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In the week we launched our new initiative Proclaiming it afresh and ahead of Bible Sunday, Fr Tom Bates, Chair of Abergavenny Anglican Churches’ Mission and Outreach Committee outlines the programme for the next twelve months.

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The Declaration of Assent of the Anglican Church is a promise made by all Anglican ministers, ordained and lay, which roughly sets out the understanding the Anglican Church as part of “the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” committed to “worshiping the One True God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” It is one of the title deeds asserting what Anglicanism is, and what Anglican Christian’s believe. As part of this it declares that the faith we receive we are called upon as the Church to “proclaim afresh in each generation”.

As this year’s theme for mission we have decided to focus on this phrase which is at the core of our identity, and our calling: ‘Proclaiming it afresh’. It is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that mission is something difficult, something we need to have Pioneer ministers and Diocesan Missioners to do, when in point of fact the Mission of the Church is placed very firmly by Jesus in the hands of all his followers. This focus of this year is to rejoice in that fact and to rediscover a mission centredness for all disciples worshipping in our churches.

With the thinking that mission is for ‘professionals’ comes the idea that mission is difficult. As we seek to ‘proclaim afresh’ the message we believe the people of Abergavenny need and deserve to hear we also want to de-bunk the myth that mission is beyond ANYONE who is called to discipleship in our churches. We are called to witness to the story of Jesus Christ and his Good News, and there are literally thousands of ways EVERYONE can be equipt for that ministry through the gifts God has given them.

So over the next year we will be looking at the wide variety of gifts God has endowed us with here in this place. Ways in which we all tell the story Christ has entrusted to his followers.

Last week we were able to welcome the fantastically talented Riding Lights theatre group who came to launch this year with their production of ‘Gospel Street’: A modern retelling of Jesus’ life and teachings, performed to a packed house at Holy Trinity. One of the key ways we were able to reach out through this production was through the generosity of those who sponsored tickets, enabling young people from 7 Corners Centre and Vision of Hope Farm to attend, as well as others from the community.

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Riding Lights: Gospel Street – remember your are 1 of the 140 characters

Local artist Jeremy Thomas has kindly agreed to participate in ‘Proclaiming it Afresh’ by setting his amazing talents to producing artworks throughout the year which tell the Gospel story, and which will be displayed at St Mary’s.

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Jezz Thomas Paintings- the 1st one nears completion

Cantref School have agreed to set their talents to work by engaging in a literacy project in the spring term which will see them study the parables of Jesus and retell them in their own way to produce the ‘Abergavenny parables’.

During Lent we will be running a study course from the Bible Society which focuses on the shape of Holy Scripture and the ark of our salvation history from Genesis to Revelation.

Godly play will also play an important role as we seek to enable each and every member of our churches to engage with, and feel that they are equipt to tell the story to young and old alike.

During the international ecumenical wave of prayer ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ between Ascension and Pentecost there will be special events and hopefully opportunities to tell your own story, should you wish, through a project like the BBC Radio 4 Listening project.

 

Next September we are hoping to have a pilgrimage along the St Thomas Way which will look at bringing the year to a conclusion focusing on our part in telling the Christian story which has been told herer in Abergavenny for a thousand years, and our place in that.

 

These are just a couple of the exciting ideas we have to look forward to in the coming year. I really hope that this will be a great and fun way to engage with mission in this place and that you will find through these opportunities your own way to ‘Proclaim it afresh’ as you journey on your own path.

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Two Choral services are planned for the weekend.

All Souls

ON Friday, November 2nd, All Souls, we will hold a Requiem Eucharist at 7pm during  which we will remember all those who have died during the past year and other departed loved ones.

There will be no 8.30am Holy Eucharist that day.

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The Icon on the Lectern in the St Jospeh Chapel

 

Icon in Memory of Bishop David Thomas

The following morning at 11am Bishop Richard Fenwick will bless and chrismate a new Icon of the Holy Family given to us by the family of the late Bishop David Thomas in his Memory. A Lectern in memory of Bishop David donated by Credo Cymru will also be dedicated at this service.

To obtain tickets for this service please email; Enquiries@stmarys-priory.org

There will be no 9am Holy Eucharist that morning.

 

Work has begun on redecorating the Bell ringing Chamber and improving the heating and lighting in there. Coe Stone Ltd and Hurst Electrical needed to find a way to get the scaffolding up there. Given the tower stairs are to narrow they used a hole built- in to erect the bells.

 

Meanwhile outside the North West entrance work has begun to prepare for the laying new gas pipes for our new central heating system.

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Maintenance and upgrading work on the Priory’s Ringing Chamber and Central Heating System scheduled for the Summer will now take place this month.

Robin Smith the Asst Warden in charge of works said, “October is a quiet month, so a good time to undertake these works before the busy November and December months”.

We do not expect any major distruption to services or visiting times.

