The Parish Magazine of St Faith`s Church, Great Crosby
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Newslink MAY 2000
Glory in highest heaven
To our exalted Saviour
Who left behind
For all mankind
These tokens of his favour:
His bleeding love and mercy,
His all-redeeming passion;
Who here displays
And gives the grace
Which brings us our salvation.
Louder than gathered waters,
Or bursting peals of thunder,
We lift our voice
And speak our joys,
And shout our loving wonder.
Shout, all our elder brethren,
While we record the story
Of him who came
And suffered shame,
To carry us to glory.
Angels in fixed amazement
Around our altars hover,
With eager gaze
Adore the grace
Of our eternal Lover,
Himself and all his fulness
Who gives to the believer;
And by this bread
Who ever are fed
Shall live with God for ever.
For Christians throughout the world, the month of May is the month of Mary, the Mother of Our Lord. We at St. Faith’s will be holding a special service of Festal Evensong, Procession and Solemn Te Deum on Sunday May 7th at 6.00 pm. The preacher will be Monsignor John Furnival (SS Peter and Paul, Crosby).
Devotion to the mother of Jesus has always been an important part of Catholic spirituality. As the mother of the Redeemer she has always been given pre-eminence among the saints. In the New Testament the Virgin Mary naturally figures very prominently in the birth stories, especially in Luke’s Gospel. She is mentioned several times during the years of Our Lord’s public ministry, although usually in the background. She later appears at the foot of the cross, to take her part in Our Lord’s Passion. In the Upper Room at Jerusalem she witnessed the growth of the infant Church under the action of the Holy Spirit.
From about the 4th century, devotion to Mary grew throughout the
and was explicitly taught by the Orthodox Fathers from the 5th century
onwards. During the Reformation there was strong Protestant reaction
devotion to Mary, and one of the tasks of the Oxford Movement in the
century was to bring about a revival of devotion to the blessed virgin
in the Church of England. The Oxford Movement, whose leaders were
Keble and Pusey, were disturbed by the decline in church life and the
of liberalism in theology. They aimed to restore the high church ideals
of the 17th century ideals which included restoring church order
and discipline, especially in matters of worship and
doctrine. The Oxford Movement also
emphasised the dignity and responsibility of the priesthood, not only in church life, but in the social sphere, and a great deal of magnificent work was done amongst the poor.
The influence of the Oxford Movement was very great indeed, and it
to the building of churches like St
which, as you all know, was built
... as a thank-offering to almighty God for the revival of Catholic Faith and Doctrine in the Church of England. So it is right that we, as members of St Faith’s, firmly Catholic in its tradition, should have the opportunity of joining with our fellow Christians in honouring Our Lady in the month of May, bearing in mind also that she is the patron Saint of St Mary’s.
Please do your best to come along to the special service on 7th May. It promises to be a memorable occasion. It will also mark the end of Fr Neil’s first year with us you will no doubt recall that his first service here at St Faith’s was, in fact, a Festal Evensong. Procession and Solemn Te Deum. That service, and many others which have followed, have been truly magnificent events, thanks to Fr Neil’s inspirational and imaginative touches. They have been fine examples of how the liturgy can move and inspire us, using all our senses and resonating at a very deep level, drawing us closer to God.
He Ascended into Heaven
from God Thoughts by Dick Williams
Heaven is the starting place of all creation, and the destination of all that is redeemed by God. It is also the eternal and contemporary dwelling place of the Almighty.
And since God existed in the fullness of His Being before Creation, Heaven itself also existed before Creation. Therefore Heaven cannot be a part of the physical universe, and cannot be a specific location somewhere in space. Our thoughts, and therefore our words, are limited in their scope, and so we call Heaven a place. It’s a real help to do so. But Heaven is the reality from which life and all creation springs. And Jesus ascended into Heaven. He returned to the starting-place, and destination, of God’s purposes, which is the sphere of absolute reality.
How wonderful, Lord, that you should leave the disciples to stand on their own feet. How wonderful, that you should trust them to set off on their own. How wonderful, that you should not want to keep them (so to speak) tied to your apron strings, but were ready to allow them, in all their imperfection, to stand for and represent you in the world. This was their graduation day. Now they were as ready for their job as you could make them save for one thing only: the gift of the Spirit which would give power to their knowledge, and life to their words.
I have only slipped away into the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone; wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effort, without the ghost of a shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was; there is absolutely unbroken continuity. What is death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of your mind because I am out of your sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval somewhere very near
just round the corner. All is well.
