The Parish Magazine
of Saint Faith's Church, Great
Saint Faith’s Prayer for
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
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
the Ministry Team
"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
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,
Dates for the Diary
Wednesday 2nd ALL SOULS DAY
9.30am Eucharist of
Eucharist of Requiem by Candlelight
Sunday 4th ALL SAINTS
11.00am Family Eucharist Sunday
llth Remembrance Sunday
11.00am Family Eucharist
with Act of Remembrance
10.00am - 12noon Young
People's Activity & Craft Day
7.30pm St. Cecilia's
Sunday 25th CHRIST THE KING
11.00am Solemn Eucharist
(S. Mary's, Knowsley and Dean of
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Our lives have been enriched by knowing her.
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
- 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!
'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
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
"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
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
it is because of a spiritual richness that people in third world
can cope with the material poverty around them. Perhaps those of us who
live in rather comfortable surroundings have something to learn from
In recent years many have described the liturgy as the shop window of
church. Liturgy can be an opportunity for people to be drawn to the
or put off it for life!
One of the things that came out of a meeting with Bishop James recently
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
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
and powerful, some trite and banal. I know for example of a priest in
diocese who confessed that if he doesn't get a laugh out of people at
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
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
of God. Worship and mission are inextricably linked.
It is good, with that in mind, to acknowledge the dedication of five
from our churches, (Fred Nye, Jackie Parry, Kari Dodson, Lynda Dixon
Johnson) who are this week beginning a year long course organised by
the Diocese, entitled 'Mission Shaped Ministry'. Mission Shaped Those
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
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
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
• 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
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 www.cufx.org.uk
For information on CUF generally and to find out ways you can help in
the smallest way you can visit www.cuforg.uk. 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.
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
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.'
Bells and Panoramas
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
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
Foot in the Past?
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
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
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 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.
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
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
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
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
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.)
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
hurrying across the sky
And rain-wet roads the wind blows dry
branches bending to the gale
Against great skies all silver pale
world seems travelling into space,
And travelling at a faster pace
in the leisured summer weather
When we and it sit out together,
we feel the world spin round
On some momentous journey bound -
to what? to whom? to where?
The Advent bells call out 'Prepare,
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 -
the twenty-fifth day of December,
The birth of Christ? For some it
An interchange of hunting scenes
On coloured cards. And I
Last year I sent out twenty yards,
Laid end to end, of
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
Or is it, which is less surprising,
My pride gone in for
The only cards that really count
Are that extremely small amount
From real friends who keep in touch
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
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
And bring relief in Income Tax
Enough of these unworthy
'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
He still would be a distant stranger
And not the Baby in the manger.
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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