The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great
Saint Faith’s Prayer for
Faithful God, in baptism you have adopted us as your children,
made us members of the body of Christ and chosen us as inheritors
of your kingdom:
bless our plans for mission and outreach; guide us to seek and do
empower us by your Spirit to share our faith in witness and to serve,
and send us out as disciples of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
the Ministry Team
2007 – A year of golden opportunities
It was the Methodist minister and writer Neville Ward who said that
unless we change, we cannot grow. And the Roman Catholic John
Henry Newman said “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have
We know we are in a state of flux and change in the Church of England.
We can bury our heads in the sand all we like, or we can read the signs
of the times and engage with the risky business of trying to proclaim
the faith afresh in our generation.
It’s not just about dealing with empty pews and money, though it has to
be said that without new people who may turn into potential committed
givers we won’t have a church here in five years’ time. The basis for
mission is about something different. If we think mission is on the
agenda because were short of money and numbers then we have lost the
plot big time. Mission is quite honestly about bringing others to the
joy of the Gospel which we experience, or should do! Mission is the
theme shining out of the Crib at Christmas. The message of the Crib is
that God is love - and the response to the Crib must be the desire to
share that love. Any other response is quite frankly selfish!
Both parishes face a challenging year as we continue our discussions
about mission and ministry and seek to explore fresh ways in which all
our buildings can be used to greater effect throughout our United
Benefice and in the wider community.
On Sunday 7th January (The Feast of the Baptism of Christ) there is the
opportunity to renew our baptismal promises as well as making a firm
commitment to mission throughout the year.
That is a day for everyone to be in church, not just to renew our
commitment to serving the Lord in our area, but because it is a
powerful way of demonstrating our support for one another in this task.
This year the annual Away-day booked for Saturday 12th May will be open
to all members of our congregations in order to ensure that we involve
as many people as possible in these important discussions and
deliberations. And please remember that PCC meetings are open to all.
I am firmly convinced that if we commit ourselves to prayer, discussion
and listening, and if we truly open ourselves to the outpouring and
guidance of the Holy Spirit, 2007 will be a significant year in which
the life of our United Benefice is truly blessed.
All sorts of new things are possible – let us be brave and take the
journey together! Please remember me in your prayers as I remember you
God of unchanging power,
your Holy Spirit enables your Church
to proclaim your love afresh in
challenging times and places:
give to our United Benefice
fresh understanding and a clear vision,
that together we may respond
to the call
to be your disciples,
and so rejoice in the blessings of
we ask this in the name of Him
who gave His life that ours may
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Dates for January
Monday 1st DAY OF PRAYER FOR WORLD PEACE
12.00 noon New
Year’s Day Eucharist followed by a glass of Champagne to welcome the
Friday 5th EVE OF THE EPIPHANY
Eucharist with hymns (SM)
Procession & Solemn Eucharist (SF)
Preacher: Fr. Paul Robinson (S. Thomas’s, Lydiate
& S. Cuthbert’s, Halsall) followed by Epiphany Carols and
Su 7 THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST –
DAY OF COMMITMENT TO MISSION
11.00 am Solemn
Eucharist with renewal of Baptismal promises and commitment to
Epiphany-tide “Songs of Praise” (SM) followed
by wine and mince pies
Sa 20 10 am –
1pm The Bishop of Liverpool’s Conference for the
Su 21 CHRISTIAN UNITY SUNDAY
11.00 am Sung
M 22 8.00 pm
Th 25 8.00 pm
Meeting of Pastoral Link People (Vicarage)
Th 25 – Tu 30
Men’s Group Retreat
Th 25 7.30 pm
Healing Service (SF)
M 29 8.00 pm
Baptism Visitors’ Group Meeting (Vicarage)
.. to all who have worked so hard during the month of December, not
just with the usual preparation for services but the extras too:
Childern’s Craft Day, Sunday School party, Christingle making, and the
Senior Citizens’ Lunch. We might have some challenging times ahead but
we certainly have some fun times too!
Thank you all.
We are delighted to be able to announce formally the appointment, as
from January 1st, of Paul Burnett as Director of Music in the United
Benefice. We welcome him most warmly and look forward to the start of
his official duties.
