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March 2002

When Earth‘s Last Picture is Painted

When Earth's last picture is painted
 and the tubes are twisted and dried,
When the oldest colours have faded,
 and the youngest critic has died,
We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it
 - lie down for an aeon or two,
Till the Master of All Good Workmen
 shall put us to work anew.
And those that were good shall be happy:
 they shall sit in a golden chair;
They shall splash at a ten-league canvas
 with brushes of comets' hair.
They shall find real saints to draw from -
 Magdalene, Peter, and Paul;
They shall work for an age at a sitting
 and never be tired at all!
And only The Master shall praise us,
 and only The Master shall blame;
And no one shall work for money,
 and no one shall work for fame,
But each for the joy of the working,
 and each, in his separate star,
Shall draw the Thing as he sees it
 for the God of Things as they are!

Rudyard Kipling

From the Vicar  

Dear Friends,

Go and make disciples of all the nations: baptise them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And know that I am with you always, yes, to the end of time.‘

These are words which we hear on Ascension Day. Before he parted from their sight, Jesus told his disciples two things. Firstly, they were to go out and get on with the business of the Gospel. Secondly, there were to be assured that they did not have to do this in their own strength. Christ would be with them always.

This year on Maundy Thursday a number of people from Saint Faith‘s and Saint Mary‘s went to the Cathedral for the Diocesan Eucharist. In many dioceses this has been an occasion when only priests and other ordained ministers renewed their ordination vows. For the first year we were actively encouraged by Bishop David to bring along all who share in the ministry of the church (Readers, Churchwardens, Eucharistic Ministers, Baptism visitors, marriage preparation and so on) and for us all  as the body of Christ- to renew our commitment to service. It demonstrates just what a wealth of riches we have in the people  lay and ordained  who serve throughout our Diocese.

Much emphasis has been put on shared ministry‘ over the years. Such talk excites some, and leaves others cold, preferring to see ?ministry‘ as what the ordained woman or man does. Many of us didn‘t grow up with a concept of ?shared ministry‘ and yes, it is tempting to think that we only talk in this way now because of lack of clergy. An understanding of shared ministry‘ is however fundamental to our understanding of Baptism. Baptism is the most important sacrament; it unites people across the Christian denominations and it gives us equal status as sons and daughters of God. We are baptised into the priesthood  of  all  believers.  From  such  an  understanding  should  come the responsibility that each one of us has as ministers of Christ. I guess we will all have different views on this as with almost every subject. However some facts do need to be taken on board.

          The Diocese of Liverpool still has to make some cuts in clergy numbers. By 2006 a further 11% of stipendiary clergy posts have to go.
          Deanery boundaries are being reviewed ™ some Deaneries may gain extra parishes.
          In some Deaneries up to two full-time clergy posts have to be cut.
          More United Benefices will consist of three rather than two parishes (this has already happened in our own Deanery).

There was a conference recently (my Diary didn‘t permit me to attend) for clergy who serve in multi-benefice parishes. Some interesting points were raised: how do clergy divide their time fairly between two (or maybe three) parishes? Is it realistic to expect that (forgetting Sunday and a day off) clergy are to give each parish two and a half days a week? The reality is in most people expect a full week‘s work from their clergyperson whether he or she has one, two or three parishes to look after. And why shouldn‘t they? What about the clergy family? Which church do they attend? What pressures are they put under in multi-benefice situations? I for one wouldn‘t begin to consider being part of any parish which didn‘t have a huge wealth of laity to share in its ministry.

There is a clear need, I think, for the Diocese to provide realistic training and nderstanding for parishes joining a United Benefice. What preparation did the people of S. Faith‘s receive when they ceased to have their own Vicar and prepared for sharing one with a neighbouring parish S. Mary‘s had experienced ten years of a United Benefice so they were aware of the problems! This is something I believe needs some careful thought in the Diocese if they are to employ fewer clergy in the coming years. There is another conference for Incumbents on May 14th and I would be enormously grateful for any comments or views you may have. Is a United Benefice what you expected? What could have helped prepare Saint Faith‘s for sharing an Incumbent? Please be as open and as frank as you like because unless we engage in honest reflection we can‘t help other priests and parishes in the future to adjust to the reality.