A book published by Gomer Press called Wales in 100 objects was launched this week at the National Musuem of Wales in the prescnce of our Vicar & Prior, Canon Mark Soady and Sir Trefor Morris, Chairman of the St Mary’s Priory Development Trust.

Written by Andrew Green, the former librarian of the National Library of Wales, the book follows years of research and travel by Andrew to libraries, museums and archives all over Wales in a mission to find 100 objects which represent key aspects of the history of our nation.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the power of objects in a historical context,” says Andrew Green. “Objects – even ones that look insignificant – can be used to tell a remarkable story.”

In its report on the launch of the book the Western Mail includes the Jesse Effigy in its top 10 of the 100.

The Western Mail reads:

Each object in Wales in 100 Objects and Cymru Mewn 100 Gwrthrych has been strikingly illustrated by photographer Rolant Dafis from Aberystwyth, who has worked for a number of well-known fine art galleries and auction houses over the last 20 years.

The resulting publication is a stunning volume that opens a door into Wales’ history and culture. Here is our pick of 10 of the most interesting objects showcased in the book.

 

Jesse

The Jesse effigy

 The Jesse

This extraordinary larger-than-life figure once formed the base of an intricate and elaborate construction, which depicted the lineage of Jesus Christ from Jesse, the father of King David.

So called ‘Jesse figures’ and ‘Jesse trees’ are not uncommon in stone and stained glass, but this is the only one in wood to be found in the United Kingdom – and probably the world.

In the BBC series A History of British Art, Andrew Graham Dixon describes it as ‘the only great wooden figure to survive the wreckage of the British Cultural Revolution’.

We do not know who carved it, but we do know that it retains its extraordinary command of our attention and fascination. Carved from one solid piece of oak, probably in the 15th century, it was originally highly coloured and depicted all the Davidic kings and descendants, surmounted by the figures of Mary and the Child, and Christ in glory.

Latest thought estimates the height of the ‘tree’ growing from Jesse’s side to have been between 25ft and 30ft.

In her study of the Jesse Murial Adams claimed it was commssioned by Jaspar Tudor.

Preaching at Harvest Thanksgiving at St Michael’s Church, Myddfai, Carmarthenshire, Canon Mark Soady addressed the question of depression and suicide in today’s farming community.

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St Michael’s Church, Myddfai

Speaking at the Church near the Prince of Wales’ Welsh Residence of Llwynywermod,    Fr Mark said:

As we gather in this ancient church to give thanks for the Harvest, I am aware that some of you may not be feeling that thankful.

The Farm Safety Foundation’s Report published earlier this year highlighted the fact that every week one farmer in the UK takes his life. I remember from my days as a Psychiatric Nurse in Dyfed in the 1980s how rural isolation could lead to depression, alcoholism and drug addiction.

The report noted “Whilst UK farmers are renowned for the attention they give to their livestock, crops and machinery, it appears they do not have such a good track record when it comes to taking care of themselves and their own wellbeing.”  This occupation is dominated by men. We traditionally are less able to admit to our poor mental health and are less able to talk to others about the problem; add to this the often isolated working of farmers.

With the uncertainity of Brexit and  the extremes of weather we have had this year there has been plenty for farmers to worry about. Farmers tell me that they have already used up their winter stock of silage to feed their animals through the summer drought, and do not know how their animals will be fed through the winter months.

So how does that fit in with our Lord’s instruction in the Gospel of Matthew.

The authorised version of St Matthew’s Gospel states,” Take no thought for tomorrow”. Earlier translations have it as “Do not be full of care”. The Bible Society’s Testament Newydd uses the Welsh word “Pryder” which could be translated in to English as “Anxious” or “worry”.

In tonight’s Old Testament reading we hear that as a result of Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s Dream, Pharaoh did plan for the forthcoming famine.  He rightly had a ‘care’ for the future! We would be very critical of our rulers today if they did not plan as pharaoh did. So we need to draw a contrast between having a ‘care’ for tomorrow, planning for tomorrow if you like; and being anxious about tomorrow.

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Fr Mark with a bale of hay

Jesus tells us in the Gospel if God gave us life surely we can and must trust him to give us the things that sustain life.

Insightfully, Jesus also reminds us that far from ‘being anxious’ achieving something positive,  it  can actually make us ‘ill with worry’.

You will not be surprised to hear me say that Jesus lived what he taught. Unlike the rest of us he did know what the future brought. In his case it brought a most terrible death on a cross. If we knew that was to befall us, I am not sure we would come across as cheerful as Christ does in the Gospels.

So friends however, bad things seem let us remember that Christ is with us – and God will provide. That is what we need to be most Thankful for this Harvestide.

 

 

8am Holy Eucharist
9.30am All Age Eucharist
11am Sung Eucharist

Our Preacher at 11am is Fr John Humphreys Priest-in-Charge of the neighbouring parish of Llanddewi Rhyddrech.

Our collections at all the Harvest Thanksgiving services in the incumbency this year will be split 50:50 between Embrace the Middle East and Abergavenny Town of sanctuary.