Work as a choir treble is quite a commitment, but I find it mostly easy. That is not why I joined the choir, though.
One of the advantages of being a treble is that you have two choir practices a week Wednesday rehearsal only lasts half an hour or so, and the best but is afterwards, when we get to stuff our faces with sweets and play in the church hall (not in the church of course!). Then there’s the choir summer holiday in Llansannan. And we get paid for singing at weddings!
The organ always plays the melody, which is easier for a treble who doesn’t know the notes and is embarrassed about getting it wrong. The bad part of services is getting caught during the sermon biting your nails or even picking your nose! Up in the organ loft it’s easy for Ged, our choirmaster, to spot you he’s got a video camera up there, aimed at the choir, so he can see exactly what we’re doing.
At home, my dad and mum always sing so loudly that I can’t hear my computer games beeping, or the telly, or the radio. We’re looking forward to doing a lot of loud stuff at Easter and Whit. My favourites are Crown of Roses (Tchaikovsky, Good Friday) and Stanford’s Jubilate and Te Deum (Easter Sunday).
On May 13th/14th, we are also doing a 24-hour choir sponsored sing for church funds (with a 25% contribution to Children in Need) so I might be able to stay up late! Still, night shifts are hard for a treble, especially if you’re the tired type like me and you get a sore throat in the morning. Please support us and come to see our hard work in church, starting at 1.00 pm on the 13th.
On May 18th, I’m one of the many getting confirmed at Liverpool Cathedral. I’m looking forward to drinking the wine and eating the bread that grown-ups always have during Sunday morning service. Every Monday at confirmation class we are educated about Christ. We find out about baptism and the bible, and one week we walked around church trying to find the answers to a list of questions we learnt a lot!
That’s what life is like for a St Faith’s treble. We hope you’d like
to join the choir and give your lungs good exercise on the long notes.
If you’ve already joined happy singing. Bye!
‘APM2K’ Chris Price
No, not a new breed of computer just short for Annual Parish Meeting 2000. The change of title (from the traditional Annual General Meeting) went along with a whole raft (as trendy folk say) of new developments. The meeting lasted twice as long, was nevertheless attended by twice as many people and had three separate lots of elections, as well as no fewer than 14 reports, a retiring Treasurer and not forgetting a Vicar at long last in the chair.
We began with a proper Vestry Meeting (the prelude to the meeting proper, and at which in theory anyone in the parish can vote). As ever, the hordes from Milton Road and the Dales failed to turn up, and so missed the spectacle of the first proper election of Churchwardens in living memory. In due course the two sitting tenants were re-elected, and we proceeded to the election of Deputy Wardens and PCC members. Holders of the former post, new to St Faith’s, have no legal standing but will deputise for absent Wardens and help with the organisation of church business. Five people stood: Margaret Davies and Joan Tudhope were successful. Finally, six people (Martin Jones, Karen Lunt, Shelagh Mullholland, Christine Spence, Diana Waters and Dennis Whalley) made it to the PCC out of twelve hopefuls. It was very good to see so much healthy competition and several new faces standing in the cause of church democracy.
Two other replacements chosen (without competition!) for office were Fiona Whalley, replacing Margaret Sadler as Secretary, and Margaret Houghton, replacing John Rankin as Treasurer. Margaret Sadler received our thanks for her hard work and efforts over several years, and John, after quarter of a century of balancing the books, was thanked and presented with labour-saving tools for the garden which he may now find time to cultivate. St Faith’s owes him a real debt of gratitude for so efficiently carrying out a thankless task over so many years, and we wish Margaret Houghton every success as she settles down in her new post.
John’s final report reinforced what we already know: that there is a large and serious gap between present and predicted regular income and essential outgoings. Regular giving badly needs to be increased, and fund-raising activities need to be organised that is if we are to match our growing congregation and commitment to St Faith’s with cash on the plate and a balance out of the red. Watch this space!
Fr Neil gave an impressive and up-beat account of the state of the nation at St Faith’s in his first year, and the present writer in turn thanked him for his inspiring and invigorating leadership and his unstinting efforts (and determination to run us all into the ground!). There then followed no fewer than fourteen (mercifully brief) reports on various activities of St Faith’s. People reported on (or about) Altar Servers, the Events Forum; the Choir, Churches Together, Deanery Synod, Eucharistic Ministers, the Fabric, the Men’s Group, the Ministry Team, the Pram Club, the Social Committee, the Sunday School and the Uniformed Organisations, (well, the Brownies). The overall picture was undoubtedly of a varied and thriving church family at work and at play.
