The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great Crosby
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 flourish,
your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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From the Ministry Team
There is a picture in the Manchester Art Gallery called the Funeral of a Viking. It shows a warrior lying in state in his ship as it is fired and launched ablaze out to sea. By fire and water he was entering Valhalla, the hall of the slain. It is a dramatic image of the final journey; such a contrast with the pale rituals of today’s clinical and hurried dispatches.
I wonder if the Viking had a vision of Valhalla, whether, as he fought his battles, he believed he had an eternal destiny – so, whether he lived or died there was a glory. Christ’s resurrection brought about an explosion of hints and visions of the glory to come. He opened the gate of heaven. This eternal scenario had a profound effect upon the way people lived their earthly lives, as St. Paul put it, “I reckon that the sufferings we now endure bear no comparison with the splendour that is in store for us”. For twenty centuries Christians lived with vibrant pictures of eternity: their chosen way would lead them to the wonder of heaven with God, or the torment of hell without Him. The martyrs braved the flames because of their certain entry into paradise. But somehow through the vast tide of secularism and two horrendous wars the eternal scene has been blotted out. So the journey from womb to brain death is widely believed to be the whole story of man.
No Valhalla, no Hades, no Elysian Fields, no angels and archangels. We peer through a spy hole, gaining small comfort from accounts of near-death experiences, but mostly just living for today and tomorrow, with hardly a glance beyond the grave. This has been a profound change in the human psyche. It is not surprising that so many think “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”. For most people in our generation, heaven and the final judgement have ceased to be real. Some theologians say we must accept this state of the twenty first-century mind and discover our motivation and morality and our hope without a supernatural backdrop. But I believe that we should rebuild the eternal city, reopen our contemporary mind to a vision of the heavenly places, re-educate our imagination to the possibility of God’s dimension. Perhaps our vision will not be just like the Book of Revelation, but that is no reason to close the shutter on the truth we sense but do not see. If, rather than the dead end of slipping quietly behind the crematorium curtain, we believed we entered the halls of God’s glory, it would transform so much in our lives; the way we tackle terminal illness, the way we decide our values, the goals we set and the way we treat each other.
With every blessing,
St. Mary’s Patronal Festival
Sunday June 1st at 10.30am
THE VISITATION OF THE BVM TO ELIZABETH
(transferred from May 31st)
PATRONAL FESTIVAL EUCHARIST
(No service at Saint Faith’s)
Preacher: The Venerable David Woodhouse
(former Archdeacon of Warrington)
followed by BBQ lunch
The Co-Patron of our United Benefice:
The Blessed Virgin Mary
Mary - the virgin mother of Jesus. For centuries the eastern and western churches have considered her pre-eminent among all the saints.
In the gospels, Mary makes her first appearance as a teenager. Nothing is known of her childhood, and what we do know of her is found mostly in Matthew 1 - 2 and in Luke 1 - 2. If you read both accounts, you’ll notice that Luke’s account seems to give the story from Mary’s standpoint, whereas Matthew concentrates more on Joseph’s side of things. In both accounts the virginal conception of Christ is clearly stated. Mary’s quiet devotion to God and her acceptance of his will shine forth.
After Jesus is born, Mary fades into the background, and makes few appearances: when the family visits Jerusalem and she loses her son on the way home; when she urges him to help the wedding party in Cana with its wine problem; and when Jesus gives her into the keeping of the beloved disciple when he is dying on the cross. Mary’s last appearance is in Acts chapter one, just before Pentecost.
Mary obviously joined the early Church, but her role was never one of teaching and preaching, and indeed she remained so much in the background that nothing more about her is known for certain. Both Ephesus and Jerusalem have claimed to be the place of her death.
Mary, chosen to be the mother of Jesus Christ, one who is both God and Man, holds a unique place in the history of mankind. Down the centuries that have followed, the Church has paid special honour to Mary - and well deserved it is. ‘All generations shall call me blessed…’
Shall we dance…?
- what a night!
me explain - I was lucky enough to get two tickets for the Viennese
Ball, at St George’s Hall, one for myself and one for my daughter. I
also procured a ticket for the workshop for the Saturday previous to
the Ball - this was held at 12.00 noon and was in itself a
marvellous experience. By the end of the two-hour session we were all
twirling round the dance floor like professionals (well almost).
The Saturday of the Ball, one of the highlights of the Liverpool Capital of Culture Year, dawned to great excitement in our household - but with a young baby around we found we were getting ‘dolled up’ at the last minute after he was safely in bed.
