The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great Crosby
Saint Faith’s Prayer for
Faithful God, in baptism you have adopted us as your children,
made us members of the body of Christ and chosen us as inheritors of your kingdom:
bless our plans for mission and outreach; guide us to seek and do your will;
empower us by your Spirit to share our faith in witness and to serve,
and send us out as disciples of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
From the Ministry Team
I sit here at my desk, I glance out of the window at the garden and I
notice a solitary, golden brown leaf slowly, delicately, flutter down
from the tree and gently, silently settle on to the damp, green grass.
As I watch this, a verse from a well-known poem drifts into my mind …
“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun,
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruits, the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To blend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core,
So swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, autumn flowers for the bees ….”
(John Keat: ‘Ode to Autumn’)
Summer was nice this year, wasn’t it? A blazing July was followed by a slightly soggy August, but the whole thing was topped off nicely with a warm and sunny September. But now, the days are becoming shorter, the nights longer, and there is a fresh, cool, crispness in the air which lets us know that summer is over and autumn is well and truly on its way!
Being more of a ‘spring person’ myself I would usually look outside the window and think “must get the woollies out”, but, sitting here now, noticing all the different colours, I’m in a more reflective mood and can’t help but wonder, in awe, at the beauty of the earth, the changing seasons bringing along it’s own unique beauty; and I recall the words from Genesis “God saw all that He had made, and it was good”. (Gen.1:31.
Creation! What an amazing gift from God!
Every gift from God is God’s grace to us. Creation is an act of God’s grace. He gives Himself in creation! Creation in all aspects – creation of the earth; creation of Adam and Eve, that is, humankind made in God’s image; creation of life; and, of course, God’s grace in the creation and giving of His own son, Jesus Christ that is, God’s supreme gift of Himself in human form.
And God is ALWAYS with us! There are moments perhaps when we may feel low and lonely. There may be time when we feel there is no one there for us, but God, in His infinite love and understanding, is ALWAYS there, surrounding us with love and compassion, forgiveness and healing. All we have to do is reach out to him – and he is there!
In creation, we have constant everyday reminders that God is present with us; we only need to open our eyes, ears and hearts and know that he is here.
I recall another poem/passage where a man asks God to make His presence known to him. A butterfly gently lands on him and touches him, the hot sun warms his skin, the wind whispers in the trees; but sadly, the man does not realise that this is God’s presence. So, today, let us all, even just for a moment, stop, look, listen, be still, and let God’s presence freely enter into our lives, and in His grace feel His never-ending love surround and enfold us. Amen.
With my love and prayers,
An Introduction to Pastoral Visiting
This is a six-session course led by Canon Colin Pope beginning on Wednesday 24th January and finishing on Wednesday 7th March (there is no session on Ash Wednesday, 21st February). The sessions take place at St. Helen’s URC, Ormskirk Street, St Helen’s.
This will be useful for anyone already in a visiting team or for those who are planning to develop this ministry. Sessions will include:
* The purpose of Pastoral Visiting,
* Becoming a better listener
* Practical issues in Pastoral Visiting.
Anyone wishing to attend the six sessions should let Fr Neil know as soon as possible, as places have to be booked. I hope this will be supported by both congregations.
Saturday 25th November at 7.30 pm in S. Faith’s
Saint Cecilia’s Day Concert
Peter O’Connor (flute) - Matthew Hardy (trumpet) - Neil Kelley (piano)
Diary Dates for November
Wednesday 1st: All Saints’ Day
10.30 am Eucharist with hymns (SM)
7.30 pm Eucharist with hymns (SF)
Thursday 2nd: All Souls’ Day
9.30 am Eucharist of Requiem (SF)
10.30 am Eucharist of Requiem (SM)
8.00 pm High Mass of Requiem by Candlelight (SF)
For the evening High Mass we invite all those who have been bereaved during the past year. Please be here to give them a warm welcome and support them with your prayers.
