St Mary’s Woodford Parish Magazine Volume 6 Issue 4
Bishop Peter with confirmees from St Mary’s and other churches, at St Gabriel’s Aldersbrook.
Welcome There is a commitment often attributed to John Wesley, and used as a prayer by the pupils at Churchfields Junior School: ‘I will do all the good I can, in all the ways I can, in all the places I can, at all the times I can, as long as ever I can.’ As used, it is not a specifically Christian commitment, but one which Christians can certainly endorse, being in harmony with Jesus’s commandment that we should love our neighbours as ourselves. We have been challenged as a church to think about how we show this love, by our words and by our actions, in our locality (see pages 10 & 11). In recent months we have been challenged as a nation to respond to the needs of refugees from Syria and elsewhere; and to the ongoing bloodshed in the Middle East. What is good in these circumstances? It’s not always easy to work that out. Two principles might help. First, we should not be deterred from doing good by the risk of our own poverty or death - the example of Jesus teaches us that. Second, we should be thinking about long-term good as well as short-term good: so, in the long term, what will be good for Syria and Iraq? Surely we should be setting up places of safety there, defended by military force if needed, where there can be development, employment, freedom of religion, and democratic government. Something like ‘Operation Haven’ for the Kurds in 1991. I am sure you will join me in praying for peace on earth this Christmas. Revd Canon Ian Tarrant, email: email@example.com Front cover: the confirmation service on 22nd November 2
Parish Register Funerals
5th Nov Eileen Golding
21st October Willam Unwin & Emma Geddes
9th Nov John Pearson 17th Nov Rita Wiskin Baptisms 1st Nov Violet Youen 15th Nov Sue Elliott Ruby Vorster 22nd Nov Freya Minty
Confirmations 22nd November Sue Elliott Nicola Wood Isolde Reynolds Will Alderson Phoebe Alderson Alice Layzell-Smith Katie Rigelsford
Freya Minty’s baptism
Violet Youen’s baptism
Sue Elliott’s baptism 3
Life at St Maryâ€™s
Remembrance 7th & 8th Nov
Our Bazaar 14th Nov
Woodford Friends & Neighbours Christmas Dinner - 2nd Dec
New names at the Hall Part of the Memorial Hall heritage project is a consultation to name the four public rooms (now known as the front hall, the rear hall, the upper hall and the meeting room) after people of local historical significance. So far there are six nominations: three politicians, an architect, a doctor, and a photographer. Nominations are still welcome until the closing date of Sunday 10th January. The Hall Trustees will then prepare a short list, and the public will be invited to vote at the Hall Open Day on 20th February. The chosen names will be allocated to rooms by the Trustees, and a commemorative plaque prepared for each room, to be unveiled at an Open Day on 21st May. Contact Deborah Aloba with your nominations by ringing 07940 384785, or email firstname.lastname@example.org You might like to prepare a fifty-word explanation of your choice.
We are collecting non-perishable food for the Redbridge Foodbank. The collection box is now in the church foyer every Sunday.
Anyone can follow the work that Deborah is doing at the webpage: www.facebook.com/woodfordmemorialhall 5
Life at St Mary’s October Three Faiths Forum Meeting The October meeting of the Three Faiths Forum, at the Albert Road mosque in Ilford, addressed by the Bishop of Barking, the Rt. Revd. Peter Hill, was excellent and well-attended. Bishop Peter spoke movingly about ‘Pilgrimage’, explaining how the experience of travelling alone or with a group to a holy place was so important in Christian history and tradition, and also how the spiritual experience could be understood as an internal journey towards a deepening faith. Imam Ehsan explained how in Islam there were two pilgrimages to the holy cities of Makkah and Madina, the Hajj and the Umra; the Muslim dimension was further expounded by Qaiser Malik. Rabbi Hulbert explained that whilst pilgrimage to Jerusalem was central to Jewish practice in Bible times, in the contemporary world relatively few Jews made special journeys for religious reasons, to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, at other holy sites in Israel, or at the graves of famous rabbis in Eastern Europe – for the majority, their spiritual pilgrimage took place within the synagogue, through prayer on Shabbat or festival days, especially on Yom Kippur. David Hulbert 6
Bishop Peter, Imam Ehsan and Rabbi Hulbert
Other members of the forum enjoying the refreshments after the meeting
Next Three Faiths Forum event Christmas/Chanukah concert and party Tuesday 15th December 8pm at Valentine’s Mansion Free admission
What brings you back? People in churches often wonder about other people who say they are Christians yet don't attend services. It is in fact very easy not to go to places. Forget about church for a moment and think about pubs or libraries (depending on which you rarely visit). If going there involves losing time with your family or an awkward journey or a battle with your own shyness in an unfamiliar environment, of course you won't go. For regular churchgoers the church is like family - familiar, friendly, reassuring, and also part of weekly habit. People who don't go to church have no sense that it is a familiar and comforting place. Some might argue why not have church 'meetings' in a secular place that is more familiar and open. If you believe that the Eucharist feeds us in some way, or that we cannot do without Bible teachings from clergy, or that we need to be part of the church community in order to spiritually develop, then church attendance is of course necessary. The reason for belonging to a church is also different for all of us. We have unique requirements which go beyond the act of worship; a sense of belonging, love of music, sharing a meal with company, to name but a few. What is it that keeps you coming back week after week? Chris Meikle
A Christmas poem After the star, the dim day. After the gifts, the empty hands. And now we take our secret way back to far lands. After the cave, the bleak plain. After the joy, the weary ride. But journey we, three new-made men, side by side. Came we by old paths by the sands. Go we by new ones this new day, homewards to rule our lives and lands by another way. Author unknown â€˜Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He's going to be up all night anyway.â€™ @PrayinFaith 7
Life at St Mary’s Prayers for the sick Most of us who attend the Sunday morning Eucharist will be aware that, as a church community, we make it a feature of our intercessions – our prayers for others – to pray for the sick in body, mind, or spirit. In this service, we have a tradition of naming, with their permission, those of our membership or those dear to our members who are acutely ill and in need of God’s healing touch. In addition however our corporate prayer ministry for the sick is augmented on the fourth Wednesday evening of each month at the weekly 7.30pm communion service when we bring before God and each other not only those who are acutely ill but those who are suffering from chronic/long term illnesses or infirmity and this service is simply entitled ‘Prayers for the Sick’. The service was started over 30 years ago and was originally the idea of one of our members, Dr David Wright who was a GP throughout his working life. His initiative was enthusiastically welcomed by the then Rector Bob Birchnall and has since been endorsed and continued by subsequent Rectors – Geoffrey and now Ian. The service is in a Eucharistic setting, the only difference being that during the intercessions we pause for an update on the progress being made by all those on our prayer list before we go 8
