The Parish Magazine of St Faith`s Church, Great Crosby
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From the Clergy
Living in London in the 1980‘s brought with it many challenges. HIV and AIDS were fairly new medical terms; there was little understanding of what the diseases were. There was much fear surrounding those who were ‘AIDS victims‘; there was talk of ‘innocent sufferers‘. The Church panicked. Clergy made judgements. Conservative clergy and ministers (from all denominations) refused to conduct services for people who had died with AIDS. If the deceased had a partner of the same sex some clergy didn‘t know how to handle it - or didn’t want to! In West London a group of clergy from all denominations was formed - I was part of it - and we were called upon from time to time to take funeral services where the local priest or minister refused to do so. Things have moved on a lot from those days, thank God, yet some prejudice and bigotry remain.
At S. Nicholas‘s Chiswick, the congregation had learned a lot about caring for people with AIDS and HIV, as one of my fellow curates was HIV+. He received a lot of love and support from the congregation and that love and support remained until he died with AIDS in 1996.
One of the great things that did emerge in all of this was a brave attempt to confront the reality of our mortality. People who knew that death wasn‘t going to be too far away planned their funeral or memorial services. They spoke in brave terms about the death. They shared their real fears and anxieties, rather than keeping them bottled up. It was an important part of the grieving process because those who face death have their own life to grieve for as well as their loved ones.
We all think we can go on for ever. We live in a culture of wanting things now. The increasing emphasis on our materialistic society means that we forget about our souls so long as our bodies are satisfied. It‘s been that way for a while though! If, like me, you are a fan of the film ‘Titanic’ (1997) you will remember the scene where all on the ship are panicking. The ship is sinking, people are desperate to get into life-boats. The rich American tries his best to queue-jump and bribes the officer with hundreds of dollars. ‘Your money won‘t save you now,‘ was the reply!
November is the month of the Holy Souls. It is the month when we are faced with our mortality in a big way. At the beginning of November we keep the feast of All Souls, and at our Solemn Mass by candlelight we remember by name all those whom we love but see no longer. The Church building is used to good effect. The darkness reminds us of the reality. Yet the flickering lights and the Easter (Paschal) Candle burn brightly, reminding us vividly of words from S. John‘s Gospel: ‘a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower.‘ The great Easter hope places our sadness, grief and despair where they should be - transformed by the power of Our Lord‘s Resurrection.
Have you made your will? Have you planned your funeral? During November there will be some forms at the back of Church outlining the options for a Christian funeral. Please take one. If you would like to complete it and specify preferences for your own funeral service (anything you say will be confidential) please return it to me where it will be placed along with others in a safe place. Some have done this already. Plans can be changed at any time if you discover a new favourite hymn! Forms will also be available for people to complete if they wish a name to be included in our Book of Remembrance in the Chapel of the Cross. Names will be entered into this book by specific request only. However our other Remembrance book will still be in daily use and for the names to appear on the Sunday Sheet.
And so as we consider our own mortality and as we look to the month of the Holy Souls, please make every effort to be present at the candle-lit Eucharist on the Eve of All Souls; to pray for the departed, and to offer our prayers and support to those who have been bereaved during the past year.
With my love and prayers
A prayer to use during the month of November:
Father of all,
We pray to you for those we love, but see no longer.
Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them;
and in your loving wisdom and almighty power,
work in them the good purpose of your perfect will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Holy Days in November
Fri 1 EVE OF ALL SOULS‘ DAY
8.00pm SOLEMN EUCHARIST by Candlelight
Sa 2 ALL SOULS’ DAY
10.30am Requiem Mass
SU 3 ALL SAINTS‘ SUNDAY
11.00am SOLEMN EUCHARIST and PARADE SERVICE
7.00pm Sung Compline and Benediction
F 8 The Saints and Martyrs of England — 6.30pm Eucharist
SU 10 REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY
8.00am Eucharist (said)
11.00am SOLEMN MASS OF REQUIEM
with Act of Remembrance
M 11 S. Martin of Tours, c. 397 — 10.30am Eucharist
Sa 16 S. Margaret, Queen of Scotland,
of the Church, 1093 —
M 18 S. Elizabeth of Hungary, Philanthropist, 1231 — 10.30am Eucharist
Tu 19 S. Hilda, Abbess of Whitby, 680 — 9.30am Eucharist
W 20 S. Edmund, Martyr 870 — 10.30am Eucharist at S. Mary‘s
F 22 S. Cecilia, Martyr at Rome c. 230 — 9.30am Eucharist (not 6.30pm)
Sa 23 S. Clement, Bishop of Rome, Martyr, c.100 —10.30am Eucharist
SU 24 OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE UNIVERSAL KING
8.00am Holy Eucharist (said)
11.00am SOLEMN EUCHARIST
Preacher: The Venerable Peter Bradley (Archdeacon of Warrington)
Sa 30 S. Andrew, Apostle — 6.30pm Eucharist
During the month of November the names of the departed read at the Solemn Eucharist on 1st November will be placed on the Altar for each celebration of the Eucharist.
Also, in addition to the regular pattern of services, there will be a time of silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament each Wednesday in November (6th, 13th, 20th, & 27th) from 5.30pm - 6pm to pray for the faithful departed. The period of silent prayer will conclude with said Evensong at 6pm. I hope that many will take this opportunity to come together and give thanks to God for all those whom we love but see no longer, commending them to His love and mercy.
+ Rest eternal, grant unto them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them. May they rest in peace, and rise in glory - ALLELUIA!
Saint Cecilia's Day Concert
Peter O‘Connor - Flute
Bishop Michael Marshall and Father Neil - Piano Duet
Tickets: £6 (to include a glass of wine)
ALL PROCEEDS TO CHURCH FUNDS!
A Reflection for All Saints'tide Fr Dennis
The season of saints at Hallowe‘en gives us hope. There are many people, in a world of tragedies and outrages, for whom we are deeply thankful. We make a festival out of the remembrance of them. This memorial for the Christian spells neither doom nor gloom. Those for whose lives we are permanently grateful have made an impact upon our own struggling existence. Their influence persists. Sparks in the stubble, we might call them. We have been fired by their example, their honesty, their courage, and of course, their saintly patience, and many another inspiring quality.
All Saints‘ Day (November 1st) is a people‘s day. There are more than a few in the ?omnium gatherum‘ of Christian heroes to whom we warm. These are popular personalities whom we find it hard to forget. The anonymity of this fellowship of faithful doers and believers does not distance us from such real people. This one and that one stand out in the crowd, lively and actively influential. Saints do not deserve to be described as dead Christians. Only the most skilled artists can convey, in plaster or stained glass, the openness, the humility, the disarming weaknesses, the endearing eccentricities of those who have shown us life‘s opportunities and compulsions. God loved them for their limitations as well as their achievements; he loves them still.
This day of remembrance can bring an unexpected joy out of the sense of loss and loneliness understandably felt, when the break comes and physical separation has to be faced. The joy, so far from being superficial and heartless, has its source in a deep awareness of peace; a ray of hope shines in the dark places of human experience; in the triumphant lives of those who lived by faith and were constantly being renewed by love, the glory of Christ has been reflected.
In our time, the day may mean the celebration of a life offered in a
prison yard in Poland in order that another's life should be spared for
his family‘s sake. The day may remind us of the spontaneous generosity
of a murdered victim‘s nearest and dearest, whose thoughts and concerns
were given instinctively to another family held in suspense, in the
of a similar tragic bereavement. We shrink from using the word
to indicate the courage and commitment of such unexpected,
responses. Yet we perceive the touch of the supernatural in these
scenes of agony and torment. Examples of the goodness which resists
self-pity, and grim bitterness, are produced by more than more bodily
active after a sharp shock. Saintliness, however hard to define, is the
fruit of faith, and is recognised as a condition of a resilient life,
by an outstanding capacity for sacrifice. In it are the ever-fresh
of the spirit. Saints are not made by accident: their lives give God
Among the assorted archives on my shelves, there is the Liverpool Diocesan Calendar, Clergy List and Churchman‘s Year Book for the year of 1948. It cost 3s 6d (17.5p in new-fangled money) and is just as exciting a read as its 21st century counterpart. The adverts are particularly engaging: the illustration reproduced is what the well-dressed clergyman wore if he shopped at Brown Bowes of Tarleton Street in Liverpool (Telegrams – ‘Vestments‘). Another advertisement, for the Curates‘ Augmentation Fund, asks for funding to support ‘older and experienced Curates‘ who, ?through no fault of their own, have to remain curates all their lives. …There is no great demand for the services of older men as curates.… Lesser demand means lesser salary, often when their need is greater,‘ the ad. confidently states! Another advert trumpets the cause of the Protestant Reformation Society, which has a ‘Resident Missionary‘ in Wavertree and ‘is engaged in meeting the aggressive propaganda of the Church of Rome.’
