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The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great Crosby

Saint Faith’s Prayer for Mission

God of unchanging power, your Holy Spirit enables us to proclaim your love in challenging times and places:
give us fresh understanding and a clear vision, that together we may respond to the call
to be your disciples and to rejoice in the blessings of your kingdom;
we ask this in the name of Him who gave His life that ours might flourish,
your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


If you would like to receive a postal copy of Newslink  each month, free of charge, email the Editor 


August 2007

From the  Ministry Team

On August 6th we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration. This strange, mysterious, rather frightening event that took place away in the hills, was a sign – was something with a message – for Peter, James and John. A sign that their leader, teacher and friend was, in some mysterious way, the reflection of God. Indeed, more than a reflection; the love of God, the compassion of God, the truth and the creativity of God – all this was embodied in a human form, the incarnation of God himself. This was the realization that had swept through Peter and brought out his great cry of recognition and adoration – “You are the Christ of God!” (Luke 9 : 20)

Now he and the others – the “Inner Circle” of the apostolic band – are being given confirmation of this “great leap forward” here, on the Mount of Transfiguration. And we may also see here that they are being given a sign, a foretaste, of the glory that is to come, to help them through the panic, horror and pain of the Master’s arrest, trial and terrible death upon the Cross. Something they could recall in the days of darkness and the nights of despair.

How natural that Peter should desire to hold on to that fleeting glimpse of glory and splendour; he wanted to have them enshrined together, Jesus, Moses and Elijah, as they were in the light and glory on the hill-top.

But that was not possible; yes, Christ was revealed for a moment in his power and majesty, but the painful lesson had to be taught that his final triumph and glory could only come through his own voluntary suffering and death, and the desolation, humiliation and fear of the disciples had to be endured before they could themselves come to share in the triumph of the resurrection.

We find it equally difficult, do we not? Difficult to accept the paradox and contradiction of finding life by losing life, gaining life through dying, coming through to victory through defeat, understanding power through weakness, finding wisdom through foolishness.

And yet we are being shown, in all sorts of ways, just this kind of contradiction. The example of Jesus is the supreme example of this; and through it, God teaches us, as Jesus taught his disciples, to learn to look at life and death, the world and ourselves, as through God’s eyes rather than our own, and to listen to his beloved Son, his Chosen One, and follow him.

We shall not fully understand the Light upon the Mount of the Transfiguration, until we see, after our resurrection, the glorified Christ in his everlasting Kingdom. But even now, the Mount of the Transfiguration, for us, reminds us of the importance and the need for quiet contemplation, for placing ourselves in the love and power of Christ and entirely in his hands, to learn the lessons of that love and that power.

For us, the Mount of the Transfiguration is the great example of the Upper Room, the hill-tops and all those remote and quiet places, away from the busy world and the rush and bustle of everyday life, where the saints  have communed with God and taught us how we can find him in the solitude of prayer and quiet meditation.  

With every Blessing,

Fr Dennis
The Missionary Position
Fr Neil

“First sunday of every month: 6 – 6.45 in church, 7 – 11: lion pub, eucharistic worship – stunning music - intelligent thinking….”

Don’t worry – it’s not happening at St. Faith’s… at least not yet! These headlines are to be found on a banner hanging from the railings of Liverpool Parish Church (Our Lady & St. Nicholas) where after a period of consultation and discussion they are beginning to hold a new service, in the Eucharistic catholic tradition, entitled “Six at Nicks”. It is one of so many examples of churches who share our catholic tradition but who also share a vision of a church seeking to grow, expand and develop, taking into account the place people really are at in the 21st century.

I have recently marked my 16th anniversary of being a deacon and the way the Church has changed in those 16 years is staggering. I remember the outcry there was about more shops being open on Sunday and I was among many to sign the “Keep Sunday Special” campaign! It seems like another age!

For decades St. Faith’s has enjoyed a reputation for very much being in the forefront of anything new in the Church. It is a reputation I hope we can retain rather than lose.

Exciting things are planned for our future and following on from last month’s Vicar’s letter I now intend, with this article as the second in such a series, to include something in every edition of Newslink to keep people up to speed with our plans and hopes for mission. The day we have nothing to say about our mission is the day we turn the lights out and shut up shop!