At the same time we record our sincere thanks to Stephen Hargreaves,
who has been an excellent and hard-working Acting Director of Music
since Ged Callacher’s departure - and we are pleased and relieved that
he will be continuing to serve both churches as Deputy Organist now
that Paul is enthroned.
We asked Paul to introduce himself:
'I come from the small town of Bridgwater in Somerset. I had a musical
interest from a very early age and all but taught myself piano, having
had just a few formal lessons at the age of about five or six. I guess
even at that age I didn’t much like being told what the teacher told
me. I suppose even at my time at Wellington School in Somerset I was
seen as a bit of a naughty boy, always bunking off school. Later in
life I never minded being described by other organists as, “the carpet
fitter from South East London”. In fact, I quite liked the label
because I preferred to wear jeans and a rugby top instead of a suit to
local organist association meetings, much to the disgust of some.
Perhaps that gives some indication of my personality and what makes me
tick. I have great regard for tradition and culture but less time for
qualifications and paperwork.
By the age of eleven I found myself as a choirboy at St Mary’s Parish
Church, where my younger brother at that time was already in the choir.
I have to confess that my joining the choir was very much against my
parents’ wishes, but I wanted the opportunity to go on trips and
excursions rather than anything else. Whilst at St. Mary’s my interests
changed unexpectedly but very quickly to sacred choral music. Having
been told that my piano playing was anything but subtle, this seemed an
ideal opportunity to play the organ instead! Here I also did the odd
spot of bellringing.
In 1987, at the age of fourteen, I left St Mary’s to become organist at
St John the Baptist, Bridgwater. During this time I played the organ
for all services as well as training the choir. I took the opportunity
to join the Royal School of Church Music Southern Cathedral Singers. I
was fortunate to be given the opportunity to be organist for several
annual pilgrimages for a number of years.
In 1996 I left Somerset and moved to London, where I attended Trinity
College of Music, specialising in organ performance. I also worked with
voice and harpsichord as second studies. I obtained my BMus Honours
degree in 1999. During this time I was organist at St Margaret’s Lee,
London. After leaving music college I went to be organist and
choirmaster at the church of St Andrew the Apostle, Catford, where I
remained until the organ became unplayable. I balanced my church job
with working in a bank, as an estate agent, and in the post room of an
interior design company.
I followed on to do my PGCE in Secondary Music at Goldsmith’s College
in London and spent several years as a full-time secondary school music
teacher. My latest church appointments were at the United Benefice of
All Saint’s Foots Cray with St James North Cray, Kent. I was pleased to
re-establish a robed choir at St James after it had been gone for a
good number of years and I got both choirs working together across the
benefice. I would definitely say my main interest is working with
choirs and pipe organs rather than working in the classroom. I enjoy
playing organs but maintain an overall interest in their construction
and maintenance. I also have a particular interest in choral tone. My
influences are traditional old-school English masters such as George
Thalben-Ball, Harold Darke and the choir of King’s College under David
Willcocks. If only I had been born a hundred years earlier! As an
organist, I very much admire Martin Baker’s style of playing. My other
interests include real ale and driving (but not at the same time). I
describe myself as a true Englishman in most respects.
I am delighted to have been appointed Director of Music to the United
Benefice. I am overjoyed at the warm welcome I have received from both
churches, together with numerous good wishes. I have been made to feel
very welcome. I hope to be able to draw on my previous experience of
working within a busy united benefice and encouraging new junior choir
members along with the adults. I hope to serve both churches to the
best of my ability and to uphold and continue the excellent work of my
predecessors. Like them I believe church music has the power to make
the liturgy come alive. I believe in working to a high standard,
upholding a traditional choral tradition and making music accessible
and appealing within the church today. I would like to offer my thanks
to Fr. Neil and the churchwardens for offering me the appointment. I
hope that together we can continue to make both St. Faith’s and St.
Mary’s exciting places to be. I look forward to furthering the music at
both churches within the United Benefice.'
The Daily Telegraph of December 8th carried attacks by two separate
writers on the often-reported trend towards the secularisation of
Christmas and what many see as the campaign to marginalise Christianity
even further in our society. The writers are Religion Correspondent
Jonathan Petre, quoting Dr John Sentamu, the forthright Archbishop of
York, and columnist Jeff Randall, and their eloquent pieces give heart
to those of us who still Stand up for Jesus.
