The Parish Magazine of St Faith`s Church, Great Crosby
JUNE 2004

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From the Ministry Team           June 2004

Dear Friends,

We have just returned from a wonderful week-end  in the Cotswolds. The sun shone, the spring colours were at their freshest and best and it was good to be alive. The occasion was the retirement of one of our close friends who has been vicar of Fairford for the last seven years. John's church of St. Mary's Fairford is an architectural gem and known internationally for the splendour of its 15th Century stained glass.

John - but John has always striven to build up the Body of Christ in the local community, and to welcome everyone whatever their background into the Kingdom of God. I know for a fact that he has more than once refused promotion (what in the C of E is quaintly referred to as 'advancement') because he believes that his vocation is to be a parish priest, a shepherd and pastor for the local Christian family wherever that may be. And so there are few aspects of church life that have not claimed his attention: he has at various times been a champion of women‘s ministry, youth and childrens work, and the ministry of healing. He has consistently supported the involvement of the laity in liturgy and in pastoral work, knowing well how fulfilling this can be both for individuals and for the community.

The care and love that John has displayed during his working life has been rewarded by the diversity and variety of people whom he has welcomed into the Christian  fellowship. This diversity was reflected in his farewell service which was held on the  Sunday  afternoon.  There  were  people there from all over the country and from all backgrounds; young, old, children and babes in arms. There was a strong Caribbean contingent from Dalston with an energetic gospel choir! The bells pealed, the organ played, there were fiddles and flutes and guitars: the service was not only a celebration of John's ministry but also of the excitement and richness of the Christian life, a life drawn together by the fire and warmth of the Spirit. No other organisation could have achieved such unity of life and purpose among so varied a group of people.

None of this should imply that John‘s ministry has been free from difficulties and controversy; Fairford has had its share of factions and dissent. In this respect rural parishes are no better than  urban ones; in fact I suspect they may be worse! But in his sermon at the morning service John gave us his vision of the Gospel: that through His grace Christ gives the gift of love in our hearts, and that this love shed abroad can accept all and reconcile all. This love can bind us all together, however different we may be, into one Kingdom and fellowship under one saviour and Lord. As we left church we were all given a little card on which was printed 'This is my commandment, that you shall love one another as I have loved you'.

During Pentecost we remember the birth of the Church and we pray for its well-being and growth. We remember how a motley crew of frightened men and women, inspired by the Spirit of  God, became a courageous and caring church proclaiming the Risen Christ. The example of Fairford and its vicar prompts me to hope that the same Spirit may still be alive and well in our own Church of England, and that whatever its faults it still has much to offer in the service of the Kingdom. Please pray that our small corner of that church may be blessed with the gift of unity in diversity, bound together by that love that Our Lord has commanded us to show to one another.
Have a very happy Pentecost!

Fred Nye

Sunday 30th May

Pentecost Sunday
11.00 am HIGH MASS
followed by a glass of wine to celebrate the birthday of the church
Preacher : The Reverend Michael Hampel
(Senior Tutor, S. Chad's College, Durham)

Sunday 6th June

S. Mary‘s Patronal Festival
Celebrant and Preacher: The Right Reverend Jim Roxburgh
Followed by BBQ lunch with live jazz band, bouncy castle and games for the children. (Please note there will be no 1100 Eucharist in S. Faith‘s that day).

Thursday 10th June

Corpus Christi
with prayers for our Eucharistic Ministers
Preacher: The Reverend Prebendary Patrick Tuft
(Vicar of S. Nicholas‘s , Chiswick, London)
followed by ?bring-a-bottle‘ party in the Vicarage Garden

Tuesday 13th June

Relicensing of Readers
All very welcome at thIs service, which takes place every five years. If you would like to attend, please sign the list at the back of Church: if enough people sign up we will arrange a coach.