On arrival in Liverpool we parked the car and hurried to St George’s Hall where we were directed to the front entrance. We then walked up the magnificent red carpet with beautiful flowering cherry trees in tubs either side of us and into the main entrance. The atmosphere was electric - we could hear the orchestra playing and ladies were milling around in wonderful gowns - the men also looking very smart in DJs. We made our way to the main hall - what a wonderful sight. The floor was filled with dancing couples waltzing away. The hall was wonderfully decorated with flowers and plants and the lighting muted. The ladies of the orchestra were all wearing wonderful gowns also. We wasted no time in getting on the dance floor and were enjoying ourselves enormously. Then an announcement was made for us to clear the floor - the light went down and a spotlight picked up Anton du Beck who danced onto the dance floor alone to be joined by his partner Erin. They did a spectacular speciality dance which was met at the end by thunderous applause. They returned several times during the evening to do other dances and each time Erin was in a different wonderful gown.
After all this excitement, my daughter decided that champagne was the only drink to have on this occasion and so we found ourselves in the champagne bar where the barmen were serving champagne from an ice sculpture of the Liver Birds, this was topped with a glass shelf covered in beautiful champagne flutes - small tables surrounded the bar with dishes of nibbles and black and green olives. In one corner there were several young ladies who would tidy your hair or makeup!
During the interval the ‘Kings of Swing’ played for modern ballroom dancing and they also were dressed in DJs. We all got up and did quick steps and foxtrots until the Liverpool Phil starting playing again for the final hour. My daughter and I agreed that we had had a wonderful evening - everything was organised wonderfully well and the atmosphere was terrific, with everybody chatting to each other - truly a memorable evening.
The text of the sermon preached by Fr Philip Barnes at the service of Choral Evensong and Devotions to the BVM on 4th May
It was a simple enough question. It ran something like ‘You have one friend request from Ben Belassie: click here if you are, in fact, friends with Ben’ but it left me with a huge dilemma and a sleepless night. Users of the social-networking website ‘Facebook’ will know what I’m going on about, but if you don’t, let me try and explain. Facebook is basically a website designed to help you keep up with your friends. You can use it to look at a web-pages belonging to people you know, to find out what they’re doing, to share news and photos and videos.
But it works by you offering, or accepting invitations of friendship with those who you know who use it. Hence my crisis over Ben Belassie –what does or doesn’t constitute friendship. At university I couldn’t stand Ben. He was the long haired, chain-smoking, punk music loving hippie I had to spend my first few weeks at college sharing a room with, until my nerves could stand it no more and I had to move. And there he was, large as life, asking if I would be his virtual friend.
Well, I took the plunge and said ‘yes’. And here’s the really shameful thing. It wasn’t because of any Christian motive of reconciliation. No. Father North joined ‘Facebook’ the same time as me, and, being mature, sensible adults we were having a race to see who could get the most friends in the shortest time. I was accepting offers of friendship off people who I barely recognised – anything to boost my popularity, I thought!
Well, ‘Facebook’ has offered me a new way of relating to others, a new way of belonging with my friends. It’s fun –and I enjoy it –but in the end it’s superficial and transient. Tonight you and I are celebrating the only real thing that connects us and draws us together into an everlasting union; a bond that’s made not in cyber-space, but in the flesh and blood of a mother and her child – for they invite us to see in them a whole new way of being human, a whole new way of relating to one another.
To begin to understand what this looks like we need to ponder a bit on tonight’s scripture readings, and in particular that gospel encounter at the foot of the cross. It’s a scene that on the surface looks like a failure. The story of Jesus had begun in such a promising way. The people, and the poor in particular, are entranced by his message and by his miracles of healing. But by the end they are howling for his crucifixion. His own intimate friends and disciples have abandoned him and fled. And at this point, John tells us, the mother of Jesus appears. He says ‘standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother… and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her.’ And Jesus
breaks the silence, he speaks to the woman who was the first in the gospel narrative to commit herself unconditionally to his word (remember her instruction at the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee), ‘Woman,’ he says, ‘here is your Son.’
What’s happening in that charged exchange? More certainly that Jesus simply being concerned about the material needs of his next of kin. No, the real importance of this final dying action of Jesus is the formation of a new relationship. They form a new faithful community of the followers of Jesus, the mother who first set Jesus on the road to his hour, and the beloved disciple, the ideal of all disciples.
The Mother of Jesus becomes the Mother of the Disciple. A scene that looks like failure becomes a place of deep creativity. The mother and disciple form a new community of faith, and Mary’s maternal role is affirmed within it. There, beneath the blood-soaked wood of the cross, in mother and friend the Church is born. This is our family. Here we see our mother and our brother. Here we are shown the deepest way of belonging – we share the same blood, the blood of the cross.