The Diocesan dignitaries of 1948, under Bishop Clifford Martin, include Bishop Suffragan the Rt Rev. C.R.Claxton, Archdeacons Twitchett and White (sounding like a firm of shady solicitors) and Cathedral Dean F.W.Dwelly (under whom, if I recall, the Cathedral was known as ‘God’s Dwelly House‘). The Parish Church of Great Crosby, St Faith, was served by Rev.W.Hassall (inducted that year), and without a curate at that time. The parish population is given as 6707, the Electoral Roll number as 287 and the seating capacity an amazing 9000. (Interesting comparisons: St Luke‘s, Crosby‘s figures are respectively 14000, 3296 (!) and 650, while St Mary‘s Waterloo figures are 3351, (no entry), 500. Our Sunday School boasts 190 members and 20 teachers (actually more than St Luke‘s and St Mary‘s). The Church Wardens are F.S.Smith of 42 Milton Road (a not unfamiliar address!) and R.W.Jones of 25 Ferndale Road; and, finally in this catalogue of past worthies, the organist is the redoubtable Mr Ernest Pratt of West Kirby.
Enjoy an excellent meal, each of the three courses in a different
with different hosts and guests at each course, meeting up for coffee
all forty participants at the last venue. Good food, good fun, good
good value at £12 including wine, and an enjoyable way to boost
funds. Last year‘s event was the most successful ever, so please sign
list at the back of church. Further details from Linda Nye.
Thank You Peggy Mattison
I would just like to say a very big thank you to my many friends at St Faith‘s and St Mary‘s for your love and prayers following my heart attack and subsequent problems.
It is nice to know that so many people were thinking about me and praying for my recovery. Thankfully, I am now ‘on the mend‘.
These coveted ‘Anti-Nobel prizes‘ are awarded annually by the American magazine Annals of Improbable Research. They reward outstandingly pointless research achievements and the prizes are handed out, at what has become an annual institution, by genuine Nobel Prize winners. Readers may like to know that among this year‘s winners was a scientific paper entitles Courtship Behaviour of Ostriches Towards Humans Under Farming Conditions and another paper fetchingly entitled Scrotal Assymetry in Man and Ancient Sculpture. Well, there you are, then ...
Places have been provisionally booked for a Parish Pilgrimage to
next year. The dates are Friday 17th - Sunday 19th October.
If you wish to join the pilgrimage, please sign the list in church, if
you haven‘t already done so.
Advertisements, in one form or another, are undoubtedly more sophisticated and entertaining each year: in content and presentation often, it seems, better value than the products they are commending or, indeed, the programmes between which they are sandwiched. Listening to a new series of adverts urging us to patronise the Prudential, I was struck by the poems they use. Thanks to the internet, these can be downloaded and reproduced, and here are three of them. Not specifically religious, they nevertheless deal memorably in their different ways with the human condition.
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn‘t suit me,
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we‘ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I‘m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people‘s gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay the rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children,
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old and start to wear purple.
Photographs are smiles that last forever:
Snowmen that can never melt away,
Birthday celebrations caught in amber,
Rescued from the vaults of yesterday.
Faces that were once more dear than diamonds,
Boys who kept you up until the dawn,
Houses filled with bicycles and babies,
Ghosts who left their shadows on the lawn.
