The Parish Magazine of St Faith`s Church, Great Crosby
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From the Ministry Team
I've recently been acting as an examiner for post-graduate doctors taking their MRCP examination. This tests a doctor's suitability for specialist training. One of an examiner's tasks is to assess the candidates' competency in Ethics; a notoriously difficult topic to judge fairly and objectively. On the last occasion we were discussing the issue of whether a patient with severe alcoholic liver disease should be offered a liver transplant. As doctors we are not allowed to be prejudiced; we must not discriminate against any patient on the grounds of lifestyle. It would be unjust to deny a patient a transplant just because they were a heavy drinker. We can try and persuade them to stop drinking, but we cannot force them to do so in order to 'earn' a transplant. This is the principle of autonomy: we cannot coerce anyone to change their habits against their will, even if what they are doing is likely to kill them. Despite these principles, the number of alcoholic patients actually offered a transplant remains quite small. If everyone with severe alcoholic liver disease were to be treated with a transplant, many would continue to drink heavily and then die of alcoholic liver disease affecting the transplanted liver. Worse still, because of the shortage of donors, patients with other forms of liver disease would be denied a transplant and would die as a result. So against the principle of autonomy for the individual patient we have to set the principles of justice and non-malevolence (not doing harm) for the wider patient community.
I may be wrong, but I see in this dilemma some parallels with the current debate on the ordination of gay men and their consecration as bishops within the Anglican church. Of course for many Anglicans the issue is closed. They take the biblical injunctions against homosexuality as being free from cultural and historical context, and as binding and absolute for all time: there can be no debate. But to many others there is a tension between a respect for individual human rights on the one hand and a threat to the integrity of the Anglican Communion on the other. It seems that if the church is to be inclusive and non-discriminatory, it must also risk schism, and much hurt and damage to its own being, which is the Body of Christ. Perhaps because I am a doctor who has to care for individuals, my instincts are all with supporting the individual rights of homosexual priests, and also with encouraging an inclusive church. But I also respect the views of those who, like our Archbishop, have responsibilities and concerns for the wider church community.
In this controversy there will be a lot of special pleading, much inconsistency, and no doubt some hypocrisy. The arguments and counter-arguments may never be resolved: after all the issue of the ordination of women is not yet fully settled and is still a source of deep division and suspicion within the church. There is a particular lobby which stresses the potential damage to church unity caused by the ordination of women, and yet the same lobby seems content to downplay the importance of unity when it comes to the ordination and consecration of homosexual men!
Personally, I will continue to support the ordination of women, the rights of gay priests, and the inclusivity of the church. But I am not happy with the view that if the church breaks up as a result, then so be it. To my mind, that would be a disaster threatening the witness and effectiveness of the world-wide church. The price paid for justice would be high, and would always be on my conscience.
We all need a lot of humility and a lot of prayer if the church is to emerge undamaged from this crisis. We need to ?move on‘ because, important though these issues of gender and orientation may be, there are even worse injustices in the world which the church needs urgently to address. Faced with the appalling problems of global poverty and insecurity, our current pre-occupations seem at times both inward-looking and self-seeking.
From the Editor
The advent of easier
of photographs, together with the continuing abundance of material, has
forced the Editor to devote yet more of his retirement to magazine
and, finally, to publish twelve issues a year. There will be a January
issue to kick-start 2004 and, doubtless, one year's experiment will
become a St Faith's Tradition. Many thanks to all who write for
— and apologies to any I have overlooked (or possibly upset) in
Another new development is the advent of regular coloure covers for
made possible by the advent of a colour photocopier at the Image Press
at Merchant Taylors' and the support of local firms as sponsors.