So what’s it supposed to look like, this family of ours, created at the cross? What does it mean to say that we share the same blood? Just think about those two figures again, Mary and John; what were their motives for being there that first Good Friday? One was there because of a mother’s love, the other because he had the love of a friend. Two different reasons for being drawn to Jesus, but there they are made one. They can look at one another and see something of the Jesus whom they love in each other: in Mary John sees the perfect origin of his beloved master, in John Mary sees one whom her son has loved and still loves and who did his best to reciprocate that love.
In the community of disciples we will find ourselves alongside those who have been drawn to Jesus for reasons different to our own. Sometimes we might find those reasons perplexing. Sometimes we might even find them hard to live with. Mary and John are there to show us that the family to which we belong is not some cosy club for the like-minded, but that, even with those to whom we find it difficult to get along with, we are committed to seeing beyond the boundaries and hostilities that divide human beings to say instead of one another ‘behold my brother’, ‘behold my sister,’ to seeing the face of Jesus in each other.
To live in company with Mary as our Mother, and John as our brother is to take responsibility for modelling to the world a new way of being with one another: one that is no longer marked by hostility and rejection, but by mutuality and respect. And we catch a glimpse of what this means for us in tonight’s procession. One of the features of worship at the Shrine at Walsingham is that we spend a lot of time processing. In fact, my mother once neatly summarised my job as ‘walking around a lot wearing strange clothes.’ But perhaps this isn’t such and odd or eccentric thing for a Christian to want to do.
For we remind ourselves as we go that we are walking in the wake of the victory of Christ into glory with him in the kingdom; that we walk in company – giving attention to one another on the journey; and that we walk in fellowship with Mary, the mother of all disciples of Jesus, the mother of the Church – in which we were reborn at baptism: reborn to receive the new life of the Spirit who comes to us from the cross; the Spirit who is the Lord and giver of life, the life of love which we shall live in eternity.
Gone from my sight
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she lands like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says:
“There, she is gone!”
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just as the moment when someone
at my side says, “There, she is gone!”
there are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:
“Here she comes!”
And that is dying.
Henry Van Dyke (1852 – 1933)
Trains of Thought
It’s not every Sunday that the intercessions at an Anglican Choral Evensong feature prayers for Welsh narrow-gauge railways – but that’s exactly what happened to this writer recently. To be fair, it happened at the Church in Wales church of St John, Porthmadog, which is the home of two such railways. And the occasion was the celebration of the 40th anniversary of ordination of the Reverend Dr Richard Buxton, an English Anglican priest now living in North Wales and who is deeply involved in the work and activities of the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways which operate out of that small seaside town.
I know Richard from many a lineside meeting, but it was a special pleasure to join him in his contemporary canonical garb. I say contemporary, because he has a habit of donning appropriate period clerical dress and gracing the stations on occasions when Victorian vintage trains are running from Porthmadog harbour and adding an air of benevolent sanctity to the serious business of running a crowded railway timetable and squeezing the crowds into undersized carriages. But he is also a man of influence in the narrow-gauge world, and his quiet diplomacy has on several occasions helped to calm matters and heal passionate disagreements between rival groups: but that’s another story. Passions can run unexpectedly high between the lines…
This marriage of church and railways is happily not untypical of the Porthmadog narrow-gauge world. The railway owns a Victorian hearse van, complete with funereal architectural features, once used to convey the coffins of expired quarrymen down to their final resting-places. I well remember seeing it used a few years ago to carry the ashes of a much-respected official to their interment in a lineside station garden, done with proper liturgical accompaniment. And when another well-loved man’s recent passing was marked by a special train, his relatives were deeply moved when the railway’s staff and workers turned out in formal dress and stood to attention as the train hooted mournfully past.
There is a fascinating and almost mysterious connection between railways large and small in general and the clergy of the Anglican Church (equally curiously, in my experience, rarely if ever the Roman Catholics). Examples abound, but to name just two: the ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ stories were created by the Revd W. Awdry (and the ‘W’, splendidly, stood for Wilbert!). And those of us who were entertained by the Cappers at Wakefield Cathedral some years ago were refreshed in the Treacey Room, named after Bishop Eric Treacey, who was probably the greatest railway photographer of his age. When films and TV set scenes in churches, they are usually atmospheric R.C. ones, where murders and dark secrets abound. When they shot that iconic film,
‘The Titfield Thunderbolt’, it was the Anglican vicar on the footplate, and when his bishop turned up, he begged him to be allowed to act as fireman, and held it one of the highlights of his career.