Joan Foster, when she ceases to be curate of S. Nicholas‘s Blundellsands, will be licensed to the Area Dean of Sefton and will function as a curate in the Deanery rather than one specific parish. This will happen more and more as a result of  the pastoral  re-organisation  that needs  to be  made  throughout  the Diocese. And the issues don‘t just concern clergy; there is a suggestion from the Diocese that Readers are to be Deanery-based rather than parish based. I guess our readers would oppose that (and for very good reasons), as I would certainly oppose any move for us to have a third parish in our Benefice. But, the time will come!

We can lament the good old days as much as we like and yes, I do admit to feeling more than a little envious of the picture taken outside church of Fr Richard with four curates around him less than ten years ago. I remember spelling these facts out in a sermon at S. Faith‘s in August 1999: I had a pint glass in the pulpit which I said was half well, it was half full, or half empty, depending on the way we look at it. Is the current reality a threat or a challenge? We either bury our head in the sand or we rise to the challenge of where the Church of England actually is in the 21st Century. This is an issue concerning the whole Diocese  not just us. And we are so much more fortunate than some! Our parish has a wealth of people involved in every aspect of its life. We constantly have new people becoming more and more involved in every aspect of our Church life: many parishes would love to be in that position! And that‘s where our future growth will be found ™ not just in me, not just in you, but all of us, together. That‘s what we must celebrate at Ascension-tide.

Go and make disciples of all the nations: baptise them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And know that I am with you always, yes, to the end of time.‘

With my love and prayers.
Fr. Neil

From the Registers

30 March Georgina Susan Haywood
  daughter of James and Glenys
  Elaine Jones

31 March Marion Ashworth

Affirming Catholicism: Part 2    Mike Homfray

Last month, I gave some details of the local group of Affirming Catholicism, and promised that more information about this movement would be provided this month. I have taken this from the principles of AffCath‘, found on their website
Affirming Catholicism believes that Catholic Tradition is a Living Thing rooted in the Revelation of Jesus Christ and Growing in the Experience of the Church. The worldwide Anglican Communion enters the Third Millennium with far more members than it has ever had before. It will continue to grow as the 21st century rolls on. But as it grows it is changing fast, with a renewed understanding of how it should organize itself and how it must pursue the work of the Gospel, proclaiming its faith in the risen Christ.

As Christians who look to the future, we must face the wonderfully challenging mystery of our Christian belief  that our humanity is reconciled with God and given new life and purpose in Christ. In him we are continually challenged to change and grow, as individuals and as a Church, into what God wills us to be.

That challenge to change and grow is what has led Anglicans to give so positive and hearty a welcome to the full inclusion of women in the ordained ministry of the Church and to the involvement of all ordinary Christians in the government of the Church. That, too, is why as Christians we cannot fail to take up our concern at what is happening ecologically, socially, politically and economically in the wider world around us. Affirming Catholicism is the new Catholic movement for the Church today and tomorrow.

What is Affirming Catholicism About?

The Anglican Church sometimes seems to be at risk of disappearing over a variety of internal squabbles that only really matter to insiders. Affirming Catholicism is a movement that looks beyond the sectarian details and seeks in classical Anglican fashion to understand what it means to be a committed Christian today, in the light of scripture, tradition and reason. We are there for the Church as a whole. We have a vision for a grown-up Christianity, which reconciles genuine faith and commitment with intelligence and experience.

For far too long, loud extremists on one or another wing of Anglicanism have been making the running, with threats of schism or attempts to create semi-detached churches within the Church. We believe we represent the majority of Anglicans ™ albeit the quieter ones ™ and we want to call the bluff on that kind of blackmail.

Many of us in Affirming Catholicism are Anglo-Catholics in favour of the ordination of women, who regard the present decay and disunity of our Catholic tradition as a major tragedy for Anglicanism. We deplore the un-Catholic fragmentation created by ?extended episcopal oversight‘ and hope to see it ended as soon as possible. We want to build a renewed and reunited movement, Catholic yet confidently Anglican, no longer weakened by pathological obsessions about women priests, sexuality and Rome.

Some of us in Affirming Catholicism count ourselves as ?classical‘ or ?broad‘ Anglicans. We cherish a hope of reviving a genuine and realistic liberalism through our movement  not a liberalism that is a cloak for atheism, but a Christianity that is open to truth from all quarters, sincerely seeking to live by scripture and tradition in the light of reason and experience. We work for a more generously inclusive Church, where all are equally welcome and equally challenged to change.