SATURDAY 29th NOVEMBER
10am - 12.30pm in Saint Faith's Church Hall
YOUNG PEOPLE'S ACTIVITY AND CRAFT DAY
Booking forms from Sunday School teachers or Fr. Neil
Price per child £2
Advent Services and Events
Sunday 30th November: ADVENT
11.00am SUNG EUCHARIST
6.00pm CHURCHES TOGETHER ADVENT SERVICE
Sunday 7th December
2.00pm Joint Sunday Schools' Christmas Party in Saint Mary‘s Hall
Saturday 13th December
6.00 pm Taizé-service of Meditation and Benediction
Sunday 14th December
1.00 pm Senior Citizens' Christmas lunch
Saturday 20th December
6.00pm Service of Penitence and Reconciliation in preparation for
Christmas (Sacrament of Penance available after the Service)
Sunday 21st December
7.30pm 'CAROLS AND PUNCH' in the Church Hall
Christmas Services and Events
6.00pm CHRISTINGLE SERVICE
11.00pm Vigil of Carols and Readings
11.30pm BLESSING OF THE CRIB, PROCESSION AND
SOLEMN MIDNIGHT MASS
11.00am FAMILY MASS
6.00pm Evening Prayer (said) at the Crib
S. STEPHEN‘S DAY
10.30am Solemn Eucharist
followed by sherry and mince pies in the Vicarage
The Daily Eucharist during the
Octave will be at 10.30 am
Thursday 1st January 2004
DAY OF PRAYER FOR WORLD PEACE
12noon SOLEMN EUCHARIST
followed by drinks in the Upper Room
Tuesday 6th January 2004
THE EVE OF THE EPIPHANY
8pm PROCESSION AND HIGH MASS
Wednesday 14th January 2004
Feast of the Translation of the Relics of Saint Faith from Agen to Conques
8.00pm PROCESSION AND PONTIFICAL HIGH MASS with blessing of the Statue of Saint Faith
Celebrant and Preacher: The Rt Reverend Dr Rupert Hoare (Dean of Liverpool and Assistant Bishop in the Diocese) followed by a glass of Champagne
(Those still unaware of the
of the event scheduled for 14th January will learn all about our new
in the January issue, together, all being well, with photographic
Promises to Keep
Bishop Kenneth Cragg
A careless world may think it
To linger by his cradle here
And celebrate at Christmas-tide
The strangest evening of the year.
But I have promises to keep . . .
Though infant form conspire to
The miles in love He means to go,
Whose limbs these are I truly know.
The man to be will duly show.
And I have promises to keep . . .
Here on the straw in cattle bed
The Son of Man can lay his head,
His swaddling clothes are gently tied
At Mary's breast his life is fed.
And I have promises to keep . . .
These hands will ease the
And bring the maniac sound and sane.
These feet will tread the country wide
Where list'ning crowds will throng the plain.
And I have promises to keep . . .
His voice will sound the
Where Galilean woes belong,
And He, at grips with human wrong,
Becomes Messiah crucified.
Whence I have promises to keep...
And thus I keep this holy tryst
Where kings adore a baby Christ
Foresee in myrrh his wounded side
And tell the gold which soldiers diced.
For I have promises to keep...
Since from that Cross can
The why and where of heaven's grace
Christ alive in a multi-race
By costly fact of love's embrace.
Where I have promises to keep .
Here then I stay and wond'ring
In cradle clothes the Easter glow,
While time and truth and life shall bide
The miles in love He means to go.
For I have promises to keep.
(With acknowledgement to Robert Frost}
Jesus and Satan were arguing about who was better at using computers. God was tired of all the bickering. and decided to put it to the test.
So Satan and Jesus sat down at their keyboards and typed away. They did spreadsheets. They wrote reports. They sent faxes. They sent e-mails with attachments. They downloaded. They did some genealogy reports. They made cards. They did every known job. But, ten minutes before the time was up, lightning suddenly flashed across the sky and of course, the electricity went off. Satan stared at his blank screen and screamed every curse he knew. Jesus just sighed patiently.
The electricity finally flickered back on, and each of them restarted their computers. Satan started searching frantically, screaming, 'It's gone! It's all gone! I lost everything when the power went off!'
Meanwhile, Jesus quietly started printing out all his files. Satan observed this and became even more irate. 'Wait! He cheated! How did he do it?'
God shrugged and just said: 'Jesus Saves'.
With thanks to JACKIE PARRY for this contribution!
'By schisms rent asunder'? Chris Price
The pace and prominent coverage of events in the worldwide Anglican Communion in recent weeks make it impossible not to lift our temporary embargo on reporting and commenting upon the vexed gay issue that, with the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in the Protestant Episcopal Church of America on November 2nd, is dominating the pages of the religious press and getting more than its fair share of coverage in broadsheet and tabloid national papers. Doubtless there is still some truth in the saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity, but the prospect of a major rift in the Anglican Communion following the appointment of an actively gay bishop can bring joy only to those who rejoice in the further diminution of the Church's witness in the world.