Five people from among our two churches will in September begin the “Mission Shaped Ministry” course being run by the Diocese. Please pray for them (Fred Nye, Jackie Parry, Cynthia Johnson, Kari Dodson and Diana Waters) and for the success of the course which is already oversubscribed. I hope it will bring some new ideas to our own situation as well as learning from success stories in other parishes. There are plenty to listen to! I hope the course will also affirm and encourage us in the many good things that are already happening in both parishes. A number of parishes this year have followed our lead and begun an over-65’s Holiday Club!

The Ministry Team will again be having its annual away-day in the autumn. This year we are not going to talk about money and buildings but we are going to be selfish and concentrate on ourselves, or rather the need to be revitalized and challenged in our own vision for ministry. If we are to lead effectively then we have to start with ourselves and look at what makes us tick spiritually and what excites us (or doesn’t!). If we aren’t excited then we are not going to excite anyone else! We are fortunate that we will have with us for the day Fr. Damien Feeney who is Assistant Missioner in the Blackburn Diocese. Fr. Damien is part of the “Leading Your Church into Growth” team which has run successful conferences for many years. He has also been involved in a response, from a catholic perspective, to the report “Mission Shaped Church” and some of his articles on modern catholic Eucharistic worship have been published. I am grateful to him for agreeing to come and help us in our thinking.

Lastly, the Ministry Team at its last meeting agreed to invite Phil Pawley, Liverpool Diocesan Missioner, to come and work with us in one of his specialist areas which is about working on Inspiring Worship Services. Phil comes from a very different background to our own but is a passionate ambassador for Jesus Christ and for the Gospel. I think we will find what he says challenging, and possibly uncomfortable: being told the truth can often be like that! We may also want to challenge him!

There will be more in next month’s magazine but I finish with some information about the process which Phil will undertake. As you will see, there is going to be plenty to challenge us!

Inspiring Worship Services
An inspiring worship service is one where a person is likely to encounter God, where the music is spiritually helpful and appropriate, the teaching is relevant to daily life, the facilities and people are warm and welcoming, and where children are properly cared for.

Key components measured in the survey
Inspiring (stirring, rousing, moving, exciting, stimulating)
Oriented towards encountering Christ
God centred and celebrative music
Old and new used creatively
Led by a person who is themselves a worshipper
Music and musicians are servants to the service, not the masters
Life transforming preaching
Engages mind, emotions and will
Stimulates to action
Well illustrated and ample ideas for application
Deals with day-to-day issues that affect people’s lives
Care for children
Holistic rather than a Bible story time
Appropriate to age
Well facilitated and in acceptable facilities
Christ centred ‘children’s church’ rather than a baby-sitting service
Visitor friendly
First impressions are that it is welcoming but not overbearing
Members feel happy to regularly bring others
Seeker sensitive service and environment but not compromising truth
Atmosphere of peace because conflicts are not left to fester

How to create inspiring worship services:
Teach about worship – don’t expect people to know what it is
Encourage an expectation to meet with God personally
Expect people to strive for unity and peace in the congregation (Ps 133)
Train worship leaders and musicians to be worshipers themselves
Consider age and culture but don’t be enslaved to either old or new
Be creative and adventurous in service format
Visit churches with strong inspiring worship and growing congregations
Take members to New Wine/Soul Survivor/Spring Harvest/Green Belt/Taize to experience other styles of worship.

God of unchanging power
your Holy Spirit enables us
to proclaim your love
in challenging times and places:
give us fresh understanding
and a clear vision
that together we may respond
to the call to be your disciples
and so to rejoice
in the blessings of your kingdom;
we ask this in the name of Him
who gave His life that ours might flourish,
your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Oh Yes It Is!
Leo Appleton

