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At the Hope Centre, Park Green, Macclesfield
FRIENDS OF FOXHILL EVENTS 2019.
Thank you for supporting the work of Foxhill House in so many different ways. There is a sense of gathering excitement as the work flourishes, but all the more need for a circle of people who are praying in an informed and regular way. Thank you all for doing this.
As we look into 2019 we would like to invite you to the following specific Friends’ events:
Fellowship on Mondays
We meet each Monday at 11.30am for Coffee followed at 12noon for a service of Holy Communion. On the third Monday of each Month we enjoy a light lunch following the service (Soup, bread and Fruit with Coffee/Tea) £6.00 per person.
Prayer on Saturdays
A vital part of the Friends is to pray for the ministry of Foxhill and we will be gathering on the following Saturdays to pray between 9.30am to 11.00am finishing with Coffee.
16th March, 18th May, 4th June, 20th July, 17th August, 21st September, 19th October, 16th November and 7th December.
As we enjoy Foxhill as Friends we will be celebrating our Daffodils on Sunday 10th March 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm, with an opportunity to enjoy the grounds and the Daffodils with refreshments we will conclude with Evening prayer at 4.00 pm.
Fifty Years of Ministry
As Foxhill celebrates 50 years of ministry we will gather on the Saturday 20th July between 2.30 pm and 4.30 pm for a time of celebration and thanksgiving for the ministry of Foxhill and the Friends.
Quiet Day for Friends
Once again, we are offering a Quiet Day for the Friends and the 2019 quiet day will be on Thursday 17th October – the person leading this day will be announced in due course.
On Sunday 15th December – Friends’ Christmas lunch and Carol service. Lunch at 1.00 pm followed by Carol service at 2.30 pm
Whilst these events are designed to support the work of Friends of Foxhill, those who would like to be Friends are very welcome. Please let other people know about these events and encourage them to be part of the Friends of Foxhill.
We have several events both residential and non- residential please visit our website www.foxhillchester.org
Sign up NOW!
Once in every six years the preparation of new church electoral rolls takes place, which means that everyone had to come off the roll and re-apply. The next occasion for the preparation of new rolls is THIS YEAR.
This means that EVERYONE who wants to be on the electoral roll has to fill in a form this time, EVEN IF their name was on the list before.
The Church Electoral Roll is the parish church’s register of electors and is the list of those qualified to attend and to vote at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting in the elections for the parochial church council and the parish’s representatives on the deanery synod.
Any person entitled to attend the Annual Parochial Church Meeting may raise any question of parochial or general church interest.
If you enrol you become a voting member of the Church of England and so help to ensure that all the synodical councils of the Church – the Parochial Church Council, your Deanery Synod, the Diocesan Synod and the General Synod – are fully representative of its members.
You can download a form here.
You can download a copy of the associated Privacy Notice here.
Please return your completed form to the Church by 30 March 2019 to ensure that you are qualified to vote at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting!
Each year we hold a party in church for Praise & Play Children and all our younger church members including the families of children recently baptised
In France and Belgium it is customary to serve une galette de Rois on the feast of Epiphany. It contains a little charm, and the person whose slice contains the charm is allowed to wear the crown!
Veronica and Dave had a few days away in Lille and Brussels in January 2019. We visited a few churches, including Lille Cathedral – dedicated to Notre Dame de la Treille. The Cathedral takes its name from a 12th-century figure of the Virgin that has been long revered in the city. The cathedral was built by wealthy inhabitants of the city, starting in the late 19th century; building didn’t finish until the 1990s! Sadly, the Virgin is no longer inhabiting the cathedral – she was stolen in 1959, and her church now gets by with a replica. [Treille means trellis – presumably the item the statue is sitting behind!]
We arrived just before Epiphany, so the Shepherds were still present…
By Sunday morning the Kings had arrived. (The figures are near life-size.)
At St Nicholas’s church in Brussels, the alignment of the chancel does not match that of the nave. This is not because of an incompetent architect, but is intended to represent Christ’s head leaning to one side on the Cross.
