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The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great Crosby

Saint Faith’s Prayer for Mission

God of unchanging power, your Holy Spirit enables us to proclaim your love in challenging times and places:
give us fresh understanding and a clear vision, that together we may respond to the call
to be your disciples and to rejoice in the blessings of your kingdom;
we ask this in the name of Him who gave His life that ours might flourish,
your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

If you would like to receive a postal copy of Newslink  each month, free of charge, email the Editor 

November 2007

From the  Ministry Team

Dear Friends,

"Our culture is changing. There is a widening gap between much of the population and the traditional church. Many Christians in Britain are sensing God's call to go where people are, to begin by listening and serving and seeking to see fresh expressions of church develop in a range of different ways."
(Extract from "Mission Shaped Ministry" course introduction.)

It's a cool, but sunny Saturday morning when I, along with Fred, Kari, Cynthia and Lynda, arrive at St Mark's Church in St. Helens. Externally, St Mark's looks like a 'regular' recently refurbished, church, but on entering I was surprised to find a light, airy, warm building. A well-stocked bookstall was on the left hand side of the foyer, and a bright, welcoming cafe/kitchen area was to the right. Central, large, wide-open doors welcomed you into the church, which was carpeted and warm. The traditional pews had been removed and tables and chairs were scatted about. The vast space was being used to its full potential, i.e. a community hall, but still (thankfully) a church!
The "room" was filled with people who had gathered here from different parts of the diocese, all with a common desire, that is, a desire to seek, listen and learn about the new and diverse ways to spread the Good News out to all people. We were not disappointed!

Throughout the day we were introduced to the many diverse ways in which people, from all denominations throughout the UK, had prayed and, often with a huge leap of faith, stepped forward and away from what was considered to be their "normal worship", and tried something new and sometimes quite controversial.

We heard about cell groups, cafe churches, work-based churches/communities, alternative worship communities, plays and Biblical re-enactments on the beach, and many more, including "messy church" (one of my favourites) which was described as "a fun time for children and 1heir families, young and old; a chance to relax and be creative together, to worship together; an opportunity to do the things that matter to God and to us." This reminded me a little of the very popular Holiday Clubs held in our very own United Benefice. These, and many more, had a proved to be very popular within the local communities.

It is believed that we live in an increasingly networked society in which a new socii structure is rapidly increasing and influencing our lives. Therefore, these new styh of worship had come about as the churches' recognition of our changing world.

Of course, many of the types of worship did not replace the traditional Sunda Eucharistic service, but were usually in addition to the regular worship. There is need for all types of worship, including that of stillness and spirituality. As I wrii this I recall the beautiful Patronal High Mass held at St Faith's recently. The liturgy... the music, singing, incense, stillness, peaceful atmospheric spirituality, was a wonderful way to celebrate, to give thanks to God for all his goodness, and to remember all those who have worshipped before us.

November is another time of the year where we recognise the need for stillness, for remembrance. Not only do we remember the saints and martyrs, but also All Souls, all those whom we love but see no longer, and commend them to God's love at mercy. Please remember and pray for all those who mourn at this time.

Whichever way we choose to worship in our changing society, let us alwa; remember that we are all called to serve God, to take his Gospel out to the world, ai to celebrate the good news - God's unending love for all people. Amen.
With my love and prayers,


November Dates for the Diary

Wednesday 2nd   ALL SOULS DAY
       9.30am   Eucharist of Requiem
       8.00pm   Solemn Eucharist of Requiem by Candlelight
       11.00am Family Eucharist Sunday llth   Remembrance Sunday
       11.00am  Family Eucharist with Act of Remembrance
Saturday 24th
       10.00am - 12noon   Young People's Activity & Craft Day
       7.30pm   St. Cecilia's Day Concert
Sunday 25th   CHRIST THE KING
       11.00am Solemn Eucharist   Preacher:   Canon Cynthia Dowdle
       (S. Mary's, Knowsley and Dean of Women's Ministry)

Moving towards Advent
Fr Dennis

The word Advent means a coming, an arrival; and the theme of our church season of Advent is the coming of Christ into the world. All through these weeks we are in a mood of expectancy; one which has two different aspects. First we think of the coming of Jesus as a babe at Christmas; then, on the other hand, we think of that mysterious event, a quite different coming, which we call the Second Advent. So it is that all through the weeks of Advent we are in this special mood of expectancy. On one side of it, our expectations will be fulfilled when Christmas comes, and we are able to sing:

Christians awake! salute the happy morn
Whereon the Saviour of the world was born

But what can we say about that other expectation, that other Coming? 'He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his Kingdom will have no end.'

