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February 2002
    When the song of the angels is stilled
    when the star in the sky is gone
    when the kings and princes are home
    when the shepherds are back with their flocks
    the work of Christmas begins:
    to find the lost
    to heal the broken
    to feed the hungry
    to release the prisoner
    to rebuild the nations
    to bring peace among the people
    to make music in the heart.

From the Ministry Team

In the weeks before Christmas I was struck by the power and poignancy of two short poems. The first I came across when watching on television the special Memorial Serice held in honour of all those from Britain who died in the terrorist attacks of Septmeber 11th last (The Editor was watching the same serice and printed one of the hymns in the last issue.) It was written by the American author and preacher Henry Van Dyke and was one of two poems read by Dame Judi Dench.

The second poem, I heard on Radio 4. It was written in 1968 by the British poet Christopher Logue, for a festival in honour of the 50th anniversary of the death of the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire. It was recited by Helen Kennedy, Q.C., as the conclusion to a graduation speech she had delivered to students.


   Come to the edge.
   We might fall.
   Come to the edge.
   It‘s too high!
   Come to the edge.
   And they came,
   and we pushed,
   And they flew.


Too Slow for those who Wait,
Too Swift for those who Fear,
Too long for those who Grieve,
Too short for those who Rejoice
But for those who Love
Time is not.

Fr Dennis

The Hallowing of the Nation 
As a pleasant change from the constant stream of `knocking copy‘ about the C of E emanating from the press (and especially the so-called ?liberal press‘, it is good to be able to reproduce extracts from an article by SIR ROY STRONG in a recent 1Church Times‘. At times of seemingly irreversible decline in numbers and influence, his upbeat message, if at times a little controversial, is both timely and reassuring.

Among the many strands of my life there has been and continues to be a love affair with the Church of England. The Christian life came to me as a sudden revelation at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham nearly half a century ago. It‘s ebbed and flowed over the decades, but I‘ve never wavered, and it‘s seen me through. I love its generosity of spirit, its ability to embrace a variety of worship, to be open to change, to accept the challenges that the Holy Spirit brings; the fact that it always leaves room for manoeuvre, and no door is ever quite shut. These attributes form as much part of its glory as its weakness  seeming to be all things to all men.

What other Church has managed, in its history, to respond to the Catholic revival of the Caroline divines and the Oxford Movement, and equally to the succession of Evangelical reforms from the age of Wilberforce to today? To have been a Church founded upon the suppression of monastic life and yet, three centuries later, to be rediscovering it? It‘s those very contradictions that attract me. For centuries, and still in many ways even today, the Church has defined us. Think of the literary inheritance: Cranmer‘s Book of Common Prayer, the Authorised Version of the Bible, the poetry of a George Herbert or Henry Vaughan, the pities of a Thomas Traherne or William Law. Add to that a mighty musical tradition that runs from William Byrd and Thomas Tallis to Peter Maxwell Davies. Then there are great minds like Hooker or Newman, or mighty prelates like William Temple or Michael Ramsey. Add to that the likes of the diarists Parson Woodforde or Kilvert, or the gardening clerics such as Gilbert White and Canon Ellacombe  not to mention oddities of the ilk of Sidney Smith and Lewis Carroll.

And everywhere those church exclamation marks in the town and landscape, which signal a stretch of holy ground top which few may now go, but which many would resist eradicating. Perpetually derided by the media, the Church of England is a bit like the Royal Family these days: all too often unappreciated and unloved, but still going on. Only if it goes will people realise the enormity of their loss.

All of it is an expression of a something which today goes unsung: the deceny and beauty of the Church of England, which still combined the role of expressing the nations‘ collective spirituality, as well as acting as guardian and transmitter of a whole pattern of cultural expression that lies at the heart of our identity. But today the excesses of political correctness and the cult of subservience to minorities, much espoused by the current regime, are in danger of eroding this complex of ideas, ones which have been central as a shared inheritance and a time-honoured expression of our collective identity. Suddenly there seem to be those around who view the 2000 years of Christian witness and cultural creativity as some kin of aberration that now has to be tidied away under the label of `heritage‘. If they have their way, before long we shall be called upon to apologise for our existence.

In spite of all our multifaith and multicultural society, the truth of the matter is that Britain is still overwhelmingly a Christian country, and anyone who comes to live here must come to terms with that fact. No amount of relabelling Christmas as Luminos or Winterval is going to eradicate our two millennia as a Christian nation. Constant appeasement of secularism, and the Church‘s obsession with pronouncements on social issues rather than spirituality  about which, at times, it seems almost to be embarrassed ™ contribute to the breakdown.

