The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great
Saint Faith’s Prayer for
God of unchanging power, your Holy Spirit enables us to
proclaim your love in challenging times and places:
give us fresh understanding and a clear vision, that together we may
respond to the call
to be your disciples and to rejoice in the blessings of your kingdom;
we ask this in the name of Him who gave His life that ours might
your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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the Ministry Team
Christmas (and New Year particularly) often brings about a desire to
assess our lives, to look at lessons learned from the year
past (or ignore them at our peril) and perhaps to make some firm
resolves for the future. That is the theory, at least! We often talk of
New Year resolutions, though for Christians they should start on Advent
Sunday when the ‘new year’ really begins.
The message of Christmas is that every moment of every day is indeed a
precious gift from God. It is an opportunity either to embrace or
reject God; the opportunity to choose one path over another or make a
right decision instead of a wrong one. The true message of Christmas –
Emmanuel (God-is-with-us) – is one we often fail to live out. We worry
so much about past wrongs and the guilt that exists, often being far
more harsh on ourselves than our heavenly Father would ever be. We are
anxious so much for the future, and what that may or may not bring,
that we fail to see the beauty that is staring us in the face. Go to a
mirror and look into it. See what I am talking about. I am sure that
many of the world’s problems would disappear if we learned to love
ourselves a bit more and take ourselves as seriously as God takes us!
That is what Christmas is about, you see – it is God’s way of taking us
seriously. God chose the only way he could to demonstrate just how
serious he was about us: he came to be one of us.
I recently had to read a book in preparation for a talk I was giving.
It is by Peter Gomes and is called “The Good Book – reading the Bible
with heart and mind”. It’s a fascinating book and full of very
insightful approaches. Gomes says that “Good News is not that we are
worse than we think but better than we think”. He goes on to say that:
“…at the very bottom of the whole enterprise is the indisputable fact
that we are created, made, formed, invented, patented in the image of
goodness itself. That is what it means, that is how one
translates being created in the image of God: it means to
created in the image of goodness itself, we are cast from a perfect die
and the imprint is on us, and it cannot be evaded or avoided. God made
us, male and female, in the image of goodness, and goodness itself is
who and what we are, and God pronounced it good, and hence it is good,
because, as the kid in the ghetto said, ‘God don’t make no junk. What
God makes is good’.”
So look in the mirror this Christmas and view a ‘good creation’. God
saw all that he had made, and indeed it was very good! However, taking
on board the fact that God doesn’t create rubbish also challenges the
way we view and treat other people. Loving others can be as hard as
When we fail to try and love others we have lost sight of the spark of
God within us. I said to a taxi driver the other day that part of me
dislikes Christmas because when I wake up on 26th December the world is
still in a mess. What has changed?
What can change is that we open ourselves up to the possibility of
being changed and of growing in love. When we think that Christmas is
about that “happy ever after/soft gooey feeling” then no wonder we are
disappointed before New Year arrives. The very tough Christmas message
challenges us to believe that we are loved and loveable. But humility
is required in order for that to happen! That doesn’t come easy to many
of us, despite what we proudly tell ourselves! (How many of us use the
word ‘please’ in our prayers, either privately or in public prayer?)
And many of us are so much ‘better’ than other people, aren’t we?
Humility is the hardest thing in the world. Once you have mastered it,
you’ve lost it!
C. S. Lewis (in “Mere Christianity”) said “According to Christian
teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity,
anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in
comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride
leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
The Christmas Crib, in place until Candlemass, speaks to us of the
humility of God, counting the ‘low estate’ the best place on earth to
be! “With the poor and mean and lowly, lived on earth our Saviour holy.”
If we do any soul-searching and resolution-making at Christmas and New
Year, it must surely be to try and discover how loveable we are and how
we need to let go of our pride and let God take control.
It is a daily process; there are no quick fixes or magic solutions.
However, the process can work if we have the humility to allow that to
happen. So, if you are looking for a ‘new year resolution’ I suggest
perhaps that you find a few minutes each morning to start the day with
the piece overleaf, entitled “Just for Today”.
Try saying this – just for today – and see what happens!
With my love and prayers at this holy season,
Just for today I will live through this day only, and not set
far-reaching goals to try to overcome all my problems at once. I know I
can do something for 24 hours that would appal me if I thought I had to
keep it up for a lifetime.
Just for today I will be happy. Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are
about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” He was right. I will
not dwell on thoughts that depress me. I will chase them out of my mind
and replace them with happy thoughts.
