The Vicar's Christmas Epistle;

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Beloved in Christ, be it our joy and delight this Christmastide to hear again the message of the Angels, and to return in Heart and mind even unto Bethlehem, and to see this thing which is come to pass, and a babe lying in a manager… and to that end here are our Christmas and NYE Services.
Sunday 17th December
6pm         Nine Lessons and Carols
Christmas Eve – Sunday 24th December
8am         Holy Communion
11am       Mattins
4.30pm    Christingle Service
11.30pm  First Communion of Christmas (Midnight Mass)
Christmas Day –  Monday 25th December
8am        Holy Communion
10am      Family Service
11am      Mattins
New Year’s Eve - Sunday 31st December 2023
8am        Holy Communion
10am      Family Service
11am      Mattins

There is some sad news which I must share with you all:
On the night of the 28th/29th of November we suffered a break-in and burglary at Chelsea Old Church. Thankfully the damage was limited and no-one was present and therefore no-one was harmed, but several items of our silverware were stolen. What’s more, the More Chapel Cross was damaged when it was used as a make-shift crowbar. We also give thanks that, while an internal window was smashed, none of our stained glass was broken, and none of our monuments suffered any vandalism.

The real loss is connected to the meaning of the silverware which had, of course, been given in memory of past parishioners and their loved ones. The incident and our loss got me thinking about collective memory, our identity, and where we keep our stories of the past. As a church we have suffered significant loss in the past century, most dramatically when the church was bombed in 1941. Thankfully our monuments were salvaged but still bear visible scars of our experience.

People often ask me about the history of our church building, and when I think of the continuity we enjoy David Hume’s words from his A Treatise of Human Nature come to mind. In the Treatise Hume compared this continuity of identity to a scenario in which: ‘a church, which was formally of brick, fell to ruin, and that the parish rebuilt the same church of free-stone, and according to modern architecture. Here nether the form nor the materials are the same, nor is there anything common to the two objects, but their relation to the inhabitants of the parish: and yet this alone is sufficient to make us denominate them the same.’

While the circumstances of the example are different from ours (our rebuild job was a pretty faithful reconstruction) the quality of thought translates neatly and might serve us as we consider replacing the chalices and patens, plate, and other stolen items. Our relation to this place, and the things in it, and the faith nourished here is what gives them significance and meaning.

As a Christian community, our central act of remembering is that of Holy Communion, as we remember Christ’s ‘one oblation of Himself once offered… for the sins of the whole world’ and in doing so we are reminded of our communion, not only with Him, but with all of those in the Church Militant and Victorious. Our worship, ‘the regular business of literally making our own the rhythms and vocabulary of another age’, is the evident mark of our Christian continuity. Our collective memory, then, is most present in the acts and words of our worshiping community. And so we find that, even in our material loss, our memory and continuity with the past remain firm in the spiritual covenant we have with God and with those who have gone before us in the faith.

We are very much looking forward to welcoming those of you who can make it to Chelsea Old Church over Christmas, and to those who are away, we send you our very best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Yours in Christ,
The Reverend Max Bayliss
Chelsea Old Church 



The Reverend Max Bayliss

020 7352 5627


Sophie Wilson

020 7795 1019

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