2012 Guest Columns for Southport Visiter
Saturday morning, 15th December, ten days before Christmas. The news is full of a primary school massacre in America not far from a campus where I spent a month lecturing seven years ago. I have an early morning appointment at the YMCA, Ainsdale. A special gymnastics show. The place is packed in the afterglow of local heroes at the London Olympics and elsewhere in Europe. We begin with some accomplished performers before the little ones take centre stage. Nervous but smiling they perform with all the infectious zest of early years. I wonder how many of the adoring parents watching will hold them just a little tighter tonight as the grim story from the States unfolds.
Ten thirty. I have to be on Lord Street with a group of carol singers collecting for the Telephone Samaritans. We sing cheerfully for an hour, give out cards to passers-by and chocolate medallions to children. Some take them with the spontaneous joy that is true to the origins of the Season. They hold them up like first prizes in a lottery - 'look what I've got Mummy' - and, for a moment, we are all young again. People seem glad to see and hear us: some join in the carols, others hug friends they've bumped into and not seen for a while.
Noon. It's time to do some business at the bank. A blues band is playing close to the station. Seriously cool dudes with real talent. Their mission statement is 'to keep the blues alive' and they do just that with wailing harmonies, raw vocals and guitars biting through the clean air. I'm impressed and chuck a coin in their case. A lady goes one better. She gives but before moving off, she kicks her heels and puts her hands in the air. She's feeling the music and she knows she's alive. Down the street, the Melling Bell Ringers from Liverpool dressed in Victorian garb do their thing for a local hospice. A quite different and more genteel sound but I stop to listen along with a respectful audience.
The afternoon takes me to a church party for families of children baptised at Trinity over the past year. Their darlings all want to dress up as the three kings and wear golden crowns. We oblige and throw in Santa for good measure. At tea time I take a former member of the congregation a card and a small gift. Now in his mid-nineties in a nursing home, he is a little forgetful but some memories are very strong. He shows me his poetry - he's still writing about life and nature - and tells me he has twenty-two cards to send. He's also hoping Santa will bring him a nip of whisky to help him sleep so I have a parting word with Matron to make sure the wish is passed on.
Evening prayer in church. All quiet now and a strange day comes into focus. Tinsel and tragedy. Little children singing and dancing. Little children slain in front of their teachers. Musicians belting out the blues. An old man's memories and simple wish. People dashing but also stopping because it's Christmas. Very soon, church bells will be ringing to announce the birth of a child in a manger. Before he is two, a cruel King, Herod, will seek to kill him. St. Matthew's gospel tells us that the strategy fails. Three days after Christmas, however, the Church calendar remembers the Holy Innocents, the children put to death by Herod as he sought to erase the Christ child from the earth. But the infant Jesus grew and his message of peace and love endures. Tinsel and tragedy are touched by hope - our most precious gift in a dark season.
A hurricane tends to put most things in perspective. Ok, the taxi delivered us to the wrong address in New York which was not the most promising start to a short break combining business with some stops for coffee and late Autumn sunshine in Central Park. We finally made it to our residence only to find we were double-booked for two of our five nights. A quiet but firm conversation with the manager and a booking was made at another hotel for the final part of our stay. When we finally got there the manager had fallen sick and forgotten to leave the keys with the security officer so, initially, 'no room at the inn.' More patience, more phone calls and, finally, a room. Weather dull and drizzly. Meetings with Jewish Professor, members of the Episcopalian Church and old friends from England celebrating a special family birthday. Amtrak train to Boston for more speaking engagements a couple of days later.
The weather reports are talking about a big storm on its way - a really big storm called Sandy. No worries, we'll be 300 miles away. Boston beautiful in the sunshine: leaves cascading everywhere and barely a breeze. Preach twice and lead two educational sessions. Forecasts worsening. The hurricane is 900 miles across and we are not going to escape its wrath. Decide to leave a day early but airport has no flights and a few hours later it closes for two days. Back to our host and evening service. Still fairly calm but there is heavy rain and an uneasy atmosphere. Morning comes and so does the hurricane. Trees down very close to our house, debris in the roads, lights and power supply gone, road blocks everywhere and the heavens opening. No phone, no light, no laptop and beginning to feel a little nervous as we try to drive on scarily-empty roads to the home of friends of our host. They are doctors and also have a private energy supply. We have a two year old in the car and those trees are mighty big. We reach our destination and are put in the basement - warm and spacious - and there we remain for next two days until Sandy has done her worst. There will be a plane on the Wednesday evening to take us home via Germany.