It’s that time of year again, when I like to alert people of the forthcoming pantomime auditions!...'Oh Yes It Is…’ No sooner have we packed Cinderella and her ugly sisters away, than it’s time to light the spotlights and take to the stage again for our 2008 United Benefice pantomime! I am keen to try (for the moment anyway) to get into the habit of making it an annual event again, as it has been such great fun for all those involved, and it is an event which brings the United Benefice together, and encourages participation from the whole family of our two churches, and most notably it is a wonderful experience for the children involved. And it is for these reasons, and not (not just? Ed) because I like dressing up as a woman, that I would like to propose that during the week beginning 11th February 2008, our United Benefice pantomime will be ‘Snow White’.
Last year we cut down our rehearsal schedule by not starting to rehearse until mid October. I would like to propose an even shorter rehearsal schedule this year commencing in November, allowing more free weekends for those involved. We have become pretty good at putting these pantomimes on over recent years, so I would hope that the usual suspects will want to get involved again, and encourage any newcomers to the stage (or behind the scenes). I hope we can increase the number of children involved in ‘Snow White’, as there will be a few principal roles especially for them. I will distribute a form  during summer in advance of the auditions, which will take place in St Mary’s church hall during the morning of Saturday 22nd September. I look forward to seeing you all there.

Claim to Fame ?
An interesting item culled from ‘Parish Pump’ magazine insert resource.

The city of Liverpool has many claims to importance, but Merseyside, the county in which the city resides, has one especially for Christian people - it has the highest percentage of its population in church every Sunday! At 8.7% it is more than Greater London at 8.3%, and well above the overall figure for England of 63%.

Merseyside, or Liverpool, hosts many Irish people, who have immigrated there ever since the days of the potato famines of the mid-19th century. As many Irish people are Catholics, Liverpool has an impressive number of Catholics who go to Mass every Sunday. Catholics form 60% of Liverpudlian churchgoers, the highest percentage in the country, the next nearest being 52% in Cleveland (another area of intense Irish immigration) and 45% in Lancashire. The Channel Islands have many Catholics also, 51%, but not from Ireland.

Roman  Catholics  have much larger churches than Protestants,  and this is no exception in
Liverpool, where the average Catholic church has 433 people attending. This simply means that the other churches in Liverpool average only 90 each, still much higher than the 67 for all England, which includes many very small rural churches.

In the Wirral, on the west side of the River Mersey, where Birkenhead is situated, 10.9% of the population go to church, dropping just 11 % in the seven years to 2005. Other parts of Merseyside have seen much greater drops in attendance - 71,000 Catholics attended Mass in 2005 but there were over 220,000 in 1998. (Food for thought there! Ed.)

Words for the Feast of Mary
(August 15th)

The Blessed Virgin Mary Compared to a Window

Because my will is simple as a window
And knows no pride of original birth,
It is my life to die, like glass, by light:
Slain in the strong rays of the bridegroom sun.
Because my love is simple as a window
And knows no shame of original dust,
I longed all night, (when I was visible) for dawn my death:
When I would marry day, my Holy Spirit:
And die by transsubstantiation into light.
For light, my lover, steals my life in secret.
I vanish into day, and leave no shadow
But the geometry of my cross,
Whose frame and structure are the strength
By which I die, but only to the earth,
And am uplifted to the sky my life.
When I became the substance of my lover,
(Being obedient, sinless glass)
I love all things that need my lover‘s life,
And live to give my newborn Morning to your quiet rooms,
Your rooms, that would be tombs,
Or vaults of night, and death, and terror,
Fill with the clarity of living Heaven,
Shine with the rays of God’s Jerusalem:
O shine, bright Sions!

Because I die by brightness and the Holy Spirit,
The sun rejoices in your jail, my kneeling Christian,
(Where even now you weep and grin
To learn, from my simplicity, the strength of faith).
Therefore do not be troubled at the judgements of the thunder,
Stay still and pray, still stay, my other son,
And do not fear the armies and black ramparts
Of the advancing and retreating rains:
I’ll let no lightning kill your room’s white order.
Although it is the day’s last hour,
Look with no fear:
For the torn storm lets in, at the world’s rim,
Three streaming rays as straight as Jacob’s ladder:
And you shall see the sun, my Son, my Substance,
Come to convince the world of the day’s end, and of the night,
Smile to the lovers of the day in smiles of blood;
For though my love, He’ll be their Brother,
My light - the Lamb of their Apocalypse.