Monday 6th 8.00 pm Meeting at the Vicarage for leaders of Uniformed Organisations to plan Parade Services for 2006
Saturday 11th 2.00 pm St. Mary’s Autumn Fayre
Sunday 12th Remembrance Sunday
11.00 am Sung Requiem with Act of Remembrance (SF)
Saturday 25th 10 am – 12 noon Young People’s activity and Craft Day (SF)
7.30 pm St. Cecilia’s Day Concert (SF)
Peter O’Connor (flute) and Neil Kelley (piano)
Sunday 26 CHRIST THE KING
11.00 am High Mass (SF)
Preacher: Fr. Derek Hyett
Wednesday 29 8.00 pm PCC meeting (SF)
MANY THANKS… to all who worked so hard to make this year’s Patronal Festival Celebrations both so enjoyable and so memorable. My grateful thanks to all who helped in any way.
IN THE FOLLOWING PAGES, we reproduce the text of the colourful handout given to memebrs of our congregation following the end of the first year of our experimental ‘First Sunday’ worship pattern. In it Fr Neil summarises the sequence of events leading up to the services, and the results of the evaluation carried out after the Harvest Sunday service. The complete text, with pictures can be seen on the church website.
The All-Age Worship Review
Before reading the responses it is important to give some history of how the new style of the Family Eucharist came about.
In January 2004, I wrote in Newslink under the heading: “Friends and Family - it's good to worship” (and with apologies to BT for rewording their slogan!)
“I recently held a meeting in the vicarage attended by leaders of the Uniformed Organisations of both churches. Amongst many things we discussed details of arrangements of Sunday Eucharist when there is a Parade Service. How can we encourage more members of our Uniformed Organisations to attend? What do we do with them when they are there? What do we offer them when they are there? What can they offer us? How can we make the liturgy something which is truly shared by people of all ages? Or do we secretly want them to follow the old maxim that ‘children should be seen and not heard‘ and use them as an audience, watching the grown-ups doing worship ‘properly!........ “There is a danger of labelling a service ‘all-age worship’‘. Does that imply by default that on the other Sundays worship is not for people of all ages? … I hope that in 2004 we will see further developments in our worshipping life when our young people are in church. At present they read lessons, lead prayers, take up the elements and help as required in sermons. I hope to see more occasions when a particular group may take responsibility for the sermon-slot. Let us use their experiences and more importantly let us encourage them to think they have something to contribute (and let us believe they have something to contribute). At our Away-Day last May both PCCs explored how we can involve younger people more in the worshipping life of our church. Let us put our words into actions in the coming months.”
On Monday 2nd February 2004, a newly formed Mission Committee met in the Upper Room and one of the outcomes of that meeting was the suggestion we should undertake a parish survey. After a great deal of hard work, the (now re-named) Mission Group carried out a Parish Survey, analysed the results and presented their findings to the PCC on 24th May 2005. In the light of their findings, it was approved unanimously,
‘That St. Faith’s should work towards the introduction of an all-age Family Eucharist at 11.00 am on a Sunday, once a month. The service should be attended whenever possible by the uniformed organisations: baptism(s) within the service should also be encouraged. Children should participate fully e.g. in readings, prayers, address etc. (We recommend) that a Mission sub-group plan the details of this service: membership to include Father Mark, Diana Waters, Kari Dodson, Martin Jones, Judith Skinner, and Kathy Zimak.”
An experimental form of the Eucharist began on Advent Sunday, to be reviewed the following Autumn. Almost to the day one year later, at the PCC meeting on 23rd May 2006, it was approved unanimously that “This (review) will take place in October for feedback in the form of a presentation from the All Age Worship Group.”
And so, with four and a half month’s notice, on Sunday 1st October 2006 the review took place after the Family Eucharist, and some 45 people attended, and although the sample was relativelysmall, the views were typical of many received over the past few months and contributed to a meaningful debate. There were many questions taken from the floor, with many useful and helpful suggestions made, some of them regarding practical details, others more to do with new hymns, audibility, length of service and maintaining a prayerful atmosphere. The written responses are printed below.
On this day (October 8th) when we celebrate not just the Dedication of our church building, but the dedication of the people who serve it, and who are the Church, I am immensely grateful to all members of the PCC for exercising such a clear lead in this important development. From the responses received, this has been appreciated by a large number of people (both regular members and those on the fringe of our congregation) and, judging by an email just received, by people coming to S. Faith’s for the first time. It looks like we have reached the target audience that we have long sought.
What do you like about our all-age worship?
* I think it is most important to cater for all ages.