I prepare work for the return, read a new biography of President John F. Kennedy and a long review of the anonymous account of the death of Osama bin Laden by the Navy Seal who killed him. Jacqueline Kennedy received more than 800,000 letters of condolence following the assassination in Dallas. Her husband might have survived the deadly bullet had he not been wearing a metal vest to support his back condition. It kept him upright and in the line of fire after the first bullet failed to kill him. None of us knew that he frequently used a walking stick in the White House or had twice received last rites before becoming President. He seemed to love his family despite the stream of girls that came as regularly as pizza to the White House to satisfy his needs. As for Osama's killer: turns out he wasn't patriotic at all, didn't particularly care about his country and even refused to sign a flag for Barak Obama. He was just a 'special ops' man, a killing machine going in to finish off a terrorist unless 'he was kneeling and naked.' Our plane left on time. Doughnuts and coffee in Frankfurt at 5am and Manchester by 9am. Not quite the itinerary we planned but a hurricane puts most things in perspective.
I need no persuasion to watch a good movie and if Meryl Streep is the main feature I'm normally at the front of the queue. She is, for me, quite simply the greatest film actress of our time. Thirty years ago I watched her in Sophie's Choice - a film about the Holocaust and the terrible dilemma faced by a mother in case you missed it - and went around in an emotional haze for several days afterwards such was the power of her performance. I've seen most of her films since and have rarely been disappointed. She is of course beautiful in a very particular way and has an indefinable quality that draws people in.
A couple of weeks ago I went with my wife to watch Meryl in her latest film Hope Springs. She plays Kay, an older woman married to Arnold - a mean old grouch impossibly set in his ways - and they are locked into a long-term marriage of some thirty years that has fallen into a groove. The kids have grown up and only a depressing daily routine seems to hold the couple together. Arnold has exactly the same breakfast each morning and at night falls asleep watching the golf channel. Kay wants more than a peck on the cheek to keep her happy and sleeping in separate rooms does not help matters. She insists they go on an intensive marriage therapy course to help rekindle the magic and the film takes us with them as they face their past and their unhappiness. We expected to be entertained and mildly amused but the quality of the acting made the movie a poignant and moving experience. In a gentle but searching way it raises lots of important questions about marriage and the commitment it requires in order to stay fresh and meaningful. And it shows how the passage of time left unchecked subtly corrodes the passion and spontaneity that make the experience of falling in love such a wonderful thing. The film ends on a hopeful note but not before we have witnessed some fairly painful personal encounters that entail uncomfortable truths for both partners. Their therapist forces them to face up to the facts that have gone unheeded for too long and to admit things that have never been shared.
The moral of the story? A groove does not have to become a grave and even a marriage of many years can be enriched if there is a desire on both sides to work at it with honesty and an expectation that things can be different. Kay and Arnold go to see a therapist but an experienced priest could have told them the same thing: a marriage entered into for keeps has to be nurtured. It is a covenant that makes demands - the deal is 'for better or for worse' - but also holds out the promise of discovering or rediscovering a deeper happiness along the way. At one level we know all this, whether we are just starting out or well into the journey but we grow tired or forgetful (or both) and need invigorating reminders. Hope Springs will resonate with anyone who knows about the pitfalls of marriage yet still believes in its rich possibilities.
It's not true you know that curiosity killed the cat. Let me tell you what really happened. Korky was passing the kitchen door one day: unusually, it was ajar so he decided to investigate further. The lure of the garden and the possibility of a fresh mouse loomed strong but he had to see what was behind the door. So, head down a little, he gently nuzzled away until it opened and there before him on the floor was a bowl of the most delicious cream. Christmas had come early and Korky padded forward to the feast. Only then a strange thing happened as his tongue lapped the cream. Suddenly he found himself attached to the bowl by little pincers that emerged from nowhere and held him fast. You see, this was not just any bowl, it was made out of stardust - a mini-spaceship in disguise. Before he could raise a whisker, it had hurtled him through space to a planet called Korkyania where along with other equally curious and clever cats he wore a collar of gold all day and a crown of precious gems all night as he meowed to the moon. He lived happily ever after, amply rewarded for his curiosity.
