The Eve of All Hallows 2015

In the Christian calendar, 1 November is the feast of All Saints. An old name for the festival is All Hallows. Just as the day before Christmas Day is called Christmas Eve, so the day before All Saints Day used to be known as Hallows Eve, or Halloween.
Although All Saints’ Day is a particularly Christian Festival, Halloween has become associated with particularly non-Christian celebrations of witches and the like.
This year we have organised activities to teach our young people the reasons to celebrate the Saints. We will be holding a “Light Parties” for children up to age 11.
We will celebrate “The Light of Christ” and “The Saints in Light”.
No Tricks, Just Treats!
Entry will be by Ticket Only – obtainable in advance at Praise & Play or RICH group meetings.

Refugee Crisis Appeal – Update

An Amazing Response to the Bollington Refugee Crisis Appeal!

Our vicar writes…
Might I add my own huge thanks to that of Nora Carlin, the organiser of the Warrington based charity Refugees-Aid from the Northwest of England, for all those in Bollington (and from all around the Macclesfield area) who responded so generously when we opened St Oswald’s Church during September and October to receive gifts of warm clothing, waterproofs, coats, hats, socks, gloves, walking shoes, blankets, sleeping bags, holdalls, toiletries and much more, for onward distribution to desperate refugees from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa! Do please visit this Warrington charity’s Facebook page for any updates and for further suggestions of ways you can continue to help many more individuals and families displaced by economic hardship and fleeing from terrible conflicts over the coming winter months.

Thanks are due here to all our Bollington church members who made this community venture possible. We are grateful to those who gave their time and energy in so many ways, such as opening and closing the church each day, meeting the costs of publicity, emptying cupboards and drawers, washing and ironing items to bring along, praying for all concerned, sorting clothes, packing and labelling bags, and transporting everything to the collection points in Stockport and Warrington. Special thanks must go to Hannah, Dave, Ken & Sue, Christine, Sue W, Joan K, Maggie, Jennifer R, Sue B, Anthea, Bev, Luise, Jenny R, Chris, Jean & Brian, Hilary, Margaret, Michael F, Ken E, Mrs Downing & Bollington Cross PTA, the young people of RiCH, Claire and other Praise & Play parents, and to everyone else in the wider congregation (you know who you are!) who contributed in whatever way to helping those in desperate need at this critical time.

I reckon the activity in Santa’s grotto even in the long run-up to Christmas was nothing compared with that to be seen in St Oswald’s Church, piled high as it was with gifts brought in from across our local community over those five busy weeks! Thank you so much to all our volunteer Bollington elves! As you have blessed the lives of so many strangers with sack-loads of much needed goods, may God likewise bless you in generous measure this Christmas and always!

Veronica

Please note that the main appeal is now closed and the church will revert to normal opening hours. Thank you for your support. If you have additional items to donate please contact the Warrington depot.

[Link to Refugees – Aid from the North West Facebook page]

New War Memorial Extension

The original Bollington War Memorial was dedicated in November 1920. It is a simple sandstone cross with names inscribed around the base. At that time it was not envisaged that space for additional names would be needed only a couple of decades later, so the WW2 names had to be added wherever they would fit. The memorial is beginning to suffer from weathering of the relatively soft sandstone.
As part of the Commemoration of the Centenary of the outbreak of World War 1, it was decided to raise funds to renovate or upgrade our Bollington War Memorial. Experts advised that attempting to re-inscribe names on the existing sandstone was not a viable option. It was therefore decided to create an extension to the original memorial in the form of two panels positioned so as to “guard” the old memorial, which will remain in position.
Extensive research was carried out to find the names of World War casualties from Bollington who had not been included on the original memorial, as well as making a couple of corrections to names that had been wrongly inscribed previously. A committee was formed to decide upon the final list of names. The new panels show the missing names as well as those of all the casualties commemorated on the original memorial. Space has been left in case any additional casualties’ names need to be added in future.
A substantial grant was provided by Cheshire East Council. Bollington Town Council also provided a grant and the Mayor’s Fund (Councillor Amanda Stott) was dedicated to the project. Other funds were provided by members of the public. The stone came from Sycamore Quarries, the engraving was carried out by William Warburton and construction of the extension was by John Drabble & Son.
A new War Memorial extension at Bollington has been installed in the War Memorial Gardens. This includes all the names on the existing War Memorial (including a few corrections), as well as names of local WW1 casualties whose names were not previously listed. The two lists of names stand like two companies of soldiers guarding the old memorial.
The memorial extension was officially inaugurated at a short ceremony on Sunday 11 October 2015.
In the late summer sunshine, the old memorial casts its shadow across one of the new guardians. No breeze disturbs the Union Flag in the Memorial Gardens.
The War Memorial in 1920
The War Memorial in 1920