In the Nicene Creed the whole Christian world confesses its faith. These words stir our imaginations, and speak to what is very deep within us. God's victory was won upon the Cross; yet God's enemies are still strongly entrenched in their positions, and there are many battles still to fight. Our ancestors' expectation of the Lord's early return proved an illusion; from time to time events occurred which gave rise to hopes that the great day was at hand, but those hopes were always disappointed, as such hopes have been disappointed many times since.

The promise of his coming was, for the early Christian teachers, a matter of profound conviction; but they speak variously, and sometimes obscurely, about the manner of that coming, in time and place, and of what is to follow. At first they had looked for it almost any day; but they were always disappointed. Yet they did not give up the hope of another coming of Christ; God's victory was won, but it was yet to win. Both ideas are true: thus our Christian life becomes a tension between realization and expectation. After all, in our daily prayer we say, Thy Kingdom come.... For thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. The Kingdom is still to come and yet it is present, always; and so we have confidence in praying for its coming.

This may indeed be a paradox, but this tension has been, and is, a great strength to the Christian religion. For the early Church the coming of Christ was both present and future, both at once. That could not be said of any ordinary event in history; for the coming of Christ is an event that lies outside our system of time reckoning; it has no date. And so for the whole season of Advent, we can speak of the Coming of Christ, meaning both his birth as a child into the world a long time ago, the Millennium in fact, and also the unimaginable fullness of his coming again, in power and glory, in the future.

There is a very simple prayer that has come do0wn to us from the earliest days. It is in the Aramaic language, which was the native tongue of Jesus and his first disciples, and consists of two words only: Marana-tha! Lord, come! These words go back to Aramaic-speaking Jewish Christians, probably of the mother church at Jerusalem, the historians tell us, and are quoted by St. Paul (in his first letter to the Corinthians, 16:22).

The first Christians met together regularly, and shared a meal together; they made their memory vivid by repeating what he had said and done at that never-to-be-forgotten last supper. So it was that the facts of his life and death were more than a memory: they were a present experience. Marana-tha! bears witness to the spirit of tense expectancy that brought them together; they knew that a Presence was there, unseen and unheard, but real: the Lord had come to them. He was known to them in the breaking of bread.

And the more deeply they, and we, appreciate what is received, the more clearly they and we know that nothing on earth is complete: there is always more to hope for. It is here then, in our act of worship, the Holy Eucharist, the central and most important act of worship in the Christian religion, that we look for a key to the paradox of a coming of Christ which is past, present and future all in one; and for which we must be ready, for the Son of Mart is coming at an hour we do not expect. Watch therefore, and be ready.

With Thanks

Kathleen and Alex Zimak would like to thank everyone for their prayers and thoughts over the last six months during Alex's illness. We are sure that his recovery is due in no small part to the support we have received from our friends at Saint Faith's, and we are deeply grateful.

A Letter to the Editor... and a footnote

Dear Chris

We do enjoy the magazine very much - and the October edition had two items of special interest. As a one-time member of the Society of Saint Francis, and both my wife and I now members of the Third Order, and having been set on my way with St Faith's Crosby blood in my veins, we send you this 'picture' of St Francis which Margaret painted some years ago and which we thought the Church might like to see.

Concerning St Faith's, Lane End, Belper - Margaret and I were married at Christ Church, Belper. She lived there and had a very long friendship with Sister Joyce of the Community of St Lawrence, and she sometimes worshipped at that St Faith's. She went with Sister Joyce, who had a little hut next to the church and on one visit shared with her that she was going to marry Bob and me. I think the sisters thought Margaret was going to join them! There are three sisters left, very ancient, living now at Southwell.

Robert and Margaret Bell

Fr Robert Bell, whose roots are indeed at St Faith 's, enclosed a charming image of St Francis, which can now be seen in church. Margaret 's work is well-known to us, with t\vo icons hung in the Lady Chapel: the one of our patron being brought out on more prominent display during the recent Patronal Festival.