Finally, volunteers were requested for the new sub-committees of the P.C.C. For the record, (and in case they try to deny it) the following agreed to help in the following areas:
Catering Committee (sandwich-makers rather than decision-makers):
Dawson, Suzanne Pierce, Angie Price, Judith Skinner, Christine Spence,
Betty Sutcliffe, Joan Tudhope, Rosie Walker, Caroline Whalley, Fiona
Lillie Wilmot, Ruth Winder.
Finance and Stewardship: (not Hall planning) Chris Dawson, Margaret Houghton, Miriam Jones, Geoff Moss, Joyce Woods.
Hall Development: Mike Homfray, John Knight, Joan Tudhope, Rick Walker, Diana Waters, Dennis Whalley.
Premises: John Crooke, Denis Griffiths, Duncan Haughton, Geoff Moss.
If anyone has been omitted or would like to be added to any of these lists, please tell us! It is good here also to see so many volunteers, including newcomers: it would seem that the future of St Faith’s is in good hands, and that there is a real impulse to add to the ranks of the existing helpers, who have at times felt beleaguered over the years!
The meeting ended with some lively and healthy discussion of the relative roles of clerical and lay administrators at the Eucharist. Views on both sides were well-aired, and the issue is, as they say, on-going. But it is good that we could give time to such an issue at the end of two hours of meeting. I feel sure that we left the Hall feeling more than happy with the state of affairs at St Faith’s and the prospects for the future and certainly more than ready for a rather late lunch ...
Making Friends on the Internet Jackie Parry
Like many people during this age of science and technology I own a computer and subscribe to AOL Internet (America On Line). Well, when I say subscribe, what I should say is hooked on to the Internet. I find being on-line absolutely fascinating; being able to access information from all over the world at the touch of a button is amazing. I can access the news as it happens, current affairs, shopping, weather, history ... the list is endless, and of course I can look up St Faith’s Web Page whenever I want to! I find that I can, literally, spend hours surfing the net. It’s addictive!
As well as gathering information, sending and receiving e-mails etc. you can chat to people from all over the world and that is what I do in abundance. I’ve met (chatted to) many people (unfortunately as well as the odd nutcase!) from Colorado, Hawaii, Texas, France, Austria, as well as the UK, and I’ve made friends on line mainly Christian, some Jews, a few Muslim and some agnostic. Great theological debates are to be had here, I can tell you!
One friend I chat to a lot is 18 year old Danny Mills, from Oldham. He is a Christian and is part of a Christian music group, The Reaching Ocean, which includes his girlfriend Faith. They write their own music and lyrics which Danny has e-mailed to me to read. The words really are quite beautiful and thought-provoking. I was so impressed I felt I just had to share some of these lyrics with you. Below is just one of his songs entitled Mare vitalis. Most of Danny’s songs are about God, including this one, and I asked him to explain his thoughts on these lyrics. He said:
This song is written mainly with God in mind, how my soul was reunited with Him in a way, to swim forever in His Ocean of Love. Things seem much better with Him. His love is forever endless, eternal. I feel He waited until He knew I needed Him most and stretched out ... and took me in His arms. It makes you feel so good - so right - and I totally belong where I am with him ... I guess I’ve finally arrived ... Here is the song ... I hope you like it!
I`ll smile as the sun sets behind the waves and glows with
in the cool wind of the motion of the water, swaying gently beneath us.
I`ll smile as I remember how in my heart I’ve known you forever (and forever never seems to have been long enough). This ocean before us stretches eternally as together we dive into and forever.
I`ll smile as I feel the unexpected warmth against my skin, and
how I was ever so afraid to swim ... and rejoice..
I`ll hear the waves calling me (calling me back home)
I`ll hold this smile in my heart (and not once will I forsake or forget).
I`ll smile and remember your whispers as you bled words that stole my breath. Alone, nothing is forever, together we are eternal ...
I`ll smile as we sink into the blue, beneath the waves that wash our fears away
with the gentle swelling of the seas.
I`ll smile as I hear your voice telling me you always loved me (and how you waited forever to reach out and take me in your arms)
this ocean extends in all directions as arms and hearts linked forever.
I`ll smile as I open my eyes from the deep and see the warm glow of the sun above as the warmth rises and soothes sunken eyes ... I guess we’ve finally arrived...