Thomas Merton
The Assumption
No painter ever caught the magic other going -
This was a matter of an inward growing,
Simple and imperceptible as thought.
It was no pageant wrought
Of sounding splendour, welter of gold bars
Of molten day, mad stars,
Flurry of quick angels’ winging,
Bursts of their laughter ringing
In wild bliss.
The simple fact is this:
Love conquered at long last.
Her eager soul fled fast
With a great gladness like a song
Unto to her Spouse above,
And her pure flesh would not be parted long
For sheer love.

Joachim Smet O’Carm

Flower Power

A very big ‘thank you’ to Dave and May Clark for once again giving us so many beautiful hanging baskets and tubs two weeks running to raffle off for Church funds. The total raised was a splendid £140.00  Thank you, Dave!

Over-65’s Holiday Club 2007
Ron Rankin

This year saw our second over-65s Holiday Club take place from Monday 18th to Friday  22nd June. Again we were provided with a full and varied programme to keep us both occupied and entertained.

Monday morning was just a settling in period, tea/coffee and biscuits were provided plus a simple quiz, and time to talk to people that we don’t often meet. In the afternoon we had a visit from two members of staff from the Waitrose Supermarket in Formby, plus two of their local produce suppliers. They were obviously keen to promote the fact that they do endeavour to support local produce. It made a change to pick up a pack of tomatoes or strawberries and be able to read the Name and Address of the grower, rather than the bland statement, Produce of Country ---, which could be several thousand miles away. Tasting this local produce made me realise that my taste buds still functioned.

Tuesday morning was cake decorating, not my ‘cup of tea’ as they say, of more interest to the ladies, who outnumber the men. I was, however, quite prepared to eat any samples that came my way. After lunch it was off to St. Helens to visit Pilkington’s World of Glass, a fascinating place and well worth the visit.

Wednesday morning was ‘pampering morning’. Several people came from OPERA, an organisation dedicated to helping people of mature years. We had relaxation exercises, were offered back massage plus having our arms and hands massaged with fragrant oils. The afternoon was time for the more energetic types, and yes there were some, to have a go at Line Dancing. I confine myself to being a spectator.

Thursday was a full day excursion to Llandudno. An unscheduled stop on the way meant that it was time for lunch when we arrived. Lunch was what else but, fish, chips, and mushy peas plus bread and butter, enough to satisfy the largest appetite. After lunch it was do what you wanted until time to leave for home. For Laura, Peggy and I this meant a leisurely stroll in glorious sunshine along the Prom.

Friday, our last day, we had a choice of films to watch in the morning. The chosen film was ‘Ladies in Lavender’ starring Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. After lunch, and before afternoon  Cream  Tea,  we were treated  to a recital by the maestro  himself,  Father  Neil, playing on St. Mary’s Church organ. To serve cream tea this year we had a male and a female ‘Jeeves’ both complete with black tie and tails.

Whilst the foregoing can give some idea of the activities we took part in, what cannot be measured is the obvious pleasure that some people got from just being in good company for a whole week. Besides the activities this is a most important aspect of the holiday.

Our thanks, for a very enjoyable five days, are extended to that indefatigable pair, Joan Tudhope and Lynne Connolly, who planned the whole week. We must not forget their helpers either, Linda Dixon and Peter Connolly, both of whom finished up playing Jeeves.

Ex Cathedra
Our Man for the Ministry Makes it!
Chris Price

Sunday, July 1st,was a great day for our churches – and in particular for Martin Jones. We have followed with interest and not a little anxiety his attempts to be accepted for training for the ordained ministry, rejoiced at his eventual acceptance, and eagerly read his termly bulletins reporting on the ups and downs of training. Finally, many of us made the happy pilgrimage to the cathedral to support him as the Bishop of Liverpool ordained him deacon.

The occasion was an entirely splendid one. More than in the past, perhaps, those present must surely, like me, have felt caught up in and really part of the vastly impressive process – processions, music, liturgy, words and silence – that took eleven candidates from the laity to the ordained ministry. It was with a real sense of joy and triumph that we met the newly-Reverend Martin Jones in the well of the nave after two hours of pomp and ceremony – and a true sense of family celebration in St Faith’s hall afterwards. Martin was overwhelmed by the rousing applause that greeted his entry there, as well as by the gifts that awaited him.