It pays to be curious but too often we lose the habit. Children are our teachers here with their endless questions. But we stop taking them seriously which is why so many remarkable children grow up into unremarkable adults. To be curious is a sign of life and continuing evidence of our capacity for wonder. Years ago, I bought a greeting card for a friend with a lovely picture on the front. It showed a little girl dressed in matching yellow wellingtons, mac and plastic rain hood. She was splashing in a park pool after rain and the caption on the card read The universe resounds with the joyful cry 'I AM'. I showed it to the receptionist back at the office. She handed it back and said 'I am what?'. As far as I recall she was never promoted.
It's good to be curious. Our brain becomes less lonely, feels more loved and is encouraged to stretch itself beyond the comfortable and familiar. Curiosity is a compliment to the brain and a gift to our mental health, especially in later years. So keep up the cross words and the puzzle books! It's also fitting to our species if we are to honour the tremendous faculties bestowed on us by Nature and the divine mind that I believe lies behind it. It's no coincidence that as I'm writing these words, a plutonium-powered vehicle called Curiosity is trundling across the surface of Mars in the hunt for signs of extra-terrestrial life. It can drill below the surface and hunt for any organic molecules that may have survived. The Red Planet may be more hospitable to life forms than we once supposed. And if this marvellous machine does succeed in showing that Mars could once have supported life, the stage would be set for further exploration. Unlike Korky, it hasn't got the cream just yet. But the scientists that designed it deserve a crown for reminding us that to be human is always to keep wondering about what lies behind the half-closed door.
It may come as a surprise but not all the athletes in the Olympics are running for gold. Some are running for God and the honour of his name. Five major world faiths are participating in the Games. Special amenities have been provided to meet their spiritual and dietary needs and to give contestants space for prayer and quietness. For Muslims this will be a challenging few weeks in more ways than most of us realise. The Olympics fall in the holy month of Ramadan - a designated period of thirty days when Islam requires its believers to fast daily from sunrise until sunset. No food or water for more than twelve hours. Some Muslim sportsmen have already decided they must break the fast on the grounds that they will not be able to perform at their peak efficiency. Others are pressing on, determined that they will still be at their best even without meals or refreshments. And the curious thing is, this is not a matter of wishful thinking on their part. Experience of going without has taught them mastery of self and how to do without essentials.
Fasting as a religious discipline has almost disappeared in Britain. More than a generation ago, the Roman Catholic Church decreed that it was no longer necessary to eat fish on Friday instead of meat and the faithful dutifully complied. Jews still fast on solemn days of religious obligation such as the Day of Atonement when they call to mind their sins and Anglicans are expected to go without on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of Lent as a season of self-denial. But Muslims seem ahead of the game, so to speak, on this one. They value what we have largely lost - the sense that going without food can be good for you. It concentrates the mind, improves self-discipline and reminds the one who fasts that for others in the world less fortunate, hunger or thirst is their common experience. Fasting induces compassion for those who forfeit daily bread but not from choice. It also burns up calories whish must be a good thing as the nation grows fatter and less healthy.
Religion has a timely message here: fasting is good for the body as well as the soul. Full marks to those Muslim athletes for reminding us of truths we have forgotten in a fast food culture that encourages us to 'go large' with every purchase. Abstinence can actually enhance our lives and improve our well being. But don't expect the corporate sponsors of the British Games to tell you that anytime soon!
The Church of England made the national headlines a few days ago with its definite 'no' to the government's proposal to allow same-sex marriage. Reactions in the media were fairly predictable with accusations of homophobia and an out of touch church relying on out of date biblical texts with nothing helpful or encouraging to say to about modern human relationships. Alongside the jibes, rumours of a church at war with the government surfaced with veiled threats of disestablishment. Let me try and put the controversy in perspective.
I've read the official response from the church. It runs to thirteen pages - a taxing read with some serious arguments and no distasteful put downs of others who are different by way of sexual orientation or practice. The document does not represent the whole of the Church of England. It has not been voted on by General Synod or sent down to parishes for discussion or comment. In consequence, on this as with many other hot topics, Anglican Christians will have different opinions and some, clergy and laypeople, would like to see the church endorse the weddings of gay couples. Much of the report however is concerned with the legal implications of such a move - in particular an understandable anxiety on the part of the church that it might in the future be forced by the European Court of Human Rights to conduct same-sex weddings in places of worship. I'll come back to this in a moment.