Following the success of last year`s series of Open Saturdays, we have decided to extend the season this year to include the merry month of May. As in previous years, the Church will be open from 11.00 am to 1.30 pm. Free church guidebooks will be available, and refreshments and other items on sale. At 12.00 noon there is a free recital; the first eight on offer are:
May 6th Stephen Hargreaves (organ)
May 13th Ranee Seneviratne (soprano) George Gilford (piano)
May 20th Geoffrey Williams (organ)
May 27th Gregor Cuff (cello) and Neil Kelley (piano)
June 3rd David Holroyd (organ)
June 10th Michael Broome (baritone) and James Firth (piano)
June 17th Monica Nurnberg (oboe), Angela Davies (flute),
Susan Shields (recorder), Gregor Cuff (cello)
Neil Kelley (continuo)
June 24th Iain Harvey (organ).
We hope even more St Faith’s (and St Mary’s!) people will drop in to these happy events, to meet and greet visitors, to have a coffee or filled roll with their friends, and to relax over half an hour’s music. These Open Saturdays are an important part of our mission to the community, so please support them. Offers of help with the catering and welcoming will be gratefully received see the notice at the back of church or speak to one of the Wardens.
All PCC members and those elected as Churchwardens and Deputy Churchwardens will be attending the PCC Away-Day which will take place at St. Luke’s, Formby on Saturday 6th May from 10.30 am 4 pm. A variety of topics will be discussed and a working plan for the year formulated. If you have any matters you wish to be raised please let Fr. Neil know in good time so that they can be included.
We were sad to hear on Passion Sunday that Fr. Mark Waters will be leaving St. Faith’s and St. Mary’s in order to take up a new appointment as Team Vicar of St. Mark’s, Kirkby. In the relatively short time he has been with us Fr. Mark has encouraged us and stimulated much thought and action, particularly in the sessions A Congregation for the New Millennium? which sought to address the question of growth and mission in the 21st Century, and in particular our work with young people and families. Many have enjoyed also the very moving Services of Light which have taken place during the season of Advent in 1998 and 1999, as well as his challenging and thought-provoking preaching.
We are delighted that Rebecca, Diana and Vernon will remain a part
St. Faith’s and we offer our good wishes and prayers to Fr. Mark for
will, I know, be a challenging and exciting new post. Fr. Mark will
and preach for the last time as Assistant Priest on Sunday 14th May at
10.30 am and there will be a presentation and farewell to him in the
The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces ... .
What is real? asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and stick-out handles?
Real isn’t how you are made, said the Skin Horse. It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long time not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become real.
Does it hurt? asked the Rabbit.
Sometimes, said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. But when you are real you don’t mind being hurt.
Does it happen all at once, like being wound up, he asked, or bit by bit?
It doesn’t happen all at once, said the Skin Horse. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or who have sharp edges, or who have to be kept carefully. Generally, by the time you are real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, except to people who don’t understand.
I was the one who waited in the garden
Doubting the morning and the early light.
I watched the mist lift off its own soft burden,
Permitting, not believing, my own sight.
If there were sudden noises I dismissed
Them as a trick of sound, a sleight of hand,
Not by a natural joy could I be blessed
Or trust a thing I could not understand.
Maybe I was a shadow thrown by some
Who, weeping, came to lift away the stone,
Or was I but the path on which the sun,
Too heavy for itself, was loosed and thrown?
I heard the voices and the recognition
And love like kisses heard behind the walls.
Were they my tears which fell, a real contrition?
Or simply April with its waterfalls?
It was by negatives I learnt my place.
The garden went on growing and I sensed
A sudden breeze that blew across my face.
Despair returned but now it danced, it danced.
The Devil’s Beatitudes Anon
Blessed are those who are too tired, busy or disorganised to meet
their fellow Christians on Sunday each week;
they are my best workers.
Blessed are those who enjoy noticing the mannerisms of clergy, choir
I can see their heart is not in it.
Blessed are the Christians who wait to be asked and expect to be thanked;
I can use them.
Blessed are the touchy;
with a bit of luck they will stop going to church.
Blessed are those who keep themselves and their time and their money
they are my missionaries.
Blessed are those who claim to love their God at the same time as hating
they are mine forever.
Blessed are the troublemakers;
they shall be called my children.
Blessed are those who have no time to pray;
they are easy prey to me.
Blessed are you when you read this and think it is about other people
and not yourself;
I’ve got you.
All of us and especially those involved in the tea and coffee making work of St Faith’s are most grateful to Mary Crooke for funding the purchase of a new portable water boiler, for use in the hall and at the back of church.
How many Anglicans does it take to change a light-bulb, then? The answer is, of course, ten: one to change the bulb and nine to say how much happier they were with the old one ...
