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Archive for September, 2015

As we move north to Lindisfarne today we stopped at St Cuthbert’s Burial place at Durham Cathedral.

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The founder of the Holy Community at Lindisfarn’s followers after his death moved his sacred remains around to prevent them from being stolen by the Vikings. he finally laid to rest at Durham along with King Oswald and the Venerable Bede.

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imageWe started with a Holy Eucharist for St Matthew’s Day in the Herbert Chapel at St Mary’s Priory.

 

Fr Mark reminded us that life is a Pilgrimage during which God transforms us, as he transformed Matthew from a Tax Collector to an Apostle and Evangelist. Over the next days we are on a’mini’ pilgrimage, “I pray it will be transforming”.

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So having been blessed the pilgrims boarded the bus.

As it is the UN Interantional Day for Peace we stopped at the National Memorial Aboretum for a time of reflection.

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Pilgrims change from bus to train to see the memorials … And visit the chapel.

Pilgrims change from bus to train

Pilgrims change from bus to train

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Falklands Memorial

Falklands Memorial

Caroline Wollard writes :

Wet, windy, cold and very moving – the experience of our first stop on the parish pilgrimage to Lindisfarne.
With just two hours at the National Memorial Arboretum in the heart of England, it was impossible to more than scratch the surface. A trip on one of the little trains which visit some of the 152 acre site was a good introduction, even if the rain appeared to be driving horizontally at some points.

The Arboretum is much more than a military memorial, although the massive Armed Forces Memorial does rightly dominate, and one of the first gardens seen on the train trip is that to the Stillborn and Neonatal Death Charity Memorial, with its poignant image of a baby lost before it could live.

The site has well over 300 memorials, set among over 40,000 maturing trees – a symbol of ongoing life. They range from massive memorials to small plaques on individual trees, from bronze and granite, to slate and stone. There’s a huge polar bear, the first memorial to be placed in the Arboretum and dedicated to the 49th Infantry West Riding Division; a carousel horse (the Showmen’s Guide of Great Britain); and, perhaps most poignant, the white statue of 17-year-old Private Herbert Burden, aged 17, shot at Ypres in 1915 aged 15. It commemorates those Shot at Dawn for cowardice in the First World War and is set at the eastern side of the site, to catch the first light of day.

As well as those to the armed forces, a large walk is given over to memorials to the police, and others commemorate young people’s organisations, emergency services and civil defence volunteers.

The Armed Forces Memorial itself is immense. People wandered around in silence, stopping to look at the names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, a young woman tracing one carving. The saddest part perhaps is how much room there is left for names to be carved – preparing for the worst, hoping it will never be used.

But it’s not all sad – the arboretum is a living, breathing place, full of wildlife and set to expand in the coming years. Well worth a visit – but give yourself more than two hours.

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Work in preparation for the installation of the new Jesse Window next Spring is under way.

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Welcoming the start of work the Vicar , Canon Mark Soady said

I am very excited that work has on this project has begun, both on the window itself in the Barley Studios in York; and here on the building to make the window frame and wall ready to receive it

The work is expected to last a couple of weeks, but will not interfere to greatly with the church routine.

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Work is being carried  out by Copestone  and is partly funded by CADW. The work will ensure better drainage and thus protect the East-end wall of the Lewis Chapel, allowing the Jesse tree to be safely placed there.

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At the end of day 1:

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Richard Jones the Diocesan Stewardship Officer visited the parish again this Sunday (September 13th) as part of the Parish Stewardship & Giving Month. He preached at Evensong.

 

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Corinthians Ch 8 v 5 – “And they exceeded all our expectations. They gave themselves first to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us”.

He said:

In any crisis – in the all too often crisis of the world, one good thing which often comes out of a tragic, desperate, dark situation, is a reversal of human values. The generosity of others so often springs from both abundant joy and extreme poverty – in the eyes of the material driven, consumerist world, a paradox perhaps. In human terms that hardly makes sense, but so often an awareness of poverty makes us conscious of the needs of others. Evidence of such behaviour is all around us in the response the current plight of Syrian refugees; so often it is those who have the least who respond the most generously. Such was the case too amongst some of the early churches as described by Paul and others in our epistles. The generosity of our brothers and sisters in the African churches who give generously and sacrificially, sharing the little they have, with abundant joy and thanksgiving to God. For those like me who have collected for Christian Aid door to door, know that it is often easier in more deprived areas than from the more affluent. In our churches it is all too often those who have the least, who give the most.