What else lies behind its objection? Surprisingly, it does not bang on about the Bible not condoning such relationships or that gay sex is displeasing to God. Scripture is mentioned only a couple of times and the authors welcome the fact that long-standing legal inequities between heterosexual and same-sex relationships have now been removed. It also points out that following the introduction of civil partnerships in 2004, same-sex partnerships now enjoy the same rights, opportunities and responsibilities as heterosexual married couples. Equality under law has been achieved so what more is being demanded, the report asks, that has not already been secured through civil partnerships? The reply from the Equalities Minister is that by introducing same-sex marriages the 'emotional needs of the gay community would be met'. The report recognises that emotional needs are important but argues that introducing legislation that redefines fundamentally the nature and meaning of marriage to please some members of one part of society is a step too far, particularly when not even all gay people are in favour of altering marriage in this way.
Another issue emerged from my reading: we all know that there is such a thing in politics as the law of unintended consequences. Policies and decisions, however well-meaning, sometimes go badly awry through a failure to think things through. I can see why the authors of this document remain doubtful that the promised legal protection for churches and faiths from discrimination claims would actually withstand a challenge under the European Convention on Human Rights. Clarification would help here along with more careful reflection concerning the understanding of marriage as a vital and unique social institution that for many centuries has existed exclusively between a woman and a man. My own thinking on this matter is still evolving. Changing the meaning of marriage is a big step and big steps take time. I want to affirm same-sex relationships that display the faithfulness and commitment demonstrated in marriage at its best. But this issue is not just about passing a law that will make some gay couples feel better about the status of their relationship in the eyes of others. It touches what collectively we think we mean by marriage and its huge potential to contribute to the good of all in society.
As modern comedians go, Frankie Boyle would not be on the top of my Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? list. I can just about see the raw talent and wit that are often hidden behind his bile and anger but I wouldn't be able to relax at the table in case he vomited over the soup or another guest.
I have one thing to thank him for however: the title of his recent book Work. Consume. Die. gave me the idea for this article. It's a neat heading summing up his acerbic take on modern life and what we can expect from it. It's a philosophy in miniature, a pretty bleak view of a world where we labour and buy stuff before we 'pop our clogs'. The origin of this phrase by the way goes back to the poor millworkers of the late 19th century. To 'pop' was slang for taking something to the pawnbrokers and indicated that the wearer had died and was no long in need of them. Possibly you didn't know that? I didn't.
Work. Consume. Die. Pithy enough I suppose but seriously inadequate for human beings. Fairly accurate for a hamster on a wheel or a rat in a lab cage. But that's the point: a rat race is, by definition, only fit for rats and human beings at their best don't match this description. We need something better to frame our struggles hopes and destinies. Love. Serve. Celebrate. That's not bad for starters, except that from a religious perspective it still leaves death as the last word on what it means to be human. I've spent a lot of time recently looking death in the face.
It's not easy giving last rites to a dying man with a wife beside him, who only three years before had knelt together at the altar at Holy Trinity and made marriage vows to each other. But it does concentrate the mind concerning what I believe when death comes close.
Death touches us all. It's easy to be flippant about such things in the first flush of youth when we feel immortal and dying is an inconvenient event that happens to others much sicker and older than ourselves. The deeper truth is that we are never too young to die and all of us should work out what we believe and why as we sail the Good Ship Mortality.
Thanks again Frankie for the idea but I can't run with your title. Love. Service. Celebrate seems a more positive and truthful philosophy. Add the word Believe and we have an approach to life worth affirming and the beginnings of an answer to death.
The big news story about the American man who has been given a new face continues to fascinate me. The operation involved 150 medics. Miracles sometimes need teamwork - everyone committed to a great cause with all energies flowing in the right direction. The Church of England has lost a good, thoughtful and holy Archbishop because it has allowed its energies to be squandered on internal controversies and divisions. We have paid the price in parishes. The public face of the Church has appeared mean or ugly to many and miracles are the last thing they expect from us. We need a new face but it's going to take more than a successor to Rowan Williams to conduct the operation.
A bit of good will and forbearance from non-churchgoers will help. For all its lack of love reported in the media, the Church still has little platoons of dedicated people working in every community across the land. When it comes to public service they punch well above their weight and neighbourhoods would be impoverished without them. What they offer, without fuss or reward, represents a kinder more compassionate face - one that occupies centre stage in these days leading to Good Friday and Easter.