Christianity in Lancashire A millennium journey of discovery
An exciting exhibition, which shows how Christianity has shaped the history of Lancashire and its people, opened in January and will be on show throughout the year 2000. Visitors to the Museum of Lancashire in Stanley Street, Preston, will embark on a journey of discovery. They can experience Lancashire as it was in Monastic or Medieval times, enter the calm of a reconstructed Quaker Meeting House, or hide in a Priest Hole.
They can also learn about Lancashire’s links with Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot; the county’s role in the Civil War; and chart the rise of the 19th century Non-Conformists as they crossed swords with Establishment in the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches.
Lancashire’s main Christian denominations are represented in the year-long exhibition, AD2000: the story of Christianity in Lancashire. It has been designed with imaginative settings for different periods of history and shows how religious passion and persecution have shaped the history of the old County Palatine. Churches and chapels, individuals, colleges and cathedrals, schools and abbeys have lent fascinating artefacts to help illustrate the growth and establishment of Christian churches in the county. Museum curators have painstakingly gathered together hundred of historical items in connection with the story some of which have never been on display before. Others have been long-forgotten, seen only by a few.
As well as hundreds of artefacts on show, there are also hands-on
and a dramatic audio-visual narrated by the actor Robert Powell.
and groups are also invited to take part in a community gallery, which
will feature a year-long programme of events, activities and lectures.
On the subject of Human Rights, this country has a record which is the equal of none!
Several editions ago, this publication told of the plight (and 15 years fight) of a young man suffering with cerebral palsy which was the result of the most horrible negligence of the medical team that attended his birth in a famous Liverpool maternity hospital. You may recall that the situation was aggravated by the fact that the doctors in question, and their employing health authority, lied repeatedly in order to protect their miserable skins and, thereby, they hoped, escape liability. Happily, the boy and his family have now been properly compensated and can now begin to live some sort of normal life. Unfortunately, victims of medical/clinical negligence still have to fight for recognition.
In 1960, Paul Jones (not his real name), then aged 2, was diagnosed as being a haemophiliac. His condition was confirmed as severe, as his blood has less than 1% clotting factor. Part of the treatment (then and now) is the administration of a clotting compound known as Factor 8±. In the late 1970±s and early 80±s, Paul was one of many haemophiliacs that became infected with HIV from infected blood products. The products were imported from Central and South America by drug companies that had bought blood from drug addicts, AIDS victims and all sorts of other diseased donors. Thereafter, the blood products, which were neither properly screened nor checked, were prescribed all over Europe.
After a long and bitter struggle, in the early 90±s, the Government recognised the plight of the haemophiliac community and their HIV infection with a number of grants to infected individuals and their close families. Damages were offered only when it became clear that litigation in the High Court was going to be successful. Clearly, no lessons had been learned since the Thalidomide scandal, nor had their been any moral or ethical improvement in the conduct of our political leaders.
Paul was offered an ex gratia award in 1991. A condition of the award was that he sign a 51-page document (prepared by Government lawyers) and which included a clause (later known as the waiver) that he would not in the future seek compensation for other viruses that had subsequently been found to be caused by the infected blood products in question, namely, Hepatitis A, B and non-A or B which subsequently became known as C. Of course, prior to signing the document, Paul took both legal and medical advice. He had been tested clear for Hep. A and B. So far as C was concerned the advice was that Hep. C was nothing to worry about and in the unlikely event that he contracted it, then it was much less of a problem than either A or B.
Approximately 1,200 haemophiliacs became co-infected, that is to say, they contracted HIV plus one or more strains of hepatitis, usually the C type. A further 4,400 haemophiliacs became infected with Hep. C only they were referred to as being mono-infected. Further, at the time of writing, approximately two-thirds of those co-infected have died of Hep. C. So much for the assurances that were given in 1991!
Co-infection is an impossible conundrum for the medical experts of the sufferers. This is because the treatment for one condition aggravates the other condition(s). It is considered that the progression of Hep. C disease is speeded up by the HIV co-infection. Liver damage happens much more quickly and more frequently. Cancer of the liver is now replacing AIDS-related illnesses as the major cause of ill health and death in N. America and Europe in haemophiliacs with HIV and Hep. C.
Remember, Paul suffers with Hep. C and HIV in addition to the haemophilia with which he was born. He also has idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. His medical condition has been described as quadruple jeopardy. His younger brother, also haemophiliac and co-infected, died in 1986.