Some of my photos can be seen online. When Martin has caught his breath (magazine deadlines are only relatively elastic, even for clergy!) he will let us know how he is feeling. Meanwhile, and for the rest of what will surely be a most memorable ministry, we commend him to the parishes of Winwick, Hollinfare and Glazebury.

Below is the text of Fr Neil’s sermon at St Faith’s on the previous Sunday, which focused on Martin’s then forthcoming ordination.  

Preparing the Way of the Lord
Fr Neil

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of John the Baptist. With two exceptions, whenever the church celebrates a Saint’s Day it remembers the day on which the person died, or was martyred, recalling their birthday into heaven. But there are two exceptions: the Feast of the Birthday of Mary on September 8th and today’s feast. John the Baptist also has a feast day on Aug 29th, the Beheading, but the Church gives today’s feast prominence in the life of John the Baptist.

Each year in Advent we focus for one of the four Sundays on the ministry of John the Baptist – his is usually the third of the Advent candles lit. Hence the singing of the hymn today: “On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry...”

Focussing on John the Baptist today reminds us that all share in the task of preparing the way of the Lord. For that was John’s message: he preached a message of repentance to those who would hear, and his ministry was devoted to preparing his people to receive the message and the person of Jesus. The little we are told about him in the Gospel tells us that John was something of an individual character. The Bible tells us that he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching, clothed not in the soft garments of a courtier but in those ‘of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle about his loins’; and ‘his meat’ - he looked as if he came neither eating nor drinking (Matthew 11:18; Luke 7:33) – ‘was locusts and wild honey.

So if the term existed at the time he was probably a “trendly-lefty” or a “hippy”, dressed not in a smart tailored cassock from Rome but simple garments, enjoying a rather simple life of vegetarian fare rather than rump steak and claret.

And of course John’s demeanour and simple way of life was nothing compared to the simplicity of the One nailed to the cross. A reminder that God’s glory and his ways are to be found more in the simple than the grand.

Many of us will be present at the ordination service of Martin Jones next week and will witness five men and six women committing themselves to a particular service in the church. It is a public event and increasingly in ministry there are high levels of accountability. Priests and deacons are called to be stewards of the gifts entrusted to them, and the greatest gift is God’s people.

Martin, from next Sunday life will never be the same again. How can it be? You will be anointed by God’s Holy Spirit for a particular service. From that there is no turning back.

But that public commitment is not the only way to serve the Lord. Each one of us, by virtue of our baptism, is called to love and serve the Lord and his world. Each and every one of us is called to a ministry within the Church.

How would you fare if you had to give an account of your ministry to the Lord today? For we believe that at the end of our lives we will be judged by the Lord, fashionable or not, and we must be prepared to give an account of how we have served him as Christian disciples.

How does God call? In one sense that’s a very difficult question to answer. If God speaks to people individually, then how can we measure something so personal? That is why we belong to a church which believes in an ordered way of working. Vocations advisers can never be experts, but those with proven experience can help someone to try to understand how and why he or she feels called to a particular ministry.

God can call in many varied and unexpected ways. And in ways that are uncomfortable. In opportunities presented to us; through prayer; through liturgy; through the example of another human being; in times of crisis; when we’ve been pushed into doing something and are surprised to find that we can do it! We must always be open to God’s call to come when we least expect it.

For God calls all of us. Those who go forward for ordination are ordinary people who one day knelt down and said their prayers and heard a particular call to them. That could happen to any of you, beware next time you pray! Priests, contrary to popular belief, do not come from Planet Zog, they do not just materialize when the mood takes them, they are called, and examined, and chosen from among the pews containing ordinary women and men.

