Each week, since the lockdown began, Fr Ron has been writing a mid-week letter, in addition to the reflections on the Sunday readings. Here are all his letters.
Letter 19 – 5th August
Exercise seems to be one of the great pastimes in the park by the Parsonage, indeed I can hear people running by in the dark in the early morning and late at night! In the morning it’s the signal to get up and get moving. Other people’s good actions are an encouragement, it gets me fired up for my daily walk, with the promise of a coffee at the end. My iWatch tells me my heart is beating which is a relief and the device tracks my distance and counts the calories expended.
One of the great pleasures of living here is of course not having to worry too much about the weather because we don’t get a lot of rain and you can walk in shorts and trainers. Exercise is of great importance indeed it is one of the ways to ward off Coronavirus if unfortunately, we contract it.
As Christians both our bodies and souls are important. We know that God created human beings and we have two interconnected parts, the health or sickness of one can influence the health or sickness of the other. God made us and redeems us as whole persons, and it’s a Christian distinctive to care about it all — not just the soul, but the soul and body.
But valuable as both parts are, the apostle Paul goes a step further to help us understand the priority. The central passage on this topic is in his first letter to Timothy. Exhorting him to be “a good servant of Christ Jesus,” Paul writes, Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, (1 Tim 4.7-9)
Just as the athletes encourage us to exercise, I hope seeing people coming to worship at All Saints will encourage others to come to the training for eternal fitness in the Kingdom of heaven.
Letter 18 – 29th July
As I walked into Puerto the almost deafening sound of the sea was apparent with the rumbling, rushing noise of water as it sucks over the deep dark black pebbles of the shore. Each pebble made smooth by thousands of years of water erasing its Volcanic surface. Tenerife is surrounded by sea, that’s obvious you might say as it is an island. But every now and then you come across huge vistas of blue which when interacting with the sky is almost indistinguishable between water and air.
This Volcanic island with its stark contrasts of dark and light and breath-taking drops into the ocean, reminds us that creation is both harsh and beautiful, both tragic and gentle. The crashing waves remind us that we have only borrowed this land from the vast ocean from which it once arose in a violent volcanic eruption.
John’s Gospel prompts us with the eternal words that, “In the beginning was the word”, and in the beginning was the whole meaning of life, that was Jesus Christ. The creation with both its foreboding and its stark beauty was brought into being so that insignificant human beings could develop eternal souls that could merge into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and with the freedom to either say yea or nay. Like the pebbles being shaped and pushed by the sea, our lives are shaped and made smooth by life, and the interaction of the eternal Christ.
Christ is the light of the world who gives meaning to what otherwise would be a meaningless creation. When Christ is added to the equation the rumbling sea and the haphazard cosmos is lit by a true meaning, that is the love of God.
Fr Ron Corne
Letter 17 – 22nd July
Whilst I was in Puerto the other evening, I noticed a group of young people who were jumping from the rocks at a great height down into the sea way beneath. Firstly, I am not good with heights and secondly, I cannot swim, so in both incidents that would have been the end of me. Added to this my own time of youth left me long ago and the vigour of youth which informs the young tends to be replaced with caution and hopefully wisdom. It is like so many of these pursuits from abseiling to parachuting it would probably be a no no for me. It doesn’t mean that I am without taking risks but as you get older those risks are weighed up much more carefully than we are young. Proverbs 18:15 says, “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Let’s face it though, not many daring endeavours would get completed if the world was just full of older people. God made us all different we are all a great mix of personality types and physical appearances. We are all genetically unique, this is how God has created us. We do things in our youth we would never do as we are older. We do things as Christians we would never do without Christ.
This is an important lesson for us that God has filled our churches with a variety of changing interesting and sometimes challenging people. We have congregations that are not static and in life in general it is the learning of how to accept one another for who we are, and indeed learning to actually take a further step than all of this that is to actually love one another with our differences. When Jesus suggested this over two thousand years ago it was as much an alien concept as it is today. Love one another he said as I have loved you. Loving as Jesus loved is not a simple thing to do, because if we loved as he loved us, we would be willing to go to the cross for a stranger and yes for you and me and all those who were to follow him.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 16 – 15th July
Names are very important things, we are identified by our names, we respond to our name and when we think of someone, we picture them once that name is mentioned. Sometimes we are not happy with our given names and we might use our second name or even ‘in extremis’ legally change our name completely. A man with a strange name called Devil Law was brought before a judge for drug possession and crashing his car into a bus.
God tells us that he knows us all by name and, in Isaiah, God says, ‘But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine”’. God calls us by name and he knows us individually. God gives us something that even our parents could not give us – he gives us “an everlasting name”.