For several years now, co-infected haemophiliacs, their families and friends have been campaigning against the Government for their rightful compensation. The government still refuses to do the honourable thing and is forcing sufferers to go to law. The number of potential claimants being reduced all of the time by deaths. Other complaints that sufferers level against our government are that there were inexcusable delays in the introduction of both screening tests for diagnosing Hep. C in sufferers and facilities for the production of safe blood products during delays, more haemophiliacs were infected. Labour politicians who supported the campaign whilst in opposition have become silent since coming to power. Finally, claims have already been recognised and compensated in Eire, Spain, Switzerland and Canada.
In relation to the waiver, an obvious question springs to mind: Why,
if the assurances given at the time were true, was the waiver deemed
or appropriate? Specifically, why would an exclusion clause be
necessary in respect of a virtually non-existent risk? In a
letter (a copy of which is held by the writer) sent on 12th
March, 1996, John Horam,
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department of Health conceded:
Although it is correct that more information on the natural history of hepatitis C is becoming available, at the time of the HIV haemophilia settlement it was known that in some cases non-A non-B hepatitis, as hepatitis C was then known, could lead to serious liver disease and some deaths had already occurred in UK haemophilia patients.
St Paul rightly sees the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as the peg, the essential point, upon which the whole of the Christian Faith hangs. It is in the light of the Resurrection that we look back and ask questions about the significance of Jesus’ earthly life; but, we also look forward because the Resurrection has opened up the possibility of new life for all of us. Without the Resurrection, surely, any mission of Jesus must be reckoned a failure?
As an event, the Resurrection faces us with some historical problems. It is no good saying that this doesn’t matter, or that nothing may be proved one way or another. The Resurrection may not be proved, but is must be open to historical investigation, because Christianity is not a myth, but a religion in which God reveals himself in and through historical events. The Crucifixion was a public event; it took place historically speaking under Pontius Pilate. But the Resurrection is, in the last resort, a matter of faith.
However, the New Testament evidence concerning the empty tomb, the early tradition of the Third Day, as well as the Resurrection appearances and the growth of the Early Church, makes the Resurrection the most plausible explanation of the facts.
The view that the appearances were hallucinations, or that the Church grew out of the disciples wishful thinking goes against the evidence we have and, it could be said, is more difficult to believe.
In all this, we have to remember that the Resurrection is not a possibility simply within the world of human experience. We are born and at the end of our lives, we die; but the Resurrection is part of the freely-willed activity of God. Jesus did not raise himself, he was raised by God. In the same way that the creation did not just happen but was brought about by God, so the Resurrection is not a consequence of history but is God acting, as God, in and through it. The statement Jesus is risen! is, then, historically justified, because it can with stand historical investigation though that is not to say, that any final proof about the facts can be attained.
If the Resurrection is talking about the final activity of God (that is, about what for us is still future life) then it is not surprising that it remains controversial and difficult to explain and interpret solely within the terms of our limited human experience.
The Ascension develops the idea of the risen Jesus further. Christianity does not assert the revival of a corpse Jesus does not rise from the dead in order to die again. He is in the language of theology, exalted enthroned with God. The Ascension points the Resurrection in a Godward direction. Humanity is now taken into the life of God himself. As a result of the Incarnation, the Resurrection and the Ascension, life within the Godhead is different. Through these events, the possibility of our sharing in God’s life is opened up to us.
The Ascension seen as the completion of the whole Incarnational process, also helps us to achieve a more balanced doctrine of the Person of Christ. It isn’t that God becomes flesh and that is then that for if we over-emphasize the Birth of Christ, that is just what we end up with; whereas seeing the Incarnation as completed in the Ascension reminds us that Christ’s own nature is One not by the conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by the taking of humanity into God. (Athanasian Creed).
All this has consequences for the Christian life. Christians do not believe in the Greek doctrine of the immortal soul which survives death, but in a God-given, qualitatively different life which transcends (but not avoids) death. We believe in a God who brings life from death (Resurrection) and takes that life and makes it part of his own life (Ascension). Both of these become possibilities for us, when we are incorporated into the dying, risen, ascended Lord through our baptism, and then sustained in him by our life in the Church.
We are delighted to welcome as our preacher on Ascension Day Bishop Michael Marshall, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of London.
When he was made Bishop of Woolwich in 1975, he was the youngest priest ever to be made Bishop in the Church of England. Since then he has worked in America, founding and directing the Anglican Institute in St Louis, before being invited in 1992 to return to England as Adviser in Evangelism to the Archbishops.
