Letter from the Minister

If you’ve ever had anything to do with producing a church newsletter, you’ll know how risky it is to predict just when the next issue is likely to appear. The one you are holding is scheduled to hit the pews more or less at the beginning of Lent. But Lent is still a good way off as I write. In fact it is yet another damp evening in the middle of a rain-soaked and rather dispiriting February. Unseasonably, however, and in spite of the drizzle, it’s already with a mild but unmistakable sense of excitement that I'm looking forward beyond Lent to Holy Week and Easter.

Heath Street’s Eastertide looks like another busy one. Under the benevolent guidance of our children’s worker Wilf, a community Passion Play will again take shape in an atmosphere (dare I say) of creative chaos. As that takes shape over the course of Holy Week, mezzo-soprano Ascelina Klee will perform at our lunchtime recital. Holy Saturday will feature a concert of Bolivian baroque music written for Passiontide.

And our brothers and sisters from Christ Church will join us on the morning of Good Friday. At that service the passion narrative for this year (Matthew’s) will be chanted, something which to my knowledge has not been tried here before.

However, the event I’m anticipating with the most unalloyed pleasure is the Kloster concert which will take place on the evening of Good Friday (time tbc). The pleasure is unalloyed in this case principally because my own role in this concert will be minimal. In fact I hope to sit in the audience and enjoy Kloster's music, which I love.

Kloster is the pen-name of Mikael R. Andreasen, a Danish singer, songwriter and producer, not to mention counsellor, hymnbook editor, amateur footballer, beer connoisseur and retired rapper. Of Mikael's half-dozen albums, the one that means most to me is mostly made up of settings of texts by Julian of Norwich, and is called The Waves and Wind Still Know His Voice.

Julian, as I may have mentioned in this newsletter before, is the first female writer in our language to have come down to us. She was on her deathbed when Jesus appeared to her, sharing a remarkable vision of his passion and bringing “comforting words” about his love for Julian herself and for the world in general. Over the course of the next twenty years or so (spoiler alert: Julian didn’t die), Julian had time to write up her “showings” into two prose accounts whose subtle Trinitarian theology Denys Turner has recently discussed to wonderful effect. A handful of excerpts from Julian’s two books - those Mikael selected for his songs - are included in this newsletter.

By my reckoning, this will be the fourth time we have hosted a Kloster performance at the church. Regular readers with particularly long memories may even recall Mikael's first visit in 2013. At that point, concerts - especially of pop music - were something of a novelty at Heath Street. Numbers at that first concert were memorably low. Undeterred, Mikael has returned to London, perhaps encouraged by the fact that everyone who came in off the street for that first concert has been incorporated into the life of the church community in a way no-one could have predicted or anticipated. Mikael's participation in a Maundy Thursday concert/communion stands out in the memory, as does the magical way Mikael shared the good news of the resurrection of the Good Shepherd with one Easter’s unruly crop of egghunting children. Over the years Mikael has become a beloved regular guest in the manse and on occasion a kind host in Copenhagen. The first Easter of the new decade falls on the second Sunday of April, so Kloster will be performing on the evening of the tenth - see the church website for more details soon. Now off to prepare for Lent - where does one get locusts and wild honey in NW3?

With love,

Ewan

ewan_king@mac.com

 


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