As further evidence of the connected world of St Faith 's, its friends and past members, Fr Rusell Perry, well-known to many of us here, who was visiting us for the Patronal weekend, tells us more:

I was intrigued to see your note in Newslink last month about the sale of St Faith's Church in Belper. That particular church was built by the nuns of the Community of St Lawrence. They had a very large convent in Belper but, as the number of vocations declined, they decide to sell the convent and in 2002 moved to Southwell, in Nottinghamshire, to a purpose-built convent in the grounds of Sacrista Prebend, the Southwell Diocesan Retreat House, opposite the Minster.

The Community of St Lawrence is one of a number of convents and monasteries in Nottinghamshire, and they all came together on 3 rd May this year to celebrate the 1 50th anniversary of the Community of the Holy Cross. The service in Southwell Minster saw nearly 100 monks and nuns joining us in worship, supported by 15 bishops, many clergy and a host of lay associates and well-wishers.

It's good to know that the monastic life is still a calling for some Christians and that we can all derive great encouragement from their witness - and especially from great gatherings like the one we enjoyed at the Minster.

Kath Broadbent RIP

Hilary Pennington, a long-time member of St Faith's, now living in Norfolk, sends this tribute to her old friend.

It is 33 years since I met Kath, on the day I moved into Kingsway as her neighbour. Her first act of kindness was to pass a tray of coffee over the garden fence. Numerous other acts of kindness followed as her nature was to help others at all times. St. Faith's benefited greatly from the use of her home for coffee mornings and so many items were produced for church sales.

Besides all of this work Kath, assisted by her great friend Ethel Green, was responsible for church flowers for many years and was a member of the P.C.C., a helper at Moral Welfare, a welcome baby sitter and cleaner of the Lady Chapel. An additional duty was to produce the weekly service sheet. Father Peter Goodrich suggested this task when Kath sought occupation to fill the emptiness left by the death of her dear husband Cliff. It says a lot for Kath's commitment and determination that she persevered with the printing process in operation at that time. We shared many anxious moments over the problems that arose during that period, only to laugh about it all in later years.

Her own interests were cookery, dress making, gardening and music and her three daughters, Pat, Daphne and Stella, their husbands, children and grandchildren, to all of whom she was devoted. We send to her family our sympathy and thanks for being able to share their final farewell, here, at St. Faith's where Kath had worshipped for fifty years.

Our lives have been enriched by knowing her.

Spreading the Word

Below we reproduce the text of a recent sermon by Fr Neil, as part of a regular service of reprinting addresses here and online for the benefit of those who missed them or would like to be reacquainted with them.
We are fortunate in the range and high quality of the assorted homilies delivered from our pulpit, as well, of course, as from St Mary's. One such, delivered a week or two ago by Fr Mark Waters, was unusual in that it attracted a challenging response from a member of the congregation, with a view to its publication. Sadly, to reprint Mark's sermon and Ruth Winder's spirited response would occupy about half of the magazine, but the debate is now available online on the church website ('htmljile/othernesssermon.html) - and printed copies may be picked up at the back of church.
The two items make for a lively debate, and the editor/website manager would be delighted to receive further contributions to this forum - or indeed, to anything that we publish in any form. Preachers are sometimes described as being 'six feet above contradiction' - it is good when this proves not to be the case!

Worship and Ritual
Fr Neil
'You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.' So says Our Lord in today's Gospel: a reminder that over and above all else it is God who comes first. The first of the ten commandments makes that clear and in the good old days of the Book of Common Prayer we heard that regularly in what is known as the Summary of the Law. The first commandment reminds us that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind. And the way we do that, the way we put God first, is to worship Him.

The Liturgical Commission of the Church of England has recently published a report entitled "Transforming Worship" which was received at the last meeting of the General Synod.

It makes for very interesting reading, if you are interested in that sort of thing, although I haven't finished reading it yet. I must finish it soon as the Diocese have asked me to suggest ways in which some of the recommendations contained in the report need to be implemented in the Diocese of Liverpool.