The United Benefice of Saint Faith and Saint Mary
duo aedificia sed una ecclesia
'two buildings but one Church'

Joint PCCs Away Day at Formby  Fr Neil

I always think that our away-days are important, though I usually feel a little guilty about dragging people away from their gardens on a beautiful spring/summer day! No worries this time. It persisted down - all day! It kept us inside and talking which was no bad thing!

PCC member - privilege and/or responsibility?
Do we consider it a privilege to serve on the PCC or are we there because no-one else wants to do it?

The PCCS split up into two groups discussed this and felt that:

We do consider it to be a privilege to be a PCC member and we should communicate to the wider congregation after PCC meetings what has been discussed…..  The laity should have a voice….  It was suggested that a photo board of PCC members would help those to recognise their elected members….  The Minutes of the meetings could be displayed on the board, along with the opportunity for the congregation to raise questions and receive answers to those questions/concerns….  Rather than appear as an 'elite membership', the notice board could perhaps be headed Here to Serve.  A box could be placed there for people to raise issues of concern….  We have a duty to represent people and act as lines of communication….  We should act in a positive way and help to find solutions to concerns and matters raised.

One year on. … What did we commit ourselves to this time last year…? What have we done or failed to do……?
Financially we were breaking even, but we were so taken up with financial concerns within the Church that it was felt we still lacked in mission giving. Is our choice for example, heating our building and maintaining our organ, or having the spare cash to employ a Youth Worker? (though none of us actually knew what we would want them to do even if we had the money to employ a ?'outh worker'!)

We felt that S Faith's had always managed to give away 10% of its income.  The Flower Festival and Medic Malawi were good examples of our present- day fund-raising and giving to mission. We probably do give very close to that figure when all our fundraising efforts are added up. The question is, do we want to set a target, i.e. 10%? We were reminded that the whole reason we started the Charity Fun Day a couple of  years ago was because we wanted to improve our giving to charities - not just write a cheque for 10% of our income (which the wider community never heard anything about) but to say to the wider community ?'e want you, with us, to work together to raise money for important charities'. We are delighted that so far eight charities (home and abroad) have benefited from the hard work put into the joint Charity Fun Days and four more charities are about to benefit. Medic Malawi has benefited from S. Faith's for many years. Given our discussion about giving money away is it time for someone else to be our ?nominated charity‘?

The Mission of the Church in Waterloo
The Bishop of Liverpool is keen for us to continue to keep on our agenda the wider question of the Anglican presence in Waterloo.   We said we would welcome any sensible and realistic proposals for us to engage in this.

And Finally..….
'There were the usual differences of opinion (thank God very much for that!) and without them it‘s not a question of being 'high church' or 'low church' but  most definitely 'bland church!'.  As always it is good to have an occasion where people can have their say and feel free to do so.

I hope that many of the good things discussed will soon find their way on to the agenda of the next PCC meeting… and if they don't, someone will be on my back! And that is because, quite simply, we have a large number of people who see things in a positive light and are waiting to give their time and energy towards the on-going mission of our Church. Thank God for that too, please, each and every day. Please pray daily for all The people you have chosen to serve you, using this prayer:

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:
empower us by your Spirit to witness and to serve,
and send us out as disciples of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Stand and Deliver!  Fr Neil

On Monday 14th June at 8.00pm, there will be a meeting for MAGAZINE DELIVERERS in the Vicarage. This has been in the Diary of Events since the beginning of the year so I do hope it will be well attended. There was such a meeting last year and we all felt it important to do the same this year. This is a vital role and delivering Newslink is of course one of the most important ways that news is communicated about parishioners who may be ill or may not have been in church for a while, for whatever reason. Certainly the feed back from magazine deliverers helps the Ministry Team to keep abreast of how people are. I look forward to seeing all magazine deliverers at the Vicarage on that date!

Open Gardens 2004

On the afternoon of Sunday June 27th we will be staging a repeat of the successful enterprises of the last two years. You are invited to tour some of the gardens of members of the congregation, with afternoon tea on sale at selected venues! In the evening come to the vicarage for Pimms, Punch and Jazz!