According to Jonathan Petre, Dr Sentamu is clear about what is
happening. He is waging all-out war on secularists, who, he claims, are
unfairly blaming other faiths to advance their own anti-religious
agenda. ‘They are trying to pretend that it is possible to enter into
the true meaning of Christmas by leaving out Jesus Christ,’ he says.
‘This really is the case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater,
or in this case throwing out the crib at Christmas.’ They pervert and
abuse any notion of diversity with flawed arguments about
multi-culturalism for the sake of promoting a narrow agenda. And ‘other
faith communities, who have stated categorically that they are in no
way offended by Christmas, know that if Christmas falls, they will be
He quotes John Mortimer, playwright and atheist (and creator of the
wonderful Horace Rumpole), who said; ‘Our whole history and culture in
Europe is based on Christianity, whether you believe in it or not. Our
culture is Christian: Shakespeare, Mozart – all that makes life worth
living is part of the Christian tradition.’
The columnist tells that three out of four employers have banned
Christmas decorations for fear of offending other faiths, and an
alarming 74% of managers are not allowing any decorations in their
offices this year.
Jeff Randall doesn’t pull his punches either: his article is headed
‘Christmas is being crucified by white, middle-class do-gooders’. He
says he is binning all the cards he receives which have no Christian
images or which fail to mention ‘the “C” word’. He says he is no
‘wierdo fundamentalist’: ‘I flicker somewhere between an agnostic and a
mild believer.’ His protest is about resisting those who ‘seem hell
bent on turning Christianity into a crime.’
He quotes the same depressing statistics as Jonathan Petre, claiming
that employers have been told that they could be sued if they were to
allow displays of Christian joy, but not those of other religions.
Then, and most satisfyingly for this writer, he sounds off about ‘the
health-and-safety stormtroopers’ who are ‘parking their tanks on our
tinsel. Santa’s sleighs need seat-belts, and mince-pies must be
“risk-assessed” before being handed out to children.’
Returning to the basic theme, he stresses that, far from being offended
by a Christian Christmas, Muslims, Jews and Hindus in this country and
elsewhere welcome our celebrations and are often happy to be part of
them. No, ‘the demons in this horror-story of crucifying Christians
(there he goes again, mixing up his Great Feasts!) are white,
middle-class do-gooders, whose assumptions of a superior morality are
as disgraceful as they are disgusting.’ In the view of Dr John Sentamu,
the splendid Archbishop of York (Randall’s phrase, but shared by this
writer) they are the “chattering classes” who see themselves as holding
a flag for an atheist Britain.’ Randall goes further, and sees a more
pernicious purpose: that of eliminating ‘the teaching and guidance of
old-fashioned Christianity’, which so offends them. Thus Christian
voluntary groups are harassed on the grounds that being a Christian
excludes ‘diversity’ and Christian Unions at universities are suspended
for insisting that their members have Christian beliefs. ‘Somewhere
along the line, a loose federation of diversity champions, equality
campaigners and human-rights activists has metamorphosed into a
tyrannical minority for whom Christmas is an abomination,’ he
It is easy to see these as the views of a right-wing diehard obsessed
with conspiracy theories; nevertheless the facts reported in these
articles and the opinions stated will ring bells with many of us, I
guess. We are undeniably now a minority in this country, with shrinking
congregations almost everywhere (although the reverse is, intriguingly,
true of cathedral congregations, which seem to be growing equally
rapidly). In my lifetime I have seen church membership change slowly
from being an accepted norm to an increasingly small minority activity.