Others of us are by instinct Evangelicals, unhappy because that name has been to some extent hijacked by fundamentalism and puritanism. While giving primacy to scripture, we seek to interpret it through reasoned and consistent exegesis. In joining Affirming Catholicism we hope to learn from Catholic tradition and sacramental spirituality, and to enrich our worship, spirituality and evangelism. We long to see the whole Church renewed and energized by the Spirit, using every means to bring the Gospel alive for an increasingly self-centred and pagan society.

What we affirm

  The Anglican Communion is holy, Catholic, apostolic
  The riches of the Catholic tradition are needed throughout the
     Church to further the Christian mission
  Genuine Catholicism means including lay and ordained people in
    Church government, and both men and women in the three-fold

What we work for

  Disciplined lives of regular prayer, study and worship
  Commitment to the social and moral transformation of the world
  Models of love and community for all seeking to follow the Gospel
  A living Catholic tradition to carry the gifts of the past into
     the future
  Liturgy to inspire holiness and relate the greatness of God to his
     people today

If you want to join the local group, please contact DAVID EMMOTT on  0151- 236 5287, email or have a word with Mike Homfray at church.

 Our Malawi Connection  Margaret Haughton

Our writing is to thank you very much for welcoming us in your church.  We felt at home. St.Faith Christians are very lovely and so caring.  We will always have good memories. What a united church, so committed Christians.  High Church, so inspiring. We are using the experience we got from there. It is our prayer that you too should come to Malawi to test African weather and culture in depth.  The Christians here have heard that you are a wonderful people as such they would want to see you.

We managed to bring with us sterilizers, electrical and manual.  We also brought blankets for little ones at St.Andrews Hospital. We even brought stethoscopes. The Management and staff of the hospital are very happy. Our food crop is still a problem, people are living without food for several days, many are dying. As a church we have what we call Mtunthama Community Relief Centre and we are supplying to the most needy people in  the area. Of course it depends on the resources we could have at that time. We are also feeding young ones who are suffering from malnutrition.‘

Above is an extract from a letter received from Ven. Frank Dzantenge, Vicar of All Saints Church, Mtunthama, whom many of you will have met in December, when he and his family visited St.Faith‘s Church. As you will realise from his comments, the experience he had was quite overwhelming for them.

How sad to think that only a few months ago these lovely people, their friends and parishioners, were not aware of the horrors which were to overtake their lives.  By now many of the people who welcomed us into their homes as friends will either be starving, or indeed have died from malnutrition. I find it so hard to believe that friends could suffer in this way.

The problem started when the Malawi government withdrew the subsidy for fertiliser, which meant the village people, dependant upon their personal crop of maize for life itself, could not afford the expense of feeding their seedlings.  The rains were exceptionally heavy, the maize that had managed to grow rotted  on  the  stalks.   Once the rains stopped the rot continued,  therefore no grain to grind into flour for the months ahead.  After torrential rains, a four week drought destroyed the sweet potato crop completely, leaving virtually no food in Malawi whatsoever.As you will have read in Ven. Frank Dzantenge‘s letter, he and hospital staff have set up a famine relief programme, but there is precious little with which to relieve the situation.  Those suffering from intense malnutrition are taken into the hospital and fed on whatever is available at the time, until a reasonable body weight is achieved, then return home to starve once more, a full circle. Following a good harvest last year the medaya, or husks from the maize grain, was abandoned, but Mac and Dot, with wonderful foresight, had this bagged and stored at the mill.  This has proved invaluable, it may not taste too good, but it fills hungry stomachs.  At the present time the only foods available appear to be eggs and avacados, which are extremely expensive, but with the overwhelmingly generous support from St.Faith‘s congregation and friends, money has already been provided by Medic Malawi.

A friend in Kamuzu Academy offered to advance £600 from his personal account for immediate use, which has been covered by the first of the relief money raised.  A much larger sum is to follow shortly via the Headmaster of the Academy, who has been spending Easter with his family in England.  Means are constantly being sought to avoid any charges for transferring monies.  So far not one single penny of donations has been used in this way.

Below is are two extracts from articles published in the Church Times.

From the Bishop of North Malawi, Rt.Revd. Christopher Boyle:  ?The number affected by the famine is 70% of the population.  Many people are feeding on wild roots, which make them sick and some die.‘

From the Bishop of Lake Malawi, Rt.Revd. Peter Nyanja: ?There is no food.  The situation has been made worse because of poverty, people are unable to buy the very expensive maize, which is imported and sold on the black markets.‘

In his pastoral letter to the Diocese he said that livestock and seed corn, needed for long term survival, was being virtually given away to raise cash; men were deserting their families to find piecework; gardens where food for the family was grown were being abandoned and thieves were attacking anyone who had food. Clergy would soon not be paid, as people were too hungry to walk to church. ?From April, I do not know where salaries will come from‘, he said.  His own crop of sugar cane had been stolen and thieves had started to steal his maize.