Having said that, most of the articles in the 'serious' press in the weeks leading up to the fateful events of November 2nd, and indeed subsequently, were surprisingly positive and supportive of Anglicanism in General and Bishop Robinson in particular.
MARY ANN SIEGHART in The Times is one such. Writing before the Anglican primates met to air their differences, she wrote first about what she sees as the attempted takeover of our church by conservative evangelicals. She speaks of the 'scarily authoritarian' Roman Catholic Church and rejoices at the hitherto more humble and less certain stance of the C of E. But she sees that tolerant breadth narrowing and becoming more entrenched and militant as the evangelical wing gathers strength and influence. Bishop Robinson‘s lawful elevation, she declares, was not the first time a gay man was to be made a bishop - it was just the first time it had happened 'openly and without shame'. Those who condemn it, if they are honest and logical, should now, she thinks, conduct a witch-hunt and drive out of the church all homosexuals who hold office. 'That this would also drive away half of all churchgoers and reduce Anglicanism to a narrow sect should not bother them.' As she points out, the process has begun, with many liberal Anglicans leaving the fold and the number of liberal ordinands for the priesthood dwindling.
Sieghart makes it clear that
actual views of grass-roots congregations are far more tolerant than
conservatives would like to have us believe. Some 70% believe that gay
priests are acceptable, and more than that say that they would continue
to attend their local church if they discovered that its vicar was an
gay. Her solution: more 'alternative episcopal oversight' by
flying bishops, who would look after those who cannot live and
alongside gay clergy, in the same way as the present flying
bishops look after
those who cannot accept women priests or bishops. If this compromise kept the many evangelical objectors within the fold it would, she thinks, be a price worth paying for the preservation of unity.
A.N.WILSON in The Sunday Telegraph is equally supportive and even more forthright. He notes sadly the history of division in the church, contemplating a world in which a large part of the Anglican Communion may well refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of the other part, and voices his very real regret at the prospect of a weakened church. He sees Anglicanism as a great force for good in the world. ?In the overcrowded cities of the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was Anglicanism that brought decent schools to the poor and housing for thousands.‘ It was the Anglican Christianity of the Mirfield Fathers in Southern Africa, with the mission of Trevor Huddleston, that began the great fight against apartheid. 'Only Anglicanism', he says, 'could have nourished T.S Eliot or John Betjeman' (to whom this writer would add the poet-priests John Donne, George Herbert and R.S.Thomas). 'Anglicanism's gentleness, its intellectual seriousness, its passionate decency, its sense of beauty and order, both liturgical and social, are rare qualities which the world needs.'
Wilson concludes by profoundly regretting the Pope's recent declaration to Archbishop Rowan Williams that homosexuality is a grave sin. He recounts a widely-accepted anecdote about a young Italian priest, who was deeply in love with his boyfriend Paolo and was able to stay with him throughout his rise through the Roman hierarchy, until the day he was made Pope. Grieving, he at last gave up his lifelong boyfriend, but as a consolation took in his memory his name, and became Pope Paul VI. 'I have no idea if this story is true,' says Wilson. 'I deeply hope that it is.'
An ironic counterpoint to this last parable comes in my final newspaper extract, from another broadsheet columnist. He reports discussing the furore over Jeffrey John and Gene Robinson with 'a staunchly Roman Catholic friend.' The friend airily declared 'I don't see what all the fuss is about - they're not proper priests anyway so it doesn't really matter who they do it with.'
With the exception of the last-quoted source, then, the press coverage of the Gene Robinson affair before the latter‘s consecration was both liberal and friendly in its tone. Now the service has taken place and, as was widely predicted, and despite Archbishop Rowan's efforts to paper over the cracks (he was accused in another paper of emulating Robert Runcie by 'nailing his colours firmly to the fence‘', the break-up seems to have begun. 20 of the Anglican communion's 38 primates have effectively refused to recognise the new Bishop‘s office, and may well extend this refusal to all who took part in the consecration and, by extension, all whom they consider tainted by association. Other commentators have pointed out that the dissenting primates represent over 75% of Anglicans worldwide (8 million in Uganda out of a population of 22 million; 17.5 million in Nigeria). But although the conservative majority greatly outnumbers the liberal minority, the latter, especially in the USA, are vastly more wealthy and influential, and do much to support their poorer counterparts. Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria, leader of the conservative primates, said recently that African churches must become self-reliant so that ?'ur boldness in condemning the spiritual bankruptcy' of rich churches can be matched by a refusal to accept money from them. A refreshingly honest view as far as it goes - but countered by Archbishop Desmond Tutu's Anglican successor in Cape Town, who has criticised the Nigerian church for making such a fuss about Bishop Robinson while staying silent about the threat to stone a Muslim woman to death in a part of Nigeria subject to the harsh and infamous sharia legal code.