Tickets and further details will be available soon: meanwhile you are invited to join in singing ....

The Gardener's Hymn

All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
But what we never mention
Though gardeners know it's true
Is when he made the goodies
He made the baddies too.
All things spray and squattable
Disasters great and small
All things paraquatable,
The Lord God made them all.
The greenfly on the roses
The maggots in the peas
Manure that fills our noses,
He also gave us these.
The fungus on the goose-gogs
The clubroot on the greens
The slugs that eat the lettuce
And chew the aubergines.
The drought that kills the fuchsias
The frost that nips the buds
The rain that drowns the seedlings
The blight that hits the spuds.
The midges and mosquitoes
The nettles and the weeds
The pigeons in the green stuff
The sparrows on the seeds.
The fly that gets the carrots
The wasp that eats the plums
How black the gardener‘s outlook
Though green may be his thumbs.
But still we gardeners labour
Midst vegetables and flowers
And pray what hits the neighbours
Will somehow bypass ours!

‘Off Broadway...’

Some of you may have come to last year‘s variety show ?Off Broadway‘, which was put on by the Stage Right Theatre Company. This year‘s show is being planned and CHRIS FITTOCK, Artistic Director, says:

We are seeking performers aged between 12 and 18 for the following:

SINGING: Popular music, songs from Broadway and West End musicals, and your own original songs.

DANCING:  If you dance, or are part of a dance group, and have a piece you would like to perform, please contact us.

ACTING: We will be reviving a short play first produced at the Liverpool Unity Theatre in 2000, as well as giving the UK premiere of a new short American play.

PEOPLE WITH ANY OTHER SKILLS:  Can you juggle, fire-breathe...…?

AUDITIONS will take place on Saturday 10th and Saturday 17th July 2004 at St. Mary's Church, Waterloo.
Please email or ring 07931 843 464 for more details or to confirm a time for audition.

This year's show will take place between Thursday 26th - Saturday 28th  August 2004 at St Mary's, Waterloo.


THE CHURCH moves in a wondrous way
Its mysteries to perform,
Both high and low, each hold their sway,
Resisting all reform.

A Week to Remember   Chris Price

When I first darkened the doors of this church in the early 1960s, I soon came to realise that Holy Week and Easter here are something very special. Every vicar and every year seems to have brought something new to this week of devotion, and 2004 was certainly no exception. To tell it all would take page upon page, so here are a few highlights...

Sunshine once again for the Palm Sunday procession ..…. Fr Neil sprinkling himself with holy water ...… Palms and donkey masks held aloft between escorting police cars ...… The unfolding drama of the long gospel read so dramatically in church ... The first of a week of memorable sermons ... The sequence of  'Lesser' services filling the space of time to Maundy Thursday … ... Compline and benediction in the intimacy of the choirstalls… ... The quiet devotion of the Stations of the Cross as the light faded.

The unique experience of Maundy Thursday ... Candles lit, extinguished and lit once more… the gathering of priests, choir and congregation as one body around the nave altar for the most intense and moving thanksgiving… ... Thronging round the Lady Chapel, lit by countless candles and the focus of continuous prayer as the Watch moved on towards midnight... Good Friday‘s children interpreting the way of the cross…, then joining the other congregations of Waterloo at the Civic Hall, grouped around their crosses of pilgrimage… ... Fr Neil's impassioned flow uninterrupted by the constant roar of passing traffic and the honking of challenging car horns ...  Holy Saturday and a church full of morning preparation as the reredos unfolds, the veils are lifted, paraphernalia of every kind made ready and the flowers arranged as wonderfully as always ... Easter Eve and the gathering round the New Fire, the slow procession into church and the declaiming of the vigil word… ... The annual renewal of baptismal vows made even more real by three real baptisms ...… The cacophony of the first discordant welcome to Easter ...… The joyful Celebration and rejoicing… ... The champagne, the christening cake, the Easter biscuits ... And of course the fireworks, at the end of it all.

