Bible Sunday 2018

Brian Reader

Isaiah 55: 1-11; 2 Timothy 3: 14-4:5; Ps 19: 7-14; John 5: 36b-47

Last week we had the Confirmation Service with Bishop Libby preaching, so today might feel a bit like, ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’! But it shouldn’t.

Today we could be celebrating Simon and Jude the Apostles, or the Last Sunday after Trinity, but our readings are for Bible Sunday, so today we celebrate Holy Scripture. If we had any doubt about its importance then the collects and the readings for today make the point very clearly.

Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:
help us so to hear them, to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them, that through patience, and the comfort of your holy word, we may embrace and for ever hold fast the hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Do we receive the comfort of God’s Holy Word?
Do we listen for God speaking through His Word?
These days, our lives seem so full of noise, which makes any listening hard. We tend to turn on the Mobile, or the television and leave them on, even if we are not interested in the programme. We seem to have a dread of silence, and all this noise makes it difficult for us to listen. So to what, and how should we listen?

For the Muslim, it is comparatively easy, for theirs is a religion of the book,
the Koran, the direct word of God dictated to Mohammed his prophet.

But our Bible is not like that. For one thing the Bible is a very human book. Not only one book but a collection of many books, written in many different styles, at different times and in varying contexts. Within its pages we can find history, stories, songs and letters. The Bible did not fall out of the sky ready-made and there is evidence that parts of both the Old and the New Testaments have been revised over the centuries.

Within the Bible, God’s word is depicted in very dynamic terms – His word is his deed. When God speaks, things happen. And most particularly of all, John’s gospel speaks of Jesus as the Word become flesh.

God has used the Bible, down through the ages to reveal himself to us. He has spoken through his prophets, whose words and deeds have been recorded in the Bible; he has spoken to His people through their history, by showing how he has acted through the ages, giving them support, succour, and hope, during times of both their obedience & when they have rebelled

When you read the Bible you are aware of the truth that those who wrote the books of the Bible had faith in God; and that their understanding of God changed, as they reworked the Bible texts to cover changing circumstances. For it is from the Bible they learnt about God, and from God they learnt how to discover the truth in the Bible.

Why is it that some people still have no understanding or knowledge of God? I am reminded of the schoolgirl who, when faced with an RE project, sent a letter to the Anglican Church Information Office, in London saying.
‘We are doing God next year. Please send all details and pamphlets!’

We don’t need details and pamphlets we have the Bible which is an information resource without parallel. However, without the help of the Holy Spirit and our faith to aid our understanding, the Bible is just old religious literature beloved of our fathers but dead to many of this generation. It is God alone who gives the Bible Authority and reveals it to be the Word of God. And Christ, who is himself frequently referred to in the scriptures, he came to fulfil the Bible prophesies.

In today’s epistle St Paul writes to Timothy. All scripture is inspired by God
and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.

We sometimes question why the world rejects the teaching of the Bible. But why should the world believe and follow the teaching of the Bible, when some, who call themselves Christians never open their Bibles at home from one year to the next? Yes, it is true, that there are many who will quote the Bible passionately to support their arguments for pacifism, against pacifism, and 22 years ago, when I spoke on Bible Sunday, some were quoting the Bible to support their views for and against the ordination of women.

My father-in-law, a village Rector, loved to quote verse 40 of Matthew chapter 22: which reported Jesus as saying Hang all the law and the prophets, but he only quoted this to show that any quotation taken out of context would probably be incorrect!

The Bible still remains a primary channel of God’s word to us. By such means God confronts us with challenge, choice, guidance, and rebuke,
but also grace and hope. A community of Christians that stops reading the Scriptures, will soon be deaf to God, and will try to make him after their own image.

This is what must have happened in the early 13th century. Did you know, that in 1229, at the synod of Toulouse, the Roman Catholic Church – forbade the laity to possess the Scriptures (Bible), except the Psalter, and such other portions as are contained in the breviary, (their equivalent of our prayer book) and especially denounced all translations other than Latin?

One of the reasons for the Reformation was the wish of Christians to return to a true Christian religion based on the Bible. This gave the impetus to Wycliffe and Tyndale to translate the scriptures into English. We thank God for their work, and also for the work of many Christian Biblical scholars of all denominations who now work closely together to produce the text of the Bible which is as accurate as can presently be achieved. However, the Bible is most effective when it is translated into everyday Christian life.

Did you ever wonder why Jesus never gave chapter and verse when he quoted the scriptures? How would you have found a passage in the scroll of Isaiah say? It was only when studying for the Certificate in Theology that I discovered that Stephen Langton had first numbered the chapters in 1226 and that Robert Etienne introduced the numbering of verses in 1551.
These two actions resulted in the easy referencing of the Bible that all Christians still enjoy today.