It is all very sad, and there seems to this writer to be little light at the end of the tunnel at the moment. We can only hope that time will heal and that whatever schism occurs may be less damaging than commentators fear. It is easy to see this all as a conflict between enlightened liberal thinking (us) and unbending blinkered Biblical fundamentalism (them). But the good old C of E has survived by accommodating under its welcoming umbrella centuries of apparently irreconcilable opposites. It can only do this, and remain strong in its mission to God's multi-faceted world, if the fabric of the umbrella is not torn asunder for ever.
This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe in it to be safe, and practise it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier‘s sword, and the Christian's charter. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object; our good, its design; and the glory of God, its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgement, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will regard the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.
Author Unknown: supplied by Fr Dennis
Odds and Ends
The AUTUMN BAZAAR, despite the usual misgivings, proved a definite success. Many thanks to everyone who helped before and during the event: thanks to their sterling efforts some £1,150 was raised for church funds.
Thanks are due to the singing pupils of RANEE SENEVIRATNE for the splendid concert they presented in St Faith's recently. A large and appreciative audience were treated to a feast of song in a varied programme which featured many different musical styles, from rock, folk and musicals to Italian arias, English art songs and German lieder.
The girls, aged from 8 to 21+ (!) inspired us with their wealth of talent and musical commitment. Their enthusiasm and professionalism reflected the hard work and dedication of their teacher. Thanks to all who made the evening such a success, including our Sri Lankan friends, who generosuly provided refreshments, and of course Ged Callacher who accompanied so beautifully. All proceeds were donated to church funds.
Keeping the Balance
All Saints' Day's morning service was certainly different this year. The choir and servers processed in, unrobed, without candles or incense, to an unlit church and accompanied on the piano. Instead of a priest in the pulpit, we had Rick Walker holding forth at the lectern, aided and abetted by three ladies. Audrey Dawson held a large balance pole, to one side of which Mary Crooke added the weight of our expenses (choir and music, vestments and trimmings, charitable giving, heating and lighting and the like). The balance dropped alarmingly. On the other side Irene Taylor added symbolic bags of gold one by one, restoring the balance. Jake from the choir counted up the contents of the bags and they came to just £1.20 — the extra sum needed each week from each of us to balance our accounts in the light of ever-increasing costs. The message went home; the imminent funding compaign was launched, with appealing letters imminent — and the lights, vestments and music were restored. An imaginative and clear presentation — no-one could have failed to take the point, and we can obviously look forward to a dramatic increase in income very soon ...
'Nearer, my God, to thee'?
When St Faith's was thinking about raising money to buy a Bouncy Castle, someone jokingly suggested that Fr Neil could be sponsored for a ride on the fearsome Traumatizer at Southport Fun Fair. In a rash moment, the Vicar agreed, and on Saturday, October 10th, he was as good as his word.
Together with two other adults and several children, and watched by a good crowd of St Faith's people from the safety of the ground, the intrepid crew experienced their unique version of Ascension Day. This particular sort of Big Dipper climbs to a terrifying height before whirling its occupants at speeds of over 60 mph round corners and up and over, at times suspending its victims upside down, before returning them, shaken and stirred, to terra firma. The experience is then repeated twice.
The shrieks of pure pleasure, and any involuntary extra-liturgical exclamations, were mostly carried away by the wind. Everyone managed to hold on to their teeth and glasses, not to mention their breakfasts, and emerged smiling, triumphant and greatly relieved.
The incontinence pad thoughtfully provided by Mrs Margaret Goodrich, wife of a previous incumbent, was thankfully not needed. The money raised was more than enough to pay for the Bouncy Castle, which will provide more sedate thrills when it is installed in the Vicarage garden. Any surplus funds will go towards equipment for use in future Holiday Clubs.