Easter Day itself… no anti-climax but a joyful and happy climax trumpeted to the Queen of Feasts…  ... Easter eggs for the children in the vicarage garden… and for everyone on the way out, after yet more wine ... At last Festal Evensong, a figure of eight procession and more of those high and demanding throat-straining Easter hymns ... The Easter party, crowded out, with wine to ease the throats,  marvellous food  to compensate at last  for the  Lenten fasting… ...  Talk and laughter ad lib and ad infinitum… ... An hour of entertainment from young and old, of music, song and dance from an array of talented folk… and of course Fr Dennis doing his best to bring the house down with his unforgettable annual rendering of  ‘The Holy City‘ ... And then, as Hamlet said: ‘the rest is silence’ (and he hadn‘t even been to the party!)

 ... It only remains, as they say, to thank so many people who made it all happen so well. Thanks to cleaners, preparers, servers, caterers, readers, performers, celebrants, preachers, choir and musicians. Thanks for Fr Neil‘s liturgical guiding hand and inspiration behind it all. St Faith‘s has not been without its traumas in recent weeks, as at least one preacher rightly reminded us, but this had seemed a week of healing and, if prayer is answered, of a new beginning.

To God be the glory. Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Thank You

To Fr Neil, Fr Dennis, the organist, choir and servers and everyone who helped at Rosemary‘s funeral, and with the refreshments afterwards, as well as those who partook of them, a most grateful thanks from me, Dr Pauline Taylor, and Michael Acheson (Rosemary's godson).

I feel that everything went well and offer my thanks again for everything — not forgetting the congregation.

John Taylor

‘Let our Prayers rise like the Incense...’

At the recent APCM, during Any Other Business, a question was asked about the use of incense in the liturgy.

With the question about incense came a secondary question: ?What has changed in the Church?‘ That is always a fascinating question to ask (and to try to answer) and I often wonder how we would feel if we went back in time 100 years. Forget the minor issues of incense! A century ago we would not have Eucharistic Ministers serving, we would not have the laity reading prayers (let alone writing them themselves!) nor would they read the lessons at the Communion Service. We would have no lay participation in Healing Services. We would not have the Eucharist as the main Sunday Service. We would not have children's liturgies with children gathering around the Nave Altar for the Thanksgiving Prayer - we would not have a Nave Altar! Certainly Sunday School was something in the afternoon for children, who were very definitely to be ‘seen but not heard'! Very different from our current practice at S. Faith‘s. Change is not always bad!

I am grateful for the question being asked, because it perhaps encourages us to seek to understand more about the catholic tradition which brought churches like S. Faith's into being. Below is the article I wrote for Newslink when we had a series running entitled ‘What we do in Church and why‘. This series came as a result of people asking if there could be some teaching and explanation about the various things which form part of the rich catholic tradition within Anglicanism. We had talked about having some pamphlets and leaflets available at the back of church. For various reasons this never happened but the question posed at the APCM has prompted me to do something about that. Meanwhile here is what I wrote five years ago:

Let my prayer be set forth in your sight as incense (Psalm 141:2)

The use of incense in worship pre-dates Christianity. Incense was part of the worship offered in the Temple and the Christian Church has continued the practice of using incense with its rich symbolism and meaning.

Incense is made from various aromatic gums and resins taken from trees and other plants. When burned it gives off scented smoke. In church it is normally burned in a bowl or thurible. Because it is difficult to burn on its own it is burned with charcoal.

Incense is one of the gifts brought by the wise men to the infant Jesus. When we use it in Christian worship, incense symbolises the rich offering of our prayers and our whole lives to the Lord. As the smoke rises, so we pray that God will hear the prayers which we offer before his Throne of Grace.

We are called to worship God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength and with all our mind (Luke 10:27). Good liturgy is designed to help us to do that, using all the senses and feeding our imagination. Worship is uplifting when we see colourful vestments, beautiful flowers, processions; when we hear stirring music. Incense helps to create an atmosphere of awe, reverence and devotion. We are called to offer God the best we have.