It is appropriate today, one year after being licensed as Diocesan Adviser on Liturgy and Worship, that I take the opportunity to thank you for your generosity in agreeing that some of my time can be given to Diocesan work.
Some have criticised the Roman Catholic Church in recent years for what might be described as "throwing the baby away with the bathwater" and whilst the report doesn't say that we have done that, my reading of it is that it certainly hints at it.

In recent years, certainly among some of the clergy working in the Kirkby Team when I was there ten years ago, there has been something of a feeling that we shouldn't bother too much about services because the real work of the church is done outside the building.

The report contradicts that assumption when it says: "we must not let the familiar words of the dismissal mislead us into thinking that, while we are still at worship, our active service has not yet begun. The very phrase 'divine service' reminds us that worship too is service."

"Worship must never be a performance merely for its own sake and that can sometimes happen or appear to happen. There is a danger that a concern for the liturgy to be well-prepared and carefully celebrated can develop into liturgical fussiness and perfectionism". But, says the report, "we still have to take responsibility for planning and celebrating our rites to the best of our ability, and we will normally find that good and well-prepared liturgy will inspire the Christian community to joyful living and costly service, in ways that are deeply attractive to outside or on the edge of the church."

We talk a lot, and rightly so, about the church's involvement with those who are But we don't tend to have the same debates and conversations about how we tackle the issues of spiritual poverty. Many in fact claim that it is because of a spiritual richness that people in third world countries can cope with the material poverty around them. Perhaps those of us who live in rather comfortable surroundings have something to learn from the spiritually rich!

In recent years many have described the liturgy as the shop window of the church. Liturgy can be an opportunity for people to be drawn to the church or put off it for life!

One of the things that came out of a meeting with Bishop James recently is that he asked me to organise a day conference in the Cathedral next autumn, a three-line event for  clergy  and  readers,  entitled "The Beauty  of Holiness".   The importance of worship cuts across all churchmanship and styles.

Of course each tradition has elements which can be good or bad and we can and must learn from each other.

There are many new ideas in the liturgical market-place at present, offering a whole range of resources for all age worship. Some is very good and powerful, some trite and banal. I know for example of a priest in this diocese who confessed that if he doesn't get a laugh out of people at an all-age family service he comes away feeling as failed! What have we turned worship into when we think like that? Do we really think that as priests we have to become game-show hosts?

A year on, after the last review, the content of all age worship was discussed by both ',s recently and will be discussed more as we seek to work out what is right for two churches and taking a whole raft of considerations into account- more later!

We are blessed here to enjoy a high standard of liturgy, serving, music and lay participation. That is not something we should be embarrassed about or feel guilty it. It is something to celebrate and rejoice in. and we are good at celebrating. The Area Dean, Roger Driver, came to see me the other day and one of his comments was "the best parties in the Deanery are all up this end!"

The whole of the report I mention is based on the significance of worship in all that we do participating in the 'missio Dei', the mission of God. Worship and mission are inextricably linked.

It is good, with that in mind, to acknowledge the dedication of five people from our churches, (Fred Nye, Jackie Parry, Kari Dodson, Lynda Dixon and Cynthia Johnson) who are this week beginning a year long course organised by the Diocese, entitled 'Mission Shaped Ministry'. Mission Shaped Those participating will learn about the nature and shape of the church, the qualities and characteristics of Christian ministry and will be helped in the process of listening to God in our own culture and community. It is designed for busy Christians who are active in ministry and part of the learning comes through reflection on our own context and story.

Mission and worship are inextricably linked, or should be. When we worship, as the report I mention says, we participate in God's mission and when we worship well we give others an opportunity of deepening their relationship with Him.

Perhaps the final word today on worship should come, not from the Synod report, or even from the Diocesan Advisor on Liturgy and Worship, but some words from the Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, in his thought for the day on 12th September.

'I've been fascinated by the recent spate of books casting doubt on religious faith, as if religion meant believing six impossible things before breakfast. Well, religion is a matter of holding certain beliefs, but that's not the only or even the most important thing about it. Religion is also about ritual; and ritual is about taking certain beliefs and making them real in the way we behave.

Would my life be the same without the Jewish New Year? No. I might still believe that life has a purpose, that what matters is not how much we earn but the good we do. I might still be convinced that it's important to apologise for the wrong I do and try to make amends. But those beliefs would have no fixed date in my diary and I might never get round to acting on them at all. Religion isn't the only way of thinking about ultimate questions. There are others: philosophy for example, or science. But philosophy and science never created rituals. And when you lose ritual you lose much else besides.