Just for today I will adjust myself to what is. I will face reality, I
will correct those things that I can correct and accept those things I
Just for today I will improve my mind. I will not be a mental loafer. I
will force myself to read something that requires effort, thought and
Just for today I will do something positive to improve my health. If I
am a smoker, I’ll make an honest effort to quit. If I’m overweight, I
will eat nothing I know to be fattening. And I will force myself to
exercise - even if it is only walking around the block or using the
stairs instead of the lift.
Just for today I’ll do something I been putting off for a long time.
I’ll finally write that letter, make that phone call, clean that
wardrobe or straighten out those dresser drawers.
Just for today before I speak I will ask myself, “Is it true? Is it
kind?” and if the answer to either of those questions is negative, I
won’t say it.
Just for today I will make a conscious effort to be agreeable. I will
look as good as I can, dress becomingly, talk softly, act courteously
and not interrupt when someone else is talking.
Just for today I will not try to improve anybody except myself.
Just for today I will have a programme. I may not follow it exactly,
but I will have it, thereby saving myself from two pests; hurry and
Just for today I will gather the courage to do what is right and take
responsibility for my own actions.
Shrove Tuesday Parish Dinner 2008
This year we will be reviving the tradition of a meal at the beginning
of Lent. The venue will be the Royal Hotel, who can offer us an
attractive and reasonably-priced menu. Watch this space for further
Special Services in January 2008
Tuesday 1st– DAY OF PRAYER FOR WORLD
12noon Solemn Eucharist with prayers for world peace,
followed by a glass of ‘fizz’ to welcome the New Year
Sunday 6th – FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY
11am Procession and Solemn Eucharist
Preacher: Canon Roger Driver (Area Dean of Bootle)
Sunday 13th – FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF
11am Sung Eucharist and renewal of Baptismal Promises
Sunday 27th – CHRISTIAN UNITY SUNDAY
11am Sung Eucharist
Preacher: The Reverend Martyn Newman (Methodist Minister)
5pm Unity Service at Metropolitan Cathedral (see
inside back cover)
Preacher: The Archbishop of Canterbury
the Age Concern Luncheon Club
It was the beginning of 2004 when I was first approached to see if I
could manage to get a team of ladies to cook the lunch for the Age
Concern Luncheon Club. The club had been in operation for some 40
years, with four teams working once every four weeks. One team had
stopped cooking, then another team dropped out, which meant the elderly
who came were down to two meals out of four. The Rev. Greg Cuff asked
if I could gather a team from St. Faith’s, Fr. Neil allowed me to
appeal for help at a Sunday service and in true St. Faith’s style I had
an amazing response. Not only did we get another team, we had enough
volunteers for four teams, and four ladies prepared to do the cooking,
which meant we could fill the two weeks and only work every eight
weeks. Last year we managed another team to work alternately with the
Christ Church team. The Age Concern committee was both amazed and
Each team has a cook and three helpers, and each team can decide on
their own menus and most of us cook the same dinner when we are on
duty. There are 24 diners on the books, but is seldom that we get the
whole complement each week; they all have their own seat and guard them
jealously. We soon got to know that they do not like “chewy
meals” (mince and stews are well received) and one
man will not come on the “fish
day”; they like the custard not too thick and plenty of it. Each
week they get meat (fish once a month), potatoes, two vegetables,
pudding with custard and a cup of tea, for which they pay £2
each. In the Christmas of the first year Anne Holland introduced
a Christmas Dinner on the Wednesday before Christmas Day and since then
Anne’s team and mine have alternated cooking the Christmas Dinner: so
for the last four years the diners have enjoyed turkey with all the
trimmings, Christmas pudding, mince pies, and a glass of wine – sherry
of course to start with and tea or coffee to end with, followed by
carols and entertainment, and each receive a gift to take home. At this
event we also invite visitors from the churches, Age Concern and
It is a lot of hard work and we are all exhausted at the end of the day
but it is very rewarding to know that the diners have enjoyed a meal in
company. I’m sure it is the company they appreciate more than the
price of the meal. The criteria for joining the luncheon club is to be
over 70 years and living by yourself. Although at the moment the
luncheon club is full, we do have a waiting list, so if you are
interested, or know of any person who may be interested in joining
contact Miss Shirley Higgs at Age Concern, 8 Haigh Road, Waterloo or
telephone her on 949 0512.
Music the Oldie’s Way
An Oldie magazine reader and parish priest got in touch with the
journal to alert us to the dangers of using CD players at funerals. “As
so often nowadays, the family wanted a CD track played at the end as I
led the departed woman’s coffin out. We were supposed to be playing
‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ but the verger pressed the ‘shuffle
tracks’ button by mistake, and we were treated to the first few bars of
‘Ding Dong the Wicked Witch is Dead’, quickly followed by ‘We’re off to
see the Wizard’!”