The Church of England used incense until the eighteenth century when it fell into disuse (with the exception of a few places like York Minster where the practice remained), but its use was revived in the late nineteenth century. It is very widely used now by many cathedrals and parish churches in many parts of the Anglican Communion and it is also used by a small number of churches of other Reformed traditions.

During a Solemn Eucharist (or High Mass) incense is used at four stages of the liturgy:

  To lead the procession and cense the Altar at the beginning of the service
  To honour the reading of the Holy Gospel
  To cense the gifts offered during the offertory and to cense the people as a
    symbol of their prayers rising to God
  To cense the consecrated elements when they are elevated during the
   Eucharistic Prayer.

At Festal Evensong the Altar and the people are censed during the singing of the Magnificat and when Evensong concludes with the singing of the Te Deum the altar is censed once again.

Because Christians believe that in Baptism the body becomes the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit, the coffin is often honoured with incense during the Committal at a funeral. It is a sign of our prayers for the deceased rising to the throne of God.

Fr. Neil

Dear Everybody...

Hello again. It was lovely catching up with so many of you during Holy Week services. How good it is to be a part of a wider family and what richness we experienced by sharing so much of that week with each other. It was during that time that I realised how quickly my deacon year was progressing and that it would soon be time to plan for my ordination as priest on Trinity Sunday, June 6th at 10.30am in Liverpool Cathedral. I am aware that it is also St. Mary's Patronal Festival in the morning and therefore many of you will be unable to join me, but I celebrate my first Eucharist at 6.30 pm at Christ Church that evening and I warmly invite you to share that very special occasion with me. You will all be so welcome and I would love to see you. There will be refreshments served in the church hall after the service so I would be very grateful if you could give me some idea of numbers. If the day is half as good as last year when I was ordained deacon then it will be fantastic: I have to say that day was without doubt one of the best days of my life.

My time at Christ Church has absolutely flown by and I've had many new experiences: many challenging but each one affirming the role that I‘m now in. Yet I know it is to the priesthood that I‘ve been called and would not wish as some, to remain a deacon all my life. I have had such wonderful support, encouragement and patience from Greg and the congregation. I am so looking forward to serving God, everybody at Christ Church and our community as priest.

I thank you all for your prayers and ask that you continue to pray for me during these weeks leading to my ordination as priest.

God Bless; with my love and prayers always.

Denise McDougall

On an entirely different, note thank you so much for your prayers for Baby Joseph, Sarah and Simon‘s first child and our first grandchild. He is now 12 weeks old and making very good progress. The surgery was successful and he is a happy, responsive and gorgeous little baby. (I‘m not biassed, honest...!)

Denise will, the editor is sure, appreciate the placing of the following flippant verse immediately following her news and invitation.

Not Hymns Ancient and Modern!

Forward in Faith sublime,
Where doctrine cannot fail,
In keeping now and for all time
The priesthood male!
The Fathers once laid down
Our Apostolic name;
And with one voice we thus rejoice
To stay the same.

All clothed in black attire,
With buttons thirty-nine,
A Catholic bishop we require
To tend our vine.
No more the tainted few,
Who heresy ingest,
But prelates stout and true of word
To lead our quest.

How dare a woman wear
A chasuble and stole?
And then expect to humbly bear
A priestly role?
Anathema! All strife!
Unorthodox! Bizarre!
For Jesus never in his life
Did wear a bra!

To Fathers young and old,
One Faith, one Church, one Mass,
Our Bishops, Priests, and Deacons bold,
Shall all surpass.
With gin and stoles held proud,
And many a simp‘ring cry,
Let‘s hear the toast, and raise the host,
The Church is high!

