Bishop Robert’s Christmas Message 2020

The Bishop in Europe:

The Right Reverend Dr. Robert Innes

In one of our best-loved carols, Christina Rossetti situates the birth of Jesus ‘in the bleak midwinter’. She paints a severe and freezing manger scene, with howling wind and deep snow. She represents the frosted earth and water with iron and stone.


From the biblical narrative, it seems unlikely that Jesus was born in the bleak mid-winter, as the shepherds would not be putting their sheep out to pasture in freezing conditions. But that does not stop us gladly enjoying Rossetti’s romantic poetic licence and reminding ourselves that the conditions of the first Christmas were hard, extraordinarily hard by modern standards.


Mary was a young girl giving birth a long way from home. The town of Bethlehem was crowded with strangers registering with the tax authorities of the occupying powers. Mary laid her new-born baby in an animal’s stone feeding trough. And the first visitors were not close family but rough men from the fields.


It is extremely difficult to recover this first Christmas. The festival has become overlaid with medieval nativity scenes and Romantic or Dickensian winter scenes. In the twentieth century, Christmas became the setting of the perfect family gathering. Most significantly, the run up to the commercial Christmas – the ‘golden quarter’ – is a now a vital part of the retail industry’s overall wellbeing so that vasts sums are expended on advertising to persuade us to acquire more goods and more debt.


But not in 2020. This year it will be very different. Travel bans, lockdowns and quarantines mean it will be harder and perhaps impossible to get together with our loved ones. People are poorer. High streets, at least at the time of writing, are closed in many countries. And even when they re-open, shopping isn’t quite the same when you have to physically distance and wear a mask.


Christmas will be simpler this year. And for many it will be sadder. As Covid-19 has progressed, more and more families have been affected by the virus and its frightening and sometimes long-term symptoms. Some of us have a relative who has been in intensive care, struggling to breathe. Many of us know someone who has very sadly lost their life, and some of us face the first Christmas without someone close to us. This year, perhaps we more intuitively sense the harshness of the manger scene, the cruelty of death, the pain of a bleak mid-winter.


Another well-known – and much older – carol speaks to us about ‘tidings of comfort and joy’. In 2020 we need to hear these tidings. For Christmas is at heart the story of a God who draws near to us in Jesus, sharing the sorrows and joys of human experience. In the mystery of the incarnation, the eternal God wonderfully condescends to be born as a human baby, in the roughest conditions. He is ‘Immanuel’ – the God who is with us.


Whatever conditions you face this Christmas, I hope you will be able to reach out and find the God who is with us. I hope you will take comfort from the presence of God with you, and perhaps also find opportunity to comfort others.


‘God rest you merry’ in modern English means ‘may God grant you peace and happiness’. The unknown author continued:


‘Let nothing you dismay

for Jesus Christ our Saviour was born on Christmas Day.

To save us all from Satan’s power

when we had gone astray

Which brings tidings of comfort and joy.’


I wish each of you and your families comfort and joy as we approach this Christmas season.

Robert Signature


+Robert Gibraltar in Europe

Comfort & Joy

I am the way

Sunday Zoom Worship for November

Welcome to our Sunday worship brought to our homes by Zoom.  After the worship we can have a short chat together. The hymns and other shared texts you might know by heart, or you can print out this service, or you may have a hymn book at home, or you may be happy to listen in silence.

 Until the end of November there is Wednesday evening service at 19.00. The login address for this is on the website. The Sunday worship login address remains the same throughout November – see website. Deacon Christine offers a Saturday morning worship option on Facebook.

 Advent Begins on 29th November. From 1st December until 23rd December there will be a service of Night Prayer (Compline) EVERY night at 21.00. Have a candle ready to light in your home. See website for login.

 The preacher on 15th November is Deacon Christine, and on 22nd November Canon Colin Williams our former Archdeacon


I am the way

Evening Worship – Wednesdays at 19.00hrs (7.00pm) –

A short service for the early evening.

Please join us on Zoom – login details on the website – or say this at home.


Together we say:


1    How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!  ♦

My soul has a desire and longing to enter the courts of the Lord;

my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.

2    The sparrow has found her a house and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young:  ♦ at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

3    Blessed are they who dwell in your house:  ♦ they will always be praising you. [R]

4    Blessed are those whose strength is in you,  ♦ in whose heart are the highways to Zion,

5    Who going through the barren valley find there a spring,  ♦and the early rains will clothe it with blessing.

6    They will go from strength to strength  ♦ and appear before God in Zion. [R]

7    O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;  ♦ listen, O God of Jacob.

8    Behold our defender, O God,  ♦ and look upon the face of your anointed.

9    For one day in your courts  ♦ is better than a thousand. [R]

10  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God  ♦than dwell in the tents of ungodliness.

11  For the Lord God is both sun and shield; he will give grace and glory;  ♦no good thing shall the Lord withhold from those who walk with integrity.

12  O Lord God of hosts,  ♦ blessed are those who put their trust in you.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning is now

and shall be for ever. Amen.


Bible STudies

Pastoral Letter 4 From Fr Leonard

Dear Friends,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

In his letter to the church community in Rome St. Paul says, ‘For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8, 38-39).

I would add to this list Covid-19, the pandemic that has the world in its vice-like grip in increasing numbers yet again. This virus will not separate us from the love of God, nor in our life in the Holy Spirit will it separate us from each other. Our strength together is more than just our meeting together, though being together gathered around the holy table, side by side, is our royal calling as the baptized holy people of God. We pray for that day when this is possible again.

In response to the current developments of the virus the Government has issued new restrictions for places of worship. These restrictions are in place first and foremost to keep us safe. This is how it affects our own situation.