on to offer them to God in prayer by name. The folk who are on the prayer list will either have themselves asked to be included or, with their permission, would have been proposed for inclusion by someone who has a care for their wellbeing. In the latter case, it is helpful for the proposer to attend the service or at least keep us informed so that the progress of the sick person can be monitored. Clearly, information shared in this context is treated as confidential by those who attend the service, and who take away the updated prayer list each month in order to include the subjects in their personal prayers at home. I cannot speak for the other members who regularly attend this service but it is my belief and hope that our prayers for the sick can have a positive influence in three ways. Firstly, that God’s special grace will take hold of the person and, assisted by the agents of God’s healing on earth, (i.e. the many facets of the health service) give them the ability to use the wonderful mechanisms of healing and recovery that God has designed and placed in the human body. Secondly that this process will be enhanced in those for whom we pray by the knowledge that others care about them enough to pray for them, which benefit has been
endorsed in the past by many folk for whom we have prayed. Thirdly like the Good Samaritan we should all be inspired not only to pray for the sick but to have a practical, pastoral care for them as well. The question is sometimes put to me ‘if God knows everybody’s needs, anyway why bother to pray’. There are many different answers to this question perhaps for another time but the simplest answer I always come back to is this – quite simply because Jesus did. If you would like to pray for someone in this service or simply add your personal presence to our prayers you will be most welcome to join us on the fourth Wednesday each month at 7.30pm, although, with its proximity to Christmas, there will not be a service on 23rd December. Chris Winward
A hymn for every occupation Dentists - ‘Crown Him With Many Crowns’ Builders - ‘The Church’s One Foundation’ Geologists - ‘Rock of Ages’ Can anyone add to the list? Chris Meikle
Personal Prayer Ministry Every Sunday there is an opportunity for confidential personal prayer for anyone with a concern about health or other issues, after the 10am service, usually in the Chapel. Most of the people on the rota to pray took on the task with some anxiety about how it would work out - but have been agreeably surprised with the way it has turned out. Valerie Geller shares some reflections: ‘We should never underestimate the power of prayer. On the basis that Christ called ordinary people to do so prompted me to become part of the team. It is a privilege to be able to offer up to God, with a prayer partner, the concerns and thoughts of people in a private and confidential way. Life is fragile, handle with prayer!’
Transforming Presence 1 Worship - What are you doing to make worship the central focus of the life of the church? 2 Spirituality - What are you doing to As a development of Bishop Stephenâ€™s Transforming Presence teach people to pray? initiative in 2012, earlier this year the 3 Nurture - What are you doing to seven archdeacons in the Diocese teach people the faith and help them in wrote to every parish, with the nine their discipleship? questions seen here on the right. We *4 Evangelism - What are you doing to were asked to reflect on how we would answer, and then to pick three share the Christian faith with others, particular areas for further discussion. and what have the results been in the past year? A meeting of the Church Council considered short responses to each of 5 Vocation - What are you doing to the questions, which you can find nurture and develop the ministry of the online at www.stmaryswoodford.org.uk/ whole people of God, including transforming (or on paper from the enabling people to come forward for office). They selected numbers four, authorised lay and ordained ministry? six and seven for more detailed *6 Service - How is your church a consideration, and scheduled an open blessing to the community you serve? meeting to take place after our 10am And how is it witnessing to Godâ€™s service on 18th October. Over 40 kingdom of justice and peace? people stayed for the meeting. Most *7 Hospitality - What are you doing to of the time was spent in small group ensure that your church is a place of discussion, and points from those safety and welcome for all ages and for groups were noted for further deliberation. A working group will people of all backgrounds? bring some practical proposals to a 8 Interdependence - How are you later Church Council meeting. working in partnership with other Changing attitudes Christian communities in your locality There are lots of good ideas for that and at diocesan, national and global working group to think through. But levels? there was a clear message from our 9 Generosity - What are you doing to meeting that we need fresh attitudes ensure that your Church is showing in the church towards sharing the signs of generosity towards the wider good news, serving the community, and welcoming newcomers. Focused church and community as well as becoming financially secure? on the person of Christ and his love.
Evangelism, service & hospitality
Sharing - evangelism The gospel message at the heart of all our services, reflected in our readings, hymns, prayers and sacraments is good news. Good news that God loves all his children, even sinners like us. Good news that every life is valuable to him. Good news that love is stronger than hate, life is stronger than death, hope is stronger than fear. Good news that in God’s scheme of things the humble and meek will prevail over the proud and mighty. This is good news to celebrate: it is good news to share with others. Are the faith and joy that we know infectious? Can we be honest about what Jesus means to us? Serving In our gospel reading on 18th October, Jesus said that he had come into the world, ‘not to be served, but to serve.’ Can we put our own needs to one side, and see how to meet the needs of the community around us? We may not get it right first time - but people will value the attempt. Welcoming = hospitality Jesus welcomed and spent time with all kinds of people. The same should be true of our church: all ages, all backgrounds. If you count yourself a member, count yourself a host: be alert to all those coming through the door, especially first-timers; be sensitive to their needs: help or space? conversation or quiet? encourage them to know that they are welcome, and that they too can be part of our community.