Fr Neil’s ‘Vocations Sunday’ Sermon

Today, certainly in the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England, is Vocations Sunday. In addition to that, for centuries Christians have regarded May as a month to give honour to the Blessed Virgin Mary. May is considered the season of the beginning of new life. In Greek culture, May was dedicated to the goddess Artemis. In Roman culture, May was dedicated to Flora, the goddess of bloom and of blossoms. Those of you with a love for poetry may know ‘The May Magnificat’ by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

On Easter Sunday I mentioned the great film which many have seen: ‘The Passion of the Christ’. I still urge you to see it if you haven't. Many have commented on the moving portrayal of Mary in that film. I think it would take a person with a heart of stone not to be moved, during the film, by Mary‘s response to her Son's agony and anguish as he walked the Way of the Cross. Like many of you I know what it feels like to lose a mother. Sadly, some of you may know exactly what it feels like for a mother to lose her child. I cannot begin to imagine how heart-breaking that must be.  If there is one word to sum up her role, not just in that film, but in the story of Mary‘s life as given to us in the Scriptures, it would have to be ‘faithfulness’.

Whenever the subject of vocation is raised, whether it‘s the vocation of the Church or the vocation of an individual Christian, we need look no further than Mary for an example. Two words sum up her vocation: trust and obedience. Without trust in God and obedience to Him, none of us can begin to explore what our vocation may be.

Quite a number of people in the thirteen or so years I have been ordained have shared with me their sense of calling to the priesthood. It is a privilege to be part of their vocational testing, even if only a tiny part of it.

Ministering to people at key times in their lives is a profound privilege. But there again, any type of ministry to any type of person or situation should be a tremendous privilege, though we rarely see it as such. Sitting in front of me and behind me are dozens of people who have responded to God‘s call. People who have been moved to love and serve him. When we speak of Ministry we often think of the ordained ministry, and yes, that is a distinctive form of sacramental ministry within the church; but ministry takes many forms. So too do the church's ministers.

Today then, Vocations Sunday, is an opportunity to thank God for the service and ministry He has entrusted to us.

The church is constantly on the move. At least it should be. If it is not, it is not a church open to the prompting of the Spirit of God. Five years ago on Thursday (29th April 1999) a special service was held here called ‘The Beginning of a New Ministry’. It  contained liturgy which required all present to affirm their common ministry and dedication to the Church. I wonder how many people were truly praying that the Lord would move them into pastures new, or how many, in reality were worrying what changes the Vicar would make and how long it would be before they found another church to move to!  Some not for the first time!

Quite apart from anything else, I hope that in the past five years we have experienced a broadening of our understanding of ministry within our two parishes; shared ministry within our United Benefice and a ministry shared equally between laity and clergy. I hope it is true to say that if you were left with no priest tomorrow, most of the day-to-day pastoral care, service and organisation of the parish would go on uninterrupted. However, it is not only the arrival of a new Parish Priest when people are called to commit themselves afresh to ministry. The annual meeting of any parish will provide a new and fresh focus for dedication as it will inevitably mean new people in new posts. New people in new posts brings with it the possibility of things done in new ways.

When I was asked well over five years ago to look at this United Benefice I was told by Bishop John it would be a marvellous challenge. I asked him why, if that was true, it had been vacant for two years! I can't really remember what he said — but what I do remember is what he said which made me want to come and look at the job. You are not expected to do this alone, he said. You will have the support of three NSMs plus five readers.

For various reasons, that number has decreased. The demands and pressures of a Parish Priest's life, however, never decrease!  When I arrived in the parish I began a monthly meeting of clergy and readers. It seems to me the right time, given that the Ministry Team now numbers four rather than nine, for the membership of that meeting to be broadened. And so, in addition to their other duties, the churchwardens from both parishes will attend the monthly Ministry Team meetings, as will Cynthia Johnson, Reader-in-training at S. Mary's. And, I‘m glad to say, Fr. Peter Goodrich has accepted my invitation to attend those monthly meetings. Fr. Peter has helped enormously in his cover of funerals and other pastoral services in my absence, to say nothing of the experience he can bring to such meetings over many years of ministry. These monthly meetings will also be some support to Cynthia in her reader training and, with both sets of churchwardens present, these regular meetings will be, I hope, a way of improving the flow of communication between clergy, readers, congregation and both churches. Please pray that this will be the case. Ten heads are better than one, two or three!