This does not mean that the Bible is any easier to understand! God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. This is good news; the last thing we want is a God who thinks and acts like us. There is something very human about the Bible’s own witness. Many of the stories of God drawing near to his people are set in everyday contexts rather than specifically religious settings. The challenging word of God is heard through the prophet in the market place or by the city gate or a thirsty Christ at the water well.

The Bible brings good news. From Isaiah we heard: Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. God has given mankind intellect and this great reference book, the Bible. The Bible does not contain pat answers to all the questions we have in life, but by careful study, the use of our minds, and guided by the Holy Spirit and our friends in Christ, we too can understand the truth and wisdom of the Bible for our use in our world today.

It is His Holy Spirit that has the power to change old religious writings into this great authority that we call the Bible. For in today’s Gospel from John we learn that Only God can reveal God.

We know that the New Testament records the sayings and the teaching of Jesus and Jesus taught us that God is as a father to us all. A God with whom we can all have a personal relationship as a child has to a loving parent. Jesus said: ‘You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?’

Yes, the Bible is a wonderful book, but if reading it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit does not bring us into a personal relationship with God the Father, through Christ the Son, then it is of no more use to us, than an just an outdated book of yellowing pages!

AMEN

Centenary of the Armistice 1918

Various commemorative events will be arranged to mark the centenary of the signature of the Armistice on 11 November 1918. But there is one commemoration that you can view right now in Bollington – at least, during office hours Monday to Friday.

The Rolls of Honour for the Adelphi and Clarence Mills for both WW1 and WW2 were probably originally to be found in the Clarence Mill, but we think that they were relocated to a position under the tower of St John’s church when the Mill ceased production. When the former parish church was closed, the Rolls were put into storage for safe keeping while an alternative location could be found for them.

The rolls have now been installed in the Adelphi Mill, near the lift entrance on the ground floor and can be viewed by the public free of charge during normal office hours. Enter the Mill building by the main entrance – the stairs will be on your left and the lift entrance will be on your right. However, it is normally difficult to find a parking space unless you are visiting the gym or one of the other businesses in the Adelphi that has reserved parking.

The Rolls of Honour list employees of the Adelphi and Clarence Mills who served in the two world wars (not only those who lost their lives in the conflicts). They show their ranks and regiments, whether they received gallantry medals, and whether they were wounded or killed. Note that many soldiers did not remain in the regiments with which they initially enlisted, so in some cases the regiment shown on the Roll of Honour my not be the one in which a man spent most of his service.

Most of the surnames on the lists are still represented in Bollington today, so why not go and see if any of your family members are listed?
These Rolls of Honour are part of Bollington’s heritage and we are grateful that the management of the Adelphi Group have put them on public view in co-operation with Bollington Town Council.

You can read more about Bollington men who served in World War 1 on the Bollington Online War Memorial, which can be found on our parish website – look under Family History on the Home page.

Vicar’s Letter – November/December 2018

As the clocks change and the nights are drawing in, we can be forgiven for turning inwards on ourselves. We think of building up provisions in the freezer or store-cupboard in anticipation of winter snows, or shopping early to beat the Christmas rush. We delve into the wardrobe for a familiar warm coat to wrap up in again, or maybe go off to the splendid Bridgend Centre to find a replacement! We dig out that well-worn Christmas card list which brings to mind good times we’ve shared with old friends and acquaintances.

The Church’s own calendar of festivals marks the passing of another year. With bright-eyed children at our Light Party on All Hallows’ Eve, 31 October, we celebrate all the Saints of God, well-known or obscure, in whose lives we have glimpsed the compassion and challenge of Christ. On the evening of All Souls’ Day, 2 November, we bring to mind those closest of our friends and family whose passing we mourn, entrusting their souls once again to God’s infinite care as we light a candle in their memory. A few days later, we hear fireworks in our neighbourhood, celebrating the joyful life we can share with friends around us. Perhaps we write our own names with sparklers in the light of a bonfire, as we focus our attention on the complexities of world politics, historically and in the present day. On Armistice Day, 11 November, we will parade solemnly with those poignantly resilient poppies on our lapels, and hold respectfully before God, in the three minutes’ silence, the lives of those who died or who returned maimed in body, mind or spirit, praying that we do not squander their hard-won peace. As we continue to teach our children St Oswald’s motto urging them to be strong and of good courage and to follow paths of gentleness and peace, so let us pray for strength and resourcefulness for ourselves and our community as we look for ways to enhance the well-being of all those around us and across the wider world, who are still living in poverty or dire need as a result of violent conflict or war, human cruelty, greed or selfishness.