 

The early church begged for the privilege of giving. Sometimes this does happen, and God gives the grace to respond to a human emergency such as the refugee crisis. Yet too often we give only what we think we can spare. Giving is too often a duty rather than a privilege. Many of those in the early church gave even beyond their means. Their values had been overturned as they longed to share with others. ‘First to the Lord’ is the a key phrase to understanding of Christian giving and is essential to our consideration of our own financial giving to the work of this church, which you are all being asked to think, pray about and review in this parish, during this month. There is, or should be, within our lives of faith, an overwhelming sense of the generosity of God that brings a response in giving to the Lord. Our commitment to Christ is at the heart of all our generosity. It is when we know the generosity of our Lord Jesus Christ that our lives will overflow in giving ‘first to the Lord’ and then to others. For a family or a church, one of the most fulfilling moments of life in Christ is as we determine our giving to others, prayerfully, experiencing the joy of giving as we have received.

 

Paul the apostle is not prepared to command the early church, but he is prepared to challenge them. Giving has to be voluntary, borne out of freewill and an expression of our faith – but Paul is clear about what the expectations are – for you and me too! He does not simply say that it is up to us to decide how much to give. He challenges us to demonstrate the love we claim to have. Maybe we are too timid in asking one another to show our love by our generosity. How does our financial generosity measure up when compared to what we spend on other aspects of our lives? – there is more on that within your parish stewardship booklets for you to read and consider. Do we give ‘First to the Lord’?

 

But all this depends not on us and our benevolence, nor even on the needs of your church here. Rather this depends on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is what Jesus has done for you and me. He demonstrated his love by giving all of himself. We enter into the richness of that giving. So we are freed to give of ourselves because we have the ultimate security of knowing his love and grace to and for us. Sharing in good work and cheerful giving are marks of that grace. Maybe in the regular reassessment of our giving we can know the grace and overflowing gratitude that infused the early church and rediscover it as part of our being and belonging here at St Mary’s.

 

There is a virtuous circle here that expresses that personal relationship between the people of Christ and their generous God. So generosity does indeed provide for those in need. It also overflows in thanksgivings to God. The two cannot be separated, and both result from God’s blessing. The whole picture is of an exciting faith that makes our whole being respond in generosity.

 

That isn’t all without cost. There is a challenge to recognise that we already have enough. Remember the early church whose generosity flowed from joy and poverty. This is no giving away of the scraps after we have fed ourselves. It is an integral part of our being.

God has given us so much. There is no more to be said and, if that is where we find ourselves, then all that we hear about generosity within the early church will be the hallmark of the church, your church, here, today too.

 

This is about you and your living and giving for God. We are each called to respond, to that encounter, that recognition, that invitation, that sharing, that love; – God in all we do, all we say and all we are. I commend your parish giving initiative to you, for your thought, your prayer and your response.

 

Let us pray…

Some words of John Wesley, as we pray for ourselves as stewards of all that God gives us, and how each respond to share through our living and giving, the generosity of God in our lives…

Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.

 

We offer this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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The Harvest Thanksgiving Offerings this year will be donated to Embrace to help them with their work among Syrian Refugees in Lebanon.

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Embrace say:

With your help and generosity we can provide support and funds for our partners working to meet the needs of refugees, as well as work towards long term peace and hope in the region.

Please do support our mattress appeal, providing everyday essentials for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Harvest will be celebrated at St Mary’s Priory on October 4th. Bishop David Thomas will preach at 11am, followed by harvest lunch (bookable in advance).

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Lutter Piano Recital

The renowned pianist Peter Lutter will return to the Priory to give a recital on October 15th.

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The proceeds from the concert will be divided between Action Duchenne (an appeal for Children with muscular dystrophy) and the Winston Memorial Appeal. The concert starts at 7.30pm and the Champagne Reception at 6.15pm.

Fr Mark said, “I am very much looking forward to hearing Peter at the piano again. He is quiet an amazing character being both an accomplished pianist and military doctor’.