And yet, the hold is still there, in the minds of even the most recalcitrant  or why is it that every major tragedy or triumph seems to find its supreme collective expression in a church service?  Not long ago there was Remembrance Sunday; more recently the service held in Liverpool Cathedral for the parents of babies whose organs were removed without parental consent, and the gathering in Westminster Abbey to remember the British who died in America in the horror of 11 September.

The Church of England still somehow has the sublime ability, through a collage of words, music, ritual and spectacle, to touch the minds and hearts of men and women in a way no other format can. Something of that sort must surely have been in the hearts of the thousands who rightly voted for Durham Cathedral as the best-loved building in Britain. Let us pray for a general reawakening to the inestimable inheritance and centrality of the Church of England in the nations‘s life.

Sian Shallis                  Joan Tudhope
You may remember that on a Sunday morning in November I said a few words in church about Sian Shallis.  We have been praying for Sian, whose name has been on our sick list the last two or three years.  She is now 21 years old and has spent most of her teenage years in hospital, in Alder Hey and latterly in Hope Hospital, Manchester.

Sian has undergone over 20 operations, the latest of which was major corrective surgery in November last year.  The operation was a success, however she contracted an infection and was critically ill for a number of weeks following the operation.  Her mother, Jan, asked me to thank the people of St. Faith‘s for their prayers and to ask if we would continue to pray for her daughter‘s recovery.

On December, 23rd, Sian, although still poorly, was allowed home from hospital and apparently enjoyed a good Christmas.  However, on New Year‘s Eve she was once again taken into hospital and is very poorly again.

Jan is a work colleague and good friend of mine and she has not been able to return to work following the Christmas / New Year break, spending her time at the hospital with Sian.  Please remember them both and the rest of their family in your prayers, they are very appreciative and take comfort from this.

Doug Taylor R.I.P.

Last month we printed an appreciation of the life of Doug Taylor, following his funeral on November. Below we reproduce his son Mark‘s moving funeral tribute.

May I, on behalf of Mum and all the family, express our sincere thanks for your expressions of sympathy and support during the past week and for your attendance here today. My father touched the lives of so many people and he will be missed byus all.

Pop was born n the 31st May 1928, the first son of Nanna Marion and Ga, joining Walter, Ga‘s son from his first marriage. The family was completed by his sisters Jean and Myrtle soon after. They lived initially in Muspratt Road before moving to Sonning Avenue, Litherland. Pop attended Beech Road School (one of his teachers survives to day) and Litherland Central for Boys. He was a spirited and lively youth at a time of economic deprivation and, of course World War II. His young years did not stop him being actively involved in the war effort and he regularly made my brother and eyes widen with bedtime stories of daring with unexploded incendiaries, land mines (the one which was never found at the top of Hatton Hill) and the ?night the match works was burnt to the ground‘. At fifteen he was helping bring bread deliveries into Liverpool and often drove the huge Scammel articulated wagons (no synchromesh gear boxes then) in the bitter winter weather.

Almost grown up, and with a reputation as a good boxer. Pop served his National Service in the Parachute Regiment during 1946/7. At a time of deep unrest in the Middle East he was stationed at Haifa in Palestine wHere the British Army were tasked with a Peace keeping mission. His time in the Holy Land was another rich source of bedtime stories — I can clearly see his huge, upturned hand, floating to the bed sheets as the imaginary parachute drifted on the breeze, or the red kites swooping to snatch food from the plates of the unwary.

On return to the UK he was stationed at Aldershot camp ,where he met the most influential person of his life, our Mum, Margie. They were married in 1948 (13th November — the day Prince Charles was born, honeymooning in sunny Southport and starting married life in Doug's family home in Sonning Avenue They moved to 11 Alton Avenue to start their own family. The children arrived — first Cath, then Judy, myself and finally the ?babe‘ Peter. Quite a crowd for our little house but it was as happy a home as could be. Family life was Pop working six days a week, children at St Phillip‘s School, Mum washing, cooking and cleaning and caring for us all. We were never hungry, always well dressed and attended St Paul's Church, Hatton Hill every Sunday with trips out on Sunday afternoons. Holidays on the farm, with Mum's relations in Norfolk, or camping in the New Forest and Saundersfoot, South Wales—-  Pop made sure his family was never far from his thoughts and deeds.