Following all this harrowing news comes the goods news.  The retiring collection and raffle organised on Easter Sunday has raised an unbelievable sum of £1,630, some of which has been Gift Aided, making the total to be sent to Malawi £1,690.  I cannot thank you all enough for this incredible support, far beyond my wildest dreams.

If any person wishes to Gift Aid their donation, forms are available at the back of Church. Also, a scheme has been started for those who wish to support St.Andrew‘s  Hospital on a regular basis.  At the present time it costs £1,000 a month to run the hospital, but only £600 is guaranteed income from donors in U.K. However, it is possible to pledge regular support by completing a standing order for £10 per month, known as the 100 Club, but as yet only the 60 Club, which would so help with the ongoing funding of the venture.  The forms are attached to the Malawi Connection Notice Board.


A Journey to the Resurrection  Chris Price

Over the years, St Faith‘s has laid on many memorable Holy Weeks and Easters, as is only fitting for the most powerful and demanding sequence in the Christian Year. 2002 will long be remembered for providing another wonderful and fulfilling series of services and events, from Palm Sunday to the Easter Party.

The donkey was back this year, following his enforced absence during the foot and mouth troubles. George led us from Merchant Taylors‘ to the church porch, amazingly untroubled by Lillie‘s accompanying bagpipes but balking a bit at the more strident road markings. Safely inside, we focussed on the dramatic readings of the great Palm Sunday Gospel (in full surround sound) and the first of a memorable series of sermons.

Each of the services that followed was memorable in its way. It was a source of great pride and satisfaction to hear Denise McDougall addressing St Faith‘s congregation for the first time, on Holy Tuesday, and doing so as to the manner born, boding well indeed for her future ministry. Maundy Thursday, soon after, provided once again the opportunity to gather round the nave altar for the consecration and for communion, before joining the solemn candle-lit procession to the Altar of Repose. After the dramatic disarray with which this moving ritual ends, there was, as ever, time for silent prayer at the flower-decked and glittering Lady Altar as the vigil led into Good Friday.

Once more this most sombre of days made its contrast with what had preceded it and with what would follow. The word was again movingly spoken, and the inexorable movement of the liturgy of the day had as its climax the veneration of the cross as the great crucifix, veiled this year at Passiontide for the first time for many years at St Faith‘s, was uncovered to make its profound and transfixing statement above the chancel steps.

Holy Saturday is a time of waiting: for many at St Faith‘s it is also a time of concentrated activity as flower arrangers, cleaners, polishers, musicians and liturgists get ready for the great vigil of Easter Eve. After the hushed focus of the scripture readings, pinpoints of light in the total darkness of the church, the weather held fair yet again for the lighting of the new fire in Rick‘s brazier outside the south porch, and the flame was borne in and up to the altar and light spread around the candles that thronged the church. Then came the glorious moment of the resurrection proclamation, and a cacophony of triumphant and happily discordant noises from bells, hooters, organ, saucepan lids and the Lord knows what else. Champagne followed the conclusion of the service, as everyone trooped out to crane necks at a magnificent display of fireworks lighting up the sky over Crosby.   More  than   a   few   passing   heads   turned;   rockets  plunged  to  earth perilously, shattering a Churchwarden‘s glass and (more seriously) spilling her drink; neighbours complained  at being woken up: in fact a great time was had by all.

Easter Day can never be an anti-climax, and the ritual, the music, the sermon, (what a week for the Word — we hope to publish all these sermons for those who missed them) the wine, and the Easter Egg hunt, brought a glad morning at the end of an unforgettable week. There remained only Solemn Evensong, with yet more inspiring offerings of words and music to round off the week‘s pilgrimage. But not the week‘s events: the presence of some eccentrically-dressed members of the congregation heralded the third, and best, of the joint Easter Parties. Long booked-out, the crowded and (thank you St Mary‘s!) the splendidly-decorated  church hall was soon filled with the sounds of slurping and chomping as suitably Victorian fare was devoured and well washed down. And then came the Olde Tyme Music Hall: two hours of variety turns backed by a mixed chorus, and all finely attired in various extravagant clothing for the occasion. Singing, declaiming, acting, reading, members and friends of both congregations and all ages gave of their best, while this writer was given the opportunity to do his Leonard Sachs impersonation, complete with gavel and laboured alliteration, and licensed to be satisfyingly rude about most of the performers, and especially the clergy (and especially Fr Dennis!). It was a fabulous evening, and the best possible way to end the best possible week.