We should always take heart from recalling that the church has survived
many such apparently terminal declines, and successfully faced down
more than few prolonged attacks on its beliefs and status in past
centuries – and, God willing, it will continue to do so. But it needs
us – and articulate and vocal champions like those whom I have quoted –
to identify the enemy and to Fight the Good Fight. If we don’t Stand up
for Jesus, then no-one else will. And a Happy and Blessed Christian
Christmas to us all.
updates us on what has been happening in our original and very much
ongoing Missionary project
Much has happened in Mthumtama over the past months. The greatest news
being the birth of Maranatha Dzantengi, a new son for Frank and Eunice,
whom many of you will remember as the charismatic couple who visited
our church some years ago. Having lost their daughter Rachel due
to malaria, then their wonderful son Emmanuel, who drowned, this little
boy is really something special. Eunice was very poorly before
visiting U.K. and it was thought most unlikely she would ever have
another child, but, as you will see from the photograph, at ten months
old he is most certainly thriving. How fortunate that the
hospital is now so well-developed and able to enhance the lives of so
many poor people.
long-awaited operating theatre is now complete, thanks to a
generous donation from Aspect Capital
Ltd., a hedge fund management company in London. A
representative of the company
found the Medic Malawi
website, was intrigued by
the progress the
charity had made
and contacted Mac
Forsyth for further
information. After making
initial contact, it transpired this company was looking for a really
worthwhile charity to sponsor and Medic Malawi was just what was being
sought. Of particular interest to the prospective donor was the fact
that every penny donated would go directly to helping the people,
without massive administrative overheads. The building houses a large
and light main theatre, a minor ops. theatre, prep. rooms, post op.
room, nurses’ room, clinicians’ room, showers and all necessary storage
Adjacent to the new theatre building is the labour ward/delivery rooms
which, even though they are regarded as among the best in Malawi, will
be upgraded in the next phase of development to give an additional
delivery room. The need to enhance the maternity facility is a result
of the popularity of St. Andrew’s Hospital and the campaign to persuade
mothers to deliver at a hospital, because statistically one Malawian
mother in seven dies in childbirth. Patients are now coming to St.
Andrew’s not only from Kasungu, 30 kms away, but also from Lilongwe,
130 kms away, because of the quality of care received. Some of
these people are health professionals working in other medical
Exciting news is that St. Andrew’s, which opened in August 2001 as a
small clinic, has been upgraded first to a rural health centre and in
August 2006 to a community hospital. It is
hoped to develop a
purpose-built voluntary counselling
and testing unit for
HIV/AIDS patients and, as new staff houses are built, to develop new
water supplies. Thanks to South West Water and St. Peter’s
School, Exeter, the hospital now has a new bore-hole as a stand-by
should there ever be problems with the main water supply.
The nutritional feeding programme, created to feed under fives
suffering from malnutrition had, in mid August, just two patients, but
by mid September this had risen to nine. By November the number has
increased to over 100, the poor rains having again affected the maize
crops. To help overcome some of the food shortages, much maize was
bought during the time of plenty, when prices were lower and now 100
bags containing 100kgs of maize are safely stored for future use,
having first been treated with actelic dust to prevent weevil
The orphan house now has 32 children living in it and other orphans who
are living with foster parents are fed every day. Fifty children are
sponsored at the primary school, 87 at the secondary school and the
kindergarten has 40 children, over half orphans, who are fed each day
as part of the kindergarten programme. Funds are now available to
complete the second half of the second orphan house, so that we shall
soon be able to accommodate another 30 or so youngsters.
Medic Malawi endeavours to offer staff the opportunity to enhance their
qualifications, provided they undertake to continue working at St.
Andrew’s after becoming qualified. Sometimes a reminder of why
the work of Medic Malawi is so important may be useful and the
following experience serves such a purpose.
The house boy was asked if he had a mosquito net. “They are too
expensive” he replied. (They cost 25p.) Just imagine being
so poor, yet this equipment could save so many lives. He then told an
even more heart-rending tale. The day before he had met a young boy
aged about 13 in the market. The boy explained that last year both his
parents had died and that a week ago his older sister had run away. The
boy himself had been thrown out of the house where he had been living
by the village headman. The lad had nowhere to go, no-one to pay his
school fees, no-one to give him food or shelter. Thankfully, with the
orphan house and the sponsors who support pupils at the secondary
school, the boy now has a roof over his head, food to eat, a caring
community and the chance to be educated.
Sustainability and self-help have always been at the core of all that
Medic Malawi has sought to achieve so, with this in mind, land,
purchased adjacent to the hospital for future development, is being
used for a drip-feed irrigation system, which will enable the growing
of two or even three crops a year and which will also be a tremendous
teaching aid in showing what can be done if water is available. Such a
project could prove immensely valuable over the next few years.