It’s not just that we ourselves need to be open to God’s call, but open to the fact that He may call other people who are very different to us. The outsider may judge that weaknesses may deem a person unfit for ministry. And let’s be realistic, weaknesses take many forms – be they physical, spiritual or emotional. In God’s eyes those weaknesses may indeed be the very strengths they bring to their ministry. Those of you who remember the good old Evensong hymns may remember the hymn “At even when the sun was set”. There is a very poignant line in that hymn “and those who fain would serve thee best are conscious most of wrong within”. So this Jesus who came not to call the healthy but the sick, also calls you and me. Perfect people aren’t called! So if you are perfect, you can breathe a sigh of relief! God won’t be troubling you!

In trying to understand ‘how’ God calls and ‘what’ he calls us to we have to acknowledge two things: firstly, it has to start with prayer. How can we ever begin to listen to God if we don’t stop our busy lives to listen to Him. There is no substitute for prayer! As Archbishop Rowan Williams puts it: “If we are busy and bossy with each other, we are likely to become busy and bossy with God!”

One writer puts it: “Prayer is both a resting in and a wrestling with God”.

Secondly, as a result of that ‘wrestling’ we have to face the sometimes difficult reality that what God wants from us is not always what we think we should be doing. “Your/Thy will
be done,” we say in the Lord’s Prayer. That is the most authentic form of Christian prayer ever. But how often do we say it and mean it?

S. Barnabas is known as the one who encourages. The collect for his feast says: Bountiful God… who poured your Spirit upon your servant Barnabas and gave him grace to encourage others… And so it seems appropriate that we learn that lesson from the prayer for his feast-day, that we ought to encourage each other. Encouraging and supporting each other is one of the ways Christians grow. And as we grow together and affirm each other we can help one another to discover the gifts that lie within each one of us. We can be excellent at criticizing one another, but not so quick to encourage sometimes.

I have known people to attend a vocations conference convinced that they have been called to one particular ministry only to discover that perhaps they are called to another ministry they had never thought about.

A most unlikely contender on the face of it, John the Baptist had an important ministry. He was a man with a mission, and that mission was to bring people to a deep knowledge of God’s love for them. That is the mission of the Church today and that mission can only be undertaken when we ourselves have heard the call to repentance and have experienced God’s overwhelming love. When we have come into contact with that life-changing force then we will want to stop at nothing until it is shared with all those around us. Priests, deacons, laity, we all have a part to play together in sharing in John the Baptists’ Message and Mission. John led his people to welcome and accept Jesus. May we follow that example and do the same, the Lord being our helper.

100+ Club Winners for July
1st    £140    John Weston
2nd   £100    M. Taylor
3rd    £75     D.Jones
4th    £50      L.Appleton (oh yes it is! Ed)

Thank You
To the family of St Faith: Many thanks for your thoughts and prayers on the occasion of my ordination to the Priesthood. Love and God bless
Liz Halbert

Liz, (nee Prothero) has strong links with St Faith’s in past years, and Fr Neil was present at her ordination recently. It was good to see her in the cathedral supporting Martin, and at the reception later. See our picture pages. On the same topic, readers will remember the visits of Josie Williams to St Faith’s during her pastoral placement some months again as part of her training for the Ministry. She shared Martin Jones’s big day as she too was made deacon on July 1s. We wish her every blessing in her ministry ‘down the road.’

Sunday 12th August at 4pm
for both congregations in the Vicarage Garden. Come along and enjoy some good food and company. We will be sending invitations to families who have recently had baptisms as well as parents of the children’s Holiday Club so please be there to give them a good welcome.
Quiz & raffle. PBAB!  (This possibly means ‘Please Bring A Brolly’. Ed)
See you there!!

Our Day Out

The United Benefice is organizing a day out to Bowness by Lake Windermere on Tuesday 14 August.  Bowness is a popular holiday village with every sort of shop you could think of.  There are cafes, restaurants, pubs and places to visit, including “The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction”.  Cruises leave Bowness for Brockhole and Ambleside in the north, Lakeside in the south and the popular 45 minute Islands Cruise.  From Lakeside there is the option to take the steam train to Haverthwaite and there is also the Aquarium which is worth a visit.  The coach will depart from St Faith’s at 9:15am and from Five Lamps at 9:30am, arriving by 11:30am.  The coach will leave Bowness 4:30 – 5:00pm so we should be back by 7:00pm.  The anticipated cost will be £10 per adult and £6 per child. 