If I thought that vocation and ministry only applied to the Vicar I would be off like a shot! These are challenging days for all of us, clergy and laity alike, but with a commitment to each other, and to the people we serve, we can truly look to the future with confidence — whatever that future might hold. Who knows? If you had told me some twelve years ago that I would be Vicar of a parish in the north introducing them to 'Shine Jesus Shine' I would have said something which couldn't be repeated in polite company! Who knows what God has in store for any of us?

I began by talking about Our Lady. I believe that in the two patrons of our United Benefice, S. Faith and S. Mary the Virgin, we have two encouraging and inspirational models of vocation and service. In S. Faith a willingness to give her life rather than for the message of the Gospel to be compromised. In S. Mary, a willingness to let her heart be pierced as the true consequences of faithfulness to God‘s will unfolded before her very eyes.

When he came to preach two years ago for the May Devotions Service, Fr Michael Raynor said: Mary readily accepted God‘s calling, even though she can't have understood a fraction of the true implication that went with it. Mary also showed great fidelity in her life. Simeon wasn‘t far wrong when he told Mary that a sword would pierce her own soul, too. For a mother to stand at the foot of the cross on which her own son was being crucified is taking fidelity to the ultimate. O, that we could have a fraction of her faithfulness, or even of her ready acceptance of the will of God.

Mary was human like you and me. There must have been times when she wished she hadn‘t heard the voice of the Lord or responded to His call. Mary was human, like you and me. There must have been times when the joy was very much overshadowed by the pain and when the thought of not having a Son must have been an easier option.

Submitting to the will of God will not always make us popular; it will not always mean an easy life. It may not give us what we think we want or what we think we need. To truly give ourselves to God may mean our lives are never the same again. Like Mary, we need to trust God and we need to obey Him. In doing that our vocation and the vocation of the Church becomes clearer.

Perhaps if we have some difficulty with the concept of devotion to Mary, a more helpful way might be to see today and this month as a time of 'thanksgiving for Mary's vocation'. For above all our calling is to live out those words of Mary‘s Magnificat in our daily lives; seeking ?to magnify God‘s holy name‘ as we serve Him and His people.

VOCATION. FAITHFULNESS. SERVICE. These three we give thanks for today. Sint Paul in his letter to the Colossians writes: ‘Whatever your work is, put your heart into it as if it were for the Lord and not for men, knowing that the Lord will repay you by making you his heirs. It is Christ the Lord that you are serving.’  You and I are living proof that God often calls the unlikely to his service. Every single one of us is living proof that He only calls the unworthy to His service.

Remember O Lord, what you have wrought in us, and not what we deserve. And as you have called us to your service, make us worthy of that calling. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

All Roads lead to Rome...?

Although the Conques Pilgrimage is not yet upon us, many have expressed an interest in a pilgrimage to Rome. This would not be until the summer of 2006, as it will take a fair bit of organising, and of course we need time to prepare.

When I was in Rome for a few days after Easter I met up with an old friend from Theological College days, Fr. Jonathan Boardman, who is Chaplain to the Anglican Church of All Saints in Rome. He has been very helpful in making suggestions about what the pilgrimage could include, as has Bishop John Flack (Director of the Anglican Centre at Rome), whom I also know from college days.

I‘m pleased to say that Fr. Jonathan will be in S. Faith's to preach on Christian Unity Sunday 2005 and after that service there will be an opportunity to ask questions about the proposed trip. Bishop John says that a pilgrimage 'would certainly include a papal audience, a visit to the Vatican Museums and St Peter's, the four great basilicas of Rome, and classical sites such as the Roman Forum. More importantly there are more cafes and bars here than anywhere else in the world, where you can sit and watch everyone else go by'. Sounds good to me! So watch this space.