Programme

Mendelssohn: Andante & Rondo Capriccioso

Schubert: Impromptu in G flat Op 90

Schumann: Fantasie in C

Shostakovich: Three Fantastic Dances

Dohnanyi: Rhapsodie in C

Chopin: Nocturnes: in E flat Op 9 No2; & B major Op 62 No 2

Chopin: Rondeau Op 16

Tickets

Recital only £15

Champagne Reception and Recital £25

For tickets please contact the Winston Appeal Treasurer, Sir Robert Hayman-Joyce on

robert@frengis.com. Telephone: 07740 902 430.

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The Month long Giving and Stewardship Campaign was launched on Sunday with Sermons at 8am and 11am by the Diocesan Stewardship Officer, Richard Jones.

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Richard said:

Some of your might have seen last year’s ‘Paddington Bear’ film. It’s not just for young children; it’s funny and it’s poignant – and there are subtle but profound messages throughout – I would say core Christian messages. And towards the end of the film there’s a line – these words; “Everyone can fit in around here because we are all so different”. (repeat). And so it is with our faith, and so it should be in all our churches. We should be proud (not ever ashamed) to belong to a church that welcomes all, where there is a place for all who want to know and share the love of God and out of which we can share generously with and minister into the needs of others.

Of course, it’s been a week when public attention has been fixed very clearly on the desperate and very sad situation of thousands of people fleeing war torn Syria and finding themselves as part of a so called ‘migration problem’ within Europe. It’s been a week when someone else’s problem has actually become our opportunity; for the tragic picture of that dead, drowned child on a beach in Turkey cannot failed to have touched anyone’s conscience; cannot failed to have questioned afresh our values and prompted us again to think again about the importance – indeed the integral part of who and what we are – in our loving, human and very real relationships with all our brothers and sisters the world over.

The letter of James which we’ve heard this morning, picks up very much on these theme’s of ‘them and us’. ‘Those who have and those who do not’. One might say it’s only human – all too human – to divide the world into ‘them’ and ‘us’. And of course we are always ‘the good guys’ or always on the side of ‘right’. Well, perhaps not – not according to James. He makes clear that it doesn’t actually matter where we fall short in our care of others, our sharing with others, our love for others. To fail in one respect is to fail in all says James. And as soon as we make that distinction between ourselves and others – and it makes no difference if we regard others as inferior or superior – we have breached the law of God’s love. We don’t truly regard our fellow human beings as true ‘neighbours’.

During this month of September we are thinking, praying and responding to challenge of Christian stewardship; how we regard, use and share all that God has given to each of us. In doing so we ask questions; the sort of questions that are raised in this little booklet about your parish, about being a follower of Christ and about our giving. Questions about Christian values, status, priorities. We are being asked ‘what makes us human, created (as we believe) in the image of God? Is it the things that the world counts as important, or is what God has given you? And how do we live (each of us) in such a way that other people can see the truth of this? As James also reminds us, ‘faith without deeds is useless’. To follow him as true disciples, we need to use as best we can, and to his glory, all the gifts he has given to each and every one of us, to bring in his kingdom to this world, into our lives and into the lives of others; we need to be pro-active in our giving, our love and action for God in the reality of life now. We’re not to sit around idly, perhaps even devoutly and prayerfully, just waiting for God’s kingdom to suddenly appear amongst us. God’s kingdom and the sharing of his kingdom values and his love, can and should begin now; in the reality of this world; not just in our minds as a far off, idealistic almost fantasy dream of God’s kingdom as ‘somewhere or something’ else. James our writer, is interested in enabling people to live in a relationship with God which has continuing significance and continuing life.

Too often our financial giving to the work of the church starts at a place of gloom; a place of survival; a place of fear possibly. We give gloomily; “what possible difference can my small contribution make? I don’t think it makes a difference anyway.” “We’ll never have enough money however much we all give”. “We can’t do that as we can’t afford it”. A place of real gloom and misery. Too often our giving is about ‘survival’. “I’ll give as the church is desperate”. “I’ll give to do my bit”. “I’ll give so we can carry on doing the same old thing, in the same old way as we’ve always done it”. “I’ll give so they don’t close our church down”. And of course giving for survival alone produces a survival mentality and attitude. “I’ll give as long as it goes to my church” or “I’ll give as long as my church doesn’t give anything away to anyone else –ignoring almost every command of Jesus possible to care for the poor and needy and to love our neighbour; and that includes the church here and how it uses the money you give.