Sexist Storytime
Three men were hiking through a forest when they came upon a large, raging, violent river. Needing to get across, the first man prayed: ‘God, give me the strength to cross this river.’ Immediately, God gave him strong arms and legs and he was able to swim across in about two hours, despite almost drowning twice.

Seeing this, the second man prayed: ‘God, give me strength – and some equipment to cross this river.’ Immediately, God gave him strong arms and legs and a rowing boat, and he was able to row across the river, despite almost capsizing once.

Seeing what had happened to both men, the third man prayed: ‘God, please give me the strength, the tools and the intelligence to cross this river.’ Immediately, God turned him into a woman! She checked the map, walked two hundred yards upstream and walked across the bridge.

Some Tips for Life

Always keep your words soft and sweet. One day you may have to eat them.
Accept that some days you’re pigeon, and some days you’re the statue.
Drive carefully. It’s not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.

Mountain-top Magic

Everyone will have at some time or other experienced an unexpected ‘magic moment’ whilst on holiday. This recently happened to us during our holiday in Bavaria, although it was actually more than just a moment. It was a beautiful day, sunshine, blue skies, white fluffy clouds and pleasantly warm. We decided that the views from the top of the Rauschberg mountain would in the circumstances be fantastic, so we took the cable-car ride up. As we climbed out at the top we could hear music, and I suddenly remembered that I had seen a notice somewhere announcing that a Mass would be celebrated up there that morning.

As we rounded a corner the music became clearer, deep, sonorous and echoing round the mountains. Up on a hillside outlined against the sky were three men in Loden Green uniforms, playing the incredibly long Alpenhorns. We were told that the music was a tribute to the new mountain-top cross standing nearby which had just been dedicated during the Mass. The Mass was over, and people  had already made their way to the  alpen restaurant just further along the path. The sight as we drew near was amazing. It seemed as though the whole village had turned out for the occasion. People were seated at tables whilst busy waitresses ran in and out bearing huge platters of hearty Bavarian fare. Brimming tankards were being raised and the smartly-dressed members of the brass band were assuaging their thirst before settling themselves to play for the crowds.

We managed to find two seats at a table amongst all this revelry and ordered our coffee, then spent our time people watching. Everyone, young and old, was wearing full Bavarian costume, with the children, who numbered around 40-50, looking particularly delightful. The women were wearing the traditional Dirndl costumes, and all sported the same hairstyle. The hair was combed back and a circular plait surrounded the back of the head with an identical hair slide adorning the flat part in the middle. We were told that some plaits were the women’s own hair but others would be hair pieces which could cost around 250 euros, and that this particular hair-style was peculiar to this area. The complete Dirndl costume would cost around 2,000 euros.

After a while, the band started playing the traditional ‘oompah’ music and everyone was swaying and waving their glasses - including the four nuns and parish priest who occupied one of the tables.  Suddenly the band started playing ‘Happy Birthday’ and as we looked round we saw a young man in a wheel-chair smiling delightedly as everyone stood and faced him to sing and clap.

Overhead, hang-gliders soared like giant butterflies against a startlingly blue sky, and we could see the tops of mountains which stood in Austria and in Italy. Down below in the valley, the golden onion-shaped dome of the church glittered in the sun. The church had on this occasion however, come to the mountain-top, and we were so glad that in a small way we had been part of that wonderful occasion.

Joyce Green

Making Connections

I have a new colleague at my work with Church Action on Poverty. Her name is Robina, and she is a Sunni Muslim whose family originally came to Britain from Pakistan. Staff in our office have had to get used to a few changes. It was strange at first to work alongside someone who wears the hijab (the head covering that many Muslim women wear) and to hear from her about the very different approach to gender, marriage, spirituality and all sorts of other issues in her community. We have had to provide her with a prayer room, a place for her prayer mat, and better washing facilities so that she can fulfil the demand of her faith for prayer five times a day, and the ablutions which must precede prayer.

Perhaps more interesting are some of the ways in which our two faith traditions meet - remembering how Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Moses and others of our own prophets, all have their place within Islam and are written about in the Koran.