When people pray, they ritualise the sense that there is someone watching over what we do, and that creates internal restraints. When we lose that, we have to invent another form of watching, closed circuit video cameras, and that's the beginning of a loss of privacy. When we have the Sabbath, we have dedicated family time. Lose the Sabbath and a generation later families begin to fracture. Ritual structures time the way music structures sound. It turns life into a work of art, giving it shape, proportion, grace and beauty.

In English the word secular comes from 'seculum' meaning worldly, so religion signifies something other-worldly. But the Hebrew word for secular, 'choF, actually means sand. And that, without ritual, is what we can sometimes become: a grain of sand blown by the shifting winds of moment and mood. Rituals help us consecrate time, weaving into our lives the things that are important, not just urgent.'

(See the Ministry Team letter for Jackie's report on the Mission Course. .Ed.)
Twenty Years of the Church Urban Fund in Liverpool

The Church Urban Fund supports people and funds programmes that work within the poorest parts of England, investing in communities now and for the future. On September 25th in Liverpool Cathedral the Diocese celebrated the wonderful work enabled by this fund over 20 years in a city which is still dogged by poverty. A service of thanksgiving was preceded by an exhibition of the various projects which are supported by CUF: to read and see what is being done by Liverpool citizens through their churches and local charities was a most inspiring experience.

To gain some idea of the problems faced by our city and our Diocese just consider these disturbing facts:

•    Liverpool's unemployment rate is more than double the national average, with over 11% of the city's population out of work
•    Over 50% of households in Liverpool are living in fuel poverty
•    Liverpool  has   almost  twice  as   many  single-parent households  with dependent children than the national average

This poverty brings with it the depressing consequences of increasing violence that we have seen in recent months, and a continuing cycle of underachievement by young people who live in the most deprived areas.
The exhibition contained innumerable examples of projects funded by CUF which are tackling these problems at the heart of communities. They include for example the Hope Centre in Bootle run by the Salvation Army to provide basic sustenance to the homeless, counselling services offered by Sefton Choices, Ykids, which works to benefit children and families in South Sefton, as well as schemes run by churches and charities in the city of Liverpool itself. In less than 20 years CUF has given more than 300 grants worth over £3.3 million to projects in the Liverpool Diocese, such as the following one in the parish of St Cleopas, Toxteth.

St Cleopas Church and Community Centre in Toxteth provides a warm welcome, advice and support to families in an area where unemployment and ill health are common. The once-thriving shopping area has suffered from neglect and vandalism. With community morale at an all-time low the construction of a new church building was the ideal opportunity to provide much needed facilities, whilst creating a safe haven for local residents. The success of this initiative, as so many of the projects, depends on the hard work of volunteers. One of these helps to run sessions for those who like herself have been affected by murder. 'When my son was killed, I felt so isolated because people could not understand my pain,' she says. 'Now there are twenty of us who meet and help each other. I am no longer alone.' St Andrew's Community centre provides several children's groups, as well as a breakfast cafe, debt advice, and positive parenting courses.    
Nationwide 11.4 million people including 3.4 million children live in poverty with an ever increasing gap between rich and poor. In June 2006 The Church Urban Fund launched Challenging Poverty: a campaign to raise awareness, initiate action in local communities and generate significant new funding to resource future grant making. CUF has been appointed as a National Strategic Partner of the Cabinet Office to represent the voice of faith communities to the government. After nearly two decades of work alongside a wide range of groups the Church Urban Fund is no longer solely a grant giving organisation but is strategically repositioning itself to provide a more prominent voice for those who need to be heard...

For more details of this new phase visit

For information on CUF generally and to find out ways you can help in the smallest way you can visit Even if we have little time or financial means, we are reminded of the power of prayer. A few moments in our daily intercessions devoted to the Church Urban Fund's work would be a real contribution to the support it needs to transform our poorest communities.

Food for Thought
An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. 'lam ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.'