Our pictures (see separate web page. Ed) show highlights of the event, taken safely at ground level. You can see more of the same event on the church website. It is not hard to see how greatly Fr Neil enjoyed the ups and downs of the day.
His Brain Jean Price
And from his brain came
Through his fingers to the keys
Cascades of magic music
Of shooting stars and raging seas,
Until his brain grew silent,
Victim of fell disease.
For seventy years, marooned in
Few words he spoke: the magic music fled.
No man could read the secrets of his brain,
Of lost creative force or fell disease,
Mysterious, dark and distant as the dead.
Now, the cool hands of science
Seeking for traces of that hateful foe.
Ideals of intellect and moral force
Inspire the scientist to hold his course,
To bare the root of all that tragic woe.
For through his brain the enemy may yield
And all that bitter secret be revealed.
This poem was written in
of the work of Professor John Oxford, who is currently doing research
my brother's brain. Readers may remember that Philip was a victim of a
virus disease which destroyed his brain and left him in a limbo world
Church Christmas Cards
This year there are two St Faith's Christmas cards on sale. One carries the image of the 'rabbit madonna' framed in flowers which adorns this month's cover; the other the picture of the Lord Runcie window which we carried as last month‘s cover. They are on sale at just £1.20 for a pack of ten, with envelopes with profits going to Medic Malawi and to Church funds. If you can't get to church, Chris Price will be glad to post your order at £1.50 per pack, covering postage and packing. Also available soon will be the CDs of Fr Neil and Ged performing on the keyboards of St Faith‘s and St Mary‘s (£7.50 each) — and now the new 150th anniversary history of St Luke's, Crosby, on sale in church for £5.
In response to several requests, we are printing this thoughtful sermon.
Jesus said 'Anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many'. Greatness in the Christian life can only be achieved by becoming the willing servant of all, just as Jesus himself gave his own life for the life of the world.
This call to servanthood is a wonderful antidote to the excesses of both the Church and the world. It's difficult, or at least it ought to be difficult, to be arrogant about our views on the interpretation of Scripture, our views on gender issues, and our attitude to other faiths, if our calling really is to be the servant of all. The real test of a Christian whether we‘re priest, Pope, or the person in the pew, is whether or not we love humanity enough to devote our lives to the service of our fellow men and women. For Christian people, this quality of servanthood shines much more brightly than mere goodness, much more brightly than worldly status or success. It is our response to the New Testament, the New Covenant. God's initiative is to give us His only Son as friend, brother and saviour. Our response is to love Him and to serve Him in one another.
But it isn't easy. It isn‘t easy, trying to look after everyone: just ask any woman with teenage children and ageing parents and in-laws! Somehow we have to set some priorities, somehow we have to decide who, or what, we are trying to serve.
At St. Faith's this dilemma surfaced at our last PCC meeting when we discussed the Church budget for the year. We are in arrears with our payments to the Diocese which provides, among other things, stipends for the clergy. We must repay the interest-free loans we were given to pay for the boiler in the church Hall. We want to continue to provide all the lovely vestments, the candles, the incense and all the other things that go to enrich our liturgy, and we want to go on supporting our lively social and musical events. And as one brave soul pointed out, we haven‘t even started to think about charitable giving, because nowhere on our budget is there an entry recording expenditure beyond the boundaries of the Church. Of course, everything we do could be construed as service of a kind, service to God, service to one another, service to those on the fringe of the Church community. And as Margaret Davies said so wisely, it is after all a matter of keeping a balance.
But how do we actually manage to keep a right balance when we are under such constant financial pressure to maintain the status quo, over and against the wider demands of Christian mission? If we are honest with ourselves, can we rest content that what we do in our church communities really fulfils Our Lord's biblical demand that we should be the servants of all?
I‘ve been told, quite correctly, that sermons often ask too many questions and don't give enough answers. So here are a few suggestions about how we might better meet Our Lord‘s standard of service.