When looking around our churchyard at All Saints Tenerife, I noticed many names of those who have died, some recently and others long ago. In a similar way I noticed on a bench in Winchester a plaque which says, “Hannah Baker, Loved you yesterday, Love you still, Always have, Always will. Someone who truly loved and missed Hannah. Even more than this God says: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. (John 3.16)
With Christian love
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 15 – 8th July
How are you feeling as you witness the gradual easing of lockdown? How has this dramatic and altering experience changed you? As we move through life, we are changed by the natural ageing process, for better or worse this will cause our bodies to change and the youthful slight figure of decades before that stares out at you from that old photograph becomes a distant memory. The new person we have become with its wrinkles and scars has been born out of the joys and troubles of this life and it is like a deep gushing river rather than a shallow pool.
It may be that we have become much more reflective and have a depth and a brilliance much stronger than the younger you will never have recognised. There is a saying that youth is wasted on the young, in other words to have the wisdom of age and the vigour of youth would be a mighty strong combination. Indeed, our pre Covid modern culture was obsessed with youth, with anti-aging with keeping things young. But you see this was never God’s plan, for he is the gardener and we are the creation that he is tending.
When I was a boy, I remember helping my Uncle, a milkman, on his milk round, would make a whooping sounds or give a whistle to let people know he was about. Selling groceries as well as milk he was a great asset to the elderly indeed, he was the pre cursor to the food deliveries of today. On one occasion we visited an elderly couple who always made him a cuppa and gave me an orange squash. They were so old I thought how did they get into the state they were as I looked at them through my very early teenage eyes. Is the glass clean, why is this place so ram shackle? Now I know, and I appreciate as I get older who these old folks were, they were in fact the “me” we are all becoming sometimes full of foolishness and other times sometimes deep wisdom.
I believe the times we have just passed through have so changed us all that at the moment we are unsure how. For many it has been a time of suffering and illness, for others of acute loneliness and boredom. For others a time of self-discovery and blossoming and for me it has been a time where I found creativity easier, in the stillness and the peace for preparing items for the church or just planting some sunflower seeds and watching them grow into differing and enormous blooms, one has five heads! I have spent precious time with family and at one stage we were all on a zoom bingo call all feverishly trying to get to shout bingo!
I believe the changes in you and me it has brought about will gradually blossom like the sunflowers. I believe that the world will not return to what it was, it cannot for our very souls have been reshaped, for like the Damascus road experience we are all changed forever and our goals may no longer be what they once were, and you will be surprised by the way in which you have grown in strength and inner beauty.
May God richly bless you on this journey.
Fr Ron Corne.
Letter 14 – 1st July
I have mentioned that I have a certain amount of Scottish, Welsh and Irish blood in my veins, which I think is why I am quite attracted to the Celtic Christianity of the those shores. The damp, the winds, the rain and the harsh crashing of the seas can be invigorating and inspiring. Even the heat of the desert has its place in Celtic spirituality. It was born in those rugged and wild places and developed in the early fifth century during the development of the monastic tradition. Many of these practices have roots in desert spirituality; Celtic monks considered the teachings of the desert fathers essential wisdom. Celtic Christianity can be characterized by a strongly incarnational theology: The natural world, in particular, reveals the sacramentality of all creation. Hence when I see the peregrine falcons dipping to and throw in the sky I am aware of the Holy Spirit which blows where it will and sustains us as the birds are sustained in flight. Therefore Matter is infused with the divine presence and offers glimpses of the world behind the surface of things. This spirituality celebrates the human imagination, cultivating creativity through various art forms such as manuscript illumination and vibrant metalwork. The Winchester Bible is full of gorgeous illumination held in Winchester Cathedral; although medieval it has flamboyant illuminations one is the Morgan Leaf, and fantastic would be an understatement.
As I walk my dog and look at the surface of water, I am aware that there is a surface a threshold which must be broken to enter the world of the water. The Celts referred to thresholds. Thresholds are the spaces between when we move from one time to another, as in the threshold of dawn to day or dusk to dark; from one space to another, as in times of pilgrimage or in moving from secular to sacred space; and from one awareness to another, as in times when old structures start to fall away and we begin to envision something new. This surely is happening after the pandemic that has inflicted us all. The Celtic peoples had a love of edges and boundary places, most likely as the result of living on an island, but they also held a keen sense of the Otherworld as a place just beneath the veil of this one.