Voices from a video clip at the meeting www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUJpJyth3J4 Here’s a few reasons why people don’t go to church…. I can’t come to church until I get my life together. Church is how I got my life together. Church is filled with a bunch of hypocrites, And there’s always room for one more. All they care about is your money. They care about me, not my money. Is there some kind of dress code? Yes. The code is: wear some clothes. Church - it just makes me nervous. I was nervous at first, and then felt right at home. I’m not sure I believe what you believe. But you can still belong. Church is for wimpy girly men. You want to say that again? If you knew me and what I’ve done, you wouldn’t want me. If you knew me and what I’ve done, you wouldn’t be worried. You can come to my church if you’re brought up Catholic, Methodist... It’s not about a religion, it’s about a relationship. -
So please, come to our church, where nobody's perfect, where beginners are welcome, where socks are optional, but grace is required. Where forgiveness is offered, where hope is alive. And where it's OK to not be OK. Really.
Seasonal A Christmas poem And Herod said: Supposing you had been in my shoes, what would you have Done different? – I was not thinking of myself. This Child – whichever number might have come from the hat – could Scarcely have begun to make trouble for twenty or Thirty years at least, and by that time Ten to one I’d be dead and gone. What Matters it to keep a straight succession none can Argue about – someone acceptable to the occupying Power, who nevertheless will enable us to preServe our sense of being a nation, Belonging and bound to one particular place. I know my people. They are nomads, only Squatters here as yet. They have never left the Wilderness. Wherever in Asia Minor the grass Seams a dune, or a well greens a wadi, or Sheep can feed long enough for a tent to be pitched, There they call home, praying for daily Manna and a nightly pillar of fire. They are Chronic exiles; their most-sung psalms look Back to the time of looking back. They never see Jerusalem in the here and now, but always long to Be where they’ve never been that they may long to Be where they really are. If this child had Lived, they’d have started the same blind trek, prospecting In sand for their own footsteps. Yes, Mothers are weeping in the streets of Judea, but still the Streets are there to weep in. If that child had lived, Not a stone would have stayed on a stone, nor a brother With brother, Norman Nicholson Nor would all the Babylons of all the world Have had enough water to swill away their tears. That I have put a stop to, at the price Of a two-year crop of children, making What future observers will undoubtedly judge a Good bargain with history. 12
The poem on the opposite page was written by Norman Nicholson in 1954, and was published in his third collection of verse, ‘The Pot Geranium’.
‘Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume Breathes of life of gathering gloom Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.’
Millom, Cumbria, where Norman Nicholson was born and lived for much of his life
Mark Spencer Ellis writes, ‘I was brought up in the Lake District and Norman Nicholson was the first poet I ever met. His six collections are rooted in Cumbria and in his Christian faith. Perhaps the best-known of his books of poetry is ‘A Local Habitation’ (1972). He also wrote five verse plays in three of which the Old Testament figures of Hosea, Elijah and Elisha in his encounter with Naaman are reshaped for a contemporary setting’. Norman Nicholson was born in Millom in 1914 and died in Whitehaven in 1987.
When at Christmas or Epiphany we sing the carol ‘We three Kings of Orient are’ written in 1857 by Revd John Henry Hopkins we already become aware, at the birth of Christ, of his forthcoming death: one of the wise men brings him myrrh. Myrrh is a bitter aromatic resinous exude from the stem of various Arabian and African trees of the genus Commiphora. Myrrh has been used through the ages as a perfume. Myrrh is mentioned in the Bible as a perfume with intoxicating qualities. In Genesis we read of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead with their camels carrying spices and myrrh down to Egypt as a present. In the Song of Songs we find myrrh mentioned in love poetry. Oil of myrrh is used in the book of Esther in a purification ritual for the new queen. As Jesus went to the cross he was offered a drink containing myrrh. Sometimes myrrh is used in making icons. Cheryl Corney 13
Absolutely Fabulous Rowenaâ€™s Trans Siberian Railway trip part II - Beyond the Urals to Irkutsk The Urals are not particularly high mountains but very important ones marking the boundary between Europe and Asia. Once east of them everything becomes vast not least the rivers, the three greatest of which, the Ob, the Yenesei and the Lena, flow south to north, one of the reasons why Siberia has been, and is, so difficult to develop. It was the Ob we saw at Novosibirsk and it took three shots of my camera to get the width of the river as we crossed the bridge spanning it.