The writer is not ashamed to confess to being a lifelong railway enthusiast, quite happy thereby to be classed as an ‘anorak’. His not so secret passion is shared, to his knowledge, by at least two members of our congregation. Denis and Kevin are hereby ‘outed’ from the railway closet: perhaps next year the Men’s Group might go on retreat to Crewe… or even Porthmadog?
In Another Place…..
What…me….acting?! Noooo, I don’t think so!! That was my first reaction when I was asked if I would like to be part of the “In Another Place” team. If I recall, I think I actually laughed. But, a few months later, there I was standing on a newly-constructed stage near Crosby beach, in the pouring rain I might add, playing the part of the woman from the Bible who had suffered for many years and was healed by Jesus because she had a strong faith.
The performance, entitled “Miracles in Another Place” was scripted by members of the “In Another Place” team, and involved hundreds of people, aged from 5 to 80+ years, from churches around Crosby and Waterloo as well as local schools and communities. To say that I was nervous would be an understatement - my tummy had a million butterflies in it when I first walked out on to the stage. But everyone was amazing! We all prayed together, sang together, supported one another, got soaked in the torrential rain, and laughed together. Over 600 people watched the performance of “Miracles” and, considering the awful weather last July, the fact that so many people came along to watch the play was a miracle in itself!
But “Miracles” wasn’t the first performance put on by this group. So, what is “In Another Place” and what inspired so many people to be involved and interested in it? Initially it started when Anthony Gormley’s iron men statues, titled ‘Another Place’, were constructed along Crosby Bay. Local Christians, wanting to spread the good news and message of Jesus to as many people as possible, were inspired by this and decided to take this message out of the churches and to “another place”, i.e. taking the message out into the community, to where people are. So, with this in mind, local churches decided to hold a nativity play on Crosby Beach. Not the typical nativity plays seen by parents every year, but one that could perhaps drive home the reason why Christmas is. So they put on a nativity with a difference.
They got hold of a real camel (Callum), real sheep, and a real newborn baby, whose parents played Mary and Joseph. They got a gospel choir, a host of voluntary actors and lots of very technical and very professional equipment. Then, in December 2005, ‘Christmas in Another Place’ was performed, and very popular it was too. Approximately 5000 people in total swooped down on Crosby beach and loved the
Originality - the whole meaning of it was NOT lost on them.
Due to the popularity of this first production, another was planned shortly afterwards ‘Easter in Another Place’. This consisted of three wooden crosses being put up on Crosby Beach, and early Easter Sunday Morning, a short service was arranged. A short play was also performed in Crosby village. Again, it successfully attracted a large audience.
“Easter in Another Place”, although a smaller event, had inspired more local churches to become involved. By the time ‘Tales in Another Place’, took place in the summer, an even larger group of people were involved from different churches in the area. This summer event consisted of re-telling the parables of Jesus that contained animals - again, we were able to get a camel, sheep, goats, a donkey - even a guinea pig! On the Sunday a small pet service took place at the beach, and everything from cats and dogs to snails and tortoises were brought along.
‘Angels in Another Place’ in December 2006 was a different take on the nativity story with an older shepherd explaining to a younger shepherd the amazing events he witnessed 30 years previously. The story was brought to life with a gospel choir and dancers, and the event was supported by the widest range yet of local churches.
The most recent event was ‘Miracles in Another Place’. This took place at Crosby Marina on Saturday 21st July and featured the re-telling of some of Jesus’ miracles.
I have since been involved in another play, “The Shaping of Liverpool” which was one of the first performances to be staged in the 2008 for Liverpool’s Capital of Culture. The play, incorporating drama, dance & music, highlighted the influences and cultures that have shaped ‘Our Liverpool Home’ through the centuries to the present day. This is to be staged again on 29th June 2008 at St John’s school as part of their celebrations.
The plays, scripted and performed by “In Another Place” is just one of a growing list of activities which the team are now involved in. There are now assembly teams who visit locals schools; puppet shows are performed at a variety of venues, Christian stalls and prayer groups, and more. All this is done simply to spread and share God’s message with all people.
For me personally, being part of this group has helped me in many ways. I have met loads of new people, made many friends and feel very much part of its loving community. I believe that spreading the gospel is so very important, but that often we need to go outside the comfort of our church buildings and go out to “where the people
are”, to show and tell them about God’s unending love for us all. And I have fun too!
If you would like to know more about “In Another Place”, or if you would like to be involved in any way (there are loads of different things to be involved in…not just acting!) then please visit the website www.inanotherplace.com
The Vision of Another Place is:
Church and Community…Outside Church Walls
Mission Oriented … Contemporary Language
Since they were built, our two churches have developed wonderful traditions of worship which have heartened and sustained our congregations for many years.