Celtic Christian monks were also drawn to edge places, inspired by those who fled to the desert. Indeed in daily life becoming aware each time you cross a threshold. This might be across a doorway, in moving from one activity to another, or the thresholds of the day, especially at dawn and dusk. Pause at each of these and offer a short prayer of gratitude. As the Lord says, Thus says the Lord: Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls —Jeremiah 6:16.
As we prepare to enter our Church of All Saints in Tenerife after a long absence, remember we are entering a Holy Place and a Holy Space. But remember spiritually it is cleansed and a consecrated place and space to the Lord. It is a place where our ancestors of the 1880’s had a dream and built a place of worship and fellowship, a thin place, which exists between heaven and earth and rejoice that you are soon to enter it again.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 13 – 24th June
Jesus said, “But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Water is without doubt the pre-eminent force that enables life to exist. No wonder Jesus, a man of Galilee and of the great lake, would mention water so many times in his teaching of how to gain life. Christians in Baptism use water, in holy water in the Eucharist, and in the whole symbolism of cleansing and new life.
Watch a river as it flows and watch its life giving force as it attracts animals, birds and insects to its banks and refreshing waters. Where fresh water flows there you will find life. Even when you look out to space you might think is there any water or life out there? If you look at Saturn’s rings, these are thought to be pieces of comets, asteroids or shattered moons that broke up before they reached the planet, torn apart by Saturn’s powerful gravity. They are made of billions of small chunks of ice and rock coated with another material such as dust. The ring particles mostly range from tiny, dust-sized icy grains to chunks as big as a house. A few particles are as large as mountains.
Water and the Holy Spirit of God are entwined and linked, for without water creation cannot exist and in the same way, without the creative moving powerful spirit of God moving over the waters and the creation, nothing, not even water would exist. Add the Holy Spirit and water together and in the great Christian theology of the Church life explodes into being and for us as human beings a new dimension of life, for its life imbibed with Jesus Christ.
Two thousand years ago “the organizational structure, the great institution of the church—signified by complex hierarchy—simply wasn’t there. There was an apostolic band of followers. There were missionary efforts in major centres, first in Jerusalem, then Antioch, then Rome, but certainly no sense of a headquarters. Instead you had this tiny, vulnerable, poor, often persecuted group of people who were on fire with something.” What were they on fire with? Simply with the Holy Spirit, which drives us forward as believers.
Life existing then where water and the Spirit dwell, as Christians and as priests we too speculate on life in outer space. The Catholic Church has a Chief astronomer, as Christians you might say we have our own men in black! The pope’s own Jesuit astronomers; they have long been active in discussions about extra-terrestrial life, the ethics of space exploration and the religious significance of a universe that could be teeming with life. Writing in the Vatican newspaper, the astronomer, Father Gabriel Funes, said intelligent beings created by God could exist in outer space. Father Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory near Rome, is a respected scientist who collaborates with universities around the world. The search for forms of extraterrestrial life, he says, does not contradict belief in God. The official Vatican newspaper headlines his article ‘Aliens Are My Brother’. Just as there are multiple forms of life on earth, so there could exist intelligent beings in outer space created by God. And some aliens could even be free from original sin, he speculates.
All fascinating and pointing to us as Christians, to you and to me, for when we kneel before God in prayer we are kneeling before the Creator of the whole of the universe, and that means we are joined into what is the meaning of the creation with all of its wonder and creative force.
We better get praying so why not use the Lord’s Prayer:
As Archbishop Rowan says: “The prayer is often introduced in the worship of the church with the words “as our saviour Christ has taught us, we are bold to say”, or “we dare to say” – we have the nerve to say “Our Father”. We need to remember that it’s a bold form of address to God. And Jesus has given us the nerve to call God Father and you sometimes hear it introduced as “as our saviour has taught us we take heart and say“, we sort of summon our strength and resource and, yes, we have the confidence to say these words.”
May God bless you in your prayers.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 12 – 17th June
On my morning walk I often see a mother hen duck sat with her five ducklings on the river. The ducklings are in a slumber under her wings, whilst the mother hen sleeps with one eye open watching for predators. Ducks can actually sleep with one eye open and can turn off half their brain whilst keeping the other half alert for predators!
This surely reminds us of who installed this wonderful technique into the mother duck. Jesus said,”Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37 / Luke 13:34). This instinct of God is from the heart and it is to protect and care for us. If we decide this is not what we want, we can of course reject his loving care, as that is freedom in action. But God never turns a blind eye to us; it is always an eye of watching out for his children.