The River Ob
Our guide took delight in pointing out another bridge, started but unfinished because, she said, the money had been taken for the Winter Olympics at Sochi; she was not afraid 14
to voice her opinion. However, for the most part we found President Putin popular, because life is now more stable and predictable than in the Yeltsin years and people get paid regularly. A memorable visit in Novosibirsk was to the railway museum where we saw innumerable engines, many with snow ploughs before them and carriages ranging from that in which the Tsar had abdicated to those that had taken prisoners to the Gulags. Within the towns of Siberia, travel is easiest in winter snow by ski or sledge. The theatre is very popular. Novosibirsk, a city of nearly 1.5 million people, has twenty theatres, all well patronised, one of which was putting on a season of Gilbert and Sullivan. The Grand Theatre, built in Stalinâ€™s time (and used as a hospital in World war II) was then the largest in the world but is now surpassed by one in Argentina. It was a matter of egalitarian pride that one can see and hear well wherever one sits in that theatre, something tested well by our group and proved to be so. The journey from Novosibirsk to Irkutsk, a city of half a million people,
the Pearl of Siberia, takes over a day, which was spent on the train travelling sometimes through vast open landscapes, sometimes through seemingly endless forests, sometimes through small towns often with newly built churches. We crossed the Yenesei before breakfast on the following day and arrived at Irkutsk, on the Angara, one of its tributaries but a mighty river nevertheless. The bridge across the Angara was built in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1912 while on its embankment is a statue of Tsar Alexander III, without whose enthusiasm the TransSiberian railway would not have been built. It was at Irkutsk that we were invited to lunch at the dacha, or summer house, of a family who had responded to the challenge to go to Siberia in Soviet times for which they received free housing. The man had been an engineer who worked on a hydro-electric dam. This family had never regretted their move; they had come to own the house in Irkutsk, built a dasha outside the city (in which we were entertained) and were building another which technology was making habitable in winter, so they had given their city house to their children. In the short Siberian summer they grow their own vegetables and entertain tourist parties about six times a year. After a wonderful lunch we went to a covered market of unimaginable size where there was a shortage of neither food nor customers. Our guide told us the
Rowena at the statue of Alexander III at Irkutsk
produce was all local; I asked where it came from in winter and was told Khazakstan, India and China. Our day ended at the house of the Bolkonskies, a family who had incurred the anger of the Tsar, been deported to Siberia and stayed there when their exile was over. This family had so inspired Tolstoy that he used their name when writing War and Peace. The exploration of Siberia was undertaken by people driven by a mixture of service to the tsar, a love of adventure and greed. Among these were the Stroganoff family one of whose chefs first put reindeer milk into a beef stew; the chefâ€™s name is unknown. Rowena Rudkin 15
Caring for others and for ourselves End of life and bereavement conversations Revd Santou Beurklian-Carter and Kathy Wiltshire recently attended a workshop on how to have meaningful conversations with people approaching the end of life or facing bereavement. It was led by Don Eisenhower who is a professional certified coach, hospital chaplain and bereavement co-ordinator (further information can be found at www.coachingatendoflife.com, where there is online training and an online grief support community). The workshop focused on some key principles, namely that the dying or grieving individual is the expert on their own experience, and that through deep listening we can create a safe space for individuals to share whatever is of greatest importance to them. We were offered the symbol of two people on a tandem, with the person at end of life or in grief steering at the front, and the coach or support person providing extra power when the going gets tough. This ‘tandem’ approach is based on the belief that the person in charge of the steering is the bereaved individual, and that the coach/support person is there to provide balance and support. What does this mean in practice? If we adopt the ‘coach/support approach’, we can offer the following Give people facing end of life or bereavement the opportunity to talk meaningfully about their 16
experiences. Our role is to accept whatever the person needs to share, rather than imposing our own agenda or shutting the conversation down. We need to make it normal to talk openly about end of life and bereavement, allowing people to have their experiences truly heard. End of life and bereavement are universal, and can best be understood and accepted as part of life rather than being a taboo subject. People facing up to end of life and bereavement issues are in fact doing well, and our role is to walk alongside them. They don’t need to be fixed by experts, they need to be allowed to share their pain and sadness. Contrary to secular taboos around terminal illness and death in our culture, the ‘coach/support approach’ believes that expressing grief is healthy and promotes healing.
What might this mean for our church community? We need to recognise that even deeply held Christian faith won’t insulate us from going through the pain of terminal illness or bereavement, and there is no shortcut for grief. It also helps to recognise that while some people are comforted by their faith, others may feel that their faith has deserted them at a time of crisis or loss. Within the wider world, people may offer well meaning comments such as ‘are you feeling better?’ or ‘are you moving on with your life yet?’, but such remarks aren’t helpful, usually mask our own difficulty in hearing other people’s grief, and prevent bereaved people from sharing their real feelings. In reality, it often takes up to two years before people can start rebuilding their lives or come to terms with a major loss. So, what can we do that is helpful? Within St Mary’s, we can all play our part through looking out for, and listening to those who are moving towards the end of life or facing bereavement, asking questions such as ‘how have you been since losing your loved one? Are you still finding it difficult? Is there any way I can help you?’ In this way we will increasingly grow into a compassionate Christian community where we can walk alongside others in our congregation who need a safe space to be heard. Kathy Wiltshire & Revd Santou Beurklian-Carter
Revd Santou's reading suggestions to help: For end of life The Needs of the Dying - by David Kessler published by Hay House Inc. ISBN 987-1-4019-2542-0. This addresses how to talk to the dying and to doctors, and much more. Visions, Trips, And Crowded Rooms - by David Kessler published by Harper ISBN 978-0-06113759-4. This talks about what is happening spiritually to the dying just before death. For the bereaved Coach Yourself Through Grief - Don Eisenhauer self published ISBN - 978-0-9894751-1-2 Even if you don't want to 'coach' yourself, this book is helpful in identifying what the needs of the grieving are in order to find the support from others that is best for you.
Caring for the planet and its people
Multi faith walk considers the environment and climate change A Multi Faith Walk in Ilford took place on 18th October to share how each faith takes responsibility for the environment, and how each considers the issue of climate change. ‘It’s not too late’. On a dampish Sunday afternoon in October, 300 people from seven different faiths, talked to each other, finding common ground, and a range of views, as they picked their way between the shoppers, to a warm welcome in Ilford’s wide offering of faith buildings. Budhist Vihara in Balfour Road The purpose of this year’s walk was to hear how each faith considers in St Clements Road. Here, instead of the issue of climate change, and raise food, there were bicycles! We learnt awareness in the run up to the next that, as part of their witness, they take climate change conference, opening at in, repair, and give away bikes, in the the end of November. process teaching unemployed or Amongst the many highlights of homeless people the arts of bike this walk was the food! maintenance. Knowing many are We started at 1.15pm in the homeless, they allow people to sleep in Buddhist Vihara in Balfour Road, the Church building, and work to help opposite the station. The crowd them find a way to a more settled life. gathered, there was a buzz of people The humble cycle expressed our need talking to people they’d never met to care for each other and the earth. before, there was lots of delicious Then, the sky clearing, on we went spicy finger food, and then silence fell to the Hindu Temple in Cleveland as local children from the Buddhist Road. Here a group of young people tradition told us of the Buddha’s care explained that nature is sacred and of the earth and the inter-dependence expresses the divine, before going on of all life. to explain some of the everyday things We went on to the Salvation Army we can all do to help the environment 18
Islamic centre Albert Road
such as switching off lights, reducing and recycling waste and so on. Then we went on to the Islamic Centre in Albert Road. Here, first children from the Muslim Community told us of the Qur’an’s teaching that all creation is equal, and then of simple things we can all do. Then, the Rabbi, having been generously made welcome to share this space, made a moving acknowledgement of the destructive relationships in Israel and Palestine, how when people have been deeply hurt, the anger stays and is turned on others. The lines in the Jewish prayer he shared expressed his longing for change: All things pray. All things pour forth their souls. The heavens pray, the Earth prays… Creation itself is but a longing A prayer to the Almighty.