Sadly, the outside world has developed along different lines, and these days far fewer people come to us to fulfil their spiritual needs. Many know little of the Christian message, and if you asked a bunch of people in the street, "What do Christians do?" you might get one of the following answers:
* Argue about who is - or is not - acceptable to be a bishop;
* Squabble between themselves about whose worship is best;
* Spend all their time asking for money to maintain expensive buildings;
* Complain about new hymns;
* Complain about old hymns...etc etc.
And what did Jesus do? None of the above, that’s for sure! Jesus spread the Gospel: taught his followers of God’s love and his kingdom. After his resurrection he passed that task on to his disciples, and if we are grateful to have received it surely it is our turn to pass on the Gospel message.
The vicar and the ministry team certainly think so, and five members of St. Faith’s and St. Mary’s have been attending a course run by our Diocese, entitled “Mission-Shaped Ministry” to learn how best to take this forward.
We are saddened and concerned that such large numbers of people have little or no experience of God, and would like to reach out to them in a way they might find more accessible than our more formal services.
To this end we are looking to plan, initially once a month at St. Mary’s, a series of events which will invite newcomers to come into our churches and begin to experience the love of God. The first events will include a warm welcome, music, inspiration from the Bible, simple prayer and reflection, and an opportunity to ask questians.
We are also exploring options to offer new families an opportunity to come along to St. Faith’s to be welcomed into the family of God. We do hope both congregations will support our endeavours with prayer. These proposals are not intended in any way to replace the services we already offer, but to offer those not familiar with church ways an introduction to the Gospel. The MSM team thank you for your prayers.
A Date at the Palace
The telephone rang. “Are you free for dinner on the 23rd April?” “Sorry, I’ve got to present the accounts at the church Annual Meeting.” “The dinner is at Buckingham Palace.” “Oh. I’ll see if I can excuse myself.”
And so it was that I travelled down to London on Wednesday, 23rd April for a concert and dinner in the presence of TRH the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to support the Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts.
The Foundation is one of the charities supported by the Prince of Wales which aims to bring the arts, in all its many rich forms, to children. Currently, there are about 240 events around the country and, over the past year, over 25,000 children have been able to participate in sustained experiences of the very best of the arts. Through their work, children discover that cultural venues are welcoming, accessible and exciting places to be. Access to the arts has a proven positive impact for children resulting in developing skills, encouraging creativity, improving self-esteem and changing behaviour.
The evening started with a champagne reception in the Music Room at the Palace and I had the opportunity for a conversation with the Duchess of Cornwall. She is charming. A star-studded concert followed and featured Jeremy Irons, Alfie Boe, Jude Law, Penelope Wilton, Ian McKellen and Renée Fleming. We then moved into the Picture Gallery for an excellent dinner and the evening was over when Their Royal Highnesses left at about 11.00pm. It was a memorable evening and I felt very privileged to have been invited to a very special event in support of such a worthy cause.
Sunday 8th June
10.30am Ordination of Martin Jones in Liverpool Cathedral
11am Said Eucharist with hymns in S. Faith’s
6.00pm Fr. Martin’s First Mass at S. Oswald’s Church, Winwick
The text of a sermon preached by the Reverend Emma Calderwood in S. Faith’s at the Ascension Day 6.30am Solemn Mass
I’m sure everyone has seen, or at least heard of the film ET, a story about an alien that is left stranded on earth and who befriends a boy called Elliot. The film finishes with what must be one of the most tear-jerking goodbyes in the history of cinema as during their short time together; ET and Elliot form a strong emotional bond, to the extent that they can feel each other’s emotions.
I wonder how far the author, Melissa Mathison, was influenced by the events of Christ’s life in that ET came, touched our hearts, died, came back to life and then returned home.
Just before ET enters his space ship to return home, he turns to Elliot and tells him that he will always be with him. Christ’s last words to his disciples in our Gospel today – “And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age” certainly sound like they had a strong influence on ET’s final words to Elliot.
Saying goodbye is never easy, especially to someone who has had a profound effect on your life, and even more so when you know you won’t see them again.
The goodbye that the Disciples faced at the Ascension was one which was undoubtedly difficult. Having faced life without Jesus before I’m sure some of those feelings would have been re-occurring, ones of being scared, apprehensive and even doubtful, after all how can could they be expected to do what Christ asked of them in their present hostile climate?
So then comes the question – do we as Christ’s Disciples now also react in the same way, in our own sometimes hostile climate?
It is a subject of authority. And so to another question –
Who is in charge?
Who runs this church?