Photographs are holes in time‘s grey curtain:
Through them we can peek into the past,
Call upon our parents and our children,
Pop a cork with members of the cast.
There they are, the days of jazz and joy-rides:
Snaps of magic moments lit by laughs;
If you ever find my house on fire
Leave the silver, save the photographs.
Our kids, who‘ve grown and flown the nest,
Now only phone us to request
More cash on loan, their tone depressed.
We‘re shown their debts. We‘ve known. We‘ve guessed.
They own mere pence. They've blown the rest.
‘We‘re stoney-broke!‘ they drone, distressed.
They moan. We groan, but re-invest
In those who‘ve grown and flown the nest
Our blood-and-bone, our own, our best.
From the Daily Telegraph, tireless exposer of the excesses of political correctness, two more examples of the follies of the age which caught the Editor‘s eye. He was particularly sad to see the diesease sprading to his home county.
Spotted Dick regains Name on the Menu
‘The traditional steamed suet and raisin pudding Spotted Dick is to be given its rightful name on hospital menus in Gloucestershire three years after it was changed to Spotted Richard’‘ The decision to rename it came after a debate in the catering press about whether it made patients feel uncomfortable when asking for the pudding. But now they are reverting to the old name, following complaints from patients.
‘When I was shown the menu with ‘Spotted Richard’ on it I had to ask
what it was,‘ said one patient. ‘The girls bringing the menus round
that it was actually Spotted Dick but they weren‘t allowed to call it
because it might offend people. I have been enjoying Spotted Dick all
life and I‘ve never even thought of it being rude.’
Carol Contest ‘Too Upsetting for Losers'
‘Education officers have criticised a children‘s Christmas carol contest because some of the entrants would have to lose. They said the event, planned as entertainment during a Victorian market, would be too competitive and could upset those who did not win.‘
The organisers, who have described the advice as ‘political correctness gone too far‘, apparently approached the council for help with the contest. ‘They were told, however, that it would be ?more acceptable‘ if held in a non-competitive form.‘
The sensible lady who organises the event is reported as having
‘Obviously I‘m not taking their advice about this. I‘m a firm believer
Laugh? I nearly didn‘t. A week or two ago what purported to be a list of the world‘s funniest jokes was unveiled. Some two million people from 70 countries had voted on 40,000 jokes (after ‘inappropriate‘ ones had been eliminated by laughlab.co.uk, the internet-based venture behind the competition). Much serious research accompanied the findings, analysing national and regional differences. Many European countries favour surreal humour. Like this:
An alsatian went into a telegram office and wrote Woof Woof Woof Woof Woof Woof Woof Woof Woof. The clerk examined the paper and told the dog: ‘There are only nine words here. You could send another ‘Woof‘ for the same price.‘ ‘But,‘ the dog replied indignantly, ‘that would make no sense at all.‘
No? Well how about the top British joke.
A woman gets on a bus with her baby. The driver says: ‘That‘s the ugliest baby I‘ve ever seen.‘ The woman sits down, fuming, and says to the man next to her: ‘The driver just insulted me!‘ The man says: ‘You go right up there and tell him off. Go ahead, I‘ll hold your monkey for you.‘
The top Scottish one is more succinct.
I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like his passengers.
The best jokes, we are solemnly told by the researchers, contain 103 words. And the overall winner, as they say, is 102 words long and was submitted by a Manchester psychiatrist, who heard it at medical school.
A couple of New Jersey hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn‘t seem to be breathing and his eyes roll back in his head. The other guy whips out his mobile phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator: ‘My friend is dead! What can I do?‘
The operator, in a soothing tone, says’Just take it easy. I can help. First, let‘s make sure he‘s dead.‘ There is a silence, then a shot is heard. The guy‘s voice comes back on the line. He says: ‘OK, now what?‘
None of the jokes listed seemed to be religious in theme or content, unless such jokes had all been deemed ‘inappropriate‘. This writer, to conclude, offers one with a tenuous religious connection, which more sensitive readers may well find inappropriate. It was quoted in a report of an interview with the Anglican parish priest of Soham, whose ministrations during the recent tragedy won much incidental praise from the media. The reporter revealed that this vicar, despite his appropriately solemn exterior, had a wicked sense of humour. Visiting the vicarage facilities, she (the reporter) found a cartoon of two stiff-collared Victorian worthies squaring up to one another. ‘How dare you break wind before my wife!‘ says the first. ‘Awfully sorry, old chap,‘ says the second. ‘I didn‘t know it was her turn...‘
Ron and Laura Rankin would like to thank all their friends at St Faith‘s who sent cards and good wishes and joined us in the hall for wine and cake on the occasion of our Golden Wedding Anniversary. We thoroughly enjoyed the day.