It is, as they always say, both impossible and invidious to thank everyone by name. And so, generically speaking, our very real and sincere thanks to clergy, choir, servers, supporters and preparers of every kind for giving so much to this exhausting and wonderful week. Time, perhaps, for a secret sigh of relief that it is (almost) a full year until we have to go through it all again: but also, it must be true to say, regret that we will have to wait a full year for it all to happen again. Thanks be to God!

It‘s not all Gloom and Doom!  Fr. Neil

All Dioceses require various forms to be filled in during the course of the year. One such form, ?Statistics for Mission‘ asks about attendance over Christmas and Easter. Whilst it is true to say that going back 50 or more years in the register our congregations aren‘t the size they were then (about 300 people at an 8am Communion on Easter Day!) we don‘t do too badly given the national decline.

 Number of communicants on Easter Day (including vigil services),     2001     ... 279
 Number attending worship on Easter Day (including vigil services), 2001   ... 461
 Number of communicants on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,  2001          ...  251
 Number attending worship on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 2001          ... 459

A friend of mine stood at the level crossing outside Thresher?s Off License a couple of weeks back and whilst waiting for the green man to appear she overheard a conversation between a past and present member of S. Faith‘s. ?They had nothing cheery to say,‘ she said; ?in fact it made me rather glad I don‘t go to church!‘ On our recent parish retreat Fr. Timothy Raphael reminded us of the collect for S. Andrew‘s day ?Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Saint Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ and brought his brother with him.‘

We often lament the fact that church-going isn‘t what it was; however there‘s nothing stopping any of us bringing along someone new to church. If each one of us really made an effort to bring someone else along then our congregation would double! We can so easily forget that the growth of the church is down to me and it is down to you! Bring someone with you next time!

  Dedication of the Lord Runcie Window      Chris Price

  The climax of many months of planning, fund-raising and preparation will be reached on Wednesday, May 15th when, at 7.30 pm, as part of a special service of Festal Evensong, Procession and Benediction, the new Lord Runcie Memorial Window at St Faith's will be dedicated.

 We will be welcoing the Right Reverend Dr James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, who will preach at the service and perform the dedication, and we are hoping also to welcome as many as possible of all those present and past members of St Faith‘s who have supported the funding of this project and and made this fine tribute possible, as well, of course as welcoming all within and outside St Faith's who hold Robert Runcie's memory in special affection.

 The illustration may give some idea of what we will be seeing before long, but the ?Real thing', glowing in reds, blues and golds, must await its unveiling, when we are certain that it will prove a fine, fitting and permanent memorial to our church's most distinguished past member.

Sing praise, then, for all who here sought and here found him,
Whose journey is over, whose perils are past;
They believed in the light and its glory is round them
Where the clouds of earth's sorrow are lifted at last.

Father in heaven, we praise your name
for all who have finished this life loving and trusting you
for the example of their lives
the grace you gave them
and the peace in which they rest.

We praise you especially for your servant
Elizabeth the Queen Mother
and for all that you did through her.

Meet us in our sadness
and fill our hearts with praise and thanksgiving
for the sake of our risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

A Bed Among the Lentils   Chris Price

One of my favourite authors is the incomparable Alan Bennett. Whatever the subject, he writes with dry humour and real insight, and never more so than when the Church of England is his subject. His dramatic monologues Talking Heads‘ feature a series of sharply but compassionately observed characters linked by their isolation or loneliness: they speak to us frankly and entertainingly as they seek to explain their troubles, not realising that as they do so they are revealing more about themselves than they realise.

This is certainly the case with Susan, the vicar‘s wife, in the story called Bed Among the Lentils‘. She is married to Geoffrey, an ambitious vicar with his sights set on becoming at least an Archdeacon, but she does not share his faith nor, very often it seems, his bed ™ but that is another part of the story which, incidentally, explains the title …

The congregation is described with malicious details, as is Geoffrey‘s behaviour and his acceptance of the hero-worship of the spinsters of the parish. Susan, ill at ease with the parochial life, resents the assumption that she should be nothing but a faithful shadow to her priestly husband.