Medic Malawi would like to thank those who donate through the “100
Club”, for it is these donations which are the basic source of revenue
for the charity. The original target of 100 members each donating
£10 per month, now falls far short of what is needed so if you
are in a position to contribute in such a way do please contact me –
remember every penny goes to Malawi.
Week by week, our prayers are asked through the weekly bulletin,
online, in church and in our homes for those in special need and known
to members and friends of our congregation. It is good to be able to
report on two such people and to give thanks for their return to health
For some time now, the name of Kelley Blythe has been among those we
have been praying for on Sundays in church. I thought readers might
like to know who Kelley is, and how he is getting on.
Kelley is my son-in-law, and a serving soldier. Following service
abroad in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq, he developed serious liver trouble,
as a result of which he was repatriated to the UK and underwent medical
investigation and treatment, culminating in a successful liver
transplant last July. Thankfully, he is making steady progress and it
is very much hoped that he will be able to rejoin his regiment in
Germany some time after Easter.
Kelley is therefore no longer on our ‘sick list’, but he, his family
and of course his mother-in-law are very grateful for the support and
prayers of the family of St Faith’s during the months of illness and
For several months now, we have been praying for this child and I am
writing to thank everyone for their prayers and to provide an update on
Elsie is the grandchild of one of my oldest friends, and, since her
Baptism at St. Faith’s on 12th November, is also my God-daughter. Elsie
was born in June and became seriously ill with an E.Coli infection. She
was hospitalised and kept on antibiotics for several weeks after she
came home. She is now making a very good recovery.
Joyce adds a footnote: Ted and I were amused to see this sign in a
Little Chef, near Whitchurch: ‘All our sausages are British
outdoor-reared. FREE RANGE!’
(I hope they bring them indoors in the winter, poor little things!)
Papa pauses for Peter (and Margaret)!
At the same time that a group from St. Faith’s were on a pilgrimage to
Rome, Michael and Anne Holland and Peter and Margaret Goodrich were
enjoying a Mediterranean Cruise. This also gave them the opportunity of
a day touring the ancient city. After spending nearly three hours, with
many other people, exploring the magnificence of St. Peter's a rest for
coffee (or beer in my case) was required. We quickly found a suitable
cafe and sat around a table outside on the pavement near the entrance
to Vatican City. Very soon we were alerted by a considerable amount of
Police activity (in Italy, this means general panic!) A cavalcade of
motor-bikes preceded a large car bearing the Pope himself! He virtually
stopped right in front of us and acknowledged the gathering.
A reflection for
the Epiphany, first published in the magazine of the Community of the
Resurrection, the Anglican Mirfield Fathers, by
Fr Dominic Whitnall, C.R.
Journey of the Magi
“In the days of Herod the King wise
men came from the East to Jerusalem” (Matthew 2.1)
The title of Magi, which is sometimes given to these wise men, comes
from a Persian word, Magus, used for members of a priestly caste. Marco
Polo heard the story of their journey when on his travels in the far
east c.1275. So presumably they travelled a long way before reaching
Jerusalem. It was to be the journey of their lifetime, and the only
event recorded about them - wise men searching for the True Wisdom. It
was a long search. It was a remarkable act of faith, for they set out
not knowing where they were going, or what they would find.
The life of each one of us is a single journey. In our one life time we
have one reason for it, to reach the true end of our journey - perhaps
not even knowing what we seek, what draws us on. When we get towards
its close we see it has a remarkable unity. It all relates together,
and it is all under one guiding star. At times we ask where am I going,
to what will it all lead? “O God give me faith to continue to seek, to
search, to keep moving on. There is so much to discover, and such great
experience lies ahead.”
“We have seen his star in the East ...
The star went before them.” (Matthew 2.2,9)
The Magi may have been astrologers; or, like many people, believed they
could see their destiny in the stars. At any rate, the appearance of a
new star had great significance for them. It appeared to move west.