St. Paul’s will be closed for public worship during this period of lockdown. Sunday services will continue on Zoom either from my apartment or occasionally from St. Paul’s Church.

You can access Zoom by going to the St. Paul’s Anglican Church Athens website where you will find the link. It will be the same link each week. In addition Deacon Christine and I will offer additional worship and spiritual resources for you. Chris will offer something weekly on Facebook. Please contact her directly about this. I will make arrangements for a mid-week evening service on Zoom. It will be 4 Wednesdays in November beginning at 19.00 and I will build in time for a chat afterwards. The link for this will be on our website also. The order of service for this will also be on the website.

We will work on ways to keep the monthly raffle draw going.

As we approach the time when the legendary Christmas Bazaar, a great social occasion as well as fund-raiser, would normally be taking place we are all once again reminded of the need to address the loss of income to St. Paul’s. Please use internet banking for your donation, if you possibly can. The details are on our website. Contact me if you have any questions about financial giving to St. Paul’s. If you cannot use the bank, please put aside your normal weekly offering and bring it with you when you next come to St. Paul’s, whenever that might be.

Stay safe and well, and remain thankful to God for his blessing of love, from which nothing can separate us.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Amen.

Father Leonard

Skipton-remembrance poppies

A Service for Remembrance Sunday – 8 November 2020

Welcome to our Zoom service, especially on this Remembrance Sunday. A particular welcome to Her Excellency Kate Smith CMG, British Ambassador, and Captain Tim Ferns, Defence Attache. This Worship is led by The Revd. Canon Leonard Doolan, Senior Chaplain, who is also the preacher. The Noon ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery at Alimos is cancelled.


Please make sure you unmute if you are to speak during the service.

Christina will play some music before we begin

Priest:      Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you

All:            and also with you.

Priest:      O Lord, open our lips

All:            and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Priest:      Give us the joy of your saving help

All:            and sustain us with your life-giving Spirit.


Fr. Leonard then welcomes people informally and then prays:

Ever living God, we remember those whom you have gathered from the storm of war into the peace of your presence; may that same peace calm our fears, bring justice to all peoples, and establish harmony among the nations, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Live Zoom Service for Sunday Worship

New Covid 19 restrictions recently announced means that unfortunately St Paul’s has to close its doors once more to public worship.

This Sunday’s Remembrance Day services both at the Church and at Alimos Cemetery are cancelled, but there will be a Zoom Service broadcast live from the Vicarage.

Services for the next eight weeks will also be Zoomed either from the Vicarage or the Church.  Keep checking the website and our Facebook Page for further information.

Please keep checking the website and Facebook Pages for further updates.

The login details for the Zoom Service are given below:-


All Saints

Feast of All Saints – 1st November 2020


Welcome to St. Paul’s. If you are visiting, or here  for the first time. Due to Covid restrictions we must wear masks at all times in church and garden.

Check our website for information regarding future weeks.


Presiding Priest & Preacher: The Revd. Canon Leonard Doolan  

Deacon: The Revd. Deacon Christine Saccali


Entrance Hymn or Organ
Priest:            In the name of the Father, and of the Son,

and of the Holy Spirit.

All:                  Amen.                                                                                                                      


Priest:            The Lord be with you

All:                  And also with you


Words by Jonny Baker, taken from the book: ‘The Hospitality of God’ by Michael Perham

Deacon:        All are invited, all are included

All are made welcome, none are excluded

This is the table of Christ

Come if you’re young, come if you’re old

Come if you’re broken, come if you’re whole

Come if you’re weary of the trials of life

This is the table of Christ.


Introduction The priest welcomes everyone and introduces the service



There will be a short moment of silence as we bring to mind our wrongdoings


Deacon:        Lord, you are gracious and compassionate:

Lord, have mercy.

All:                  Lord, have mercy.

Deacon:        You are loving to all and your mercy is over all your creation:

Christ, have mercy.

All:                  Christ, have mercy.

Deacon:        Your faithful servants bless your name and speak of your glory:

Lord, have mercy.

All:                  Lord, have mercy.

 Absolution: Almighty God, who forgives all those who are truly repent, have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness and keep you in life eternal; through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Gloria:  Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God, the glory of God the Father. Amen. AMEN.


The Priest then prays the collect for the day

God of holiness, your glory is proclaimed in every age: as we rejoice in the faith of your saints, inspire us to follow their example with boldness and joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Cinnamon Sticks C

Christmas Online Bazaar

Due to current Covid restrictions, and our precarious financial situation, we will not be able to hold a Christmas Bazaar this year – the first time in over 60 years.  HOWEVER, our beautiful Christmas Decorations, and Sweets will be on sale online and at the Church after the services.  Browse through our gallery of decorations here.  You can purchase them online through Paypal on our Donations page and collect them in a couple of weeks at the Church.  Don’t forget to indicate which item you are purchasing!


Candles cost  €8.00  and come gift wrapped and bagged.  Cinnamon Stick decorations cost €7.00.



St Paul's Logo f.i.

Last Sunday after Trinity (Bible Sunday) 25th October 2020

Welcome to St. Paul’s Athens especially if you are here for the first time or visiting Athens. Welcome if you are joining us on Zoom. Please take this sheet away with you to use during the week. Our Harvest celebration has been postponed. The presiding priest and preacher is The Revd. Canon Leonard Doolan. The deacon is the Revd. Christine Saccali. Covid 19 restrictions apply in the church AND in the garden.


Entrance The organ will play

Priest:     In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

The Lord be with you.

All:          and also with you