Most importantly for my work at Church Action on Poverty, it is so very clear that the Islamic faith, like our Christian faith, strongly demands that disciples work together for social justice in our society.

But what is most surprising – and disturbing – is to recognise that sometimes it is so much easier to make connections with someone who is very different to me, than with someone who is just a bit different to me. Our own worldwide Anglican church is currently in the process of splitting itself apart on a theological dividing line between conservatives and liberals around the issue of homosexuality and the interpretation of scripture. Listening to the debate it is sometimes hard to remember that those slinging insults at each other are part of the same church, and have so very much in common, and a wonderful faith inheritance which should be binding them together in worship of God and in service to the world.

This sort of inter-Anglican divide has been most prominently illustrated by the controversy around a public statement by Dr Richard Turnbull, the principal of Wycliffe Hall Theological College – historically a very evangelical institution. His recent address gave dire  warnings  about  ‘Catholic  understandings  of  the  church’  and  the  danger  of

‘liberal evangelicals’. It was a serious attack on people you might think would be allies in Christian mission – despite differences.

Anthropologists have suggested that this sort of conflict with those most close to us is something that goes deep in the human psyche and in human culture. It is about order, and clear boundaries around things, and the fear of our own boundaries being breached by challenges just at the edges of how we see things. We prefer things to be in their place and clearly categorised, and great anxiety is produced when we encounter people who are category-breakers. Something of this sort of anxiety is present in most churches, and people get at loggerheads with each other over things which in the big scheme of things are absolutely insignificant. Like what sort of music we have, or whether or not we should have incense, or whatever.

Jesus was a category breaker: someone who pushed the boundaries which conservative traditionalists had wrapped around his religion. He did that in order that his faith tradition could once again be full of life and speak to people in his generation. And it was his willingness to broach the established order of things which led to his expulsion and death because it was a threat to the established order.

Like any congregation, we are fearful of change, especially when what we feel are cherished parts of our tradition are shifting. It is then that we need to ask what it is that is really central to our faith and each other, rather than what it is that is just central to us.

Fr Mark

‘Floods are Judgement on Society, say Bishops’

Jonathan Wynne-Jones produced this eye-catching headline in a recent Sunday Telegraph. Here is some of what he reported.

‘The floods that have devastated swathes of the country are God’s judgment on the immorality and greed of modern society, according to senior Church of England bishops. One Bishop said pro-gay laws were to blame for the floods. Another has even claimed that laws that have undermined marriage, including the introduction of pro-gay legislation, have provoked God to act by sending the storms that have left thousands homeless. These bishops argue that the flooding is a result of Western civilisation’s decision to ignore biblical teaching. The Bishop of Carlisle argued that the floods are not just a result of a lack of respect for the planet, but also a judgment on society’s moral decadence. The bishop, a leading evangelical, said that people should heed the stories of the Bible, which described the downfall of the Roman Empire as a result of its immorality. ‘We are in serious moral trouble because every type of lifestyle is now regarded as legitimate,’ he said. ‘The sexual orientation regulations [which give greater rights to gays] are part of a general scene of permissiveness. We are in a situation where we are liable for God’s judgment, which is intended to call us to repentance.’

The editor, who would definitely not wish to be described as evangelical, even if he was a leading one, is reminded of the fire, some years ago, at York Minster, which some in elevated church circles saw as a similar judgement on the pronouncements of the then Bishop of Durham. He (the editor, that is) merely wonders why, if God is using the elements as an instrument of corrective judgement, he does not aim his thunderbolts a little more accurately. Come to think of it, the creator is flooding out the wrong people: many of the victims are uninsured, vulnerable and near the poverty line…

24-hour Sponsored Organ Play
in Saint Mary’s
by Fr. Neil Kelley
in aid of Church Funds
(to be split evenly between both churches!)

Sunday 19th August 2007 at 4pm until
Monday 20th August 2007 at 4pm

Please come and go as you please. Refreshments will be served.
Sponsor forms available from both churches or call the Parish Office on 928 9913.

Specific pieces can be requested at any time of day or night at a negotiated rate!


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