Our solemn mood will be lightened by joining in one of the two Christingle services now offered on Advent Sunday afternoon, 2 December, taking carefully into our hands those familiar bright orange candle-holders, studded with delicious symbols of the fruits of the earth, anticipating Christ’s light dawning into the world and blessed by the music and song of so many children and families from our local schools. During the next four weeks leading up to Christmas, we may begin to look inwards at our own lives and perhaps examine our consciences in response to new awareness of climate change (highlighted by the Transition Bollington group), challenged as we must be by our children’s persistent awkward questions about our collective choice of lifestyle. We might decide to volunteer as a Street Angel or at our Winter Night Shelter project for homeless men run by members of the churches in and around Macclesfield. Before we are tempted to close the door to keep out any more chilling thoughts about the imbalance and inequality of our world, we may yet dare to hold it ajar a little longer, by venturing into one of our local churches once in a while to sit quietly and pray (remembering that St Oswald’s is open for just that purpose during the day on most Wednesdays). We may be pleasantly surprised to come across others alongside us there, each one trying to make enough room in our busy lives, to be more ready to greet the birth of the Christ Child and to find practical ways of welcoming God’s Spirit of kindness and justice into our hearts and homes again this year.

For 110 years now, St Oswald’s Church, built to the glory of God, has stood beside the main road into and out of Bollington, as a place of witness and welcome, especially for members of the local community wishing to embark on a marriage covenant relationship, or to celebrate the birth of a new baby, or to give thanks for a life now ended that has been well-lived. We share the joy of adults and children finding faith and recognising their essential worth before God. Equally we are here to support and care for those who feel wounded and bruised by their life’s experience. We offer prayers reflecting real anguish as well as hope, and we continue to reach out in all humility with empathy, comfort, friendliness and a listening ear to young and old alike. May God prosper our visionary plans to continue to improve the welcome we can offer within our church building, and may we always be mindful to look up and keep good company with one another as we follow the star which leads us to Christ, who is the same source of love, light and truth, yesterday, today and forever.

Every blessing,
Veronica

Poppy Appeal Launch 2018

Lyric by Joe Riley:

We all know about the traumas of the war,
But do we know about the things that happened after or before;
The people who’d seen horror,
Lived hell upon the earth;
But I can see in you and me that the aftermath was not to be heard;

Poor James, Poor John,
Can you show a bit more sympathy for the people who’d be rather dead than living;
I’m shocked, appalled,
At them all for sending home,
Broken lives and empty minds;
How did their families survive;

Who knew that time,
Would pass you by so quickly;
Think we’ve seen bad things,
But have we, have we really?
That’s why we’re here,
To think of all those people,
How did they carry on, how did they carry on?

Some say that it was such a horrid time,
But we know, that they’re wrong ‘cause there are simply no words left to describe;
The kind of pain and fear that they saw,
Would scar them ‘til the day that they would lie inside their morgue, oh

Poor James, Poor John,
Can you show a bit more sympathy for the people who’d be rather dead than living;
I’m shocked, appalled,
At them all for sending home,
Broken lives and empty minds;
How did their families survive;

Who knew that time,
Would pass you by so quickly;
Think we’ve seen bad things,
But have we, have we really?
That’s why we’re here,
To think of all those people,
How did they carry on, how did they carry on?

How did they carry on?

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh

How did they carry on?

Revd Simon Marsh – A message from Bishop Peter

A statement from the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, following the Judgement of the Clergy Discipline Tribunal in the case of the Revd Simon Marsh, a former incumbent of St John the Baptist, Bollington:

Following the decision of the Tribunal fully to uphold the charges against the Revd Simon Marsh, I am greatly saddened that a member of the clergy in the Diocese of Chester should so misuse his position and abuse a vulnerable young woman.

I would pay tribute to the courage of the Complainant in supporting the formal complaint and being willing to submit herself to cross-examination during the hearing. I apologise unreservedly to her on behalf of the Church, and we will continue to offer pastoral support to her.

This is a sad and inexcusable tale of the abuse of trust and power by a priest of the Church of England. We will do all that we can to minimize the likelihood of the recurrence of such abuse.

It is now nearly 5 years since the original complaint was made to the police. This has been a very difficult time for the parish of St Michael, Bramhall, and I pay tribute to all those who have enabled the worship and wider life of the parish to continue with admirable resilience. We will now move as quickly as possible to appoint a new Vicar.

Rt Revd Peter Forster
Bishop of Chester

Read the full judgement and penalty decision on the Church of England website.

Wine and Nibbles for our 110th Anniversary

We were treated to a selection of wines from around Europe and learnt something about the saints associated with them. In this Tour we encountered St Martin (of Tours, naturally), Ste Geneviève and St Tryphon the pruner, among others.

Canapés were served and we sang verses of “For all the Saints…”

A most enjoyable evening!

Wines selected by Heather Kirk

 

St Oswald’s 110th Anniversary

St Oswald’s church was dedicated on 22 October 1908 by the then Bishop of Chester (Rt Revd Francis John Jayne). 

On Sunday 21 October 2018 Bishop Libby came to preside at our 10.30 Family Communion Service at which three of our congregation were confirmed.

More celebrations will take place on Monday 22 October 2018.

A copy of the icon created by Romanian iconographer, Angela Ludosanu, using the traditional materials, methods and rules of Eastern Christian iconography which go back to the 3rd century and earlier.