Although All Saints’ is closed at this time, our resident chaplain, Fr Ron, is still working on services and messages to the congregation, posted here and on Facebook, and by email to church members, and is looking forward to when the Church can reopen and meet you all.
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.