They decided to follow it. There was a tradition that a new star
heralded the birth of a great prince. If we take the other title given
to these men we see them as kings who were seeking a King more noble
To travel by starlight meant to travel by night. It made for a very
difficult journey, but it was safer. Their retinue and wealth would
have attracted too much attention by day. They were carrying rich
gifts. Led on by a heavenly light they were seeking the True Light -
yet the light was accompanying them all the way.
We travel in search of God, but often in darkness. Faith grows dim, and
then it quickens again. What perseverance I need, what resolve that I
may never give up the search. That would be terrible, and lead to utter
darkness. Each day is given me to follow closer, to progress, to
believe by faith that I will reach my journey's end. God never leaves
me without some light, enough to see ahead.Though outwardly it may grow
very dim, yet inwardly God is with me. As Christ said, “He that
followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
“Gold, frankincense and myrrh.”
From the mention of three gifts carried by the Magi we think there were
three of them. Perhaps each brought the gift that symbolized his land.
They were the first Gentiles, non-Jews, to came seeking the Christ;
they are assumed to have been men of three different races. As fellow
students of the heavens, they shared the attraction that the new star
gave them. The same one light was given to three different people.
They were not alone seeking the mystery signified by the Star. They had
companions on the way. Their desire, their faith and their courage gave
mutual support. They had the unity of a deep common purpose. The fact
that there was more than one of them made a big difference on arriving
at Jerusalem. A single searcher might have been very differently
treated by King Herod.
God gives me travelling companions often not of my own choosing. I have
to accommodate to them and share the journey. They also have gifts to
bring to God. I may be tempted to think that t could get there much
faster without them, or that I know the way better, or can manage by
myself. The fact is that I depend on the wisdom of others all the time.
The way is far too difficult to find all by myself. I am to recognise
that those with whom I travel are also in search of the One True God; I
need their support and encour-agement, just as they need mine. If I
truly accept them they will make a great difference to my journey.
Without them I might never get to journey’s end.
“When they had heard King Herod they went their way, and lo, the Star
they had seen in the east went before them.” (Matthew 2.9) Apparently
when the Magi got near to Jerusalem they lost sight of the Star. They
had to enquire of the local people whether they had seen it. This led
to a lot of trouble, and, being reported to the King, brought him into
the picture, dangerously. It brought into jeopardy the very object of
their search; and they themselves only escaped by taking a different
route home. The hardest part of their journey took place when they were
nearing its end. The light seemed to have gone out altogether. Their
very lives were in danger. Yet, unexpected by them, the chief priests
of Jerusalem provided the very guidance and knowledge they needed to
reach their goal.
If the journey of my life gets very hard towards the end, I do know
that this has been an experience for many people. It is as if God is
testing my faith to the uttermost. The very difficulty of the way is
actually challenging my resolution, to find my life's fulfilment at all
costs. It is the pain that makes all the more wonderful the joy that is
to follow. When light did return for the wise men, we read in verse 10,
“when they saw the Star they rejoiced exceed ingly with great joy.”
Their happiness knew no bounds. The long journey was near its end, and
what they were to find exceeded every possible expectation. “It was,
you may say, satisfactory.”
“The Star came to rest over the place
where the child was.” (Matthew 2.9)
There are charming illuminations of Bethlehem, painted by medieval
artists. They show the roof of thatch or wood above the crib of the
child - Christ, pulled apart by angels so that the light of the Star
can shine right through onto the child; the ray of Star-light rests on
the child, and the child is the Light Itself.
For the three wise men there was no mistaking the final outcome of
their long search. Maybe it had to be so unmistakable, because it was
so unexpected, so very surprising. The Royal Child whose birth was
predicted by the Star, as the Prince of all, a King of Kings, lay in
utmost simplicity and humility on the lap of a maiden - Mary of
Truly wise, these men were not disillusioned. They fell down,
worshipped, and offered the gifts that represented the offering of
their lives and of their people and of their country. The light that
enlightened the Gentiles is the Light that God gives to my own heart.
The Light is Christ. He is Light of Lights and God of Gods - the only
True Light, the Light that enlightens everyone coming into the world.
In His Light, I see Light. Here is the certainty after all the
uncertainty. Why did I ever doubt? I ask myself. No words could
describe the marvel of God. I long to do Him obeisance, to come to Him,
to give Him all that I have and am. The longing is just the beginning
of the finding, and to find Him is bliss indeed.