Special thanks to Ruth and her helpers who cut and distributed the cake, Kevin and Geoff who served the wine and Chris who has given us a permanent reminder of it all With love
Ron and Laura
Yes — it was one of the best the editor can remember, too. Photos in
church now: some in the next magazine. Fr Myle‘s excellent sermon
in this issue.
The following article presents strong views on a controversial
The editor admires its passionate tone but disagrees emphatically with
many of its basic assumptions and arguments, and would welcome any
An impassioned hand-out given to Roman Catholic churchgoers argues with great vehemence the case against Sainsbury‘s, after the supermarket chain has joined a Government plan to give away free ‘morning-after‘ pills to under-age girls in five of their stores.
In graphic detail, the hand-out describes what it believes to be the short- and long-term effects of this ‘deeply unpleasant process‘, both physically and psychologically. It cites the continuing rise in the incidence of sexually transmitted infection and lambasts the Government‘s policies. ‘Health ministers wring their hands and propose new ‘strategies’ for ‘sexual health care’, which at the same time make ever more available the very things which are making matters steadily worse. When will they learn?‘ the writer(s) protest.
Sainsbury‘s chairman, reportedly ‘a Catholic‘, seemingly believes that the scheme is in the best interests of those he is committed to serve: a view deplored by the leaflet. It has no doubt that ‘Catholics in high position in public life … should be proud to be publicly pro-life, pro-woman and pro-child.‘ Sainsbury‘s Chief Executive is likewise criticised for wanting ‘to offer choice to all our customers‘, along with ‘that eager promoter of abortion and all life-destroying values, the British Medical Association, who voted for the morning-after pill to be given away free to everyone.‘
The leaflet urges Catholics to take up Sainsbury‘s offer of free choice and to boycott the store. ‘Let us vote with our wallets and boycott high street stores which offend our values. Let us write, calmly and politely, to the managers of our local Sainsbury to say why we will no longer shop with them. Let us seek out family-friendly shops and chemists and spend out money ethically.‘
Finally, the leaflet seeks to make a link between contraception and
paedophilia. ‘At a time when our society is beginning to be deeply
about the exploitation and violence of paedophiles it is extraordinary
that the connection is not made by those in power between such violence
and all that works for the early sexualisation of our children and
vulnerability for exploitation by evil men and women. Let us pray that
those in high places will come to see that thirty years of relentless
sex education, contraception-pushing and ever more abortion have led
to the present situation in which our society, especially our young
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
The more I have tried to relate the Gospel to my work in urban
the more convinced I am that the environment is central to the mission
of God. To lay waste to the creation through reckless exploitation and
irresponsible pollution is not just a crime against humanity but a
because ‘all things are created by and for‘ Christ. (Colossians 1:16).
The Rt. Rev. James Jones
Working for Bishop James, I know how caring he is about the environment and this was supported by his choice of subject ‘Jesus and the Earth: a Re-reading of the Gospels with an Environmental Awareness’ for his study leave at the beginning of the year.
Following on from this, Bishop James wanted to make all parishes in the Diocese of Liverpool aware of our environmental commitment within our own local church, and on the evening of October 1st invited two representatives (Kath Zimak and myself) from each parish, to attend a talk at the Cathedral entitled ‘Earthing the Community‘.