First, let‘s stop feeling quite so guilty. Thankfulness, rather than guilt, should be the Christian mind-set. Even on the surface of our parish life we achieve a tremendous amount that is worthwhile. But may be even more goes on beneath the surface; a whole network of support and prayer and visiting done day by day, year by year, by all sorts of people whose names never appear on the list of Church officers. So why should we feel guilty? We should be thankful for all this loving activity and inspired by it. But we do have something of a paradox in our two Parishes. Father Neil is stretched to the limit, and yet there is still much potential for Lay ministry. We have trained bereavement visitors, but as yet no developed role for them. We have Healing Services, yet little in the way of an organised lay ministry to the sick at home, in hospital or in nursing homes. I believe that there is great potential for building on the great store of individual kindness and concern that already exists in our congregations. If only we could organise ourselves a little better I am sure we could make a real difference to people in need.
Secondly (and this again is something to give thanks for, not to feel guilty about) so many of our church members are hardworking, generous and effective servants of Christ in their daily lives beyond the context of the church‘s formal activities. So many of you I know bear witness to Christ in your jobs, within the community, in youth organisations, in the teaching and caring professions and in all sorts of voluntary, charitable and fund-raising activities. We should be thankful for all this Christian service, be inspired by it, learn from it. So much of Christ's work is being done joyfully, willingly, confidently. Guilt, thank God, is not the only incentive which the Holy Spirit has at his disposal. And so when we look at our priorities we should allow ourselves to be drawn by the Spirit towards the demanding yet rewarding needs of the secular world. We have to decide how much of our time and money we should devote to serving Our Lord beyond the immediate boundaries of our church community. It seems heretical to say so, but I wonder if some of us, myself included, might serve Our Lord more effectively and perhaps be spiritually the richer, if we were just a tad less 'churchy'. And perhaps at a deeper level we should acknowledge that God may want to call us, as congregations, away from some traditional church activities, however attractive and familiar they may be. Sometimes God closes the way ahead on our pilgrimage, just so that we may find the true path which he has chosen for us.
Thirdly, and following on from our encounters with secular society, I believe that our prayers and our liturgy should be more transparent to the needs of the world and to our involvement in it. We need to bridge the gap between Sunday worship and the other six days of the week by bringing to the pulpit and to the lectern not just worthy causes, but the nitty gritty of our own parish members' experience of the world and its needs. I have a lot of time for the Ministry of the Word, because it sets the stage for the coming of Our Lord in the Eucharist. The readings, the sermon and our prayers provide the scenery, the environment, which the presence of Christ in the sacrament can then illuminate with His incarnate and risen life.
And finally, and this I admit needs a lot of faith and hope, I pray that something positive will emerge from the eventual re-organisation of our four Waterloo churches. I pray that we may be given a bold and far-reaching vision for the future, something a bit more fruitful than our present pre-occupation with what is going to happen to our various congregations. It would be wonderfully challenging and encouraging if a combined Waterloo community project could emerge from the ashes of disappointment and discontent which would inevitably follow the closure of one of our churches.
Let's feel thankful, not
for our calling as servants of Christ. Let's build on the many
liturgical and social gifts that Our Lord has already given us in such
abundance. And let us pray that we may have the vision, the mind of
so that we may see the call to servanthood as involving the whole of
life, both the sacred and the secular. 'For the Son of Man himself did
not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom
Thought for Christmas
It is the joy of the resurrection, of the Christ who is present through his conquest of death and decay which enters our hearts at Christmas. This recognition that it can only be the risen Christ whom we encounter seems strange and wrongly timed, yet the atmosphere of the liturgy drives us to make the connection. For this is above all else the day of light.
The collects for the Midnight Mass of Christmas and for the Easter Vigil have a close, almost uncanny resemblance. 'You have made this night holy with the splendour of Jesus Christ our Light.' 'You have brightened this night with the radiance of the Risen Christ.' Both nights are referred to as 'holy night' and the readings of each liturgy focus on light and glory .
To see the centrality of the symbol of light as common to both incarnation and resurrection is to see how inseparable are the Christmas and Easter mysteries. Together they constitute the basic framework of God's activity in and beyond history and time, as they form the heart of Christian faith and hope. Without Easter, Christmas has no point; without Christmas, Easter has no meaning. Both incarnation and resurrection have significance because in these events God is glorified in the flesh. The flesh becomes the source of light, the raw material of glory.