He is based at Holy Trinity, Sloane Street, London and is closely involved in the newly formed Arts and Crafts Guild which seeks to explore the relationship between spirituality and the arts. He has published sixteen books on spirituality and evangelism and travels widely round the world lecturing, preaching and conducting mission activity.
An accomplished musician, he has played with orchestras in this country and America and given numerous recitals and concerts around the world. In September, 1996 Bishop Michael and Fr Neil gave a recital at Lambeth Palace as part of a Celebration of Faith and the Arts at the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury. We look forward to welcoming this distinguished preacher to St Faith’s.
Medicine and the Gospel Fred Nye
A couple of years ago Linda and I spent a short time in Malawi, a small Central African country which used to be called Nyasaland. I went out there at the invitation of the Malawi Department of Health to do a sabbatical, working as a medical specialist at the main hospital in the capital, Lilongwe. From the many memories we brought back with us, there is one image which I will never, ever, forget. It is the picture of a middle-aged woman on one of the t.b. wards, sitting quietly in a corner on the bare concrete floor. She was dying slowly from tuberculosis, and probably from AIDS as well, and the hospital didn’t even have a mattress to nurse her on. That woman sums up, for me, all that needs to be said about medicine and the gospel, and about the issues of justice, compassion and humility which confront us all.
First, justice in health: where better to start than with a really poor country like Malawi? Malawi has about þ10 M a year to spend on health care, that’s around þ1 per head of population. It takes well over ten times that amount to run the hospital where I work in Liverpool, ten times the entire health budget of a whole nation to fund just one English hospital. That’s a tremendous challenge for Christians, both as individuals and as a nation. Many poor countries are still struggling under the burden of enormous international debt while here in the UK we argue about whether we should be increasing our health budget from 58 to 67 billion pounds. Where is the justice in that?
Of course you might say that charity begins at home, and you could be right. But even in rich countries poverty and ill-health still go hand in hand. In fact in European countries measurements of ill-health match up most closely not with absolute poverty, but with the gap between rich and poor, with the gap between the highest and the lowest incomes in society. It is as if the difference itself is unhealthy. The more deprived you are compared with your more comfortable neighbours, the sicker you will be. An upper middle class man in the UK is likely to live about ten years longer than his working class counterpart. And in Liverpool we have found that there are strong associations between indices of deprivation and the incidence of lung cancer, diabetes and t.b.
So, the world over, sickness and disability afflict the most
members of society who are least able to pay for their medical care. In
our own NHS the main users of the service are the very young, the very
old, the disabled, the chronically sick and the unemployed. The feeling
that it is somehow right that those who are sick should be paid for by
those who are comfortable and well is deeply embedded in our collective
conscience, and in many ways the NHS is still seen as
the last of our public institutions to preserve the fundamental human values of equity and charity. It was exactly these values which the Old Testament prophets fought so hard to defend, a fight continued and fulfilled by Our Lord himself, who came to preach the good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind and to set at liberty those who are oppressed.
The second issue I want to mention is that of compassion. Neither science nor religion can give us any real answers to the problems of pain and death . They seem to be inevitable consequences of the physical and biological laws which allow us to live and to be fully human. But coming up with that sort of philosophical jargon is no way to comfort a mother whose baby is dying from meningitis. She must be forgiven if she blames God for her child’s death, because with pain and mortality there is often no justice. A God who spouts philosophy is not worth having. The only God we can believe and trust is One who enters in to our own world of decision and action and who shares our pain and our death. There have been many occasions in my working life when everyone caring for a critically-ill patient has hoped for a miracle. But can God, does God, work this way? Should we be asking Him to suspend the laws of nature for someone we care for, but not for the rest of suffering humanity?
I may be quite wrong, but I believe the real miracle is that God transforms our sinful and selfish natures. In Christ, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, He enables us to enter into the suffering of others. We too become incarnate in the world of pain, to share the burden of the sick and the vulnerable, and to play our small part in making real the Kingdom of Heaven. When we pray for someone of course we want to tell God what we want for them, but He knows that already. Rather, when we pray we place ourselves, and those who suffer, together with Him in His presence along with all our anxieties and fears and hurts. And we try and align our wishes and plans along with God’s will for the person who is suffering. Of course this has one rather uncomfortable consequence. We may literally have to put our money where our mouth is.
Its no good praying for something to happen and then not doing anything about it ourselves: I usually feel thoroughly guilty and ashamed when, in the intercessions, we pray for the people of the third world; knowing how little we do for them as individuals and as a nation. If I pray for someone and do nothing to help them it is the worst form of hypocrisy. I begin to feel like rich old Dives who was separated by a great divide from poor Lazarus the leper: Dives kept his distance so effectively that in the end the gap between them became the difference between heaven and hell. And I’ve no need to remind you which side Dives ended up on.