... to all who have worked so hard during the month of December, not
just with the usual preparation for services but the ‘extras’ too: the
Children’s Craft Day and the Sunday School party for the two parishes,
the Christingle making, and the Senior Citizens’ Lunch, to name but a
few. Also, an excellent number of people turned out on a foul day to
attend the Advent Quiet Day (around 40 folk) which is all tremendously
encouraging. It might be a hectic time of year (our busy season, some
say!), we might have some challenging times ahead but there is
certainly no shortage of things to do!
Thank you all.
You will recall from previous articles in Newslink that we are going to
re-form the “Friends of St Faith’s”. It has turned out to be a
bigger job than we imagined!
Thanks to the perseverance of our Parish Administrator, Liz Mooney, we
have identified a list of some 67 Friends around the country.
This list has been compiled from a number of sources and we are
checking names and addresses. Some of these people gave money to
St Faith’s specifically for the Friends and we are now trying to
calculate the total going back a few years.
The Finance Committee and the PCC approved the principle of allocating
income from the Friends for the repair and improvement of the church
fabric. It has been suggested that we dedicate the newly repaired
– and much improved – sound system in the church to the Friends as a
mark of appreciation.
Once we’ve finished the time-consuming task of sorting through all the
records, we plan to write individually to our Friends, letting them
know the news and inviting them to a special event (the date and format
is yet to be decided).
Thank you for all your support and we will write another update for
Newslink when we have more news.
didn’t know that was happening…”
There is normally someone who utters these words when an event is
announced, despite the fact that we try to publish all that goes on in
an annual Diary of Events. I can’t pretend to be remotely disappointed
by the fact that this year for the first time the mammoth task of
assembling this publication (and ensuring that all visiting preachers
and performers have confirmed their engagement) falls to the Parish
Administrator and not to me! As always I am grateful to Chris Price for
the printing of it. Please make sure that as soon as the 2008 Diary is
available you get a copy and, most importantly, write all that is going
on in your own diary. An action-packed year awaits us!
spoilt beyond excess, says Bishop’
By Jonathan Petre,
‘Daily Telegraph’ Religion Correspondent
A Church of England bishop has accused parents of spoiling their
children “beyond excess” by buying them expensive Christmas presents
that are soon discarded.
The Bishop of Hulme, the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, said that the celebration
of Christ's birth had descended into a “great orgy of
excess”. He said that he dreamed of parents smashing up
electronic toys and dolls that cost more than feeding and clothing a
poor child for a month.
“The microchip has meant that imagination and creativity are no longer
encouraged by the manufacturers,” he wrote in the latest issue of Crux,
the Manchester diocesan magazine. “Everything talks, moves, shoots,
sings and, if necessary, even wets nappies, provided the batteries are
included and working.”
“Maybe I’m just grumpy but I often dream of a hammer being provided for
parents to enable the rapid extermination of these robotic intrusions
into family life. Toy cupboards and bedroom floors up and down the land
are littered with the excretions of the latest TV advertising campaign
and our children are spoilt beyond excess. We have all seen toys which
cost more than enough to feed and clothe a poor child for a month given
20 minutes’ casual attention and then relegated to join the massed army
of the discarded.”
Bishop Lowe, who was last year appointed the Church’s first Bishop for
Urban Life and Faith, said that many parents wanted to give their
children “all the things I never had as a child” - but money could not
buy love. He said that politicians who claimed that they would
end child poverty merely by reaching for a chequebook were making the
His criticisms followed an attack by the Archbishop of Wales, the Most
Revd Barry Morgan, on supermarkets that sell “chocaholic” Advent
calendars instead of the traditional religious versions. He decried the
way religious scenes such as the shepherds in the fields and the three
wise men were losing out to film and television characters from The
Simpsons, Bratz, High School Musical and Doctor Who.
Dr Morgan, speaking to the Western Mail, said: “This trend runs counter
to the much more wonderful idea that each picture is part of a journey
which leads us eventually to this very mysterious truth on Christmas
Day. Opening a door for every day and just getting a quick fix doesn’t
answer the basic question of what we are waiting for.”
of Toys… and Thanks!
Advent Sunday and the offering of toys has become a regular feature of
life at St. Faith’s. It was particularly special this year with the
‘message’ being delivered by our young people, for which many emails of
thanks and appreciation have been received. Some said it was the “best
family service yet” – I must go away more often! Thanks to the hard
work of our Administrator, Liz Mooney, many more invitations than usual
were sent out, with positive results. We had considerably more people
in church than normal for this service, which is very good to see.
That’s not all! The treasurer records a 15% increase in the collection
compared to last Advent Sunday! But the most important thing of all is
to give thanks for the record number of toys – we have never had so
many brought along before! That is fantastic news: thanks to all who
brought toys along. There will certainly be a few more smiling faces on
Christmas Day thanks to your generosity.