Bishop James presented the theological view of the environment within the teachings of the Bible and he also invited three organisations to speak about their work:
ECO CONGREGATION: ‘Encouraging and enabling churches to green their life and mission‘. This organisation is designed to enthuse and equip churches to weave environmental issues into their lives in an enjoyable and stimulating way. They offer an ‘award‘ scheme (and plaque) to affirm and witness and church‘s work.
GROUNDWORK: ‘Building sustainable communities through joint environmental action.‘ This is done by involving residents, businesses and local organisations in practical projects that improve the quality of life, bring about regeneration and lay the foundations for sustainable development.
A ROCHA: An international conservation organisation working to show God‘s love for all creation. Their aim is to do this through practical conservation, environmental education and involvement with local churches and communities.
Every church has a parish — an area of territory within God‘s creation and within these boundaries we have a responsibility to look after this corner of God‘s earth (‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven‘).
The message is simple: God created the earth and we as Christians should be ensuring that the earth is protected and cared for as God would want it.
On the morning of Patronal Festival Sunday, BBC Radio Merseyside broadcast a half hour programme recorded in St Faith‘s the previous week. It features those of the congregation who took the trouble to come and sing, the choir, Ged on the organ and a recording of the bells of Conques Abbey in France. The programme was linked by commentary from Fr Neil, and featured four other vocal contributors.
The recording, made and monitored by the friendly, professional staff from Radio Merseyside, proceeded smoothly and efficiently. Apart from sound level checks for each participant and group, it was just a question of getting each section of the programme ‘in the can‘; the whole thing lasted little more than an hour and, according to the producer, this equalled the record for the shortest and most trouble-free recording in the series. (Fr Neil was pleased, but thought being first equal still wasn‘t good enough!)
For those who didn‘t hear the programme, and for those who did but
like to hear it again, CDs of the broadcast will soon be available.
will be given free to those who want them, but we would welcome a
(suggestion: £5 minimum!) to church in return. Please tell CHRIS
PRICE if you would like a CD (or two...)
A sermon preached by CANON MYLES DAVIES at Festal Evensong on St Faith‘s Day, October 6th 2002.
It is 35 years since I first became a member of the congregation here at St Faith‘s. Although no longer eligible for the Electoral Roll, I still feel I belong here, as this is one of those churches which it is simply impossible to leave. It will always be part of me. And so I have heard a reasonable number of sermons for St Faith‘s day. In fact this is at least the fourth one I have inflicted on you over the years! There seem to be two possible lines the preacher can take about St Faith: either emphasise how little is known about her, and treat her as an anonymous figure; or concentrate on the tradition that she died a martyr‘s death. Tonight I would like to consider a third strand about St Faith: the tradition about her which tells us that she was young.
When I was here in my second incarnation as the priest at St Thomas Seaforth and a honorary member of staff, a group of us young ones had a number of trips away in the beautiful Shropshire market town of Ludlow. This was through the kindness of George and Muriel Harrison. You will be able to judge how long ago this was when I tell you that Miriam was one of the young people concerned! I risk martyrdom myself if I pursue this thought any further! If we were there on Sunday, we might go to Parish Eucharist in Ludlow parish church. Over the years I have returned there a few times and attended their Sunday service. There was what might be described as a respectable number in the congregation, with a good mix of age groups. After Easter this year, I was there once again for the first time in a few years. There were still plenty of people in church. But there was one noticeable difference. The congregation had become much, much older. There were hardly any families, there were no teenagers. Only a tiny Sunday School of mainly infant children.
From conversations with clergy and others, what has happened in Ludlow is far from unusual: it can find its echoes in churches all over the land, and it is obviously very serious for the future. But it is also one of those problems far easier to identify than it is to solve. Many quick fixes are suggested: abandon the liturgy or its music; learn from those churches who seek to peddle certainty, as they sometimes seem to have more young people: this might suggest that if we were more definite in our teaching they would come flocking in! I doubt it somehow. Certainly much of church life as we knew it a generation or more ago, endless meetings, synods and committees is hardly likely to attract younger people, who are under so much pressure — at work, in education and in their personal lives. We need to remember that people no longer look to the church to provide a week-long round of entertainment or activity to keep them busy. What TV started the Internet has completed.