?One of the unsolved mysteries of life is why the vicar‘s wife is expected to go to church at all. A barrister‘s wife doesn‘t have to go to court,… so why have I always got to be on parade?  Not to mention the larger question of whether one believes in God in the first place. It‘s assumed that  being the vicar‘s wife one does but the question has never actually come up. I can understand why, of course. To look at me, the hair, the flat chest, the wan smile, you‘d think I was just cut out for God. And maybe I am. I‘d just like to have been asked that‘s all. Not that it matters of course. So long as you can run a tight jumble sale you can believe in what you like‘

As the story develops, we discover that Bennett‘s choice of the adjective tight‘ is more than coincidental. Susan seeks consolation for her sad life in the bottle. On one memorable occasion Geoffrey discovers that she has sneaked into the vestry and drained the communion wine dry, and is forced to administer Benilyn to the unsuspecting 8 o‘clock congregation. She also seeks consolation in the arms of an Asian off-licence proprietor (yes, the bed among the lentils, but that‘s another story)

One of the highlights comes when, rather the worse for wear, Susan attempts to arrange the church flowers with the good ladies of the parish. A few extracts will  allow  readers  to  sample  the  delights,   and  the  pin-point  accuracy,   of  Bennett‘s style, while at the same time rejoicing that things are so very different at St Faith‘s.

If you think squash is a competitive activity try flower arranging. On this particular morning the rota has Miss Frobisher and Mrs Belcher down for the side aisles and I‘m paired with Mrs Shrubshole to do the altar and the lectern. My honest opinion, never voiced needless to say, is that if they were really sincere about religion they‘d forget flower arrangement altogether, invest in some permanent plastic jobs and put the money towards the current most popular famine. It not looming very large on my horizon, I assume I am doing the altar and Mrs Shrubsole the lectern, but when I come out of the vestry with my few dog-eared crysanthemums (and, we gather, with a drink or two to give her strength!) Mrs S is at the altar well embarked on her arrangement. I said, ?I thought I was doing the altar.‘ She said, ?No, I think Mrs Belcher will bear me out. Why?‘ She smiled sweetly, Do you have a preference?‘ The only preference I have is to shove my chrysanthemums up her nose but instead I practise a bit of Christian forbearance and go stick them in a vase by the lectern. In the best tradition of my floral arrangements they look like the poles of a wigwam, so I go and see if I can cadge a bit of backing from Mrs Belcher.‘

Needless to say, she is unsuccessful, and equally so with Miss Frobisher, who is ?doing some Japanese number, a vase like a test-tube half-filled with gravel, in which she‘s throttling a lone carnation.‘ Back eventually at the altar, Susan is less than impressed with Mrs Shrubshole‘s tour de force. She suggests it might be better tidied up a bit. ?Mrs Shrubsole. This is the altar of St Michael and All Angels. It is not The Wind in the Willows.‘ Mrs Belcher said ?I think you ought to sit down.‘ I said, ?I do not want to sit down.‘ I said, ?It‘s all very well to transform the altar into something out of Bambi but do not forget that for the vicar the altar is his working surface. Furthermore,‘ I added, ?should the vicar sink to his knees in prayer, which since this is the altar he is wont to do, he is quite likely to get one of these teazle things in his eye. This is not a flower arrangement. It is a booby trap. A health hazard. In fact,‘ I say in a moment of supreme inspiration, ?it should be labelled HAZFLOR. Permit me to demonstrate‘

She sinks to her knees and rolls down the steps and bangs her head. The flower arrangers rush to her assistance, full of self-importance and assorted remedies, and send for Geoffrey. ?He is in York, taking part in the usual interdenominational conference on the role of the church in a hitherto uncolonised department of life, underfloor central heating possible.‘ When he discovers that his wife is not at death‘s door he turns his usual blind eye to the reason for his wife‘s incapacity and tells her to take a  nap.

?This gives the fan club the green light to invade the vicarage, making endless cups of tea and the vicar his lunch and, as he puts it, ?spoiling him rotten‘. Since this also licenses them to conduct a fact-finding survey of all the housekeeping arrangements or absence of same (?Where does she keep the Duroglit, Vicar?‘) a good time is had by all. Meanwhile Emily Bronte is laid out on the sofa in a light doze.

I come round to hear Geoffrey saying, ?Mrs Shrubsole‘s going now, darling.‘ I don‘t get up. I never even open my eyes. I just wave and say, ?Goodbye, Mrs Shrubsole.‘ Only thinking about it as I drift off again I think I may have said, ?Goodbye, Mrs Subsoil.‘ Anyway I meant the other. Shrubsoil…‘

And so Susan goes into town to restock on sherry and Mr Ramesh, the Asian entrepreneur, invites her to share his Bed Among the Lentils. But that is, indeed, quite another story.