Tribulations of Christians in Cordoba
We were in Cordoba for the feast of Corpus Christi, traditionally held
on the first Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Reputed to be the
hottest part of Spain, the temperature was considerably lower
than in Lancashire two days before!
Cordoba is a town where layers of history have been mixed up over many
centuries. It was once a thriving Roman outpost, connected by
roads and river to other parts of the empire.
Today, many houses and other buildings contain columns of Roman origin
incorporated in their walls. A year ago, while foundations were being
dug for a new town hall, a well-preserved Roman acropolis was
unearthed. This is in the process of restoration and the town hall
moved next door.
In Roman times, a Christian basilica dedicated to San Vicente existed
until the eight century when, after the Moorish conquest, the ruler
built a mosque on the site using stone from the basilica.
During the next 200 years, peace reigned in the city. Schools and
hospitals were founded, with separate clinics for lepers, and the
mosque was extended. All sides could be opened to the courtyard, with
its fountains and rows of date palms allowing the lines of interior
columns with their red brick and white stone decoration to appear as
part of an oasis with brilliant shafts of light filtering through.
The re-conquest from the Moors was a slow process, but gradually
Christianity returned to Cordoba. Christians once again were able to
worship in a simple chapel built inside the mosque, then in the 16th
century, the mosque was ‘Christianised’. Its roof was raised and a
dominating Renaissance cathedral with Baroque high altar was built. A
sculptor from Seville carved the mahogany choir stalls and the walls
were decorated with religious paintings by eminent artists. A
spectacular gold monstrance, still carried in the annual Corpus Christi
procession, was commissioned and the cathedral became the resting-place
of reliquaries said to contain the bones of Saint Ursula and Saint
But then in the twentieth century conflict returned. In the cathedral
is a memorial plaque to many priests, supporters of General Franco, who
were ‘killed by communists’ during the Spanish Civil War.
We should give thanks that the flame of Christianity in Cordoba, which
at times of persecution during the last centuries flickered but was
never extinguished, is burning strongly today.
Letter to the Editor
64 Four Acre Crescent, Downend, Bristol
Just to let you know ‘someone out there’ is indeed reading these pages
and very avidly from cover to cover each month! Congratulations on
continuing to produce a tip-top parish magazine, Chris – and the photos
are excellent and help me to build up an image of St Faith’s and its
family. Indeed I now feel one of the family, joining in your worship,
many other activities and fun and reading all the news at home and
overseas. Sorry you have lost Ged but we wish him well in his future
(wife of the ex-editor of Christ Church Parish Link – coming third to
your well-deserved first in the National Magazine all those years ago!)
(Newer readers may
not know of this success for Newslink, joint national winners of a
competition for the best church magazine, and presented with the award
by the then Archbishop of Canterbury. Ed)
A sermon preached in the run-up to
A comedy sketch in a satirical revue many years ago depicted a group of
monks preparing for the end of the world. They climbed to the top of a
mountain to await it. The Father Superior duly announced that it would
come in 30 seconds, and there followed the dramatic countdown. ‘15
seconds, 10, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, zero!’ Together, in splendid Gregorian
Chant, the monks sang: ‘Now is the end, perish the world.’ An awkward
silence descended, broken by one of the fraternity enquiring whether it
A further silence ended with the Father Superior exclaiming, ‘Well,
it’s not quite the conflagration I’d been banking on. Never mind, lads,
same time tomorrow. We must get a winner one day!’
Truth is often spoken in jest, and it’s easy to poke fun at those who
try to predict the end of the world. One thing the Adventist sects have
grasped is the impermanence of life in
this world. Here, as the New Testament soberly reminds us, we have no
abiding city. We are strangers and pilgrims, not permanent residents.
We belong somewhere else. This world will not go on indefinitely for
God, who is the Lord of all history, will wind up history: will bring
it to its consummation.
For John Henry Newman to write: ‘I do not ask to see the distant scene;
one step enough for me’ was good insofar as it encouraged trust, but it
fell short if it implied that we cannot be sure if we will ever arrive.