The old woman smiled. 'Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?' 'That's because I have always known about your flaw, so planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.'
Of  Bells and Panoramas 
Denis Griffiths

St Faith`s bell has served the church well for over 100 years with few complaints, apart maybe from some residents of Milton Road on a Sunday morning when it disturbs a late lie in. By their nature church bells are often neglected until something goes wrong and, sadly this year St Faith`s bell has had its problems. An inspection by Rick Walker and myself showed that some remedial work was required in order to ensure that the bell would work satisfactorily for a few more years, at least to see both of us out. Over the years the drive wheel, which swings the bell, had decayed and about 15 years ago Chris Dawson had performed some sterling craftsmanship to repair it. Since then the wheel had distorted slightly and was rubbing against the frame. This had the effect of making the bell difficult to swing and was also causing damage which would, eventually, result in failure of the drive wheel. It was decided that the fitting of a steel strongback across the wheel would return it near enough to true and stop the rubbing and also strengthen the wheel. Additional work included the refitting of the drive wire to the wheel and the fitting of a new Sally (acquired by Rick from one of his many contacts). For those who know little about bells the Sally is the fancy rope end pulled by whoever is tolling the bell.

On a bright day in August Rick and I, accompanied by Frank Smith, a friend of mine, set about repairing the bell. Frank, who taught me many years ago and was a teaching colleague for over 20 years, provided the steel strongback, assorted bolts and other bits and pieces. The bell tower was quite a tight fit for three people so after the strongback had been fitted I left the other two to continue with the repairs and I headed for the parapet at the top of the bell tower.

The view from the top of the bell tower on a clear day is remarkable and I hoped to be able to make a panorama of the scene. Stitching digital photographs together using computer software is not new but the results can be disappointing. However, I had downloaded a trial version of some new software from the internet and the results on small scenes were promising. Now I wanted to do a 360 degree panorama and the bell tower provided the opportunity. In order to get a good stitch the photographs have to overlap each other by about 20%; this meant I had to take some 16 photographs to get the full panorama. The pictures were loaded into the computer and the software did the rest. The results were good but the picture is much too long to be printed in Newslink, however, it can be seen on the website. I also took the opportunity of taking pictures inside the church and the stitched view is equally impressive, if a little distorted. It is worth adding that I have been so impressed with the software that I actually parted with good money to buy the full version.

(This article acompanied the interior panorama to which Denis refers. It, and the exterior panoramas, may be seeen online)

One Foot in the Past?
Chris Price

A recent edition of the Daily Telegraph carried two separate articles which took the editor's fancy and may strike a chord with equally unrepentant traditionalists. One was religious in theme, the other more secular, but they shared broadly the same unfashionable set of values.

Rupert Christiansen has written a book, 'Once More with Feeling', which is a collection of his favourite hymns, carols and anthems. Here is some of what he says about his selection.

'Even in an age as benighted as ours, its spiritual life flattened by prim multiculturalism, yah-boo-sucks atheism and mindless materialism, the great hymns and carols of the Protestant tradition retain their unique capacity to bring us together. It is to their fervent eloquence and broad melodies that we turn in times of trouble and celebration: not just weddings, funerals and Christmas, but any occasion that calls to be marked or memorialised with solemnity or dedication, be it the beginning of a term, the end of a war or the FA Cup Final. The collective singing of hymns marks not just faith in the battered but resilient Christian gospel of love, but also an assertion that we are ultimately one, not just in God but in our humanity.'

Christiansen defines himself as coming from 'the warm reasonable heart of middle England.' His family 'paid its respects to Anglicanism' and he still feels a deep affection 'towards its cardinal virtue of accepting the moral and material realities of existence with tolerance rather then with judgement.' And, he says, 'my vague but unbreakable affiliation to its simple creed has allowed me access to a treasure-trove of music and poetic language.'

Having hymned the praises of the great canon of traditional music and words, he is scathing about much modern hymnody, as 'the end of the 1960s saw the inexorable rise of the modernisers. "God of concrete, God of Steel"? "Dance then wherever you may be,/I am the Lord of the dance said he"? Come on guys, who are you trying to kid? Any fool could tell that behind that fixed-grin New Seekers chumminess was something emotionally flaccid, bloodless and phoney in comparison with the organ-powered ardour of "Who would true valour see".'