The face of Jesus Christ remains attractive, even compelling. As you read these words, the story of his death and resurrection is being re-enacted in plays, processions and public squares. At this minute I can hear it being discussed by university students just a few yards from the table where I'm writing this article. Jesus remains a real presence, challenging or consoling all those prepared to look upon him or hear his words. In his face it is possible to see the genuine article - a fellow sufferer who gave himself utterly for the sake of the world and commended the way of love as the only life worth living. And there is something more. In a museum in Jerusalem, there is a scrap of leather more than 2,500 years old. It bears an inscription, written in Hebrew, which takes the form of a blessing: 'May the Lord make his face shine upon you, be gracious to you and give you peace'.
It took five hundred years for these words to become flesh and blood in a wounded healer and they invite us to see in the face of this crucified man something of the love of God. A love held by Christians to be stronger than death, that will never let us go. These special days marking a singular death and hope renewed in the grave offer us something better than cream eggs or Easter bunnies. They reveal a redemptive face shining love into the darkest places and urging us to turn away from foolish and hurtful ways. Easter says 'begin again, begin again.' In our response to this invitation, as Church and nation, lies the seed of a miracle.
I've been looking at a poignant picture of Marie Colvin, the British journalist and was correspondent killed on assignment in the Syrian city of Homs on 22 February. She is in the middle of a revolutionary crowd a year earlier, writing in her notebook and wearing her trademark black eye patch. The left eye was lost to shrapnel while covering the civil war in Sri Lanka in 2001. She cuts an impressive figure and she died doing what she believed to be her duty. At a service in St. Bride's, the journalists' church on Fleet Street in 2010 to mark the 49 people killed on assignment for the British media since 2000, she described her role as that of bearing witness. For her that meant seeking the truth in the face of propaganda, lies, chaos, destruction and death. Remarkably brave, she reported what she saw over a long and distinguished career. The scenes repeated themselves with depressing familiarity over 30 years - burned houses, mutilated bodies, women weeping for their children, bombs and air strikes. In her last dispatches she reported the deaths of several men in a makeshift clinic and a two year old child with a fatal chest injury, "His little tummy kept heaving until he died".
I'm moved by her courage and her determination to bearing witness. In pursuing her chosen path, Marie Colvin knew what she was about as a journalist and a decent human being. She had a truth seeking heart that drove her to report the horrors of war with accuracy and without prejudice. Her death prompts a question: as her face looks out at me from the photograph with her mouth closed and pen poised to report I imagine her saying: 'What matters most to you, that you wish to make a stand for regardless of the risk or cost?'
Before we can answer this question it's important to remember that bearing witness demands a belief in something beyond our self or personal gain - a worked out philosophy or way of life that shapes our moral decisions and the kind of person we are. Religious people try to bear witness to God's truth by the quality of their character and their service to others. They have Christ or a holy book and the gathered wisdom of the ages to guide them when the tough call has to be made or sides taken. In a war zone or confronted by the great causes of our day only the foolish would deny the need for a moral compass to help us stand. But as increasing numbers reject religion or philosophy as their guiding light, I do wonder what they have in their locker instead and whether they would give their life for it?
My early morning routine starts with the alarm going off at 6.48am. Immediately, I spring out of bed, rush to the bedroom window, open the curtains and greet the new day with a resounding 'Good morning world'.
Now the truth...... The radio does wake me before seven. I doze through the headlines, grope for my specs and then stumble to the bathroom, hoping that the face in the mirror still bears some resemblance to the person who looked out at me the night before.
Fairly common rituals I suspect, especially on dark winter mornings. But from 8am my schedule shifts in a direction shared by relatively few early risers. I go into my church, light two candles and then ring the church bell eighteen times, three bursts of three and then nine in succession.
I ring carefully and deliberately - don't want anything too frantic or noisy for the neighbours as they butter their toast - but loud enough for local people to know that something is going on at Trinity.
I've done this in all my parishes but it hasn't always been appreciated. In one place the bells were rung to mark my first anniversary of arrival. Shortly before the special service began to mark the occasion, I was informed that a close neighbour wished to speak to me urgently. I went round, secretly anticipating congratulations, but in a fairly uncompromising way (you don't need to know his exact language) I was informed that if the ringing didn't stop immediately he would break every window in the church.
Eventually we became good friends. The windows remained intact and I was able to help him when he escaped from a special care hospital unit in his wheelchair. Apprehended on the Prescot Road as I recall, doing a fairly brisk speed and keen to get home.
In the centre of Hull, some years later, I tolled the bell at midnight each New Year's Eve before going into the adjacent pub where exceedingly merry parishioners confided their hopes and fears or encouraged me to stand on a table and sing for their pleasure.