Subdued, we arrived at SS Peter and Paul, Catholic Church, in the High Road. There, without knowing what had happened before, the Priest continued the theme of us each needing to acknowledge ourselves and each other before we can bring about change. We each turned to our neighbours to greet each other. And finally we arrived late and hungry at the Karamsar Gurdwara close by in the High Road. A group of children, supported by a detailed exhibition, talked of climate change. Here the Mayor of Redbridge Cllr Thavathuray Jeyaranjan also spoke. Throughout this, a priest slowly and rhythmically waved a fan over the holy book. The calm continuity created a deep sense of peace. Every day members of the Sikh community prepare a delicious vegetarian meal, to which all who are hungry may come. We partook of this, and went thoughtfully home. At each place, prayers were shared, all different but all expressing the wonder of the earth. My favourite came from the Buddhist tradition, our first stop: Be aware of the contact between your feet and the Earth. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. Judy Noble 19
Book Review The Good God Enjoying Father, Son and Holy Spirit By Michael Reeves, published by Paternoster ISBN 978- 1- 84227-744-7 Sometimes a small book can have a huge impact. I read it last year and picked it up again recently when it lifted my spirits enormously. Michael Reeves considers the triune God and says: ‘It is a chance to see that the Lord is good, to have your heart won and yourself refreshed. For it is only when you grasp what it means for God to be a Trinity that you really sense the beauty, the overflowing kindness, the heart -grabbing loveliness of God.’ He addresses all of us: ‘What is your Christian life like? What is the shape of your gospel, your faith?’ Our churches, marriages, relationships, mission: all are mounded in the deepest way by what we think of God. I was particularly moved by his account of the 17th century theologian, Richard Sibbes: ‘It was the knowledge that God is so sunny, so radiant with goodness and love that made Sibbes such an attractive model of God-likeness. Sibbes said, “those that are led with the Spirit of God, that are like him; they have communicative, diffusive goodness that loves to spread itself.”’ In other words, knowing God’s love, he became loving; and his understanding of who God is transformed him into a man, a preacher, and a writer of magnetic geniality. That amiability shone through his 20
preaching; it still glows from his writings; and looking at his life, it is clear that he had quite an extraordinary ability for cultivating warm and lasting friendships. He had become like his God. Sibbes became known as the ‘honey-mouthed preacher’. Reeves says that, ‘he once said that a Christian singing God’s praises to the world is like a bird singing. Birds sing loudest when the sun rises and warms them; and so it is with Christians: when they are warmed by the Light of the world, by the love of God in Christ, that is when they sing the loudest.’ Penny Freeston Previous magazine: correction A printing error occurred in ‘Refugees from an earlier age’. It should have read: Miron Zlatin, Sabine's husband, (not Sabine) and two older boys were sent to Estonia.
Quiz Who or what are we? We are all part of the Christian story and we all begin with D. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
I am an ordained minister who is not a priest or a bishop. Paul was converted to Christianity on the road to this place. I am the director of music at St Mary’s. My name is Ms. D______. I am an utterance of praise to God and can be a liturgical formula of praise to Him. I am the chief of the fallen angels and the cause of sin in the human race. Samson loved me and I enticed him. We have sought too much the d_______ and d_______ of our own hearts and there is no health in us. I am the title given to English monarchs since Henry VIII, who received this title from Pope Leo X as a reward for writing against Luther. On All Souls’ Day we pray particularly for the souls of the d_________. From d_______ we have come and to d______ we shall return.
11 12 13
I am the fifth book of the Bible. Jonathon loved me as he loved his own soul. A fool who repeats his folly is, according to Proverbs, like a d____ that returns to his vomit. I am the region over which a bishop has jurisdiction and pastoral charge. I am Mrs. D______. I helped to arrange the services this year for the Women’s World day of Prayer.