Then finally there is the question of humility. Learning and practising medicine is a humbling experience. You quickly learn that as Christians none of us have a monopoly of care and compassion. So many individuals working in our health services do so quite selflessly and with immense humanity and commitment. Of many faiths or of none, there is no doubt in my own mind that by what they do and by who they are, they are sharing God’s work of salvation and reconciliation. It is for instance a great joy to see so many young men and women of the highest calibre who still want to use their medical and nursing skills in developing countries, in the shanty towns and the refugee camps, often at great personal risk to themselves. It is people like that who reveal the face of Christ to us and to the world, and we should have the humility to value their example and to learn from it. We do not build the Kingdom of Heaven, God does. But it is often our patients themselves who can teach us most about humility. I once had to tell a patient that she had an aggressive and quite incurable lung cancer. She was a young woman who had a husband and two small children. After I had broken the bad news, rather haltingly and clumsily, she turned to me and said Doctor, you have such a difficult job, don’t you? Even at that moment, at the turning point between her life and her death, she could be concerned about the feelings of her doctor. I was at the foot of the Cross, and I wept. It is at times like these that we realise that to be fully human is to be like Christ Himself. As Christians we can have no greater calling than to deepen our humanity, and in the struggle and joy of that humanity to meet our Lord. Within the mystery of our human frailty lies the secret of the incarnation, and of our own salvation. In this respect medicine is just a part of life. Whatever we do, and regardless of whether or not we have a job, we are all of us faced with these human questions of justice, compassion and humility. If we try and cope with them in our own strength we are lost. It is only if we go about our business in Christ’s name that we can hope to share in building the Kingdom of Heaven. Only if we are in Christ can the work of the incarnation go forward.
I`d like to finish with a prayer written by St. Teresa of Avila, which for me at least sums up what I have been trying to say. Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours; yours are the eyes through which is to look out Christ’s compassion to the world, yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good, and yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now.
Confirmation 2000 Fr. Neil
On Sunday 21st May at 10.30 am, Bishop Rupert Hoare, the new Dean of Liverpool, will be coming to St Mary’s to confirm our 26 candidates. (The Confirmation on May 18th in the Cathedral was heavily over-subscribed, so we have been offered our own Bishop!) On that day the Confirmation service will be at St Mary’s at 10.30 am, as last year’s Confirmation was at St Faith’s. Please make a special effort to come to St Mary’s for that service, so that as a United Benefice we can join in supporting these people on this very special day for them. There will be no 10.30 am Eucharist at St Faith`s.
It is wonderful to have such a good number of candidates being confirmed, so please be there to support them and encourage them with your prayers.
· IMPORTANT DATES for those who are being Confirmed:
Tuesday 25th April Visit to the Two Cathedrals and McDonalds
Sunday 14th May Tea in the Vicarage Garden for the Candidates and their
families, 4 pm
Please remember those preparing for Confirmation in your prayers:
· FROM ST. FAITH`S
Bing Bagley, David Dunning, Sarah Fletcher, Catherine Hockney, Mike Homfray, Victoria Macoy, Robin Morrisey, Charlotte Mulholland, James Parry, Oliver Pfeiffer, Doreen Plevin, Claire Robinson, Heather Shillitoe, Lawrence West
· FROM ST. MARY`S:
Pat Arnold, James Ducker, Laura Ducker, Gemma Landers, Margie Lloyd, Rachel Lloyd, Claire Martin, John Miers, Ruth Morrisey, Diane Murphy, India Murphy, Yasmin Murphy
20 February Alexander Joseph Williams
son of Gary and Julie
26 March Halle Jayne Dorothy O`Brien
daughter of Michael and Heather
Burial of Ashes
2 April Audrey Jones
Christian Aid Week May 14th - 20th Fred Nye
The year 2000 has been particularly challenging for Christian Aid, as I’m sure many of you will have responded to the recent Mozambique flood appeal. We will again be looking for volunteers to help with this year’s collection in May our main fund-raising effort for missionary purposes which is, of course, also ecumenical. We badly need new helpers: so please do not leave it just to the faithful few who volunteer year after year!
The theme of Christian Aid Week this year is Children make our future focussing on the role of children in building the future for their families and communities in three different countries Nicaragua, Rwanda and India.
If you are into I.T. you may like to know that background
is available online at the Christian Aid website at www.
Good luck with the collection!