* I like it all. I think it works very well.
* Variety from “normal” Sundays. Usually a bit more lively.
* When the service is child friendly, the children are invited to take part and things are explained in language they can understand.
* It’s not “dumbed down” for the adults.
* Lots of singing.
* Inclusion of young people in the format of the services.
* Children’’ involvement and often directed at children.
* Sermon should be direct and short as it was today – excellent !!
* Inclusive. Brings (badly-needed) young people in.
* New music ‘User-friendly’ language to appeal to strangers/visitors. Challenging use of themes is good.
* Happy relaxed atmosphere. Especially good to see children taking part so often. Brings extra numbers!
* Bringing together the young and mature. Including young people in the readings and welcoming.
* The children’s corner is a great help – not just to Sunday School.
* I like the service when the children really get involved. I like the hymns and music and the simple prayers.
* The presence of children in church. Whatever I dislike about this service is outweighed by the numbers of children in church and the potential for future
* participation in the life of the church.
* The variety of songs and hymns. Children’s involvement in prayers. I like the way the children are in the procession.
* I like the challenge of new words and new music. It wakes me and my faith up! I love seeing the young people being more involved.
* The participation of the children, knowing they have some understanding of what is happening. The music generally is lively, helping the children to join in. I would not like to see this service excluding adult members of the congregation, but recognise the difficult balance.
* Lightness and spirit-lifting theme with interaction from children and adults.
* Seeing more new faces and fuller pews on the day.
* Seeing a larger congregation.
* We like the involvement and the children.
* Use of projector.
* Involvement of all ages during the sermon – incorporation of uniformed organisations.
* Music, including the Lord’s Prayer.
* The two ages come together and worship together, say prayers together and the hymns are suitable for both older and younger worshippers. The service is not boring for the children and yet not too ‘dumbed down’ from the worship the older people are used to. Each can find something new and satisfying – or interesting, each learns from the other.
via email : First time I’ve been to church for a few years. I was godmother today and would just like to say I thought your service was great, it was very relaxed and friendly. Admittedly I was brought up Methodist as a child which was much more staid but I did attend St Luke’s when I was in my early twenties (over 24 years ago now) and how things have improved. Thank you for an enjoyable morning
Is there anything you do not like about our all-age worship?
* Would like the children to be nearer to mike when reading. Can’t always hear them.
* Hymns that are difficult to sing.
* Sometimes hymns are not well enough known.
* Still a bit on the long side at times. Some of the music is hard to learn even after rehearsal and will prove especially demanding for strangers. But advantages far outweigh these minor disadvantages.
* The length however hard we try still seems a bit long. Some hymns are difficult and sometimes rather long. Knowing the tunes would help.
* Lack of prayerful atmosphere, e.g. today being asked to pray and look at the screen. Distracting visual aids.
* The only thing that bothers me is that as with Holiday Club and other activities it doesn’t bring any new faces into church at any other time than the uniformed parades.
* As one of the people involved in organising the worship I often feel quite distracted by the rushing around there always has to be done at the last minute. More people in the group would help.
* Repetitive hymns on a screen.
* Does not bring more people on a regular basis.
* Need to sell ourselves more outside.
* As servers we accept that we are already involved in the service, but could you try to remember that we are sat behind you and sometimes a little left out; as adults we can move forwards to see, but the boys don’t always feel that they should unless invited.
* Don’t like the children going round and giving things to the rest of the congregation. Do not like toilet rolls being flourished in the choir stalls. Do not like the worship being too predominantly linked with actually giving to the third world countries, this should not form the main purpose of the service. St. Faith’s supports the third world pretty thoroughly.
Do you agree that these services are right for part of a mission strategy?
Yes: 18; No: 0
(one response emphasised that it is only part of a mission strategy)
If not, what can you suggest as an alternative?
* The structure of the service is still being developed.
What do you think about the once-a-month frequency of the all-age services?
About right: 18; Too often 0; Not often enough: 0
* ‘I always come away from these services with a warm feeling’
Christianity in the Land of Fire and Ice
In 300 BC, Pytheas, a historian from Marseilles, wrote about Ultima Thule (possibly Iceland) - a northern land on the edge of a frozen sea where it never goes dark in summer. One of the most geologically recent places in earth, with glaciers, volcanoes, geysers, shooting boiling water 50 feet into the air, rift valleys and waterfalls, Iceland was slow to be colonised.