Answers on page 29
Book Review St Francis of Assisi and the conversion of the Muslims by Frank Rega Published by Tan Books ISBN 978-0-89555-858-9 How much do you know about St Francis of Assisi, (1181/2 to 1226)? In my case, before I read this book, the answer was, ‘not very much’. Childhood memories of a picture of an impoverished man with sweet animals and birds in rapt attendance in a particularly beautiful rural Italian location came to mind. I also recalled the prayer attributed – wrongly as it was to turn out - to St Francis, ‘make me a channel of your peace.’ Converting Muslims didn’t fit in with this at all. I was curious. Frank Rega, a third order (secular) Franciscan, seeks to refute the notion of St Francis as being a glorified social worker, pantheistic nature lover, pacifist, drop out hippie and forerunner of liberation theology that apparently some make him out to be. The book divides into three sections. The first section describes St Francis’ renunciation of wealth and response to his calling from God. This call was to ‘repair my house’. St Francis was initially unsure what this meant, buying bricks to repair a 22
local ruined chapel. His search was characterised by intense prayer, the renunciation of wealth from his wealthy merchant father and the wish to follow the example of Christ in an uncompromising way, living without possessions, in chastity and obedience. His mission was to preach the Gospel and seek to save souls. His obedience was to the Roman Catholic Church. St Francis travelled to Rome to seek an audience with the Pope Innocent III to seek approval for simple rules for his himself and his newly founded Franciscan order. Approval was granted, though not until after initial concerns that St Francis’ wish to embrace poverty stemmed from heresies of Albigensianism and Catharism had been shown to be groundless. Rega’s book gives little
information about these and other contextually relevant issues. St Francis’ mission then moves away from Umbria. The second section describes St Francis travelling with the ill-fated Fifth Crusade (which he supported) to Egypt. He received a divine vision warning that a planned attack by the crusaders would fail. St Francis informed the Christian leaders of this but was ignored. The attack duly failed. Subsequently, in a lull in the fighting, St Francis and one companion crossed enemy lines in an attempt to convert the Sultan (and so, rather like the Roman Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, also his followers). Others expected him to be martyred. He did not succeed but neither was he killed. A feature of St Francis’ approach was to preach positively about Christianity and to seek to convert by aiming to live an exemplary life but not to criticise the Koran. The Sultan was already reasonably well informed about the Bible. He asked St Francis why the crusaders were attacking him in view of Christ’s teachings in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) to turn the other cheek. St Francis’ responded by referring to the following text in that same chapter – ‘if thy right hand scandalise thee, pluck it out.’ St Francis’ dialogue with
the Sultan is taken by Rega to be both a refutation of St Francis’ supposed pacifism and also a voice against current ecumenical thinking. Frank Rega gives the view that the Sultan was much persuaded by St Francis but, fearful that his own followers would kill him if he converted, made arrangements for a deathbed conversion at a later date. Frank Rega in what seems more a matter of faith than historical record, describes that as happening years later, after St Francis’ own death. Strictly speaking Rega’s subtitle for this book should surely have been, ‘the attempted conversion of the Muslims’. The third section of the book describes the rest of St Francis’ short life back in Italy. Problems within his Franciscan order were resolved, though Rega gives little detail as to how this was achieved. Miraculous events increased at this time. Rega concentrates on St Francis receiving stigmata; meaning that he was divinely marked by the wounds of Christ. This followed much intense prayer in which St Francis asked to feel in his soul and body as much pain and suffering as experienced by Christ as possible and also to experience as much of Christ’s love for sinful mankind as possible. He became frail and increasingly the focus 23
St Francis for his followers who looked after him. What are we to make of this? A fellow reader thought that this was all rather self-indulgent and that St Francis had ‘lost the plot’. It seems to have been a change of emphasis from his initial mission but perhaps we Anglicans all missed the point.
This book left me with some unanswered questions. The Crusade is rightly described by Rega as being a debacle. As in many crusades, the behaviour of the crusaders was often appalling – but this is not examined. There does not appear to have been much criticism of this from St Francis himself and certainly not of papal leadership. Having read the book I was very conscious of not being a Roman Catholic. I am still not sure whether St Francis was pantheistic but confess that I found some of St Francis’ interactions with birds and animals to be plain soppy. Notwithstanding these possibly misplaced reservations, St Francis’ 24
legacy is considerable. He founded three Franciscan orders, including one for women. He started crib services. His advice to his followers to keep preaching short because Our Lord kept his preaching short has not always been followed; nor has his emphasis on the importance of prayer, but his advice remains powerful. There is much to think about from St Francis’ teachings and example for our relations today with Muslims. St Francis’ uncompromising approach to seeking to follow Christ’s example is as challenging now as it was then. Finally, what does a divine call to ‘repair my house’ mean today? Peter Wall
A new film about St Francis Finding Saint Francis was premiered at the BFI Southbank on 5th November and started DVD sales the next day. One of its first public outings was at our own church bazaar, just a week later. The film played next to the parish table, eleven DVDs were bought and wider interest was expressed. A good start! Produced by Little Portion Films, a small Franciscan venture, it’s a very low budget film but made by professionals, most of whom gave their time for little or nothing. Set at a friary in Dorset in high summer, it tells the story of St Francis straightforwardly in modern dress using a film-within-the-film structure. The clue's in the title: contemporary people discovering the Francis story, including a troubled young man who finds himself playing the saint. If this appeals to you, have a look at the film website at: www.findingsaintfrancis.com It opens to a short repeating loop and there’s also a fuller trailer, background information and - yes - an online shop. The DVD includes the film, a documentary about the Franciscan lifestyle at the friary, a book of stories and reflections and a short slideshow, and costs £10 plus P+P. Or if it’s simpler, ring John Wiltshire on 07717 547672. John Wiltshire 25