The light of Christ is a persistent light. It shines through the most powerfully oppressive darkness, shines in the midst of devastation, disaster and upheaval, yet without explaining them, justifying them, or making sense of them. The gospel of incarnation and resurrection is not the answer to a set of questions. It is a persistent and defiant light. And its persistence is paradoxical. For the truth of the gospel of incarnation and resurrection is paradoxical. For the truth of the gospel of incarnation and resurrection stands in contradiction to, and seems to be contradicted by, the realities of the world in which there is still no room and where the dead bodies pile up, inexplicably, meaninglessly.
Is the light of Christ, then, no more than an illusory comfort, a false reassurance that all is well when in fact all is clearly unwell in the 'demented inn' of the world? Certainly religious light is often of this illusory kind. But the gospel of incarnation and resurrection cannot be preached in an authentic and truthful way unless it faces the terrible reality of homelessness and meaningless death.
It is these two realities which provide the only possible material context for the light of Christ. For it is as the homeless unwanted Christ of Bethlehem and as the naked condemned Christ of Golgotha that the light shines with its strange persistence and its baffling power to draw people to its shining, enabling them to become dynamic agents in the historical process, lights in the world.
Definition of a parish priest: someone who is sent to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
a Pilgrim's Thoughts
On Friday, 17th October, I was among 27 intrepid pilgrims from our United Benefice who arrived at St. Faith's at 7.30 a.m. to take part in the celebration of the Mass, before setting out on pilgrimage to Walsingham. To help us on our way we were treated to coffee and croissants in the vestry.
Coach and driver arrived and we were off en route to England‘s Little Nazareth. It was a lovely sunny day and we stopped at Boston in Lincolnshire for lunch, arriving in Walsingham late afternoon.
After settling into our rooms we paid our first visit to the Holy House at the Shrine. How good it was to be back and feel the prayerfulness of the place. Rosary followed soon after and then it was time for dinner. To our relief and delight the refectory now has its own bar, and wine was able to be purchased to be taken with the evening meal.
The evening was then our own and the majority of pilgrims made their way down to the local hostelries, purely to meet the local people you understand!
Saturday dawned, another beautiful day. Mass was celebrated by Fr. Neil in the Holy House, breakfast taken and then we were off on the coach again for a day of leisure. First stop was a village called Holt, whose small church has a most unusual set of modern Stations of the Cross. The Rector met us there and explained how these Stations had been commissioned and finally chosen.
We dallied a while at Holt and then travelled on to Norwich. We all met up at the West Door of the Cathedral to be greeted by Bishop Graham and his wife Julie, whom we were delighted to see again fresh from Fr. Dennis's Silver Jubilee celebrations. Bishop Graham himself gave us a guided tour of his lovely Cathedral and then Julie took us into the wonderful gardens of the Bishop's Palace. The patio on which Fr. Dennis sunbathed in the summer has now become a tourist attraction! Bishop Graham and Julie made us all feel so very welcome. It's not often that we get an opportunity to be taken round by the Bishop himself.
After lunch and some free time we made our way back to Walsingham, stopping off at the Roman Catholic Shrine before freshening up for 6.00 p.m. concelebrated mass in the Shrine Church. Standing room only now, but that didn't detract from the inspiring service.
Dinner again and then it was the Procession of Our Lady, round the grounds of the shrine, by candlelight while singing the Walsingham Hymn. We were very proud to have two members of our party carrying the image of Mary on this special occasion. Benediction followed this service and then, for those people who wanted to, there were three priests available to hear confessions.
On Sunday we, with all the other pilgrims, attended mass at St. Mary's Church in the village. There was time for a quick aperitif before lunch. We then made our way to the Shrine church for the moving service of the Sprinkling at the Well and the Laying-on of hands and anointing. The sprinkling (the well dates back to the 11th century) is the pilgrimage devotion most distinctive to Walsingham and connects present-day pilgrims with others across the centuries. It is seen as an opportunity to renew and deepen our union with Christ.
The weekend pilgrimage ended with the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament, when individual blessings were given to those who were sick and infirm. At the last visit to the Holy House we gave thanks to God for a happy pilgrimage and for a safe journey home.
It truly was a happy pilgrimage and an amazing weekend. To be able to combine so many wonderful times of worship, to have time to have a day out, be shown round a Cathedral by a Bishop and to enjoy the company of our friends over a drink at the local watering holes is a unique experience. Some pilgrims were with us for the first time and they not only enjoyed the pilgrimage but want to return. If you haven't yet been on pilgrimage to Walsingham it is more than worth considering, it is worth doing.