Irish monks may have visited the island in the 8th century, but the first to arrive and stay were the Vikings, bringing their pagan gods with them. In the 10th century, Christian missionaries from Norway arrived, and soon the gods of the Vikings were renounced and Christianity became the official religion of Iceland – one nation with one faith. There were gradual changes. Tithes were introduced and the revenue used to found churches, monasteries and schools, bringing education and the beginnings of literature. Christianity is a literary faith in which people believe the word of God. When Iceland adopted Christianity, the people gained access to the literary culture of the church, stretching back to classical antiquity. Channels were opened for them to give voice to their own lore and verbal artistry.
Scribes spent many years penning books, first in Latin, but by the 12th century in Icelandic. They were not always completely content with their occupation. In the Culture House in Reykjavik, once the National Library, a scribe’s comments have been preserved. One reads The writing is bad because the ink is weak and another Writing bores me!
By the 16th century, the church had become exceedingly wealthy and powerful. At the same time, the Scandinavians had broken with Rome and embraced the new view of Christianity proposed by Martin Luther. After years of unrest with executions and military expeditions, Lutheranism was imposed across the whole of Iceland and the Danish king ordered the Icelandic government to confiscate all land belonging to the church. Without funds, it became very difficult for the church to continue to sponsor education, although during this time, in 1584, it published a translation of the Bible in Icelandic.
Two centuries passed and, still under Danish jurisdiction, the Icelanders suffered badly. Farming and fishing failed, as did an attempt to introduce reindeer as livestock. Poisonous fall-out from a volcanic eruption in the 1870s caused famine, and an earthquake knocked over the church at Skalholt. It wasn’t until 1944 that Iceland finally broke free from Denmark and formed the Icelandic Republic.
Today, most Icelanders are practising Christians, worshipping in Lutheran churches. Perhaps the most striking church, certainly the largest on the island, is Hallgrimskirkja, named after a renowned 17th century religious poet. It is a modern concrete structure which was started in 1945 and completed just a few years ago. The work of state architect Gudjon Samuelsson, it echoes the strange geological features of the area: the basalt columns and lava flows. The church has not met with universal acclaim, but all who hear the magnificent organ with its 5,000 pipes marvel at its tremendous power.
And so for 1,000 years, Christians have lived on this remote island on the edge of the Arctic Circle, sometimes suffering hardship and persecution, but remaining true to the faith.
Four memorable events in quick succession marked the end of September and the opening days of October 2006 – and they were all very different. A Golden Jubilee Mass of Thanksgiving, a Last Night of the Proms concert, a Licensing of a Diocesan Adviser and an All-age Harvest Festival provided varied and colourful spectacles of music and worship.
Fr Charles Billington was Vicar of St Faith’s in the late Sixties and early Seventies, and this year, in response to Fr Neil’s invitation, he came back to his old haunts to celebrate fifty years of priesthood with a splendid High Mass of Thanksgiving. A goodly number of his original congregation came back to join him – some of whom we had not seen for decades – and the Sound of the Sixties was heard at the service and the subsequent festivities. Heather Billington was there of course, as were such past luminaries as Anthony Walker, Ron White, Les Crossley, Ken Lane and Dai Hawkins, as memories were exchanged and more than a few lemonades were imbibed.
The next day saw the by now traditional Last Night of the Proms concert at St Mary’s. Fr Neil played, and soprano Sarah Helsby Hughes sang. Flags were waved, champagne was quaffed, and all the old patriotic favourites were belted out. Fr Charles was there, and Fr Neil dedicated the ‘War March of the Priests’ to him in tribute!
The day after that saw a very different occasion. Fr Neil, the new Adviser on Worship and Liturgy to Liverpool Diocese, was formally licensed at a special service by David Jennings, Bishop of Liverpool. There were guitars and happy choruses, as well as powerful and expressive liturgical actions, in the presence of a congregation of our own people, diocesan visitors and well-wishers. The usual bun-fight followed. We congratulate our Vicar on this prestigious appointment, and wish him well as he goes out to parishes in the pursuit and practice of excellence in matters liturgical and musical.