On Maundy Thursday the Queen visited Liverpool Cathedral to present the Royal Maundy Money. The Editor came up lucky in the ballot for seats (what do you mean, 'Fix'?) and was there...
Maundy Money  Chris Price

For the best part of a thousand years English monarchs have been distributing gifts to their subjects on Maundy Thursday. Until about 1790, apparently, they also washed their feet, and to this day towels are part of the Maundy regalia and nosegays are carried (presumably to neutralise smelly feet). The present Queen keeps up this ancient tradition, visiting provincial cathedrals on alternate years, and this year it was Liverpool‘s turn. This year, as always, men and women pensioners (one for each year of the monarch's life) who have given Christian service to the Church and the community were selected to receive the symbolic gifts. Among them were Ken Bramwell from St Faith‘s and Dora Whitehead from St Mary’s.

The whole thing was splendid and impressive. After entering the cathedral (we all had to be carefully police checked and our identities confirmed to get in) we were entertained during the long wait for the start not only by some superb organ music but by a series of colourful processions of the great and the good, religious and secular. By far the most memorable was that of the Queen‘s Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard, immaculate in magnificent Tudor garb with fearsome pikes. They kept time to the rhythmic banging of their leader‘s staff, which echoed menacingly on the cathedral floor as they processed. The effect was startling and produced a powerful time-warp effect, so that it would have been no surprise if they had rounded up any who dared to talk or take pictures and incarcerated them in the Tower. Their more peaceful role was to bear the glittering alms dishes, laden with the Maundy purses, at one stage balancing these on top of their splendid Tudor flat caps.

The service was fascinating and often moving. The Queen and her entourage, with her Lord High Almoner (none other than St Faith's old boy Bishop Nigel McCulloch) processed quietly up down and around the vast space of the cathedral distributing the gifts (two purses each: one of ordinary money, the other the unique silver Maundy money), and so well was the routine planned that everyone had a good view of at least part of the proceedings. During the two separate Distributions, the Cathedral choir, augmented by the choir of the ancient Chapel Royal, sang a variety of lovely anthems and settings: their distant harmonies added a further quiet colour to the mood of the service. There were also fanfares, there was full-throated congregational singing, and there was, strikingly, a prevailing air of quiet devotion and even a lot of near silence. The Queen moved with composed dignity and was the centrepiece of an act of worship — for it certainly for me managed to be just that — which was fitting for the day and for the holiest of weeks of the Christian year. The themes were those of penitence, thanksgiving and dedication to service and they were embodied in a service that combined pageantry with Anglican piety and devotion. There are powerful arguments on both sides on the issue of the possible Disestablishment of the Church of Ebgland, but on Maundy Thursday in the cathedral they seemed irrelevant.

It was a long time to go without relief, and the presence of the splendidly-named Keeper of the Closet in one of the processions underlined its length. But, human frailty apart, no fault could be found with the day, nor with its manifestly Christian purpose and achievement. The people of Liverpool turned out in force outside as well, and will have been witness to a unique event. With its roots in ancient history, it was a timely reminder in times of change and uncertainty, of the continuance of tradition, and for this writer and, I would imagine, all those present, of the enduring values of Christian service and commitment. When Church and State combine on such occasions as these, they provide something incomparable, and I wouldn‘t have missed it for the world. All the same, it will be in every sense of the world a real relief when the Cathedral‘s new toilet block is up and running.

From the Registers

Holy Baptism
4 April 2004  Leonie Kathleen Maureen Sumner
  daughter of Anthony and Samantha
  Nathaniel James Sinclair
  son of Alex and Heather
10 April 2004 Natasha Leigh Voce Pasco
  daughter of David and Julie
  Christian George Voce Russell
  Luke James Voce Russell
16 April 2004 Rosemary Taylor
4 May 2004 Betty Springett
Burial of Ashes
16 April 2004 Eva W. Hargreaves
          `John B. Hargreaves

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