The Cathedral at Brussels is dedicated to St Michael the Archangel and St Gudula of Brabant. Wikipedia tells us that “Gudula was educated in the abbey of Nivelles by her godmother, Gertrude of Nivelles. When Gertrude died, she moved back to her home at Moorsel, spending her time in good works and religious devotion. She frequently visited the church of Moorsel, situated about two miles from her parents’ house.”
The organ in Brussels Cathedral is quite spectacular.
It sounds good too – we attended a concert on a previous visit.
The organ console is on the balcony of the central section.
There is an ornithological theme in the side chapel, with “pious pelicans” supporting the glass altar table.
In between visiting churches and museums, attending concerts and riding the trams we found time to eat and drink.
We found a suitable wine to have with our lunch one day…
As we were arriving back at St Pancras we found that our Eurostar driver was about to retire after 38 years’ service…
Luke 3.15-17, 21-22
Well, as of this morning there are only 75 days to go until Brexit. And it seems to me that there are only three kinds of people left in this country at present. There are the Brexiteers, the Remainers, and there are the ‘I can’t stand any more of this’ people who are so sick of the whole thing, that they have turned off the Radio and TV.
But there is one thing that the Brexiteers, the Remainers and the ‘I can’t stand any more of this’ people deeply share – they are each concerned about identity. The Brexiteers badly want to be British and nothing but British. The Remainers want to be British – but also European. The ‘I can’t stand it any longer’ folk probably feel that the system has let them down, and are bitterly hurt, so they have withdrawn from the debate altogether.
Well, the Bible doesn’t mention Brexit, but this morning’s readings are about finding our own true self-identity. And we don’t have to fight for it, and debate and vote for it this week – we are given it by God.
We read just now in Luke:
And a voice came from heaven:
“You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
That is just part of one verse, 19 words in all. But you could argue that they are the most important, pivotal words in the whole New Testament. For Jesus was given his entire self-identity in those words. You are God’s beloved Son, and He is pleased with you. Everything Jesus did and said throughout his ministry was based on that identity.
And it was given to him by God. He did not have to struggle attain it. But what he did have to do was to remain in that relationship, and he did it by a life of total dependence and obedience to God. Jesus mentioned it again and again in his teaching: “truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” And again: “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me.” And again: “I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true.” Jesus’s life was of total obedience to the father in all things.
You know, our modern minds so often rebel when we hear that someone is living in obedience. We think of it as being dominated. But with God, it is a life of joyful cooperation based on intense love. Have you ever watched Crufts dog show, and the trainers who dance with their border collies? Those border collies eagerly follow their owners every move, and never take their eyes off their faces. They live to please their owner, they delight in responding. This is not fear, but joy and unity.
And, as Jesus found his self-identity in his relationship to God the father, so the New Testament is clear that we also find our deepest fulfilment and identity in our relationship with God. Like Jesus, we cannot earn our place as children of God, we are given it by the Father, when we turn to faith in Jesus Christ. But we do have to respond – and live a life of obedience if we are to benefit from it.
St Paul is a good example. He had been a senior Jew, a Pharisee of the Pharisee – a real blue blood. But when he found Jesus, he considered all that he had been as mere rubbish compared to the joy of his new identity In Galatians he writes: “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” And all that Paul did and taught were based on that one fact.
It was the same for the other Christians in the New Testament. When they turned to Jesus, they were born again into the kingdom of God, and sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Our reading from Acts tells us that Peter and John were sent to Samaria where ‘they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit.’ The Holy Spirit became their comforter, their assurance that God the Father was now Abba, their daddy.
Of course, most people today do not find their identity on a relationship with God, but on the things that are dearest to them in their daily lives. Some people identify themselves by their relationships. We all know people who live totally for their families, but what happens if the family goes wrong? Divorce or bereavement or simply children moving away can be devastating if your main role in life has been that relationship. Some people identify themselves through their work. Poor Andy Murray comes to mind. He is losing his tennis and he is only 30. He must feel that he will never be able to be his true self again. Many years ago, when BBC reporters had to retire at 60, it was well known that they often died within two years. Loss of self-identity is devastating. Some people identity themselves by their wealth. Think of the wife of the founder of Amazon. She is about to become the world’s richest woman. But what happens to her if she loses it? And finally, some people identify themselves by their power. Donald Trump comes to mind. He has closed the American government. That takes power – if no sense.