His final words condemn many of the late 20th century's new hymns unequivocally. 'They may make people feel comfortable and their catchiness may lead to a rise in the decibel level, but they seek to connect to earth rather than to heaven, preaching a gospel that doesn't look beyond friendliness and familiarity and social improvement. They do not minister to awe and wonder - the part of Christianity that passeth all understanding, the sheer mystery of it.'

The link with the second article is perhaps tenuous, but it also looks for the best of the past. Harry Bingham introduces his new book: 'This Little Britain: How One Small Country Changed the Modern World.' He looks at the image that Britain presents today and notes that when a newspaper invited readers to submit a new design for our coins, one wrote: 'How about a couple of yobs dancing on a car bonnet, or a trio of legless ladettes in the gutter?' He believes, however, that the image of a 'fragmented, degenerate, irresponsible society' is nothing new, and is in any case far from fair. His main thesis in the article is that we should be proud of our long heritage and more willing to proclaim it. A few quotations will illustrate his point.

'If one were asked to pick out the single most salient feature in human history since the birth of Christ, it would be hard to avoid industrialisation, whose forge was 18th century Britain. We dug two-thirds of the world's coal, refined half its iron, forged five-seventh of its steel and wove half if its commercial cotton cloth. We were, in effect, imagining a whole new world into existence, a world that has utterly altered human expectations of health, wealth and technological possibility.'

Bingham goes on to list the countless areas - technological, scientific, medical, electronic - where British inventiveness played a key role. He lauds our colonial achievements ('the Empire covered a quarter of the earth's surface, but used an army smaller than Switzerland's to rule it'). Likewise we gave the world our language and  actually pioneered a politer, more civilised, less violent society' - and 'the English at least was, as far back as we can see, by far the least violent society in Europe.'

His final arguments take on board our lack of confidence in our modem identity -but see this as no bad thing. So much of what made us distinctive has been assimilated into European and world culture that we no longer need to mourn the loss of 'our ancient, cherished, much vaunted uniqueness.' And his challenging final statement: 'Over a period of centuries the inhabitants of the British Isles came slowly to hammer out a concept of modernity that was largely free, fair, technically advanced, prosperous and peaceful. That was their second greatest achievement. The greatest was simply this: to have exported that model so widely and so well that it no longer looks British at all.' In other words, we may have lost an Empire, but we found a role in influencing the world for the better.

Not everyone will agree with the sentiments these two writers express - and it would be good to hear other views - but they strike a chord with this writer, and they resonate with much of what Fr Neil said in a sermon reproduced elsewhere in this issue about the importance of order, tradition and ritual in society. Maybe we're all just getting old, but in my experience many young people share these views and look to us to uphold the best of the past and not seek to sweep it all away in a tide of modernisation and repudiation of our heritage. It would be good to think that our brave new world could be populated by generations aware of continuity and possessed of a proper pride in what we hand on to them, and on which they can both build and improve in the years ahead. Having one foot in the past is a great help in taking a balanced view of the future.

Christian Aid News

Christian Aid Week: May 2007

Many thanks to all those who supported the collection in the two parishes, especially the collectors who cheerfully give up their time to knock on doors. We are always a little apprehensive of the reception we will receive, but often surprised and encouraged by the overall street totals. This year S.Faith's collected £950 and S. Mary's £256.15 towards a total of £19,207 in Crosby as a whole. It will be several months of course before we know the full national total, which accounts for 90% of Christian Aid's annual income.

Harvest Celebration: October 2007
The focus of our United Benefice harvest collection this year was Zimbabwe, where Christian Aid partner Christian Care provides a gleam of hope in a generally depressing situation. They support subsistence farmers by helping to implement conservation fanning; simple measures enable the farmers to reap six times the to feed their families. To support this worthwhile project we collected £299.50 at S Faith's and £ 203.80 at S Mary's for our Harvest appeal.