The United Benefice collections on December 2nd for the victims of the
recent Bangladesh cyclone disaster amounted to £110. Many
thanks to all who contributed to the appeal issued by Christian Aid.
‘If the Christmas story were to happen
today, Mary and Joseph would have a hard time getting to Bethlehem’.
(The words of Christian peacemakers
in the Occupied Territories of the Holy Land.)
As we prepared for our annual celebrations of the birth of Christ in
our prosperous trouble-free surroundings, our Christian brothers and
sisters in Bethlehem faced a very different outlook, as a recent
article in the ‘National Geographic’ magazine explained.
‘This is not how Mary and Joseph came into Bethlehem, but this is how
you enter now. You wait at the wall. It’s a daunting concrete
barricade, three stories high, thorned with razor wire. Standing beside
it, you feel as if you’re at the base of a dam. Israeli soldiers armed
with assault rifles examine your papers. They search your vehicle. No
Israeli civilian, by military order, is allowed in. And few Bethlehem
residents are permitted out — the reason the wall exists here,
according to the Israeli government, is to keep terrorists away from
Jerusalem. If you’re cleared to enter, a sliding steel door, like
that on a boxcar, grinds open. The soldiers step aside, and you drive
through the temporary gap in the wall. Then the door slides back,
squealing on its track, booming shut.
You’re in Bethlehem.
Bethlehem and Jerusalem are only six miles apart (ten kilometers),
though in the compressed and fractious geography of the region, this
places them in different realms. It can take a month for a postcard to
go from one city to the other. Bethlehem is in the West Bank, on land
taken by Israel during the Six Day War of 1967. It’s a Palestinian
city; the majority of its 35,000 residents are Muslim. In 1900, more
than 90 percent of the city was Christian. Today Bethlehem is only
about one-third Christian, and this proportion is steadily shrinking as
Christians leave for Europe or the Americas. The truth is that
Bethlehem, the ‘little town’ venerated during Christmas, is one of the
most contentious places on earth.
Inside the wall, along Bethlehem’s borders, are three Palestinian
refugee camps, boxy apartments heaped atop one another in haphazard
piles. Just outside the wall are sprawling Jewish settlements, skewered
with construction cranes, feverishly growing. At the summit of
Bethlehem’s central hill is Manger Square, a cobblestoned plaza
fronting the Church of the Nativity. Tourism is low; religious pilgrims
are shuttled in and out by guides — a quick stop at Manger Square, then
a speedy departure down the hill and back out through the wall,
returning to Jerusalem. Hotels are mostly empty. Few visitors spend the
night. Unemployment in Bethlehem, by the mayor’s estimate, is 50 per
cent, and many families are living from meal to meal.
…from a Bethlehem
Christian for hope and light in the Holy Land
Despite the difficulties in our lives, we will rejoice at the birth of
Christ at Christmas. Taking our inspiration from the story in the Bible
of Herod’s massacre and the flight to Egypt of the Holy Family. The
inspiration comes from knowing that despite being born into those dark
days, amid the harsh Roman occupation, and despite the fear that must
have gone with the family as they escaped to another country, Jesus did
return and was able to spread his ministry of peace and love.
We are living in a similar situation 2000 years later, behind the
Apartheid Wall and under the harsh occupation by the Israelis, and many
Palestinians are escaping to other countries. But we are persevering
and will celebrate Christmas with the message of hope and deliverance
that Christ has planted in our hearts. We pray that through the
miraculous birth of Christ we will see the Wall go and change into a
bridge of understanding between the two peoples living here.
Director of Wi’am Conflict Resolution
and Prayers for Christmas and Epiphany
... chosen by Fr
I was there
in the stable
Though you won’t
on Christmas cards.
and cuddly lambs –
It would be like
on a crucifix.
But when the snooty horses,
and stupid sheep
me and the missis
(should I say ‘my partner and I’’?)
looked in the manger.
The baby smiled at us.
And I reckon
if the hyenas and snakes,
the spiders and toads,
the vultures and cockroaches
he would have smiled at them too.
(Hay & Stardust)
You are older than the ages
And you dance in the starlight
And you love us.
Wise God, You share your bread with strangers
And you welcome little children
And you understand us
Wise God, You wrestle with the powerful
And you comfort all who need you
And you disturb us
Wise God, Shining in darkness
Seen by those who love you
Found by those who seek you
We are here to learn from you
Kings and nations, Weak and powerful
All are coming to meet with God
Sons and daughters, Rich and needy
All are coming to meet with God
Strong and mighty, Weak and gentle
All are coming to meet with God
Starshine, Moonshine, Sunshine
We will walk with God
Mountains, Main roads, Sidetracks
We will walk with God
Questions, Answers, Mysteries
We will walk with God
Backwards, Onwards, Homewards
We will walk with God
(Hay & Stardust)
O God, who am I now?