But if there is a way forward, perhaps there is something we can learn from St Faith‘s as I first knew her, and something from Faith herself. This place as I remember it as a young person, was above all else a very strong community. It didn‘t seem to matter whether you were young or old, or your status. All were made welcome and no one seemed patronised. There was much laughter and fun and many glorious characters, many of whose names I will recall with affection when we sing our next hymn (?In our Day of Thanksgiving‘. Ed.). People were simply there for each other, and everyone seemed to know it. It was real and authentic, not manufactured and contrived, and that was its secret. I thank God to have been the priest in a very similar community at St Anne‘s, Stanley, for the past 19 years. Young people, like everyone else, need to know that they are valued for who they are, that they are not a problem waiting to be solved nor an opportunity waiting to be grasped. I have no reason to suspect that you are not still the same kind of welcoming community, and this will work far better than Alpha, Emmaus, or any other device to pull people in. Simply to be that sort of place which is open to those of every age-group is authentic and real, and it is a priceless gift.
And St Faith herself, a young person and a martyr. We think of a martyr as someone who dies for their faith. The word means a witness, someone whose life shows the world around them that their faith is the real thing. I can think of two such people in my own community. One an elderly lady, more than 90 years old, confined to a nursing home. Twelve years ago she had to have a leg amputated. When I anointed her and gave her Communion the night before the operation, I have never forgotten her words to me: ‘Vicar, I am so lucky. I am surrounded by so much love and concern.‘ For twelve years she has borne a great deal of pain, and now faces perhaps the loss of her other leg, and the closure of the nursing home which has been her home for the past three years. But despite all this, her faith and hope come shining through, a quiet inspiration to all who know her. People who encounter her know her faith is the real thing. She is a witness. Or a young girl of 12 who has just been confirmed. She has battled with cancer for three years, and has been an inspiration to all her friends in last year‘s Year 6 in our church school. Through her those children have learned so much about faith and doubt, about prayer and about suffering. Her faith and courage have changed those children‘s lives. In her they know they have met the real thing.
Perhaps St Faith was someone like that in her own day. There is
authentic about the faith we meet in such people. This is what changes
lives and gives a glimpse of God in the darkness of our world. When we
can witness like Faith, like those who show us their faith is for real,
then both young and old will find in communities such as this a place
inspiration and hope. Nothing else will do. May God help us to show
and hope and to be a real and authentic community as we give thanks in
this holy place tonight.
... writes about the first meeting of a new group, launched with the support of the Bishop of Liverpool.
Changing Attitude is a group working for gay and lesbian affirmation within the Anglican church.
The group welcome as members everyone whose concern is to work for change in the church's understanding of human sexuality, irrespective of their sexual orientation.
On Monday 11th November 2002 a Liverpool Diocesan Group of Changing Attitude will be launched, with National Co-ordinator, Rev. Colin Coward as guest speaker. The meeting will be heldat the Parish Church of Our Lady & St. Nicholas, Pier Head, Liverpool, at 8pm, with refreshments available from 7pm.
For further information, please see Mike Homfray in church, or phone
him on 07970 680483.
Endlessly repeated; always unbelievable,
The unforgettable silent litany of destruction
Is replayed, too often, but perhaps never enough
For a world appalled but still fascinated.
People are looking up once more into a clear sky
To see, again and again, as in slow motion
The terrible remembered ritual
As the big planes on their deadly trajectories
Slice cleanly into the gleaming towers.
Obscene gouts of fire explode outwards.
Sirens shriek from the surrounding streets
As the big red engines, men just doing their jobs,
Rush to their deaths among so many others.
Now, from high windows, tiny figures fall for ever,
Briefcases still clutched, dark city suits flapping
Out of the flame and down the clean bright air.
And now, as always, first one, then the other:
The great untouchable towers fold swiftly down to their foundations.
The crowds flee in frozen panic as from Ground Zero
Deadly billowing clouds race silently
Down the canyons of the Manhattan streets.
A year on, in the bright still morning as I wake,
A siren wails briefly over distant Liverpool
And falls into silence
In a world that has changed forever.
September 11th, 2002