Why do I continue to ring the bell each morning and, whenever I can, at 7pm or later each evening?
The Church of England requires its clergy to say morning and evening prayer each day. It stipulates that 'the minister of the parish shall pray for the corporate life of the parish and that public notice shall be given by tolling the bell' when prayers are about to be said.
Bells are rung for all sorts of occasions - in times of national emergency, the end of hostilities, the marking of anniversaries and achievements, great and small. They ring to celebrate a birth, to greet a bride, to signify the entrance of a coffin in church at journey's end. But every day in parishes, the bell is tolled to declare that the local church is doing its job: praying for its people, holding their concerns in its heart and remembering the sick, the lonely and the sad.
Often we can feel overlooked, isolated and alone. The sound of a bell with its steady, insistent ring conveys a different and more hopeful story. As each morning begins, the church embraces its community in prayer, brings its concerns before the altar of God and asks for wisdom and strength to meet human need in its many forms.
As the day ends, the bell tolls again, this time as a summing up of work done or left undone and a prayer for the peace and safekeeping of a community as night falls.
It rings to affirm important truths: that a locality matters to God and that no one should be forgotten.
The presenting facts are pretty stark: 2012 is going to be a hard road for many people with little by way of comfort or joy.
There will be a Royal Jubilee and the razzmatazz of the London Olympics to distract us for a while but the gloom and drizzle of a deep economic recession will continue. Pundits talk of a reprise of the 1930s or even the Dark Ages that followed the fall of the Roman Empire in the early fifth century.
From where I stand I can't quite see the new horsemen of the apocalypse on the horizon but I do know as a pastor and community organiser that there is a lot more pain to come. What are we to do? Taking the long view is a good and tested option. We have been here before and survived. 'Keep calm and carry on' - the slogan we've borrowed from the forties and put on mugs and tea towels is both an invitation to embrace the spirit of the Blitz and a reminder that our own times are not uniquely awful.
Even further back we can find the renowned diarist Samuel Pepys recording his last journal entry for 1666 -
the catastrophic year of the Great Fire of London. He writes:
"Public matters in a most sad condition...nobody is encouraged to trade... employees are discouraged for want of pay and all sober men are fearful of the ruin of the whole kingdom."
A familiar ring don't you think? Pepys morose entry ends on a lighter note: we read that his own health is good and he is now sufficiently established to entertain dinner guests on a fine collection of silver plates!
Alongside a sense of perspective there are other things that can help us cope. Gratitude for what we already have and own is the best start to a New Year. Breathing and the ability to put one foot forward in front of the other are powerful reasons to be thankful. A warm bed, food on the table and the dependability of friends should also figure prominently on our check list. And the most important realisation of all, that we are alive and tolerably well in this moment, as distinct from the alternatives, is another occasion for still more thanks.
A time of pestilence can be an inspiring teacher. It reminds us of our common humanity, our duty to others who are not making it and our obligation, as the Bible puts it, to bear their burdens as well as our own. And when there is so much relentless talk of decline, calamity and endings, it's more important than ever to remember that tomorrow and each succeeding day will witness new beginnings. In the streets and roads where we live, a child will be born bringing new hope in keeping with the promise of the Christ child of Bethlehem. A sparkling engagement ring will be slipped on the finger of an excited future bride. Someone will decide to behave differently and mean it. Another will start a fresh project, risk a new relationship or forge a commercial venture. A hospital patient will take hold of her life again because the prognosis she could hardly bare to hear is better, much better than anticipated.
In quiet corners under the radar of the media, small groups inspired by a sense of decency or faith will come together to plan, work and sometimes pray for a better future for their communities. They know that the days are lengthening now and there is a light that never goes out.
Previous columns for 2016 are now available here
Previous columns for 2015 are now available here
Previous columns for 2014 are now available here
Previous columns for 2013 are now available here
8.30am Holy Communion
10.15am Parish Communion (First Sundays in month are usually a Family Communion with children taking part)
10.15am Sunday Club
(For 3 year olds upwards - on all except first Sundays and school holidays)
6.30pm Evening Worship
(e.g for Saints Days): as announced
Practising members of other Christian denominations are invited to receive Holy Communion.
If you are not confirmed but would like to receive a blessing please come forward with other communicants and place your hands below the altar rail.
We hope you will join us for refreshments in the Parish Centre after the Service