Once, I was secure
in familiar territory
in my sense of belonging
the norms of my culture
the assumptions built into my language
the values shared by society.
But now you have called me out and away from home
and I do not know where you are leading.
I am empty, unsure, uncomfortable.
I have only a beckoning star to follow.
Journeying God, pitch your tent with mine
so that I may not become deterred
by hardship, strangeness, doubt.
Show me the movement I must make
toward a wealth not dependent on possessions
toward a wisdom not based on books
toward a strength not bolstered by might
toward a God not confined to heaven
but scandalously earth, poor, unrecognised.…
Help me to find myself as I walk in others’ shoes.
Your Body, the
(a prayer for Christian Unity)
We ask you to forgive the sin that mingles
even with our holiest actions.
Forgive us for the ways in which
we have hurt and dismembered
your body, the church.
Forgive us for any way in which
we have, thoughtlessly or
insulted or patronised
those who are called by the same name as ourselves.
Forgive us if we have prayed for unity
and done nothing,
or very little,
to help bring it about,
preferring prayers to action
and fantasies to hard reality.
in your church,
and among Christian people throughout the world.
Remind us of the mighty company
in heaven and on earth
to which we all belong.
(Hay & Stardust)
Fr Mark writes:
John O’Donohue the Irish poet, philosopher, and theologian wrote a
series of sonnets on the structure of the Rosary. This one is about
transformation, creativity, and birth.
No man reaches where the moon touches a woman.
Even the moon leaves her when she opens
Deeper into the ripple in her womb
That encircles dark, to become flesh and bone.
Someone is coming ashore inside her,
A face deciphers itself from water,
And she curves around the gathering wave,
Opening to offer the life it craves.
In a corner stall of pilgrim strangers,
She falls and heaves, holding a tide of tears.
A red wire of pain feeds through every vein,
Until night unweaves and the child reaches dawn.
Outside each other now, she sees him first,
Flesh of her flesh, her dreamt son safe on
Couldn’t Make it Up!
Commenting on a complaint from a Mr. Arthur Purdey about a large gas
spokesman for North West Gas said, ‘We agree it was rather high for the
of year. It’s possible Mr. Purdey has been charged for the gas used up
during the explosion that destroyed his house.’ (The Daily Telegraph)
Irish police are being handicapped in a search for a stolen van, because
they cannot issue a description. It’s a Special Branch vehicle and they
don't want the public to know what it looks like. (The Guardian)
A young girl who was blown out to sea on a set of inflatable teeth was
rescued by a man on an inflatable lobster. A coast guard spokesman
commented, ‘This sort of thing is all too common’. (The Times)
(With thanks to Corinne Hedgecock
for supplying these)
the Papers Say
Morning Prayer for Seaforth
Caradoc Mission United Reformed Church, Seaforth, will hold a Sunday
morning Prayer for Seaforth, on Sunday evenings at 6.30pm.
(Crosby Herald, Thursday, October
Hurling sweets at panto ‘too risky for
from the Daily Telegraph, supplied by
Panto stars have been banned from throwing sweets into the audience in
case children get hit on the head. Organisers of the ‘Babes in the
Wood’ and ‘Robin Hood’ production at Gorleston Pavilion Theatre, near
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, fear they will be sued for negligence if
youngsters are hit in the face by a stray chocolate.
The theatre is not covered by insurance for any injuries from sweets
thrown by the pantomime dame, Mark Hudson. Confectionery will now be
dropped into the front row and passed around by ushers, ending the
tradition of children catching the treats.
The show’s director, Helen McDermott, said the ban was another example
of the health and safety culture gone mad. “Throwing sweets into the
crowd is one of the great traditional parts of pantomimes and children
have enjoyed it for years,” she said. The theatre director, Kevin
Lynch, said it was a sad fact of life that people were being encouraged
Tue 30 October Wilfred Van Barneveld/Deborah Fawcett
Sat 24 October Ian Thomas/Samantha Higgins
Sun 14 October Joshua Aldridge and Nathan Aldridge
Sun 11 Nov Jordanna Paige Caesar, Grace Lilly Caesar and Megan Faith
On behalf of my family and myself may I say a big thank you for the
wonderful funeral mass held for Marie. Thanks to everyone who took part
and made it such a moving occasion. A number of people spoke to me at
the reception telling me what a wonderful service they thought it was.
The support given to me during Marie’s illness was much appreciated.
Many thanks for all the flowers, prayers, phone calls, cards, cakes,
pies and jam.