So – family relationships, work, wealth and influence – of course these should all be excellent things in our lives. But they do not make a good basis for your deepest self-identity. None of them are permanent, they depend on other people, and you can lose them at any time.
We as Christians have something that will last forever, and which will bring us nothing but blessing: God has called us to be in his kingdom. We respond by living lives of daily dependence and obedience to him.
Our Old Testament reading give us a picture of just how wonderful that relationship can be. To paraphrase Isaiah:
he created us,
he has summoned us by name,
we are his,
he will be with us,
we are precious in his sight,
he loves us,
he wants to bring us near to him,
he created us for his glory.
When we have that as the basis of our self-identity, we can love and enjoy our families and work, and use our wealth and influence wisely and for the good. We can even keep our sanity this coming week, when Parliament votes, and who knows what happens to Brexit then.
So here we are at the fourth Sunday of Advent, and Christmas is almost upon us. Veronica opened the service with the lighting of the fourth Advent candle. Here at St. Oswald we have a candle holder rather than the usual Advent wreath, which allows the congregation to see all the candles at once. Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child and Purple (or violet) has traditionally been the primary colour of Advent, symbolizing repentance, prayer and fasting. Purple is also the colour of royalty and the sovereignty of Christ, so demonstrating our anticipation in Advent of the coming King.
The first candle of the Advent Wreath, the Prophecy Candle or Candle of Hope, is purple. The second Candle lit, which is also purple is called the Candle of Preparation. Last week Veronica lit the Pink Candle for the third Sunday of Advent, which is also known as Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday, being over half way through Advent. Pink or rose represents joy or rejoicing and reveals a shift in the season away from repentance and toward celebration. Today the fourth Advent Candle is purple. It is called the Angel Candle or the Candle of Love because our gospel today reminds us of the Angel visiting Mary and of her great love for her unborn child. Lastly, the Christ Candle is white representing purity and light and this is lit on Christmas morning.
Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Saviour. He is the light come into a dark and dying world. Also, those who receive Jesus Christ as Saviour are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow. While there may be several traditions regarding the meaning or theme of each candle, they all enable us to reflect during Advent. By focusing on the colours of Advent in the weeks leading up to Christmas, it is a great way for Christian families to spiritually prepare by keeping Christ at the centre of Christmas, and for parents to teach their children the true meaning of Christmas.When I was a young schoolboy, the family went to Plymouth Brethren services and there were no candles and certainly no Advent Wreath. To say that, as a child, I found their Communion services to be ‘dour’ would certainly be correct. They did not have candles, or crucifixes or any of those ‘Papacy trappings,’ so my first Christmas with the Church of England was a bit of an eye opener!
Our Gospel reading from Luke is all about Mary meeting up with her cousin Elizabeth when both were pregnant, and Mary being overjoyed and singing a song which we call the Magnificat. My Plymouth Brethren Sunday school teacher taught me that this was a very boastful song and that we should never express ourselves in such a way. I would hope that when she got married and had a child of her own, that she too would also share some of the joy that Mary felt, and would then correctly understand this song of Mary.
Just put yourself in that house all those years ago. We don’t know precisely where Zechariah lived but it is probably fairly close to Jerusalem. In an earlier chapter, Luke tells us that Zechariah was taking his turn in the temple, rather like Veronica, who as a canon has duties in Chester Cathedral. It is probable that Mary lived some eighty miles from Elizabeth which was quite a journey in those days, so she may not have been aware that Elizabeth was also expecting a baby. You can imagine the meeting, the two of them talking excitedly to each other about the wonders that God had achieved. They were both very, very, happy, and it is probable that they danced around together.