Saturday Open Days and Recitals

We have launched the summer series of Open Days and Recitals and look forward to many more weeks of fine music, food and fellowship. There are more Saturdays to cater for this year, because Easter was so early, and as a result there are gaps in the rota.   If you are able to help with the catering please see Audrey Dawson or sign the list at the back of Church. The Open Days begin with the Saturday 10.30 am Eucharist and end at 1.00 pm. The recitals are at 12 noon and refreshments and other sales items are available throughout. The programme for the coming weeks is as follows:

 April 27th  Andrew Mellor (Organ)
 May 4th  Derek Sadler (Organ)
 May 11th  Nick Reed (Percussion)
 May 18th  Ranee Seneviratne (Soprano)
   and Ged Callacher (Piano)
 May 25th  James Firth (Piano)
 June 1st  Colin Porter (organ)
 June 8th  Mike Broom (baritone)  and James Firth (piano)

Where was God on September 11th...'   Ann Barnsley

I would like to share with you an interesting article that I have just read which coincides with an aspect touched upon at the 1st meeting of the Ernrnaus course.

Where was God on September 11th ?

Well, I know where my God was, and he was very busy!

     He was trying to discourage anyone from taking those flights! The four flights together could have held 1,000 passengers, and there were only 266 on board.
     He was on the four flights giving the terrified passengers the ability to stay calm!
     On one flight he was giving strength to passengers to try and overcome the hijackers.
     He was busy trying to create obstacles for employees at the World Trade Center. After all, 20,000 people were at the towers when the first jet struck. As the buildings hold in excess of 50,000 employees, this is remarkable in itself. How many stories did we hear about those employees being late for work that morning, and of the traffic delays that day?
     He was holding up two 110-storey buildings, so that two-thirds of the occupants could get out!
     When the buildings fell, God didn‘t allow them to topple over outwards.       ? The Twin Towers and the WTC were places of employment for 50,000 people, with a missing list‘ of just over 5,000. This means 90% of the people survived the attack !
    Some 23,000 people were the target of a third plane aimed at the Pentagon — the latest count shows 123 lost their lives — an amazing survival rate of 99.5%! The plane appears to have come in too low and too early to affect a large proportion of the building.
   Also, the section of the building that was first hit was a section that had been recently strengthened, to help protect AGAINST terrorist attacks.
   The plane that flew towards the Pentagon could have carried up to 289 passengers - yet only 64 were aboard — 78% of the seats were not taken.
   Another of the planes could hold 351 passengers but only 92 were aboard — 81% of the seats were empty!
  The smallest flight to be hijacked had 45 passengers aboard, out of a possible 389. This was 84% empty, yet these people stood up to the attackers and thwarted a fourth attempted destruction of a national landmark, saving untold lives in the process!

So, when anyone asks you where was God on September 11th?...

You can tell them he was EVERYWHERE!

Funny You Should Say That ...

 April 5th marked the end of the tax year. So you may want to reflect that ...
A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

 A conference is a gathering of important people who singly can do nothing but together can decide that nothing can be done...

 Definition of a Deanery Synod: A group of Anglicans waiting to go home‘.

 Dem Bones, dem Bones...

It has been said that the body of any orgnisation is made up of four types of bones ...
 There are the Wishbones — who spend their time wishing someone else would do something about the problem under discussion.
 There are the Jawbones — who spend their time talking about the problem.
 There are the Knucklebones — who spend their time knowcking everything that everyone has already done or would like to do.
 Finally there are the Backbones — who quietly come along, get under the load, and carry it!
... Which type of bone are you?

With thanks to the magazine of Wakefield Cathedral.

Saints in May

May 2nd  S. Athanasius.

Born at Alexandria in the year 295. He accompanied his bishop, Alexander, to the Council of Nicaea and later he himself succeeded as bishop. He fought ceaselessly against the Arian heresy and as a result he had to endure much tribulation and he was several times sent into exile. He wrote outstandingly to illustrate and defend true doctrine. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer contains the ?Athanasian Creed‘. He died in the year 373.

May 3rd  Saints Philip and James, Apostles.

Philip was born at Bethsaida. Formerly a disciple of John the Baptist, he became a follower of Christ. James, the son of Alphaeus and a cousin of the Lord, ruled the Church at Jerusalem, wrote an Epistle, and led a life of penance. He converted many of the Jews to the true faith and was martyred in the year 62.