The people of St Faith’s offer Ken and his family continued prayers and
good wishes, as we give thanks for Marie’s life and all that she meant
to us over the years.
Switch Off, Our Masters Don’t!
The author of this
tirade admits to having gone from Angry Young Man to Grumpy Old Man!
I read with interest Kath Zimak`s article ‘Time to Switch Off’ in the
December 2007 edition of Newslink. Whilst I agree wholeheartedly with
the sentiments that we waste too much energy and that the only way to
stave off the oncoming climatic cataclysm, (and it is coming and it
will be a cataclysm) is to burn less fossil fuel, I am a cynic when it
comes to trusting in anything that politicians or big business might
promise. Let’s face it, politicians are only interested in the next
election and business only cares about its profit. Sending tons of
cards to the Prime Minister, or any other politician, would have no
effect unless it gave those politicians publicity to promote
Being Green is the “in thing” but only when it means votes. Just look
at the energy our national and local politicians expend in their
high-powered cars and numerous air trips. Fact finding visits and
similar junkets do not need large entourages nor wives, but no
politician refuses them, it’s a perk of the job. Government offices,
national and local, are lavishly decorated, over-heated and
exceptionally well-illuminated; who will switch off the lights in these
buildings or turn down the thermostats? In Southport, Sefton Council
has recently constructed a rather magnificent, and allegedly
environmentally friendly building, at the Park and Ride. I doubt the
cost of this structure can ever be repaid by the energy it saves as
quite often, even in high winds, the wind turbine is not operating.
About 18 months ago I wrote to Sefton Council Planning Department
enquiring about installing a small wind turbine on the side of my
house. It took four e-mails before I received a reply and that stated
that planning permission was not required for such a device but it must
extend no higher than the roof line. That is where the wind is, there
is no point having a wind turbine where the wind is not blowing. Until
politicians, and their public servants, understand about these matters
nothing will ever happen, they will just spend more of our money on
I too have read about the energy which leaving electrical devices on
standby is alleged to waste. This I think is exaggerated. Admittedly
some devices on standby are large power consumers but most are not:
just put your hand near your DVD player which is on standby and you
will find that it is barely warm. Energy-saving light bulbs certainly
do use less energy and they save money. I replaced all of the lamps in
my home with energy saving bulbs a number of years ago and my
electricity bill dropped dramatically. However it must be realised that
any piece of domestic electrical equipment, including the incandescent
light bulb, is 100% efficient in winter, most of spring and a great
deal of autumn. The heat given out by these devices is not wasted as it
goes to heating the home.
Domestic saving is chicken feed compared with the waste of energy, and
damage to the environment, caused by road and air transport. Fuel
is too cheap and whilst it is people
will waste it. Petrol at around £1 per litre equates to about
£4.50 per gallon which is considerably less than Cain’s bitter,
which I prefer; this is about £2.06 per pint so is over £16
per gallon and does less damage than petrol. Doubling the price of
petrol would cause people to complain, but I doubt if many people would
stop using their cars. The road lobby are always agitating for more
roads and lower fuel duty, it increases their profits and that is what
road haulage is all about, higher profit. Cutting down on wasted
journeys with small loads would help a great deal but more journeys
mean higher profits.
Air transport is a major cause of air pollution and carbon dioxide
emissions but people want to fly to the sun and politicians need their
“jollys” at our expense. Doubling the fuel surcharge levied on air
tickets will not stop people flying, they will just moan a bit more
when they are in the air. In contrast sea transportation is less
damaging to the environment as per ton mile (or tonne km) it emits much
less carbon dioxide. Merchant ship engines also use residual fuel,
which is what is left after the oil refineries take off the petrol,
diesel and kerosene. If it wasn’t for the marine diesel engine there
would be lakes of residual fuel which nobody else would want. Go on a
cruise, it is more environmentally friendly.
Sadly, people always tend to look to their own interests, particularly
politicians, that is why they are politician. They may say that they
serve “the people” but none would do the job for the minimum wage and
they certainly would not forgo ministerial cars and other perks such as
junkets abroad. The only real way to cut emissions is to burn less
fossil fuel and if people won’t do that voluntarily, then they need to
be compelled. Unfortunately, that is where the politician is required
and the politician will not upset the constituents: there is an
election around the corner.
It took nature millions of years to lay down the coal, oil and gas
reserves of this planet and mankind has burned most of it in the past
200 years. The reserves are running out, nature is not making it
anymore, but it is not the fact that the fossil fuel reserves are being
depleted, it is the fact that we have released so much carbon dioxide
into the atmosphere so quickly that nature cannot cope. People put
faith in carbon trading, tree planting and biofuels but this is just
tinkering at the edges. I planted two trees in my garden in 1999 but
they have certainly not grown enough to absorb more than a fraction of
the carbon dioxide my household has produced since then.