In these days through which we have been passing, it may seem that God has let us get on with it, with the terrible suffering and shocking loss of life. But never at any moment has that been the case. He has been working in the lives of the medical and caring professions, of individuals and family members, of people worldwide trying to assist the sick and the dying, as they work to care and save lives. He is working in the lives of the scientists desperately seeking a cure.
The physicist and Christian theologian John Polkinhorn says, “I’m very sympathetic to the idea that God is the one who holds the world in being, the creation of the world is not the performance of a fixed score, but more like an unfolding improvisation in which God, as the great conductor of the orchestra, and also the individual creature players each have their roles”
In other words, God is working through us to bring about the care and the answers. He is inspiring the individuals to greater heights of love and discovery. He is always at hand and always watching his creation, ever like the mother duck, always alert to our needs and inspiring those who are open to him in the ways of healing and of truth.
A Prayer from the Prayer Book.
O God, you know us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers,
that by reason of the frailty of our nature
we cannot always stand upright:
grant to us such strength and protection
as may support us in all dangers
and carry us through all temptations;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
With Christian love.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 11 – 9th June
A couple of Christmases ago my Daughter bought me a DNA test kit as a Christmas gift. If you have received or used one of these test kits they are quite something and can reveal so much of your past. Anyway I went ahead and after sending the samples off behold, back came the results. Who am I? I discovered that I am 84% Southern English with a smattering of Irish and Scottish, but 7% Swedish….I knew it! I always thought I was a Viking! Now I know what my ancestors got up to fraternising with the invaders! Some were the invaders.
Then came lots of contacts with 3rd 4th 5th cousins which I never knew I had, Some in Guernsey, others in Canada some in the States and so on. One who contacted me informed me that one of my many many way back Grandfathers was a close friend of Charles Dickens and that there are letters written to Thomas Corne born in 1779 and that he was a straightforward and honest chap… oh, that’s alright then, how interesting! Others were not quite so quite so decent!
I have always enjoyed Dickens books especially, A Christmas Carol. Dickens knew what it was to be in need coming as he did from a large family – his parent’s finances were a constant concern for the family. Despite the family’s financial struggles, young Charles dreamed of becoming a gentleman. In 1824, when he was 12, it looked like his dreams would never come true. That year, the family sent Charles to work in a blacking or shoe-polish factory. Charles was deeply marked by these experiences. He rarely spoke of that time of his life. Dickens eventually made very good, but he was so concerned with the poor and needy that, when his pen touched the paper, he had deep insights into the lives of the poor and the dispossessed. A Christmas Carol, probably the most popular piece of fiction that Charles Dickens ever wrote, published in 1843, reflected this to such an incredible extent.
This is also the wonder of Jesus Christ, as he knew what it was like to live this life for real as he passed through, experiencing everything from family, a loving mother and helping those who came to him, instilling love and compassion wherever he went. No wonder we can turn to Jesus in prayer with anything on our hearts, as he is part of our very DNA, in fact the very instigator of it.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 10 – 2nd June
One of the most miraculous things to witness is the birth of a child! If it is your own child, you will have been mentally preparing for that moment for nine months and you will also have been waiting and wondering to see what this little person is like. This little being previously only seen through scans and the odd feel of a kick!
At the moment of birth the first thing the child does is gasp for air. At the birth of my first Son he was rushed away to clear his airways so that he could breathe properly. We breathe without noticing it, it is spontaneous, it is life giving, it is so natural that we take it for granted.
This terrible pandemic virus, which the world has suffered, has very often caused those who are infected to gasp for breath, and to need a respirator in order to survive. Now we are told we can’t get too close to people without masks and even the act of singing in church is at the moment not allowed.
When Christians are born into faith they are also spiritually gasping for breath, they need the oxygen of the Holy Spirit; as to live the Christian Life without it is not possible.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:21-23).
Breathing the Spirit into their souls resulted in the Apostles becoming energised with a new life-giving force which granted fresh ways of telling the wondrous acts of God. They became empowered with the dynamism of the creative life of God, doing the works of Christ. This again reminds us that at the creation itself the Spirit of God moved over the waters and the ruach, a Hebrew word meaning ‘breath, spirit’, the very essence of the Spirit of God breathed the new life of birth into everything it touched.
We pray and long for these days of pandemic to be ended, so that we can all again breathe the fresh air of being with others in the miracle of friendship and families. Being together without stepping back and when we can sing the praises of God and our life-giving creator.
But we all are changed forever because of what we have experienced. Perhaps the rush of life will be changed whereby we treat animals with care and love and respect. Perhaps there will be a greater realization that time isn’t money but time is a deeply precious gift. Perhaps we will take more occasions where we can walk and take awhile to see that incredible horizon, the colour of the sea and the sky, the wonder of the creation and how we must care for one another and the good earth.