In 1965 we moved to 43 Park View, Waterloo and had our first taste of the uniqueness of St. Faith‘s church — since then St Faith‘s has been close to all our lives. Christenings, weddings and funerals the church and its many vicars have always been part of our lives and Mum and Pop have become very much a part of the life of this church.

Park View was the place that Pop stretched all his DIY talents. The days (and nights) of redecoration, plumbing, plastering, rubbing down and wiring finally revealed the new family home somewhat extended by the visitors and parties. Family celebrations of Christmases, 21st Birthday parties, a Silver Wedding, Christening parties and birthdays all seem to blur into a rolling picture of fun and happiness.

The happiness of our lives is often balanced by sadness and Doug was deeply saddened by two events. The first was the early death of his sister Myrtle in 1950 and the second of his daughter, Cath only eleven years ago. The love and support of Mum, and his faith helped him through. In 1974 Doug had an accident in this Church resulting in some two years of pain and discomfort. His strength and determination not to be defeated by his injuries saw him back on his feet and able to carry on. In 1992 lung cancer almost beat him but the surgeons skill then gave him a new lease of life. Since then Mum and Pop  lived every day to the full with the PLATO club, Turkey and Tinsel, Austria and Spain for holidays. Their happiness being crowned by their Golden Wedding celebrations in 1998 with all their family and friends.

I still find it hard to believe that only eight weeks ago Pop spoke so well at his Mother's funeral and told of her life. Now I stand before you to give you a resume of his. All of us here will have our own special memories of Pop. Mine will be in how he showed me to live life with honesty, integrity and love. Pop's final illness did not last long but he faced it with the courage and strength he had demonstrated all his life. His love for Mum and his family never faltered despite the discomfort and pain. In death he had no fear. Amen.

What Muslims Believe

The terrible events of September 11th last, and indeed all that has happened since, have focussed attention on the Muslim religion. Few of us probably have much understanding of even the basics of the Muslim faith: the factual article below, reprinted from ?Good News‘ seeks to remedy this situation.

Since New Testament times, Christians have worshipped Jesus. They believe He is the risen Lord, the Saviour of the world. They see Jesus as God himself, incarnate on earth. For Islam, however, Muhammad is not of fundamental importance, other than that he is the bearer of revelation from God, or Allah as Muslims call him. But he is not Allah, nor in any way related to Allah. Allah is unknown and unknowable. Muslims believe that it is only through Muhammad that Allah makes his will for humanity known because they have no way whatever of knowing Allah directly themselves.

One theologian, Alistair McGrath, sums it up neatly: ?Islam speaks of a revelation from God, where Christianity speaks of a revelation of God, seeing that revelation being concentrated and focused on the person of Jesus.‘

So —who is this Muhammad? He was an Arab prophet, and the founder of Islam. He was born in Mecca in 570 AD, to Abdallah, a poor merchant of the powerful tribe of Quaraysh. Orphaned at six, Muhammad was brought up by his grandfather and uncle, Talib, who trained him to be a merchant. At 24 he entered the service of a rich widow,  Khadijah. They married and had six children. While continuing as a trader, Muhammad became increasingly drawn to religious contemplation. Soon after 600 he began to receive revelations of the word of Allah. This Quran (Koran), or ?reading‘, commanded that the numerous idols of the shrine be destroyed and that the rich should give to the poor. This simple message attracted some support, but even more hostility.
When his wife and uncle died, Mohammad was reduced to poverty. He began making a few converts among the pilgrims to Mecca from the town of Yathrib, which gave him shelter from his wealthy enemies. Mohammad's migration to Yathrib, called the Hegira, marks the beginning of the Muslim era. The name of the town was changed to Medina, the city of the prophet.

By 630, Mohammad had control over all Arabia, acknowledged as chief and prophet. In 632 he took his last pilgrimage to Mecca, and there on Mount Arafat fixed for all time the ceremonies of the pilgrimage. He fell ill soon after his return, and died on 8 June in the home of the favourite of his nine wives. His tomb in the mosque at Medina is venerated throughout Islam.

Shariah is the sacred law of Islam, and applies to all aspects of life. It  prescribes the way a Muslim must fulfil the command of God and so reach heaven.
There are five essential religious duties known as the 'Pillars of Islam':

1. The shahadah (profession of faith) is the sincere recitation of the creed: ?There is no god but God‘ and?'Muhammad is the Messenger of God‘.
2. The salat (prayer) must be performed five times a day while facing towards Mecca.
3. Alms giving through the payment Jofzakat is an act of worship.
4. A duty to fast during the month of Ramadan.
5. The pilgrimage to Mecca is to be made if at all possible at least once during one's lifetime.