This could be a tricky question; there could be several different possibilities that come to mind. Some people will automatically think of Fr Neil, others will look towards the PCC or other Church groups, others may think simply churchwardens and treasurer; others will consider a wider body – Bishop James or the Diocese.
So let’s think about this for a moment and ask the question this way: “Who is the head of this church?"
Perhaps an easier question - most churches of every denomination in some way or another affirm that Jesus Christ is the head of the church.
This is where the crunch usually comes. Most people have no argument with the concept that Jesus Christ is head of the church. At the same time most of us would probably agree that Jesus Christ is not actually running the church in that practical sense.
Yet, it is important to who we are - that there be a relationship between the true Head of the Church and what actually takes place in our life together as a community.
The readings which focus upon Christ’s Ascension contain some of the most powerful statements in the whole of the Bible about the sovereignty of God and the Lordship of Christ. They can direct us as we consider the relationship between our affirmation of who Christ is in the church and the day-to-day conduct of our life together.
That is why the celebration of Christ’s Ascension is just as important today as the day it happened. Christ now reigns in Heaven, in full authority of heaven and earth, and when Christ doesn’t reign in every aspect of the Church’s life the notion of Christ being the head is lost.
Is it any wonder that the world is at times disbelieving of the Church when it hears the Church speak about the love of Christ for everyone but sometimes that love isn’t reflected within the Church? Unfortunately Christ’s reflection can be severely lacking from the reality of who we are.
The power mentioned in Ephesians is the power God has given his Son. Christ is in charge and as such is the only ruling authority in the Church. As the body of Christ, the Church is to be for others what Christ would be if he were here in the flesh. Whether a church is governed by clergy, PCC, or a bishop, the church is nevertheless under the authority of Christ, therefore the Church should be loving, accepting and forgiving as Christ is loving, accepting and forgiving.
Christ alone is Head of the Church. That’s why we are the ‘Body’ of Christ. We are not the ‘brain’ of Christ, but the ‘body’ of Christ. This is the central point of Ascension Day. Jesus Christ reigns in the church from on High.
This is the church in principle. BUT is this the church in practice?
At the beginning of Acts we see the power of God happening, the kind of power which meant the might of Rome could not crush the existence of Christianity. So in Matthew’s Gospel, when Jesus told his Disciples to go and make Disciples of all nations, it wasn’t the dreams of a mere Jewish peasant but the voice of the Authority, Might and Kingship of God speaking. This is just as relevant for us today.
The disciples were sent, but they had to wait. Wait for the Holy Spirit to be sent. The power to accomplish the central task of the church is a power which is bestowed upon the church. As with the question of authority - so it is with the question of strength to carry out the task. Like the Disciples, we are not to go in our own strength, but rather in the strength of the Holy Spirit of God. The focus that runs through the texts is the power of God, the reign of Jesus Christ with God and the giving of power to the people of God for witness and ministry.
Christ’s Ascension is an affirmation that things did not end with his death and his resurrection was not the end of the story, but in fact was just the beginning of the work of the gospel. With the Ascension, the work of the kingdom gets underway in earnest. Christ’s Ascension is at the heart of the rationale for the life and witness of the community of faith - the Body of Christ on earth.
Just as ET said to Elliot as he left to go home, I will always be with you, so Christ tells us in Matthew’s Gospel: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” A promise which he will never break, a promise which makes the work of the gospel possible.
Possible for the Disciples then and equally possible for us now.
THE SUNDAY SCHOOL PARTY
Sunday 15th June from 3pm – 5pm
in the Vicarage Garden
PICNIC, GAMES, BOUNCY-CASTLE & LOTS OF FUN!
A Poet Priest - Gerard Manley Hopkins
Jesuit Priest and Poet (1844-1889)
Robert Ellsberg’s book, ‘All Saints’; contributed by Fr Dennis
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God...”
Gerard Manley Hopkins was born in England in 1844 into a prosperous High Anglican family. He received a superb education, culminating in studies at Oxford, where he was called ‘the star of Balliol’ College. It seemed he was destined for a brilliant and successful career, if not in the family insurance business, then certainly as a scholar or man of letters. But all these great expectations were dashed when he announced his decision in 1866 to become a Roman Catholic. In October he was received into the church by John Henry Newman. It was over a generation since Newman had himself pursued the logic of the Anglican renewal — the Oxford movement — into the church of Rome. Yet the social stigma attached to Catholicism remained in force, Catholics were not allowed to graduate from Oxford or Cambridge. And so just a matter of months after receiving his Double First, Hopkins withdrew from the university.