Finally, the following Sunday was Harvest Festival day, and, as all the new ‘First Sundays’ have done in the past twelve months, it featured colourful and innovative words, music and activity. Young people played a prominent role in prayer, music and worship, and Fr Mark made clear to them, and us, the lamentable imbalance between the sort of harvest enjoyed by the rich and the poor of our divided world. Following the service, some fifty of us stayed on to assess the first year of our ‘all-age worship’ and to hear from and question the mission team responsible. There was a strong current of congratulation and approval for the services and their creators, and pleasure at their success in attracting more young people, as well as suggestions for their further improvement in the years ahead. (What should they be called? ‘All age’ suggest that other services aren’t for all ages; ‘Family’ implies that other services exclude families; :New Worship’ carries the inference that ‘old worship is outdated and irrelevant…)
Four events, then, exemplifying the richness and range of our churches’ life today. There
would follow the briefest of respites before the Patronal Festival was upon us. Watch this space! And, of course, see the picture galleries of all these events in this month’s centre pages and in greater detail on the church website www.merseyworld.com/faith. You will already have read in the preceding pages (or skipped guiltily over) the text of Fr Neil’s report to the congregation on the outcome of the worship survey.
As we go to press (as the editor rather enjoys saying), a splendid Patronal Festival weekend has just come to an end. Highlights were the usual rich and colourful High Mass on Friday October 6th (lots of fabulous music and the Bishop of Burnley); the Patronal Festival Concert the next evening (fine soloists Ann-Marie Connors and a certain Neil Kelley!), the United Benefice joint Dedication Sung Eucharist on the Sunday morning and Festal Evensong to round it all off.
A postscript. Our Patronal Sunday was also marked, more sombrely, by the closing of St John’s Church. After 141 years of worship in Waterloo, the cost of essential major repairs has necessitated a move by the congregation into the Church Hall in nearby Picton Street, ahead of an eventual move to worshipping in nearby St John’s C of E School. Reports on these events (and pictures from some of them) next month: this issue is full already! Ed.
It is some time since we featured any of the oddest manifestations of our PC-mad society. Here are a few that have come my way, with thanks to other unreconstructed acquaintances who are prepared to defy with me the Thought Police.
First, a letter from a lady in Guildford to the papers about her three-year-old, who is learning the alphabet using the familiar ‘Letterland’ system. She reports, incredulously, that the letter ‘C’ has recently been renamed from ‘Clever Cat’ to ‘Curly Cat’.
‘I was amazed to learn,’ she says, that this is because the politically correct lunatics who hold power over our education today have decided that it is unacceptable to highlight cleverness. This largely explains the mess they have made of our education system.’ Quite!
Next comes a headline ‘Police ordered to stop calling young tearaways “yobs”.’ Scotland yard has banned the use of the word ‘for fear that it might alienate young people.’ This is with the backing of the Met’s doughty Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair (‘the PC pc’). Apparently at a meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority, the deputy chairman, the trendily-named Cindy Butts, said that the term was ‘alienating’. ‘I have a problem with the language of “yobs”, the good lady declared. It sort of sets up and defines too much of a “self” and “other”.’
The police, no longer, sadly, allowed to clip minor offenders round the ear, have cravenly agreed to ban the use of the term in official reports.
Next, ‘More Planning Madness’. When a church in the Midlands erected a cross in their grounds, they were told by the local authority they had contravened planning regulations. The cross was deemed to be an advertisement needing planning permission – and the payment of a fee of £75! I know: you couldn’t make it up…
Finally, it is reliably reported that it is no longer Politically Correct to refer to a Senior Moment when describing those understandable memory lapses to which those of us no longer in the first flush of youth are occasionally prone. Such language seemingly smacks of ageism. As far as I recall, that is the whole point of the title. See elsewhere in this issue for a splendid American Senior Moment. (what shall we call them: ‘Ancient Aberration’? ‘CRAFT Moment’? Don’t ask what that last one stands for…
‘Teach Us of Love’
Several people have asked for the text of Fr Neil’s recent keynote sermon.