Islam is the Arabic word which means `submission to the will of God‘. Muslims have in Islam a religion that embraces every aspect of life. They believe that individuals, societies and governments should all obey the will of God as it is written in the Koran, which they regard as the Word of God revealed to his Messenger, Muhammad. The Koran teaches that God is one and has no partners. He is the Creator of all things, and holds absolute power. Muslims believe that since the beginning of creation, God has sent prophets, including Moses and Jesus, to provide the guidance necessary for the attainment of eternal reward: a succession of prophets culminating in the revelation to Muhammad of the perfect Word of God.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

When most people hear `The 12 Days of Christmas‘ they think of the song. This song has its origins as a teaching tool to instruct young people in the meaning and content of the Christian faith. From 1558 to 1829 Roman Catholics in England were not able to practise their faith openly, so they had to find other ways to pas on their beliefs. The song is one example of how they did it.

The song begins: `On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me ...‘. The `true love‘ represents God and the Christian is the `me‘ who receives the presents.

The `partridge in the pear tree‘ was Jesus Christ who died on a tree as a gift from God. The `two turtle doves‘ were the Old and New testaments — a other gift from God. The ?three French hens‘ were faith, hope and love — the three gifts of the Spirit that abide (1 Corinthians 13).

The `four calling birds‘ were the four Gospels, which sing te song of salvation through Christ. The ?five gold rings‘ were the first five books of the Bible, also called the `Books of Moses‘, while the ‘six geese a-laying‘ were the six days of creation.

The `seven swans a-swimming‘ were the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:9-11, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1Peter 4:10-11). The ?eight maids a-milking‘ were the eight beatitudes and the `nine ladies dancing‘ were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)

The `ten lords a-leaping‘ were the ten Commandments, the `eleven pipers piping‘ were the eleven faithful disciples, while finally the `twelve drummers drumming‘ were the twelve points of the Apostles‘ Creed.

So, the next time you hear `The Twelve Days of Christmas‘, consider how this otherwise non-religious-sounding song had its origins in the Christian faith.

Supplied by Fr Dennis


Regular readers may remember an earlier reference to the webiste `Ship of Fools‘ ( — required browsing for Christians who take themselves and the trappings of the faith too seriously). One of their more entertaining features is the `Mystery Worshipper‘ page, as explained in the banner reproduced below. In the article that follows I have printed a selection of the more entertaining and revealing comments made by these visitors at churches in this country and beyond. They are fun, but have  serious purpose, and inevitably prompt the thought: how would we at St Faith‘s fare if a Mystery Worshipper left his calling card in our plate...?

Each report opens with a description of the church and its surroundings. Reporters (who adopt such names as Nick O‘Demus, Zebedee, Peoples‘ Front of Judea and Armitage Shanks (lavatory humourist? Ed.) don't pull any punches. Elmwood Independent Evangelical Church in Salford ?must be in one of the nicer bits of Salford as my car was still where I left it when I returned to it.‘ Gloucester Cathedral (the editor‘s favourite building) is described as magnificent but ?Gloucester is such a downbeat place with streets paved in chewing gum and seagull splat.‘  The reports continue with Denomination, The Cast (clergy and other participants) and What was the name of the service? then comes the first challenge: How full was the building? — and the numbers varied from 11 to several thousand. On Liverpool Cathedral, the comment was `Seeing as the cathedral could house all the shellsuits in Liverpool with room to spare, it always seems empty...‘

Did anyone welcome you personally?  they ask next. `No, we had to ask where to go‘, (Manchester Cathedral); ?No, but you never expect that in Gemany anyway‘ (St Willibrord, Old Catholics, Munich!); ?A handshake at the door, but no acknowledgement from the person sitting next to me, nor from anyone else for that matte‘r (Elim Pentecostal, Glasgow); ?The steward was more interested in whether I had a ticket or not‘ (Bishop James‘ enthronement at our Cathedral) and `You‘re early. Here, have one of these‘ (Guildford Cathedral) — but quite often a nice welcome is recorded. Was your pew comfortable? How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere? are the next questions. Replies varied from `surprisingly quiet‘; `friendly and some chat‘; `buzzing‘; ?a long wait — apparently the Dean had overslept‘; `reverential‘; — but the great majority I read implied (and approved) a relaxed, conversational mood. After asking What were the exact opening words of the service?, What books did the congregation use? and What musical instruments were used? (Jewish ram‘s horn; drums and saxophone among others), Mystery Worshippers are asked to say Did anything distract you? (trying to read the saxophonist‘s tattoos, said one; a leomon-yelow suit in the worship group, said another; the lateness of the Dean (Gloucester!); why had I been the only man queuing for the loo (at Liverpool).