In his commentary ‘Luke for Everyone’, Bishop Tom Wright suggests that Mary probably made up a song with snatches of poems and songs she already knew or perhaps by adding her own new words to a great old hymn or psalm. And as she lived in a culture where rhythm and beat mattered, it would be the sort of song you could clap your hands to, or stamp on the ground. Mary’s song should be read like that. It’s one of the most famous songs in Christianity. It goes with a swing and a clap and a stamp. It’s all about God, and it’s all about revolution.
And it’s all because of Jesus – Jesus who’s only just been conceived, not yet born, but who has made Elizabeth’s baby leap for joy in her womb and has made Mary giddy with excitement and hope and triumph. In many cultures today, it’s the women who really know how to celebrate, to sing and dance, with their bodies and voices saying things far deeper than words. That’s how Mary’s song comes across here.
Yes, Mary will have to learn many other things as well. A sword will pierce her soul, she is told when Jesus is a baby. She will lose him for three days when he’s twelve. She will think he’s gone mad when he’s thirty. She will despair completely for a further three days in Jerusalem, as the God she now wildly celebrates seems to have deceived her (and that, too, is part of the same Jewish tradition she draws on in this song). All of us who sing her song should remember these things too. But the moment of triumph will return with Easter and Pentecost, and this time it won’t be taken away.
Why did Mary launch into a song like this? What has the news of her son got to do with God’s strong power overthrowing the power structures of the world, demolishing the mighty and exalting the humble? Mary and Elizabeth shared a dream. It was the ancient dream of Israel: the dream that one day all that the prophets had said would come true. One day Israel’s God would do what He had told Israel’s earliest ancestors: that all nations would be blessed through Abraham’s family. But for that to happen, the powers that kept the world in slavery had to be toppled. Nobody would normally thank God for blessing them if they were poor, hungry, enslaved and miserable. God would have to win a victory over the bullies, the power-brokers, the forces of evil which people like Mary and Elizabeth knew all too well, living as they lived in the dark days of Herod the Great, whose casual brutality was backed up by the strength of Rome.
Mary and Elizabeth, like so many Jews of their time, searched the scriptures, soaked themselves in the psalms and prophetic writings which spoke of mercy, hope, fulfilment, revolution, of victory over evil, and of God coming to the rescue at last. All of that is poured into this song, like a rich, foaming drink that comes bubbling over the edge of the jug and spills out all round. Almost every word is a biblical quotation such as Mary would have known from childhood. Much of Mary’s song is echoed by her son’s preaching, as he warns the rich not to trust in their wealth, and promises God’s kingdom to the poor.
But once again Luke hasn’t just shown us a big picture. Mary’s visit to Elisabeth is a wonderful human story – of the older woman, pregnant at last after hope had gone, and the younger one, pregnant far sooner than she had expected. That might have been a moment of tension: Mary might have felt proud, Elizabeth perhaps resentful. Nothing of that happens. Instead, the intimate details: John, three months before his birth, leaping in the womb at Mary’s voice, and the Holy Spirit carrying Elizabeth into shouted praise and Mary into song.
Underneath it all is a celebration of God. God has taken the initiative – God the Lord, the saviour, the Powerful One, the Holy One, the Merciful One, the Faithful One. God is the ultimate reason to celebrate.
The stories of the special pregnancies of Mary and Elizabeth is about much more than their just their mutual joy. It is about the great fulfilment of God’s promises and purpose and also reminds us of another important thing. God regularly works through ordinary people, doing what they normally do, who with a mixture of half-faith and devotion are holding themselves ready for whatever God has in mind. So while you enjoy, what I hope will be a joyful and peaceful Christmas, remember that God has a plan for everyone, and be ready to serve him, and follow Him whichever way and whenever he leads.
Blessed are you, sovereign Lord, just and true, to you be praise and glory for ever.
Of old you spoke by the mouth of your prophets, but in our days you speak through your Son, whom you have appointed the heir of all things.
Grant us, your people, to walk in his light, that we may be found ready and watching when he comes again in glory and judgement; for you are our light and our salvation.
Blessed be God for ever.
Downing Street has announced today that Bishop Libby will become the next Bishop of Derby.
She has been bishop of Stockport since 2015.
The service to install Bishop Libby in Derby Cathedral will take place after Easter.