Recently, like some of you perhaps, I watched the programme about Stephen Fry and his battle with bipolarity, or to use an older way of describing it, manic depression. The programme focused on other celebrity folk, Robbie Williams among them, who very bravely and movingly described how life can switch from one mood to another without any warning sometimes, leaving them feeling completely helpless and powerless over their lives and for most of the time living with a sense that there is something intrinsically wrong with them. Thankfully the insights and information available to us in the 21st century help us to understand many things, not least diseases which are difficult to be aware of, perhaps because they are not as obvious to the eye as a broken leg or an arm in a sling.
Some of us here may have first-hand experience of what it is like to have bouts of depression, but it is true to say that many human beings enjoy a somewhat healthier life when, as much as is humanly and physically possible, we are in touch with our true inner feelings and are aware of how those feelings shape our lives. Our deep-down, sometimes unacknowledged feelings can shape the way we perceive ourselves, and others around us, and can be the cause of great joy or great sadness in relationships. Very often it is only when we have really been in touch with the various pieces of our lives that we can begin to experience the peace which comes from God alone.
You might say that getting in touch with our feelings and all that drives us is the message of today’s readings. In today’s epistle, S James writes Wherever you find jealousy and ambition, you find disharmony, and wicked things of every kind being done.
An obvious statement but a true one. Many of us have perhaps been in the position of hiding or denying ambition but secretly lusting after it. Without really knowing why, we can be jealous of others because they have been asked to read a lesson at a special service, or they have been asked to sing the solo; these are just small examples which can be found in many church communities.
We can be jealous if we think someone else is closer to the priest than we are or they socialize with the Vicar more than we do. Such jealousies do occur, believe you me! We can offer congratulations to someone appointed or elected to a post we wanted for ourselves ourselves. Such congratulations are usually false and because of that our true feelings, our jealously and resentment, are not actually dealt with honestly and so are pushed deep within us to fester.
I had a friend years ago who had got herself into so much debt she had stopped opening letters from the bank and credit agencies. She just pushed them all into a drawer. That isn’t uncommon and many people with cravings and addictions are reluctant to admit the truth about them.
But the more we push true feelings away, the more we store up trouble for ourselves emotionally. Again, S. James says: Where do these wars and battles between yourselves first start? Isn’t it precisely in the desires fighting inside your own selves? You want something and you haven’t got it; so you are prepared to kill. You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy; so you fight to get your way by force.
We have the tension of cravings and desires and some of them are indeed good and healthy; but they are not always good ones, they are often battling against the way of life which we know is ultimately of God. And of course they clash. Very often we have to live with tensions of many kinds; sometimes we deal with them better than others. Sometimes external help is needed and some find psychotherapy can provide that need.
But today’s Gospel speaks of us having the openness of a child. And what we mustn’t confuse here is being child-ish with child-like. One is very much more mature than the other. It was indeed a battle over power amongst the disciples which led Jesus to talk about having the openness of a child.
St Paul writes “If any one should boast, let them boast of the Lord”. Perhaps that phrase might be slightly altered to say “If anyone has ambition, let it be for the good of the church, and not for the glorification of the individual”.
The scene in the today’s Gospel would be a wonderful one to act out. Adults at their very childish best. They were arguing. “What are you arguing about?” says Jesus. Then the reply came as if from a naughty child. “Nothing… we weren’t saying anything!” Of course they were – they were arguing about who is the greatest but knowing that to be childish they denied it. In a similar gospel passage, where the pushy mother of one of the disciples intervenes and tries to secure the best place for her son, Jesus makes it clear that it isn’t about ‘who sits where’ but about who takes discipleship seriously. That’s the real question.
In the church today we have battles – forms of service, low or high, male or female priests and so on….. we might well hear Jesus say, it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day, it is the living out of our faith that is the serious issue. Charity, compassion, sacrificial giving for the work of the church at home and overseas, these are things that really matter. And I wonder if the debates in the church would lead to different outcomes if people were truly honest about what their fears were concerning various issues rather than simply peddling arguments of scripture, tradition and reason – on either side of any debate.
Some years ago when Aids was becoming a common illness, many of us learned to live with a new language, for example we talked of people living with Aids, rather than people dying from Aids.