Fr. Ron Corne.
Letter 9 – 27th May
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed– in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.
These powerful words from St Paul proclaim the change that will take place when the Lord comes at the end of time. It may not yet be the end of time, but this pandemic has brought upon us massive change in almost every way. In fact a deep crisis, not only in the financial markets but in the way people think, so many are changed from within.
If I had told you in January, that by March you would witness a shut-down world with most of the world’s aircraft grounded, the loss of countless loved ones to a pandemic and most everything different, you would have called me a mad man. Yet this is dramatically what has happened. In other words this experience has helped us to realise that life is fragile, that our human lives are precious and vulnerable, and that, as St Paul said, things can change in the blink of an eye. The world cannot return to how it was, in fact we are living through the emergence of a world that is basically up for grabs. We need to figure out what now is important to us?
We are witnessing that Lockdown has caused clean air and that pollution has declined drastically. People in Venice seeing fish swimming in the canals and others living in Bihar have reported that they can see for the first time in living memory snow-capped mountains and others that they can see the visible peak of Mount Everest.
Can we now see clearly the way forward as Christians? Are we prepared to answer the big questions in life about the environment and the purpose of life and can we proclaim this to those who are seeking? Can we answer the important and fundamental truths of our faith and are we ready to explain to seekers that they too can share in the wonderful message of God’s love for them? That is certainly our task and privilege.
As Spain and other countries proclaim a time of mourning for those who have died let us remember them by going to the garden prepared for the Chelsea Flower Show which itself could only happen online. One of the gardens is based on the 23rd Psalm. The creator of the garden said, “It’s a ‘found’ place in which to escape, to re-engage with nature and strengthen mental health and wellbeing. It has dark valleys and still waters, and has a strong resonace with contemporary life and its stresses. It is a garden that represents a spiritual oasis. Inspired by the landscape of Dartmoor. It’s a ‘found’ place in which to escape, to re-engage with nature and strengthen mental health and wellbeing.
Let us find that place for ourselves where we can sit in prayer with the Lord.
Fr. Ron Corne
Letter 8 – 19th May
Ascension Day in Christian art of the 11th century shows Christ, climbing to the top of the hill and grasping the hand of God, which emerges from a cloud above to pull him into heaven. The Apostles, assembled below, stand looking up watching the event.
In the Book of Revelation it says, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven.” — Revelation 4. I.
God pulling his Son the Lord of life into heaven, like a mountaineer after great exertion on earth is pulled up to the top of the mount is so refreshing as it is rather like us we so often need a hand up, more often than we would like to admit each one of us needs this tug up! Sometimes it’s an individual that gives us a hand up other times it’s a group of people. Many of us are missing the Church Family with its great variety of individuals who keep us going, and sometimes cause us to think wow that person is so incredible or sometimes, also like every family, the reverse! There is now doubt that these have been very difficult days, filled with change, and for some loneliness, for others a sense of confusion. What will the new normal be, none of us knows but we do know this much you will never dampen the human spirit.
The message of the Ascension is plain, that Christ overcame the world, that he defeated the powers of death and hell and that through showing love beyond our wildest imaginings, his heart became the doorway to heaven, and to life and life in all its fullness here on earth. When I was a youngster I was helping a friend who wanted all his soil sieved because it was full of weeds and rubbish. It took ages sieving that soil, but the result was a beautiful layer of earth ready to receive the roots of so many plants that would flourish. This life is rather life that sieving process, the joy and the pain, can you imagine what life is going to be like one day in that place where Christ has gone before? A place filled with all those people whom you have missed so much in your life, parents, friends, loved ones. For the time being we are called to be part of the sieving process going through the good, the bad, the easy, and the difficult. We will get through these pandemic days and we see again our friends and our church filled to its doors with friends and families and that in itself is but a mere shadow of heaven. As Hebrews 5 tells us, these serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was warned when he was about to complete the tabernacle. For God said, Be careful that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown to you on the mountain.
May God bless you this Ascensiontide.
Letter 7 – 12th May
The first charge to all Christians is this:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)
This means caring for one another to the utmost degree and making sure no one is either compromised or put at risk.
With the slight easing of the State of Emergency in Spain certain possibilities regarding our churches becomes conceivable. These possibilities mean that we may enter our buildings for worship, but with stringent regulations in place in relation to distancing, hand cleansing, maximum capacities, the wearing of masks and gloves etc. etc.