Biofuels are a nice idea as they are made from plants; essentially the
carbon dioxide which the burning of the fuel releases is absorbed by
growing the plants next year. Unfortunately, there is not enough arable
land on the planet to produce the biofuel that road transport would
need, let alone any other fuel user. We do, after all, need to plant
crops to eat. Big business has managed to cash in on this idea and
large tracts of forest are being felled in South America, Indonesia and
elsewhere to grow crops which can be made into biofuels. Chopping down
trees and burning them releases the carbon dioxide they have absorbed
over the past hundred or more years so the concept does not make sense
environmentally. This does not even take into account the people
displaced from their land and their consequent desperate need to find
food as they cannot grow it, the land is now
too valuable for growing fuel. Biofuels have a small role
to play if the deserts are made to bloom in order to produce them, but
that takes water and water is in short supply in desert areas. Again
the people will suffer to satisfy big business.
Overall biofuels are a bit of a ‘con’. They give politicians something
to talk about and allow business to pretend that they are doing
something but the only real solution to cutting carbon dioxide
emissions is to reduce the burning of fossil fuels. And that reduction
cannot be the few percent which politicians say we should do by 2030 or
whenever it is. It has to be at least a 50% reduction by 2010 because
the clock is approaching midnight and there is no going back. Nature
cannot cope, as the violent weather over the past few years already
Stop using the car and the aeroplane as much and reduce domestic
heating - but more importantly, ensure that the politicians do what you
want and not what big business wants. But then, why bother, the
Americans won’t cut down, neither will the Chinese or Indians and that
chap down the road has just bought a new 4 x 4, the local streets are
competing with each other for the best Christmas illuminations,
neighbours are off to Florida for the New Year and then there is the
energy which was used to make all of those unwanted Christmas presents,
was it really necessary.
Hope that this hasn’t put a dampener on your New Year and I hope that
you have a good 2008, provided of course that you can find a little
oxygen to breathe….
Following the Star
A Reflection on the Feast of the
Epiphany, from a 1920s article in ‘The Times’
Contributed by Fr
Few stories have won such willing attention as the narrative of the
Wise Men who were led by a star to the infant Christ. It would seem as
if Christian art and literature found in it something at once
irresistibly beautiful and convincingly true; and whatever the origin
of the story it serves to illustrate certain characteristics of Divine
All religions claim to be founded on a special disclosure of the
supernatural world. How can man learn about God except it is told him
from above? Our customary distinction between natural and revealed
religion, though it may have some justification, may give rise to no
little confusion. It is true that much may be learnt about God through
an attentive study of nature and history by the use of the faculties of
reason, but to truth thus learned must be added what is led to men
through supernatural media. Everything that brings us to the
knowledge of God is His revelation. We accept Carlyle’s
dictum that “Heaven and earth are but the time
vesture of the Eternal: The
universe is but one vast symbol of God: nay, if thou wilt have it, what
is man himself, but a symbol of God?” We need not try to restrict the
conception of revelation, or to place it in different categories, as if
were dependent on man’s discovery and the other on special supernatural
acts. Revelation is all one; and man’s highest privilege is to respond
The Wise Men of the East who followed the star acted as men determined
to satisfy themselves of the real significance of facts which had come
under their observation. They had the spirit of true seekers in their
determination to find out the meaning of phenomena presented to them.
If they had been content merely to note the appearance of the star they
would have learnt little, for it did not reveal its secret until they
went out to follow it. And even then its significance seemed uncertain.
In some way its light failed them, and they were compelled to inquire,
“Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the
East, and are come to worship Him.” It was not until they had received
help from the learned men in Jerusalem that they found the Child to
whom they presented their gifts.
Men ask, if God reveals Himself to men why does He not save them from
the uncertainties and perplexities in which they still live ? We must,
however, reflect that in all instruction there are two people
concerned, the teacher and the taught, and that the wise teacher knows
that he must frame his lesson in terms level to the capacities and
experience of the student. This is also the law of Divine revelation.
If it were remembered, half the difficulties which confront so many in
the study of the Bible would vanish at once. It records a revelation
made in terms congruous to the experience and ideals of life among
those to whom it was granted in each age. The contrast between the
cruel tribalism of ancient Israel’s religion with the lofty conception
of God in the prophets shows how revelation is always conditioned by
man’s moral and spiritual receptivity.