Yehudi Menuhin It was a warm sunny afternoon as Martin and I walked into Saarnen, the next village from Gstaad where we were staying. We could see the church spire from the road; Swiss chalets leading up into the mountains were decorated with window boxes filled with scarlet geraniums, and sheep and goats could be easily identified in the pastures by the sound of their large bells. In winter the slopes would be busy with skiers but for now we had the place to ourselves. When we arrived at the tiny church of Saint Mauritius, built in 1228 and decorated with wall paintings, we sat quietly listening to a Bach fugue played on a harpsichord by a Chinese student. This was the village where Yehudi Menuhin founded his International Music Academy in 1997 to provide highly gifted students with free tuition and opportunities to perform chamber music in public. Since his death his son Jeremy has taken on responsibility for the Academy: a foundation whose aims are not growth and profit, but human development and international understanding. Lord Menuhin wrote: 'The ultimate aim in life should be to fulfil to the utmost all that is within our ability and to share that which is good and beautiful.' I asked Peter Wall, a violinist, to share some thoughts on 'the Maestro'. Penny Freeston 26
Yehudi Menuhin was born in New York in 1916 to Russian Jewish parents who had met in Palestine. A child prodigy, he made his appearance as a violin soloist with the San Francisco Orchestra in 1925 in Laloâ€™s Symphonie Espagnole. There followed solo debuts aged 10 in Paris, aged 11 and then in 1929 aged 12, with Bruno Walter conducting, in Berlin when he performed violin concerti by Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. The audience, which included legendary violinist Fritz Kreisler and Albert Einstein, was bowled over. After the concert Einstein went backstage and told him, "Yehudi, you have once again proved to me that there is a God in heaven." Major opportunities came quickly. In 1932, at the age of 75, Edward Elgar recorded his violin concerto for the first time and chose Yehudi Menuhin as the soloist. Although Menuhin was only aged 16 it is the maturity of the performance that particularly impresses. Menuhin had prepared the work with the Romanian violinist and composer George
The 16 year old Yehudi Menuhin with Edward Elgar in 1932
Enesco who commented on the very English nature of the second subject tune in the first movement. Menuhin was startled when, just before this point when playing the concerto to the composer before the recording, Elgar stopped proceedings, told him that he was sure it would be fine and went off to the races at Newmarket. At the recording itself Menuhin was intrigued by Elgar’s dignified manner which had not a shred of self importance. Menuhin was later to write, ‘this taught me something about England: that authority must present itself unobtrusively, even humbly’. It was the start of his love of England. He eventually became a British citizen in 1985. Bela Bartok dedicated what was to be his final completed work, his solo violin sonata, to Menuhin. With an initial austere and chilling presence Bartok was not an easy man to please. Nevertheless he held a very high opinion of Menuhin’s
playing. This was in marked contrast to Menuhin’s humble view of his performance of this masterpiece. He was the first violinist to record all six Bach’s sonatas and suites for solo violin. In the war Menuhin travelled incessantly, giving performances to front line servicemen. He performed to the inmates at Belsen a few weeks after it was liberated. What was Menuhin like as a violinist? I remember the misty eyed look that came over hard bitten professional musicians talking about the absolutely unique effect Menuhin produced when on top form performing Beethoven’s violin concerto. I myself was fortunate to hear him in a couple of performances of this work at the Albert Hall in the 1960s. So what was so special? I can’t fully explain this but here are some pointers. He had a sweet, passionate but non forced even sound. He didn’t ‘milk’ every phrase but had a great ability to pace a performance based on a deep understanding of the music. The Menuhin magic was particularly evident near the end of the first movement of the Beethoven concerto after the cadenza. Technical competence is not enough. With a musically ill-judged performance – not Beethoven’s fault - the listener can just feel, ‘there’s that tune yet again.’ With Menuhin that was the moment the audience realised that they had been gradually taken to a heavenly, beautiful place of profound peace and serenity and had now arrived. I suspect that Einstein had had the same experience back in 1929. I know of no recording that fully 27
captures this. You had to be there. Menuhin, with characteristic modesty, downplayed Einstein’s praise of him, adding that he thought Einstein to be more than just a scientist but a seer and a prophet. In similar vein, Menuhin himself was always more than a violinist and musician. He was an outspoken and sometimes controversial campaigner for reconciliation and world peace, an environmentalist, yoga enthusiast and advocate for a wide range of other causes. He prompted criticism from some Jews when he supported his German friend and conductor Furtwangler after the war. He criticised the continued occupation of the West Bank when accepting a prestigious award from the Israeli Government in the Israeli Knesset in 1991. Menuhin’s breadth of interest was to stand him in good stead. Increasingly, although he had a great performance in him, he was not always able to deliver it. This could be particularly apparent in his bowing arm. I recall an occasion when at the soloist’s entry in the Beethoven violin concerto he had difficulty keeping his bow on the string. By all accounts he still was capable of giving magic performances but these were less frequent. His interests continued to widen. Musically this included collaborations with the jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli and the sitar player Ravi Shanka. His conducting commitments increased. He founded the Menuhin School in Surrey, developed the Gstaad Music Festival 28
which he had founded in 1957 and the Bath Festival for which he had founded an orchestra in 1959. His enchanting autobiography, Unfinished Journey, is a great read. It not only has insightful comments about music and musicians but is revealing about all Menuhin’s many interests. There are some amusing anecdotes too. How do you rouse the Swiss to a fury? Menuhin did so unwittingly when, fearing that his luggage and violins would be left behind at the start of a train journey in Switzerland, he pulled the communication cord. Like Mozart’s letters, his autobiography shows a great interest in people he met. When he died in 1999 we lost one of the 20th Century’s great violinists but also an even finer musician and man. Autobiography: Yehudi Menuhin Unfinished Journey Macdonald and Jane’s London ISBN 0 354 04146 0 Recommended recordings Elgar violin concerto conducted by Sir Edward Elgar with the LSO Naxos - AAD 8.110902 (also Max Bruch G minor violin concerto) Bela Bartok: Violin Concerto No. 2 / Solo Violin Sonata ~ Menuhin / Furtwangler – EMI Classics Beethoven and Mendelssohn violin concerti – Menuhin and Furtwangler EMI Classics Peter Wall
Opportunity HOST request Welcoming international students
Room at the inn? Small charity HOST is seeking friendly people who would like to learn more about other countries and cultures and share their home life with adult international students at UK universities. Young adults from many countries would love to have a short homely break and discover the real life of this country. Host Kit Millington-Hore wrote ‘Meeting students from around the world is hugely fulfilling and satisfying. Watching their pleasure as you introduce them to our ways of living, particularly over Christmas, is extremely rewarding.’ Visits can be for a day, weekend, or four days at Christmas. Offering a Christmas invitation to someone who would otherwise be alone on a University campus can make a big difference. Invitations are urgently needed from volunteer hosts, no matter their age, or how far they live from a university. To find out more, or to be put in touch with your local organiser, please visit www.hostuk.org or call 020 7739 6292.