Having thus stunned his friends and family Hopkins went for broke and entered the Society of Jesus — a move tantamount, in polite society, to joining a bizarre and foreign cult. Evidently Hopkins believed that in becoming a Jesuit he must entirely subordinate his literary interests to his religious vocation. And so he privately burned all his poetry.
It was nearly ten years before he wrote again. In 1875, as he was studying theology in Wales, he read a newspaper account of a terrible shipwreck off the coast of Kent. The Deutschland had been carrying a group of German Franciscan nuns who were escaping anti-Catholic persecution in their native land. As the ship foundered on rocks one of the nuns had been heard to cry, “Christ, come quickly!” When Hopkins's superior mentioned casually that the event ought to be memorialized, Hopkins took this as an authorization to resume his writing. The result was his epic poem “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” one of the most remarkable poems in the English language. In compressed, highly-charged language, he used the event of the nuns’ death to describe the mysterious victory which Christ wrought by his passion and resurrection. The poem also displayed the distinctive and utterly original poetic voice that would characterize all of his subsequent verse:
Thou mastering me God! giver of breath and bread;
World’s strand, sway of the sea;Lord of living and dead;
Thou has bound bones and veins in me, fastened me flesh,
And after it almost unmade, what with dread, Thy doing:
and dost thou touch me afresh?
Over again I feel thy finger and find thee.
Neither this nor any of his poems was published in his lifetime. Those friends with whom he shared his poems found them virtually unreadable, with their strange syntax and compressed rhythm.
Hopkins’ life was spent in obscure religious assignments for which he displayed no particular aptitude. In 1884 he was sent to Dublin to teach classics at the Catholic University. He found it pure drudgery. Possessed of a nervous and hypersensitive constitution, he was frequently ill. At the same time he suffered wracking doubts about his abilities and the accomplishments of his life. All this — both his capacity for exhilaration and wonder in the face of creation and his tendency to desolation — was reflected in his poetry.
Hopkins had a profound appreciation for the sacramental character of the created world and its capacity to shine forth in witness to its Creator. Created things, simply by being what they were meant to be, gave praise to God. For human beings this was more complicated. The task of realizing our true vocation and identity did not come naturally; it required that our hearts, under the influence of grace, be conformed to the supernatural charity of Christ.
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came—
... For Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of me’'s faces.
Toward the end of his life, however, it was the voice of desolation that seemed to prevail. In a series of “Terrible Sonnets,” poems that came “written in blood, unbidden and against my will,” Hopkins poured out his private sufferings. He was tormented by a sense of the utter waste and sterility of his life.
… birds build—but not I build; no but strain
Tim’'s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes.
Mine, O thou Lord of Life, send my roots rain.
For all his struggles, however, one thing was certain. The old doubts about the compatibility of his vocations as priest and poet were resolved. Poetry, his means of naming and replicating the sacramental nature of existence, was precisely his way of expressing his true being, and thus of returning praise to his Creator. Hopkins himself seemed to realize this in the end, when he wrote of "that year / Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) / my God."
Hopkins died of typhoid on June 8, 1889. His last words were, "I am so happy!"
Making Music on Saturdays
The 2008 concert season is well under way, and a wide range of talented musicians will be performing over the next few weeks. Do come and support them: attendances are up this year - and if you would like to help with refreshments you would be more than welcome! The church is open from 11.00 am, music at noon, refreshments on sale.
31 May Mike Foy (organ)
7 June Phil Arkwright (organ)
14 June Neill Carroll (Clarinet) Greg Cuff (‘cello) and Neil Kelley (piano)
21 June Liverpool Youth Ensemble (Strings and Woodwind)
28 June Judith Barker (alto)
5 July St. Faith’s Choir
Church and Community Reports
Edited highlights of some of the reports presented to the 2008 Annual Parochial Church Meeting
Churches Together in Waterloo
The committee has continued its regular meetings with all the member churches being represented by at least one of their congregation. The focus of the year’s activities has been shared worship: the Advent Carol service was held at Christ Church and was well attended. During the week of Christian Unity members of all churches from Crosby travelled to the Metropolitan Cathedral to hear the Archbishop of Canterbury give a memorable address at the ecumenical evening service.