Thank you from Fr Dennis
Very many thanks indeed to all who helped make the occasion of my silver jubilee such a wonderful, memorable event. Many people contributed in a host of different ways to ensure the occasion was a success. I am truly grateful for the help given by so many before, during and after Friday 17th September last.
Many thanks also for the huge number of presents I was given and the cards and good wishes which were sent ™ not least the very generous gift cheque from the United Benefice, which enabled me to buy the lovely new cassock I am now sporting. Friends from far and near have said how much they enjoyed ?Jubilee weekend‘ and I am most grateful to all who contributed to the welcoming, warm and fun-filled occasion it was. My sincere and heartfelt thanks to you all.
The Editor apologises for omitting Dennis's thanks from last month's magazine.
It isn't Christ who's been
out of Christmas;
It is we who left His season long ago.
We traded Him, with shepherds at His manger,
For tinsel, lighted trees, and mistletoe.
We traded Advent's quiet
For frantic shopping trips to all the stores;
We let our gifts and giving come between us
And that Blessed Gift who cleanses and restores.
We took a grand old saint,
And dressed him up in comic red and white,
And raised him to a place never sought for,
And sent him riding high across the night.
Our conversation smacks of
Such term was never found in Holy Writ.
That gift that came to Bethlehem came freely
Without a breath of bargaining in it!
Perhaps we mean well under all
It‘s hard to think of holy things just right,
While others think that Christmas doesn't matter.
They don‘t believe what happened on that night.
But we know that Christ is
in every Christmas -
His Name rings on the air with every chime!
So it isn't Christ who's been left out of Christmas,
For Christ has been in Christmas all the time!
Aoccdrning to rsceearch at an Elingsh Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are; the olny iprmtoant tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we dnot raed ervey lteter by istlef but the wrod as a wlohe.
The Sunday Specials
It seems appropriate that after ten years, we of the Sunday Specials should say a big thank you to both Roger and Susie Greenwood for all the splendid lunches we have so much enjoyed at their home. Not only have they given their time to purchasing the food, but somehow, after coming to church, Susie manages to cook lunch for nine or ten people.
Like most things, the lunches started in a small way with perhaps six people, but over the years the number of people participating has risen to over thirty. (They are all people living alone, who are invited to the once a month lunches, in no specific order, but six at a time. Susie)
From the small contribution we make each time we lunch, we have been able to give money to various church funds. This money is further augmented by our coffee mornings and hot pot suppers. We have contributed to the new water heater in the vestry, various crockery and cutlery items for the catering committee, our Medic Malawi missionary project, various hymn book purchases and tables for use in the church and the hall.
By the time you read this, thirty of us will have been to our celebration lunch at the Formby Hall Golf Club. Thank you once again for all your efforts, Susie and Roger.
Joyce Woods ...and all the Sunday Specials
From the Registers
Burial of Ashes
24 October Arthur Utley
2 November Bernie McGovern
2 November Zak Pergamanos, son of George and Helen
Eleanor Mary Evison, daughter of Brian and Sarah
Sophie Lauren Lonie, daughter of Ewan and Tracey
And now once more, flocking
Unnumbered petals drift in dying fall:
Each one a life lost and remembered.
They rest on heads, on caps, on shoulders
Where stand in rigid ranks the living
Solemn as statues to honour the dead.
Now heraldic trumpets pierce
Known words recall the fallen thousands;
Prayer and ordered music honour the long past.
Immaculate in stately ritual:
The young in uniform paraded line,
The old, weighted with memory,
Some who remember all that they have lost,
Others whose lives will yet be given
Where man's unyielding inhumanity
Defies the peace Christ also died to bring.
Behind the coloured panoply
War‘s haunting images still crowd the mind,
Stark in the mocking monochrome of evil.
Against a world of terror, greed and death
Is set only this night's fragile pageantry.
And as the echoes fade into the dark,
Trampled beneath the slow and marching feet
The crimson petals lie in soft reproach.
British Legion Festival of Remembrance, 2003
‘O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted upon us; remember the fruits we bought, thanks to this suffering, our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of this; and when they come to judgement, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness. Amen'
From Norwich Cathedral: a
found written on a piece of wrapping paper in Ravensbruck, a
camp for women in Nazi Germany.