May 14th  S. Matthias, Apostle

He was chosen by the apostles to take the place of Judas so that he might be a witness of the resurrection of the Lord. The story of how he was numbered with the other apostles is found in the Acts of the Apostles (1:15-26)

May 25th  S. Bede the Venerable, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Born near the monastery of Wearmouth in the year 673. He received his education from Saint Benedict Biscop. Joining the monastery he became a priest and spent his time teaching and writing. He wrote theological and historical works, and especially upheld the tradition of the Fathers and explained the Scriptures. He died in the year 735.

May 27th  S. Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop

He was sent in the year 597 from the monastery of Saint Andrew at Rome to preach the gospel in England by Saint Gregory the Great. He was helped there by the king Ethelbert and he became Archbishop of Canterbury. He converted many to the faith and set up some diocese especially in the kingdom of Kent. He died on 26 May about the year 605.

A Whitsun Reflection

From a Daily Telegraph ?Saturday Sermon‘ article written in the 1930s by The Very Reverend Cyril Allington, D.D., Dean of Durham. Supplied by Fr Dennis.

On the first Whit-Sunday there is no doubt that some dozen Jews behaved in a most extraordinary manner. What they did, and why they did it, was a mystery at the time, and has remained something of a mystery ever since. At the time it was more than a mystery; it was a scandal.

Respectable people could only explain it by saying that they were drunk. There is a sense in which it has remained something of a scandal, or a stumbling-block, ever since, and commentators have wrangled and wrangle still, over what occurred and its explanation.

I am not going to try, to explain what the ?new tongues‘ were in which they spoke. I do not imagine that the speakers could have given an explanation themselves. The best that they could say was that some of them heard a noise like a wind inside a house, that some of them thought they saw what looked like lightning; but it is clear that these are only the words of men trying to explain an experience which none of them really understood. Let us try not so much to explain as to understand.

These men, we may say, were ordinary respectable Jews, but Jews who had had the amazing experience of living in close intercourse with Jesus. They had seen Him put to death, and had been witnesses of His resurrection, but there is no reason to suppose that they had as yet had time to think things out.

It is admitted that they had not understood everything which their Master had told them, and He had warned them that there was much which He could not tell them yet. They were still living their ordinary lives, with little to mark them out from thousands of others in Jerusalem.

Now let us suppose that on Whit-Sunday they were suddenly let into the whole secret of life. Let us suppose that they suddenly realised that all life was, or could be, divine; that the service of God was not a specialised thing for priests and Levites, Scribes and Pharisees, but open to every man and woman; and not only to every Jewish man and woman, but to barbarians, Scythians, bondman and freeman - to everyone that ever lived.

Let us suppose that they realised that every good gift came from God - the gifts of statesman and soldier, philosopher and poet, man of business and artist, landlord and peasant, master and slave; that every man is God's man, every place God's place, and every time God's time.

Such a vision might well turn their heads. The Greeks had an old story that the man who saw Pan died on the spot. But the Greek Pan was something far smaller than this amazing enlightenment. They had seen the real Pan - the real secret of life ™ and that was quite enough to turn a dozen Jews into something which to the world looked like lunatics.

It is comforting to remember that this is a charge brought against all who see more than other people. Galileo was mad, Shelley (like other poets) was mad, the first man who thought of steam engines or iron ships - anyone who sees further than his fellows is marked down by ordinary people as a lunatic.

The trouble is not that the Apostles were mad on Whit-Sunday, but that their followers have not been sufficiently mad ever since. When George III said that if Wolfe was mad he wished he would bite some of his other generals, he was uttering a wise wish. The trouble about Christianity has always been the taking of small views by its leaders and, therefore, by the majority of their followers.

Kipling's soldier who, on coming back to England from the great spaces of South Africa, complained that there was ?something gone small with the lot‘, put into a phrase what many people feel about their religion.

Our object on Whit-Sunday should be to recapture something of that ?divine madness‘ which then descended on the Apostles: to claim all life from God and to believe that all good gifts come from Him.

Thankyou!          Fr Neil

My grateful thanks to the anonymous donor of the very handsome new Altar version of the Common Worship book of services. It is a worthy addition to the furnishings of St Faith‘s and our thanks for the gift of it.

P.S. There are always items needed for the Church; if you would like to donate something in thanksgiving or in memory of a loved one, please have a word with me.