Reporters had to say Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy or what?: a wide range of responses here, and Exactly how long was the sermon? (in my sample, the range was 4 minutes to 35 (Bishop James!). In a nutshell, what was the sermon about? produced: `Not gripping, but I am sure the tourists enjoyed the history lesson‘ (St Paul‘s); ?He spoke as if delivering a lecture at some sombre event‘ (the German church); `Amusing and witty and sleepy-eyed all at once, which is very clever indeed‘ (the over-sleeping Dean of Gloucester!). What part of the service was like being in heaven? is followed by And which part was like being in ... er .. the other place? There were quite a lot of compliments paid online: ?The saxophone solos made me think of heaven. I bet there are brass instruments there!  ... Swirling clouds of incense, choir singing from the top of the tower outside ... The beginning of the Nunc Dimittis, where the music seemed to fall from heaven itself (Liverpool). And there were brickbats too (?The commercialism‘ at St Paul‘s; `The fact that I was sitting amongst people who felt we were all fruitcakes‘ (Elim Pentecostals); `A strange woman in her sixties in a miniskirt and high clacky heels who looked daggers at me as though she though she was going to bite me‘ at Gloucester; ?Waiting outside the men‘s with an aching sphincter muscle‘ (Liverpool!).

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost? came next. Mostly the Mystery Worshippers were spoken to, but at Elim `everyone walked past me to go out‘ and at St Paul‘s ?we stayed lost!‘. Nearing the end, the spies were asked to score from 10 (`ecstatic‘) to 0 (`terminal‘) their rating for How would you feel about making this church your regular? Guildford Cathedral scored 0, Regent Street Salvation Army 1, Manchester Cathedral tying with Liverpool Cathedral on 2 (although we got 7 on another visit), St Paul‘s 3, Gloucester Cathedral 4 and the rest 7 and above — 8 for Elim, 9 for the Salford Independent Evangelicals. More reassuringly, though, in answer to the question Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?  almost every reporter said yes, and in answer to the final question What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days‘ time there were quite a few nice things noted.

So there it is. My sample from the internet is too small to be statistically significant, and anyone interested should browse the ship-of-fools site, where there is much of irreverent interest and high entertainment. Meanwhile, if we suspect that the furtive stranger with the notebook in the next pew next week is a Mystery Worshipper, how exactly will we at St Faith‘s feel about the visit. And what will the report be like ...?

Funny you should say that, Bishop...

The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, demonstrated a touching unworldliness at a recent meeting of the Synod‘s House of Bishops. Presenting his report on transsexual clergy, he declared: ?If a man becomes a woman or a woman becomes a man, if they are priests they remain priests, willy-nilly‘ A look of baffled innocence came over him as he watched the faces of his colleagues turn Episcopal purple.

From the `Peterborough‘ column in the `Daily Telegraph‘

Spiritual Exercise?

Reciting the Ave Maria is good for a person‘s health because of the calming power of prayer, according to a recent Daily Telegraph  report supplied by Margaret Davies.

Repeating the rosary prayer slows down breathing, thereby improving the workings of the heart and lungs, according to a team from Italy. They found that the catholic practice was as effective as yoga i controlling breathing, enhancing concentration and inducing a feeling of calm.

The beneficial effects of the familiar prayer emerged after participants in the study were examined while talking normally, chanting a yoga mantra, reciting the Ave Maria, and during six minutes of controlled breathing. The team found that the Hail Mary and the mantra both slowed breathing to around six breaths per minute, a rate believed to be favourable to the functioning of the heart. It is also thought to improve concentration and induce calm.
Millicent Blundell

Some of the older members of the congregation will be sorry to hear of the recent passing of `Millie‘ Blundell, aged 95. She was a regular worshipper at St Faith‘s in the 1970s during Fr Peter Goodrich‘s time as vicar, and both he and Margaret attended her funeral at St Luke‘s.

From the Registers


2 December Lucy Florence Davies
 daughter of Miles and Tracie


11 December Michael John Richardson
28 December Kathleen Davies

A Meditation for Ash Wednesday  from Tim Dudley‘s `Ashes to Glory‘
'For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted' (Luke 14.11, RSV).