I believe that it is not the time that we should be considering opening our church of All Saints, as many of our people fall into the vulnerable category, including those who will be needing to take on the people-facing roles in our church.
Regulations state we cannot meet before or after the service, and that we may only operate to a third of our capacity (booking system), with the congregation wearing face masks, and the spaces must be disinfected beforehand. The use of blessed water or ritual ablutions, among other measures, will not be permitted, a 2 metre distancing, and no singing, no hymn books, and so forth and so on.
I have decided that we should delay opening until at the earliest July. This will remove a great deal of anxiety at this time, and will reassure everyone that when we do reopen, it will be with a great deal more confidence and that we may be able to learn from those who have gone to church slightly earlier.
We will continue of course to offer our wonderful website with a weekly sermon, plus our live worship online on Sundays and our midweek letter and other worship aides. I will also be continuing to contact and speak to our people and soon to hold a zoom coffee morning …on line – bring your own coffee, sorry about that!
Be assured when we do return to our beautiful church and grounds for worship and fellowship that we will be observing whatever regulations are in operation in July, and we will be taking all the precautions possible to keep everyone as safe as possible whilst still creating a spirit of worship and trust.
We will announce in due time the forward date of opening.
With Christian love and fellowship.
Fr. Ron Corne.
All Saints Tenerife
Letter #6 – 5th May
In these recent days of lockdown we have been given a glimpse of the outside world by being allowed out for a prescribed hour in Spain whereas in the UK this has been the guidance from the beginning. I am wondering how you are using your hour of freedom. There was one young lady on the radio who described breathing in the fresh air as she took to her bicycle. We are certainly not made to be cooped up we are made to be free creatures and the world is our oyster. One way of keeping this freedom even when we return to our homes is to begin our day with prayer, yes I know when you get up there is so much to be done! But if you don’t take the opportunity whilst you are in lockdown when are you going to be able to do it? People have said to me over the years that if they begin their day with prayer they get so much more done and things fall into place whereas if they don’t then the reverse is their experience. Therefore they apply the principle that they have committed the day into God’s hands so they are not to worry further just do their best, Jesus said: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”. (Matt. 6.34)
All good sound advice but have you used these days for the practical things? The jobs you never had a chance to tackle and now you have discovered you have the cleanest house in town, or the tidiest shoe cupboard! On a strictly non practical note I have been watching a few art programmes in the evening and one, which is on channel 4 is entitled Art Club to ‘battle the boredom’ of lockdown. It features Grayson Perry and takes viewers “on a journey of art discovery”.
Different artists one of who is Maggi Hambling who says she rises about 5.30am to listen to the bird song and to look at her work. Another said she is doing a simple painting or a sketch of herself each day of lockdown. I guess that’s a bit like the old Fry’s chocolate five boys bar, which had five boys gradually going from crying to smiling or the reverse. We all look different as each day comes and goes (not just our hair growing longer). Some days are happier or sadder than others. Maggi the artist showed us a painting she was working on with virus each side and in the centre a beautiful magnolia growing. A term she used was we must become familiar with our voice on the paper. Each day then we are offering ourselves into God’s care, we are changing, we are seeking to grow, in the sad and the happy. Jesus used the term “you are to become lights of the world” Matthew 5:14-16. All these experiences cause us to grow, the pain, the joy, the boredom, the happiness and the whole gamut of everything is gradually filling us up with wisdom. That wisdom is filling the soul for now and for eternity. Imagine how you will be when you use all this experience in the future you could find it may even change the whole direction of your life as you will look in the mirror and realise you are a changed person with a different goal than you ever thought you had before the lockdown.
Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”.
With Christian Love,
Letter #5 – 28th April
As we move through the season of Easter I am pondering how much resurrection glory you are feeling as you like me are in Lockdown, a phraseology I had never really pondered until a few weeks ago, strange how things can become the norm after such a short while. Like wearing blue rubber gloves and donning a mask and rubbing hand cleanser into our hands and seeing supermarkets with yellow spacers keeping us back from the person in front and keeping away from those whom we love and those whom we want to comfort. Being in Lockdown means the simple things of life such as noticing the change in nature all around us is lost to a feeling that a virus is in everything thereby losing the usual glory of spring. Each day hearing of the large numbers of those who are ill and those who have so sadly died, and seeing images of exhausted medics and those who have given even their own lives in the battle to save the very ill. If anyone would have told us at Christmas that such things would have been the norm in most of the world we would have scoffed and called the messenger an idiot, yet the truth was stranger than fiction as coined by Lord Byron, in the satirical poem Don Juan, 1823: ‘Tis strange – but true; for truth is always strange; Stranger than fiction.