Page 21 Quiz – Answers 1 deacon 2 Damascus 3 Datta 4 doxology 5 Devil 6 Delilah 7 devices, desires 8 Defender of the Faith 9 departed 10 dust, dust 11 Deuteronomy 12 David 13 dog 14 diocese 15 Duffus 29
focus Activity time! Colour the picture and solve the wordsearch
People in politics
Christ, church and government Should the Christian Church in this country resolutely steer clear of any involvement in politics? Of course church institutions should not proclaim party political affiliations, but what about commenting on the consequences of policies adopted by our legislators? Why are there twenty six Church of England bishops in membership of the House of Lords if they are not encouraged to comment even though currently they seldom seem to do so? Let us examine the present situation in our country from the point of view of the consequences of policies given legal status by politicians. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has just issued its largest review yet of equality in the United Kingdom and has identified the winners and the losers. Young people, it says, are suffering the â€˜worst economic prospects for several generationsâ€™ and a worrying inequality gap is opening up. Younger people have been hit by the greatest drop in income and employment in recent years compared with older age groups. They also face even greater barriers to achieving economic independence and success than they did five years ago. It is great to see the barriers being 32
lowered for some people but again over the last five years they have been raised higher for younger people in particular. Theirs are the shoulders on which the country will rely to provide for a rapidly ageing population, yet they have the worst economic prospects for several generations. Much of this is made worse by bad government policy. We do not need to increase the inheritance tax threshold because we do not need to help millionaires to pass on their wealth. We need to help the millions of people struggling to pass anything on at all. That means a drastic government rethink and a genuine focus on policies that reduce overall inequality. Is it not time for the churches to join the Equality and Human Rights Commission in drawing the attention of the nation to the serious widening of inequality in our society and in proposing changes to our lawmakers which will arrest the current process and which will alter the present oppression of the young and the poor? What would be the attitude to this situation of our Lord Jesus Christ? Philip Swallow
There he is. Fourth row, second from the left. The one with the moustache. Obvious really. Maybe not. The unsavourylooking character you’re looking at is more likely to be your average neighbourhood slob with a grubby vest and a week-end’s stubble on his chin. And the real refugee could just as easily be the clean-cut fellow on
his left. You see, refugees are just like you and me. Except for one thing. Everything they once had has been left behind. Home, family, possessions, all gone. They have nothing. And nothing is all they’ll ever have unless we all extend a helping hand. From an ad by UNHCR 33
Hazel Mears 14th Feb 1935 - 14th Sept 2015
Part of the tribute to Hazel from her daughter Wendy at the funeral service We're all here to pay tribute to Hazel Mears. To many here she was a loyal, reliable friend. To others she was a cousin - who as a child would be an active participant in the games and mischief from which grew the foundation of a life long bond in spite of the distance in time and miles. To Brenda she was a big sister with all of its childhood rivalries and protectiveness that typically befit this role. To myself, Roy and Pamela (who sadly I never met as she passed away before I was born), a gentle, supportive and loving mum; to Charlotte a doting Grandma and to my dad Clive a loving and caring wife of 56 years. The number of you here today and the 100 plus cards and letters received by Dad are a reflection of the love, joy and support mum gave to us all. Mum was born in Ilford and moved to Crofton near Orpington at the beginning of the war. She was a keen 34
participant in guiding, becoming a Queen’s Guide herself before supporting her sister Brenda and later me to achieve our own Queen’s Guide Awards. She was a Brownie Pack Leader and later when I was a guide she helped at the Guide Camps for several years. After I left Guides we were both Guide Camp leaders together. When she left school she went to Goldsmith College to study catering and kitchen management and her first job was as kitchen manager at an embassy in London near Piccadilly. It was while she was working here that she served at a banquet for the coronation. Dad first invited Mum to an office dance on Valentine’s Day 1958 when she was working as an insurance clerk in London. They got married in July
1959 with the Brownies forming a Brownie Guard of Honour. She stopped working for a while but once Roy and I had settled in school she got a job as a play group assistant in Wanstead. I remember going to work with her one day and saw for myself how much the children loved her. When I was a child Mum and Dad were members of a tennis club and I remember going to Valentines Park to watch them play. Her favourite sport however was table tennis. Mum and Dad were regular players at Westdene Table Tennis Club which played at the Memorial Hall. She was a regular player for some 40 years for a team in the West Essex Table Tennis League even after her two hip replacement operations. I so admired her for the grit and determination she showed to get herself mobile again. Throughout her life mum put others first, helping - often quietly in the background, but always with a quiet determination to get the job or task done. For many years thereafter Mum served as treasurer of Woodford Wives, working closely with Joan Ware who became a very close friend. They both took an active part when the monthly Friday Lunch was instituted. She also served jointly with dad as Stewardship Secretary and for a number of years was a member of a sidesman team.
Mum embraced computer technology, teaching herself how to use desk top publisher, spreadsheet and database software. Many of you will have seen the tickets, posters and schedules she designed for various groups or received a Christmas card letter or gift presentation envelope she made. Mum and Dad were a great partnership throughout their 56-year marriage - together looking after myself and Roy with love, wise guidance and a listening ear. I could talk to mum about anything and she would always make time for me whenever I needed her. Becoming a grandmother was a great joy for Mum. She had to wait a long time but in spite of the distance we saw mum and dad most months. They drove a lot of miles and travelled on a lot of trains to spend time with us and Charlotte. Dave and I will treasure these happy memories. Mum was a positive influence on everyone who knew and loved her. Her smile could light a room, and the belief, encouragement, and support she gave to others is a gift that lives on in our hearts and souls. Thank you Mum for waiting for me so I could say goodbye and see for myself that you slipped gently away. We'll all miss you more than words can say but your legacy lives on in my heart - ever present to guide and shape my future self. Wendy Pallant 35
Our service in the style of the Taizé Community, in the chapel, on Advent Sunday. For more information about Taizé, its history and its worship, see www.taize.fr
thank you to everyone submitting contributions and photographs to this edition Please keep them coming, as without them we wouldn’t have a parish magazine. Articles, prayers, book reviews, favourite music, recipes, gardening tips etc. We would love some children’s drawings as well: the choice is yours! Email directly using a subject heading to: email@example.com or pass to Penny Freeston who will type up your handwritten copy. Our next copy date is 21st February 2016. Magazine team: Penny Freeston, Beverley Fuentes, Cheryl Corney, Ian Tarrant, Sam McCarthy, Peter Wall. 36
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