People who live with depression, people who live with jealousy, and make no mistake, some people get emotionally crippled with jealousy, people struggling to cope with all kinds of conflicting emotions and negative feelings won’t necessarily find a magic cure, but we can begin to deal with such emotions when we first acknowledge that these feelings really do exist and secondly, as today’s epistle suggests, we deal with these things in the context of prayer. As Christians, we are fortunate to have that added dimension to our lives. It’s what gives us our identity, a relationship with God made real through prayer and worship. With God we can learn to live with rather than die from.
Proper rest and relaxation, carefully planned timetables and work-schedules, medication, – all these can play their part in trying to make us, as far as we can be, balanced and healthy people. As Christians we believe that Jesus entered the world as it really was; not some fantasy world but a real world with the mess, the sin, the squalor, the pain and frustration. That is the world he hung and died on the cross for.
In the depths of despair we so often ask: “Where is God?” And when we turn to the Cross we find the answer. There is God. Right in the middle of it all. In the mess. In the mystery. And it is when, with the open simplicity found in children, we truly open ourselves to God in prayer, bringing to that prayer the reality of the pain we live with, then we begin to see pain transformed and life renewed. That is the message and the lesson of the Cross. Jesus couldn’t dodge the issue of pain and suffering, he first had to go through the darkness of Good Friday before the Resurrection on Easter Day. And if we are serious about being Christians, we must be serious about the cost and sacrifice involved.
The word psycho-therapy in fact comes from two words, one meaning cure and one meaning soul. When any priest is licensed to a parish he is given the cure of souls, which he shares with the Bishop. That doesn’t mean he is an expert in understanding the human psyche, but he is the dispenser of the church’s sacraments; not because he is worthy or better than others: many of us priests are only too aware of our unworthiness to perform the task; but because God only has broken human beings to choose his priests from. And as the Book of Common Prayer reminds us, the sacraments of the Church do not depend upon the worthiness of the minister, but on the abundance of God’s grace.
The sacraments of the church are not there as some sort of panacea, a ‘quick-fix’ solution, but whether it be the sacrament of reconciliation, the sacrament of healing, or the sacrament we will shortly receive at this altar, we receive the very life-force of God himself. The Sacraments of the Church are God’s way of breaking into our lives and flooding them with his love and healing.
We can easily sit at a PCC meeting or an AGM and talk about how we should order our buildings and spend money on them. Generally there is no shortage of things to say on such matters. But try and talk about the things of God, of the spirit, of eternity, and it isn’t always easy to find words. We often say that actions speak louder than words. So also Sacraments speak louder than words.
Getting in touch with our real feelings may be painful, doing something about those feelings may be more painful. Our hopes, our fears, our aspirations and our dreams, our frustrations – all of that needs to be placed into God’s hands in prayer so that as we approach the altar this morning we are prepared for God to place into our hands the very means of his grace. For in Christ we find the healing and strength which alone can bring peace to our fractured and sometimes vulnerable lives, and ultimately to our fractured and vulnerable world.
These words from today’s offertory hymn perhaps sum it all up:
Lord, we come to ask your healing, teach us of love;
all unspoken shame revealing, teach us of love.
Take our selfish thoughts and actions,
petty feuds, divisive factions,
hear us now to you appealing, teach us of love.
Soothe away our pain and sorrow, hold us in love;
grace we cannot buy or borrow,
hold us in love.
Though we see but dark and danger,
though we spurn both friend and stranger,
though we often dread tomorrow, hold us in love.
Men’s Group Fun Quiz Night
in aid of the Senior Citizens’ Christmas Lunch
11th November, 2006 at 7.30 pm
Tickets £5, to include a hot supper
Available from any member of the Men’s Group
Don’t Mess with Grandma
An allegedly true story passed on by Fiona Whalley
An elderly Florida lady did her shopping and, upon returning to her car, found four males in the act of leaving with her vehicle. She dropped her shopping bags and drew her handgun, proceeding to scream at the top of her voice: ‘I have a gun and I know how to use it! Get out of the car!’
The four men didn’t wait for a second invitation. They got out and ran like mad. The lady, somewhat shaken, proceeded to load her bags into the back of the car and got into the driver’s seat. She was so shaken that she could not get her key into the ignition. She tried and tried, and then it dawned on her why.