The courting couple have a right to know that they will eventually be
able to get married. The approaching season of Advent is the assurance
that we shall reach our destination. The Day will come.
The Day of the Lord, though, isn’t a date we can put a circle round on
the calendar, or go up to the belfry to watch out for. As Charles
Harold Dodd observed many years ago, ‘It is such that no other event
could follow or need follow upon it, because in it the whole purpose of
God is revealed and fulfilled.’
Our understanding of the word ‘time’ needs to be clarified. We use it
in two senses. First there is clock time, measured in hours and
minutes. Then there is the time for action, in the sense of timing. The
young man proposing to his fiancée doesn’t look at his watch,
but intuitively senses that the moment has come to ‘pop the question’.
Similarly, in St John’s Gospel, we read that Jesus felt that ‘the hour
had come’, not because of the time of day, but because it was the
Jesus came ‘in the fullness of time’, that is, when it was appropriate,
not because it was, so to speak, 23.59 hours at Bethlehem. Thus the Day
of the Lord isn’t something that will begin at dawn and last 24 hours.
The Advent season contains both a promise and a warning. The Second
Coming of the Lord will be like the first: sudden and searching. His
first coming as a baby inaugurated the first Day of the Lord, the day
of Judgement. As St John tells us, ‘For this is the judgement that
light has come into the world and men prefer darkness to light.’ He
came in great humility and will at the last day, as the Advent Collect
reminds us, ‘come in his glorious majesty’.
One of the great truths at the heart of our religion is that Jesus is
always coming. Every day is the Day of the Lord. It presents us with
the need for decision and the offer of deliverance. Do we, though,
recognise him in our human encounters? Jesus taught that he was
mysteriously present in the poor, the sick, the hungry, the despised,
the oppressed and the marginalised – just as he is mysteriously and
sacramentally present in the bread and the wine of the Holy Eucharist.
The Russian theologian Turgenev tells how on one occasion he was in a
church when a man came up from behind and stood beside him. He felt the
man was Christ. When he came to look, he saw a face just like any other
face, very ordinary. ‘What sort of Christ is this?’ he asked himself.
Gradually he came to see that Christ has a face like all men’s faces.
For him, it was the Day of the Lord.
As that great Christian apologist of the 1950s and 60s, C.S.Lewis,
wisely observed: ‘Precisely because we cannot predict the Day, we must
be ready any day’…
‘And then they will see the Son of Man, coming in the clouds with great
power and glory.’
Club Draw Winners
On December 7th Fred and Linda Nye returned safely from Sierra
Leone where, as part of a small group representing the Waterloo
Partnership, they had gone to meet some of their opposite numbers in
Waterloo, Sierra Leone, and to see for themselves what things are
really like in our namesake community.
Readers will of course know that St Faith’s has been an active
‘founder-partner’ in the Partnership since its beginning. They may not
know that Linda and Fred have been responsible for a vast amount of
hard work and logistical planning in connection with the despatch of a
series of containers full of goods and gifts for Sierra Leone: without
their sterling efforts it might well have been all but impossible for
these regular and deeply valued shipments to have been sent out.
Among the people they were delighted to meet in ‘W.S.L.’ was Canon
Claudius Leighton Davies, Anglican Rural Dean of Waterloo, to whom I
have been sending Newslink for two years or so. God
willing, he and his wife will be returning the
compliment by visiting us towards the end of January, when it will be
so good to welcome them.
The vicar was worried how he was going to ask the congregation to come
up with more money to pay the Diocesan quota. Therefore, he was annoyed
to find that the organist was sick and a stand-in had been brought in
at the last minute. The new organist wanted to know what to play.
‘Here’s a copy of the service,’ the vicar said. ‘But you’ll have to
think of something to play after I make the announcement at the end
about the finances.’
After the service, the vicar gravely announced: ‘My friends, we are in
great difficulty; the the quota has gone up twice as much as we
expected and we need £4,000 more. Any of
you who can pledge £100 or more, please stand up.’
At that moment, the stand-in organist played ‘God save the
Queen’. And that is how he became the permanent organist.
(No resemblance to
the way in which Paul was appointed! For more bad church jokes
see the church website. Ed.)
to St Faith's Home Page