Therefore I really do believe most of us are suffering from a sort of aftershock, and each one of us will be managing our confinement in differing ways. Some of us are on our own; others may be part of a family but each one of these settings will bring its own challenges and blessings. I’m on my own but I am fortunate as a priest as I am more than busy with church work as we are taking many things online in these strange confined days. It is certainly bringing us all new challenges and for me a steep learning curve, as we develop new ways of leading and being Church online without meeting and without a building.
As a priest I guess our training tends to focus anyway on the discipline of just being including of course doing. But the being, the prayerfulness and the reflection are all keynotes in the life of a reflective priest. I once said to a priest far older than me when I was still wet behind the ears what he was most ordained to do? Do he said, well Pray of course !
Well this counts for all of us for we are praying creatures, God made us for relationship with him and for prayer. One of my most favourite hymns is, The day thou gavest Lord is Ended. The words in the third verse are: As o’er each continent and island the dawn leads on another day, the voice of prayer is never silent, nor dies the strain of praise away”.
I notice there’s a great upsurge in not only how to do all sorts of physical exercises in your house or flat but also a new interest in mindfulness and the art of meditation. The benefits of being still and drawing close to your thoughts are well known such as lowering blood pressure, relieving anxiety, lowering your blood cortisol levels and so resulting in feelings of well-being less stress and deeper relaxation. As Christians though lets add to that as our focus must be on Our Lord Jesus in our prayer and thought. Being still with him in meditation and prayer will bring all the above benefits as well as deepening our relationship with the one from whom all good things flow.
Love is the touch of intangible joy;
Love is the force that no fear can destroy;
Love is the goodness we gladly applaud:
God is where love is, for love is of God.
(Alison M. Robertson from Common Ground)
With many Blessings
Fr Ron Corne.
Letter #4 – 22nd April
In the church grounds of All Saints Tenerife there is a beautiful rose garden which was set apart to remember all those who were killed in the air disaster of Dan Air 1008 from Manchester to Los Rodeos (TFN) on the afternoon of April 25, 1980. Roses are a fitting plant to use for this purpose, as they are a sign of new life and most especially so when they are in full bloom, and remind us of the Resurrection. Although the years pass by every soul belongs to God and his reassuring love will have encompassed them all.
As I think of the roses in Tenerife, it also reminds me of the beautiful English rose which connects so well to the homes of many of those who were so tragically killed. One of my last parishes where I served as Rector and Area Dean of Romsey was Mottisfont where the stunning Mottisfont Abbey on the River Test welcomes many visitors into its manicured grounds. This spectacular building originated in 1201 when William Briwere who was right-hand man to four Plantagenet kings, founded the priory of the Holy Trinity. It held the forefinger of St John the Baptist as a sacred relic, and eager pilgrims came to be blessed by the Augustinian Canons. This Abbey contains stunning walled gardens, which are filled with old English roses. Unlike modern species, old-fashioned roses tend to flower just once a year, so their full summer blooming is an extraordinary sight to see and the perfume is subtle and dream like. This reminds us that our lives blossom like the rose and for all of us life can be both beautiful and painful. But our reassurance is in Christ who covers us with his love both those who have died and us today.
Fr Ron Corne
All Saints Tenerife.
Letter #3 – 16th April
“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 this he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (John 20.19-20)
Do you believe in miracles? After a lifetime of being a Christian I can resoundingly say yes I do! The times that Jesus has intervened in my life changing its course and brining his blessings and his very great challenges are many. Its not a simple act of that’s that then prayer answered, no way, this is not how the Lord works, because if God is God and is the Alpha and the Omega then he is outside of time and can see all before it ever happened. He is not the old man in the sky he is the Spirit of new life and renewal, and as that’s the case when we pray to him he can see the consequences millennia ahead. They say that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world will have repercussions on the other side of the world, my goodness how that is so true, just look at the virus as it’s spread everywhere in weeks.
Want a modern day miracle? Captain Tom Moore walking around his garden with the aid of a walker has raised 12 million for NHS charities so they sent soldiers from his old regiment, The Duke of Wellington’s with a guard of honour. Capt. Moore, who aimed to complete the walk before he turns 100 on 30th April, originally hoped to raise £1,000 but smashed his target within days.
Wow that’s a miracle! He said the right sort of people to encourage him surrounded him. Well Jesus was surrounded by a confused and muddled type of people but they were right as he chose them and he knew what they would all have to go through and now he appears to them at the Resurrection, these are the people who will form his new church.