Christian Aid has long campaigned for a fair deal in world trade for the poorer nations, and for this reason we included a Fairtrade stall in our harvest celebrations at both churches. Our sales amounted to £251,95. In future we hope to hold a regular Fairtrade stall once a month at S Faith's, for which the church will receive 10% of the proceeds. Many of the goods on sale of course can now be found in supermarkets and stores. Sainsbury's for instance now sells only Fairtrade bananas. M&S sell fair-trade cotton teashirts as well as Fairtrade coffee and tea in their food departments and cafes. Other produce is supplied by Traidcraft, established in 1979 as a Christian response to poverty.
Many thanks to Ann Barnsley, manager of our local Oxfam shop, and Ray Bissex of Bold Justice Ltd for providing the goods for sale and of course to all our customers. The winners of the Fairtrade Christmas cakes were Brian Williams and Doreen Plevin. The winners of the Christmas puddings were John Clough and Pat Dryer. The Christmas biscuits were won by Audrey Kemp, For further information on our stall contact Brenda Cotterell, Gareth Griffiths, Jill Deeprose and Kathleen Zimak.

The Ig Nobel Prizes!

A British radiologist has been awarded a spoof Nobel Prize for discovering that sword swallowers can suffer 'major complications' when they are distracted or while gulping down more than one blade, say a report in a recent Daily Telegraph by Science editor Roger Highfield.

A consultant radiologist from Gloucestershire has joined the pantheon of scientists whose research has been deemed sufficiently quirky to win an 'Ig Nobel'. He was cited for his penetrating medical report 'Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects' in the British Medical Journal. 'Sore throats are common, particularly while the skill is being learnt or performances are too frequent,' he found. 'Sword swallowers without health care coverage expose themselves to financial as well as physical risk.'

He was in good company. A Japanese lady won the chemistry prize for her efforts to extract vanilla from cow dung, Three splendid fellows from Barcelona University wiped the floor with the competition for the linguistics prize for discovering that rats sometimes cannot differentiate between people speaking Japanese backwards and people speaking Dutch backwards. (The editor likes 'sometimes' - those other rats who can apparently manage this feat should be honoured for their achievements.)
The nutrition prize was lapped up by a researcher from Cornell University who explored appetite by feeding people with a self-refilling bowl of soup. And finally, and deserving their names in lights, Patricia Agostino, Santiago Piano and Diegc Golombek of Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina, deservedly won the aviation prize for their astounding discovery that Viagra aids jet-lag recovery in hamsters (well it would, wouldn 't it.)

Advent 1955
Sir John Betjeman

The Advent wind begins to stir
With sea-like sounds in our Scotch fir,
It's dark at breakfast, dark at tea,
And in between we only see
Clouds hurrying across the sky
And rain-wet roads the wind blows dry
And branches bending to the gale
Against great skies all silver pale
The world seems travelling into space,
And travelling at a faster pace
Than in the leisured summer weather
When we and it sit out together,
For now we feel the world spin round
On some momentous journey bound -
Journey to what? to whom? to where?
The Advent bells call out 'Prepare,
Your world is journeying to the birth
Of God made Man for us on earth.'

And how, in fact, do we prepare
The great day that waits us there -
For the twenty-fifth day of December,
The birth of Christ? For some it means
An interchange of hunting scenes
On coloured cards. And I remember
Last year I sent out twenty yards,
Laid end to end, of Christmas cards
To people that I scarcely know -
They'd sent a card to me, and so
I had to send one back. Oh dear!
Is this a form of Christmas cheer?
Or is it, which is less surprising,
My pride gone in for advertising?
The only cards that really count
Are that extremely small amount
From real friends who keep in touch
And are not rich but love us much.
Some ways indeed are very odd
By which we hail the birth of God.

We raise the price of things in shops,
We give plain boxes fancy tops
And lines which traders cannot sell
Thus parcell'd go extremely well
We dole out bribes we call a present
To those to whom we must be pleasant
For business reasons. Our defence is
These bribes are charged against expenses
And bring relief in Income Tax
Enough of these unworthy cracks!
'The time draws near the birth of Christ.'
A present that cannot be priced
Given two thousand years ago
Yet if God had not given so
He still would be a distant stranger
And not the Baby in the manger.

Patronal Postscript

The Patronal Festival weekend was once again celebrated with colour, ceremony and joy at St Faith's. An account of the events, with lots of colour photographs, may be seen on the church website.
To round off this issue, a verse from the hymn written by Jenny Raynor and the editor at the time of the centenary celebrations, but whose sentimemts may still ring true today.

Lord, for a century of praise
Here on this holy ground;
For Faith in whose strong sacrifice
Our watchword still is found,
We give you thanks, and ask your grace
For holiness like hers:
To serve your world and keep the faith
Through all the turning years.

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