Revelation demands a real effort from those who would rightly apprehend
it. The notion that men must become passive recipients of supernatural
truth is contrary to experience. The Wise Men would not have imagined
anything significant in the appearance of the star if they had not
already trained themselves in the science of astronomy, nor would they
have learned its real importance without the arduous journey they were
content to undergo. The fact that man’s apprehension of truth is only
partial and conditional is regarded from two points of view. Some so
emphasize what is still hidden and so lament their perplexity that they
seem to grow in doubt rather than in knowledge. Others are grateful for
what they have seen and learned, diligently following where it leads
and using all other helps to a better understanding of it. They have
their perplexities and doubts, but the light shines still and as they
follow it the light grows brighter.
The Hellenistic mind deified the forces of Nature, counting the stars
as animate and in a measure divine. “The stars are the visible gods,
and yonder world above, in which the shining beings move, is the world
that is truly divine.” The Magi were not content with this faith. When
they went out to search for the newborn King they were animated by a
faith which regarded the star only because it would lead them to One
who shared man’s
fortune and who in Himself manifested the perfect unity which exists
between the Divine and human. This was the true end of their quest and
they could be satisfied with nothing less. The late Poet Laureate has
provided a free rendering of the epigram of Ptolemy, the second-century
astronomer, who gives beautiful expression to a thought which very
nearly approaches it:
Mortal though I be, yea ephemeral, if but a moment I gaze up to the
night's starry domain of heaven, Then no longer on earth I stand; I
touch the Creator, And my lively spirit drinketh immortality.
The Star of Bethlehem led the Magi to One before Whom they knelt in
worship. It also showed them a little Child in Whom men learned to see
the pattern of their own manhood. He taught them how, as they lived and
worked and died according to the will of God, in the mingled weakness
and strength of human life they too might shine forth in the light of
their witness to truth and goodness, guiding tired and perplexed men to
worship Him in Whom all that is Divine and human comes to its perfect
Hello everyone – may we take this opportunity to wish everyone at St
Faith’s and St Mary’s a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, healthy New
What a hectic few months it has been since Martin’s ordination! I
managed to last a whole service sitting in the congregation before
asking if I could join the choir. Now, before you start thinking this
is an insult to congregations everywhere, I shall try to explain. The
nearest analogy I can think of is, it’s like sitting on the sub’s
bench, when you’re dying to play in a football match - ‘I have to
join in!’ As you all know, singing has been such a huge part of my
life, I was never going to give in easily, and we are so fortunate in
now being part of a worshipping community to whom music is very
Martin’s ministry is growing daily, from sick communion to school
assembly, hospital visiting to preaching regularly, including
Christingle for 250 plus children, attending deanery meetings and
post-ordination training to leading worship at the Cenotaph at St
Helen, Hollinfare. Not to mention being Bishop’s chaplain at no fewer
than three confirmations in the last three weeks – his days are
certainly full. Oh, and he works for a firm of chartered accountants
two days each week!
It is not only the choir and clergy who have made us welcome – all have
allowed us into their lives, both in worship and socially. We were
introduced to the community at large within a few weeks,
attending the ‘Winwick Carnival’. It was a rather
affair, with stalls ranging from tombola, plants, holistic therapies to
ceramic designs (where I bumped into ‘our own’ Jenny Raynor) and exotic
species such as lizards, snakes and spiders – nice (not).
A couple of weeks after that, we were invited to open the Sunday
School’s ‘Pebbles and Rocks’ Summer Fayre. As St Oswald’s has a church
school, this is always well attended and the children are very actively
involved in everything.
During the summer, as usual things were calmer. Martin and I went on
our usual holiday on a narrowboat – two weeks of unhurried floating
between eating-places! On our return, Harvest Festival was fast
approaching, and being rural was a grand time, a great thanksgiving for
the gifts of the earth, of nature and for the skills given to reap the
benefits. Harvest Supper in the Church Hall on the Saturday evening was
most enjoyable – good food, entertainment and best of all – good
Advent is here and we are attending all sorts of pre-Christmas events
on top of the usual services. The week which has just ended involved
the ‘Churches together’ Advent service, Golborne Brass Band concert and
a bingo night in aid of the school and church (which raised in excess
of £950). We were fortunate enough to meet up with some people at
the Advent quiet day at Sandymount, an essential day of quiet
reflection in the middle of all this activity.
Next week sees the Mother’s Union Carol Service and the Sunday School’s
Christmas party, at which Martin and I, plus the Rector, Bob, and his
wife Pauline have the dubious pleasure of judging the talent contest! I
fear I shall turn into Bruce Forsyth – ‘Well, you’re my favourite!’ I
don’t want to upset anyone!
We shall soon be starting a new calendar year, meaning it will only be
a few month’s until Martin’s priesting. The date for your diaries is
Sunday June 8th, although we will provide more information nearer the
Meanwhile, Season’s best wishes to all,
Love and prayers,
Martin and Miriam
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