As we move through the lockdown I must encourage our people from All Saints Puerto de la Cruz to be thinking ahead. Like Jesus did and Captain Moore did. Don’t concentrate on the downside of the Virus, no concentrate on what we can do on what you would like to achieve after the Lockdown ends. I’m concentrating on our church and to ideas for the future.
So keep safe, and as Hughie Green used to say on an old TV quiz show when I was a lad, “Look after your dear old mum!” My own lovely Mum died long ago but I often think of her and remember her and that’s a way of loving people as well.
Revd. Ron Corne
Chaplain All Saints.
Letter #2 – 1st April
One of the great characters of the 1970s was a man called Fred Dibnah, a steeplejack, who spent his life demolishing the vast sturdy brick industrial chimneys of the old cotton mills in the North of England. What a character!
I saw these amazing edifices when in my twenties with a group of friends. As you do, at that age, we hired a canal boat and we took to the Cheshire Ring, a circular canal route in the North West of England. It travels through a varied mix of landscapes between Manchester city center and rural Cheshire, with stunning views of the Peak District and the Cheshire Plain. What most impressed me was looking up at those huge chimneys built of red brick as they soared up into the sky.
It was great fun as we tried to navigate this boat along the canal coming to deep gushing locks, turning heavy lock bars and so enabling the water to flood out of the lock, whilst making sure you didn’t upend the narrow boat keeping the descending boat away from the walls as the boat found its new level.
Back to Fred the steeplejack, as he is seen speaking from a chimney high above the City in the 1970’s. Fred was asked if he worried about falling to an instant death, he said, “no I aren’t worried about that, I will die in me bed with me socks on”.
It was a very different age where health and safety didn’t seem to count for much! He would demolish a vast soaring chimney whilst burning the wood out from the incision he had made at its base, and just as it started to crack he would run to safety sounding the horn after the chimney had started to fall.
Why am I mentioning this man of 50 years ago because watching his work as he precariously balanced off the tops of chimneys in a blowing gale (I hate heights) you realise how far we have come, and how precarious life used to be, and we didn’t bat an eyelid even in my lifetime, as he demolished a chimney with no fencing and kids on bikes not far off.
Life is precarious – it always has been, and to be confronted with an unseen enemy that not only can give you a nasty cold, but much worse even kill you, is for us today an incredible wake-up call.
So take on a bit of Fred’s attitude as you lock yourself in, take precautions as instructed of course, use the time for prayer and reflection, and doing the other things you haven’t had time for in living memory (and some you still wont have time for like me as you will find an excuse) and God willing, as Fred said, this ain’t going to get you! Therefore, don’t focus on the virus, but focus on the good things in life, which make life worth living. For me that is being part of a Christian Community, having family and friends and loved ones in contact by phone or the Internet. It’s also the stunning beauty of nature and in Tenerife seeing the enormous cacti, which can burst into flower in many shades of colour and seeing incredible vistas of the deep blue sea on almost every turn.
Finally a lady called Julian of Norwich, a medieval Christian Mystic at the time of the Black Death of 1348–50, came to the conclusion that, ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.’
Keep safe and many blessings.
Revd Ron Corne.
Lockdown has caused me to be working remotely, but praying directly! This is a great opportunity for us to bring change to ourselves and change to the world. Yes praying directly, as Jesus called us to, being assured he will join us in our prayers through the Holy Spirit. It is interesting in the New Testament that none of the disciples could do anything much until the Holy Spirit came. No one dared move from Jerusalem to proclaim or utter the message along its narrow streets to the multitudes until the Holy Spirit came in baptismal power. John could not utter a word, though he had pillowed his head on Christ’s bosom and caught the pulsations of Christ’s heart, and though his brain was full of the wondrous facts of that life and of the wondrous words, which fell from His lips. John must wait until a fuller and richer endowment than all of these came on him. Mary could not grasp the new beloved Son that Jesus said must care for her in his home, though she had nurtured the Christ and stored in her heart and mind and full of holy and motherly memories, until she was empowered by the Holy Spirit.
In these lockdown days its well worth taking time for the closing of the door and being still with Christ and focussing on him, then deeply on the things which you wish to bring to him. Those you are worrying about, the situation which now confronts us, caring also for ourselves.
You see the coming of the Holy Spirit is dependent upon prayer. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” To His disconsolate disciples, He said, “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter.” This law of prayer for the Holy Spirit presses on the Master and also onto the disciples as well.
This is one of the great privileges of being a Christian as Jesus told us he would never leave us or forsake us even to the end of the earth!
Revd. Ron Corne.