At Easter the churches took part again in the Procession of Witness to the Civic Hall on Good Friday despite the inclement early Easter weather and a service was held in front of the library. There will be a joint Christian Aid service at Christ Church on May 18th and the churches will again be responsible for the house-to-house collections during the preceding week. Members are also involved in the planning and implementation of In Another Place, the evangelistic outreach programme of the Crosby Churches, as well as the local Justice and Peace group. The committee is hoping to contribute to the Sefton Fairtrade campaign more actively by ensuring that all churches achieve Fairtrade status over the forthcoming months. Kathleen Zimak
The Serving Team
The serving team remains strong and we have welcomed Jordanna, Sue Walsh and Sarah Evison to the team. With a large team it allows flexibility and ensures that we always have
enough servers for every service. I would like to thank the serving team for all their hard work and dedication during the last twelve months. Geoff Moss
The Junior Church
Thank you once again to the loyal band of teachers and helpers who week by week look after our (very) few children, providing Christian instruction, fun and play. It is sad not to be able to report any real rise in numbers: we occasionally welcome new children but lose as many who progress to become servers.
The parties and activity days continue to flourish, and it is good to share these with St Mary’s helpers and children. Teachers from both churches have visited Fr Bruce’s Godly Play facilities; we envy them their dedicated room and equipment, without which we cannot hope to emulate them.
We would always welcome a new teacher – and some new children of course, otherwise we will just have to wait for the babies in the congregation to grow up! Angie Price
The Men’s Group
This last year has been testing for us all with the sad loss of yet another founding member, George Smith. George was a good friend to all, and his dry humour and constant presence will be missed by us all. For such a quiet man, George always had something to say, and would comment wisely on any serious matter that came up: his memory of how things used to be done will never be equalled!
We have been pleased to welcome a number of new faces this year, and of course membership is never closed. We have also been able to assist with many aspects of the church from repairing the bell to funding the Christmas dinner, and from providing most of the ‘senior’ serving team and male pantomime cast to offering advice to all and sundry about all and sundry.
Apart from our regular meetings we had the retreat to Yorkshire in January. This year there was a new element to the weekend when Fr Charles said mass in the Village church at Marske. They have been without a vicar for a year, and the rural Dean has umpteen other parishes to look after. Our attendance doubled the congregation and probably moved the churchmanship a couple of notches up the candle. It was a privilege to help out and we were made very welcome. Rick Walker
The Catering Team
The catering team was kept busy in 2007, getting off to an impressive start with some of the team joining together to help with the catering for Judith & Gary’s wedding in February. What was achieved was remarkable given the limited facilities available. We had a lot of feedback from guests commenting on the excellence of the whole day, the welcome they received, the beauty of the church, the music, and the mass, and the amazing food etc. A lot of people went away with a refreshed view of church folk.
It was our turn to host the Archdeacon’s visitation last year and once again the team excelled in providing excellence at supper, and it was commented on that our reputation went before us. In July we gave Martin a memorable send off with good food and company after his ordination.
As well as these extra activities we had our usual Easter party, Corpus Christi, BBQ, Patronal Festival, Quiz night fund raiser, and finished off the year with the Senior Citizen’s Christmas Lunch which was hard work, but immensely pleasurable, and as usual a very good time was had by all.
Some of the ladies of the team have also done an awesome amount of baking to provide items for the table sales, Easter biscuits, and countless mince-pies. Thank you all for your hard work and support in 2007; as always you have given a sterling performance. Also thank you to those people not on the team for their help and contributions. Ruth Winder
The Walsingham Circle
Since July the Circle has met less frequently, although its members have attended masses and other Marian devotions. In December we were delighted to welcome several new members. This year’s meetings started on 2nd February and, following the Saturday mass, we retired to Joan Tudhope’s home. There we were treated to an elegant lunch and, led by Father Neil, discussed the full year’s programme.
On 6th April after Compline & Benediction we had an hour’s open discussion on the day’s Gospel and sermon for that day [Emmaus – Mac Forsyth]. This was ‘chez’ Margaret Davies avec vin et fromage! Any member of our United Benefice is most welcome to attend our meetings; why not give us a try?
The Holiday Clubs
Judith Moizer ran the August 2007 fifth S. Faith’s Holiday Club. Once again we received a grant from Sefton Council towards the running of the club and from St. Christopher’s Home Trust, which enabled the children to have a great week. Unfortunately, due to a shortage of helpers, the number of groups in the club had to be reduced to three from four, and so it was very much over-subscribed and we were unable to accommodate all those children who wished to attend. However over 40 children attended each day and enjoyed a range of activities and outings. It is, though, anticipated that in 2008 there will be a full compeiment of leaders, and so we can once again function at full capacity. Thanks must go to all those who helped in any way to make the week such a success.
The second Over 65s’ Holiday Club was held this year in S. Mary’s Church Hall. The format followed that of the Children’s Holiday Club in that there were activities each day with a half day out to the World of Glass in St. Helens and a full day out to Llandudno, including a delicious fish and chip lunch. Once again the week was a tremendous success, with twice as many people attending as the first one. Planning for 2008 is already underway. Joan Tudhope
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