But what if instead we looked at giving in a rather different way; if we started in a very different place. What if we were to be givers in the light of wanting to bring in and make real the kingdom of God – here and now? What if we really meant it when we said ‘Thy Kingdom come’ What if our giving to this church, each week, was about believing; about loving, about trusting, and about living – living our giving in a life for God. The kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ means that nothing will ever be the same again; that transformed by God’s love, we can transform the life of others too.

Giving is about our trust in God’s goodness; now I am privileged to have a working relationship with our dear Bishop Richard – one that is firmly based on just such understanding and trust. I don’t understand him and he doesn’t trust me! Of course to love wholeheartedly it is necessary to trust; A fundamental of any relationship. Our relationship with God requires of us to trust in him as a constant presence in our lives; in good times and in bad. We trust in a creator God; a God who provides for us; each and every one of us in some way has been richly blessed by God, whose giving to us knows no limitations. Our lives are full; we can have confidence and hope if we trust in God. And if we give as we receive, as God gives to us – with a generous heart and without condition – then surely we can also trust that God uses each of us too, through the sharing of what he has given to us, to bless others and to enrich their lives with the sharing of God’s love, his provision and his blessings. Do we give of all that we have, trusting in God?

As Christians we are called to live differently; to have different principles, different priorities, different practices. We need to reflect on how we regard our material possessions. How do we decide when enough is really enough? Is that purchase really essential? Do we surround ourselves with material possessions? Is it all about keeping up appearances or keeping up with the Jones’? What do our spending decisions say about us as individuals and our priorities in life? How can it ever be right when some have so much and others so little? How can it ever be right when 20% of the world’s population consume 80% of the world’s resources? How can it ever be right that people pay to lose weight, whilst others go hungry, and others starve and die?   You see, the lessons of Christian giving are about so much more than what we put in the church offering each Sunday. It’s so much harder than that; it’s so much more complicated. It’s about a whole way of life; one we choose, when we decide to follow Christ. So what then might our giving look like if we truly took on that challenge to start giving in a different place? Well if as people who have heard the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, if then our giving for God isn’t then transformed and transfigured, then I have no idea what sort of God people think that they are here to worship. Think again on God’s giving and goodness and surely the church whip round collection, must surely become a true offering to a generous God of Grace. And our giving for God – can of course be giving in all senses – sharing our love, our time, our skills, our experience, and most certainly the giving of our money too. So when folk say to me, ‘why are you talking about financial giving in church?’ the answer is a simple one. Because it’s what God calls each of us to do – period – end of answer – let’s not make it unnecessarily complicated and let’s certainly not apologise for it, as we so often seem to love doing in church life! In facts let’s celebrate all that God gives and all the opportunities we have to share his love and build his kingdom and his church.

This is about you and your living and giving for God. We are each called to respond, to that encounter, that recognition, that invitation, that sharing, that love; – God in all we do, all we say and all we are. When we all see the very nature of God, the very face of God, in all that he gives to us and in all that we have the privilege and honour to be able to give to him; in all our time, money and talents, then we will each receive and learn something profound and beautiful in our lives and in the life of this church; about a generous and giving God who loves each and every one of us. I commend your church ‘Giving for Life’ initiative to you, for your thought, your prayer and your response.

 

Let us pray.

A prayer for each of us as stewards of all that God gives and for his guidance and blessing as we each decide how to respond to a call for a renewed sharing and a renewed offering of our financial giving to this church, to allow us to move forward with God’s work here in this place:

We give what we have, but not all – help us to be more generous.

We serve as we are called – help us to see when you are calling us further.

We love within our limits – help us to break down those barriers.

So that we may love and serve you and give wholeheartedly.

We hand you our gifts on a plate, you gave us your love on a cross.

Help us to reconcile the difference between our giving and yours,

for Jesus’ and the world’s sake. Amen.

 

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