A few minutes later, she found her own car parked four or five spaces further down. She loaded her bags into the car and drove to the police station. The sergeant to whom she told her story couldn’t stop laughing. He pointed to the other end of the counter, where four pale men were reporting a car-jacking by a mad, elderly woman described as white, less than five feet tall, glasses, curly white hair and carrying a large handgun.
Moral: if you’re going to have a Senior Moment, make it a memorable one!
You Know You’re Living in 2006 when…
1. You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.
2. You haven’t played solitaire with real cards in years.
3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3.
4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.
5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don’t have
6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your mobile phone to see if anyone is
home to help you carry in the groceries.
7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom of the screen.
8. Leaving the house without your mobile phone, which you didn’t have the first 20 or 30
(or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.
10. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting your Coffee.
11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. : )
12. You’re reading this and nodding and laughing.
13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.
14. You are too busy to notice there was no number 9 on this list.
15. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn’t a number 9 on this list.
‘What’s an O.A.P?’
They’d done the swings and fed the ducks and he was getting tired.
‘Granddad, what’s an OAP?’ the little girl enquired.
‘Well dear, it’s someone who remembers a long, long time ago,
When life was very different and the pace was rather slow.
The baker came with a horse and van, the milkman pushed his float,
The coalman had his horse and cart and leather hat and coat.
The onion man from France would always push his bike,
But “Wallsie” with his ices would pedal on his bike.
We paid for goods with shillings and pence, or sometimes a note for a pound,
A penny would buy a sticky bun or a ride on a merry-go-round.
Even a farthing was worth a lot, it would get a liquorice strip,
And a fiver would take a man and his wife away for a holiday trip.
No ordinary folk had motor cars, most travelled on a train,
Or on a noisy tramcar with no roof to stop the rain.
The drivers and conductors all wore uniforms and ties,
There were porters on the station and meat in potato pies.
Some things you take for granted hadn’t been invented,
Like Sellotape, and ballpoint pens, and aerosols all scented.
Our toilet was outside the house without electric light,
And the kitchen was our bathroom, every Friday night.
We didn’t have computers then, or craft in outer space.
The microchips we wanted came with our cod or plaice.
We didn’t have fish fingers or beer that was all froth,
We had some lovely “spotted dick” Mum cooked in her best cloth!
Mum never had a washing machine, she always had to cope
With our clothes in the sink and a rub and a scrub with a bar of Fairy soap.
To dry she had a washing line or a clothes horse round the fir,
She never had the luxury of a hot-air tumble drier.
We had no television, nor radio cassettes,
No video recorders or great big jumbo jets.
We used to have the wireless, as the radio was known,
And played one-sided records on a wind-up gramophone.
Policemen used to walk the streets and no-one went in fear
But if a child should pinch some fruit he’d get a clip round the ear.
No lager-louts, or ticket touts, no muggers prowled the town,
But if a burglar robbed a house the judge would send him down.
You see, my dear’ the old man said, ‘we didn’t have a lot,
We had to work long hours for the wages that we got.
But what we had and what we have is worth a pot of gold,
It’s all the happy memories to remind us that we’re old.’
Brian Smith, Huntingdon
Supplied by John Chapman
Autumn Bible Study
We will be holding a Bible Study in November (a sort of preparation for the preparation of Advent!) on the theme of the Incarnation. The group will be led by Fred Nye and anyone from St. Faith’s and St. Mary’s will be most welcome: please bring a friend! We will meet at 7.30 pm on Wednesday evenings: 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th November, at the home of Mark and Diana Waters, 30 Victoria Road West, Crosby. Please join us if you can. Any queries to Fred: 924-2813.
A Letter from Fr Charles Billington
Dear Fr Neil, Fr Dennis and people of St Faith’s,
Many, many thanks indeed for the marvellous ‘Golden’ weekend you gave us.
The Jubilee Thanksgiving Mass, the choir and organist, the servers, the food and wine, the people we met in the Hall, the hospitality of Pat and Dennis, the Saturday lunch at The Royal, the evening ‘Proms’ concert at St Mary’s, the outdoor feast at Rosie and Rick’s, Fr Neil’s new Licensing event and the Men’s Group meeting were all wonderful occasions.
The whole weekend, greeting so many friends of all ages, old and new, made the years roll by – I almost felt I was vicar again!
To one and all – thankyou very much indeed.
Charles and Heather Billington
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