010. If we can be on time when the future King of the United Kingdom is present, can we also not be on time for the King of kings?

This Sunday 9th January 2011 at 11am – Sung Eucharist for the First Sunday of Epiphany

As mentioned above, we shall focus on Jesus being ‘made manifest’ or ‘shown forth’ through his baptism by John the Baptist. The Gospel reading comes from Matthew 3. 13-17. The service will be followed by Coffee Hour on the third floor of Klimentská 18. I did previously promise that Sunday School would re-commence on this Sunday. Unfortunately, there will have to be a week’s delay, not least because our teaching material, although ordered, still hasn’t arrived in the post from the UK. My apologies to both parents & children for this.

Then in the coming week, our Midweek activities re-commence  

Wednesday 12th January – Meet the Chaplain in Prague City Centre

I will once more be available for a chat + coffee or tea & biscuits, between 4pm and 6pm at

Communio Centre Karolíny Svĕtlé 21 (nearly opposite the Rotunda of the Holy Cross) Prague 1

At 6pm, I will say Evening Prayer at the same venue and would welcome others to join me. There is an easy booklet to follow, just as we have on Sunday, and within the service there will be the opportunity for extemporary or silent prayer. The service itself will last no more than thirty minutes.

Then from 6.30pm until 7.30pm, there will be an Informal Bible Study, again at the same venue.

It is always great to know in advance who is coming to any or all of these events. But you are equally welcome just to turn up! And whilst offering the 4pm – 6pm time slot in a central location so that people can drop by to chat, I am always willing to meet up with people at other times and in other places by appointment. It has been good to do so with a number of the congregation over the recent Christmas & New Year period. Don’t be afraid to ask!  

A note of apology

I realised after I sent out my last ‘Message’ just before Christmas, that I sent it out as CC rather than as BCC, thus resulting in everyone’s email address appearing at the top of the message. I’m afraid it was a mistake by me still getting used to my Czech version of Outlook Express. I put everyone’s address in ‘Kopie’ rather than creating as I have now, another box called ‘Skrytá’ – ‘Hidden’. Please accept my apologies for this error.  

With my best wishes for 2011

Ricky