These words of Jesus should be set alongside those found in the Letter of James:'Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you' (James 4.10). They need this gloss, this expansion and commentary, because Jesus' own words are familiar to us but we often fail to grasp what they mean or to act upon them. If these words could be likened to the seed that the sower casts, then we would have to concede that they
have fallen on stony ground or else that the cares and pleasures of this world, like weeds and thistles, have overwhelmed them. The key words of our Western culture at the end of the century are 'luxurious','prestigious' and'exclusive'. This is not likely to create an environment in which humbleness is
valued. If you have what the world wants, flaunt it, exalt in it, make your neighbours envious of it!
We know that such behaviour is often a pretence, a false bolstering up, claiming more for oneself in the hope that that is how it will be. To him who has - or seems to have - shall more be given. Against this we hear the oft-repeated refrain of the funeral service: earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Houses decay, cars rust, memories tarnish, and we too are perishable, dust returning to dust. We do not exist of
ourselves. We cannot by effort, thought, or will-power make ourselves taller, count the number of hairs on our heads, or extend our lives. All that we are comes from outside us, and yet we are full of pretensions, pride and vanities of every sort.

We have not learned the lesson of Job, whom God addressed in these words:

Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
I will question you, and you shall declare to me.
Where were you when i laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements — surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together,
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
                   (Job 38.2-7, RSV)

Job at least acknowledged that he was of small account, that he had uttered what he did not understand, and made light of God. Job at least, when the truth was revealed to him of the distance between him and the Holy One whom angels worship, despised himself and repented in dust and ashes.We have to be persuaded of the need for such humility. Like the Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke
18.9-14) we count up what we do, what makes us different, our kindness, our generosity, our good works. Lent is intended to pull us up, to stop us in our tracks, and to enable us to check to evaluate our attitude to God. If we do not take notice, we are like the person who sees a warning about high voltage and danger of death and thinks that it is a clock battery.

We cannot plead ignorance. We cannot say, 'I did not know.' For we do know that the God whom we worship is the All-Holy, the Creator, the Ancient of Days, awful in majesty, the one to whom all hearts are open and all desires known, who made the heavens and the earth, and created all that is, visible and invisible. Before him is a devouring fire, round about him a mighty tempest. And it is this Lord who asks what right we have to recite his statutes or to take his covenant on our lips.

For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.
You make friends with a thief when you see one,
and you keep company with adulterers.
You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit . ..
These things you have done and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one just like yourself.
But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you.
(Psalm 50.17-21)

Why does the tax gatherer go home acquitted? Because of his realism and his honesty. He keeps his distance. He does not raise his eyes to heaven. He beats his breast. He humbles himself, and the Lord Almighty does not despise a contrite heart.

But he abhors self-righteousness and hypocrisy, the hypocrisy that expresses belief and trust in God, that confesses him as Lord, and yet no aspect of life is thereby changed. Should we not do for God at least some portion of what we readily do for ourselves and for others when the fancy takes us? For pleasure, for shopping, to visit friends, to satisfy some whim, we will give up time and expend energy, in comparison with which what we offer God is insulting, derisory, contemptible.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return. When we grasp that, when we confront our mortality, when we know what we really are, we will cease from exaltation, turn humbly to God and put our trust in him.

Celebrating Marriage

A Service of Celebration for National Marriage Week: this is open to all (married or not!) who value the Sacrament of Holy Marriage. An opportunity to renew vows and to pray for those who will be married during the year 2002 in both our parishes. PLEASE ENCOURAGE FRIENDS, NEIGHBOURS AND FAMILY MEMBERS TO COME ALONG!

HALL UPDATE...             Fr. Neil

At the last meeting of the Hall Renovation Committee in December a decision was made to proceed with the Consultation process within the community prior to lodging a bid with the National Lottery Board. We will hold two public meetings: one in the Church Hall itself, the other in The Civic Hall. Brochures will be delivered to homes in the Parish (in the same way as we do the Christmas and Easter leaflets) and to many other voluntary agencies and groups in the area.

At this preliminary stage we need everyone‘s thoughts and ideas.

We invite you to come to one of these public meetings at which there will be a photographic display showing the present state of the hall. There will be details of current activities and groups using the hall and there will be a presentation and general discussion. We would welcome proposals and suggestions from members of the church and community to help us take this exciting project forward.

The dates of the meetings are:

Monday 28 January 2002 8pm
Civic Hall, Liverpool Road North, Waterloo

Monday 11 February 2002 8pm
Saint Faith‘s Church Hall, Milton Road, Waterloo

Please come along, and encourage others to do so. All ideas are needed!