Vicar’s Letter October 2015

vicars letter003During September our Sunday sermons had a common theme: they were all about valuing, respecting and encouraging children’s spirituality. I wonder whether your own sense of God and of following the Way of Christ developed first when you were a child or whether it was something you only experienced on becoming an adult? Psalm 116 reminds us that God is gracious and listens to us and watches over each one of us: the ideal parenting model. Whether sudden or gradual, the transformation of our everyday lives is part of the deal as we grow up into spiritual maturity: we learn to accept our need of God, we accept we don’t know all the answers, and we accept that we need to rely not so much on what we consider to be our own resources, to get through life as best we can, but instead to trust in God’s providence, to lean on God’s grace and mercy and to embrace the transformative power of God’s love for each of us as his beloved children.
It’s worth considering what early influences there might have been that brought us to be part of a church congregation today. As children or as adults, hopefully we were encouraged to join in worship at a church somewhere along the line, by a parent, godparent, sibling, neighbour or friend. Equally well, sadly, on becoming parents ourselves, we may have been discouraged from joining a particular congregation because we received not smiles of understanding, but frowns of disapproval when our children dared to clatter around a bit or to speak in more than a whisper when an inconvenient question occurred to them during the service!? I have heard that this does still happen, even in a church like ours that prides itself on being welcoming!
It may seem strange to us adults who are familiar with coming into church buildings, that other people outside these walls may be a bit fearful of coming inside, not knowing what to expect, or what might be expected of them, if they do get beyond the threshold.
Over the years here at St Oswald’s we have offered a welcome for children and young people, especially in more recent years through our Schools’ Experience Weeks, and by developing our term-time Praise & Play and RiCH Groups, our monthly “Who Let The Dads Out” Saturday mornings or the Family Fun Days in holiday time. Through these encounters, some of our young parents, such as Nick, Rachel, Alison and Nicola, have come to Confirmation and their children have come to regard this place as somewhere to feel at home, hearing Bible stories retold in a way that makes sense to them and being encouraged at times to stop and listen alongside their friends to God’s voice. Amongst all the usual junk mail or stuff from the Diocese, I received an envelope in the post this week which held a lovely note from one family enclosing a tiny drawing. The note said: “Dear Veronica, Chloe made this for you after the Family Service today, so we thought we’d post it! Lots of love xxxx”.
chloe_arthurThe enclosed colourful picture shows what appears to be a family home with classic four windows and a door, but then surprisingly with a large cross attached to the side wall of the building, and the names of the four-year-old artist and her little brother written in the sky above the house, all under the umbrella of a large heart shape. I suppose you could interpret the drawing in many ways – it could of course simply be St Oswald’s Church with its stunning mosaic cross beside our entrance porch, but I like to think that Chloe’s picture intends to show the loving security and safety of her family’s own home, being very closely connected to their life of faith experienced here in church as well. Children who are nurtured and welcomed and cared for by the church (as I was myself many years ago) hopefully grow up to see Church as a significant and vital part of their life and well-being, leading on into adulthood too.
One of the enduring memories I have from my 1950’s childhood is of reading the Ladybird book, called “The Child of the Temple (The Story of Samuel)”. Though I no longer had a copy at home [Now I do, thanks to Roy and Hylda!], in my mind’s eye I can still see the picture on the front cover with the boy Samuel sitting up in his little bed under the temple sanctuary lamp, listening to God’s voice calling him by name. As the story unfolds, the child Samuel was encouraged by Eli (an old priest like me!) to respond to God’s call and to listen to the prophetic message that God wanted to speak through this young child, not necessarily a comfortable message, but one that had deep resonance in the history of the Hebrew people. It led to the adult Samuel anointing first Saul, then David, as King over Israel, David of course being the ancestor of Jesus himself. This ancient story points us to the fact that, amazingly, parents often dare to entrust us here with the care and nurture of their precious children (as Hannah, Samuel’s mother did, incredibly when the child was only just weaned – Hannah again being a spiritual ancestor of Jesus’ mother Mary, both singing to God the revolutionary and prophetic words we find in the first book of Samuel Chapter 2 and in Luke’s Gospel Chapter 1, which we know as the Magnificat).
Ladybird_Samuel
The whole story of Samuel’s life is worth looking at again (a bit of bed-time reading as the nights draw in perhaps?!). But our focus today is on recognising that children often have a sharper sense of hearing than we adults do, an ability to hear the voice of God that perhaps we have become deaf to over the years, through thinking we know what God wants already and not listening out keenly enough for the fresh challenges God might be calling us to.
One of our Year One children, Teddy, was recently asking his parents what it meant to be a refugee, picking up on all the coverage on the news lately. On having their desperate plight explained to him, Teddy’s immediate and straightforward reaction was that “We should help them!” At our regular Growth Action Planning Meeting later that week, we listened to the childlike simplicity in this appeal for practical kindness and have organised for St Oswald’s to become an emergency drop-off point for much-needed supplies, particularly of men’s waterproofs, coats, socks, hats and gloves, walking shoes, blankets and sleeping bags, folding chairs, tea, coffee, sugar and toiletries. We hope that the whole of Bollington will readily respond to the desperate needs of those displaced from their homes within and beyond our borders. Our church building will be open between 8.30am and 5.30pm, each weekday from Monday 21 September until Friday 23 October, allowing people to bring along these life-saving items for onward distribution. There will also be an opportunity to leave monetary donations towards the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, as well as the chance to spend a moment or two in church praying for those in need and for a peaceful solution to be found to the terrible conflicts and wars that cause people to flee their homes in the first place. We aim also to have a petition available for people to sign, asking Cheshire East Council urgently to respond to the need for accommodation for those asylum seekers who do succeed in getting admission across our borders. Somebody has suggested that our Bollington Refugee Crisis Appeal should properly be named “Teddy’s Trumpet Call to Action”!
I love the way that Teddy’s little brother Roo invariably waves as he leaves St Oswald’s after a service or event, and that having recently found his voice, he also now says, “Goodbye, Church!” – which as you know is a conflated way of saying, “God be with you, Church!” May we both encourage our children to listen to God’s unique call to each of them and be willing to hear the messages our children relay to us. May we all grow into spiritual maturity in a way that makes us not fearful of becoming compassionate, prophetic and trustworthy witnesses of Christ, himself a refugee as a tiny child and the One who ultimately calls us all home.
Veronica